October 17, 2017—Half a Loaf?

October 17, 2017—Half a Loaf?

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result . . . Attributed to Albert Einstein and others … Keep that thought in mind as you read my message this week.

Click here for a pertinent discussion of this and many similar related definitions, over many decades and even centuries.  While you digest the wisdom of that thought, click here for my last week’s Newsmax article discussing two events I expected to be in the news last week:

  • President Trump’s anticipated decision on the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran Deal, which he called the “worst deal ever negotiated;” and
  • Senator John McCain’s leadership that will determine the future of the Commission to Assess the threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) — the EMP Commission.

The first issue has been clarified, though there seems to be confusion on its merits as well as clarification on whether we have learned anything from related past experience. At this writing, the outcome for the second is still unknown, at least to me; and the potential outcome still deserves further attention to determine if we will learn the lessons of the past. 

Sufficient information on the first issue is available for debate, but only speculation is possible on the second — that’s one way I’m giving you a “half a loaf” this week.

Over to Congress on the JCPOA.

My Newsmax article discussed three possible outcomes from the President’s then pending decision: 1) President Trump was unlikely to recertify the “terrible deal” again (as he had twice before) — turned out to be true; 2) My preference was that he get rid of the deal last week — which he did not do; and 3) He might prefer to kick the can back to Congress and watch them squirm in search of improvements for up to sixty days, particularly in the Senate that should not have signed on to the deal in the first place. President Trump selected this third course.

Click here for Andy McCarthy’s pertinent discussion, including a review of reasons that raise doubts about this third choice.  As he argued, it will be a challenge to improve significantly what the President told the U.N. General Assembly was an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

I remain skeptical of any significantly positive outcome from this latest effort, because I doubt the Iranian mullahs will change their direction in any meaningful way — and the deal, under any foreseeable outcome (at least to me), will remain a recipe for them to achieve their goal of nuclear weapons to bring “Death to America,” the Great Satan and “Death to Israel,” the Little Satan — as they regularly chant.  But there are generally perceived political benefits of “staying in the deal” for the time being — up to sixty days during which the President can end the deal at any time he chooses.

October 17, 2017—Half a Loaf?

So it is a middle ground decision — at least for a time while we continue again what I expect to be another extended experience of illusory hope over experience.

The best face on this ugly deal that I have read was advanced by Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in his October 16 Fox News article, “Death to America” — Why Trump’s Iran Policy is Right.” I urge you to click here and read his full article.  

I have great respect for Former Speaker Gingrich, who began his article by correctly describing Iran’s serious threat to America and Israel — and the delusion of past Democrat and Republican leaders in dealing with both Iran and North Korea.

He noted that President Trump understands this history and the failure of the “appeasement and negotiation” policy since 1992 that produced North Korea’s current nuclear-armed ballistic missile threat. And he presumes that President Trump will not fall prey to the arms control community’s siren song that has so often misled our national leaders.  We’ll see.

His review of some of Iran’s activities since the 1979 “revolution” and our failed responses to Iran’s past troublesome activities was instructive:

  • 1979-1981 Iranian hostage crisis that ended with the election of President Reagan after President Carter’s failed efforts at negotiation and failed rescue efforts by special forces;
  • 1983 truck bombs that killed 241 U.S. service personnel and 58 French paratroopers in Lebanon;
  • 1987-88 U.S. naval support efforts to help Kuwaiti tankers pass through the Straits of Hormuz while Iran was attempting to mine the Persian Gulf;
  • 2000-2008 U.S. unsuccessful efforts to contain Iranian and North Korean dictatorships, via an “axis of evil” strategy; and
  • 2008-2016 Obama administration “strategic patience” failures in its attempt to develop a new relationship with Iran, a “fictional fantasy” that allowed Iran to dominate the Middle East.

Speaker Gingrich noted Obama administration policies enabled much greater Russian influence in the Middle East, including in conjunction with Russia’s longstanding alliance with Iran and its other allies like Hezbollah, now armed with more than 100,000 missiles that can be fired into Israel, while Iran builds missile factories in Syria and Lebanon and develops plans for an Iranian Port in Lebanon. He noted Iran, now flush with money thanks to the JCPOA, is fermenting major instabilities, including propping up Hamas and funding a proxy war in Yemen against the Saudis.

Following these statements of a clear sample set of problems, the former Speaker then explained that President Trump was properly interpreting the law passed by Congress requiring him to certify that:

(1) Iran is fully implementing the JCPOA and all related agreements; (2) Iran has not committed (or if committed, has cured) a material breach; (3) Iran has taken no action to significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and (4) that continued suspension of nuclear-related sanctions is both appropriate and vital to our national security interests.”

Whatever one might think of the other required certifications, it seems impossible on its face for the President to certify that Iran is complying with Item (4), given Iran’s behavior since the JCPAO was signed — as President Trump stated has been in contrast to the “spirit of the JCPOA.” And the Speaker noted that President Trump’s decision was supported by his key national security advisors — including the Secretaries of State and Defense.

I think such certification would require ignoring a number of other realities of the JCPOA — which was why I favored the President ending the charade immediately. For example, these issues did not include verification flaws that make a sham of claims that Iran is complying with the deal. Click here for the letter I co-signed with 44 others including that effect. 

