Tag Archives: Iran

Iran’s People Lose Patience with Regime

In an interview with a New York Post  reporter Eli Lake, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize wrinning human rights author, has called for the end of her nation’s regime. After years of attempting to reform the nation’s government from within, she now believes that the only way to effectuate change is through a regime change.

Ebadi had previously been  reluctant to call for the end of the regime, but now believes it is the only way to restore freedom.  She didn’t advocate for external military intervention, and called for the Iranian people to rise up.  According to Lake, her position is a rebuke to Western progressives who still pine for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to deliver on the reforms he promised in his 2013 and 2017 campaigns.

Human Rights Watch notes that “Authorities in the security apparatus and Iran’s judiciary continued to target journalists, online media activists, and human rights defenders in an ongoing crackdown, in blatant disregard of international and domestic legal standards…Iranian courts, and particularly the revolutionary courts, regularly fell short of providing fair trials and used confessions obtained under torture as evidence in court. Authorities routinely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel, particularly during the investigation period… Authorities continued to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly and prosecuted dozens of journalists, online media activists, and trade unionists on charges of ‘acting against national security,’ ‘propaganda against the state,’ and ‘assembly and collusion to disrupt national security,’merely for exercising their legitimate rights.”

On August 29, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, the lawyer of six administrators of channels on the social media application Telegram who were close to reformists arrested before the May presidential elections, told Ilna news agency that Branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced his clients to three to five years in prison.

In sharp contrast to Barack Obama’s acceptance of the extreme Islamic government in Tehran, President Trump has sharply criticized that nation’s leadership.  In a tweet delivered while substantial protests were occurring around Iran,  he stated “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

Despite a significant attempt by the Iranian people to reform their government in the 2009 “Green Revolution,” the Obama Administration chose not to support the movement. Gil Hoffman, writing for the Jerusalem Post reports  that Israeli Deputy Minister for Public Policy Michael Oren believes  “The Obama administration’s lack of support for the Green Revolution was part of a pattern in which it did not hold Iran accountable for any provocation. It would seem it was part of a general approach that began in Obama’s first week in office in 2009 of wanting to reach a deal with Iran at pretty much any cost…. Among the Iranian provocations ignored by the Obama administration, Oren listed the crackdown on the protesters, the kidnapping of Americans, having their missile boats provocatively approach American destroyers, trying to assassinate him and his Saudi counterpart in downtown Washington, the failure to follow through on a red line Obama imposed on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad using chemical weapons and Iranian-backed Hezbollah smuggling massive amounts of cocaine into the US.

In January, the largest protests against the Tehran regime spread across Iran. In contrast to the Obama Administration, the U.S. State Department’s  official position stated that “The Iranian people have been expressing their desire for dignified treatment, an end to corruption, improved transparency, and increased economic opportunities. Protestors have also demanded that the regime stop diverting the nation’s wealth to fund military adventurism abroad. Unfortunately, the government continues to imprison and kill those who are brave enough to venture into the street. It is limiting the flow of information into Iran, restricting free speech, and attempting to prevent the outside world from observing its own repression. We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information. All of us should be able to enjoy the same basic economic and political freedoms, including the right to peaceful demonstration. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deaths to date and the arrests of at least one thousand Iranians. We have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protestors, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran. To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten.”

U.S. State Dept. map

Iranian Missile Threat

The world’s attention is currently focused on North Korea, but Iran should not be ignored due to its weapons program, its support for worldwide terrorism, and its ongoing aggressiveness in the Middle East. The Iran nuclear deal, which only temporarily slowed down Iran’s atomic weapons program, has not affected that nations’ strategic delivery systems development, including both ballistic and cruise missiles.

According to Ian Williams’ report for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC.) , “Iran has invested significantly in the development of its strategic forces which today includes the region’s largest and most diverse arsenal of ballistic missiles, increasingly sophisticated cruise missiles, as well as an array of shorter-ranged anti-ship missiles … Iran has also established the technological basis for a nuclear weapons program. This effort has included a blend of overt activities under the auspices of a civilian nuclear energy program, and covert activities aimed at expanding Iran’s nuclear weapons potential without international blowback…even those with the highest hopes for the long-term efficacy of JCPOA  [Iran nuclear deal]  cannot deny that the agreement entirely neglects significant aspects  of malign Iranian behavior. In fact, mounting evidence suggests that the structure of the nuclear deal, its limitations, and its associated provisions have actually had the opposite of their intended effect, abetting and emboldening Iranian behavior and capabilities that fall outside of the parameters of the JCPOA…nuclear weapons, these forces give Iran the ability to impose significant costs upon the United States and its regional partners should conflict occur. They also provide Iran with a kind of deterrent cover to pursue its malign activities in the region with less perceived risk of direct military confrontation with the United States, the Gulf Cooperation Council states, and/or Israel. Such a dynamic could easily to lead to strategic miscalculation and conflict.”

