Saturday, November 26, 2016

Why is Europe turning a blind eye to Islamic occupation?

The Jerusalem Post

National and religious minorities in the Arab region have not been given independence or autonomy; They are still trying to overthrow their Arab-Muslim occupiers.
In a world beset by terrorism and humanitarian disasters, the international community remains fixated on the State of Israel.

The one and only state of the Jewish people, back in their historical homeland, is a beacon of democracy in the Muslim-Arab sphere devoid of human rights, left behind by social and economic progress and subject to frequent bouts of bloody unrest. Yet Israel is singled out, again and again, for condemnation.

The European Union, self-appointed human rights watchdog, is at the forefront of the attacks. This is a puzzling phenomenon.

Why is Europe turning a blind eye to the deadly legacy of violence, chaos and backwardness left by the Islamic occupation of the Middle East and North Africa? Why, indeed, is the old continent wooing the Arab world, forgetting its own history and past Islamic takeover attempts? Why is it so reluctant to see that Islam is threatening its future through massive immigration and terrorist attacks? And why is there no such compunction regarding Israel, branded as the last colonial power occupying a land belonging to others? After all, here the focus is on the wrong occupier. From the 7th century onward, the Middle East and North Africa have been forcibly conquered and occupied by Muslim-Arab forces that have oppressed its populations and pillaged their riches. The so-called “guilt” of Israel is having successfully fought the Arab occupiers after 1,308 years and restoring its independence, a feat only one other country, South Sudan, has been able to accomplish in modern times, but at a terrible price – more than two million dead over the 40-year fight for independence from its Islamic rulers.

Europe apparently has forgotten that Muslims once came to ravage and plunder and impose their faith. Of course, it threw them off much earlier.

France defeated a massive Islamic army at the Battle of Poitiers in 732, driving back the invaders all the way to Spain and stopping their advance into Europe. Spain would need another eight centuries to achieve its Reconquista and regain full sovereignty over all its territory.

Sicily threw the invaders back into the sea in the 11th century, after 100 years of occupation.

Ottoman Muslims were defeated in 1683 at the battle of Vienna. A number of Central European countries and the Balkan States were under Ottoman Islamic rule for 350 years, until the middle of the 19th century.

It’s always useful to go back to history and hard facts to remind ourselves how and why Islam has prevailed while all other old empires disappeared, and what the resulting disastrous consequences are to the world at present.

Muslim-Arab rulers rode roughshod over ancient civilizations. With the beginning of their conquest and expansion in 640, they encountered established centers of culture, products of centuries and even millennia- old civilizations. Populations in the land of Israel and in Mesopotamia (today Iraq and Syria) were monotheist, and lived under the rule of Byzantium and/or the Sassanian empire, with strong Greek and Roman influences.

Jews, with 3,000 years of history behind them, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek; Christians, with a past of “only” 600 years, were the descendants of Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations and spoke Aramaic and Greek. Jews and Christians thus represented highly developed cultural traditions and boasted of advanced institutions of higher learning.

In Persia, the Sassanid dynasty perpetuated the 2,000-year-old Zoroastrian religion and civilization. In Egypt, Islam fought to overcome the brilliant pharaonic and Greek cultures as well as the Coptic faith. In North Africa, Islam met Berbers, ancient Phoenician peoples, as well as Jews and Christians who had developed a thriving agriculture and had commercial ties with Europe and Africa.

Special attention should be paid to the constant attacks on Aramaic-speaking Christian populations throughout the centuries.

In the Middle East in the 1st century, Assyrians had been the first to adopt Christianity, though their claim is disputed by Copts who also claim to have been the first. Gradually, Assyrian Christian civilization disappeared from the Middle East. By the 14th century, Arabic had thoroughly replaced Aramaic in Mesopotamia, parts of present day Turkey and even the former Persian Empire, where it was introduced to the Hebrews during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE. The famed Babylonian Talmud was partly written in Aramaic.

Persecution of Christians has never stopped, even in modern times. During World War I, Ottoman Turks massacred more than 1,000,000 Christian Armenians, and also killed 300,000 Assyrian Christians.

There was another massacre in the 1930s in northern Iraq, in which tens of thousands of Assyrian Christians were killed before Great Britain managed to stop the murder.

Very few speakers of Aramaic are now left in the Middle East, probably no more than half a million, living in Iraq and southern Syria. Another million have settled in the United States. In Israel, where there is a small community of some 1,500 Aramaic speakers, efforts are made to help them promote a revival of their ancient language.

Pagan empires such as Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome launched wars to demonstrate power, assert their dominance and accumulate wealth. Not so Islam: its avowed aim was, and still is, to impose the religion of Muhammad on the world, and convert infidels by persuasion or force and make them pledge allegiance to Allah.

WHILE ANCIENT empires withered and disappeared, Islam imposed its faith on conquered peoples, turning them into believers and thus also changing their culture. With time, Arabic superseded the many languages of the ancient world, and a new Muslim- Arab space was born through coercion.

The vast territories conquered by Islamic armies in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain were slowly turned into religious and cultural centers that were intended to be united in one vast Islamic caliphate, as had been preached by the Prophet Muhammad who used to say that all Muslims would be brothers.

It never happened. There was incessant fighting between Islamic rulers as competing caliphates were established in Damascus, Bagdad, Cairo, North Africa and Spain.

There never was one Caliphate that would have united all the peoples and let them develop and progress, affording them gender equality and basic human rights, and letting them live their lives according to their religions and traditions. On the contrary, Islam, presented today by the faithful and by many Western academics as a religion of peace, is claiming superiority over the other religions, and, in accordance with the shari’a, imposing itself forcibly – which it continues to do to this day.

