May 23, 2017

Washington Times on May 22, 2017, reported that President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem that they see new opportunities for peace in the Middle East, based on a strategy of isolating Iran from other Muslim and Arab states in the region. Excerpts below:

At the end of Mr. Trump’s historic first day of meetings in Israel and visits to holy sites, the president said he’s optimistic about “a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace” to the region. But he told Israelis that the price of gaining Arab cooperation in defeating the broader threat of Islamist terrorism must be to reach a long-elusive peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“We must take advantage of the situation,” Mr. Trump said. “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran.”

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told Mr. Trump. “Common dangers are turning former enemies into partners. That’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.”

Mr. Trump also became the first sitting U.S. president to pray at the Western Wall…one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Wearing a yarmulke, he placed his right hand on the ancient stone wall, prayed and placed a small paper prayer note in a crevice, as is tradition.

He said later that he was “deeply moved” by the experience.

Mr. Trump arrived in Tel Aviv aboard Air Force One on what is believed to be the first direct flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Israel, which do not have diplomatic relations.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Mr. Trump has an opportunity to succeed where other presidents have failed.

“We have the opportunity to advance the peace discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. “I think the president has indicated he’s willing to put his own personal efforts into this if the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership are ready to be serious about engaging, as well.”

He allegedly identified the Middle Eastern city where the report originated, which pointed to Israel as the source of the intelligence.

The bonding between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump, who held their initial meeting at the White House in February, seemed to deepen…around their mutual contempt for Iran and for the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Tehran in 2015. The Israeli leader praised Mr. Trump for expressing deep skepticism about the deal and for encouraging Arab states in the region to confront Tehran’s support of Islamist terrorism.

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu told the president. “I believe that together we can roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror in this region and we can thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear-weapons state.”

[The American president} said the goal of the U.S., Israel and Arab allies is to face “the threat of an Iranian regime that is causing so much violence and suffering.

Mr. Trump said Iran should be “grateful” to the U.S. for a nuclear deal that gave it a “lifeline.”

“We not only gave them a lifeline, we gave them wealth and prosperity. We also gave them an ability to continue with terror,” Mr. Trump said. “Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened. … it was a terrible, terrible thing for the United States to enter that deal. and believe me, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon that I can tell you.”

He said he is “encouraged” that the Arab leaders he met with last weekend pledged cooperation to confront terrorism “and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.”

“I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world,” he told Mr. Netanyahu, thanking him for “working very hard at it.”

“It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope,” Mr. Trump said.

Comment: From 2008 to 2016 allies and partners of the United States have lost confidence in the United States because Obama was unwilling to take firm action against Islamist terrorism. The new administration in Washington DC, by showing American leadership, has now opened a window of opportunity for defeating Middle East terrorism and extremism and possibly laying the groundwork for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The decision to work toward isolating Teheran is also a sound geopolitical move to oppose one of the main Rimland challengers of the West. Much remains to be done but the days of May 2017 is a hopeful beginning.


May 22, 2017

Iran is a grave threat not only to Western civilization but also to world peace. The country is a great power in the Middle East and the Rimland of Asia.

A significant part of the speech of President Trump in Saudi Arabia on May 21, 2017, was devoted to Iran and its responsibility for much of the instability in the Middle East:

”From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations [present here today].

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime—launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region. The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

To contain Iran is of geostrategic importance as it is a main power in the Asian Rimland threatening peace and regional stability in the Middle East. It is situated in the zone between the heartland of Eurasia and Western seapowers.

Dutch American Professor Nicholas Spykman was a leading classical geopolitician in the 1930s and the 1940s, perhaps even more important than Sir Halford Mackinder. They both regarded the world as a whole. All land and sea was included. Today geopolitical theorists still refer to unity of air and unity of inner space (astropolitics). America should, according to classical geopoliticians, be regarded as an island outside Mackinder’s World Island : Eurasia and Africa. This afforded the United States a strategic advantage.

It was Spykman’s view that Russia (then the Soviet Union) was too weak to exert in depth influence in Central Asia. One reason was demographics in Siberia.

Post-communist Russia has the same demographic problem. Thus Spykman regarded the Rimland of Asia as more crucial for the United States than the Heartland of Mackinder.

