Commentary—Politics At Home and Chaos Abroad

We are living in the most unsettling and frightening times in my memory, and I am a senior-senior. Politics in the United States is much more disturbing than I remember, and I remember the McCarthy era all too well.

Today, politics and its vulgarity cut across an uglier path than our traditional concept prescribes. This blog focuses on security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, often brushing the shores of civil rights. The present political scene has a direct negative bearing on our security—national and international. And although I am loath to enter that mine-field, I must.

On the right , never before in my lifetime have I heard and read such vitriolic language to describe long standing economic and security partners, against friends and non-friends in the diplomatic world or more pathetically—each other. Clearly, you do not conduct foreign relations in this century behind a wall or encourage others to build nuclear bombs.

On the other side of the political spectrum we find Bernie Sanders—like Mr. Trump, hides his federal tax returns, decided he was a Democrat only 4 months ago, and his surrogates harass super-delegates. He seeks to be president and commander-in-chief while ignoring that at one time he filed as a “conscientious objector’. How that squares with our national security and control of the black box is beyond my comprehension. When or where does our national security (and frankly, I am thinking about my family’s security) come into play if the Senator believes in non-violence in a very violent world, and most surely he will be required from time-to-time to engage our military in violent confrontation if elected. As our present occupier of the White House, will he draw a line in the sand and then go on to ignore his own threats? How will he handle drones and their use against ISIS, it leaders and those who plot against our military? How does he criticize Israel’s response to Hamas’s attacks and blatantly ignore the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas including their use of civilians as shields? How does a conscientious objector morph into a Commander-in-Chief?

At home we fear ISIS and its allies. Not when but where will they strike. ISIS is losing ground on their home turf but is more than making up for that loss with their savagery abroad. Think Brussels and Paris.

The migrants and their wholescale deportation across the Turkey boarders have deleted the word “humanitarian” from our dictionary. Looking at the rest of the world I see only violent chaos, massive displacement of whole groups of people, killings as random as walking across the street. It appears to me that the world’s governments are paralyzed to stop this brutality although they talk in boasting terms.

In India, nearly 100,000 farmers have committed suicide in 2014. Why and why is India silent?

In Gaza, there is no news from whichever government pretends to be in control, the international press is silent as the Israeli government quietly announced it has expanded the Palestinian fishing zone from six to nine nautical miles. A spokesperson for the Palestinian fishing industry said this would increase their income by at least one hundred thousand dollars annually. President Abbas has been silent, and there have been no comment from London.

Nearly a week after recapturing Palmyra from ISIS, Syrian forces say they have uncovered horrendous evidence of the workings of the terrorist group. Mass graves, some holding 40 bodies—many were women and children, and some show signs of beheading and torture. As Iran remains a steadfast ally of those criminally minded people it has told the American government in a posting today that their missile power is a non-negotiable issue. Warning that they “don’t get permission from anybody” especially from the “imprudence” of the U.S. regarding their own security.

From Steve Emmerson’s group, we are asked to “imagine more of the African continent engulfed in Islamist savagery of Libya and Nigeria. Imagine Jordan and Saudi Arabia undergoing the same turmoil as Iraq and Syria. Imagine a Europe that begins to resemble Lebanon more than its American cousin.” These events could occur in the next few years, and NATO seems blind to this story.

A television clip released by MEMRI shows a Leader of Islamic Movement in Israel preaching: “This land (‘Palestine’) will vomit Israeli occupation like the sea vomits its filth”. I wonder if any person could preach that same gospel in Gaza about Hamas.

Turkey is awash in political upheaval. This once proud democratic nation has fallen victim to not some strong mana’s rule but a neo-Islamist dictator. His crushing of civil rights and the opposition press is not subtle but violent and public, and yet the people vote for him. All this internal power has provided him the upper hand internationally, as Greece with its dire financial conditions and swamping of migrants seeks help. In return for 6 billion euros and some vague promises of free travel, Turkey will take back anyone currently attempting to enter Greece. This week we saw the first boat load of migrants starting the painful route home. And as I write this blog, Turkey has been placed on high alert as our own government warms about credible threats and reports of controlled explosions conducted in Istanbul’s popular square.

And last on my agenda today is the South China Sea where international relations have becomes tenser and potentially moving beyond mere political hostility. Although the New York Times attempts to portray the Unite States as neutral in the area, it is just the opposite. America sails its warships close to the Chinese created military island and compound in defiance of China’s extension of its territorial and nautical rights in that part of the world. All, as the other nations of the area try to forge stronger political and military ties that we have not seen in decades.

I remember sitting in my office when JFK was assassinated, and I fearfully thought what was going to happen to the country. I thought of my very young family waiting for me at home. Obviously, the country has more than merely survived. But today’s political climate is more endemic. The hatreds long contained are being encouraged to be expressed and acted upon. The most base thoughts and actions are encouraged to be displayed and executed freely. Disregard for reality, one note songs repeated over and over in disregard of others; to dismiss what you don’t have merely because you do not possess it. I loathe placing Donald’s name in the same sentence with Bernie, but each in his very own distinct way have a blind eye to international reality and would make us a more isolationist nation. And that would damage our national and international security. Yesterday, a very close relative said to me: I am voting my brain not my heart. And I thought that is a good rule to follow when determining issues involving security.

Richard Allan

The Editor

Commentary: Hot Spots and Thoughts

The race to insanity, called the “primary races to the White House”, has left me catatonic, and so this blog has been silent too long. Sorry. And as I said: “Sorry”, ISIS struck with vengeance in Brussels killing scores. The attack was in retaliation for the arrest of one of the leaders of the November 13 bombings in Paris that left 130 people dead. Arrested in Belgium was one of the masterminds of the attack who had when captured, a cache of heavy weapons. The upsetting part of the story is that he was being protected by his relatives, friends and neighbors in Belgium, who then set off a neighborhood protest because of his arrest. The entire European continent has move into a shutdown mode. All the airlines have bypassed Brussels and local governments wait for more attacks. And they will come.

At the same moment, the rest of the world seems to be heating up and I do not mean climate change:

The migration caused by the chaos in Syria is frightening and beyond mere human understanding. The sitting German government is in trouble because of the large influx of migrants. Turkey, beginning to look more like a dictatorship, is certainly not helping ease the crises in Europe. What is becoming more evident as time evolves is that Turkey’s president evidences the zeal of a despot. He has within one week taken control of a majority of Turkey’s newspapers and TV stations. The issue becomes what is his next heavy handed attack on what was a thriving democracy turned dictatorship, the plight of the Kurds and the fate of the immigrants as he holds Europe hostage in the political chaos.

The president of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is getting older and to keep hold of its population he formants more and more low level terrorism against individual in Israel. Abas turned down a new US peace imitative brought by Vice President Biden, although it gave the Palestinians practically all they asked for. At this moment 58% of Palestinians support the stabbings in Israel. As Hamas expands its tunnel network in Gaza, Israel and the United States are working on a network of secret tunnels to destroy Hamas handiwork with seismic sensors. Less than a mile away from where Biden spoke in Jaffa, a Palestinian attacker went on a stabbing binge that left one US tourist dead, who happened to be a graduate of West Point. The US, in the hope of moving Abas away from his myopia, has withheld 159 Million dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Notwithstanding ISI making headline news that is devastating (including the latest Brussels attack), in 2015 it lost about 40% of the area it held in Iraq as well as parts in northern Syria. While its cash deposits have been depleted, it still manages to use Turkey as a trading hub. Today’s Brussels attacks show that one should not count on ISIS filing for bankruptcy…not yet. The Associated Press has just reported that ISIS has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in what it describes as a series of deadly wave of attacks. ISIS is deploying interlocking terror cells similar to the ones that attacked Brussels and Paris.

