U.S.: Strategic Objectives in the Middle East by Peter Huessy

The new “test” of our alliance will be whether the assembled nations will join in removing the hateful parts of such a doctrine from their communities.

What still has to be considered is the U.S. approach to stopping Iran from filling the vacuum created by ridding the region of the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as Iran’s push for extending its path straight through to the Mediterranean.

The tectonic plates in the Middle East have shifted markedly with President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and his announced new regional policy.

The trip represented the beginning of a major but necessary shift in US security policy.

For much of the last nearly half-century, American Middle East policy has been centered on the “peace process” and how to bring Israel and the Palestinians to agreement on a “two-state” solution for two peoples — a phrase that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to say.

First was shuttle diplomacy during 1973-74 in the Nixon administration; then second, in 1978, the Camp David agreement and the recognition of Israel by Egypt, made palatable by $7 billion in new annual US assistance to the two nations; third, the anti-Hizballah doctrine, recently accurately described by National Security adviser General McMaster, as Iran, since 1983, started spreading its terror to Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. This last effort was often excused by many American and European analysts as a result somehow, of supposed American bad faith. Fourth, came the birth, in 1992, of the “Oslo Accords” where some Israelis and Palestinians imagined that a two-state solution was just another round of negotiations away.

Ironically, during the decade after Oslo, little peace was achieved; instead, terror expanded dramatically. The Palestinians launched three wars, “Intifadas,” against Israel; Al Qaeda launched its terror attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa; and Iran, Hizballah, and Al Qaeda together carried out the forerunner attacks against America of 9/11/2001.

Since 9/11, despite wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism has not only failed to recede; on the contrary, it has expanded. Iran has become the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and the Islamic State (ISIS) has tried to establish a transnational “Islamic caliphate.” Literally tens of thousands of terror attacks have been carried out since 9/11 by those claiming an Islamic duty to do so. These assaults on Western civilization have taken place on bridges, cafes, night clubs, offices, military recruitment centers, theaters, markets, and sporting events — not only across the West but also in countries where Muslims have often been the primary victims.

Particularly condemnable have been the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, perpetrated to a great extent by Iran, according to U.S. military testimony before Congress.

All the while, we in the West keep trying to convince ourselves that, as a former American president thought, if there were a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, most of the terrorist attacks we see in Europe and the United States “would disappear.”

No matter how hard we may rhetorically push the “peace process”, there is no arc of history that bends naturally in that direction. Rather, nations such as the United States together with its allies must create those alliances best able to meet the challenges to peace and especially defeat the totalitarian elements at the core of Islamist ideology.

If anything, the so-called Middle East “peace process” has undercut chances of achieving a sound U.S. security policy. While the search for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian “problem” dominated American thinking about Middle East peace for so many decades, other far more serious threats materialized but were often ignored, not the least of which was the rise of Iran as the world’s most aggressive terrorist.

The United States has now moved in a markedly more promising and thoughtful direction.

Congo’s Escalating Political Crisis Sends Millions Into Exile By Nicholas Bariyo see note please

This is the tragic legacy of the post colonial movement in Africa which was called “the emerging continent” and with exceptions like Botswana, Namibia, and Kenya so many nations are riddled with tribal warfare, starvation, epidemics and genocide….and the so called “African-American” caucus in Congress and the Black Lives Matter movements do nothing and care not a whit….It is an appalling apathy…..rsk

YANGWALI, Uganda—The day Bungwile Mabuya discovered her husband’s mangled body near her house in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region, she grabbed her children and ran.

The mother of five, who found refuge in a sprawling lakeside refugee camp here, is one of roughly 1.5 million Congolese fleeing a brutal power struggle pitting President Joseph Kabila against traditional chiefs, who still administer large swaths of the vast central African nation.

Government forces and local militias have killed more than 3,300 people in Ms. Mabuya’s home region since October, according to the Catholic Church, which has had its priests count the bodies since then. On Tuesday, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, accused Mr. Kabila’s government of arming a new militia he said has slaughtered hundreds of villagers—including pregnant women and toddlers—in Kasai. A government spokesman has denied the allegations.

The killings reflect the unraveling of a complex network of power trading and patronage, backed by amateur fighters unchecked by the official security apparatus, that has helped secure Mr. Kabila’s rule for the past 16 years.