There is discrimination toward non-Arab minorities everywhere, and even toward Christian Arabs. In Saudi Arabia, keeper of the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, building churches or synagogues is forbidden. Foreign nationals who are not Muslim cannot become citizens and are prohibited to enter Mecca. In short, this is a failed civilization that brought nothing but violence and lack of progress to the territories it occupied by force. For centuries, Jews were at the mercy of their Islamic rulers who afforded them a measure of protection as long as they paid a head tax and submitted to humiliating regulations. Woe to the Jew who entered into a conflict with a Muslim, as courts always found for the Muslim against the infidel.

In the 20th century, in the wake of World War I, the awakening of the colonized and oppressed peoples spread to the Ottoman Empire. The consequences were the formation, through the Sykes-Picot agreement, of Arab nation-states such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and one Jewish state – Israel. Most of those states imploded or dissolved under the pressure of Arab- Islamic internecine conflicts dating back to the dawn of Islam and Arab tribal traditions.

National and religious minorities in the Arab region have not been given independence or autonomy.

They are still trying to overthrow their Arab-Muslim occupiers.

PROMINENT AMONG them are the Kurds.

They are not Arabs, but are indigenous to the area. Conquered and forcibly Islamized, they were disposed to ally themselves with their new rulers.

Salah al-Din ‒ Saladin – the legendary warrior who defeated the Crusaders and “freed Jerusalem” was a Kurd. Yet they steadfastly refused to relinquish their identity, their language and their customs. Today, they number an estimated 30 million to 40 million and are spread among four countries: Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

They have long fought for their independence, or at least for a large measure of autonomy. Indeed, a Kurdish autonomous zone was created with the help of the allied coalition in northern Iraq in the wake of the first Gulf war, intended to protect the Kurds from Saddam Hussein. He had led a vigorous policy of forced Arabization against them, deporting tens of thousands of peasants to other areas with a view to replacing them by “ethnic” Arabs, and even gassing a number of villages. That Kurdish zone proclaimed its right to independence in 2011, but it was not recognized by other countries.

In Syria, the civil war made it possible for the Kurds to establish several semi-autonomous zones. Recently, Turkey penetrated into northwest Syria under pretext of fighting ISIS, but they are using the opportunity to push back Syrian Kurds and declaring that it will never permit the installation of a Kurdish zone along its border. The long-running Kurdish rebellion, led by the PKK – Kurdish Workers Party ‒ in Turkey so far has claimed tens of thousands of victims on both sides. There is a legal Kurdish party authorized by Ankara that, nevertheless, refuses to discuss granting autonomy, let alone independence, to its significant Kurd minority.

In Iran, the Kurdish democratic party fought long and hard for independence in the 1970s and ’80s, but was decimated by a savage repression.

Tens of thousands died, leaving a scared and enfeebled community unwilling to fight anymore. Yet there remains a small Kurdish movement that still launches minor guerrilla actions against the regime. Ayatollahs ruling Iran with an iron hand will not hear of even limited autonomy. World media has largely ignored the plight of Kurds in Iran.

The indigenous peoples of North Africa, disparagingly called Barbarians or Berbers by Greeks and Romans because they spoke neither Greek nor Latin, were forcibly Islamized by the Arab conquest, but they kept their identity and their own language throughout the centuries.

They, too, fought alongside their conquerors, and Berbers who converted to Islam founded the Almoravid and Almoads dynasties, which adhered to a stringent brand of Islam and were among the rulers of Spain.

Today, there are some 38 million Berbers scattered between Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Their language and culture were never recognized by the Arab regimes in North Africa, which largely oppressed them. Of late they have launched a campaign to promote their independence or gain autonomous status, and have established common institutions such as the world Amazigh Congress – Amazigh being the name of their language – founded in France in 1995, and the Union of North African Peoples established in 2011, in Tangiers, as the so-called Arab Spring resonated throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

In Algeria, Berbers make up 33 percent of the population, and can be found mostly in the Kabylie region in the country’s northeast. Oppressed for centuries, they set up a government in exile in Paris in 2010.

Here again, Western media remain silent.

Although the amended Algerian constitution recognized the Amazigh language in February 2016, it did not bring about needed changes on the ground, and oppression went on unabated.

There are some 20 million Berbers in Morocco – an impressive 60 percent of the population.

Here too, as a result of the Arab Spring, Mohammed VI granted recognition to their language, and gave his approval to a more liberal constitution in order to defuse social tension in the country and avoid the fate of the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

In Libya, the Berber minority makes up 12 percent of the population. Even though it was at the forefront of the battle to topple Muammar Gaddafi, it did not receive any recognition in the new government, and undoubtedly will ask for a measure of cultural autonomy if and when the situation in the country is stable again.

The fact that Berbers are living in so many different countries with no territorial contiguity makes it difficult for them to wage a united campaign against their Arab rulers.

What Kurds and Berbers have in common is that they are both indigenous, non-Arab populations; have both been forcibly Islamized; and even participated with their new rulers in conquests fought in the name of Islam. Yet neither was treated as equals by the Arabs, who boast of their prophet and of the divine apparition of the Koran in Arabic, and look down on those who embraced their religion but remained “foreigners.”

Then there are the Copts, the indigenous population of Egypt. They converted to Christianity in the 1st century, and stubbornly refused to relinquish their faith through 1,400 years of Arab-Islamic occupation and repression. The Coptic church is Orthodox, autonomous and independent, and led by a pope. Today, Copts make up 10 percent of the population of Egypt.

They do not look for autonomy and feel an integral part of the country, but would like to be treated as equals. It is not likely to happen soon.