What we learn from Steve Emmerson is that the five countries where the US has involved itself militarily—Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan—all failed states account for 55% of all death caused by radical Islamist terror in the world. ISIS filled the vacuum in Iraq and Syria created by a lack of effective governance, and Libya became a nest of extremism after NATO deposed its dictator. Saudi Arabia and Iran are currently fighting a deadly proxy war in Yemen. My thought is our eyes are wandering away from Jordan and a potential implosion from within.

Don’t blink when you attempt to follow the news of North Korea whose official name is The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the DPRK. Its information agency has defined its government’s mandate as a “genuine workers’ state in which all the people are completely liberated from exploitation and oppression.” It goes on to claim that the United States and its puppet South Korea are “seized with extreme frenzy for invading the north.” And last, the DPRK will make a “preemptive nuclear strike of justice.” What all this boils down to is bluster with a very big “if”. Any miscalculation, a wrong button pushed, can escalate words and ballistic testing to something much more international and violent.

As you might have seen, the United States conducted one of the deadliest airstrikes that I can recall in recent memory. It has been confirmed that the airstrike relied on multiple manned and unmanned aircraft against large groups of militant camps that posed an imminent threat to the US and African Union forces in Somalia

As China moves ahead with its man-made island expansion, the US navigates its ships within its island’s corridors and the Australian navy shows its might. The Australian Navy announced that its ships patrolling near Oman intercepted a fishing vessel carrying almost two thousand AK-47 assault rifles and 100 rocket propelled grenades. The weapons had been sent from Iran to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Hitler said:” I could have killed all the Jews, but I kept some alive so the world would understand why I killed them.” He also wrote: “The Jews are like parasitic plants that burden the nations and compete with them for their source of income.” In February news began to trickle out in greater and greater volume regarding the degree of Anti-Semitism in England. A country awashed in Muslim terrorism. Among the left leaning population there is a new term: Zio. It is a term used by the KKK, an expression of solidarity with Hamas and a short cut expression for an “imperialist-colonialist state of Israel”. England already has a high level of anti-Semitism among academics and is spreading to other portions of a country that one would expect would be more tolerant.

But then I pause and remind myself, that they have a cast system and its starts with the royal family and the House of Lords. A very dear friend of mine from Scotland once said to me: listen to the accents of the people you are engaged with in England and you will immediately identify the various classes —clearly defined. I am saddened by that thought, because it would seem to me that the people of England (and they are an educated society) should embrace Israel not denigrate it. Israel protects and secures the only democracy in the Mid-East. There are open and free elections. There are Palestinians sitting in their Parliament. No other nation in that area is democratic—only failed states or demagogue governments or governments about to implode. If Israel were to disappear or be destroyed, that would only vitalize and embolden the Jihadist Muslims living and plotting in London at this very moment to blow up more of their buses, more underground train stations , more pubs and what next. At the same moment Israel’s Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters. And now, after Brussels, the world looks to Israel to understand airport security. All that in the long run will benefit the anti-Semites of England and the free world. There are no Jewish jihadist in London.

It boggles the mind to consider the failure of logic and might I say bigotry of the highest order among people of England who should know better, who have themselves suffered the pangs of horrific terrorist attack and not by the people of the Jewish faith. Shame on them.

Richard Allan

The Editor

Commentary– No Carpet Bombs and No Walls: Security & Elections

I am fast approaching my 85 birthday, and this election cycle has left me with an uncomfortable taste never before experienced.

On the Republican side it’s leading contender, Donald j, has used the type of profanity best left to the gutter and not for the ears of our children. What sort of presidential model could he be?  His marriages and extramarital bragging do not promote any sort of values, and his bashing of everything from women to immigrants is from some other time — and whose values have long been interred, and not among our more cherished memories. Those with a rational thought in his party are killing each other.

Hillary, has been with us for a long time, and is a known entity – with all her warts–from her days in the White House, seeking what is today our healthcare heritage and traveling to China and announcing that women’s rights are human rights. What you see is what you get and you’ve seen her a long time.

Hillary became New York State’s Senator and then Secretary of State using, it seems, the same laptop as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. So much for state secrets and violations limited only to Democrats.

Then we have Bernie.

If elected he will be the oldest president to ever hold that office, and at 75 years of age he has a life expectancy of less than 10 years. Who will be his V.P.? Cause that’s who will finish out his two terms in office, if he lasts that long. Sitting in the US Senate is like not standing in the Oval Office. Just look to what has happened to Obama. He looks worn and very gray.

Bernie until 2015 (that’s just last year) touted he was an independent and identified himself, when he first entered the race, as a socialist. He is the junior ( can that be at age 75) senator from his state with not one (!) piece of legislation introduced by him and adopted in all the years he keep this senate seat warm. Stellar performance —-can you see the Republican nominee handle that along with his self-proclaimed socialism–in the general election.

Bernie thinks that Bill Clinton’s behavior (the sex) is unacceptable! But he is “not throwing stones”. First, Bill Clinton is not running for president and Bernie should not throw stones. His own marital (or maybe not so marital) conjugal relations have had divorces, children born (it is uncertain if in or out of marriages) along with a partner overlapping his escapades.

And although, he alleges, he is not in bed with the banks –that’s true, but in bed he is. In recent years, Sanders has been billed as one of the hosts for a Senatorial Campaign Committee’s retreats for the “Majority Trust” — an elite group of top donors who give more than $30,000 per year — at Martha’s Vineyard in the summer and Palm Beach, Florida, in the winter. One major network obtained invitations that listed Sanders as a host for at least one Majority Trust event in each year since 2011.

In the same breath we can say has absolutely no foreign policy experience. Zippo. Period.  He also came not merely tardy but very late to the VA crises.

But there are two additional considerations somehow held below the radar: His present wife, it is alleged,  used her position as the wife of a sitting US Senator to get a fraudulent loan that nearly bankrupt a small college in his very own state of Vermont. She was its president, and then—follow this– she walked away while under investigation with a very sizable severance package.  And Bernie wants Hillary to release the receipts for her speaking engagements? It was alleged the Bernie’s wife is to have committed a pretty sophisticated crime in the process, but walked away with lots of money in her pocket by quietly departing from the college campus and its presidency. I am sure they share pockets and household expenses, how else can a small town mayor cum senator amass a 1.2-1.5 million dollar bank account.

Second, Bernie obviously has forgotten that there are two other branches of government.  One of them is called “The” Judiciary. That’s the Supreme Court. And there is congress. Oops, forgot — right now both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Now how does Bernie give us all that he promises –while they are all giving him the finger? He can’t and he doesn’t even know how to talk to “them “;   which is evident by his legislative record.

In addition, again, forget about how he is going to pay for all he promises with his magic equations and tax hikes.

Last, and probably the most important point in my slow process of thought is, how do you elect a candidate—Bernie–who doesn’t even own a comb? Please. Someone help him. And help the American Electorate clear the air of its political pollution.

Most important: In November, you must vote. But you cannot write-in “Donald Duck”. Trust me, I check that out.