A Fox News report based on a Foundation for Defense of Democracies study revealed that Iran has aggressively pursued its ballistic missile program “since agreeing to the 2015 nuclear deal…Iran has fired some 23 missiles …as many as 16 of them nuclear-capable… the robust missile program shows the Islamic republic is bent on intimidating its enemies and preparing for the day when it can do so with the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.”

A Foreign Policy  analysis notes that  “ According to multiple Directors of National Intelligence, Tehran boasts the Middle East’s biggest ballistic missile arsenal. This poses both a conventional and an unconventional threat, with many missiles exceeding the specifications that make them nuclear capable.”

Iran is proliferating its missile weaponry. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has stated  that  “…the Iranian regime’s behavior is growing worse…Its ballistic missiles and advanced weapons are turning up in warzones across the region…In its strongest language yet, the Secretary-General’s report describes violation after violation of weapons transfers and ballistic missile activity.”

Iran is rapidly developing the ability to directly threaten the American homeland. An NTI study notes that “In addition to its missile program, Iran possesses a space launch capability. Iran has successfully launched several satellites aboard its space launch vehicle (SLV) the Safir, with reports of an attempted launch from the new Simorgh SLV. Many have expressed concern over the dual- use capabilities of these systems and their potential application for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

NTI notes that “Iran is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime or the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. In 2015, to support implementation of the JCPOA, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2231, which called on Iran ‘not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.’ The U.S., U.K., France, and Germany have claimed that Iran’s subsequent ballistic missile tests were ‘inconsistent with’ and ‘in defiance of’ UNSCR 2231, with the U.S. imposing sanctions on Iran in response to its ballistic missile tests, most recently in 2017.”

Will There be War with Iran? Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its report on Iran.

Comments from key Iranian officials have not been reassuring. Breaking Israel News reported last April that “Iran is preparing for an all-out war with the US, said Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Tuesday at a gathering of senior IRGC commanders in Tehran. Jafari said that Iran’s long-term military plan has been shaped by anticipation of a future war with America in which Iran would be the ‘decisive victors’. ‘For years, we have been building power on the presumption of a widespread war with the US and its allies, and have developed all our capacities and capabilities for decisive victories over such enemies,’ he said, Tasnim News reported. In a statement unlikely to surprise anyone paying attention to Iran’s constant anti-Western rhetoric and threats and its blatant dismissal of international condemnations of its arms developments, Jafari emphasized that a combative solution is prioritized over the weaker tools of diplomacy. ‘Before political and diplomatic options, we have gotten prepared for a military option,” he said.”

In 2014, the Middle East Media Research Institute  wrote:

“In two separate speeches, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stressed that the main enemy of the revolution was the U.S. and extolled fighting it as the revolution’s central value… Khamenei also called on Iranians not to be taken in by the U.S.’s overtures, and not to trust it…In his Revolution Day message, both Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and Iranian Army chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi stressed that Iran longs for the decisive battle with the U.S…

The next day…Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi told Fars: “Iran is prepared for the decisive war against the U.S. and the Zionist regime.” He added, “Iran has been making plans, conducting maneuvers, and preparing its forces for this battle for years now.” Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) naval commander Ali Fadavi threatened that in battles at sea, his forces would sink American warships: “The Americans can spot swift boats, sea mines, and anti-ship missiles but they cannot grasp axioms such as… ‘God, the Islamic Revolution, and the Supreme Leader [Khamenei].’ On the chest of the IRGC is the [Koran] verse that clearly says that the use of measures against the infidels and the enemies must be promoted. The Americans notice only some of our capabilities; only on the battlefield will they fully internalize the bulk of our capabilities. The Americans will know [Iran’s true power] when their warships, with over 5,000 aboard, sink during a confrontation with Iran, and when they have to search the depths of the sea for their bodies.”

Complicating the vital task of analyzing what Iran intends to do is the religious factor. An apocalyptic Moslem belief in the appearance of “The Hidden Imam,” also known as the Mahdi, whose appearance would be brought about by a vast turmoil and mass martyrdom of Islamic faithful.