The first article of the 2014 constitution stipulates that Egypt is part of the Arab and Muslim nations. According to Article 2, Islam is the religion of the state and shari’a is the primary source of legislation. Article 3 recognizes the right of Copts and Jews to administer personal and religious affairs according to their faith, but Islam and Arab nationalism dominate Egypt, and Copts do not enjoy equal rights. Jews, once a vibrant part of the country’s economic and cultural life, have been forcibly driven away and only a handful are left.

In other words, the Middle East and North Africa are still under a continued repressive, illegitimate and unjust Arab-Islamic occupation, and no one in the West is ready to tackle the issue.

All those varied populations evolved into the substratum of what became known as Muslim-Arab civilization.

There had been what is dubbed now the “golden age of Islam” loosely from the 8th to 12th centuries, essentially in the 10th and the 11th centuries during the rule of Harun al-Rashid in Bagdad and Abd ar-Rahman III in Cordoba. At that time, the famous House of Wisdom in Bagdad was created, and the study of philosophy, mathematics and medicine blossomed. Arabs brought the decimal system from India, learned from the Chinese the secret to producing paper, and mainly from Christians of the East translated from Latin into Arabic the writings of Greek philosophers. However, in spite of this exceptional contribution, that civilization remained stagnant and was left behind. The shari’a overcame the budding of development.

The West, meanwhile, welcomed the age of enlightenment that ushered in industrialization and the establishment of democratic regimes.

Today, Daesh – the self-proclaimed Islamic State ‒ has taken upon itself to eliminate the last surviving minorities, focusing on the pitiful remnants of Assyrian Christianity and on the Yazidis (followers of a religion loosely based on the teachings of Zarathustra) in northern Iraq. It is also systematically smashing all remaining monuments and vestiges that testify to the past glory of cultures destroyed by Islam – churches, ancient cemeteries and monuments such as Palmyra.

AT PRESENT, Arab conquest and Islamization are not being taught in the West, and no research is being carried out since it might lead to some unwelcome conclusions that contradict prevalent trends in academic circles and the media.

Western thinkers have adopted a so-called “Post-postmodernism” approach based on political correctness and multiculturalism.

These are the tools applied by leading academics and international media to deal with Islam and the problems it presents in the form of millions of Muslim migrants coming to Europe, and the rising tide of Islamic terrorist attacks.

They deliberately ignore historical reality and the fundamental tenets of Islam as a religion.

Such willful ignorance can only lead to increasingly weakened democratic regimes unable or unwilling to fight militant Islam and its religious intolerance – including blatant anti-Semitism – aspiring to impose its rule on the whole world.

Interestingly, the Western world, and more specifically Europeans, see in Islam one of the three monotheist religions rooted in the Bible, the other two being Judaism and Christianity.

They believe, or pretend to believe, that by patiently attempting to blunt the more radical elements of Islam they can reach an understanding leading to peaceful coexistence. They do not see that there are some insuperable obstacles due to the very nature of Islam.

There are fundamental theological differences between Islam and Christianity. The very principle of the Trinity – which is at the core of Christianity – is abhorrent to Islam, where the oneness of Allah cannot be disputed, and merely adding another element is tantamount to blasphemy and punishable by death.

Regarding Judaism, Islam in the beginning was a biblical religion, and a third of the verses of the Koran deal with Jews. The direction of prayer – Kibla in Arabic – for the first faithful was Jerusalem. But since Jews – and Christians – of the Arab Peninsula refused to recognize him as a prophet coming after Moses and Jesus and superseding both, Muhammad distanced himself more and more from the Scriptures. He changed the direction of prayer to Mecca, and told his believers that it was not Isaac that Abraham was about to sacrifice on Mount Moriah but Ishmael, the son of Hagar his concubine. He also proclaimed that Adam and Noah had both been precursors of Islam. This was intended to distance Islam from the Covenant between God and the People of Israel, and later from Jesus as the Christian Messiah.

ISLAM THUS became a separate and very different religion, so there is no basis for a fruitful dialogue with Christianity and Judaism leading to some form of understanding.

Europe cannot or will not face the historical truth about the Arab-Muslim conquest and occupation of the Middle East, and the dire consequences for the peoples of the region. Israel cannot afford that luxury. It was forced to fight it in order to survive, and its efforts were crowned with success.

A small community of 650,000 men, women and children defeated the armies of five Arab states that invaded its territory in order to destroy the fledgling state in May 1948. This was a devastating blow for the Arabs, who had grown accustomed to the undisputed rule of Islam throughout the Middle East and to the inferiority of the Jews who lived as second-class citizens.

Jews who had settled for centuries in Arab countries were expelled “in retaliation,” and nearly a million of them found themselves stateless and robbed of their property. Strangely, there was no outrage and no outcry in the West.

The Arab world could not accept its defeat and still refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, showing its hostility through a ceaseless diplomatic campaign and boycotts while supporting constant terrorist attacks against its citizens. What makes it even more galling for Arab minds is that in spite of all that warfare, the Jewish state has been transformed in just a few dozen years into a thriving and successful country, a world leader in the fields of agriculture, industry and hi-tech.

It was in response to the sudden and unwarranted attack by Jordanian forces upon western Jerusalem in 1967 that Israel conquered Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Since the Arab world refused again and again to agree to a comprehensive settlement, Israel, which returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in the wake of the 1979 peace agreement, and subsequently made peace with Jordan and evacuated the whole of the Gaza Strip, sees itself as the custodian of the territories until such time as real peace can be achieved.

Why should the Jewish state bow to the Arab pretension that the whole Middle East must be ruled by Arabs? What if Caliph Omar stated that a land once conquered by the armies of Islam would forever be part of the Islamic world, a thought echoed by the Muslim Brotherhood and seconded by militant Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh? Europe has apparently forgotten that they also eye Cyprus, Spain, Sicily and the south of France.

