North Korea Knowns and Unknowns We are in the middle, not at the end, of a long North Korean crisis. By Victor Davis Hanson

No one really knows all that much about North Korea’s nuclear or conventional military capability or its strategic agenda. Are its nuclear missiles reliably lethal, are they as long-ranged and accurate as hyped, and are they under secure command and control?

Conventional wisdom states that Seoul would be destroyed in minutes by at least 10,000 North Korean artillery and rocket batteries that are now aimed from right across the Demilitarized Zone. Such guns are said to be capable of firing 500,000 rounds within a few minutes.

As a result, South Korea and its allies are supposed to be veritable hostages, with no strategic choices in countering North Korea’s newly enhanced nuclear threat.

But is Seoul really being held hostage, and would it be doomed if war broke out?

In fact, no one can be sure of the actual size, nature, and readiness of the North Korea arsenal — or the degree to which it is coordinated and effectively aimed. Much less does anyone know how well North Korea’s guns have been pre-targeted by American and South Korean planes, counter-batteries, and missiles.

Seoul itself is a huge city of 10 million urban residents. Indeed, greater Seoul and its population of some 24 million are sprawled out over a vast area of more than 250 square miles. The idea that the North Korean military could destroy the world’s third-most-populated metropolitan area in minutes with conventional weapons is unproven.

Take the example of Israel and its existential enemies. The Iranians now claim that their Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon have targeted 80,000 rockets at Tel Aviv. Israel’s enemies brag that together they could bombard the tiny country with 200,000 rockets and missiles in a matter of minutes should Israel ever again go to war.

In the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah and terrorist forces on the West Bank boasted that they had launched more than 8,000 rockets into Israeli cities. Israel claimed the number was closer to 4,000. The entire population of Israel in 2006 was then less than half of greater Seoul. Yet in total, some 40 to 50 Israelis lost their lives to rocket attacks in 2006. The rocket strategy of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas did not deter Israeli military operations, nor did it much affect Israel’s strategic options.

Seoul may well be vulnerable to conventional artillery or rocket strikes. But the usual assessments that the city would be destroyed in minutes by North Korea and therefore the South Korean government is now held hostage in its strategic choices are probably not true.

We are told that China has few choices in restraining North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But without Chinese money, trade, and technology, North Korea would today have no nuclear-tipped missiles.

Beijing enjoys playing dumb from time to time as it unleashes North Korea to threaten the West and consume American time, money, and military resources in Asia and the Pacific. In truth, China has as much leverage over North Korea as the United States would have over South Korea should it ever choose to set off missiles all over the South China Sea and brag about targeting nearby Chinese cities with nuclear weapons.

Despite Threats, Arab Group Remains Committed to Defending Israel on US Campuses By Shiri Moshe

A delegation from Reservists on Duty presenting at Chabad of Stanford. Photo: Chabad of Stanford.

A delegation of Israeli Arabs who are fighting the delegitimization of the Jewish state on college campuses remain committed to sharing their message in the United States, despite facing threats back home and unexpected obstacles from allies abroad.

The delegation — made up of Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin and Palestinian volunteers — came on behalf of the advocacy group Reservists on Duty, and braved intense pressure to defend Israel abroad, RoD chief Amit Deri told The Algemeiner.

Dema Taya, a 25-year-old Israeli-Arab Muslim, said she received a barrage of abusive comments after her views on her country and plans to join the RoD tour were shared on Arab media.

“I received a lot of messages on Facebook threatening me and attacking me,” Taya recounted in an interview with The Algemeiner. “It was emotionally very difficult for me, because they wrote very harsh comments and insulted me personally, just because I am saying the truth … it was really painful.”

Taya added that some Arab outlets falsely reported that the RoD trip — organized in coordination with Students Supporting Israel — was actually planned by the Israeli government.

“Arab media just brainwashes the minds of young people,” she said. “There are more minorities, Muslim women and men, who think like me but they are afraid to talk because not everyone can stand in front of these attacks.”

She pointed to support she received from other Israeli Arabs, including one Muslim woman, who told her in a private message, “I am with you, I think like you, but I will not write this in the comments because they will attack me.”

While Taya’s family also supports her — her husband served in the Israeli military — she observed that her opponents would have been willing to forcefully silence her, if given the chance.