The Hudson Institute explains.

“Today, the three largest Shiite populations of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are experiencing a dramatic transformation in the nature and scope of messianic expectation…While Shiite Islam has always possessed an elaborate literature concerning the Mahdi, never before has this literature been as copious, publicly available, detailed, or socially explosive (in terms of its stress on the imminence of the Mahdi’s return) as it is today…Messianism is an important driver of political life in the Shiite world whose power is too often underestimated and too easily misunderstood by outsiders. One obvious and legitimate source of deep concern for outsiders has been the potential combination of activist Shiite messianism and the Iranian nuclear program.”

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) reports that “In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran closed a speech at the United Nations with a call for the ‘mighty Lord’ to “hasten the emergence” of Imam Mahdi, a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad.”

A study by the Trustees of Boston University noted that “Many Muslims anticipate that the end of days is here, or will be here soon. In a 2012 Pew poll, in most of the countries surveyed in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, half or more Muslims believe that they will personally witness the appearance of the Mahdi. In Islamic eschatology, the messianic figure known as the Mahdi (the Guided One) will appear before the Day of Judgment.”

Will there be War with Iran? Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues the report on the potential for conflict with Iran.

According to Iran Truth,  “Hezbollah is present in “no fewer than fifteen metropolitan centers, stretching from New York to Los Angeles,” according to Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, including: New York, NY;  Newark, NJ;  Boston, MA;  Chicago, IL ; San Francisco, CA;  Louisville, KY;  Houston, TX;   Miami, FL;  Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR;  Atlanta, GA; and Tampa, FL. The  Obama administration’s described  Hezbollah as ‘the most technically capable terrorist group in the world.’ Clare Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, indicates that Hezbollah’s objectives in North America include: pre-attack casing and surveillance; funding scams, intelligence collection, proscribed military equipment acquisition, and establishing sleeper cells.”

Iran’s ability to afford what would be a costly conflict was strengthened during Mr. Obama’s tenure, when vast assets were unfrozen as part of the nuclear deal. The Daily Caller noted: “’What Obama and Kerry did was resource the Iranian military with a windfall equal to 10 to 20 times its annual budget,’ Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and current resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute told The DCNF in an interview. ‘Even if the world re-imposes sanctions tomorrow, the Revolutionary Guards will have the resources to paralyze the region for a decade.’

Tehran’s geopolitical standing was enhanced by the destabilization of the entire region following Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq.  America’s credibility as a counterbalance was reduced by the former President’s failed “redline” In Syria, and his refusal to use military assets to rescue his own ambassador in Benghazi. The influence once held by the U.S. was replaced by Russia, which has strong ties to Tehran.

The risk of Iran miscalculating that President Trump will be as pacifist in his response to aggressive and unlawful actions is significant, although his administration recently made its position clear:

“Recent Iranian actions, including a provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants, underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East. The recent ballistic missile launch is also in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran ‘not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.’These are just the latest of a series of incidents in the past six months in which Houthi forces that Iran has trained and armed have struck Emirati and Saudi vessels, and threatened U.S. and allied vessels transiting the Red Sea.  In these and other similar activities, Iran continues to threaten U.S. friends and allies in the region.

“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.  The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk. President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama Administration, as well as the United Nations – as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

The President has stated that “nothing is off the table” in terms of what the U.S. may do in response to Iranian actions.

The Washington Free Beacon called President Trump’s position a “vast departure” and noted that

“Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, accused Iran of breaching international accords governing the nuclear agreement. He lashed out at the Islamic Republic for threatening American military assets in the Persian Gulf region. Flynn’s remarks represent a break with the previous administration, which worked to hide Iranian transgressions and declined to publicly state that Iran’s behavior violated the nuclear deal. One senior White House official disclosed to the Washington Free Beacon that ‘the restraint of recent years’ when it comes to Iran “will end.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Will there be War with Iran?

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government begins a three-part review of the potential for conflict with Iran

Iran’s ongoing provocations, including launching nuclear capable missiles, attacking shipping, support for international terrorism, and ongoing threats of “death to America” and “death to Israel” are bringing the possibility of an armed clash closer to reality.

Confronting the Tehran regime will be fraught with exceptional danger. Iran has a significant military, and is backed by Russia and China.