Jews never bowed to the Arab conquest and never renounced the land of Israel, which remained the lodestar of their cultural and religious aspirations. Religious and secular literature were linked to the land of Israel. The word geula – salvation or deliverance – always meant return to Israel, and that hope kept the Jewish People and preserved their identity. Some messianic Jews even made impossible attempts at coming back to the land of their forefathers, such as Dom Joseph Nasi and Shabtai Zvi.

They all failed because they were unrealistic ‒ at the time, Jews were a persecuted minority, with no political support and no military force.

YET, THERE was always a Jewish presence in the land of Israel, and it never disappeared even after the Arab conquest of 640, which dealt a blow to the Jewish community that numbered half a million at the time.

Some converted to Islam, others were killed or fled, but until the middle of the 18th century there was a substantial Jewish presence in many Galilean villages, as well as in Safed, Tiberias, Jerusalem and Jaffa. Jewish and Christian travelers attest to the fact in their accounts.

Jewish researchers found clear proof of that continuous Jewish presence in the archives of the Ottoman Empire, where there are detailed reports of taxes paid according to the religious affiliation of the taxpayers.

By the second half of the 18th century, Jews in the Galilee faced with ceaseless vexations and pogroms from their Arab neighbors could no longer resist, and had to leave. When the State of Israel was born, only a few Jewish families were left in the town of Peki’in. Nevertheless, one can still see in Arab villages a Star of David or a menorah on a door frame or a roof, ruined synagogues, and Jewish cemeteries.

Many, if not most, Arab villages in the Galilee were Jewish villages whose population had been driven away to make room for the Arabs.

Arrabe, Sakhnin, Bir’am, Mrar, Achbra, Sepphoris, Kafr Kana, Nazareth and many others were all Jewish towns mentioned in the Bible or Talmud, and some figure prominently in the New Testament.

Jewish historian Josephus Flavius mentions by name 200 Jewish villages in the Galilee.

These inconvertible facts are conveniently glossed over by Arab members of the Knesset and their supporters, who ludicrously claim that Jews have nothing to do with Palestine, “which was Arab since the dawn of time.” Yet the families of these Knesset members settled here a mere century or two ago.

Indeed Palestine is not an Arab word, and there is no Arab connotation to such a country. The word was coined by Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BCE to describe a part of Israel that was populated at the time by Philistines, members of some Greek tribes who had settled there in the second millennium BCE and were to be found on the coast until they were driven off or chose to leave.

Emperor Hadrian, having defeated the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE and killed an estimated 1.5 million Judean Jews, decided to obliterate the name Judea forever and chose to resurrect the Greek appellation. Henceforth Palestine was used to describe the land of Israel – Eretz Israel – perhaps because it was easier to pronounce and never referred to an Arab entity.

In fact, European anti-Semites in the late 19th century and early 20th were wont to tell Jews, “Go back to your country, Palestine.”

There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab entity; Palestine is not mentioned in the Koran because it was known as Jewish. Arabs arrived as conquerors and never thought to establish a country. They never settled in great numbers until the second half of the 19th century, when the Zionist movement brought progress and development, and more workers were needed.

Arabs arrived by the tens of thousands in the land of Israel, still called Palestine, from the Maghreb, Egypt, the Arab Peninsula and Syria looking for work. Such are the facts about the nonexistent history of a so-called Palestinian people, and they were well known and not disputed until the Six Day War, when Arabs suddenly began calling themselves Palestinians with “historical rights to the land.”

It was not taken seriously at first, but then Arab propaganda decided it would make an excellent weapon and adopted it. Slowly, the liberal Israeli Left came to accept this definition, in the mistaken belief that it would encourage Arabs to make peace. It turned out to be a colossal mistake that helped to distort the situation. Arab leaders now wax lyrical on an Arab presence “which began 5,000 years ago” and left no room for any Jewish claim.

SOMEHOW, THERE are Europeans who go along with that fantasy, forgetting the Bible and world history. They are convinced that Israel conquered large tracts of a ‒ wholly imaginary – Arab Palestinian state belonging to the ‒ equally imaginary ‒ ancient Palestinian people. Apparently, no one wants to remember that there is an Israeli-Arab conflict born of the Islamic conquest and Arab nationalism, and all deny any legitimacy to the Jewish state in the land of Israel.

Needless to say, this leaves no room for a solution, as can be seen from a review of the 100 years that followed the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Vainly did Israel propose one compromise after another. They were rejected, and the Arabs never made a counterproposal since doing so would have meant accepting that Israel is here to stay.

Yet one has only to turn back to the history books to realize that Arab-Islamic conquest and occupation of the Middle East and North Africa led to whole-scale destruction without bringing any hope, and that it is not Israel that is at the root of the problem.

Unfortunately, Europe is not interested in historical facts. It pursues its endless carping about Israel, isolating and weakening the Jewish state, which is confronted by an Arab-Islamic world bent on destroying it. Europe is conferring upon the Arabs the legitimacy it denies to Israel, and does not understand that by so doing it is perpetuating the conflict, sowing the seeds of more and more wars and ultimately undermining its very own existence.

Zvi Mazel, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Egypt, Romania and Sweden

The man who during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 urged Khrushchev to nuke the US is dead!

Former CIA director, James Woolsey:

“For example, we know now from Soviet documents that were released or stolen after the Cold War ended, that Castro pushed very hard during the Cuban Missile Crisis for essentially there be a nuclear war. Happily he did not care if Cuba would be destroyed. He wanted so much that the   United States be destroyed, and he was not even a religious fanatic. He was just a fanatic sociopath.  That almost tipped things into a tragic direction, but happily on the other side the Soviet Union was basically a bunch of thugs with a cover story their ideology was very substantially dead.”