Trump lays the groundwork for a real strategy against Iran to begin. Caroline Glick

By placing the nuclear deal in the context of Iran’s hostility and aggression, Trump made it self-evident that no US interest is served in continuing to give Iran a free pass.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump initiated an important change in US policy toward Iran.

No, in his speech decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord it struck with his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump didn’t announce a new strategy for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stemming its hegemonic rise in the Middle East, or limiting its ability to sponsor terrorism.

Trump’s move was not operational. It was directional.

In his address Friday, Trump changed the policy dynamics that dictate US policy on Iran. For the first time since 2009, when Obama backed the murderous regime in Tehran, spurning the millions of Iranians who rose up in the Green Revolution, Trump opened up the possibility that the US may begin to base its policies toward Iran on reality.

Trump began his remarks by setting out Iran’s long rap sheet of aggression against America.

Starting with the US embassy seizure and hostage crisis, Trump described Iran’s crimes and acts of war against America in greater detail than any of his predecessors ever did.

Trump’s dossier was interlaced with condemnations of the regime’s repression of its own people.

By merging Iran’s external aggression with its internal repression, Trump signaled a readiness to drive a wedge – or expand the wedge – between the authoritarian theocrats that rule Iran and the largely secular, multiethnic and pro-Western people of Iran.

Trump then turned his attention to Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program, its sponsorship of terrorism, including its links to al-Qaida, its aggression against its neighbors, its aggressive acts against maritime traffic in the Straits of Hormuz, and its bids to destabilize and control large swaths of the Middle East through its proxies.

It is notable that these remarks preceded Trump’s discussion of the nuclear deal – which was the ostensible subject of his speech. Before Trump discussed Iran’s breaches of the nuclear deal, he first demonstrated that contrary to the expressed views of his top advisers, it is impossible to limit a realistic discussion of the threat Iran constitutes to US national security and interests to whether or not and it what manner it is breaching the nuclear accord.

From Russia to Hillary: Bribes, Extortion, Uranium and Lies How an FBI Uranium investigation was corrupted to protect the Clinton’s Russian connection. Daniel Greenfield

Hillary is demanding to know the truth about Trump and Russia. The truth is that every accusation about Russian ties that Hillary and her associates have hurled at President Trump is really true of the Clintons.

In ’14, Hillary Clinton made headlines by comparing Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Hitler. But if the Russian strongman really was ‘Hitler’, what did that make stooges like Hillary, Bill and Barack Obama?

Five years earlier, Hillary had been posing with a ‘Reset Button” with one of Putin’s henchmen. But Hillary was bringing a lot more to the meeting than a mislabeled button pilfered from a swimming pool. The ‘Reset’ had the same pattern as other Clinton scandal: a shadowy foreign financial pal with an agenda, the Clinton Foundation being used to launder money and a government cover-up.

Officially, the ‘Reset’ was pushing Obama’s nuclear arms reduction plan and a joint effort to address Iran’s nuclear program. But the nuclear materials that truly interested Hillary Clinton weren’t in Russian missiles or in Iranian reactors, but in the ground in Kazakhstan. By the time Hillary showed off the ‘Reset Button’, the Clintons had been enjoying a long relationship with Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining mogul. Giustra had moved tens of millions into Clintonworld and Bill built up his profile in Kazakhstan.

But by ’09, the Clintons had a lot more to trade on than a Senate seat and ex-presidential prestige.

When Secretary of State Clinton unveiled the ‘Reset’, the unspoken truths outnumbered the spoken platitudes. Some of the unspoken truths were obvious. Hillary Clinton and Obama would break with Bush’s criticisms of human rights in Russia. From now on, they would have nothing to say about it.

The man who allegedly agreed to that dirty deal was Michael McFaul who is currently bashing President Trump for being “soft” on Putin.

But the bigger unspoken truth was that Giustra’s company had been bought by Uranium One. And the Russians were sniffing around Kazakhstan. Either the Russians would get Uranium One. Or they would expose the dubious ways that Uranium One had gotten its Kazakhstan mining rights. But if Rosatom, a Russian government corporation, bought into Uranium One, it would need approval from State because such a deal would provide Russia with control over more than 20% of America’s Uranium supply.

Good thing, Uranium One and Putin had a friend in Hillary Clinton. And not just Hillary.

Uranium One and Rosatom didn’t just need the State Department. They also needed the Justice Department to turn a blind eye. And they got that too from Attorney General Eric Holder.