Richard Allan,

The editor

 

 

 

Deceit and Fact

Much of life depends upon which end of the binoculars you view the world; which talking heads provide you with your bible lessons; and which news print you wrap your fish. In other words, what is it that forms your perception of anything? A dear friend once said to me, in half-jest, that he reads only one newspaper so that he doesn’t get confused by the facts. I have one relative who gets his news by listening to talk radio, and hasn’t read a newspaper in years. His reason he gets his news at no cost.

And then there are those of us who surf the web for whatever options are available. Some of us are more additive to surfing than others. And in surfing I ran across a news items posted by the Dailey Alert, a site I often glance at. It wrote of a “High Level Military Group” (HLMG) report that triggered no memory. So I googled HLMG and that in turn led to other sites and to a widely different perception of Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign. Again, it is which end of the binoculars you employ to view events. And it is disturbing.

Three bench marks then came into clear focus for me in reviewing the responses to the 2014 Gaza campaign: “perception”, “how” you view an “event”, and “facts”. The first two are easily manipulated; it’s the third factor that gives one pause.

As a former litigator and Assistant District Attorney, and then professor of law, I am only too aware of how facts can be viewed, presented and interpreted to fit one’s own agenda. In other words: how facts can be distorted; what facts you include and what facts you exclude to create your own narrative.

Part of the overall problem in reading a report or analysis is having some understanding of the background of the authors of a study, or “findings of fact”. The first thing that must be done is to target the author, his or her experience, training and most important his agenda. I am not inferring that we are all inherently liars, but we do slice and paste to fit the world to the mold we want to create.

And so we return to the international flurry over the 2014 Israeli Gaza campaign and the uproar and bias created. It all began shortly before the UN’s Human Rights Council began their inquiry into the actions of both Hamas and Israel during that conflict and immediately thereafter. The United Nation’s Human Rights Council immediately appointed their three hearing commissioners. What is incomprehensible is that the United Nation’s HRC appointed as their Chair, to conduct this type of highly sensitive inquiry into the conduct of these two fierce advisories, a person who had publically declared, well before the inquire ever began to hear any evidence, that it was his personal desire to see the prime minister of Israel in the criminal docket at the International Court of Justice. He also admitted that he, William Schabas, had been on the payroll of the Palestinian liberation Organization!

That is perfect justice through the wrong end of the telescope. Unbiased? Due process? Let’s all forget about “the facts” and get right to the guilty verdict, and, also, let’s save some time and garden some headlines in the process. We know “they” are guilty—it’s Israel. Obscene!

This gives you some idea of why the United States refused, for so many years, to be a member of the United Nations Council on Human Rights. The Gatestone Institute described the council’s work most apply: “Expecting the UNHRC to carry out a fair, balanced or accurate investigation of anything involving the State of Israel is rather like expecting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to carry out investigations into persecution of Christians in Muslim countries. “ And, indeed, one need not wonder why the Human Rights Council’s work is so suspect. And, conversely, it is why so many people in the Mid-East laud their work and distort their own work to fit their agenda and passion.

The 200-plus page report of the Council was ultimately submitted to the United Nations, through their two remaining commissioners. It held they could not find clear evidence of why Israel targeted residential buildings in Gaza late at night, risking mass civilian casualties. By the way, no evidence was provided by the Israeli government to this inquiry. Where then did they get their information/facts? Obviously, it was from Palestinian sources.

Before moving on to the work of the High Level Military Group, I would like to focus for one short moment on a popular voice of the British press.
The UK Media Watch has reported that the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent was not only interviewed at great length on his biased reporting on the war from Jerusalem, but on the in-depth analysis of his articles which were even more disturbing.

In his writing from the area during the Gaza conflict (some twenty reports and many thousands of words back to his London readers) he detailed in horrific detail the death of Gaza citizens, but not once did he comment, analyze or criticize Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. To be clear, and this is uncontroverted, the use of human shields is not merely morally reprehensible; it is a war crime punishable under international law.

Let us turn to a less publicized report, and less publicized for obvious reasons: It does not fit the agenda of The Guardian and UN Council on Human Rights and persons of that “persuasion.”

The High Level Military Group was formed in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict. It consisted of retired generals and defense officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the U.S., France, the UK and Italy. NATO and beyond. This panel consists of nine very different countries, nine different cultures, and nine different national historical pasts, five different parts of the world. The very first critic of its report complained that it was made up of all white males and no humanitarians. What an absurd complaint . When determining whether or not a conflict/war was conducted in a “legally prescribed manner”, one looks to the accredited, accepted and adopted International Rules of War and not to the further musing of a humanitarian.

If we have accepted the Rules of War, and they have been processed, created and accepted by all the enlighten nations of the entire world for more than mere decades. It is not the “humanities” of war we look at (they have been incorporated into the treaties, conventions that comprises the Rules of War). We certainly would not seek the humanitarians on the payroll of Hamas to determine if a participant of hostilities is guilty or not of its violations. Second, these particular generals and defense officials, from nine very different countries, are not the political voice of one of the combatants as attempted by the UN’s HRC. And third, and possibly the most important, the High Level Military Group observations were made with the combined experience and wisdom of many years of war from nine very different perspectives, cultures and political positions—and most important, they viewed evidence produced from both sides of the conflict.
The HLMG found:
• That Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements.
• Armies of the world would be rendered far less effective if they were forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF during Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign.
• The report found that the UN accepted Hamas’ figures for combatant vs. civilian casualties, while the HLMG found Hamas’ numbers to be widespread with contradictions and flaws. For example: the insertion of identical names, incorrect ages, combat-related deaths caused by Hamas itself or its associated groups, the case of misfired rockets, and deaths not related to the hostilities but classified as such.
• And last, and extremely important when civilian casualties are high– The HLMG laid the blame for a majority of civilian casualties as the direct result of Hamas’ measured policy of having the military embedded within civilian compounds and areas in order to increase the chances of greater civilian casualties as another method of conducting its highly successful international war of propaganda.
• Not to be ignored was the Israeli use of “banging on roofs”. A short-hand term of advanced warning to civilians before a military strike was to occur giving them ample time to evacuate before hostilities began.

I understand hypocrisy, I understand being passionate about ones beliefs. I understand loyalty. I understand going the extra mile for the Gipper. On the world stage, I cannot accept deceit or an excuse for deceit. Take the consequences for your misstep, and move on. No one, nobody is innocent from birth to death for something done at one time in our lives. In the Mid-East, to continue the lie to any and all mistakes- and let me emphasize this is true on both sides of the equation — puts more rather than less lives into the nameless trenches of the dead.

We cannot carpet bomb or lie our way to success; we can no longer bring the Atomic bomb to the table; my rifle stays at home when we meet; to negotiate, to bargain for, to discuss is not a matter of –all or nothing.

Facts are facts. It is totally untrue, and clearly unacceptable, that one person’s hero is another’s terrorist. A protagonist does not kill innocent people; a “soldier” knows his enemy is and who is not. A freedom fighter does not firebomb a bus with civilians. Civilians are not combatants. A child and its mother is never, ever the enemy –no matter through which end of the binoculars you view the world.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Connected Unsystematic Thoughts

The U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State began more than a year ago, and then chaos set in. The confusion on the ground and in the air over Syria is only becoming more of a night- mare, caused in part by too many fingers in one pot with no recognition of each other. Two months after Putin’s physical entry to shore up Assad’s regime, there have been too many close calls in the same air space between the fighters and bombers from Russia and the United States. To add to the confusion and disarray is Turkey’s shooting down a Russian bomber that strayed into Turkish air space. The crises continue with questions concerning the Turkish control of its boarders and ISIS. And now the present outcry: which country bombed a friendly Syrian army base? The first accused was the United States, but forced to reveal its evidence, the American intelligence confirms it was Moscow’s “Blackfire” bombers that killed three soldiers, wounding at least 13 and destroying vehicles and equipment. And yesterday, a Turkish fishing vessel came within 1600 feet of a Russian destroyer playing a dangerous game of “two close to call navigation” with Russian firepower used to make a military point and Turkey said its losing patience with the Russia.