Ms. Mabuya said her husband, Constantine Masumbe, had stepped outside their hut one December night when she saw three men wearing army uniforms drag him away, accusing him of being a member of Kamuina Nsapu, an antigovernment militia the U.N. says is recruiting child soldiers and raping underage girls in the central Kasai region.

Ms. Mabuya, who found her husband’s body the next morning, denied that her husband belonged to Kamuina Nsapu and said he was a victim of a government crackdown that has intensified since Mr. Kabila’s official mandate expired in December. Mr. Kabila, who is barred from running again by the nation’s constitution, has put off elections, citing a lack of funds and security issues.

“We could not even hold a burial ceremony. Everyone was running,” Ms. Mabuya said.

Tensions in impoverished Kasai escalated last year, when Mr. Kabila refused to recognize Jean-Pierre Mpandi, a chief who founded Kamuina Nsapu and was friendly with Mr. Kabila’s political opponents. In August, government forces fighting Kamuina Nsapu killed Mr. Mpandi. Aid agencies say more than a dozen other traditional chiefs across five provinces have since been killed.

Traditional chiefs are selected according to local custom and perform religious ceremonies, but receive government salaries. Under Congo’s constitution they are required to be apolitical and resolve local disputes, forming a vital link between the capital Kinshasa and remote villages. CONTINUE AT SITE

Jared Kushner Meets With Netanyahu, Abbas Trump adviser, other administration officials seek progress on peace deal in followup of Trump visitBy Rebecca Ballhaus see note please


WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, met Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior advisers to try to advance U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Mr. Kushner, who was joined by Jason Greenblatt, the president’s top representative on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, discussed with the prime minister “potential next steps” in the effort to establish peace between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a White House statement.

Mr. Kushner and the Israeli officials “underscored that forging peace will take time” and emphasized the “importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking,” the White House said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meeting with Mr. Kushner in Ramallah, West Bank, on Wednesday. Photo: Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office/Getty Images

In a televised welcome of Mr. Kushner, Mr. Netanyahu said the meeting was an “opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace,” and added: “Jared, I welcome you here in that spirit.”

Mr. Kushner responded: “The president sends his best regards, and it’s an honor to be here with you.”

Mr. Netanyahu also praised the president’s trip to Israel last month, saying Mr. Trump left an “indelible impression on the people of Israel.”

Messrs. Kushner and Greenblatt also met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior advisers in the West Bank city of Ramallah. When they return to Washington, they will brief the president, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster and talk “next steps,” the White House said.

The trip marks the White House’s first major follow-up to Mr. Trump’s trip to the region last month and suggests Mr. Kushner’s policy portfolio isn’t shrinking despite scrutiny by federal investigators into his past meetings with Russian officials. CONTINUE AT SITE

Irresistible Georgia’s Karen Handel pins another defeat on the anti-Trump left.By James Freeman

Last night viewers of cable news were the first to learn that Republican Karen Handel had defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in the special election to fill a U.S. House seat in Georgia. Long before any news outlet formally declared Ms. Handel’s victory, CNN and MSNBC regulars disclosed the outcome with their funereal tones and cheerless visages. It’s becoming a competitive advantage for the two cable nets on election nights, allowing viewers to learn unofficial results with one glance at the screen.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow seems to have been so distraught over the emerging defeat in Georgia that she abandoned the subject and resumed “connecting the dots” among people President Trump or his acquaintances may have known. Your humble correspondent did not stay on the channel long enough to know if she made it all the way to Kevin Bacon, but found it useful to learn her unequivocal if unspoken statement about Georgia.

Ms. Maddow’s implicit forecast was accurate. Ms. Handel ended up winning by four percentage points, a bigger margin than Republican Ralph Norman enjoyed in winning Tuesday’s South Carolina special election that nobody expected to be close. Now what?

Liberals may need some time and space to get over the Georgia result. In the New York Times , Frank Bruni captures the anguish of Democrats—and not just the ones who work in the media industry:

They ached for this seat. They fought for it fiercely. They reasoned that Ossoff had a real chance: Donald Trump, after all, won this district by just 1.5 percentage points. Donations for Ossoff flooded in, helping to make this the most expensive House race in history by far.

Democrats came up empty-handed nonetheless. So a party sorely demoralized in November is demoralized yet again — and left to wonder if the intense anti-Trump passion visible in protests, marches, money and new volunteers isn’t just some theatrical, symbolic, abstract thing.