The Rimland’s defining characteristic is that it is an intermediate region, lying between the heartland and the marginal sea powers. It is a zone between the land powers and sea powers. Iran is an influental power in this zone and in the Middle East. In this region it is competing with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Iran was also as Persia an ancient challenger to the West.

Iran has major resources and a strategic location between spheres of influence. It has since 1979 been involved in global geopolitical events. It is geographically close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, all important to the West. Iran is also close to the Strait of Hormuz, which is vital to Middle East oil exports. Iranian aggression in this part of the Arabian Gulf would be catastrophic.

As long as the present administration in Iran exists, with or without the existing nuclear agreement, it remains the central threat to Israel, the most important among American allies and partners in the Middle East.

It may be necessary for the United States, in order to be effective in the fight against international terrorism, to create treaties and identify mutual interests with partners. More cooperation between the West and Arab allies and partners could be useful.

Containment of Iran is a guarantee for a more effective fight against international terrorism. It seems unlikely that the Iranian regime will be a partner for peace any time soon. Until Iran stops funding, arming and training terrorists, militias and other extremist groups it has to be isolated until it eventually seeks peace and stops aggression.


May 22, 2017

Washington Examiner on May 21, 2017 reported that President Trump on that day visited Saudi Arabia’s headquarters for countering extremist ideologies in the Middle East. Excerpts below:

The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology is primarily focused on combating militant ideology and messaging. Saudi officials said the center will be used to counter the messaging used by groups like the Islamic State.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia signed a joint declaration on May 20 that called for the creation of a special commission to coordinate both country’s efforts on combating extremism by cutting off groups’ financing, countering their messaging and applying military force.

The commission will meet both in Saudi Arabia and the U.S. at least once annually to analyze the counter-terror strategy’s success and better coordinate both countries’ efforts.

Comment: The new center is an important indication that King Salman is willing to let Saudi Arabia take a more active part in the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism.

At the center various details were presented about the main room to both the president and Saudi King Salman. The center was described as a dashboard utilizing artificial intelligence data to track and monitor sentiments posted online.

There is a media monitoring system that can process up to 100 television channels in 11 different languages.

It has been reported that 350 technicians are to work in the main rooms rows of computers and workstations.


May 20, 2017

Washington Examiner on May 19, 2017 reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is crediting changes in tactics ordered by President Trump for increasing the pressure on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and leaving the beleaguered fighters with no avenue of escape. Excerpts below:

“He directed a tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS,” Mattis said on during a Pentagon briefing on the counter-ISIS campaign.

Mattis said that by making sure foreign fighters can’t get away, or return to their home countries, “We don’t simply transplant this problem from one place to another.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford pointed to two other changes that came as result of the president’s direction to accelerate the defeat of ISIS, including allowing U.S. advisers to accompany partner forces closer to the front lines, and the decision to arm Syrian Kurds to facilitate the liberation of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria.

The Pentagon says since the campaign against ISIS began in 2014, the terror group has lost more than 20,000 square miles of territory and 4.1 million people have been freed from the brutal grip of ISIS rule.

Mattis said the defeat of ISIS is a foregone conclusion.

Comment: Increasing the pressure on ISIS in the Middle East is an important part of the new US policy to seriously degrade and defeat the international terrorist organization. The rise of ISIS is to a great extent the result of Obama policy since 2008. A crucial part of the new tactics is to prevent foreign fighters from getting away. Had they been allowed to escape they might have returned to Europe to create havoc.

Central to the new vigorous foreign policy of the United States is the visit at the end of May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, of President Trump. There will be bilateral meetings in the Saudi capital and President Trump will attend a signing ceremony of several agreements to solidify American-Saudi security and economic cooperation.

Also on the agenda is a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and later Trump will deliver an important speech calling for the need to confront radical ideology. The President will also participate in the inauguration of a new center intended to fight radicalism and promote moderation as well as in a Twitter forum.

It has for eight years been the policy of the politically correct leadership in the United States and Europe to hold back in the fight against radical ideology and terrorists in Syria and Iraq supported by the Shia regime in Iran. Greater Western support of the GCC will hopefully change the failing US strategy into a stronger and more effective military but also ideological campaign against ISIS. One can only hope that the new strategy of the United States will later be met by support in Brussels by the other NATO members.