The same year that Hillary brought over her ‘Reset Button’, the FBI was investigating a top Rosatom figure in America for racketeering, extortion, bribery and money laundering. The investigation was supervised by the controversial current Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe who has his own financial ties to the Clintons. The investigation dragged out for five years. Just enough time for the Rosatom deal to be approved. When the charges were brought in ’14, the Russians had gotten it all. And the charges were a whitewash that ignored the most damning accusations. Especially those involving the Clintons.

Holder’s DOJ, like Hillary’s State, signed off on the Rosatom-Uranium One deal despite the ongoing investigation. Holder and his associates at the DOJ kept the investigation under their hats. The trails leading to the Clintons were closed off. And the nails were hammered in hard to keep them closed.

“Victim 1”, the FBI’s confidential witness in the case, was an American businessman who was making payments to a Rosatom figure. He knew firsthand about the Russian efforts to influence Bill and Hillary, and through them, the Obama administration, but wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Instead Obama’s DOJ threatened him with criminal charges if he revealed what he knew. And what he knew included comments by FBI agents about political pressure from the DOJ during the Uranium One-Rosatom approval process.

The “Science” Behind Implicit Bias Heather MacDonald and Seth Barron Video Mac Donald joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the dubious scientific and statistical bases of the trendy academic theory known as “implicit bias.” The implicit association test (IAT), first introduced in 1998, uses a computerized response-time test to measure an individual’s bias, particularly regarding race.

Despite scientific challenges to the test’s validity, the implicit-bias idea has taken firm root in popular culture and in the media. Police forces and corporate HR departments are spending millions every year reeducating employees on how to recognize their presumptive hidden prejudices.

Heather discusses the problems with implicit bias, the impact that the concept is having on academia and in the corporate world, and the real reasons for racial disparities in educational achievement and income levels.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops. Her article in the Autumn 2017 issue of City Journal is entitled, “Are We All Unconscious Racists?”

On the Corruption of the Military Academies By Ken Masugi

A recent West Point graduate, still serving in the U.S. Army, shocked admirers of the venerable American military academy with his candidly pro-Communist views. How could such an institution, founded on “duty, honor, country,” produce such a student?

A junior Army officer who states his anti-American opinions so openly may seem novel, but we should quell our surprise. After all, his views are indistinguishable from many of his peers at other distinguished universities. The craziness so common at other American college campuses is now demonstrated to have infected even our military service academies. We should not be surprised, but we are right to be outraged.

I have some experience here. I taught at the United States Air Force Academy from 1996 until 1999, and in addition I’ve taught at other civilian universities.

The Red Cadet scandal hurls a major national pillar—one that has manfully held out against much of the progressive revolution in politics—against the leading advocate of progressivism today, the universities. At stake is the question of the practical purpose of higher education and the ethos necessary to support it. Thus, the real focus of the recent condemnation of disciplinary standards by a former West Point faculty member and graduate was, in fact, the decline of the institution he had known, and not the repellent, even subversive views of a recent graduate. In his estimation, the academy has fallen away from its purpose.

The military, with its service academies—West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Coast Guard Academy—have understood this purpose mostly implicitly: military officers must be loyal to the country. That’s why soldiers swear an oath to the Constitution. Alumni of other colleges may pledge financial support to their alma mater but no such serious and legally binding oath is expected of them.

To state the issue in dramatic terms: Does a distinguished general and scholar such as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster belong more to the traditions of West Point and the military, or to those of the progressive academic world?

Yet, civilian universities today all too often require de facto oaths to the latest tenets of progressivism, from politically correct language (by which pronoun would you like to be addressed?) to suppression of robust debate. Graduates of these institutions may as well be goose-stepping in ever-tightening mental circles—a herd of independent minds, as it were. Whether in promising careers, personal fulfillment, or graduate school placement, the focus of these schools is on individual professional achievement. Even a the dubious focus on “leadership” at some institutions betrays a thoughtlessness about whom is being led and to what purpose.

Countering both formal and informal pressure from society at large, the service academies take great pains to produce men (and now women) with the character required to be officers. These institutions are vocational schools (until recently, they were engineering schools), but the vocation they train students to fulfill is not one meant merely to fulfill those students in their personal calling, it is a vocation that demands service to the nation. That requires qualities ignored, defined differently, or even defined contrarily by civilian institutions.