As we flip to the other side of the world, China continues to pile sand and rocks on reefs to build islands to extend its territorial claims further into the South China Sea and to add its military strength to be piled higher on newly created islands. This is not only an attempt to control so much more of free sea lanes of navigation but to cut heavily into the control and power of China’s many neighbors, especially Japan and the United States’ long reach of its naval might. All this adds up to a new strategic imagery: Japan is moving rapidity away from its post WII pacifism, communist Vietnam is purchasing arms from the United States, and the Philippines is inviting the U.S. Navy back to its ports, some twenty-five years after asking them unceremoniously to leave. And even if you have never visited the tiny island nation Singapore, it is not hard to understand why the United States and Singapore have signed an agreement to provide a launching pad for the United States to monitor the South China Sea. Also, as reported, not only has Malaysia called for the United States to work out of its bases, but I am informed that the United States has added to its aircraft force in the area the P-8 Poseidon thereby putting greater spying know-how ability into play to monitor the Chinese adventures and capabilities in that part of the world.

Two items have become clear since my last comments concerning the Iranian Nuclear deal (JCOP). First, Iran is moving internally further in the direction against the “American Enemy” with greater political movement toward the ideological base of its Supreme Leader and non-adherence to the JCPOA , and, second, my mistrust of Iran’s intentions have become more evident. We have just learned that notwithstanding UN Resolution 2231, which was passed just one day after the nuclear accord was signed and which compels Iran to restrain from any work on ballistic missiles for 8 years, on November 21, in breach of that resolution, a missile known as the Ghadr-110, having a range a little over 1200 miles with the capacity of carrying a nuclear warhead, was tested by the Iranians. So much for international agreements, international resolutions, and international oversight and enforcement.

About three months ago I asked one of my grandsons: What’s the Dark Web? Without hesitation he shot back: “Why? Why do you want to know? You shouldn’t go there!” Since the shooting in San Bernadino with the death of 14 and the injury of scores of others, there is talk of encryption (normal text into code) and the Dark Web. It is on the Dark Web that terrorists communicate, utilizing encrypted messages. The Dark Web is a semi-technical term that refers to a collection of websites that, although they are publicly visible/available, the IP address of the servers that run them is hidden. You and I can utilize the Dark Web with any web browser, but it is more than problematical and ultra-challenging to determine who is behind the sites.

On December 8th the French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that France, not nearly recovered from the ISIS attack last month in Paris, may seek to ban the infamous Tor browser, used to namelessly surf the Dark Web. The French Parliament may also ban use of public Wi-Fi during periods of emergency. But, at this writing, Paris seems to be turning away from those options. The UK has launched a dedicated cybercrime unit to tackle the Dark Web, with a particular focus on cracking down on serious criminal rings and child pornography. This very week the FBI has admitted that they can determine who is “speaking” to whom, but cannot crack the encrypted messages, so what it hears is “noise”, without understanding. Of course, only one country has been able to successfully block Tor: China, with its great “other” wall, the firewall.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on December 6th that she supports labeling of Israeli settlement products from the disputed territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel had sought Germany’s help in convincing EU member states to reject the implementation of this type of labeling as it has done for many other countries. It refused. So much for a balance, even-handed international policy, and from a person just named TIME’s—Person of the Year in a country synonymous with holocaust.

Each of these random thoughts carries a connecting tissue. The obvious fact being that the United States sits geographically between the conflicts in the east and the west. These conflicts share potentially devastating consequences to its national security not merely abroad but at home, on our own shores. We are also in the midst of a race to the White House in a manner and style never before witnessed, filled with extreme rhetoric and personal vindictive hate. We have seen pictures of foreign parliaments whose member have been moved beyond words to extreme physical conformation. We are not like that; but what have we become?

To live in fear is not acceptable. But to live without care is imprudent and unrealistic. Today, as I write this blog, Americans’ fear of terrorism is as high as immediately after 9/11. Do we cry “ouch “only when we are personally affected? There have so many lessons available to us over the last 75 years, why are we ignoring them and to our peril? What do we teach our children, and why does a grandchild have to become fearful because his grandfather queries about the Dark Web?
Richard Allan
The Editor

Appeasement–It Never Works

Two events, not seemingly connected, suddenly brought clarity in the heated discussion that followed the horrendous attacks in Paris. I shall try to keep it simple.

The ISIS attack earlier this year in January targeted individuals associated with a political magazine and people shopping in a Jewish supermarket. The targets were symbols unmistakably identified: Those who were anti-Islam and those who were Jews. The attacks this month were far more treacherous and repugnant: at the heart of the citizens of France. Ordinary people, not symbols; people who were indiscriminately chosen to die merely because they were congregating in large numbers, in one place and so easily murdered.

When a person enlists or is drafted into an army during a war, there is the “possibility” they will be killed if they go into a conflict area. When a person enlists into the ranks of ISIS, there is the “likelihood” that they will be ordered to wrap a bomb around their bodies and die. There is an enormous difference in the mentality and focus of each of these warriors. One is a soldier, the other is a terrorist. ISIS is many times larger and stronger than al Qaida and its focus is more vast and horrific. They are barbaric.

To understand the political climate of appeasement in Europe today, and not often discussed, one need only exam EU (European Union). Founded in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, it has as its mission the guarantee of peace, stability and economic cooperation in Europe. Today, the EU membership has risen to include 28 European countries. The EU does not recognize the annexations of territories by several world governments. And although it’s  barely been heard in the discussions in the aftershock of the Paris attacks, its members choose to demand special labeling of products produced from only one region in the world—products from the Golan Heights and the West Bank—Israeli products.

The reason is clear: it is the EU’s hope that the world would boycott products from Israel. All in the aim of forcing the State of Israel to choose between facing an economic boycott and a possible financial crises or bending to the will of the Islamic world. A somewhat round about way of saying: look what we’re doing for you so please keep your terrorist at home. Appeasement did not work to stop WWII and will not stop ISIS.

The EU’s act is so clearly overt that it reminded me of Hitler directing that we should identify the Jews to isolate them from the rest of the German community and then the world by wearing the Star of David on their clothing. The EU order is no different. Label a person, label a product–to discriminate.

In addition, if one were to look at the internal social structure–the voices of the people in England, France and Germany, one identifies the rising violent voice of anti-Semitism –anti Israel. Yet being anti-Israel has not helped the following nations from attack: Academia in England is as anti-Israel as one can get, and still they haven’t secured a safety net from the Islamic terrorist. Hate crimes against London’s Jewish minority have surged over the last 12 months with an increase of 93.4%, according to figures from the Metropolitan police. In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year.

In Germany Scrawling swastikas on synagogues, Jew-baiting during demonstrations, desecration: Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hatred against Jews is taking place openly in Germany, even in schools. The number of crimes linked to anti-Semitism in Germany increased dramatically over the past year. While 788 cases were registered in 2013, there were 864 cases registered in 2014 a 10 percent increase. The most famous department store in Germany announced its agreement to labeling products produced from Israel.

