A Loose Cannon?

Is Pres. Trump a loose cannon on the ship of state?  Is he shooting off his mouth to impress foreign visitors, or is he carefully releasing selected nuggets of secret information in order to improve the situation of the USA? At this point no-one knows, but the media surely is not giving in to any doubt.  Whereas they largely ignored Hillary Clinton’s criminal use of a private server when Secty. of State of the USA, they cannot give the current President of the USA any slack.  He has been tried and found guilty before the evidence is in.  As the Jerusalem Post editorial called it “A tempest in a teapot.”

That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do something that may have been wrong or at least stupid, but the feeding frenzy of the press, lead in this case by the vaunted NYT, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  If the Jordanians or the Israelis gave the US the highest security information from a source in IS that they were planning to use laptops to blow up planes, certainly they have the right to be pissed.  But, the President is right, he can and is able to use any specific piece of information in discreet disclosure in order to influence foreign governments.  In this case he apparently wanted to bring the Russians more into an alliance against the IS.  Not a bad idea.  Certainly not as bad as using a non-secure computer system for many months, allowing all sorts of secret to be hacked.

But, what is perhaps worse is that someone in the Administration leaked this supposed information from a completely confidential meeting to the NYT and other sources in order to embarrass and undermine Trump. This is getting dangerous. both Trump’s gaffes and these leaks must be stopped.  How?

 

The North Korea Situation

The US, in the final analysis, cannot let North Korea and its crazy dictator develop nuclear armed ICBMs. Pres. Obama and his predecessors were prepared to let the North Koreans go ahead and develop their nuclear weapons without any serious opposition. They mainly wanted to avoid conflict and leave the problem for the next President. Thank goodness Pres. Trump is now prepared to face the issue and take the bull by the horns. But, so far his actions have been more or less defensive.  Sending a carrier task force towards North Korea and installing a defensive missile shield in South Korea.  

But, these moves are not looked upon with favor by the Chinese and the Russians.  No doubt when they were in Florida, Trump told the Chinese President that he would make some such moves. Now it is up to the Chinese to rein back the North Koreans or there may be a more serious outcome.  Presumably that is why Trump’s military and security experts are going to be briefing the Senate at the White House and the House of Representatives later on. He wants them informed and on board should something happen that could seriously unravel.  

But, the latest comment from the White House that negotiations might be possible has received a favorable response from the Chinese. Also, they have apparently cancelled their flights to Pyongyang.  Either they think there will be more trouble, such as military action, or they are beginning to put pressure on the North Korean regime.  Whatever the reasons, at last there seems to be some concerted action to stop this tiny megalomaniac with a huge army.

This situation has repercussions for the Middle East and Israel because North Korea has been supporting the nuclear program of Iran and giving military training to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  What a combination, North Korea, Iran and Hezbollah, the baddest guys in the world working together.

Trump has turned a corner

When Donald Trump was running for election as President he made two provisional foreign policy statements, 1. Russia under Pres. Putin might be someone he could deal with, and 2. China was an enemy that was manipulating its currency to the detriment of the US and he accepted a call from the President of Taiwan that was considered to have significance.

Now that is all behind us.  First the issue with Russia: anyone who thought that there was somehow a relationship between Putin and Trump and that Trump was somehow beholden to Putin must re-evaluate their prejudices.  Not only did Trump really upset Putin by bombing one of Assad’s airfields, but he has also reaffirmed his support for NATO.  And notwithstanding Russia’s lame excuses over the chemical weapons, the US gave Russia a hard time at the UN and elsewhere in terms of being responsible for Assad’s use of chemical weapons, that Russia was supposed to have stopped.  Also, the US gave Russia advanced warning of the attack on the airfield, but they did not tell their Syrian allies.  This certainly reduces Russia/Putin’s value as an ally in the region.  What can Putin do next?

Now, with regard to China, Trump has met with President Xi Jinping of China and it seems they hit it off.  China, above all, wants stability and hence they are loath to take action in relation to North Korea.  But, Trump cannot stand by and see N. Korea develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with nuclear warheads.  They are reponding  to this development and not only are US allies at risk but so is the US itself.  It may be that China will not take direct action to help the US in this bind, but at the very least they should use their influence on N. Korea’s mad leader that the US will  intervene if he does nto stop his deliberate intimidation.

Although some critics say that Trump is “shooting from the hip,” on the contrary, it seems he has taken sage advice from his military advisors, such as Gens. Mattis and McMaster, in taking action in Syria, dropping the MOAB in Afghanistan and sending a large military convoy to N. Korea. The hit on Syria was criticized because it was targeted and caused limited damage and little loss of life, but that was certainly deliberate.  The hit on Afghanistan was criticized because such a huge bomb was used, but the military said that was the best tactical option.  Finally in N.Korea, at least a President is taking some positive action, rather than leaving it to passive diplomacy, that hasn’t worked in Syria, N. Korea, Iran or Ukraine.  The message is that the US is back and that Trump has turned a corner.

 

 

Limitation of movement

There seems to be a  hysteria being whipped up about the so-called Trump immigration policy, that is really a Trump anti-terrorism policy.  For example, good liberals argue in favor of free movement of all peoples through all borders, in effect the abolishing of national borders.  This is an extreme view that would allow anyone to go anywhere and would result in the demise of the nation state.  There have been moves such as this in the formation of the EU and the creation fo the Schengen Zone that allows free movement of all EU member  citizens.  BUt, now there is a reaction against this, as evidenced by the Brexit vote.  British people no longer want their borders to be freely open to anyone who is in the EU or can get into the EU.  People in Holland and France are joining this movement, in a bid to re-establish their national sovereignty.