Global Firepower provides this summary of Iran’s known military assets:

  • 479 aircraft
  • 398 ships (including 33 submarines)
  • 1,658 tanks,
  • 1,315 armored fighting vehicles,
  • 320 self propelled guns,
  • 2,078 towed artillery pieces,
  • 1,474 multiple launch rocket systems

Iran Primer adds :

  •  “Iran’s forces are strong enough to create major problems for any invasion, and Iran can threaten its neighbors by fighting asymmetric wars. Its conventional military — and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — have significant irregular warfare capabilities.
  • “Iran’s forces pose at least a near-term threat to shipping and tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, and the Indian Ocean. It cannot win a war to “close the Straits,” but can create major problems for petroleum exports for at least a few weeks.
  • “Iran’s capabilities are enhanced by its steadily growing ballistic missile and long-range artillery rocket forces. Iran is also a major supplier of weapons and military advice to Iraq, giving the Islamic Republic influence over Hezbollah, Hamas, and  Iran is proficient at irregular warfare. It has built up a powerful mix of capabilities for both regular and IRGC forces to defend territory, intimidate neighbors, threaten the flow of oil and shipping through the Gulf, and attack Gulf targets. It has a dedicated force to train and equip non-state actors like Hezbollah, Hamas and Shiite extremists in Iraq—potential proxies that give Iran leverage over other states.

“Iran’s acquisition of long-range missiles from North Korea and development of its own liquid- and solid-fueled missiles has given it a strike capability that partly compensates for the weakness of its air force. It has declared that it is a chemical weapons power, and may have a biological weapons program. It has acquired the technology to produce fission nuclear weapons and has enriched uranium to levels where it is clear it can eventually produce fissile material. These capabilities help compensate for the limited capabilities of its conventional forces by increasing deterrence of outside attack and act as a deterrent to attacks on its irregular and asymmetric forces.”

Iran may have unknown access to atomic capabilities, thanks to its close association and technology sharing with North Korea. It may also be able to tap Pakistani-originated nuclear expertise and facilities, as well. (In the nuclear deal reached during the Obama Administration, Iran agreed not to develop nuclear weapons for approximately a decade.)

A Forbes article noted that:

“North Korea’s fifth nuclear test reminds us that Iran could also use its U.S.-begotten trove of hard currency to buy nuclear weapons technology — or even the warheads themselves — from cash-hungry North Korea. Congress might want to keep that risk in mind, as lawmakers debate how to address what appear to be two separate issues, cash for Iran and nuclear tests by North Korea. While there is no public information that connects Iran’s airborne cash bonanza with North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear projects, in the absence of far greater transparency and detailed accounting from the U.S. administration on both fronts, it would be folly to rule it out. Iran and North Korea have a long, intimate history of arms deals, including missile development. This partnership enhances the likelihood that a North Korean miniaturized warhead might be readily compatible with an Iranian missile.”

Breitbart has information that indicates that the danger to Americans  would not be restricted to the Middle East. In a 2015 article, it was noted that

“Experts at a National Defense University (NDU) conference warned that the Iranian-backed narco-terrorist group Hezbollah… has expanded across Latin American and into the United States…the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) expressed concern about the movement of ‘special interest aliens’ in Latin America. Breitbart News reported that U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended at least 474 aliens from terrorism-linked countries attempting to sneak into the United States illegally [in 2014].”

The Report Continues on Monday

Obama’s Iran Deception: Does it Apply to his Entire Foreign Policy?

The Obama Administration is nearing the conclusion of its final term, and the rationale behind its foreign policy choices remains a mystery.

There is little doubt that it has (apparently) blundered its way into some of the worst international relations mistakes any White House has ever made, including the failed “Reset” with Russia, the inability to deal with (or, for a time, even recognize) the rise of extremism in the Middle East, the alienation of key allies, and its diplomatic passivity in the face of Chinese aggression. Throughout all of its global missteps, there has been one constant: its refusal to explain its goals or even its core beliefs.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in its actions towards Iran.

The latest example is another startling departure from common sense. Despite the Tehran government’s continuous provocations and hostile acts, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is encouraging European enterprises to do business with Iran. It remains unclear why a U.S. official would engage in any activities for the benefit of another government, particularly one with a record of hostility towards America.

In remarks to the press before attending an anti-corruption summit in London reported by the Wall Street Journal, Kerry bizarrely stated that European business executives shouldn’t use the excuse of poor U.S.-Iranian relations as a reason not to do business with Iran. There has been no explanation why an American Secretary of State should have any involvement in business relations between private concerns and a foreign government, let alone one with a pronounced animosity towards the U.S.

