Trump Putin

Day two of Trump’s second foreign trip.

Day one of the G20.

President Trump met with Vladimir Putin in a meeting scheduled for forty minutes. It lasted over two hours.

The reaction is as expected. Criticism from the Left. Praise from the Right.

What are the facts?

According to Secretary of State Tillerson, President Trump raised the issue of election meddling. This is important. He didn’t back away from a controversial issue.

Also reported is that the two negotiated a partial cease fire in Syria.

North Korea was also reportedly discussed with no details released.

As far as the Left’s criticisms of the day, Putin is a bad guy. I get it. But what we saw today is our President engaging with world leaders to solve problems.

This is leadership.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Sally Yates Testimony

I almost didn’t write on today’s Sally Yates, James Clapper testimony tonight, simply because I couldn’t find a fact to pull from. 

Three hours of live testimony covered by the cable news outlets, and I didn’t feel like we learned anything we didn’t already know.

Michael Flynn did bad things.  Still no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russia government.  Sally Yates doesn’t like the travel “ban” executive order.

Yada, yada, yada…

And then I found this.

Via a Mark Levin tweet linked to a conservative review update linked to a National Review article, I found a nugget of truth:  15% of active terrorism investigations came to the United States as refugees.  

That’s significant.

Read the transcript of FBI Director Comey’s testimony from last week:

COMEY: “If we have about 1,000 home grown violent extremist investigations and we probably have another 1,000 or so that are — I should define my terms. Home grown violent extremists, we mean somebody — we have no indication that they’re in touch with any terrorists…Then we have another big group of people that we’re looking at who we see some contact with foreign terrorists. So you take that 2,000 plus cases, about 300 of them are people who came to the United States as refugees.”

So, a thousand are home grown. Another thousand are actually in touch with foreign terrorists. And 300 came in as refugees. 

And that’s why the travel “ban” is important.

I use quotations because it was never a true ban, but rather a pause to allow six foreign countries to get their house in order.

It was also not a restriction on a single religion, either, which seemed to be the focus of Ms. Yates’ discussion with Senator Cruz.

She said: “I’m also familiar with an additional provision … that says no person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in issuance of a visa because of race, nationality, and place of birth. That I believe was promulgated after the statute that you just quoted. And that’s been part of the discussion with the courts … whether this more specific statute trumps the first one (about the President’s ability to control immigration).”

There are many other predominantly Muslim countries that were not included in the executive order.  Yet, the six countries that were included in the order all have one thing in common, and it isn’t religion.

Each country in the executive order does not have a functioning central government.  They have no way to effectively vet refugees on their end. 

This is why the 300 number is important. 15% of those being actively investigated by the FBI for ties to terrorism came into the United States as a refugee.

This is why the travel “pause” was issued. Of those 300 refugees under investigation, it only takes one terrorist to kill a lot of Americans.  None of us want that.

As a closing thought, let me remind you of this mischaracterization from November 17, 2015 regarding objections to Syrian refugees:

“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Obama said of Republicans. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”

Now we learn 15% are potential terrorists. President Trump’s executive order would have made America a safer place.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

blog@johnanchor.com

Peace Through Strength

President Reagan’s foreign policy philosophy as expressed in his March 23, 1983 missile defense speech:

“Since the dawn of the atomic age, we’ve sought to reduce the risk of war by maintaining a strong deterrent and by seeking genuine arms control. ‘Deterrence’ means simply this: making sure any adversary who thinks about attacking the United States, or our allies, or our vital interests, concludes that the risks to him outweigh any potential gains. Once he understands that, he won’t attack. We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.”

This is the foreign policy that won the Cold War by turning around an enormous arms race deficit. 

President Obama’s foreign policy philosophy as expressed in a 2008 campaign ad:

“I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems…I will set a goal for a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal: I will not develop nuclear weapons.”

This is the foreign policy that resulted in four North Korean nuclear tests, the formation, underestimation, and growth of ISIS, use of chemical weapons in Syria, and a nuclear agreement with Iran that paid the Iranian government $1.7 billion in cash while they held American citizens hostage. 

Using history as our guide, with which foreign policy should President Trump more closely align?