May 19, 2017

Washington Times on May 16, 2017 reported on the sharp criticism of North Korea by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who accused North Korea on intimidating the world with its nuclear program, military ability and cyberattacks. Any country that did not implement U.N. sanctions was supporting Pyongyang’s actions. Excerpts below:

“No one is immune to the threat of North Korea,” she told reporters on May 16…

“We’re not going to continue to just say go ahead and test as often as you want,” Haley said, flanked by the South Korean and Japanese ambassadors. “This is a true threat to every country in the world. … We’re going to make sure we put the pressure on them economically, diplomatically, politically and internationally.”

Haley said the U.S. and China have been working on “a unified plan” on how to approach North Korea that would include stronger implementation of existing sanctions and tougher new sanctions.

She indicated Washington and Beijing had agreed they would take action if a new test looked to be long range and leaning toward an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. The latest launch appeared to fulfill both criteria, Haley said, “so I believe that China will stay true to that…

The Security Council, which has imposed six rounds of sanctions on the North, discussed possible further action at the meeting. Haley previously indicated that new sanctions could target oil, a critical import for North Korea mainly from China, and she said the U.S. also wanted sanctions on organizations and businesses in third countries that are helping Pyongyang.

Haley: “What about North Korea intimidating us? They’re intimidating the entire international community. They’re trying to strengthen their muscle with no cause. There is no reason for North Korea to be having these actions outside of the fact they just choose to do so.”

Haley also said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “paranoid” and thinks that the United States is trying to promote regime change and that there are people trying to assassinate him.

“We’re not trying to do any of those things,” she said. “What we are saying is that for peace on the Korean peninsula, he has to stop his testing. He has to stop any nuclear programs that he has. The U.S., we are willing to talk – but not until we see a total stop of the nuclear process and any tests there.”

Comment: Ambassador Haley is of course correct when she said that the United States is not involved in regime change. It is however important that the United States, South Korea and Japan inform more about the human rights violations in North Korea. Kim Jong Un must also be put under more pressure. Further sanctions need to target oil deliveries to the Pyongyang regime. More information must be released on the cooperation between North Korea and Iran in the development of ballistic missiles.

Public identification of all North Korean and foreign banks, businesses, and government agencies suspected of violating U.N. resolutions is another important step. Also freezing and seizing the financial assets of any North Korean and foreign person, company, or government entity violating U.N. resolutions and U.S. or international law.

All banks, businesses, and governments should reciprocate U.S. actions against North Korean and foreign violators.

North Korea has for many years been involved in illegal activities, including currency counterfeiting and drug smuggling. U.S. law enforcement carried out actions in 2005 against Pyongyang’s accounts in Banco Delta Asia. These actions were highly effective and should now be used again.

The actions mentioned above have been suggested by the American Heritage Foundation. Other actions (also on the foundation list) could be designating North Korea as a primary money-laundering concern such as the U.S. Treasury previously designated Iran.

A move on North Korean financial institutions’ correspondent accounts in the U.S is a further recommendation by the foundation in Washington DC. A U.N. Panel of Experts has concluded that North Korean transactions continue to be mostly in “United States dollars from foreign-based banks and transferred through corresponding bank accounts in the United States.”

All foreign companies, financial institutions, and governments assisting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs should be sanctioned and identified. North Korea should be charged as a currency counterfeiter.


May 17, 2017

Fox News on May 15, 2017, published a commentary by Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the US Center for the National Interest on the worsening North Korea situation. Mr. Kazianis presents three recommendations for containing Kim Jong Un’s atomic aspirations. Excerpts below:

The First Korean War—largely forgotten by the American public and the planet—tragically took the lives of 2.5 million people. A potential Second Korean War, with both sides armed with nuclear weapons, could turn cities like Seoul, Tokyo and soon Los Angeles into atomic ash heaps…

…let there be no doubt, Saturday’s missile test won’t be the last. To build a viable nuclear weapons arsenal and missiles to carry them to a target Kim must test them repeatedly.

And despite decades of dramatic ups and downs, patience has paid off for Pyongyang. Even with an economy smaller than Ethiopia, the Kim regime possesses around 12-20 nuclear weapons and can add to that stockpile every six or seven weeks.

