Yearly Archives: 2019

Is Belarus the next Crimea?

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Belarus seldom comes to mind when thinking about European security. That might change.

Under the iron rule of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus has been a roadblock to Vladimir Putin’s geostrategic ambitions in Europe. Putin wants to keep Belarus as a buffer between Russia and Europe, use Belarus to discredit NATO as a security guarantor, and to protect Russian energy dominance in Europe.

The Kremlin pressured Belarus to implement the Belarus-Russian Union, a so-called federation founded in April 1996. Since a dictator can share power with no one, Lukashenko has strongly resisted these efforts.

Lukashenko’s police state, apart from repressing Belarusian citizens, is protecting Belarusian sovereignty from Russian absorption.

Putin appears intent on seizing Belarus, whether by integration, subversion, or force. Lukashenko’s defiance against Putin’s plans could turn ‘White Rus,’ as the name of the country means when translated into English, into the next Crimea.

How Putin sees the world

Putin misses the old USSR. Westerners have referred to Putin’s comment that the collapse of the Soviet Union is “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” as a blueprint for his aims. But Putin views Russia beyond the scope of the USSR.

“Russia is in the midst of one of the most difficult periods in its history. For the first time in the past 200 – 300 years, it is facing a real threat of sliding to the second, and possible even third, echelon of world states,” Putin wrote shortly after becoming president in 1999.

Rather than restore Russia’s perceived greatness, Putin has shepherded its decline. Russia’s stature has slid even further in the two decades of Putin’s rule. Instead of advancing economically, Russia has deteriorated in almost every economic category. Its demographic trends show an alarming collapse of ethnic Russians and a sharp spike in ethnic minorities that are predominantly Muslim.

Three hundred years ago, Tsar Peter the Great established Russia as a major power, a status the empire maintained until the early 1990s. Putin sees the dissolution of the USSR as a “catastrophe” because for the first time, Russia had become weak. Putin says he intends to restore “historic Russia” – which means the lands of the empire of the 18th century, lands inhabited by Russian speakers and Orthodox Christians – to the top of global power.

Putin’s practice of Russian greatness differs from his vision. His practice has excluded economic prosperity and demographic growth of Orthodox Christian Russians, in favor of an expansionist kleptocracy bent on reconquering the European elements of former Soviet-occupied territories in northeastern Estonia, eastern Latvia, most of Ukraine starting with Transdniestria, and all of Belarus. The Russian leader’s restoration of a great Russia began with restoration of historic Imperial Russian architecture and revival of the Russian Orthodox Church. The next phase is reconquest of former Imperial Russian- and Soviet-controlled territories in the European side of the country, as Chinese mass migration into Siberia and the Russian Far East threaten to outnumber Russian people in a generation.

Russkiy Mir: The ‘Russian World’

Putin justifies expanding the Russian empire through the Compatriots Doctrine, which asserts a duty to protect the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) as a foreign policy priority.

“Russophobia and, regrettably, other forms of extreme aggressive nationalism are being employed,” Putin said in an address to the 6th World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad in October 2018.

He was referring to ethnic Russians and speakers of Russian as a first language living in former Soviet-occupied territory. “The freedom of speech and the right to keep up one’s traditions are defied. Some of our compatriots have been denied the right to practice their professions for political reasons. Many people are feeling the consequences of this harsh pressure. We firmly defend your rights and interests, using all the available bilateral and multilateral mechanisms at our disposal,” Putin continued.

The Russkiy Mir Foundation was established in 2007 to “reconnect the Russian community abroad with their homeland,” through cultural programs and language classes. In reality, the foundation is used as a tool of subversion in foreign countries.

The Compatriots Doctrine emulates the tradition of forced population transfer, used by both tsarist and Soviet imperial regimes to cement expansion. Without hundreds of years of forced resettlements, there would not be so many Russian speakers outside of Russia.

Creation of the Russkiy Mir

Mass deportation and other forced population transfer began centuries ago. Tsarist Russia did it in the late 18th century to Russify its annexation of the Crimea, deporting indigenous Crimean Tartars to present-day Romania, the Balkans and Turkey, and replacing the majority with ethnic Russians. Stalin forcibly deported millions of people for settlement and cheap labor in Siberia, Central Asia, and the Far North, and undesirables or “enemies of the people” sent to hostile climates and to perform slave labor.

Where deportation was impractical, Moscow used starvation as a weapon. Ukrainians fell victim to the “terror famine” imposed from 1932-33. The Politburo blamed “kulaks,” or industrious peasants, for the failure of collectivization, claiming they secretly withheld grain to sabotage the economy.

Stalin had a particular dislike for Ukrainians and their nationalistic tendencies. He ordered mass starvation through grain seizures, and sent in troops to prevent people from leaving their villages as they starved to death. The manufactured Holodomor famine wiped out about 3.9 million Ukrainians, or 13 percent of the population, with Russian peasants brought in to replace the dead.

