The IG’s Report

I have not personally read the Inspector General (IG) of the Dept. of Justice’s Report on the conduct of the FBI and the DOJ’s actions during the previous election campaign.  After all, it runs to 600 pages and is quite comprehensive.  But, the general conclusions based on its findings are widely known.

  1. There was undoubtedly a politically motivated campaign in the FBI against Republican candidate Trump led by FBI officials, who openly declared their hatred for Trump in numerous e-mails and stated that they would do whatever they could to deny him the Presidency.  This included Peter Strzok, who was appointed by FBI Director James Comey to investigate the supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government.
  2. After 9 months of this investigation Peter Strzok was fired by Comey because the e-mails declaring his bias against Trump were leaked.  But, at this time Strzok admitted that he had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
  3. The  FBI knew about the cache of e-mails from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton held illegally on a lap-top by Congressman Anthony Weiner, who was married to Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin, but did nothing about it.  Director Comey and other FBI officials acted on the assumption that Clinton would win the election and so failed to investigate her wrong-doings.
  4. Director Comey acted improperly when he went public with his supposed finding that there was no case to be answered by Clinton regarding her private e-mail server when she was Secty. of State.  It was not his role to make this decision, it was for the DOJ to do so, but by making this public decision he preempted further investigation.
  5. When he later reversed himself, it was presumably because he realized Trump might win and he would be found guilty of improper conduct.  In fact his actions were based more on political considerations than on strict investigative  conclusions.
  6. The decisions by the FBI to pursue the investigation against the Trump campaign for collusion with the Russians based on a questionable report from a British agent paid for by the DNC and to exonerate Clinton for her e-mail crimes were clearly politically motivated.
  7. The meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch was highly inappropriate under the circumstances.

Conclusions: How the IG could conclude on the basis of the evidence that there was no evidence of FBI bias is beyond my understanding.  These findings, as Pres. Trump has claimed, “exonerate” him in this whole messy affair.  Comey, Strozk and other FBI officials should be tried for improper conduct and Clinton should be tried with crimes against US law in improperly using a private server while Secty. of State and sharing private and secret e-mails with others.  The Mueller Investigation into the Trump collusion with the Russians should be terminated.

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Michael Oren at AACI

I went with my daughter Miriam and son-in-law Jeff to a brunch in Jerusalem in honor of her and the 5 other members of the staff of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) who are advisers for English-speaking immigrants to Israel.  It was a lovely event and the ladies were justifiably praised for their dedicated service.  But, what I want to write about is the presentation given by Michael Oren, currently a Deputy Minster in the Israeli Government and previously the Israeli Ambassador to the US. Oren is a very talented individual, a practising historian whose books have won great acclaim.

His talk was without notes, breezy and energetic.  He spoke about his favorite subject, Israel and America.  He pointed out that when he was first appointed an official of the Israeli Government, he was required by US law to give up his American citizenship.  He had to go to the US Embassy, then in Tel Aviv, and swear that he understood the rights he was giving up, then they took his passport and punched a big hole right thru it.

But, he pointed out that much of what he was and had learned as an American went with him into his Israeli Government service.  Including a commitment to truth, democracy and civil rights.  He pointed out the dilemma that in Israel, which does not have a written constitution, like the British, there are members of the Knesset representing the Arab sector of the population, which make us ca. 20% of the total, who are completely committed to the destruction of the State that they are supposed to serve.  Some Arab MKs have committed downright treasonous acts, for example one member has applied to the UN thru the Palestinian Authority for Israel to be censured for its actions in Gaza.

In the US Constitution, Article 5, there is a specific requirement that any treasonous act by a Member of Congress would be followed by a hearing and the expulsion of that Member.  But, no such law exists in Israel.  He has introduced a Bill in the Knesset to expel any Member who acts treasonously to the State, and that would have to be proven.