The comments come at roughly the same time that remarks by White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes have created a firestorm of controversy. Rhodes indicates that the Administration essentially misled the American people about the Iran nuclear agreement.

A New York Times description  of how the Iran deal was “sold” to the American public by Rhodes notes: “The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false.”

The White House lied—there is no gentler way of stating this—about a “moderate” faction in the Tehran regime. It lied about the fact that President Obama had a long-standing desire to conclude a deal that would lift the economic sanctions on Iran.

Even news outlets normally favorable towards the White House have criticized the Administration’s Iran deception. The NY Daily News, a very pro-Administration outlet, editorialized: “Iranian propaganda went as the mullahs hoped for relief from economic sanctions via a nuclear deal with the U.S. and Western powers. Why would anyone believe such obvious nonsense? One reason — in fact the key reason — is that Obama joined Iran in knowingly peddling the same false propaganda to America”

The White House has also glossed over the fact that the inspection regime was going to be inadequate, and that Iran would be free to develop nuclear weapons in about a decade. Since the deal was completed, Iran’s supposedly forbidden testing of extended range missiles has proceeded unchallenged.

According to The Hill, House oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz is threatening to subpoena Rhodes.

Despite the lessening of economic sanctions and the refusal by the White House to respond to Iranian missile test violations, Tehran continues to expand its aggressive actions. According to Israel National News  Iran is threatening U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.

The Iran deception is just a part of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy puzzle. Is this White House extremely unlucky, or just wholly unskilled in international matters? Is the President blinded by the hard-left ideology that has nurtured his career? Most worrisomely, particularly in light of the Iran deception, it is now appropriate to ask whether these results, In Russia, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere are actually the results Mr. Obama hoped for, a product of a worldview so alien from that favored and expected by the vast majority of Americans that the President dare not reveal his true goals.

Missile Defense Cut as Threats Expand

The inadequate funding of America’s missile defense program (See the New York Analysis of Policy and Government’s article “Obama Opposes Missile Defense even as Threats Expand) is getting harder to justify.

President Reagan originally championed anti-missile defenses against the vast Soviet arsenal. The potential success of that program—even before significant development began—has been considered by many a factor in the belief by some in the USSR hierarchy that they could no longer compete with the U.S.  After the collapse of the Communist regime, the program seemed unnecessary.  But the meteoric rise of China’s military and the growing missile prowess of North Korea and Iran made the concept again necessary.

And of course, there is Russia.  While the current missile defense program provides no defense against Moscow’s nuclear arsenal which, for the first time in history, is larger than America’s, the Kremlin opposes the existence of this purely defensive effort, without offering any logical reason why it takes such a position. At the same time, it works against international efforts to stop the proliferation of missile technology.  Russia has blocked UN Security Council attempts to oppose Iran’s growing missile program, much the same as China has taken no significant action against North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM efforts, despite its overwhelming influence over Pyongyang.

A recent General Accounting Office  study noted that “According to the Department of Defense (DOD), protection of the United States from the threat of ballistic missile attacks is a critical national security priority.”

The FY2017 Missile Defense Agency budget request of $ 7.5 is considerably smaller than the last pre-Obama budget request of $9.3 billion, and smaller than the FY2016 request of $8.1 billion.  Strangely, as the threat increases, support for protection decreases.

In 2013, National Security expert  Loren Thompson, writing in Forbes,  observed “it is surprising to note how little money the Pentagon spends on missile defense, given the high priority of the dangers it addresses.”

Testifying before Congress in 2015, Vice Admiral J.D. Syring,  USN Director, Missile Defense Agency told the House Armed Service Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces:

“The threat continues to grow as our potential adversaries acquire a greater number of ballistic missiles, increasing their range, incorporating BMD countermeasures, and making them more complex, survivable, reliable, and accurate. Space-launch activities involve multistage systems that further the development of technologies for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In addition to the Taepo Dong 2 space launch vehicle/ICBM, North Korea is developing and has paraded the KN08 road-mobile ICBM and an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) capable of 2 reaching Guam and the Aleutian Islands.

“As part of a series of provocations last year, North Korea conducted multiple short- and medium-range ballistic missile launches and threatened to conduct additional longer-range launches. Today it fields hundreds of Scud and No Dong missiles that can reach U.S. forces forward deployed to the Republic of Korea and Japan.

