Saturday, January 13, 2018

WSJ: Trump’s Iran Gamble

 The Wall Street Journal  

He issues a red line to rewrite the nuclear deal or reimpose sanctions.

By  The Editorial Board

President Trump said Friday that he’s waiving sanctions related to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal—for the last time. In essence he issued an ultimatum to Congress and Europe to revise the agreement or the U.S. will reimpose sanctions and walk away. His distaste for the nuclear deal is right, but the risk is that Mr. Trump is boxing himself in more than he is the Iranians.

Mr. Trump said in a statement that he is waving sanctions, “but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal.” He added: “This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word.”

That’s called a red line, and it means that if his terms aren’t met within 120 days, Mr. Trump will have to follow through or damage his global credibility. Presidents should be careful about putting themselves in box canyons unless they have a clear idea of a way out and what his next steps are.

Does Mr. Trump know? It isn’t obvious. Mr. Trump rightly focuses on the core faults of the accord: major provisions start sunsetting after 2023; the failure to include Iran’s ballistic-missile programs; and inadequate inspections. He wants the European allies that also negotiated the deal—France, Germany and the United Kingdom—to rewrite it with the U.S.

But Iran is sure to resist, and so will China and Russia. French, British and German companies already have billions in business deals invested or being negotiated with Iran, and their political leaders will be loathe to jeopardize them. European leaders have been embarrassingly quiet amid the anti-regime protests in Iran. European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini hosted the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France and Iran this week. They expressed support for the deal and said little about Tehran’s protest crackdown.

If the Europeans resist a nuclear renegotiation, Mr. Trump would then have to act alone with U.S. sanctions. While those are potent, to be effective they will have to target non-U.S. companies that do business with Iran, including our friends in Europe.

Some fear Iran would use reimposed U.S. sanctions as an excuse to walk away from the deal and rush to build a bomb, but we doubt it. The more likely scenario is that Iran will continue to court European business and try to divide the U.S. from its allies and block a new antinuclear coalition. The mullahs will claim to be abiding by the deal even as the U.S. has walked away.

On Friday Mr. Trump also challenged Congress to strengthen the nuclear deal’s terms under U.S. law, most likely by amending the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. This will require 60 votes in the Senate, which means Democratic support. This will test the sincerity of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who opposed the deal. But in today’s polarized Washington, partisanship no longer stops at the water’s edge. Mr. Trump won’t persuade Europe if he can’t persuade Congress.

The question all of this raises, as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson put it Thursday, is what is the policy alternative policy to the nuclear deal. The answer is containment with a goal of regime change. The people of Iran have again showed their displeasure with the regime, and the world should support them. We’d back such a strategy, but it isn’t clear that this is Mr. Trump’s emerging policy, or that he and his advisers know how to go about it.

The Treasury Department is moving ahead with sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missiles, including 14 more individuals and entities “in connection with serious human rights abuses and censorship in Iran.” The targets include the head of Iran’s judiciary and the cyber units trying to prevent protesters from organizing and accessing reliable news. But Mr. Trump has been reluctant to counteract Iran’s adventurism in Syria or Iraq, and a policy of regime change can’t be half-baked.

All of this is an enormous undertaking for an Administration already coping with the nuclear and ballistic threat from North Korea. The safer strategy would have been to keep waiving sanctions and let the nuclear deal continue while building support to contain and undermine Iran on other fronts. Mr. Trump can now say he has followed through on his campaign vow on Iran, but building a better strategy will take discipline and much harder work.

Darkest Hour vs. Five Days in London, May 1940

It may seem at first glance that this review has nothing to do with Iran.  But we are almost at the same point as in May 1940 

By Mladen Andrijasevic on January 13, 2018

Anthony McCarten has written an excellent book, well researched with extensive quotes from Churchill’s speeches and other sources, but I still disagree with his basic premise that on Sunday, May 26, 1940, during the third War Cabinet meeting between 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm, actually during the first 15 minutes of that Cabinet meeting for which there is no official record, Churchill came very close to accepting negotiations with Hitler. I read John Lukacs’s Five Days in London, May 1940, and compared it day by day to the account in Darkest Hour and John Lukacs’s interpretation to me is more credible.

In McCarten’s book I see no explanation as to what changed Churchill’s mind and strengthened his resolve from May 26, 1940 to May 27, 1940, which culminated with Churchill winning over the extended cabinet of 25 MPs on May 28 at his office at the House of Commons at 6:30 pm.