But, at the same time, he recognizes that the 20% of the population who are Arabs need to be integrated into the fabric of Israeli life.  In this respect, his experiences in the civil rights movement in the USA have helped him a lot.  When he was Ambassador in Washington he introduced the celebration of the Id al Fitr feast that ends Ramadan there, and that is continued still.

He is concerned about the peace plan that the Trump Administration is working on.  Trump and his team are very pro-Israel in many respects, but as Trump likes to make a deal, this requires hard concessions from both sides.  Maybe the Palestinians will not cooperate with Trump, but if they do then Israel might have to make concessions that the current Government is not prepared to do.  But, how could they deny anything to such a friend as Trump.  This remains to be seen.

In conclusion, some people have asked him about the difference in being an American and an Israeli.  He said that no Government functionary could put a hole thru his Israeli passport and deny his essential right to be Jewish in his Homeland, Israel.

The US-N. Korea Summit

Most analysts agree that the summit between Pres. Trump and Kim Jong-Un in Singapore was more style than substance. Yet it was undoubtedly a historic occasion.  Previous Presidents of the US have shied away from meeting with the dictators of N. Korea for fear of giving them credibility and legitimacy.  But, Pres. Trump is characteristically both more impetuous and more canny.  He and his advisers realized that the kind of brinkmanship practised by the rulers of N. Korea was designed to gain them media coverage and status on the world stage.  To deal with them means accepting that this is their goal.  Letting them “strut their hour upon the stage.” was a necessary part of getting a deal, as Trump would see it.  They want to be taken seriously as major players and having a one-on-one meeting with the President of the US was their price for any further agreement.

Whether or not Kim Jong-un can be trusted or whether or not Trump can insist on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as realistic verification of missile and nuclear programs remains to be seen, but this summit was the first essential step.  In doing so Trump exceeded the expectations of all previous Presidents who refused to actually deal with the dictators of N. Korea.

Apart from the future prospects for peace and stability in Korea, with the active support of China, the  world has learnt a lesson.  That is that Trump is both unpredictable and can threaten to use the superpower force of the US with evident success, but is always prepared to deal.  The rest of the world is now waiting to see what happens with Iran.  The Iranians are similar to N. Korea in that they are an absolute dictatorship with expansive goals, yet their primary interest is to ensure the continuity of their regime.  If Trump were to likewise threaten them with the power of the US military unless they change their ways,  they will likely cave like N. Korea, and come into the fold and do a deal, this time a real deal that is in US interests.  How backing down and dealing with the US will affect their credibility and the long-term stability of their regime is another issue.

Many people have been concerned by the apparent rift between the G6 and the US as revealed at the G7 summit in Canada.  Some have likened this to the preference by Pres,. Obama to engage with America’s enemies (Iran, Russia, China) rather than cultivate America’s allies.  However, there is fundamental difference between Obama and Trump in this regard.  Obama was trying to act like a European nation, using persuasion and diplomacy, while Trump emphasizes American exceptionalism, using power and threats.  In that respect Trump is more American and eschews the European approach to trying to deal with enemies, rather than treating them as enemies.  Which approach will produce more results for the US remains to be seen, but the Summit with N. Korea seems to point the way to future progress.

The Trail of Tears

I have been watching a TV series entitled “The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen” on the History Channel.  This tells the story of the famous American heroes Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crocket and so on.  What is illuminating is the terrible degree of ethnic cleansing, as it is now called, of American Indians (or indigenous people) that took place.  What was unfortunate was that many Indian tribes allied with the British against the American settlement and Government, and so as further wars erupted after the War of Independence was won, it was essentially seen as a fight for survival of the American nation.

The Indians were mainly small and scattered tribes and they would have really been no threat to America, but as the British were considered an effective enemy, this meant that the Americans were motivated to destroy and remove the Indian threat from the eastern US.  The Shawnee chief Tecumseh organized a multi-tribe confederation with the British against the Americans in what is now Michigan as part of the War of !812.  An American army under Gen. Harrison defeated them at the Battle of the Thames River (now in Canada) in 1813 and Tecumseh was killed, thus leading to the breakup of his confederation.   The Indians were then left leaderless and defenseless against American forces.