In Rome, more than 70 disturbing hate messages were scrawled with black and red paint on Jewish businesses and throughout the so-called Jewish Ghetto around the city’s main synagogue. Phrases like “Anne Frank Was A Liar,” “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” and “Israel executioner” were written in spray paint.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister came out strongly in support of the EU’s boycott attempting to link the issues in Israel with the ISIS attack in France. And in the United States, the American Anthropological Society (an academic institution), in what can only be described as an infamous vote, resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. We can only wonder how we are to define the word “academic” in the future?

Given the nature of ISIS, there is no method to reach a system of negotiations nor to employ appeasement strategy. ISIS is a cancer that has metastasized, and the mere snipping at its surface does not impede its growth. Isis is an amorphous enemy state, not a terrorist cell. It has enormous capability and controls large swaths of territory.  It has supreme success in recruitment among the young, and therein lays a great deal of its strength. And yet in France, with the strictest security apparatus in place, which would make the ACLU cringe in despair, its attack was not prevented.

To be Anti-sematic/anti-Israel is not sufficient to fend off an ISIS attack and hatred. To attempt to financially cripple Israel is not sufficient to appease ISIS. There is no appeasement and, therefore, we cannot mince words in describing, without political correctness, those who support the idea that the world would be better off without those—whomever “those” might be who do not follow the ISIS dogma.

In the past few days, at a soccer stadium in Turkey, as the announcer asked for a moment of silence for those who had died in the Paris assault, there were those who booed and chanted “Allahu Akbar” –an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great”, the very words chanted by those who attacked the innocent people of Paris with their guns and vest bombs. In addition, politeness is no longer an acceptable method in dealing with those who passively support this reign of terror.

One last thought: On the world stage, the more the United States waffles, hesitates and ignores its own “lines drawn in the sand”, the weaker we become and not only endanger our own security but lose the moral leadership in the world. We need straight talk and affirmative action. We can no longer afford to do anything less.

Appeasement, in whatever form, to whoever offered, invites greater violence not peace.

Richard Allan
The Editor

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[1] The Kashmir region is defined by the international community as a disputed territory. Tibet was occupied by the Chinese army in 1958 and unilaterally annexed by Beijing.  Morocco invaded the Western Sahara region and unilaterally annexed it. The Turkish army invaded Northern Cyprus, expelled hundreds of thousands of Greek speakers, and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula

Enough is Enough with Iran

My normal morning ritual allows me to take the next step in my daily routine. I read two print newspapers, and one of them is not the New York Post. The headlines and front page articles claim Bush is Toast, earth quakes are ravaging counties, Greenland is melting, and more and more of any meaningful discussion of the issue at stake in our presidential election.

When I turned to read the opinion page of the second newspaper, I realized that it has been over a week since an important pronouncement trickled out of Iran that would have been lost but for the outstanding work of Yigal Carmon and his institute, MEMRI.  The ignoring of this proclamation and its non-dissemination to the American public via the national press is shameful.

On October 21, 2015, Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader published a letter, for the world to read. It was a “guideline” (read that word as you wish) to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, regarding the execution and implementation of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)). Not unnoticed is that the letter’s publication corresponded with the celebration of a central religious and national holiday of immense importance in Iran. In other words, his letter is meant to underline Iran’s determination and dedication against “the forces of evil”. This is no “guideline.” And it is directed at us.

Ali Khamenei, after the world had sanctioned the Iranian Nuclear deal, — bequeathed Iran millions of dollars instead of an armed attack, continues his excessive tirade against the United States. He asserts that the US government has and is pursuing an approach of hostility and disruption to his country and its interests. It is unlikely, he rages, that it will otherwise in the future.  That Obama‘s real intention is to subvert Iran with open threats of military and nuclear strike. That the United States is a nation with a “never-ending hostility” toward Iran and its people.  In total, “…the US regime’s enmity against the Islamic Republic is inevitable and this enmity will continue.”

Mr. Khamenei has clearly identified us as his country’s mortal enemy and concludes that the agreement that we all thought had been concluded is not yet “a done deal”. He wants more. Much more. Enough is not enough.

His first demand: that the U.S. and Europe lift the sanctions, not suspend them, and in addition demands “solid and sufficient” guarantees in advance that this will be done. These conditions constitute a total change of the JCPOA.

Second demand: Any sanctions against Iran “at every level and on every pretext,” (note the word pretext), including the claim of terrorism and human rights violations, by any one of the countries participating and a party to the Nuclear agreement, will “constitute a violation of the JCPOA” and a reason for Iran to stop executing its obligations pursuant to the Agreement. Obviously, he is looking for an excuse to cancel the Agreement after reaping the millions of dollars in rewards.

The Third demand seeks to change the Agreement’s timetable, so that Iran will not take action as stipulated in the JCPOA, and, therefore, will not meet its obligations before the sanctions are eased. Instead it commands that the sanctions must first be eliminated totally, and only then will Iran meet its obligations under the agreement.

His fourth demand: Iran’s fulfillment of its obligations regarding the purpose of Arak reactor, as stipulated by the JCPOA, will be postponed until some undetermined future date.

The fifth demand: The date for Iran to ship out its enriched uranium, as stipulated by the Nuclear Agreement, is postponed again until some unknown future date. In addition, he is now demanding that Iran receive in exchange for the enriched uranium he is releasing — not the raw uranium as agreed upon, but uranium that has been enriched but to a lower level.

The last pronouncement for our purposes is that notwithstanding the declared goals of the JCPOA agreement, he directs that Iran is to immediately expand its ability to enrich uranium with a 15-year long term objective for its centrifuges.

A thought suddenly occurred to me: On 30th September 1938, the Prime Minister of the British Empire returned from a meeting with Adolph Hitler, where he signed the Munich Agreement conceding part of the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia, to Germany.  In effect, the free world buckled under Hitler’s demands. But the British Prime Minister announced to the troubled world with great fanfare as he arrived back in London: “I have returned with peace in our time.”  Less than a year later, Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.

Lessons not learned haunt you in the future.

I have written in the past about the loopholes and side deals that we find in the Agreements with Iran, which bodes trouble of an immense magnitude in the future. This latest move by the supreme leader of Iran is a clear signal that he does not believe in the sanctity of an agreement and despises the west. Contracts I teaches us an agreement is only as good as the integrity of the signing parties. He has no integrity, that’s more than evident, and will not honor either the letter or spirit of the agreement. He has said so. Nothing is clearer. The question then becomes why are we playing his game and not our own? Why are we dealing with a person who seeks our destruction? We, in colloquial terms, have all the cards, why aren’t we playing them?

As I finish writing this commentary (10.29.15), a breaking news report is issued by MEMRI—Rafsanjani, it reports, has told the Iranian Supreme Leader to get out of the way of fully executing the Nuclear Agreement. In other words, I will not follow your guidelines. The two most powerful men in Iran, in facing off in one arena, might have caused their own implosion.  The outcome is not clearly predictable.

One thing is clear; the nations who conducted and agreed to the JCPOA have given much more away in their desire to reach an accommodation than was prudent, necessary or safe for the United States and its allies.

Enough is enough.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

 

My Fear and My Right—Gun Control

When our first child was very young, my parents offered us a weekend away. We grabbed it and ran. During a long walk, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains, near our hotel, we heard guns being discharged. Nearby, we learned there was a skeet shooting school and range. That is when I held a gun for the first time and loved it.