Senate Judiciary Committee Launches Probe Into Uranium One Bribery Case, DOJ to Review By Debra Heine

The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into the Uranium One bribery case. It will be asking several federal agencies to disclose if they knew the FBI had uncovered corruption before the Obama administration approved the suspect uranium deal with Moscow in 2010.

According to The Hill, the committee has already “sent requests for information to 10 federal agencies involved in the Russian uranium approvals.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote in the letters that he no longer buys the Obama administration’s 2015 “assurances” that there was no basis to block the deal.

Said Grassley in a letter to Homeland Security last week:

I am not convinced by these assurances. … The sale of Uranium One resulted in a Russian government takeover of a significant portion of U.S. uranium mining capacity. In light of that fact, very serious questions remain about the basis for the finding that this transaction did not threaten to impair U.S. national security. CONTINUE AT SITE

Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan By Roger Kimball

The policy take-away from President Trump’s remarks last night at the Heritage Foundation centered around tax cuts. The president likes ‘em, and if he has his way (and on this issue, I think he will), we will see a sharp cut to the corporate tax rate (from 35 percent to 20 percent), a simplification and reduction of the individual tax rate, and a big expansion of the individual exemption (to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly).

There is a certain kind of politician who likes high taxes, partly because he likes big government, which is the natural result of high taxes, partly because he wants most people (not his tribe, of course) to have as little money as possible. The poorer people are, the more dependent they are. Politicians of a certain stripe want people to be dependent on the government, i.e., on them and the instruments they control.

To my mind, that unholy dialectic between political power and an agenda of enforced dependency is one of the most despicable and destructive coefficients of the administrative state. It is despicable because it deploys power for personal aggrandizement under the camouflage of helping (i.e., pretending to help) others (the “Great Society,” etc.). It is destructive because its end is the eclipse of liberty for the sake of expanding and institutionalizing the apparatus of bureaucracy (and the perquisites of the bureaucrats running it).

So I applaud the president’s plan to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep a bit more of what after all is their own money. (We tend to forget this.)

But although taxes formed the official centerpiece of the president’s speech last night, and though I liked what he said about taxes, I thought the most impressive part of the speech was its rhetorical setting. The occasion was a meeting of Heritage Foundation supporters. Accordingly, President Trump began by talking about the importance of embracing our history, our heritage. “For America to have CONFIDENCE in our future, we must have PRIDE in our HISTORY.”

I think that is right, and I think it is worth pondering each of the three stressed words.

One of the great liabilities of so-called identity politics is that, ironically, it acts as a solvent on shared cultural confidence. The irony flows from the fact that identity politics is supposed to leave its partisans with an enhanced sense of self-worth and solidarity but in fact it tends to isolate them in rancid grievance ghettos.

Along the way last night, the president spoke up for preserving our heritage, our history, an enterprise that encompasses not just the preservation of monuments and other historical markers that commemorate our past, but also extends to the spiritual decorum of civic respect: standing for the national anthem, for example, or (since this multiethnic country was and is, as Samuel Huntington observed, a country of “Anglo-Protestant” values) wishing people “Merry Christmas” in due season.
Here’s my question: in what does the alleged “degradation” consist? That Donald Trump tweets?
Bill Kristol

✔ @BillKristol

I like Gorsuch, decertifying Iran and leaving UNESCO. But they’re not worth the degradation of our public life that is the Trump presidency.

That can’t be right, since Bill himself avails himself of that demotic medium. That he does not speak like a Harvard graduate? That may be part of it, but Bill knows as well as I do that the end of rhetoric is persuasion, and no one can deny Trump’s masterly powers of persuasion. Donald Trump may be an imperfect vessel for our national hopes, but then of whom may that not be said? In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on national television “we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office.” I am pretty sure she was not talking about her husband. No, she was talking about Donald Trump. But what can that mean? As far as we know, Donald Trump (unlike Bill Clinton) is not guilty of sexual assault. Certainly, he has never said he was. Yes, there was that crude Access Hollywood video—a video, remember, that captured a private conversation between two bragging men more than a decade ago. But how many crude locker-room expostulations equal one Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office? CONTINUE AT SITE

Uranium One Means Mueller Must Recuse Himself from Russia Probe By Roger L Simon

At the end of their lengthy editorial regarding the new Uranium One revelations — “Team Obama’s stunning coverup of Russian crimes” — the New York Post editorial board writes:

Until September 2013, the FBI director was Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s hard to see how he can be trusted in that job unless he explains what he knew about this Obama-era cover-up.