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies at 90

Some of the feedback I got was  that  I was quoting the former director of the CIA as if he were an unreliable source .  Well,  I would always trust  the former CIA director over  the KGB  or Cuban sources. But to show how  widely  accepted this piece of info is, here is  The New York Times

Unaware of Kennedy’s and Khrushchev’s progress toward a deal, at 2 a.m. on Oct. 27, Mr. Castro decided to write to Khrushchev, encouraging him to use his nuclear weapons to destroy the United States in the event of an invasion. At 3 a.m., he arrived at the Soviet Embassy and told Alekseev that they should go into the bunker beneath the embassy because an attack was imminent. According to declassified Soviet cables, a groggy but sympathetic Alekseev agreed, and soon they were set up underground with Castro dictating and aides transcribing and translating a letter.
Mr. Castro became frustrated, uncertain about what to say. After nine drafts, with the sun rising, Alekseev finally confronted Mr. Castro: are you asking Comrade Khrushchev to deliver a nuclear strike on the United States? Mr. Castro told him, “If they attack Cuba, we should wipe them off the face of the earth!” Alekseev was shocked, but he dutifully assisted Mr. Castro in fine-tuning the 10th and final draft of the letter.

U.S., Western Allies Push Iran on New Measures to Bolster Nuclear Deal

The Wall Street Journal

The initiative to reduce Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile has taken on new urgency since Donald Trump’s election created new uncertainty around the accord

Inside the Arak heavy-water production facility in central Iran. Last week, the head of the U.N. atomic agency overseeing the nuclear deal called out Iran for exceeding the heavy-water cap for a second time this year. PHOTO: REUTERS


BRUSSELS—The U.S. and its Western allies are pressing Iran to take steps to sharply cut the amount of radioactive material it holds in a bid to shore up last year’s nuclear deal and discourage the incoming Trump administration from abandoning it, Western officials said.

The discussions about reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium started months ago, officials said, and are among a number of measures the Obama administration has been examining to fortify the accord in its final months in office. But the initiative has taken on new urgency since the election of President-elect Donald Trumpcreated fresh uncertainty around the deal.

If agreed upon, the plan could reduce the odds of a sudden flashpoint between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s implementation of the deal once Mr. Trump takes office, Western officials say, by reducing its enriched-uranium stockpile well below the cap agreed to in the 2015 accord.

Officials say the plan would also lengthen, for a while, Iran’s so-called breakout time—the amount of time it would take the country to accumulate enough material for one nuclear weapon were it to quit or violate the deal—though it is unclear by how much. The constraints of the nuclear agreement are currently set up to ensure it would take Iran at least a year to produce the ingredients for a nuclear weapon.

Neither the Trump transition team nor Iranian officials immediately responded to requests for comment on the initiative.

While on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump vowed to scrap and, alternately, renegotiate the deal, and his picks to his national security team so far suggest his administration will take a hard line with Tehran. On Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened a response if the U.S. extended Iranian sanctions—as House lawmakers this week voted to do—for another decade.

Western officials, though, say Iranian officials have engaged in serious discussions about the new plan but haven’t so far committed to it. In the past, Iran has proven sensitive about moves that would curtail its rights to enrich uranium under the accord. Having that right was a demand Iran—which has always denied any intent to develop nuclear weapons—made a priority in the nuclear-deal negotiations. Nonetheless, Iran has sent abroad or blended into natural uranium thousands of kilograms of enriched uranium since the July 2015 accord.

That agreement sought, among other things, to ensure that Iran couldn’t speedily accrue enough of key ingredients, such as enriched uranium and plutonium, to build a nuclear weapon.

Under the deal with the U.S. and five other governments, including Russia, Iran agreed to cap its stockpile of enriched uranium at 300 kilograms (661 pounds) for the next 15 years. The agreement also set a cap of 130 metric tons (143.3 U.S. tons) on Iran’s stockpile of heavy water, a material that can be used to cool uranium in a process to produce plutonium.

Last week, the head of the United Nations atomic agency overseeing the Iranian nuclear agreement called out Iran for exceeding the heavy-water cap for a second time this year. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano warned that Iran could undermine confidence in the implementation of the deal if Tehran crossed key limits again.

Iran reacted swiftly and sent 11 tons of heavy water to Oman early this week, likely putting Iran below the 130-metric-ton limit for months to come, people familiar with the situation said.

The plan that the U.S. and its partners are currently discussing with Iran would take Tehran’s stockpile far from the 300-kilogram limit on enriched uranium, Western officials said, ensuring that it wouldn’t exceed the cap for some time.

When the nuclear deal was closed, Iran had an estimated 100 kilograms of enriched uranium stuck in the pipes and machinery at its currently mothballed enriched uranium facility in Isfahan in central Iran.

People familiar with the discussions, which have taken place among Iranian, U.S. and European nuclear experts, say that if an agreement is reached, Iran could, in a matter of a few weeks to a couple of months, clean out the facility and the pipes and machinery in a way which degrades the uranium so that it isn’t usable for potential future use in a weapon.

Officials say there are various ways that could be done without dismantling the facility including, for example, flushing the pipes with chemicals to create a liquid waste that would be very hard to turn back into powder form for enriching into weapons-grade uranium.

“The idea is to render material that is already incredibly difficult to recover unrecoverable,” said one Western official.

Some nuclear experts have complained that neither the IAEA, Iran, the U.S. nor the EU, which helps oversee the deal’s implementation, have clearly defined what they count as “unrecoverable” material—uranium that is genuinely impossible to separate out and redeploy.