However, Ukrainians kept their national identity and revived their language after decades of Russification. Currently, 68 percent of Ukraine citizens consider only Ukrainian as their native language, and 17 percent consider both Ukrainian and Russian their dual native languages, meaning that more than 85 percent of Ukrainians identify with the language of their country. 

Geostrategic Goals

Russia has had limited access to the world ocean historically. Peter the Great fought the Tartars to gain access to the Black Sea with the first Russian naval base in Taganrog in 1698. Putin’s naval strategy aims to solidify global access with a focus on the Black, Azov, Baltic and Caspian Seas.

“The Black Sea provides Russia’s direct access to the most important global routes, including energy,” Putin stated at a 2003 meeting with military leaders. It was clear that Russia could not control its access to the Back Sea without taking control of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Until 2014, Russia and Ukraine shared ownership of the Sea of Azov, a small sea surrounded by Crimea and the Russian coastline.

The Azov allows naval forces to get access to the “soft underbelly” of mainland countries. Security requires control of all shores and the Kerch Strait that serves as the gateway between the Azov and the Back seas.

Controlling Crimea and the shores deprives another state from access out of the Azov to the Black Sea, and from there to the Mediterranean.

Moscow used mass deportations to gain a permanent ice-free foothold on the Baltic Sea. During and following World War II, the Kremlin deported the entire German population of East Prussia and replaced the people with Russians, creating a Baltic Sea enclave between Poland and Lithuania, which Stalin named after his right-hand man, Mikhail Kalinin.

The enclave, Kaliningrad, had no legal international status, an issue that was to have been resolved by the Big Four allied countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, and Russia) after World War II. But the issue was never decided, and the Western powers quietly let the matter drop as Moscow annexed the region and turned it into a large military base and trading hub.

Georgian and Ukrainian color revolutions in the early 2000s elected leaders friendly to the West, instead of the stalwart pro-Russians leaders Putin prefers. In 2004, Bulgaria and Romania joined NATO.

“Russia viewed these events as NATO encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence and took measures to reestablish its influence and enhance its military presence in the Black Sea,” Boris Toucas wrote at CSIS.

Whereas his predecessor and sponsor, president Boris Yeltsin, at times viewed NATO as a stabilizing factor in the region and even sought Russia’s membership in the alliance, Putin has long-viewed NATO as an “external threat” and its expansion as a “violation of norms in international law.” NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten Russia, but it may pose a threat to Putin’s regime. Former Soviet republics that democratize and become prosperous may create a demand for Russia to do the same.

In 2008, NATO promised Ukraine and Georgia would join the alliance as member states. The Kremlin warned Georgia that joining NATO would ignite a conflict. Moscow provoked Georgia into hostilities in South Ossetia in August 2008, taking down the country’s electrical grid and starting a five-day war that crushed the Georgian military.

Putin was sending a message that joining NATO would end badly. Instead of caving in, Georgia became more strongly pro-NATO, building its military close to NATO standards and sending combat forces to Afghanistan, providing the third largest combat force in the Coalition in Iraq, and supporting French-led anti-jihadist operations in North Africa.

In 2010, Western-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, lost the election to Putin-backed Viktor Yanukovych, who ultimately killed any prospect of NATO membership.

In Russia, Putin’s third Presidential term was met with mass protest. Putin came to power by igniting another conflict in Chechnya, crushing the separatists, and being hailed as the “defender of the people.”  Putin learned that a threat from a common enemy was a uniting force.

In 2014, Yanukovych was overthrown after rejecting an agreement with the European Union. Putin seized on Ukraine’s instability and annexed Crimea, claiming ethnic Russians needed protection.

Strategic gains from Crimea

Publicly, Putin’s message focused on the restoration of an important part of Russia. Crimea is where Vladimir the Great converted to Christianity, which Putin called the “overall basis of the culture, civilization and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.”

Less publicized, Putin achieved long-held geostrategic goals.

First, in addition to Crimea, Putin took two-thirds of Ukrainian waters, and sole ownership of the Sea of Azov.

Second, Moscow claimed the massive gas reserves found in the Ukrainian sector of the Black Sea in 2012, taking 80 percent of Ukraine’s energy deposits and infrastructure. The new deposits would have made Ukraine energy-independent and opened an alternative export market for hard currency thus depriving Russia of powerful leverage over its sovereignty.

Last, the naval base of Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and essential for Moscow’s power projection in the Black Sea and Mediterranean, became solidified.

Ukraine had leased the naval base to Russia, an accord Kyiv did not want to renew in 2008. The Kremlin successfully used gas prices as leverage, prompting Ukraine to agree to a new lease signed in 2010. That lease authorized Russian use until 2042. Annexation of the Crimea mooted the lease and made the Russian naval presence permanent.