Years later, when we had purchased a large tract of land in the middle of nowhere, and my now grown son suggested we needed to get a gun in case there were wild animals on or near where we were to build our country home. The two of us ended up at a gun range in, of all places, lower Manhattan in the basement of some industrial building. This time we used handguns. I loved it. Not as much fun as shooting skeets and more difficult to get the center of the target, which in this underground shooting facility was a silhouette of a human being. And some years ago at the invitation of the Defense Department, I was invited to view and handle advanced weapons at the army’s Fort Dix.

We never built on that land, but I was informed very early on by my wife and daughter that we would never have a gun in our home…country or otherwise. That has held true to this day.

Do I fear violence in the streets today? Yes. Have I felt violence in years gone by? Yes. We once drove across the United States, some four decades ago, and there were some strange towns along the way that had me wishing that I had some sort of gun in the car. The couple who raised my wife and traveled in their rig, crossing the United States for many years, always had a shotgun in their traveling home.

For many years I have written on this blog and other sites about security, violence and terrorism and I live in Manhattan. Do I need a gun for protection? Clearly not. If I lived in Ridgefield, Conn (picking that town as the first name that came into my mind) would I own a gun? No.

Would I love to go skeet shooting? Yes. Would it be better if I owned my own gun, fitted to my physical needs? Yes. Do I NEED a gun in my home? No.  Why should I have a gun in my home, as potentially dangerous as it is, to worry about its safekeeping and the outside possibility that it might be used in anger or stupidly, or an unwise manner without the intention of harming a person?  Lingering fear or, as some would plead my Second Amendment right. To both: Nonsense.

Taking my grandson to school across town, shouldn’t I be armed if some person decides that his school, for whatever reason, needs to be punished and has come armed as I walk him thru its front door? So I have done some skeet shooting, so I am trained in the use of my gun, but has my psyche been trained or does it have the capacity for this type of confrontation? Absolutely not. You have no idea how you will react until you have, in fact, been confronted by this type of violent conduct. A long time ago, when I decided with a neighbor to learn karate in a  four story walk up in Chinatown, the instructor in a  thick accent said to me: I can make you black belt here (pointing to his own head), but  I don’t know if I can make you black belt there (pointing to my heart). How very true.

After every senseless, retched, horrendous killing there are too many who continue to say: This is not the time to talk about gun control, this is a time to mourn. Ok, we have mourned over and over but the talking has neither started nor been reciprocal on this issue.  One side talks and the other side points to the Second Amendment. That is not a discussion under any circumstances. That is stalling! Reckless stalling.

I have a colleague at my law school that has a special spin on most everything. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, he would say: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment has most recently been interpreted to grant the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include “self-defense”.

If I construe the Constitution in its strict form, as would Justice Scalia, then according to my colleague you would look at the intentions of the framers back at the time of adoption of the Amendment. I have no problem with that, I then give the Tea Party and NRA—muskets not assault rifles or high density bullet magazines.

There are those who keep saying that guns do not kill people, it’s “the mentally ill”, — the mentally ill out there that are causing all “the problems.” Those ‘excusers’ are people living in an echo chamber of the own voice, repeating over and over their self-serving mantras while others are dying. They don’t see the dying and they don’t hear the cries of desperation. Death from a bullet in the United States causes the loss of more lives than other top causes of death: Alcoholism, Leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and hypertension. There are more guns owned in the United States than any other country and we beat out Yemen where there is an insurrection.

Guns are used in homicides in this country more than any other country in the entire world. Guns are Americans choice of weapon. What more do you need to say? What more hard information is necessary?

We are not going to change, modify or rid ourselves of the Second Amendment. It is here to stay. And if attempted it would take years to modify. As my wife would say: “deal with it”.

Gun control does not violate the Second Amendment. We can say: who can own a gun and not violate the Constitution. We can say that some guns and bullet capacity go beyond your proven right to defend yourself. You have an obligation, in some jurisdictions, to prove you need a gun for “self-defense,” not that you merely “want” a gun in your home or pickup truck. If there is no need to protect yourself from whatever is out there or some identified person, why do you need a gun? Simple answer is:  I want to hunt. Fine reason, but you don’t need an assault rifle or a magazine full of bullets to hunt a deer or rabbit.

Ben Carson commenting on the mass murders said: ‘I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me’ “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him.'” Ok Doctor, you first! Trump suggested overturning gun-free zones and said civilians with guns could have stopped the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. I am well aware that Mr. Trump cannot see too far from the top of Trump Tower, but hasn’t he learned that we ride in cars and not stagecoaches? We are not a nation of gunslingers and mud streets. We demand voter ID law to deter fraud. We demand a driver’s license before you are permitted to get behind the wheel of an automobile. We check your ID before we sell you a pack of cigarettes or pour your drink at your local bar, and you also need a prescription from a doctor before the druggist will give you that controlled substance prescription. Why not the same demands from the owner of a gun? The mother of the troubled son–-and she knew he had problems–who went on the shooting carnage at a community college in Oregon, said: “I keep two mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be dropping by my house uninvited without acknowledgement.” And took jabs at “lame states” that imposed limits on keeping loaded firearms in the home. There were 14 firearms and spare ammunition magazines in her home as her son, the murder, had at least six guns with him when he entered the classroom shooting. Whom was she expecting “uninvited,” an entire gang of local thugs to steel her brownie mix? How many guns can she shoot at one time and reload?

Enough! What if the head of the NRA was shot with an assault rifle by a parent of one of those children who was murdered in their classroom? What if those members of Congress who are most vocal about the freedom of owning a gun were shot as they left Capitol Hill by a person who disliked politicians? You would hear howls for the need, not for more guns for our so-called mass “defense”, but against the flooding of the gun markets to those who have had no training with guns or should not for a multiple reasons have guns in their possession. For that we need a national gun registry. Until the pig is stabbed you don’t hear it squeal.

I had a friend who was extremely liberal in her political and social policies and who thought we should all share what we owned—“we” being “you” with some wealth—more than hers. But when it came to her own possessions she voted against that incumbent, who after being elected, then reached into her pocketbook.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

South & Central Americas: an Egyptian-Styled “Arab Spring”

All eyes are glued to the Mid-East; to the Iranian deal, to the ominous rumblings in Turkey and sitting here in NYC, I learn that the threat index from ISIS is high in the United States. My eyes are glued for the occasional bombings in France as I plan a trip to Paris, and the arrest of some young persons in the US running off to marry an ISIS member. The focus is almost hypnotic.

On my daily trips to view the hot spots of the world, I have just begun to be aware of red lights faintly flashing in South and Central America with a new short-hand term slowly coming into common use: “South American Spring. ” For those of you who have short memories, let me remind you of the Arab Spring that began with a revolution popular uprising in Egypt that was greeted with roars of approval and the end of tyranny, but which has morphed steadily into deadly and horrific violence and unfathomed levels of despair in the entire Middle East. A three year old child lying dead in the sand along a beach that was to bring him to safety from the violence of his home conveys horror to us in vivid detail.

In South and Central America, fed-up with corruption and harsh dictators and after decades of brutal oppression, those countries had their moment to achieve modern democracy through elections. But something has gone terribly wrong in the process. If we in the United States, we and our government, solely focus our attention to the Middle East, we will find ourselves on the boarder of very troublesome places in our own hemisphere.

The people there are more than merely unhappy notwithstanding their democratic elections. In place of venting their anger in the voting polls, they are moving into the streets. Enough is enough is the focused chant.