“Iran has publicly stated it intends to launch a space launch vehicle as early as this year (2015) that could be capable of intercontinental ballistic missile ranges if configured as such. Iran also has steadily increased its ballistic missile force, deploying next-generation short- and medium-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs and MRBMs) with increasing accuracy and new submunition payloads. … Iran continues to develop more sophisticated missiles and improve the range and accuracy of current missile systems, and it has publicly demonstrated the ability to launch simultaneous salvos of multiple rockets and missiles.”

There are implications for America’s allies.

The Jerusalem Post reports that “The timing of the US cuts is regrettable as the capability of missiles developed by both Iran and North Korea is advancing and their production numbers are increasing. According to the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency overall funds earmarked for anti-missile defense will fall in 2017 by a projected 10 percent…Funding for the cooperative Israeli program will be slashed by 60% while funding for the highly effective Iron Dome system faces a 25% cut. This certainly hurts Israel, but these cuts also put South Korea and Japan at risk as those countries face off against an increasingly belligerent and technologically capable North Korea.

“Israel, with American help, has proven the investment in missile defense pays off. It should be clear to the United States and all Americans that in an increasingly dangerous world with missile proliferation rampant it is more important than ever to give our leaders more options to protect our cities and our allies.”

Why Obama Finally Decided ISIS is Genocidal

Long after it had become painfully obvious to even to the most casual observers, the Obama Administration has decided that ISIS is guilty of genocide.  It has, however, failed to admit that its own incompetence led to the conditions allowing ISIS to become a powerful force.

The timing of Secretary of State Kerry’s announcement, and the deployment of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Iraq, reveals much about the mindset of the Administration’s attitude towards foreign affairs, not just in the deeply troubled Middle East but also in its perception of the American role in the world.

Since the end of World War 2, the United States and its NATO partners have been the most powerful alliance on Earth, both politically and diplomatically. That partnership was hugely successful. Another world war was averted, and the Soviet Union was stared down and collapsed without yet another global conflict. A period of extraordinary prosperity was ushered in.  Numerous nations gained independence.

This was not accomplished without major cost, both to the U.S. taxpayer and to those who served and sometimes gave life or limb in the armed forces.  But the results were extraordinary.

Mr. Obama and those who ideologically agree with him nevertheless have been uncomfortable with Washington’s leading role. They disagree with the commitment of many billions of dollars to defense purposes instead of social welfare programs. They are troubled by the American philosophies of capitalism and individual rights. They seek to reduce the influence of the United States.

Reducing America’s international role from one of leadership to just one of many, or in some cases a junior partner, just feels right to them.

The conflict in Iraq had already long lost popular support before Mr. Obama took the oath of office in 2009. However, the continuing post-war presence of American troops served an important purpose.  Iraq’s internal conflicts, never far from the surface, were kept somewhat at bay as the nation moved slowly but significantly towards democracy.  Who can forget the images of Iraqi voters proudly holding up purple thumbs, signifying that they had voted for the first time in a true election? Equally as important, the presence of U.S. troops kept a lid on the influence of the darkest forces in the region.

That salutary effect was eliminated when those troops were wholly withdrawn, the last leaving on December 18, 2011, against the advice of military leaders. In 2015, the Washington Times reported that many current and former  military believed that  the untimely and complete exit “left the door open for the Islamic State’s land grab…The assessment comes from the Army chief of staff, a former Marine commandant, a former U.S. Central Command chief, a former defense secretary and, privately, from the officer running the war in Iraq against…ISIS.”

Not long after, in 2014, ISIS began to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Since then, as Secretary Kerry noted on March 17,    ISIS (also known as Daesh) “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions … Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.…Daesh killed hundreds of Yezidi men and older women in the town of Kocho … Daesh captured and enslaved thousands of Yezidi women and girls – selling them at auction, raping them at will, and destroying the communities in which they had lived for countless generations. We know that in Mosul, Qaraqosh, and elsewhere, Daesh has executed Christians solely because of their faith; that it executed 49 Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya; and that it has also forced Christian women and girls into sexual slavery. We know that Daesh massacred hundreds of Shia Turkmen and Shabaks at Tal Afar and Mosul; besieged and starved the Turkmen town of Amerli; and kidnapped hundreds of Shia Turkmen women, raping many in front of their own families. We know that in areas under its control, Daesh has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities – destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches; blowing up monasteries and the tombs of prophets; desecrating cemeteries; and in Palmyra, even beheading the 83-year-old scholar who had spent a lifetime preserving antiquities there.”