Good question. Maybe it’s not a majority-building, vote-winning, concrete thing. Democrats might start by asking whether they can persuade moderate voters to join their coalition by preaching “resistance” to a legitimate government and—without a shred of evidence—accusing a duly-elected president of treason.

Change in the House of Saud Mohammed bin Salman wants to transform the hidebound Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has resisted modernity since its founding in 1932. But the political sands are shifting, and the change will accelerate with Wednesday’s appointment of Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince.

King Salman broke with decades of tradition with his royal decree that ousted his nephew, security czar Mohammed bin Nayef, in favor of Salman’s son, Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi crown has typically passed from one octogenarian or septuagenarian brother to another, so the rise of the 31-year-old son as heir designate is a monumental development.

This is all the more remarkable given the young leader’s reformist inclinations. The Saudis face a triple challenge in falling oil prices, a youth demographic bulge and Iranian imperialism. The Crown Prince believes the answer is an assertive foreign policy that unites Sunni Arab states against Tehran, combined with domestic reform that weans the Kingdom off oil.

This regional vision took shape soon after King Salman ascended the throne in 2015. As Defense Minister (a portfolio he will retain), the Crown Prince emerged as the architect of the Saudi-led military campaign to oust the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.

The Yemen operation has been long and hard, but it has largely succeeded in cutting off Iranian supplies to the Houthis and boosted the confidence of Arab states. Mohammed bin Salman has also spearheaded efforts to diplomatically isolate Qatar over its two-faced policy of cooperating with the West while funding Islamist groups like Hamas.

Last year the Crown Prince launched Vision 2030, a reform program to diversify the Saudi economy and expand the role of private enterprise. The heart of the plan is to boost the private share of the economy to 65% by 2030 from about 40%, and reduce the government’s dependence on oil for revenues, now at 70%.

That’s a tall order in a Kingdom that has historically offered its citizens oil-funded, cradle-to-grave welfare in exchange for little say in politics. Many Saudis have grown up to expect high-paying government jobs that are increasingly hard to subsidize with oil at under $50 a barrel. Unleashing the private economy will also require liberating Saudi women to enter the work force—the right to drive would be a start—and that has already triggered clashes with the Wahhabi clerical establishment.

Earlier this year the government was forced to reverse a pay cut for state employees. Yet Mohammed bin Salman has made progress in other areas. A plan to offer public shares in the state-run oil company, Aramco, is moving ahead. Concerts are performed and movie theaters are opening for the first time in the Kingdom, allowing young Saudis access to entertainment and social interaction that their peers nearly everywhere else take for granted.

His appointment as Crown Prince will strengthen his hand by putting to rest competing claims to the throne from more conservative corners of the House of Saud with its 7,000 princes. A moderate and prosperous Saudi Arabia would bolster stability across the Arab world and is squarely in the U.S. national interest. Washington should support and encourage the young prince as he pursues change.

The Real Georgia Lesson GOP success in Congress can overcome liberal Trump loathing.

Democrats thought they could pick up a GOP-leaning House seat by turning Tuesday’s special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district into a referendum on the Trump Presidency. The lesson of the GOP’s four-percentage-point victory is that Republicans can preserve their congressional majority despite doubts about Donald Trump—if they deliver on their agenda.

Republicans staved off what the press would have portrayed as a catastrophe and portent of a GOP wipeout in next year’s midterm elections. And they did so with a weak candidate in Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state who lost bids for Governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2014.

Democrats thought they could steal the seat because it is full of the upscale, college-educated Republicans who dislike Mr. Trump. While Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was re-elected last November by 23 points, Hillary Clinton came within two points of beating Mr. Trump. Democrats—who, by the way, favor limits on campaign spending—poured $31 million into the district to turn out liberal voters.

Yet Republicans managed to turn out their voters by portraying Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide who doesn’t live in the district, as a foot soldier for Nancy Pelosi. Conservative voters showed they aren’t ready to hand the House back to Mrs. Pelosi whatever their doubts about Mr. Trump.

One immediate benefit is that the victory might deter some Republican retirements that would create more open seats in 2018 if they fear a Democratic wave. But Democrats are still likely to turn out in big numbers next year. The challenge for Republicans will be to give their voters a reason to match that liberal enthusiasm. That’s all the more reason to put accomplishments on the board that voters can see on health care, taxes and more.