Guatemala and Honduras: Frustration over widespread corruption in Guatemala and Honduras may have finally triggered the protests and ire in countries long accustomed to political corruption and dishonor. Guatemala and Honduras have long been linked by their corrupt and bloody past, some of the world’s highest homicide rates, unescapable poverty, gang violence, and organized crime.

Years of living under the thumb of a dictatorial military rule has also left their middle classes fearful of political involvement. Honduras’s attorney general revealed that a network led by the former social security board director defrauded the government of some $120 million from 2010 to 2014. What was rumored became fact.

The Guatemalans have been taking to the streets to demand dramatic change – an unusual sight in Central America, where corruption for years has been the norm. As Sibylla Brodzinsky wrote from Honduras:” It is a scene (seeing hundreds of protesters in the street) that has been repeated every Friday evening for nearly three months, since the government party was linked to a fraud and graft scheme that nearly bled the national health service dry. . at the same time, crushing poverty and rampant violence have driven tens of thousands to attempt to migrate to the United States.” In weekly marches, held on Saturdays in the Guatemalan capital’s Constitution Square, protesters have called for the impeachment or resignation of their President.” Enough is enough” is the constant cry of the population of both countries.

Brazil: In the case of Brazil, whose influence over the region is apparent, what is in issue is the ability of any new government to reinvent itself. The economy in Brazil has dropped precipitously as multibillion dollar corruption scandals have become public knowledge. This information has caused the outcry that erupted in many Brazilian cities during June 2013 and it continues.

Argentina: The Argentinians are calling for change amid their frustration and anger with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, government currency and trade controls and wide-spread corruption allegations that have pierced deep into the Government’s inner political circle.

Mexico: The recourse to massacre, which Mexico seems to either to condone or set an example, sets in motion the extent to which terror has returned to the continent as a means to manage social conflict and political control. Parading fear prevents any collective attempt to practice a new form of political structure.

Venezuela: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who sounds very much like our Donald Trump, has over the past two weeks forcefully deported 1,000 Colombian migrants back to their homeland, producing a flood of harrowing visual images. Their personal belongings seized along with indiscriminate physical violence. Venezuelan National Guardsmen have even taken to spray painting the homes of the soon-to be-banished, marking their dwellings with an “R” for reviewed, or a “D” for demolition.

Nearly 5,000 other Colombians in Venezuela, hoping to rescue some of their dignity and property and avoid the same brutal treatment as their countrymen, have fled preemptively, wading across the shallow river marking the porous border between the two countries with whatever possessions they can carry. To top off the oppression, the Venezuelan opposition leader was sentenced to nearly 14 years of prison. The opposition leader had already been in a military prison for the past 18 months. He was convicted of inciting violence in last year’s antigovernment protests.

We must be as attentive to the ills in the Americas as we are to those in Middle East before they become mirror images. Our media must take a more active role in focusing on the Americas as that part of the world forms our national security network and the Government provides little information. Without the media our unbiased channel of information is at risk.

I have an acquaintance in Guatemala. He wrote to me last week when I enquired of his wellbeing, and he responded: “Everything is fine here, now that we were listened as a nation, we are waiting for justice to do their part.”

I hope his optimism becomes his reality. I have grave doubts.

Richard Allan.
The Editor

“Islam is the Religion of War” – Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi (ISIS)

One Sunday morning, I realized that I was slowly but surely being sucked into a vast spinning ball where the speed and collision of events were beginning to scatter my brain. What I am referring to, obliquely, is the multiple wars and collisions of facts and interests in the Middle East and across a significant span of North Africa. Our Government is not only deeply divided on how to defeat or even contain the major threats of terrorism, but as one commentator said, how mired we have become in this thing called “the war on terrorism”.

Superimposed one upon the other are the volatile issues created by the proposed Iranian Nuclear Agreement before Congress and the violence in the Middle East that has metastasized, creating complex contradictions.

I have never before prefaced any of my writing by stating my avowed political position. Since I have been able to vote in a presidential election, I have voted Democrat. I voted for Obama. Having made that statement, Obama’s nuclear proposal is a disaster for today and tomorrow and for America. I speak seeking to protect nothing beyond the borders of the United States.

Prior to entering politics Obama taught constitutional law; he would be better prepared today if he had studied and taught “contracts”. The art of contract drafting has as one of its first axioms: Don’t create ambiguity in the use of language. To do so will ultimately create conflict.

Certainly, the Iranian nuclear agreement is far from being a joking matter, but at least one person (Jackie Mason) has quipped that New Yorkers” know that in the restaurants of New York, they have an inspection system. You can surprise any restaurant without notice to walk in and inspect them… So we are protected in this city from a bad tuna fish. We’re not protected from a bomb, but we’re protected from a bad quality of a tuna fish.”

My opposition to the Nuclear Agreement is the untenable consequences that flow from it, which are not readily visible, glossed over, and ignored to our peril.

A few examples are:

* There are phrases in the agreement relating to the inspection of important facilities which read: “where necessary, when necessary.” The Administration alleges this means “anytime, anywhere”. That is nonsense, and more important, totally misleading. The Iranian Government can hold off inspection for months after a demand is made. Iranians can begin the long process by asking: “Why is this demand necessary?” Someone said that if the marshal knocks on your door with a search warrant, it means you do not get an invitation to return in two weeks to search for the items in your warrant. “Assurances” between the parties to an agreement are as good as the persons who make them, and it seems that we should have learned by this time that Iran, who seeks our death as it signs the agreement, should not be trusted.  Not now and not tomorrow. Why embrace a person who has a knife in their hands.

* When sanctions are lifted (at the time of complete execution by all the parties), the Agreement will provide Iran with as much as 150 billion dollars in sanctions relief, which will permit Iranian companies (or their hidden middlemen) to have total commercial access to the world. It will become all but impossible to prevent Iran from buying whatever it wants, wherever it wants. Despite a ban on arms shipments to Iran under international sanctions, Russia is proceeding with the sale of their advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles. This weapons system has the ability to bring down, among other planes, US jet aircraft. A number of significant events signal that Russian and Iran now appear to have closer ties both diplomatically and militarily in the weeks since the announcement of the nuclear accord in Vienna. Keep in mind that Iran supports terrorist groups and proxy forces in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. And like its Russian friends, supports the regime of al-Assad’s Syria. There is talk today that the only way “out” for Iraq is partition.

* The question of Syria’s future was nowhere presented in the talks with Iran. And this connects to the previous paragraph. The results are predictable: the flow of fighters, weapons and money fueling the devastating conflict in Syria will only worsen. Iran will now have greater financial resources to protect and help their proxies to gain the advantage on the field of battle. The very groups with whom we are “at war”. It has been announced that Russia has delivered six MiG 31 fighter jets to support al-Assad.

* Since Obama withdrew our entire troop presence from Iraq in 2011, the country has moved further into sectarian fighting. The lifting of sanctions will only escalate that conflict, as arms may readily be purchased and will be freely transmitted to those groups backed by Iran.

* With the lifting of sanctions (at the date of execution of the Agreement) and then a possible “snap back” (on the breach of the terms of the Agreement), those arrangements between Iran and any group or nation executed between those two dates will not be affected.

* Although the President has readily admitted that Iran supplies both Hezbollah and Assad in Syria and Hamas in Gaza, he quite amazingly implies there is nothing the Allies can do about it. It is worth repeating in opposition to accepting the Agreement that we are not faced with only two options: the Agreement or war. Nonsense. Heavier and tighter sanctions would have a crippling effect in Iran and the Iranians are more than aware of their implication.