I’ll go the Post one better. Virtually whatever Mueller has to say about his involvement or non-involvement in this metastasizing scandal, he must recuse himself immediately for the most obvious reasons of propriety and appearance. Frankly, it’s outrageous that he, Ron Rosenstein, or anyone who even touched the Uranium One investigation now be involved with the current probe — unless the real name of the FBI is actually the NKVD. This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, even remotely. Forget transparency — this was deliberate occlusion.

The collusion Trump & Co have been accused of is chickenfeed compared to twenty percent of U.S. uranium ending up in Putin’s hands under the aegis of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, the latter two members of CFIUS (the inter-agency committee that reviews the transfer of U.S. companies to foreign entities and was then chaired by Timothy Geithner). We have heard disturbing allegations of this for some time, via “Clinton Cash” and even from the New York Times, but the new disclosure that a 2009 FBI investigation of this possible nuclear deal uncovered kickbacks, money laundering, and bribes from the Russian company involved (Rosatom) and yet it still was given the go-ahead by the Obama administration is — I can think of no better word — appalling. How could it have come to pass that this occurred? Why are we supposed to believe anyone now?

On Wednesday, Senator Grassley asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “What are you doing to find out how the Russian takeover of the American uranium was allowed to occur despite criminal conduct by the Russia company that the Obama administration approved the purchase?”
What Did Mueller Know? New Documents Show…

Evidently, not much. At least so far. In fact Sessions said that Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, who led this long-hidden investigation, should “investigate himself.”

No, Jeff. You may have properly recused yourself from the Russian investigation, despite Trump’s criticism, but this one is your job. You run the Department of Justice and therefore the FBI. Something is rotten as much as it ever was in Denmark. Indeed it’s worse, since nuclear weapons were not even dreamed of in Hamlet’s time. So don’t be like Hamlet. Act now.

For starters, Mueller must step down. We cannot have an investigation of this magnitude that half the country will completely disrespect — and for increasingly good reason. History will mock it, also for good reason. On top of that, with our country as split as it is, the results could be catastrophic.

Equally important, the reputation of the FBI must be resuscitated. Speaking entirely as a private citizen, I do no trust the FBI anymore. To be honest, it scares me. And I am certain I am not alone. It feels like an often-biased organization so bent on self-preservation that it hides evidence and lets the powerful off the hook. That’s the royal road to totalitarianism. No, it’s not the NKVD yet. No one that I know of is being hauled off in the middle of the night. But very few of us know what it is really up to, how it makes its frequently dubious decisions, or whether it is working for the good of the citizenry at all. Almost everything we learn of its investigations is so heavily redacted, no one but one of the myriad leakers seems to know what it means — and they’re usually lying. This, as they say, will not end well. CONTINUE AT SITE

Spain to Propose Measures to Strip Catalonia of Powers Catalan leader fails to renounce secession bid, demands talks with Madrid By Jeannette Neumann

BARCELONA—Catalonia’s leader defied an ultimatum from Madrid on Thursday by failing to renounce his push for independence, prompting the Spanish government to gear up for stripping the region of some of its powers.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting for Saturday, where the government will invoke a never-before used article of Spain’s constitution to reduce some of the wide autonomy that Catalonia enjoys.

Triggering the provision is intended to “protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and to restore the constitutional order in the autonomous community,” according to a government statement.

Mr. Rajoy, who has steadfastly refused to negotiate on secession, had demanded that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont abandon his drive by 10 a.m. local time Thursday, or Catalonia could lose some powers.

Mr. Puigdemont, in a one-page letter sent Thursday morning, failed to do so, reiterating his call for dialogue with the central government. He added that if Madrid didn’t sit down to talks, Catalonia’s regional parliament, where separatist lawmakers hold a majority of seats, might formally declare independence.

Mr. Rajoy called for the extraordinary meeting immediately after receiving the letter.

The prime minister must ask Spain’s upper house of parliament to approve any next steps. He is expected to have broad political support to implement Article 155. In addition to his own center-right Popular Party, which has a majority in the Senate, two main opposition parties have said they would support stripping Catalonia of some of its autonomy if separatists insist on secession.

Analysts expect Madrid to prioritize taking control of Catalonia’s police forces. CONTINUE AT SITE