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Reagan

https://reaganlibrary.archives.gov/archives/speeches/1983/32383d.htm

Obama

https://m.townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2008/05/28/barack-obamas-anti-military-problem-n816585

Is Trump Making Us Less Safe?

To answer this question, let’s first compare President Trump’s recent foreign policy decisions with the last eight years. 

In 2008, President Obama ran a campaign ad in which he said, “I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems…I will set a goal for a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal: I will not develop nuclear weapons.”

As President, Mr. Obama followed through on that promise, initially cutting $1.5 billion in funding from continued development of the missile defense system first proposed by President Reagan in 1983.

Mr. Obama, as expressed in his campaign ad, believed the United States should lead by example in hopes that our adversaries would follow our lead and also not develop nuclear weapons. 

Let’s see how that worked out. 

North Korea Nuclear Tests

Four times during Mr. Obama’s presidency did North Korea test fire nuclear weapons:

May 2009 – Two Kilotons in Strength

February 2013 – Six to Seven Kilotons

January 2016 – Four to Six Kilotons

September 2016 – Ten Kilotons (Equivalent to the bombs dropped on Japan in WW II.)

Note that North Korea’s nuclear tests are becoming more frequent and stronger in power. The frequency increase may be due, in part, to Kim Jong Un’s rise to power in late 2011, but we should also take note that the 2016 tests took place after President Obama chose not to fulfill a promise to respond militarily if Bashar al-Assad crossed Mr. Obama’s stated red line with chemical weapons use in Syria. 

Instead, Mr. Obama chose a diplomatic solution, promising the American people on August 18, 2014 that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile had been eliminated. Of course, this turned out not to be true as we discovered this year when Mr. Assad was again guilty of chemical weapons use on Syrian citizens. 

Given the facts listed above, can we agree the United States was not made more safe by the Obama Administration?

Now let’s turn to Trump. 

After the chemical attack in Syria earlier this month, Mr. Trump responded with a clear message. Within days, the United States conducted an airstrike using 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Syrian base from which the chemical attack was launched.

Did this make us more or less safe?  

While this is currently a matter of opinion and may not be fully known for some time, we can say that a message has been sent to the rest of the world: If you use chemical weapons, the United States will respond militarily.  Unlike the red line talk from 2012, the world’s foreign leaders know President Trump is not bluffing. 

Following the strike on Syria, President Trump ordered a naval strike group rerouted from its Australian destination to the Korean Peninsula amid heightened rhetoric from North Korea concerning its weapons program. 

It’s worth noting that President Trump’s actions concerning North Korea are not exclusive to the military. The President has coordinated with China to apply pressure on North Korea. Last week, coal shipments from North Korea to China, which make up one-third of North Korean exports, were turned away and returned. 

Again, do these actions make us more or less safe than we were before President Trump took office?

President Trump’s direct approach is different, for sure, and that is one thing we know: The way the last administration handled these problems, primarily through diplomatic sanctions through the U.N., did not prevent North Korea from strengthening its nuclear weapons program or Syria from continuing to stockpile chemical weapons. 

Will his direct approach provoke a nuclear attack on the United States, or will it initiate a reduction in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities?  That remains to be seen, but there is another name for the direct approach: Leadership. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Promise to Cut

https://m.townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2008/05/28/barack-obamas-anti-military-problem-n816585

$1.5 Billion Cut

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-03-19/obama-backs-unproven-missile-defense-for-uncertain-threat

North Korea Nuclear Tests

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/14/a-timeline-of-north-koreas-five-nuclear-tests-and-how-the-u-s-has-responded/?utm_term=.538911a35573

Obama Statement (August 18, 2014)

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/18/statement-president-completion-mv-cape-ray-destruction-syria-s-declared-

North Korea Current

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-south-korea-pence-20170416-story.html

North Korean Coal

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/north-korean-ships-head-home-after-china-orders-coal-returned-n745006

Lessons in Syria

Let’s look at the facts we know about the Syria chemical weapons situation. 

We’ll start with what the American people were told by the Obama Administration about the weapons removal. 

President Obama on August 18, 2014: “Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.”

Secretary of State John Kerry a month earlier in July 2014: “We got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

National Security Advisor Susan Rice before leaving office in January 2017: “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

Well, apparently not. Chemical weapons were released once again on the Syrian people this week in an attack that appears to have been conducted by the Assad regime. 