They argue that some uranium may have been exempted from the cap over the past year, which, while time-consuming and difficult, isn’t impossible to reconstitute into more dangerous forms of enriched uranium.

Officials say that in the new political context, given the uncertainties over the nuclear deal, action by Iran to ensure it significantly reduces its current enriched uranium stockpile, would be a clear win-win.

“It is in everyone’s interest that Iran continues to remain under the limits set in the JCPOA,” said a senior U.S. administration official, using the acronym for the agreement.

People familiar with Iran’s actions say Iran has also run depleted uranium at other facilities to slow its production of enriched uranium. Others say Iran may have deliberately slowed production of heavy water by keeping its two production units at the nuclear site of Arak shut down for longer than technically necessary, although there is no hard evidence for that.

The enriched-uranium initiative is one of several by the U.S. administration to bolster the agreement before President Barack Obama leaves office. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the administration was also considering steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions.

Friday, November 18, 2016

George F. Kennan’s Sketches from a Life

I had been reading George F. Kennan’s Sketches from a Life the last few months, not more than ten pages at a time, marking in pencil paragraphs that I especially liked, or reading them aloud to my wife.  Beautifully written, yet at times painful since he often touches on the transitoriness of human existence and that is not easy to confront. 

In this entry from December 9, 1987, he describes the recognition he received from an unexpected source – then Soviet leader Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev:

Remembering my wife’s admonishments not to stand uncomfortably in the background as I usually do in such occasions but to insist on meeting the guest of honor and adding my particular set of banalities to the others he was condemned to endure, I decided to make the effort. So I pushed through the crowd and eventually squeezed myself into the small circle of photographers, journalists and other pushy guests surrounding the distinguished visitor. The latter, whom I was meeting for the first time, appeared to recognize me, and amazed me by throwing out his arms and treating me to what has now become the now standard statesman’s embrace. Then, still holding on my elbows, he looked me seriously in the eye and said: "Mr. Kennan. We in our country believe that a man may be the friend of another country and remain, at the same time, a loyal and devoted citizen of his own; and that is the way we view you." 


My ears failed me badly during Gorbachev’s long talk, and I amused myself by fidgeting with the earphones and trying to figure out which was harder to catch: the speaker’s Russian or the plodding artificialities of the simultaneous translation. But actually, I could not concentrate on what he was saying. His words to me still rang in my ears. And as I reflected on them, the whole sixty years of my involvement with (which included, at one point, being banned from Russia  as an “enemy of the Soviet people”) revolved before the mind’s eye; and I could think of no better conclusion to this entire chapter of activity -  at least none from the Soviet side  - than this extraordinarily gracious and tactful statement, worthy, when you think of it, of the finest standards of royal courtesy. I reflected that if you cannot have this sort of recognition from your own government to ring down your involvement in such a relationship, it is nice to have it at least from the one-time adversary.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Donald Trump has offered the national security advisor job to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Wow!

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Los Angeles Times reports that Trump has offered the national security advisor job to  Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

So let’s see what I have in my blog on Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Wow! 

Search results, go to links:  

See No Iran Evil at State


Is the Obama Administration Forfeiting IAEA Inspections of Iranian Military Sites?

update 7:55 pm

 The reaction has already begun.  France24 International Affairs Editor Douglas Herbert, on Michael Flynn:

“You look at someone like Mike Flynn, he is going to be the national security advisor. He has had extremely controversial statements about the Moslem faith, saying that it is a political ideology, not a religion.  “

What is controversial about Islam being also a political ideology?  After all, Ayatollah Khomeini said:  “Islam is politics or it is nothing.

update, Nov 19, 9:44 pm

Here is an another opinion from The Guardian:

 His ascent marks a victory for the ideology inspired by Osama bin Laden – that the west is at war with Islam   

Richard Wolfe of the Guardian got it backwards.  Islam has been at war with the infidels ever since the HIjrah  in 622 CE when Mohammad moved from Mecca  to Medina   

Washington Post readers explain: WHY I VOTED FOR TRUMP

1 of 27
Jay Maynard
56 years old • Fairmont, Minn.
I am not one of Donald Trump's fanboys. The choice was not cut and dry. What finally decided the question for me was Hillary Clinton’s hostility to the rule of law as exemplified by her behavior and her promise to select Supreme Court justices willing to overturn District of Columbia v. Heller and Citizens United. Taken together, those two things meant her election represented an existential threat to the Constitution, its design for our government, and the First and Second Amendment. I concluded our country would not survive a Clinton presidency. That meant she had to be stopped cold. The only way I had to push in that direction was to vote for Trump, so I did.

2 of 27
Andreas Ninios
40 years old • Washington, D.C.
What matters most to me is inclusion. Though we live in a "global village" type of world, the benefits (better education, better information and a better variety of choices in general) are not felt by all. That is because, though many politicians say progress and globalization promise better things, they deliver fewer and fewer of those promises to all. That was reflected in this election the most. People are tired and want change for everyone. I am not sure a Trump presidency delivers the right type of change, but I am hoping that the politicians who have failed time and time again to deliver on the aforementioned promises got the message.

3 of 27
Max Mordell
30 years old • Spring Valley, N.Y.
I am a Cruz/Rubio Republican, and I voted for Donald Trump because, first, he will upset the status quo in government (on both sides of the aisle) — a status quo under which the government keeps getting larger while the rest of America keeps gets smaller. Second, Trump will expose the cynicism in the media — an industry that thrives off of the appeal to the worst of human impulses. Trump may not pursue constitutional conservatism, but he has an excellent chance to enact policies and to create an environment in which this country's economy can get going again. I am also convinced Trump is well suited to restore American leadership — with all of its values — around the world. The American spirit (the term may need to be defined for some millennials, and the best resource is simply a standard history text), which has driven the successes of our past, is sorely lacking at home and around the world. Trump understands this, and I believe he is genuinely interested in making America great again.