* Tehran has consistently violated the UN arms embargo and missile sanctions. Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi made crystal clear last month that Tehran had no intention of complying with any arms embargo, saying “Whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so.” And they will have the $150 billion in sanction relief to do just that.

* Most upsetting, and the nation only learning about it after an Associated Press “bomb shell”, was the revealing of the existence of the Parchin Settlement (named after the Iranian military complex, being the home of Iran’s nuclear-weapon and ballistic program). This Settlement was worked out between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers that negotiated the Nuclear Agreement were not a party to this agreement, but were allegedly “briefed” by the IAEA. When confronted by this news, the Obama administration described the document as nothing more than a “routine technical arrangement”. One cannot image that this Settlement is anything but routine when it allows the Iranians (taking into account its own military concerns) to provide the location and photos of suspected sites to the IAEA”. The Iranians have not been known for their honesty, so why now. Congress, under present legislation, enacted this year, must receive all documents entered into between Iran and any third party. Which includes IAEA Settlement. Congress has been provided nothing.

In addition, we have presently enforced United States’ legislation that Iran not be granted any relief until there is “a certification by the President that Iran is no longer a financier and sponsor of terror. That presidential certification has not been satisfied.” During all of this the White House remains silent.

As I previously mentioned, entwined with the Iranian Nuclear Agreement and at the vortex of the Mideast catastrophe are two countries vying for supreme domination for decades to come: Saudi Arabia and Iran. Parenthetically, while neither of the potential winners is a friend Israel, one overtly seeks its total destruction.

Viewed from afar, one sees the principal objectives of Iran and Saudi Arabia: First, Iran seeks to replace the United States’ control and influence in the Sunni world led by Saudi Arabia, second, to bring to fruition the preaching of Ali Khamenei: destroy Israel.

One of the pieces of supporting evidence is the 2015 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which documents that since Hassan Rouhani assumed the office of the president of Iran in mid-August 2013, the number of people from various minority communities who imprisoned has increased. In 2014, it was reported that religious minorities Baha’is, Christian converts and Sunni Muslims, along with dissenting Shi’a Muslims, are deteriorating and face increased harassment. Today’s news brings horrifying pictures of the treatment of Catholics in the region.

On the other side of this hostile equation, Saudi Arabia and Israel will never be “friends” and do not have any diplomatic relations (playing to its constituents) and probably never will. Nevertheless, both countries are allies of the United States in opposition to the expansion of regional influence by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

News reports, not yet confirmed, indicate that behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between the Saudis and Israel have taken place. One public gesture was that Israel had offered Iron Dome technology to the Saudis who publically declined the offer. That does not mean the technology will not be transferred.

This layer of conflict is very much straight forward. It becomes more complex as we examine the surrogates of Iran and Saudi Arabia who seek to destroy each other with impunity.

But first simple mathematics: Sunnis outnumber Shias by nine to one. Those are the simple numbers; least we forget there are other smaller numbers of tribes whose allegiance shift with the wind and bribery. Today there are one thousand organized, armed sectarian militants in the region. Well in excess of 100,000 people who form alliances with other similar thinking groups.

The entire picture becomes more complex when one studies the generally accepted map of the region. At first blush, nothing unusual comes to the fore, there are straight lines forming different countries as one would expect to see on any map of the Mid-East. The problem is that those lines do not represent the reality of what is on the ground. The map lines were drawn and then imposed by the super nations of the world after wars and conquests and do not take into consideration the multiple tribes and diverse groups that have resided separate and apart for generations across the region. Today, there is talk of the partition of Iraq.

Over decades, the cost, in lost lives and dislocation to vast numbers of individuals is incalculable in this intractable, ongoing conflict. The cost in dollars is staggering. For example, the U.S. has spent in a very short period of time over $2 billion on the air campaign in Syria and Iraq alone.

I recall reading that the King of Jordan had warned the international community that with America’s toppling of Saddam Hussein (clearly, a bad guy) in Iraq, a void would be predictably created and with that an unappealing opportunity would arise for an Iranian-influenced Shia expansion. His words evaporated into thin air. Then as the voids through the Muslim world were being created by one failing government after another, with civil war and protests one after the another, the voids quickly were filled with transnational Shia forces backed by Iran and by violence.

First thing first: In this arena of not merely political posturing but supporting that posturing with weapons, we have been faced with a lot of double talk. Complicating matters, those groups or tribes who seemed not to play any major role in the ongoing conflict are now involved in in the regional violence as they change sides. This complicates the overall picture; weapons that we had sent to help overthrow Assad are now, because of a shift in alliance, being employed against our interests and troops.

While the West extends nuclear negotiations and agreement with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to enhance its international terrorism infrastructure through its proxies. Hezbollah has operatives in the Western European states while Hamas maintains its operatives, according to a German intelligence reports.

Turkey, a country with one foot in Europe and one in Asia, is viewed as a stable nation in the area, has recently undergone its own political upheaval. This Muslim nation until recently run by a strong man, who had turned this historically democratic, nonsectarian nation into a Muslim stronghold, had his political base damaged severely in recent elections. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan– the Turkish government forcibly opposed Kurdish independence – and at the same moment had been tacitly permissive of ISIS. Erdogan deliberately withheld support from the Kurds, whose troops have been successfully opposing ISIS in the north of Iraq. What changed the dynamic of the regional politics was the political blow to Erdogan following his most recent elections, with the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party entering the Turkish parliament for the first time, thus creating a political crisscrossing of political wires. Erdogan then entered into an agreement with the US and ordered the commencement of vigorous bombing of ISIS strongholds, but, to everybody’s astonishment, also launched bombing Kurdish centers. I guess “duplicitous” is the word for his actions. He now alleges that both the campaigns (US warplanes striking ISIS from Turkish bases and his own jets) are really one fight against the terrorism in “his” region, equating ISIS and the Kurdish centers in the north. Viewed from afar there is no moral or ethical reason for these actions. This has had sever political consequences in Turkey as I write these words: the Turkish prime minister failed to form a coalition government, plunging the country deeper into political uncertainty with the President calling for yet another election. In stepped the voice of ISIS, taking advantage of another political crisis in this region urging Muslims in Turkey to rise up against their “infidel” president and “to capture Istanbul”.

The US is not immune from this sort of ambiguity. We find the US bombing Iran’s enemies in one country and helping to bomb Iran’s allies in another. This Gilbert and Sullivan travesty, played out as Sunni-Shia loathing, can indeed give way to marriages of confusing convenience, all while the world watches as the US debates whether to enter into a Nuclear Agreement with a nation who seeks its destruction.

The Nuclear Agreement discussion in the United States has reached name-calling status, affecting not only our natural allies and those we should engage, but our presidential political election process. The violent conflicts in the Middle-East bring continued killings that are reckless and unnecessary even in wartime. In some instances they are horrific by any standards – beheadings, mustard gas and rape. And the immigrants of all descriptions, of all ages, suffer beyond imagination as they flee their homeland and seek solace by placing their lives in unworthy boats that ply across the Mediterranean only to die at sea or face empty, blank and sometimes hostile stares upon their arrival. The civilized world appears to be in a state of physical paralysis and fills their created void with empty gestures. World leaders are more obsessed with the political implications of their pronouncements than the human implications caused by their inaction.

There is a price to pay for all of this and its cost is “human lives”.

Richard Allan,
The Editor