Were we lied to by the President, Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor? Some are saying yes, but I think it is actually a systematic and philosophical failure of President Obama’s foreign policy. We cannot trust our national security to the reliance on evil dictators to tell us the truth. 

Is that what happened here? Let’s look at the timeline. 

From the Atlantic article linked below, we know the following:

“The first prominent (chemical weapons) attack came in 2013 in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb—about a year after Barack Obama declared that using such weapons would cross a ‘red line’ and ‘would change our calculus’ about intervening. That attack killed 1,000 people.”

“Kerry said a military strike could be averted if Syria turned over its chemical weapons to the international community. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed such a plan almost immediately—and Syria signed onto it.”

“…the U.S. and Russia formulated an agreement under which Syria agreed to allow international monitors to destroy its chemical-weapons stockpile by 2014…”

“The plan called for Syria to disclose its stockpile within a week, and provide international inspectors access to all its chemical-weapons sites.”

“Despite the agreement, however, there were subsequent reports that Assad used chlorine gas against civilians. The deal struck with the international community did not include chlorine because the Assad regime hadn’t added it to a list it submitted to international monitors of the chemical weapons it possessed.”

“Syria missed the…deadline for the weapons destruction.”

See how much trust by the U.S. and broken trust by Syria was involved here?

Perhaps the most famous example of what not to do in this regard is the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain in dealing with the aggressive nature of Adolph Hitler. Chamberlain presided over the Munich Agreement of 1938, which offered parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in exchange for a commitment of reduced aggression. Chamberlain claimed he had achieved “peace for our time”.  Six months later Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, kickstarting a chain of events that would result in the second world war. 

We cannot trust our national security to the reliance on evil dictators to tell us the truth.

For the same reason, President Reagan took issue with arms control treaties the United States had negotiated with the Soviet Union prior to his presidency, writing in his 1990 autobiography, An American Life:

“…recognizing the futility of the arms race and the hair-trigger risk of annihilation it posed to the world, I tried to send signals to Moscow indicating we were prepared to negotiate a winding down of the arms race if the Soviets were also sincere about it — and proved it with deeds.”

“And, because we viewed them realistically, it was clear that if we did negotiate an arms control agreement with the Soviets, it had to be absolutely verifiable. Agreements couldn’t be based on trust alone.”

This is why President Trump’s air strikes last night are so important. A calculated, measured response, they sent a clear message Syria and the rest of the world that use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the United States. We will respond. 

No longer will we trust you to tell us what weapons you possess and voluntarily “eliminate” them. 

Makes you wonder about that Iran deal, doesn’t it?

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Timeline

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/syria-chemical-weapons-attack/521883/

Obama Statement (August 18, 2014)

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/18/statement-president-completion-mv-cape-ray-destruction-syria-s-declared-

Kerry Statement (July 2014)

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/apr/05/revisiting-obama-track-record-syrias-chemical-weap/

Susan Rice Statement (January 2017)

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/16/510047606/obama-adviser-susan-rice-cites-syrian-war-as-biggest-disappointment

Neville Chamberlain 

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/chamberlain-and-hitler/

Initial Reaction to Tonight’s Syria Airstrike

Two days ago, Syrian authorities launched a chemical weapons attack on their own citizens. Children were killed. Hundreds were wounded. 

Tonight’s response sends a clear message of U.S. moral leadership in the world. If you gas your own people – innocent children – we will respond. 

The response appears to have been measured and proportional. Assad has six air bases. Reportedly, we could have taken out all six. We took out one – the same one the chemical attack is believed to have originated. 

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were launched. One Tomahawk is eighteen feet long, two feet wide, and carries one thousand pounds of munitions. 

We launched the attack in the early morning hours when the number of people at the base should be at a minimum so as to minimize third party casualties. It’s being reported we notified Russia with a warning of the time and place of the attack. 

This is a strong response. It appears to have been well thought out, and it shows a willingness of President Trump to take decisive action when necessary. 

Text of President Trump’s comments tonight are linked below.

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

The President’s Comments

http://www.ajc.com/news/world/read-full-transcript-trump-speech-syria-strike/dzqP0Of5U266yH1WMlqOGM/