In the Mississippi territory an armed group of Creek Indians known as the “red sticks” in 1813 massacred ca. 500 white settlers and burnt Fort Mims.  In revenge, Andrew Jackson, with Daniel Boone as guide, led a small army mainly of Tennessee volunteers and upon finding their main camp massacred every man, woman and child.  Then he forced the Creek nation to cede millions of acres of land to the United States, that became mainly the State of Alabama.  Because of this success and his ruthless efficiency Andrew Jackson was then sent as a General to defend the Port of New Orleans against a British invasion.  With a much smaller force (4,500) he defeated the British Army  (12,000) at the Battle of New Orleans.  This propelled him into the Presidency in 1829.

One of his first acts was to introduce the “Indian Removal Act” of  1830 that was passed by Congress and resulted in the physical removal of all major Indian tribes still settled east of the Mississippi River.  This included the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole nations.  They were forced at gunpoint by the US Army to move west from their ancestral lands to what was then known as Indian territory (later Oklahoma), in many cases a distance of 600 miles on foot.  They were given minimal food and water.  During what became known as the “Trail of Tears” some 18,000 out of a total of ca. 50,000 indigenous Americans died or were murdered.  When I first learned of this atrocity I felt ashamed to be an American.

And yet many Americans, especially liberals, have the gall to criticize Jews and Israelis for their supposed repressive treatment of the so-called Palestinian Arabs.  The American nation is built on the massacre and murder of many nations, indigenous Americans and Blacks.  But, you can’t turn the clock back, America is a fact, and similarly Israel is equally a fact.  To those who think that Israel is illegitimate, not only is it legitimate (under international law and history), but we are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel, and we will not be removed again.

Brinksmanship

The North Korean dictators, the Kim dynasty, are past-masters at brinksmanship.  That is developing threatening weapons (at the expense of their own people’s welfare) and then using them to leverage more power on the international scene.  In doing this they are aggressive risk takers.  But, the key to their actions is that they will only go so far, to the brink, but not further, they will absolutely take no action that could harm the control of their hereditary regime.

It seems that they, specifically Kim Jong-un, has met his match in Pres. Donald Trump.  When Kim Jong-un was testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles, the surrounding countries, South Korea and Japan were understandably nervous.  He also threatened to target the US.  He wants to be recognized as a powerful actor on the international stage and wants his country to be a player at the highest levels, equivalent to a superpower.  Previous American Presidents have failed to deal effectively with them and they refused to meet with them because they were afraid it would give them too much credibility.  Meanwhile they continued their aggressive military developments.

When he “tested” missiles  recently over Japan and towards Guam (a US protectorate and military base) Pres. Trump threatened him back and flew US AF planes along the North Korean border.  He also threatened him verbally and since Trump is considered to be capable of anything, this brought about a 180 degree turnaround in Kim’s position.  Instead of threatening, he agreed to stop the tests, stop his nuclear program and enter negotiations.  In effect his brinksmanship worked, he got what he wanted, a meeting with the great chief, the President of the USA.  Clearly China played an important role in his decision; after many years of doing nothing about their ally, Trump put economic pressure on China and Pres. Xi  had two unprecedented meetings with Kim, in which he no doubt told him to stop this behavior and cooperate.

A Summit between Trump and Kim was agreed to take place in Singapore in June, and then again, in another example of brinksmanship, Kim and his North Korean puppets started to reverse their tone again, and were unavailable for meetings to organize the summit.  So Trump did what no previous President has done, he peremptorily cancelled the Summit and once again threatened Kim’s regime.  This quick reaction must have affected Kim, because once again he reversed himself and became cooperative.  He met again with the South Korean President after cancelling the scheduled meeting.  And he does desperately want to meet with the Pres. of the USA, but he doesn’t want to pay the price, denuclearization and stopping missile testing.  By contrast, Trump is not going to a meeting unless he knows in advance that Kim is going to give major concessions.  So now the meeting hangs in the balance.