Pyongyang has [also] amassed as much as 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and the means to sling them all over Asia. Combined with an army of over 1 million men, 4,300 tanks and thousands of pieces of artillery and rocket launchers that could lob shells into Seoul—a metro area of 25 million people, the most densely populated on the planet—North Korea has all the awful ingredients to start a conflict not seen since the end of World War II.

[The dictator] already murders his own people daily with 200,000 of them in what can only be described as Nazi-style death camps. He has killed any rival that stands in his way, doing whatever it takes to survive.

There are three immediate steps the Trump administration can take to contain North Korea’s atomic aspirations.

First, the U.S. must do all it can to ensure that Pyongyang receives no outside help for its missile or nuclear weapons programs. Tough secondary sanctions should be applied to any country, corporation, bank or person that considers it acceptable to help North Korea build such worrisome weapons. A precedent must be set: if you wish to help the roguest of rogue states build weapons of mass destruction you will pay the highest of prices.

Second, America, along with its allies, must do everything they can to setback the North Korean nuclear and missile programs as much possible while also increasing the costs to develop more advanced technologies. The Trump administration must use cyber technology—malware, viruses etc. …to frustrate North Korea’s scientists at every turn. With various outlets reporting such efforts are likely underway, a top-down review should be conducted to ensure we are fully utilizing cyber against North Korea as much as possible.

Third, and most important, the Trump administration must build up regional and homeland missile defenses to nullify Pyongyang’s growing arsenal. THAAD not only must remain in South Korea but also be deployed to Japan. U.S. missile defense systems in Alaska must also be expanded dramatically—a recent plan by Senator Dan Sullivan calling for a 30 percent increase in interceptors there should be implemented.

Comment: The three steps recommended by Mr. Kazianis would be helpful for curtailing the development of North Korean missiles that can carry nuclear weapons. The main question is however how it is possible for a poor country like North Korea to carry out an extensive nuclear arms program. The only explanation is that it is receiving funds from China. More pressure on the communist regime in Beijing is needed to stop the transfer of funds to North Korea. The United States also has to provide more information on how missile technique is transferred from Iran to North Korea and on the growing North Korean chemical weapons stockpiles.


May 16, 2017

Fox News on May 15, 2017, reported that North Korea could be behind recent global cyberattack. Excerpts below:

Cyber security researchers said on May 15 that they may be able to link North Korea to the unprecedented global cyberattack that earlier in May took more than 300,000 computers hostage in 150 countries.

Symantec and Kaspersky Lab said that some of the code used in the version of the WannaCry software had also been used in programs run by the North Korea-linked Lazarus Group.

“This is the best clue we have seen to date as to the origins of WannaCry,” Kurt Baumgartner, a researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told Reuters.

The researchers said it was too early to confirm that Pyongyang was behind the cyberattacks. The researchers said they would have to study the code more.

The May 12 attack is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, spreading chaos by locking computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies, factories and government agencies worldwide.

Homeland Security officials told Fox News on Monday that a “limited number” of U.S. companies were hit by the WannaCry malicious software.


May 14, 2017

Fox News on May 11, 2017, reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had opened a mission center with the sole task to monitor North Korea. Excerpts below:

Many of the details about the center are not yet known. It is led by an unnamed CIA veteran, who was tapped as the new assistant director for Korea. The CIA offshoot will work closely with the intelligence and national security community, the agency said.

“Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “It also reflects the dynamism and agility that CIA brings to evolving national security challenges.”

The opening of the mission center comes as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea increased over the last few months.


May 14, 2017

Fox News on May 14, 2017, reported that the White House said that the rogue regime of North Korea had been a ’flagrant menace for far too long’. The statement was in response to the latest North Korean ballistic missile launch on May 13. Excerpts below:

President Trump “cannot imagine that Russia is pleased with North Korea’s latest test because the missile landed close to Russia soil. The statement pointed out that the missile landed closer to Russia than to Japan.

The White House said the U.S. maintains its “ironclad commitment” to stand with its allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea, and added that the latest “provocation” should serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against the North.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported the missile traveled about 435 miles.

The launch is the first in two weeks since the last attempt to fire a missile ended in a failure just minutes into flight.