Putin now claims “in utter defiance of both facts and international law” that Sevastopol has always been Russian.

Historically, control of Crimea without controlling the Sea of Azov could cut off access from the mainland. Putin literally cemented Crimea to Russia by opening a bridge over the Kerch Strait, ensuring Moscow’s advance as permanent. The bridge was deliberately built at a height that blocks Ukrainian commercial traffic in the Sea of Azov.

Once again casting himself as “defender of the people” paid off for Putin. His approval ratings, to the extent that polling is credible in Russia, soared from 63 percent – the lowest in a decade— to nearly 90 percent.

Putin’s decline

Five years later, Russians still support the annexation of Ukraine but are frustrated by a low standard of living. Approval of Putin now sits officially at 68 percent – though it could be as low as 40 percent. Thousands protested for weeks this summer after opposition leaders were banned from the Moscow City Council election. Putin’s party barely retained its majority despite election fraud.

Some Westerners see the protests as a crack in the Kremlin’s armor. While maintaining veneer of legitimacy is necessary, Putin is indifferent to the population. He is, however, beholden to the oligarchs.

“Putin’s takes seriously only force and big money,” Russian socialist Igor Eidman says. “He is concerned only with those who have serious financial and force resources, above all the West, China and a few oligarchs.”

Acting as the people’s “defender” has kindled Putin’s esteem in the masses, whose main source of information is state-controlled television. But restoring “historic Russia” could also deter the West and provide the oligarchs new industries to fleece.

Belarus or Belorussia?

“For Russia…, Belarus simply doesn’t exist,” Russian Maksim Goryunov says. “Peoples without empires are to disappear in the Russian conception of the world.”

Russians tend to refer to Belarus as Belorussia, or “White Russia.” Belarus had almost no national sovereignty throughout its history, and was treated by successive Russian empires and governments as a mere region of territory controlled from Moscow. Belarusians are a distinct ethnic group from Russians, with their own language that Russians consider a mere regional dialect,

During his 25 year rule, Lukashenko has revived Belarusian national identity and culture.

Lukashenko is known for dramatic outbursts against both Russia and the West, and has successfully played to two against each other. Due to his country’s overwhelming economic dependency on Russia and its own economic backwardness, Lukashenko never broke too far from Moscow. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, Lukashenko has distanced himself, denying Putin’s request to build a Russian military base in Belarus in 2015.

Belarus’ economic lifeblood flows from Russia – both in oil and loans.

The Druzhba pipeline supplies Siberian oil to Europe. Russia sells cheap oil to Belarus, allowing Minsk to pocket the extra profit, and to collect toll fees for oil that transits Belarus to hard-currency customers. Belarus is also the Kremlin’s largest debtor, owing $7.5 billion.

Putin appears to have the absorption of Belarus in mind. Last year, Moscow suddenly became interested in reviving the Belarus-Russian Federation, a dormant 1996 agreement. Putin’s regional enforcer, Mikhail Babich, previously head of Chechnya’s wartime government, was appointed Russia’s ambassador to Belarus. Babich angered officials in Minsk for treating Belarus as a region of Russia, drawing unprecedented criticism from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

By the end of 2018, Moscow had tired of Lukashenko’s resistance. The Kremlin finally issued the Medvedev ultimatum: integrate with Russia, or lose economic support. Lukashenko angrily accused Russia of trying to “annex” Belarus and stressed that “sovereignty is a sacred thing for Belarus.”

Lukashenko’s status as “Europe’s last dictator” makes it difficult for Minsk to find broad support in the West. Nevertheless the strongman has been trying.

Belarus lifted long-standing restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed. Minsk has expressed interest in purchasing U.S. crude oil. In August, then National Security Advisor John Bolton, the first senior U.S. official to visit Belarus in over 18 years, met with Lukashenko. Later, the U.S. and Belarus agreed to return ambassadors, after an 11-year diplomatic freeze.

Meanwhile, Lukashenko has ardently sought other economic ventures.

Lukashenko causes shutdown of Russian oil to Europe

To get around a 2014 Kremlin embargo of European food in retaliation for Western sanctions, and to make some extra revenue, Belarus imported Italian pears and apples, repackaged them, and sold them to Russia. Moscow hit back, banning Belarusian apples and pears last spring.

Lukashenko would not be intimidated. In response, he threatened to cut off Russian oil transport through the Druzhba pipeline, and flew to Turkey to find a new market for Belarusian agriculture.

He then acted on his oil cutoff threat by issued a second warning, stating the Belarusian part of the Druzhba pipeline should be closed for “repairs,” stating that he had not spoken of the repairs previously because it would “harm the Russian federation.” He added that “the good that we do for the Russian Federation turns out to be constantly evil to us.”