The President’s decision provides at least some perceived political advantages. For example, click here for James S. Robbins’ October 13 USA Today article, “Trump and Iran nuclear deal: Smart chess play could motivate the mullahs.” Mr. Robbins notes:

“Choosing not to certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA was a smart chess move. It costs the president nothing, does not wreck the nuclear deal, does not reimpose sanctions, and can even be reversed in the unlikely event Tehran chooses to give the IAEA the access it needs to know what Iran is up to. Trump is simply using the leverage at his disposal to make the mullahs focus more clearly on the parts of the ‘incompetently drawn’ agreement that need improvement.”

Now we’ll see what Congress does.  I truly hope they don’t just repackage the failed policies of “appeasement and negotiation.”  If they do, then I hope President Trump will end the JCPOA, which he can do anytime he chooses. 

From my perspective, our current status is “half a loaf” outcome.  I, for one, will follow the congressional activities with more than a little interest and great skepticism.  

And What About the EMP Commission

As noted above, I laid out my concerns in my Newsmax article last week, which argued that we need to end the JCPOA charade and deal with the EMP threat, now quite apparent from North Korea and from North Korea’s ally, Iran, that may be less apparent, but also is quite real.

I am most concerned that a future EMP Commission include commissioners who already have served without compensation since 2001 and are the repository of the nation’s “hands-on” historical knowledge on EMP effects and how to counter them.

The previous commission went out of business on September 30, 2017. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will determine the future EMP Commission as an outcome of current congressional deliberations.

I do not know how things are going in final stages of concluding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), particularly the Senate’s plans for the House-Senate Conference that will finalize that important EMP Commission legislation.

The House version of the NDAA abandons the current commission that had served with distinction for almost 17 years and start all over with a new commission — guaranteeing delay and confusion with a break in that important role.

Key aspects of the EMP Threat and how to protect against it were kept secret until the Commission’s 2004 and 2008 reports, and many who are responsible for our critical civil infrastructure — such as the electric power grid — are still uninformed about these potentially lethal EMP effects and the lessons learned over the past half century on how to deal with that existential threat.

Alleged experts — even some well-intentioned to be sure — are not well informed, and sometimes these late-comers pontificate beyond what their advertising merits.

That’s why as many of the previous EMP Commissioners who wish to continue their service should continue to keep the record straight.  They can most effectively counter naysayers who would leave America vulnerable to an existential threat that, if unaddressed, could lead to the death of most Americans in months following an EMP event.

Such an attack might be executed today by North Korea, which has declared an EMP attack to be a “strategic goal” of the nuclear and ballistic missile programs it is conducting — demonstrably and alarmingly revealing capabilities well beyond the expectations of our intelligence community.

Or it might be delivered by North Korea’s ally Iran, which now has plenty of money to buy whatever it needs from a “cash-strapped” North Korea, thanks to the JCPOA’s removal of sanctions freeing over about $150 billion, ample for Iran to buy what it can’t do itself from a cash-strapped North Korea.

So, Congress is back in town.  Hopefully, Senator McCain will lead in assuring an experienced, competent, authoritative EMP Commission, by enabling the continuing service of all Commissioners who will agree to continue, thereby assuring continuity with the past 17 years effort.

Moreover, I’d argue that the new Commission be placed in the White House with a direct unfettered reporting line to President Trump. The current federal government is dysfunctional, because no one below the president has the authority, resources, and responsibility for protecting all Americans front both manmade and natural existential EMP threats.

In conclusion, consider the following appraisal of our current situation by Former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) one of the two original main sponsors of the EMP Commission (the other was Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)). Mr. Weldon began his argument that “Washington absolutely must save the EMP Commission” with the following words:

“Only Washington bureaucrats could be so stupid they would terminate the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, also known as the Congressional EMP Commission — just when North Korea threatened to attack the United States with EMP.”

Well, we stand on the threshold of just that outcome, unless Senator John McCain leads us out of this swamp.

It’s half a loaf to assure that some EMP Commission continues … a full loaf will assure that past commissioners can continue to serve if they so wish.  Stay tuned.

Bottom Lines.        

President Trump made an understandable decision in not recertifying the JCPOA and kicking the issue back to Congress, particularly the Senate, to see it they can rectify its many serious faults.  He retains the authority to terminate the Deal later, depending on what they do.  Stay tuned.

Whether Congress takes the existential EMP threat seriously will be demonstrated by the outcome of the Senate-House Conference on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 — particularly how it establishes a future EMP Commission and its charter.

Two urgent recommendations:

  • Current commissioners should be reinstated if they wish to continue to serve, to assure continuity in the effort and to avoid “reinventing the wheel;” and
  • The future commission should be stationed in the White House with a direct channel to President Trump — to assure a whole of government response to this existential threat.

No one below the President has this whole of government mission and is in charge with the needed resources and authority to dealing with the existential EMP threat.

Stay tuned!!!!

What can you do?

Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.

Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.

Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.

Click here to make a tax deductible gift. If you prefer to mail a check, please send it to 20 F Street, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20001.

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