As for Democrats, the defeat underlies the contradiction between the total resistance to Mr. Trump needed to win a primary and the centrist coloration needed to flip a GOP-leaning seat in areas like northern Virginia (held by Barbara Comstock ) and Upper Hudson Valley New York ( John Faso ). Mr. Ossoff energized progressives by promising “to make Trump furious.” After the primary he tacked to the middle by running as a fiscal conservative and against tax increases on the rich.

But by then Republicans were already defining him as a Pelosi pawn. It didn’t help that so much of his cash came from liberal redoubts like San Francisco or that he was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. Some groups on the left like MoveOn.org are now saying that the lesson from Mr. Ossoff’s defeat is that Democrats need to run as pure left-wing populists in 2018.

This left-center tension in the Democratic Party is likely to intensify, especially if the GOP racks up some policy victories, which could propel Democrats to nominate candidates who are too far left for the districts they need to win in 2018. But Republicans can’t afford complacency, and their best defense against an anti-Trump wave is legislative success.

Robert Mueller Needs to Answer Some Crucial Questions—If Only Republicans Would Ask Them By Angelo Codevilla

Editor’s Note: The following is a memo crafted by the author as it ought to be written to Special Counsel, Robert Mueller from the two Judiciary Committee chairmen in Congress.

If only . . .
From: Charles Grassley – Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee & Bob Goodlatte – Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

To: Robert Mueller – Special Counsel, Department of Justice

Subject: Oversight of your office
As our committees consider the Justice Department’s budget request to authorize appropriations for the department’s many activities for the upcoming fiscal year, we try to understand those activities’ scope and efficacy, focusing especially on ones that raise questions with the public. Making well-informed judgments regarding funding and legislative guidance of departmental activities under our purview is our constitutional responsibility. We are confident that you, having been a valuable partner in this exercise of that responsibility during your years as director of the FBI, will answer these questions, because they are essential for the Congress and the public’s understanding of what your office is doing and not doing.

The deputy attorney general established your office to “to inform or consult with the Attorney General or others within the Department about the conduct of his or her duties and responsibilities” specifically about “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump…” .

If we read this correctly, you are to report to the nation’s chief law enforcement officials about their “duties and responsibilities.” The duties and responsibilities of the Department of Justice—correct us if we are mistaken—can only be the enforcement of the laws of the United States.

We hope that you will forswear any investigation not pursuant to the underlying crime, if any, specified in your appointment order, and can assure you that our committees will make sure that no funds authorized by us can be used for such purposes.

This being the case, would you enumerate for us the laws of the United States which you believe “individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” may have broken, who these “individuals” may be, and the “probable cause” for so believing in the possibility of their violation, that suffices as basis for investigating them or anyone else regarding “links and coordination “with “the Russian government.”

The Deputy attorney General’s establishment order also contains the anodyne words “any other matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.” To understand what these words mean to you, we must ask: For you to investigate any person, what relationship need there be between that person’s activities and any violation of a U.S statute related to that person’s “links and/or coordination between the Russian government…”? Since the Department of Justice’s purview stops at the edge of politics, what do you believe that these words do not authorize you to “inform or consult” about in a prosecutorial manner?

China Leapfrogs U.S. in Critical Strategic Technology By David P. Goldman

The year’s most important news story probably never made it into your news feed. Nonetheless it might change your life forever. For the first time, China has demonstrated that it is far ahead of the United States in a critical new technology, namely quantum communications. A Chinese satellite succeeded in transmitting so-called entangled photons to earth stations. That’s the high-tech equivalent of sending a message in undeveloped photographic film: If you try to read it, the light will destroy it. The Chinese breakthrough has huge implications for cryptography, and for a host of other applications.

The tortoise just overtook the hare. We haven’t woken up from a decades-long nap, and we’re at serious risk of losing the race. If we do lose, there will be a name for an American who works for a Chinese: “Employed.” This is not a drill. This is the real thing.

Chris Scott wrote Friday in Asia Times:

On Thursday, a team of Chinese scientists released findings from a breakthrough study that makes China the indisputable leader in the field of quantum communication, an achievement that could be of immense strategic importance.