4 of 27
Yasar Bresnahan
60 years old •  Canton, Ga.
I am a Muslim woman and a legal immigrant from Turkey. I have my American citizenship. I voted for Donald Trump. I can say it proudly.

5 of 27
Kirsten Johnson
31 years old • Minneapolis, M.N.
I was literally undecided until I went into the voting booth. I was a strong advocate for Gary Johnson for most of the race, but I changed my mind after I saw him at a lackluster rally in town. Then Trump came through, and the energy and passion was astounding. He overflowed an airport hangar with 24 hours’ notice on a Sunday during a Vikings home game. Holy crap. So, in the end, I voted for the economy, against Obamacare and against a corrupt government, just as I was planning to for Johnson. But I also voted for the people, because Trump was the clear choice of the silent majority I eventually became a part of.

6 of 27
Nick Flores
39 years old • Sacramento, Calif.
I voted for Donald Trump because he will deport illegal immigrants more than Clinton. As a legal immigrant who had to wait 13 years for an immigration visa approval and pass two health screens and an English language proficiency exam prior to entering the United States, I consider it an insult to to cater to criminals who disobeyed immigration laws and cut in front of all law-abiding immigration applicants waiting patiently to be approved. I have never received any government assistance, nor is it my goal to do so. My dignity disallows such a thought. To witness some illegal immigrants gaming the welfare system boils my blood.

7 of 27
Nicole Citro
47 years old • Burlington, Vt.
Donald Trump came to Burlington, Vt. — Bernie Sanders’s home town — in December. I stood in line with a few thousand people and was confronted by a few hundred people protesting Trump’s appearance and those supporting him. I was still on the fence, but after that rally I knew without a doubt Trump was going to be our next president. He had tapped into what the everyday Joe — and Jane — were feeling but had become PC-shamed from expressing. As Trump cleared each hurdle during the campaign, and I saw how the media, the establishment and celebrities tried to derail him, my hope began to grow that I would be able to witness their collective heads explode when he was successful. Tuesday night was beyond satisfying to watch unfold. I hope all the aforementioned have learned their lesson. I look forward to watching Trump make good on his plans to make America affordable, make America safe and make America work. I always thought it was great.

8 of 27
Erin Keefe
22 years old • Manchester, N.H.
I am white, I am a woman, I am pro-choice, I am educated, and I voted for Donald Trump. The government needs to be run like a corporation, simple as that. Of course humanitarian issues are of concern to me, as they are to every American. His degrading language toward women bothers me, and his views on global warming are a problem for me. I do not 100 percent love Trump, but I am convinced he can lead this nation. I was part of the silent majority. My friends would bash those who leaned toward Trump and comment on how insane, uneducated and racist his supporters were. I was afraid to speak my mind because of the possibility it might hurt my reputation socially and professionally. I respect everyone’s opinion and vote, and it’s wrong to be ridiculed for supporting someone you have a right to support. I scrolled through my Facebook page on Election Day personally hurt. Friends accused Trump supporters of not loving them because they are gay, a woman, a person of color or an immigrant. My stomach dropped knowing what might happen if someone found out that I supported him and that they thought I did not love them for that. I voted for Donald Trump because he can create change for our country, economy and world.

9 of 27
Deniz Dolun
22 years old • Boca Raton, Fla.
My entire family — five Muslim immigrants from Turkey — voted for Donald Trump in Florida because of the Democratic Party’s pandering to Islamism. As people who have actually experienced Islamism in its purest form, back in Turkey, we supported the candidate who promised to help us fight that issue, regardless of any of his other policies. For us, the people of the Middle East, this election was just too important to hand over to someone such as Hillary Clinton.

10 of 27
 Diane Maus
61 years old • Suffern, N.Y.
On Tuesday, I voted Republican for only the second time in my life. The media did the United States a huge disservice in covering this campaign. As I watched, I got the impression that voting was a mere formality. The commentary was all about how Hillary Clinton was set to get down to business once the pesky election was over. It was obvious watching the election returns on several networks that not one of them prepared for the possibility of Donald Trump triumphing. Why was that? My vote was my only way to say: I am here and I count. I wish President-elect Trump all the best and have hope that Washington will, in the next four years, actually work for all Americans.

11 of 27
Howard Gaskill
77 years old • Georgetown, Del.
I remember the Clintons from back when they tap danced around the Gennifer Flowers story. Then came Whitewater and then Hillary Clinton’s billing records were nowhere to be found, and then there was Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton looked right at me through the TV screen and said “I did not have . . .” The lies never stopped. Then came the Clinton Foundation, foreign donations and the emails. I have 100 percent Clinton Fatigue. If Bernie Sanders had been on the ballot, I would have voted for him, even though I agree with him on virtually nothing. But he seems to be honest and stands up for his beliefs and not for enriching himself.

12 of 27
Phil McNeish
 57 years old • Roanoke, Va.
 I am an independent voter who leans slightly to the left. I am a small business owner. I am not an uneducated, deplorable redneck. Donald Trump, despite his imperfections, will be the most left-leaning Republican president of all time. Hillary Clinton would have steered the country further to the extreme left, while Trump will be a good mix of left and right. We, in the middle, are weary of partisan bickering. Trump was our best hope of a president willing to compromise.

13 of 27
 Lori Myers
 51 years old • Houston
 I voted for Donald Trump because the media was so incredibly biased. They were unhinged in their obvious role as the Clinton campaign propaganda machine. The collusion was just too much.  