There is also no mention in McCarten’s book of two important facts. First, on May 24 at 11:42 a.m., Hitler issued the halt order, sent in clear, and instantly read in London, which stopped the advance towards Dunkirk and did not rescind it until late May 26, so on May 26, at 5 p.m. when the crucial meeting took place, Churchill already knew that there was a chance to use this pause to help evacuate the troops and indeed the order to initiate operation Dynamo was given a few hours after the fall of Calais the same day, whereas by May 27 the German tanks had continued their advance. So why would Churchill have been more resolute on May 27 than on May 26?

Second, the chiefs of staff came up with a paper on May 25 entitled “British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality “, which [from Lukacs’s Five Days in London, May 1940, page 107] ‘presumed the worst possible conditions - and, by 25 May, and increasingly plausible situation: the French making peace with Germany, Italy entering the war, Europe and French North Africa under German control and the loss of most of the British Expeditionary Force still struggling in northern France and Belgium . Still – even in these conditions Britain could hold out, if the United States would support Britain increasingly, eventually entering the war, and if the Royal Air Force, together with the navy, would remain in control over Britain and thus “prevent Germany from carrying out a serious seaborne invasion “’.

I personally believe that one of the main reasons Churchill did not give in is that in contrast to all the political class of the day (and almost all of the political elites of today), he knew whom he was dealing with. He knew what his enemy believed in. He had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf – “ the new Koran of faith and war”. [from The Gathering Storm, VOL 1 of The Second World War, page 26]. He knew what to expect from Hitler.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

JP Editor’s Notes: Regime Switching

Toward the end of 1977, Rafi Eitan was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office for a meeting. The regime of the shah of Iran was faltering, and Israel knew it was only a matter of time before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the exiled Islamic leader, would return to his country.

The 1970s was the honeymoon of Israeli-Iranian ties. Israel had an embassy in Tehran and enjoyed close military and intelligence cooperation with the shah and his pro-Western government, which, according to media reports, included the development of long-range ballistic missiles. Eitan was serving as prime minister Menachem Begin’s adviser on counterterrorism, and Jerusalem wanted to see if there was anything it could do to help stabilize its embattled ally.

Eitan knew Iran well. In his previous post as head of the Mossad’s operations department, Eitan flew frequently to Iran, visiting the country some 50 times in five years. At the time, he was tasked with helping the Iranians establish their own operations team. Until a few years ago, some of Eitan’s old Iranian counterparts still called him ahead of Jewish holidays.

Together with Uri Lubrani who was then the ambassador to Iran, Eitan came up with an idea to establish a special Iranian military force that would work to neutralize Khomeini’s primary supporters in the country. Together with the Iranians, Israel had marked a close-knit group of Islamists who were igniting public unrest in order to pave the way for Khomeini’s return after 14 years of exile. The thinking was that if these people were stopped, the revolution everyone saw coming would be stopped as well.

In the end, the initiative never took off. And despite the 40 years that have passed, Eitan believes Iran can still change and go back to the way it once was: pro-West, allied with Israel and a country that showed the world a moderate version of Islam, as opposed to the extremism it propagates today.

Eitan is something of a legend in Israel. Born in 1926 in a small kibbutz in northern Israel, he played a key role in Israel’s defense and intelligence community for over 70 years. At the age of 12, he joined the Hagana, the underground Jewish fighting force, and later became a member of its elite strike force, the Palmah. After World War II, he got involved in smuggling Jews into the country, at a time when it was controlled by the British.

One memorable escapade involved blowing up a British radar station used to detect illegal ships approaching Haifa Port. To reach the radar, Eitan had to crawl through an underground sewer, gaining him the nickname “Stinky Rafi.”

Eitan’s name often followed mystery and controversy. In 1960, in a daring operation, he led the team of Israeli agents that located and captured Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.

In 1968, and according to US government documents, he paid a visit to a nuclear fuel plant in the United States, from which 200 kilograms of enriched uranium later went missing, widely suspected of having been diverted to Israel’s highly classified nuclear program.

In 1981, while serving as Begin’s adviser, Eitan was appointed head of LAKAM, a shadowy organization that operated under the Defense Ministry and which was responsible for collecting – some might say stealing – scientific and technological know-how. Eitan was responsible for operating Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli spy within US Naval Intelligence, an affair that would strain Israeli-US ties for decades.

In 1987, after taking responsibility for the Pollard affair (now, he prefers not to say anything that could undermine the former agent’s chances of being allowed to leave the US), Eitan resigned from LAKAM, which was eventually disbanded. He then went into business, with a particular focus on agricultural projects in Cuba.

But in 2006, Eitan returned to the public eye, when he was asked to head the new Pensioners Party. The party was the wild card of that election and ended up in the Knesset with an astonishing seven seats and two ministries, placing Eitan inside Ehud Olmert’s government and security cabinet. The party lasted one election.