Then, Belarus publicly complained about Russian crude oil containing high levels of an organic chloride contaminant in the Druzhba pipeline.

“A week later, the tainted oil was found, the Polish and Ukrainian pipeline systems stopped accepting the Russian crude, and the Druzhba was shut down – causing the first-ever shutdown of the main line to Europe,” Leonid Bershidksy wrote at Bloomberg.

Lukashenko launched a brilliant bit of political and economic warfare against Belarus’ giant neighbor.

“This was the best possible way for Belarus to launch its counteroffensive,” Bershidsky continued. “The chlorides were actually there, and if Russia had insisted the oil was fine, it would have destroyed trust with European consumers – something it avoids at all costs. So Russia went into all kinds of contortions to prove that the contamination was a one-off.”

European purchases of Russian oil fell by up to 10 percent, costing Moscow a half a billion dollars a day, further straining Putin’s anemic economy.

Belarus then claimed the tainted oil damaged its refineries. Lukashenko sought compensation for lost profits, milking the crisis-created leverage for all it was worth.

In an uncharacteristic concession after having ignored previous requests, a defeated Putin quietly recalled Babich.

Disinformation campaign out of the Russian embassy in Minsk

Despite Putin’s retreat, the departure of Babich the Enforcer did not mean a change in policy. Babich’s replacement at the Russian embassy in Minsk,  Dmitry Mezentsev, is a “specialist in information technologies” and close to Putin. The backgrounds of other embassy officials are significant.

Minister Counselor Aleksey Sukhov is a GRU (Russian military intelligence) officer.

Andrey Klintsevich also has a GRU background. Klintsevich was honored by Putin for his service in Crimea during the annexation, and was expelled from Ukraine for espionage.

In addition to Sukhov and Klintsevich, there are another three Russian intelligence officers in Minsk known for their exceptional propagandistic abilities.

The Kremlin-directed disinformation operation run out of the embassy has a few main themes: that integration with Russia is inevitable, Belarus is not independent, and Belarusians are simply Russians. This line is similar to themes Russia has directed at neighboring small countries, such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Those three Baltic republics, which celebrated their 100th anniversaries last year, are not real countries or even nations, according to the Putin propaganda line, but are former German or Soviet territories that should be returned, at least in part, to Russian rule.

Variations on those basic points are driven by government organizations, such as the Russkiy Mir Foundation. Moscow has recently increased funding for the projects.

Belarusians, like their Russian-speaking neighbors in the Baltic states, prefer to watch Russian television channels because of the superior production quality, making it easy to disseminate propaganda.

“Billions of dollars go into the spreading of disinformation, and Belarus is most vulnerable to this Russian disinformation. The danger there is that Lukashenko is hated, Putin is supported, and the West is invisible. Belarusians have no choice. The opposition doesn’t have access to any meaningful and effective media,” said Andrei Sannikov, a former Lukashenko opponent.

Why Belarus?

Bershidksky has speculated Putin’s interest in cementing a Union State could be a way around constitutional term limits that constrain his permanent presidency of the Russian Federation as presently defined. The addition of Belarus to Russia could make Putin’s realm a new country. Bershidsky could be correct, but Belarus is also geographically important to Putin’s foreign policy.

First, Belarus and Ukraine serve as buffers between Russia and Europe. Both Napoleon and the Nazis used Belarus as the invasion point for their offensives in Russia.

Likewise, a Russian invasion of Europe would likely be through Belarus. Theoretically, Belarus could provide an early warning to NATO.

During Zapad 2017, a Belarusian and Russian strategic military exercise against three artificial countries that represented Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, Russian troops appeared to cut off the Suwalki Corridor. The 1,400 kilometer stretch in Poland only has two roads and one railway. Control of it would cut off the Baltic states from the rest of NATO, undermining NATO’s credibility as a security guarantor.

Russia would need a significant amount of gear and ammunition for any major attack. Under the guise of updating the air-defense system in Belarus, Russia brought in more advanced equipment according to Deputy Chief of General Staff to the Armed forces of Ukraine Gen Ihor Romaneko.

Romaneko also says armed forces in Belarus could strike Ukraine from the North, as the shortest pathway to Kyiv is through the North.

The Druzhba oil and Yamal gas pipelines are also strategic considerations. The significant loss of revenue during the Druzhba crisis earlier this year is a constant reminder of the Kremlin’s vulnerability to Lukashenko’s will. Russian oligarchs, Putin’s main constituency, may be interested in Belarus’ oil-refining industry, or at least avoiding another catastrophe like the oil cutoff.

Ukrianian Prime Minister Alexey Goncharuk recently proposed building a canal through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. A waterway connecting the Baltic and Black Seas would be “viewed as a threat to the existence of Russia,” according to Russian analyst Andrey Okara.

Conclusion

Control of Belarus is essential to Putin’s geostrategy and possibly his political future.