I predict the meeting will take place because both sides need it.  Kim to show his credibility on the world stage, and Trump to show he can make a deal with the devil and win.   However, the twists and turns of this plot have not yet been exhausted, expect more brinksmanship from the North Korean leader.

 

The Mueller Probe

The Mueller Probe is now a year old, and it has nothing to show for the millions of dollars spent on lawyers, interviews and investigations.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump campaign colluded in any way with the Russians to subvert the US electoral process.

The whole scheme looks like it was concocted to cover-up the misdeeds of the Obama Administration in actively using Government facilities, including the FBI and the Dept. of Justice, in trying to compromise the Trump campaign and to prevent an investigation into the truly serious criminal misdeeds of Hillary Clinton.   Given that attack is the best form of defense, that’s what the Democrats have done to avoid damage to their favorite candidate, a truly rapacious woman.

It has now been revealed that the Obama Administration had an FBI agent infiltrate the Trump campaign to look for dirt against him.  This is a serious misuse of authority, expected only in a police state.  And the Democrats used a British counter-intelligence officer to find dirt on Trump and used his Report as a basis for a US Govt. probe, without revealing the questionable source and the political bias.  Now it has also been revealed that the Democratic campaign used a British professor to try to compromise the Trump campaign.  Maybe they thought that if they did all this via Britain they would be less likely to be found out.  But, the hens come home to roost.  They have been found out, and Obama and Democratic operatives should go to jail.

First, the Mueller probe, that has been going in ever-increasing circles, should be stopped and disbanded.  Second, former FBI and Justice Dept. officials involved in highly partisan actions to try to deny Trump the election should be tried, and thirdly Hillary Clinton  should be investigated for the use of a private server for secret Government information when she was Secty. of State, and she should be tried and sent to jail.  Hopefully that won’t take another year.

Trump rejects Iran nuclear deal

In a clear and decisive speech Pres. Trump outlined his reasons for rejecting the Iran nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA) that was signed 3 years ago under Pres. Obama with the UN, Germany, Russia, China, the UK, France and Iran.  The leaders of France and Germany and the UK’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson have been calling on Pres Trump in order to persuade him not to exit from the deal.  But, for the reasons he outlined, as he had explained during his campaign for President and since, Trump has ignored their advice and rejected this “terrible deal.”  

In doing so he is taking a stand that makes him the true leader of the free world, standing not only against the mullah dictators of Iran, but also against the thuggish Kim Jun-un in North Korea, who has been threatening his neighbors and the US with nuclear tipped missiles.  As Trump pointed out, nothing in the deal that was agreed to prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons and nothing restricts their development of ICBMs that they would not hesitate to use against Israel, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

Just as Kim blinked first in his face-off with Trump, we hope the Iran regime does the same.  But, if they don’t they will face extensive and extreme sanctions, which their economy and their people can ill afford.  Trump emphasized that this includes anyone who trades with Iran.  The European countries jumped in quickly after the deal was signed, and especially Germany, our old friend, has been busy trading with Iran.  Could it be self-interest that led the Europeans to make the deal and then suddenly become Iran’s major trading partners.  Of course, not!  

Once the US has put its cards on the table, and if the Iranians refuse to budge, two things can happen.  Either the Europeans, having lost their deals, will turn around and back the US, thus pushing Iran into a corner, or there could be a war  We all hope not, but certainly if Trump had not acted, after the deal expired in 7 years time, there would have been a much greater chance of a war with a nuclear Iran.  The alternatives are a turn-around by the regime, very unlikely, or regime change, namely the Iranian people will finally overthrow the repressive Shia regime that has brought them to the brink of economic collapse and suicidal war.  We live in interesting times.