Archive for June, 2017

NORTH KOREAN TYRANT LIVES IN FEAR

June 20, 2017

Fox News on June 19, 2017, reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un travels incognito in his poverty stricken Hermit Kingdom. It might be prudent for him to be careful. Excerpts below:

The 33-year-old, third-generation ruler is “extremely nervous” about a clandestine plot to take him out, according to a key South Korean lawmaker who spoke to The Korea Herald. Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, chairman of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee, made the claim based on reports from South Korea’s intelligence agency.

“Kim is engrossed with collecting information about the ‘decapitation operation’ through his intelligence agencies,” Lee said following a briefing last week.

The rumored “decapitation plan” to target Kim and key deputies in the event fighting broke out on the peninsula first surfaced in late 2015, when the U.S. and South Korea signed “Operation Plan 5015,” a joint strategy for possible war scenarios with North Korea. According to the Brookings Institute, the plan “envisions limited warfare with an emphasis on preemptive strikes on strategic targets in North Korea and “decapitation raids” to exterminate North Korean leaders.”

According to Lee, Kim’s is so frightened that he now disguises his movements, travels primarily at dawn and in the cars of his henchmen. Public appearances and jaunts in his prized Mercedes Benz 600 have been curtailed.

By January of this year, there were reports that South Korea was speeding up the creation of a specialized unit designed for this mission, initially slated to be ready by 2019.

“A U.S. special operations strike against Kim Jong Un in today’s conditions would make the bin Laden raid look easy,” said Mark Sauter, a former U.S. Army and special forces officer who operated in the Korean de-militarized zone during the Cold War and now blogs about the decades-long effort to defend South Korea at http://www.dmzwar.com.

“Pyongyang is surrounded by antiaircraft weapons, and while the corpulent Kim presents a large and sluggish target, he’s kept on the move, always surrounded by fanatical guards and often near or in complex underground compounds,” Sauter said.

Despite those potential challenges, Sauter suggests the North Korean leader “does need to worry about strikes by precision-guided missiles and bunker-buster bombs in the early stages of a preemptive allied attack, and if a conflict continues, everything from (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to special operators will be on his tracks.”

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WESTERN CORE INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

June 18, 2017

Washington Times on June 13, 2017, published a commentary by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons on the emerging Middle East doctrine of the Trump administration. Excerpts below:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

[On U.S. and vital Western interests]:

Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.

Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.

Re-establishing and strengthening …relations with…traditional allies.

Ensuring the survival of Israel.

[Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan].

Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate.

…mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.
Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees.

Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Comment: Admiral Lyon’s commentary clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Trump Administration is clear and consistent. Defeating the Islamic State and isolating the Iranian regime is of vital strategic interest to the West. A new policy against Iran would be an important step to ensure the survival of Israel. The importance of the strategic choke points in the Middle East cannot be emphasized enough. The British territory of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean) is an example of how important offshore islands are. Location and political reliability is everything to ensure the safety of the chokepoints. The United States, as always, with its NATO partners is facing a growing challenge in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. This challenge is now met in a decisive way.

Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) offers politically unconstrained access near the Middle East and contributes greatly to safeguarding the chokepoints.

DEFENDING THE WEST: SOFT POWER IS NOT ENOUGH

June 9, 2017

Washington Times on June 6, 2017, published a review of an important new book by Professor Eliot A. Cohen on the necessity of military force in strategic policy. ”The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force” (Basic Books, 2017) should be required reading for policy makers. Excerpts from Dan Negrea’s review below:

Professor Eliot A. Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University historian who served as an adviser in both the Defense and State Departments,…argues forcefully that strong American leadership is indispensable for peace and prosperity in the world, and relying on soft power alone to provide it is unrealistic.

Facts are stubborn, the reality of world conflicts is not pretty, and…leaders better be prepared to deal competently and unsentimentally with the tough decisions they must make.

The author’s overview of America’s adversaries starts with increasingly aggressive China, whose rapid economic and military rise he views as the most important international phenomenon of the 21st century. Still, China has many obstacles on the road to becoming a superpower and a weak strategic position because of its border disputes with every single one of its neighbors.

As for confronting al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist organizations, Mr. Cohen asks for clarity of purpose: We need to state plainly that their ideology is rooted in Islam and that we are engaged in a generational war to eradicate them. But he also believes that their barbarism limits their appeal and will eventually halt their momentum.

A chapter titled “Dangerous States” Cohen treats…adversaries [like Russia] and Iran They are…authoritarian, willing to use force, and economically fragile. And their nuclear weapons or nuclear aspirations are central to their national defense…[They] have a “paranoid style” in politics, with their media filled with presumed plots by enemies both foreign and domestic.

…America’s military spending dwarfs that of its opponents. Since it represents today just 3 percent of our GDP (compared to 8 percent in the Reagan years), America’s strategic solvency is high. Its many alliances are a critical asset that give it “an extraordinary global logistical infrastructure.” And considering its powerful economy, positive demographics and robust political system, the odds are that America will prevail: “No other country, or collection of countries, has a better hand to play in international politics.”

…this is a book about difficult decisions imposed by unforgiving facts. Diplomacy has an important place in the tool kit of statecraft, even when it requires political compromises with “odious regimes.” So does soft power, which, Mr. Cohen argues, is not always gentle: Sanctions, for example, can deprive a country’s poor of food and medicine.

But when all else fails, our leaders must make politically difficult decisions involving hard power. Like increasing military spending to at least 4 percent. Or like stationing troops for many years in areas of potential conflict, which worked well in the past: Leaving American troops for decades in Germany and South Korea helped those two war-torn nations find their way to democracy and prosperity. In the interest of global stability, today’s American politicians must find the courage to station American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland and the Baltic states.

The ultimate hard power decisions, though, deal with going to war and even doing so preemptively. The most sobering passages of the book regard pre-emptive strikes, especially necessary if weapons of mass destruction fall into “utterly irresponsible hands.”

This is a lucid book about war by a man who loves peace…But he also knows that appeasing evil is not an option. Tragically, the world continues to add to what Churchill called the “dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.”

“The Big Stick” is a valuable resource for those trying to keep America’s flame of liberty burning bright in this stormy world.

Dan Negrea is a New York private equity investor.