Moscow does not want full-scale war with NATO, but Putin does want to continue discrediting and disrupting the alliance.

Russia would not be capable of competing with U.S. forces in a sustained conventional conflict, and has designed its nuclear strategy to prevent it.  In a war, the Suwalki Corridor would sever the Baltic states from the rest of NATO. The most efficient way to invade Ukraine would be attacking Kyiv from the North. A west-leaning Belarus threatens these contingencies.

Gradually integrating Belarus has not gone to plan. With a simple passive-aggressive political maneuver, Lukashenko showed the audacity to resist, costing Putin billions of dollars in the Druzhba contaminant scandal and undermining Russian oil credibility in Europe.

Propagandists in the Russian embassy in Minsk have tried to create division in Belarus, cultivation focusing on groups that could take action against Lukashenko’s regime. The method was effective in Ukraine and Georgia, but has yet to yield results among Belarusians. Belarus does not have a large segment of ethnic Russians, so invading to “protect Russian speakers” may not work this time.

If the Kremlin can successfully create a group hostile to Lukashenko, Putin could invade and claim either to be rescuing Belarusians from a dictator, rescuing “White Russians” from a terrible fate, or rescuing Lukashenko from a coup. An authentic protest movement from Belarusians would provide cover for Putin to take action, as he did in Ukraine in 2014.

Any military action is likely to be under the guise of a snap military exercise, as was the case with Ukraine. If an international crisis occurs in the near future, Putin will likely take advantage of the distraction, as he did in during the 2008 financial crisis by advancing troops into Georgia. 

Belarus will be part of Russia voluntarily, through subversion, or by force. With a loathsome regime and no military allies, Belarus stands all alone.

The State of Russian Nuclear Weapons Modernization

With John Rossomando, Dr. Mark Schneider, Grant Newsham and Dr. Peter Pry

JOHN ROSSOMANDO, Senior Counterterrorism Analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism:

  • An overview of the Faith Based Community Safety and Security Symposium
  • Dangers of Muslim Brotherhood front organizations
  • Why Erdogan can no longer be considered a U.S. ally

DR. MARK SCHNEIDER, Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy, Longtime career in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy:

  • What was Thunder (Grom)-2019?
  • Why Putin’s role in Russia’s strategic nuclear exercises are so unique
  • Why we must consider Russia’s history of non-compliance
  • Implications of the Moscow-Beijing modernization efforts

GRANT NEWSHAM, Senior Research Fellow at Japan Forum for Strategic Studies:

  • Chinese psychological operations campaign
  • Why Australia now understands the threat Xi Jinping poses
  • Consequences of Beijing’s massive weapons buildup

DR. PETER PRY, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards, Served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA:

  • The significance of Trump’s EMP Executive Order
  • The vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid
  • How national blackouts would devastate U.S. population




Fred Fleitz praises the President’s bold leadership amid growing threats from Iran

Center President Fred Fleitz joined Lou Dobbs and KT McFarland to provide insight on reports that the Pentagon is considering sending some 7,000 US troops to the Middle East to “counter what it sees as an increasing threat from Iran.”

Fleitz began by emphasizing that the ‘America First’ policy President Trump has adopted since taking office does not mean “withdrawal from the world, or isolationism, it’s the smart use of American power.” Fleitz understands that the group of troops being considered by the Pentagon “is a defensive force, it is a deterrent, it does not indicate in any way that the President wants to start offensive operations…it’s a powerful sign that he’s not going to stand for Iran threatening US forces or US allies in the region.”

A decision on whether or not to deploy US forces in the region ultimately comes down to Trump, Fleitz reiterates, and the Pentagon has “to make their case to the President, that this deployment is necessary, and the President may decide not to approve it, he may decide to send a fewer number of troops over,” but at the end of the day, “the President makes the ultimate decision on whether this is justified.”

 

Help the Iranian people achieve their liberation

American military forces last month intercepted a vessel attempting to deliver guided missile equipment from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen, offering fresh confirmation of the mullahs’ ongoing, threatening and destabilizing behavior in the Mideast – and beyond.

Meanwhile, the regime in Tehran is frantically trying to suppress increasing opposition within its own borders. It has taken to murderously firing from helicopters on crowds seeking an end to that Sharia-supremacist theocracy’s  repression and corruption. The people of Iran seek our help.

President Trump deserves credit for ending the Obama-era nuclear deal that legitimated and enriched the Iranain regime. His “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign has substantially cratered its economy and dried up funds for some of its most ominous projects. And in London this week, he forthrightly expressed solidarity with the Iranian people.

Now we must amp up our support for their liberation.