The American military response—limited use of bombing runs– was little more than the armed equivalent of a pinprick.

The premature American withdrawal emboldened more than just ISIS. Moscow has long coveted a much larger role in the Middle East for several reasons.

Russia’s navy is handicapped by a geography that makes many of its ports ice-bound for a portion of the year, so warm water alternatives are a much desired commodity.  Hence, the importance of its naval base at the Syrian city of Tartus. This goal can also be seen in the recent agreement with Cuba to allow the Kremlin’s naval vessels to dock there.

Syria’s Bashir al-Assad has been a valuable ally for allowing the continuation of Russia’s armed presence in his nation, but the value of a powerful presence in the Middle East doesn’t end there.  Moscow’s economy is dependent on the export of energy.  The ability to influence the Middle Eastern energy economy is a major factor in Putin’s aggressive planning for the future.

Russia’s active use of military force in the Middle East was not aimed at stopping the depredations of ISIS, but on the twin goals of propping up a regime friendly to Moscow’s military goals and demonstrating the growing power of the Russian/Iranian alliance, which has now clearly replaced Western influence in the region. Israel, in particular, has been placed greatly at risk by the rise of Iranian influence in the region and Tehran’s increasingly powerful missile arsenal.

President Putin, however, has used the atrocities committed by ISIS as a justification for his commitment of Russian forces in the region. Secretary Kerry’s long overdue acknowledgement of ISIS’ depredations and the deployment of Marines follow in its wake.  What was unacceptable as an American initiative—particularly the commitment of ground troops—is now acceptable to the White House, so long as it is an act that dovetails with, and serves as a junior partner to, the actions of the Russian/Iranian axis.

 

The Crisis that the White House Pretends Doesn’t Exist

From one end of the globe to the other, powers overtly unfriendly to the United States and its allies are substantially and rapidly building their military might.  It is a clear indication that the White House policy of unilateral reduction in defense spending combined with appeasement diplomacy has been a dismal failure.

North Korea has placed its nuclear arsenal on “standby,” and Kim Jong Un has ordered his substantial armed forces into a “pre-emptive attack mode,” according to reports by the Korean Central News Agency first as reported by the Financial Times.

In February, the White House stated, in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear threat,  that:

“This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.  North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region…The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community.  The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies. We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.”

The President’s analysis of the situation was correct, and his plans to increase cooperation with regional allies is appropriate.  However, there is a problem with the approach:  The United States lacks the actual power-in-being to actually address the crisis.  The slashing of the defense budget during the course of the Obama Administration, and the Oval Office decision not to have an armed forces capable of fighting a two-front war renders his response little more than words.  Sanctions have failed to halt North Korea’s belligerence or nuclear progress in the past and there is no reason to assume they will do so in the future.

The President speaks of a “pivot” to Asia, which if it were real, could give Pyongyang pause.  But the pivot is just verbiage with nothing much behind it.  The diminished U.S. Navy, at less than half the strength it posed in 1990 and at its smallest level since World War I, doesn’t intimidate North Korea which rests with the Chinese sphere of influence.  China already has more submarines than the U.S., along with greater regional forces and a growing bluewater fleet that will outnumber America’s by 2020.

There is another factor, as well.  The White House’s practice of tough words followed by a lack of action demonstrates that it lacks the willpower to follow through. Think of the abandoned Red Line in Syria. The failure to avenge the Benghazi attack. The weak response to Russia’s Ukrainian invasion. The lack of action in response to Moscow’s growing presence in the Western Hemisphere.  The failure to even lodge a diplomatic protest in response to Beijing’s invasion of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

On the other side of the Eurasian landmass, Iran has conducted  number of forbidden ballistic missile tests, openly making  mockery of the nuclear weapons agreement before the ink has even dried on the document.  The Iranians are fully aware that North Korea cut a deal with President Clinton in the 1990’s in which $4 billion in aid was provided in response to Pyongyang’s solemn promise not to build nukes.  President Clinton did nothing in response to the violation, just as President Obama has no credible plans to respond to Tehran’s violation.

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s response to military provocations has been more appeasement. His response to Russia’s return to cold war era bases in Cuba was, strangely, to restore diplomatic relations with Havana.  He has done nothing in response to Moscow’s move to use Nicaragua as a refueling base for its nuclear Tupolev bombers.