The isolated regime attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles four consecutive times in the past two months but has conducted a variety of missile testing since the beginning of last year at fast pace.

Comment: North Korea is to a great extent a creation of the Soviet empire. Between 1946 and 1984 an estimated US$4.75 billion was provided to the North Korean regime. Almost 46 percent was from the Soviet Union. China aid was about 18 percent, and the rest from East European communist countries. Two thirds of the assistance was in the form of loans. The rest were grants.

Between 1949 and 1990, the Soviet Union helped North Korea build or rehabilitate around 170 large plants in sectors such as power, mining, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, chemicals, construction materials, oil-refining, machinery, textiles, food, transportation, and communications. During the same period, these plants reportedly produced about 60 percent of all electric power, 40 percent of steel and rolled steel, 50 percent of oil products, 10 percent of coke, 13 percent of fertilizers, 19 percent of fabrics, and 40 percent of iron ore. Soviet assistance also was important in the construction of expanded port facilities at Najin.

Korean communists were aided by the Soviets after 1917. Kim Il Song had been in Soviet Russia from 1941. He and his followers were trained and indoctrinated there until they returned to Korea with the Soviet army. The North Korea Communist Party branch was established with Kim as first secretary. Through front organizations the communists in South Korea staged a number of strikes and riots. In June 1950 the regime in Pyongyang with active Soviet military aid launched the Korean War. The communists in South Korea failed to mobilize guerrillas to fight with the North Korean military and its Soviet advisers. The United Nations/American Inchon landing in September 1950 prevented the unification of Korea under communist rule.

After the fall of the Soviet regime in 1991 China has been the main provider of aid to North Korea, which is an ally of China. All efforts of reunification has failed since the end of the Korean War. The present American administration is the first willing to seriously confront the aggressive stance of North Korea. It is important that further sanctions are introduced against Pyongyang. A German style unifaction of the two Koreas is the preferred solution. In the 1990s the cost to South Korea was estimated at more than 400 billion US dollars and is in 2017 much higher. North Korea poses an ever increasing ’existential threat’ to the United States, South Korea and Japan.


May 5, 2017

Fox News on May 3, 2017, published an article on North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee praising President Donald Trump for his tough stand agains the regime of dictator Kim Jong Un. She fled North Korea in 1997 and now lives in the West.

Her book ”The Girl with 7 Names – Escape from North Korea” was an international bestseller. She has described her experience on TV. Excerpts from the report below:

She “talks” about “slavery” under the rigid regimes of Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather.

“We only receive thus much and we don’t have enough,” she explained, “that’s how we automatically became the slave of the regime.”

She witnessed executions, indoctrination, and a famine in the ’90s, which left an estimated million dead and abandoned.

“Because of so many dead bodies, certain people’s job was to get rid of the bodies, with carts,” she recounted.

Fast forward to today and President Trump’s tough talk about North Korea. Hyeonseo said when she first heard Trump speak, she cried.

“Not any president said those words until today,” she said, “even though we’ve been suffering for seven decades.”

Lee says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a dangerous foe, with his nukes and missiles and repression.

The killing this year of his half-brother in Malaysia was a warning. She told Fox News if the regime wanted to act against her, “they could do something.”

Still, she holds on to a dream that one day the regime will fall and she will be able to return home.

Comment: Since the 1990s the West has failed to solve the problem of North Korea and its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons. The regime has been supported by China and US Democratic administrations have resorted to deal-making and bargaining with the dangerous Marxist-Leninist regime. North Korea must be confronted with policies based on strength and resolve. Failed negotiations have resulted in the regime receiving millions in energy assistance. Food assistance has been diverted to strengthening the military.

In 2000 Democratic Secretary of State Madeleine Albright travelled to Pyongyang for discussions on limiting the ballistic program. Instead of success there there have since been ever growing attempts by North Korea to threaten America with nuclear war. Albright during her visit presented Kim Jong Il with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan.

Finally, in 2017, the United States is pressuring China into taking action against North Korea. Also the South Korean defense is strengthened and Japan is actively cooperating in military measures against North Korea.

A reunification of the two Koreas into a free and democratic Korea is a future possibility. Germany was unified in 1989 during a Republican administration. Only in times when American policy is peace through strength can communist countries be liberated peacefully.