Former CIA officer warns of Hezbollah sleeper cells here in America

With Sam Faddis

SAM FADDIS, Former CIA Ops Officer, Spent twenty years as an Operations officer in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe, Former Candidate for Congress, Senior Subject Matter Expert at Axon/Lockheed Martin, Author of Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA (2009):

  • Hezbollah’s operations inside the U.S.
  • How active are Hezbollah cells in America?

(PART TWO)

  • The shortcomings of a law enforcement approach to dealing with foreign operatives
  • Security implications of Hezbollah’s plotting in the U.S.
  • Dissecting the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

(PART THREE):

  • Dangers of the Red-Green Axis
  • Implications of Sharia blasphemy restrictions
  • An overview of recent impeachment hearings

(PART FOUR):

  • The growing second amendment sanctuary movement
  • Are we witnessing the fundamental transformation of the U.S.?




The Harvard professor who brought Islamist law to Iraq now wants to impeach Trump

Yesterday, Democratic legislators prominently featured Harvard law professor Noah Feldman as an authority on the U.S. Constitution in its effort to remove Donald Trump from office.

It’s bad enough that Feldman revealed himself to be disqualifying obsessed with impeaching the President, including for some of his Tweets. Worse still, Feldman’s specialty is actually promoting the Islamic totalitarian political, military and legal code known as Sharia.

Feldman has shilled relentlessly for the supremacist agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. He even helped foist Sharia-compliance on the Iraqi people in their post-liberation constitution.

You can bet that Noah Feldman’s Sharia-adherent friends are, like House Democrats, very keen to see the coup against our duly elected President succeed. The more the American people learn about the perpetrators’ true motives and highly problematic judgment, though, the more certain we can be that it won’t.

El Salvador president in Beijing

State Department cheers as El Salvador joins China’s belt-and-road

President Trump said he would restore the Monroe Doctrine, but the State Department hasn’t received the message.

Communist China is laying a new anchor in the hemisphere: El Salvador.

This week, Beijing officially began treating El Salvador as a virtual extension of its colonial eurasian Belt-and-Road Initiative.

In an important University of Louisville speech earlier this week on hemispheric diplomacy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, one of the world’s only millennial heads of state, calling him an “amazing new leader.”

At that very moment, Bukele was jetting to Beijing as the world’s only democratically elected leader to make a state visit to the Chinese capital during the Hong Kong repression.

While Pompeo dropped a platitude and got the country wrong, saying Bukele was from Ecuador, China pulled out all the stops as the Salvadoran leader flew toward its open arms.

Lots of Chinese goodies El Salvador – and all for free

Beijing gave El Salvador’s previous left-wing FMLN government some shiploads of rice and some reported under-the-table payola. In exchange, El Salvador dumped its 85-year diplomatic relationship with the Republic of China on Taiwan, and recognized Beijing.

Bukele took office last February, openly considering reestablishing relations with Taiwan, at Beijing’s expense. So the Communist Chinese began working on Bukele, sparing no effort.

Bukele tweeted out all the goodies El Salvador would receive under its new relationship with China:

  • “A new National Stadium, modern, big capacity.”
  • “Construction of a new National Library, of crystal, several stories high.”
  • “A great water purification plant.”
  • “The whole system for distribution of potable water and sewage treatment around the beaches of Surf City. A first-world system for a first-world tourism destination.”
  • “The entire circuit of pedestrian streets, sidewalks, parks, boardwalks, underground electrical wiring, along Surf City beaches.”
  • The “total” recovery and restoration of the precolumbian Joya de Ceren archaeological site.
  • “Nine additional cooperation agreements in agriculture, tourism, culture, sports, commerce and technical assistance.”
  • The restoration and extension of the pier of  Puerto La Libertad, to make it an international tourist attraction, with restaurants, cafes, shops and mechanical games.”

That’s just about it. All gifts from China, and all for free, Bukele said.

Other Salvadorans warned that Beijing was luring their country into a debt trap. Bukele scoffed at the idea. “It’s not a loan, but a donation,” he said.

Bukele, who had been kicked out of the FMLN, took office last February and actively considered restoring El Salvador’s relationship with Taiwan. But Beijing offered more goodies.

The Trump Administration seemed not to pay attention.

So as Bukele jetted to China to seal the deal, Secretary of State Pompeo praised him as “amazing.”

How Beijing buttered Bukele

The Chinese Communist Party showed its careful psychological profiling of foreign leaders to butter them up properly.

It awarded Bukele an honorary doctoral degree. Bukele wasted no time changing his Twitter name to “Dr. Nayib Bukele.”

Communist officials gave Bukele, a major state-level reception with Party leader Xi Jinping, complete with military honor guard. They brought the Salvadoran president, his wife, and infant a private tour of the Forbidden City and a Chinese National Ballet performance sponsored by the Ministry of Culture.

Each Chinese leader who met President Bukele has reiterated his support for the work that is being done to guarantee the well-being of Salvadorans,” the Salvadoran presidential office said, “and they have provided support to implement the agreements made between him and President Xi Jinping.”