At 91, Eitan today is a wealth of knowledge, experience and obvious vitality, having returned just a few weeks ago from a long trip to Havana.

I went to see him to hear what he thinks needs to be done in order to ensure the Islamic Republic does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

As a member of the prime minister’s staff in 1981, Eitan was privy from the beginning to Begin’s plans to bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor that Saddam Hussein was building outside of Baghdad. And as a member of the security cabinet in Olmert’s government from 2006 to 2009, Eitan participated in debates on the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

He is worth listening to.

On one hand, Eitan believes that nuclear weapons in the arsenal of Israel’s enemies – such as Iraq or Iran – pose an existential threat.

“Nuclear weapons in the hands of people that are willing to commit suicide in the name of Allah is a danger we cannot live with,” he said. “If you ask: ‘Who in the world today is willing to kill themselves to kill others?’ It is only the Muslims. I don’t know another religion or another place where a person is willing to take a bomb and blow up and kill himself.”

On the other hand, a military strike on Iran is not viable.

Israel and the rest of the world are also mistaken in focusing just on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. It’s enough, Eitan said, to place a bomb in a shipping container and detonate it off the coast of Tel Aviv or Haifa and destroy both.

“So, how would you stop Iran?” I asked. “As the fate of the Iran deal remains in question – President Donald Trump decertified the agreement in October, but Congress has yet to propose an alternative – would you keep the deal in place or work to modify it, as Trump has said he would like to do?”

Eitan dismissed both options. The only real solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, he said, is for the world to invest more in overthrowing the ayatollahs.

Iran, he said, carefully studied the Israeli air strike against Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, and understood that it not only needed to disperse its nuclear facilities, but also to bury them deep underground.

“The Iranians asked themselves who would oppose their nuclear program and who would potentially attack,” he explained. “The answer was Israel, and after studying Osirak, they dug tunnels to make it hard for our bombs to destroy their facilities.”

And while the Israel Air Force said it could destroy the openings to the tunnels and delay Iran’s nuclear program by a year, Eitan said such an operation would be a waste of time.

“The only real option to neutralize the facilities is with ground forces – to send soldiers in on the ground and destroy the tunnels,” he said. “This we could not do without the Americans, and there was no logic to use the IAF when the damage would just be for a year or two.”

While he doesn’t know for certain, Eitan believes that Iran already has enough fissionable material to make a nuclear weapon. In other words, he said, with a military strike not feasible and Trump unlikely to dramatically succeed in changing the deal, the only real way to stop Iran is to invest more in changing the regime.

“Iran’s citizens are against the ayatollah regime,” he said. “They are very similar to a Western country in their culture and the way they are as a people. They would prefer a more Western-like regime.”

Eitan doesn’t know how or when this might happen, but he is convinced that 39 years since Khomeini returned to Iran, another revolution is only a matter of time. Trump could try to renegotiate the Iran deal, but the Iranians will con him and ultimately achieve their goal of obtaining the bomb.

“The Iranians are devious and have advanced technological capabilities,” Eitan said. “They will stick to their goal and they will cheat Trump. The only real way to deal with Iran is to switch the regime.”


The Jerusalem Post first came up with an article by Hagay Hacohen which was later substituted on the same link by the present article written by Herb Keinon. If you compare the two, what immediately   pops up is that the words pact and secret have been dropped. 

Secret White House meeting leads to establishment of special US-Israeli work-group meant to prevent Iran from increasing in strength.

Israel and the United States have formed a pact to tackle the Iranian threat together, according to a report by Israel's Channel 10 released Thursday evening. Channel 10 stated that top members of the Trump administration confirmed that team-up was decided upon in a secret meeting between top security officials in both the US and Israel

The meeting was held on December 12, the Israeli team was headed by National Security advisor Meir Ben Shabat and the American team was headed by US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

The result of the meeting was the creation of a document in which the US and Israel agreed on a list of shared strategic goals both nations share. The document is meant to ensure that Trump’s Iran speech from a few months ago would become American policy.

According to the report, One work-group will be tasked with finding both diplomatic and covert means to halt or put a stop to the Iranian effort to gain nuclear capabilities. Another will deal with the ongoing Iranian effort to promote itself as a regional powerhouse in other countries such as Lebanon and Syria.

The group will also form policies and plans for the day in which the Syrian Civil War comes to an end.

A third work group will deal specifically with the Iranian ballistic missiles program and the fourth is tasked with dealing with potential scenarios in which Iran will be involved in a regional conflict that might lead the entire Middle East into a boiling point.

Israeli officials were quoted as saying that “Israel and the US see eye to eye on the regional trends directions” and that both sides are ‘’very pleased” with these new understandings

Top US and Israeli national security officials reached an agreement two weeks ago in Washington on a joint work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East, Channel 10 reported on Thursday.