14 of 27
Debra Knox
 61 years old •  Shallotte, N.C.
 I am concerned about my impossibly expensive health insurance and the impact on my family. I am concerned about undocumented immigrants and the Democratic Party’s propensity to give and give to everyone. The middle class is in dire condition. I haven’t had a raise in 10 years. I couldn’t stand the thought of four more years heading in this direction. My decision was based on my fiscal needs.

15 of 27
George Erdner
65 years old • Duluth, Ga.
It was time we had a businessman with strong executive skills leading our nation back to capitalism. We must reverse the trend toward socialism, and who better to make that change than a capitalist?

16 of 27
Christopher Todd
53 years old • Tampa
I voted for Donald Trump on the calculated bet that he would nominate conservative Supreme Court justices. The Constitution is a social contract, not a poem to be variously interpreted. If people want to permit gay marriage or abortion for any reason, then make both legal through the legislature, not via an unelected oligarchy rewriting the Constitution.

17 of 27
Mackenzie Gans
28 years old • Las Vegas
We need to focus less on individually placating all the groups that make American wonderful and more on solving issues related to the economy and foreign adversaries. Tap-dancing around our national debt, our failure to contain Iran and North Korea, and our long-term unemployed citizens helps no one.

18 of 27
James Brady
74 years old • Tennessee
I voted for Donald Trump based on my Christian values. I didn’t know a lot about Trump but I knew too much about the Clintons. This country needs to get back on track with God, to give God praise, honor and glory each and every passing day. He is worthy. I pray for the new administration that will take office in January. I believe if Hillary Clinton had won the election we would be dead in the water. Too many things she sought to get passed were against any Christian belief for those who are true to Christ.

19 of 27
Helene Berkowitz
37 years old • Hashmonaim, Israel
Unlike most Americans, I know how to compartmentalize and separate my personal opinion of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and my belief about who is better for the job. I have always said — years before Trump was ever interested in politics — that the country should be run like a business. Meaning the United States should be led by someone who knows how to delegate, and understands complex budgets, negotiation and leadership. That is why I voted for Trump. I don’t need my president to be nice to everyone and to give them a warm, fuzzy feeling. Get a bathrobe for that. I also don’t have to agree with him on every single opinion or policy. I don’t need to be friends with my president; I need him or her to lead the country, provide solutions for our problems and make a stronger and greater United States.

20 of 27
 Jim Barnacle
 66 years old •  Harrisburg, Pa.
I don't believe Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist or homophobe. I think he will focus on making the economy better for American citizens and businesses. I'm hopeful that he will help our inner cities and help everyone reach their potential. I'm a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, and my two sons are cops as well. My three sons-in-law are in the military. Hillary Clinton convinced me that she does not support my profession or the military. I also believe the Clintons were wrong for accepting so much money for speeches. They were being paid for access, which is wrong.

21 of 27
Daniel Traynor
 46 years old •  Devils Lake, N.D.
Because the part of America that grows your food, produces your energy and fights your wars believes the country needs a course correction.

22 of 27
Laura Johnson
49 years old • California
Because I believe Donald Trump loves America and really wants what is best for all Americans, whether it be health care, jobs or just feeling safe in our country. I want my gay friends, my friends of many races, to be safe in their workplaces and homes and communities. I know that's very important to him. And I could never get past the email scandal and Benghazi with Hillary Clinton. That turned me off for good. My son is in the military. I just couldn't vote for her. I believe Trump is sincere in his love of country and his desire to make it better. I want to give him a chance.

23 of 27
Samantha Styler
 21 years old •  Gilbert, Ariz.
I am a gay millennial woman and I voted for Donald Trump because I oppose the political correctness movement, which has become a fascist ideology of silence and ignorance. After months of going back and forth, I decided to listen to him directly and not through minced and filtered quotes from the mainstream media.

24 of 27
Marc Gratkowski
46 years old • Scranton, Pa.
I favor Donald Trump's ideas on trade, his potential Supreme Court nominees, and his support for inner cities and educational opportunities. The WikiLeaks documents provided the most important reasons for defeating Hillary Clinton: her campaign's vile "Catholic Spring" revolution to weaken my church, and her foundations’s links to foreign money, especially from the Uranium One deal and from countries that have provided funding to the Islamic State. But the “Catholic Spring” and her campaign's response to this revelation would have been enough on their own.

25 of 27
Marilyn Weydert
74 years old • Kenosha, Wis.
I voted against Hillary Clinton, and for Donald Trump, because Clinton compromised our national security by putting classified information on a personal email account and allowed people without security clearances to access that information. As a retired federal employee with a security clearance, I have protected classified information. Failure to do so has resulted in prison for many, and rightly so.

26 of 27
Ron Sexton
61 years old • Tustin, Calif.
Donald Trump is willing to be open, to be transparent and to tackle the problems we need handled as Americans. Fix immigration so immigrants can come here legally with full rights and not be disadvantaged. Support the rule of law and secure the border, and process violent criminals correctly. Fix the bad global trade rules. China buys up the United States while Google and Uber fail in China and Apple cannot even protect the iPhone name there. I think Trump is smart and has a chance to do good things for the United States. He is more of a doer than a politician. An inclusive president for all.

27 of 27
Shoanna Crowell
45 years old • Boston
I voted for Jill Stein, which my friends all yelled was a vote for Donald Trump. I don't fully disagree. It was clear early on in the Democratic primary contest that the mainstream media discounted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) even when he was winning states. Then the Democratic National Committee emails came out, and I had proof of what I suspected. The Democrats and the mainstream media had handpicked their candidate and were manipulating us. They felt entitled to shove Hillary Clinton down our throats. I'm glad they didn't get away with it.