The study, led by Pan Jianwei and published in Science magazine, successfully demonstrated the ability to distribute entangled photons across unprecedented distances, from space to earth, opening the door for the practical application of cutting-edge, ultra-secure communication….

Encryption methods used today are nearly, but not completely, impossible to hack, but with more advanced computing power the forms of encoding that protect information sent online will become more and more vulnerable. Quantum key distribution, however, is unique in that any measurement of the transmission by an eavesdropper disturbs the transmission, thereby alerting the parties sending information.

So much for the mantra, “The Chinese steal technology but don’t know how to innovate.” Anyone who has seen China’s tech boom up close knows how dumb this view is. Books with titles like “The Coming Collapse of China” are now in their dozenth edition, while China is surging ahead in key areas of technology. China now graduates 1.3 million STEM students from its universities each year, vs. 300,000 in the US. How good are they? As Prof. Graham Allison reports in his new book The Thucydides Trap:

Professor Calls Whites ‘Inhuman A**holes,’ Tells Blacks to ‘Let Them F*cking Die’ By Tyler O’Neil

Mere days after a Bernie Sanders supporter shot Congressman Steve Scalise and two black members of his police detail, a Connecticut professor posted a Medium article on Facebook declaring: “Let Them F*cking Die.” The professor went on to write that white people are “inhuman a**holes” who still prop up a “white supremacy system,” so black people should not help them if their lives are in danger.

“I’m fed the f*ck up with self identified ‘white’s’ [sic] daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslim, and sexual and racially oppressed people,” Johnny Eric Williams, associate professor of sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., posted on Facebook Sunday, Campus Reform reported. “The time is now to confront these inhuman a**holes and end this now.”

How should the allegedly oppressed “end this now”? Another post explained that. “It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system,” Williams added in another post, including the hashtag #LetThemF*ckingDie.

On Thursday, Williams also posted a Medium article by that very title, which lamented that black Capitol Police officers who were assigned to Scalise’s detail had acted to protect him. The article, posted under a pseudonym, advocated letting white people die, as a form of combatting white supremacy.

What does it mean, in general, when victims of bigotry save the lives of bigots?

For centuries, black people have been regarded as sub-human workhorses whose entire purpose is to serve white people’s whimsies.

For centuries, queer people have been regarded as sub-human degenerates whose whole existence was an anathema to cisgender heterosexual people’s off-hand sensibilities.

The article attacked even the idea of morality as a tool for the immoral to oppress the moral. “They, these white/cisgender/heterosexuals, have created entire systems, philosophies, and values in which goodness, peace, and benevolence are virtues — but only, always, in other people. In themselves, though, it is only ever pretense.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Brown University Teaching High School Kids to Be Social Justice Warriors By Toni Airaksinen

While some high-school students spend the summer playing video games or hanging out with friends, other teens have different plans — and many of them are learning how to become social justice activists through college-sponsored summer programs.

Next month, Brown University will play host to one of these programs, a “Leadership and Social Justice” class geared towards students as young as 15.

Taught by Caitlin Murphy, a social studies teacher with a history of teaching kids social justice, the class vows to teach students “the tools and theory needed to become successful activists” and to fight for “social justice” in the realms of LGBTQ and immigration rights, among others.

The course appears to be a kind of advocacy boot camp.

During the course, students will be asked to “engage in various hands-on workshops and simulations, such as identifying an issue, developing a realistic timeline, publicizing a campaign, engaging the press, catering to an audience, and choosing effective tactics,” according to the course description.

Students will also be asked to develop a “Social Action Plan” with the help of their teachers, a detailed game plan on how they can fight for social justice once the program concludes and the students return home.

While the course description says it’s perfect for students who are already activists, students who don’t have a background in social justice advocacy shouldn’t be discouraged. “Students who hope to become activists” are invited too.

The class is part of Brown University’s Leadership Institute for high school students, which has been hosting leadership programs for teens since at least 2010.

Recent alumni who took other courses through Brown’s Leadership Institute — not the new one focused explicitly on social justice — praised the program in interviews with PJ Media.

Peter Prastakos, who just graduated high school and will be headed to Yale University in the Fall, credited the program for inspiring him to create an environmental club at his high school. “I always knew I wanted to do something related to the environment,” Prastakos said.

During the program, he worked alongside his instructors to devise a plan for an environmental club at high school, and when he got back to his high school the following year, he put his plans into action. CONTINUE AT SITE