The document marks the beginning of a new cooperative effort against Iran, a senior US official told The Jerusalem Post.

The document, characterized by a US National Security Council representative as an informal “framework,” follows on President Donald Trump’s speech in October outlining a new American policy approach to the Islamic Republic, where he announced that he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal.

“It’s more precise to say that it is a framework document, and not a done and dusted plan,” the US official told the Post. “It is a framework for future cooperation. It is not the end result of a process, it’s more of a beginning.”

The White House declined to comment on whether the agreement commits the US to coordinate its forthcoming strategy on the Iran nuclear deal with the Israelis. But “our goal is to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon,” the official said.

“Obviously, there was a major strategy that was announced a few months ago, and there have been meetings subsequent to that shaped by that new strategy,” the official continued. “And obviously Israel is one of our closest allies.”

A spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office, when asked about the report, would only say that “there was a meeting in Washington.”

The Israeli team was led by National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, and the US team was led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Senior defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials from both sides took part in the meeting.

According to the report, an agreement was reached on regional goals in the region and several working groups were set up, including one to deal with joint covert and diplomatic steps to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons and to monitor and verify that it is not violating the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

This group will also focus on placing additional pressure on the Islamic Republic through both covert and diplomatic steps.

Another group was set up to counter Iran’s activity in the region, specifically its support for Hezbollah. This group will also formulate a joint policy regarding Syria after the end of the civil war.

A third group is to work to counter Iranian ballistic missile development and the manufacturing of precision missiles in Syria and Lebanon, and a fourth is to address joint preparation for various scenarios of escalation in the region, be they with Iran or with Hezbollah.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Jerusalem Post: Jerusalem and the Nations

It is interesting to note that Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and the Czech Republic abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European countries abstain from voting against US President Donald Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two equals four by recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam?

Douglas Murray, in his book The Strange Death of Europe, explains why Eastern Europe is different, by quoting Chantal Delsol: “‘I later became convinced that it was in these Eastern European societies that I should seek some answers to our questions... the divergences between us and them led me to the belief that the last 50 years of good fortune had entirely erased our sense of the tragic dimension of life.’ That tragic dimension of life,” writes Murray, “had not been erased in the East. And nowhere have the consequences of this been more clearly displayed than in the attitudes of Eastern Europe’s leaders, with the support of their publics, to the migration crisis.” Now this divergence has been confirmed in the UN General Assembly vote.


Too bad the Letters Editor never received my second letter which added Poland to the list and qualified the list to countries as members of the EU. Apparently, Bosnia-Hercegovina which is not a member of the EU also abstained. It abstained because there was no consensus between the Muslim Bosniak, Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat population.

This was the corrected first paragraph of the second letter which the Jerusalem Post never apparently got.

It is interesting to note that among the EU, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European EU member countries abstain from voting against president Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two make four by recognizing that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam? 

Friday, December 22, 2017

How come six Eastern European EU countries abstained in the UN GA vote on Jerusalem?

It is interesting to note that among the EU, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania abstained. How come? Why did only these Eastern European EU member countries abstain from voting against president Trump for having the courage to say that two plus two make four by recognizing that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and stopping the appeasement of Islam? 

Douglas Murray in his book The Strange Death of Europe  explains why Eastern Europe is different by quoting Chantal Delsol: “I later became convinced that it was in these eastern European societies that I should seek some answers to our question -- the divergence between us and them led me to the belief that the last fifty years of good fortune had entirely erased our sense of the tragic dimension of life” .  “That tragic dimension of life”, writes Murray “ had not been erased in the East. And nowhere have the consequences of this been more clearly displayed than in the attitudes of Eastern European leaders, with the support of their publics, to the migration crisis."   Now this divergence has been confirmed in the UN GA vote. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Do NATO, the US and the Europeans care at all what Turkish president Erdogan is saying?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Abdullah Bozkurt

Dissident Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt in his tweets is drawing attention to what Turkish president Erdogan has been saying:

“#Turkey's president #Erdogan says "those who think they own #Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they won't even be able to hide behind trees" in a a reference to widely circulated prophecy of hunting down & killing every Jew.

Turkish president #Erdogan issues a veiled threat of killing each and every Jew with a shocking reference to apocalyptic prophecy of tree story.”

Below are the hadiths Erdogan was referring to.  At Davos, in 2009, Erdogan stormed out of the meeting when Peres quoted the Hamas Charter article taken from the same hadith.

Chapter : The Last Hour would not come until a person would pass by a grave and wish that he should have been the occupant of that grave because of this calamity.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

 Narated By Abu Huraira : Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him