The President doesn’t even discuss the fact that Russia, after signing the New Start treaty in 2009, now, for the first time in history, has become the world’s preeminent nuclear power. The skyrocketing growth of China’s military is also a non-topic in the Oval office.

Mr. Obama is well known for his absolute refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism.” Unfortunately, his flight from reality also includes every threat to the safety of the United States, as well.  In the past, some presidents have emphasized national security more than others.  However, we have never before had a Commander in Chief who completely neglects the entire topic.

Global Threats Continue to Rise

The New York Analysis continues with its review of the vital study by the Congressional Research Service on the military challenges facing the United States.  The report, which directly contradicts President Obama’s assertion that America is safe and strong, examined evidence that overwhelmingly points to an era of exceptional, indeed, unprecedented danger facing both the U.S. and its allies across the globe.

The June 2015 National Military Strategy released by the Department of Defense (DOD) states: Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups—all taking advantage of rapid technological change. Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. They will have increasing implications to the U.S. homeland….

Complexity and rapid change characterize today’s strategic environment, driven by globalization, the diffusion of technology, and demographic shifts…. Despite these changes, states remain the international system’s dominant actors. They are preeminent in their capability to harness power, focus human endeavors, and provide security.

Most states today — led by the United States, its allies, and partners — support the established institutions and processes dedicated to preventing conflict, respecting sovereignty, and furthering human rights. Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests…Russia … has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms, including the UN Charter, Helsinki Accords, Russia-NATO Founding Act, Budapest Memorandum, and the IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Iran also poses strategic challenges to the international community. It is pursuing nuclear and missile delivery technologies despite repeated United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease such efforts. It is a state-sponsor of terrorism that has undermined stability in many nations, including Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Iran’s actions have destabilized the region and brought misery to countless people while denying the Iranian people the prospect of a prosperous future.

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies also contradicts repeated demands by the international community to cease such efforts. These capabilities directly threaten its neighbors, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan. In time, they will threaten the U.S. homeland as well. North Korea also has conducted cyber attacks, including causing major damage to a U.S. corporation…

China’s actions are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region. For example, its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea are inconsistent with international law. The international community continues to call on China to settle such issues cooperatively and without coercion. China has responded with aggressive land reclamation efforts that will allow it to position military forces astride vital international sea lanes…For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. and NATO Military Capabilities in Europe

Russia’s seizure and annexation of Ukraine and Russia’s subsequent actions in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe have led to a renewed focus among policymakers on U.S. and NATO military capabilities in Europe…. In December 2014, Russia issued a new military doctrine that, among other things, calls for a more assertive approach toward NATO. In June 2015, Russia stated that it would respond to the placement of additional U.S. military equipment in Eastern Europe by deploying additional forces along its own western border…

New Forms of Aggression and Assertiveness

Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, as well as subsequent Russian actions in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, have already led to a renewed focus among policymakers on how to counter Russia’s hybrid warfare or ambiguous warfare tactics.

China’s actions in the East and South China Seas have prompted a focus among policymakers on how to counter China’s so-called salami-slicing tactics in those areas.

Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Deterrence

Russia’s reassertion of its status as a major world power has included, among other things, references by Russian officials to nuclear weapons and Russia’s status as a major nuclear weapon power. This has led to an increased emphasis in discussions of U.S. defense and security on nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence…

Maintaining Technological Superiority in Conventional Weapons

DOD officials have expressed concern that the technological and qualitative edge that U.S. military forces have had relative to the military forces of other countries is being narrowed by improving military capabilities in other countries, particularly China and (in some respects) Russia. To arrest and reverse the decline in the U.S. technological and qualitative edge…

Defense Acquisition Policy

DOD officials and other observers have argued that staying ahead of improving military capabilities in countries such as China in coming years will require adjusting U.S. defense acquisition policy to place a greater emphasis on speed of development, experimentation, risk-taking, and tolerance of failure during development.

Reliance on Components and Materials from Russia and China

Increased tensions with Russia have led to an interest in eliminating instances of being dependent on Russian-made military systems and components for U.S. military systems. A current case in point concerns the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine, which is incorporated into U.S. space launch rockets, including rockets used by DOD to put military payloads into orbit. Concerns over Chinese cyber activities or potential Chinese actions to limit exports of certain materials (such as rare earth elements) might similarly lead to concerns over the use of certain Chinese-made components (such as electronic components) or Chinese-origin materials (such as rare earth elements) for U.S. military systems.