Mixed US messages on Iran aid the mullahs

“I don’t want to comment on that,” President Trump said. “The answer’s ‘no’.”

And with those words, the President of the United States dismissed a golden opportunity to offer even a word of encouragement to the courageous Iranian people who have stood up to an enemy regime to demand their freedom.

Trump was at the White House the morning of December 3, sharing a joint press conference with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, when a question came from a reporter about whether the US supports the demonstrators in the streets across Iran.

The President declined to take a stand. Abandoning his administration’s “New Iran Strategy” of 2018, Trump joined his predecessors back to Jimmy Carter who failed to implement any policy meaningful enough to actually threaten the Islamic Republic rulers who threaten and kill their own people and the entire region.

Trump added to the confusion later in the day by tweeting the opposite of what he had just told journalists: “The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration, and always will!”

The administration’s official policy of “maximum pressure” has proven just enough to infuriate the mullahs’ regime without actually threatening its continued grip on power.

Emboldened by the lack of a forcible US response to years of sponsorship of IED attacks on American and Coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, repeated attacks against commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, the seizure of commercial vessels and holding crews hostage, the downing of a US drone, and attacks against the Saudi oil infrastructure launched from Iraq, Yemen, and finally Iran itself, that regime has formed a perception of the U.S. government as unwilling to take it on.

Whether accurate or not, it is perceptions that drive behavior for both allies and adversaries. The latest threat came from Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Alahnoor Noorollah in a November 29 speech in which he openly menaced US military bases in the Middle East, saying that Iran’s missiles are aimed at 21 of them.

American sanctions imposed following the May 2018 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal indeed have caused widespread economic hardship—not on the mullahs, but on the Iranian people. This helps explain why so many Iranians poured into the streets across the country following an abrupt mid-November 2019 cut in subsidies on gasoline at the pump, which caused prices to jump at least 50% for the average impoverished Iranian family.

As the world watched (and did nothing), Iranians quickly moved from slogans about the economy and endemic corruption to demands for an end to the Velayat-e Faqih system of clerical domination in the Islamic Republic. Protesters filled the streets in at least 107 cities and all 31 Iranian provinces, calling for “Death to the Dictator” (the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and even “Death to Rouhani” (the Iranian president).

The Iranian people again show a total rejection of the regime’s “Death to America” line. But the sentiment wasn’t reciprocated.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shot out a couple of empty “the United States is with you” tweets, but apart from that, the protesters were left to the brutality of the regime’s thugs in the IRGC, Bassij, and assorted Shi’ite terror militias. Some, like the Hashd-e Shaabi, had been imported from Iraq for the purpose. Others included elements of the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division of the Qods Force.

The regime understood that the US administration would do nothing to stand in the way of their massacre. The Iranian people in the streets understood it, too. Iranian security forces repeatedly opened live fire on unarmed protesters, often at point-blank range. Hundreds were killed, at least 2,000 injured, and some 7,000 detained.

To spare the West of ugly images that would cause it to change its non-interference policies, Iran shut down its Internet, across the entire country, for the better part of two weeks.

Only now, in the aftermath of the worst of the violence, has part of the Iranian Internet been brought back up; a flood of videos, taken by ordinary Iranian citizens, has come surging out, but, as the regime planned, too late to do any good.

The scope of the killing and destruction in cities across Iran is staggering. Protesters, desperate and frustrated, wreaked substantial damage, too: banks, gas stations, government offices, security force bases, and other symbols and instruments of the hated regime were attacked and burned.

In the end, none of it mattered: the Tehran regime remains firmly in power, its support for Islamic terror groups like HAMAS, Hizballah, the Houthis, Iraq’s Hashd’e Shaabi, Afghanistan’s Fatemiyoun and the Taliban unaffected, and its all-out drive for deliverable nuclear weapons, if anything, accelerated.

The one challenge that may be a harbinger of things to come is the popular uprisings against Tehran’s domination over satraps in Baghdad and Beirut. Current—and in Iraq, ongoing—protests are being ruthlessly crushed, under the direction of Qods Force commander, MG Qassem Suleimani.

But rising levels of discontent among a generation born well after the Iranian revolution of 1979 will not dissipate. And it’s not just about economic poverty or even anger at endemic regime corruption that are blamed for it. At least since the current waves of protests in Iran began in late December 2017, the fury has been directed at the very underpinnings of the Islamic Republic: the Velayat-e Faqih system itself, that is dominated by an unelected clergy-headed regime that enforces strict obedience to Islamic Law (shariah) on a population increasingly rebellious against all of it.

Similar sentiments are driving popular uprisings in both Iraq and Lebanon. Ever-larger segments of all three populations resent the distribution of government largesse based on nepotism, personal connections, regime loyalty, and unfair sectarian proportionality. In Iraq, the protests broke out, unexpectedly, in southern Iraq, in the Shi’ite strongholds of Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriyah, and south.

Demonstrators shut down bridges, streets, and even the critical oil export port of Umm Qasr for a time. Their anger was aimed directly at the Iranian regime that interferes in their countries: Iraqi protesters even burned the Iranian consulate in Najaf on November 28.

That’s when Suleimani stepped in and Iraqi security forces used live fire to break up the demonstrations. The death toll in Iraq has surpassed 400 and even with the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul al-Mahdi, protests continue.

Similarly, it would have been unthinkable in Lebanon in even the recent past, but anti-government protesters there were yelling “Terrorists, terrorists, Hizballah are terrorists” and “Here is Lebanon, not Iran.” In other words, they know who runs the country: it is Hizballah, on behalf of its masters in Tehran. Significantly, many of these protesters were from Hizballah-dominated poor Shi’ite areas, like the Dahiya neighborhood of southern Beirut. The Lebanese government collapsed, Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned (again), but thus far, brute force has prevailed. The late November 2019 release of $105 million in U.S. military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces only ensures that the iron grip of Iran and Hizballah over that country will continue.

Whatever Secretary Pompeo’s hopes for a change in the Tehran regime’s ”malign behavior” might be, he must realize that no amount of cajoling, demands, or sanctions will induce behavior that essentially would result in a loss of power for it or its satellite regimes. Relinquishing any measure of power to the people of Iran, Iraq, or Lebanon would lead only to more demands for genuine reform and a truly representative system, instead of one based on Islam, regime loyalty, and sectarian identity.

Even were the mullahs and their Velayat-e Faqih system somehow to be overthrown, that would still leave the guns and economic might of the IRGC, Qods Force, Bassij, and other intelligence and security forces in charge. That is what must be confronted—preferably before they acquire the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons.

Center for Security Policy honors House Freedom Caucus, Christopher Ruddy at Mar-a-Lago

Fleitz discussed the Center’s 31-year record of promoting sound national security policy insider by President Reagan’s tried-and-true strategy of “peace through strength.”

A former special assistant to President Trump and chief of staff to then-national security adviser John Bolton, Fleitz detailed how the Center has helped the Trump administration forge effective policies to keep our nation safe and reverse the inept and dangerous policies of the Obama administration, especially withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and protecting the US power grid. 

Fleitz discussed the Center’s ambitious 2020 plans which include, “preparing the national security battlefield,” for the 2020 presidential election and the Defense of Israel Project, a new effort to defeat a recent surge in anti-Semitism and hostility toward Israel.

Center Executive Chairman and founder Frank Gaffney discussed two crucial national security projects he heads, the Committee on the Present Danger: China and Save the Persecuted Christians.

The Center has conferred the Keeper of the Flame Award each year since 1990 on remarkable civilian and military leaders whose efforts contributed materially to America’s security and freedom.  This year, the Center awarded the Keeper of the Flame Award to the House Freedom Caucus for its work to promote conservative national security and domestic ideals and to keep government honest.  Reps. Biggs, Ted Yoho, Paul Gosar, Jody Hice, and Bill Posey accepted the award.

Rep. Biggs gave a rousing speech on the Freedom Caucus’s important work and its strong support of President Trump, especially its efforts to counter the Democratic impeachment circus.

The Center recognized Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy with the 2019 Mightier Pen Award, which recognizes individuals who contribute to the American public’s appreciation for a strong national defense and defend freedom through media work.

In 1998, Mr. Ruddy founded Newsmax Media, a broadcasting and multimedia publishing company that covers news, politics, health, lifestyle and finance.  Newsmax TV channel is carried in 70 million U.S. cable homes and the company’s flagship website, Newsmax.com, is consistently ranked as one of the country’s most trafficked and influential news websites.  Forbes has called Newsmax a “news powerhouse.”

The Center is deeply grateful to those whose generosity made possible this unforgettable evening of well-deserved tributes.

Diana West comments on impeachment hearings and politicization of intelligence

DIANA WEST, Nationally syndicated columnist, Blogs at Dianawest.net, Author of Death of the Grown Up, American Betrayal, and Red Thread: A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy:

  • Updates on the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing
  • Dissecting the evolution of the anti-Trump conspiracy
  • How democrats are countering the aims of America’s Founders

(PART TWO):

  • Consequences of the politicization of U.S. intelligence agencies
  • Reliability of impeachment witnesses
  • Why the Russian collusion hoax failed

(PART THREE):

  • Implications of the presence of the ’deep-state’ in U.S. agencies
  • Is there an Ideological dimension to impeachment hearings?

(PART FOUR):

  • How the constitution has been neutralized at this point
  • How the McCarthy era can be applied to today’s pressing issues