As an Israeli I think it would be hypocritical of me to argue that this is wrong, since I see the survival of Israel only being possible if we can keep the  vast number of antagonistic and poor Arabs and Muslims out of our country.  To have free movement and open borders would be suicide, and let’s face it, that is what an ever-increasing number of Europeans are realizing.  Call it right-wing if you like, but it is a reality.  There is a limit, there is always a finite limit as to the number of foreigners a given culture can absorb without being so changed as to be unrecognizable.  It may be that liberal Diaspora Jews have a dimeterically opposed viewpoint, but that should nto be surprising.

Let me give you an example, the City of London is a very congested place.  For years there have been payments for people to drive into the City.  It is divided into zones and each zone has a required payment for entry.  It is obvious that this is a necessary and effective approach to regulate entry into a very congested area.  Why can’t countries be like this, and in fact they have been.  That is, they restrict entry according to their own rules and regulations decided on the basis of the safety and the economic benefit of the country.  If a country needs more qualified workers it can let some in.  If it needs nurses, it can give them preference.

If it does not want to allow people in who it deems will be disruptive and/or detrimental to its security, it has that right too.  I agree with Trump, an effective sovereign state needs to have well-defined categories for entry.  Those who go out and demonstrate in favor of immigration are knocking against an open door.  No-one serious is against immigration per se, but it is open and unlimited and illegal immigration that is the problem. 

The Russian Connection?

I am just not clever enough to sort out this so-called Russian connection between Trump and his associates and the Russians.  Just because during the campaign Trump, as he likes to do, said something unexpected, to the effect that he likes Putin because he’s a strong leader, so suddenly everyone, particularly the liberal press, decided that he had a secret deal with Putin.  Suddenly stories abounded, about how Trump himself had met with Putin, that Putin was blackmailing him for something he once did in Russia, that Trump secretly owned businesses in Russia, that Russia was interfering in the US election, that Trump’s appointees, such as Gen. Flynn, were secretly meeting with the Russians, and so on and so on.  As far as I know there was no evidence whatsoever for any of these stories.

But, of course, when there’s this much smoke, there has to be some fire somewhere.  So the Congress Democrats are mounting investigations of this very serious matter.  Now it so happens that Flynn did meet with a Russian, but people in his position (National Security Advisor) meet with Russians all the time.  Why assume there is something suspicious about it.   But, then Flynn apparently lied about meeting with a Russian, it seems he thought it better not to own up to it.  That got him fired before he even started his job.  Now everyone is fired up, apparently Flynn acted as an agent of some Russian agency.  Who knows?  So there are going to be hearings on the Hill.  Now the FBI are involved.  If they ever get close to the truth from this politically motivated process I will be very surprised.

What is more serious is that both the US and Russia are now fighting in Syria.  True they are both fighting the IS, but the US is supporting the rebels who are fighting the IS trying to capture Raqqa, while the Russians are supporting the Assad regime, allied with the Iranians, who oppose the rebels. So they are both on the same side and on opposite sides in this three-way war.  Of course, former Pres. Obama is to blame for allowing the Russians to be in there anyway, and without Putin’s presence Assad might have been gone by now.  But, Obama caused the war to be extended and cost hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives.  But, the liberal press don’t blame him for that.  How Trump is going to relate to Putin in relation to Syria and the Ukraine is going to be interesting to watch.  

 

Let Trump be Trump!

The negative reaction and the legal challenges against President Trump’s Executive Order 13769 of January, 2017, on immigration,  that targeted migrants from seven Muslim countries, resulted in it being effectively blocked.  Now after a few weeks of returning to the status quo ante, a revised Executive Order on immigration has been introduced.  For all the invective about the supposed Trump opposition to immigrants, that is simply not the case.  This Order does not target immigrants per se, it is intended to prevent illegal immigrants as well as potentially dangerous individuals who may be involved in crime, drugs and/or terrorism. from entering the USA. The USA needs such protections since under Obama basically the borders of the US have been porous to all the bad guys in the world.  Let Trump be Trump and let him do what he said he would do, protect US borders!

Since the first order was challenged on legal grounds, the intent was refined by the departments of the Government in order to achieve Trump’s aims.   This has now been done.  There are a few changes in the document, notably the removal of the blanket ban on Syrian immigrants and the removal of Iraq from the list of affected Muslim countries, since the Government of Iraq has given the US sufficient assurances that it has effective screening protocols for those travelling to the USA.  This cannot be said of the other six countries (Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Somalia and Sudan), all of which are either failed states and/or sources of significant terrorism.

It is accepted that every sovereign country can regulate those who enter it, and  in fact every country does do this.  The new Executive Order has some significant revisions and is less restrictive than the first, yet its overall aim is the same and “it does not provide a basis for discriminating against members of any particular religion.”   Those who dispute that must explain why the vast majority of Muslim countries are not targeted in this Order.  Also, as a former immigrant into the USA, I must say that I strongly dispute many of the assertions that have been made that Trump is against migrants.  I followed the rules, went to interviews, provided documentation, took oaths etc.  I was a legal immigrant and I resent being lumped in with illegal immigrants who cross the US border without any papers and /or who enter the US with the intent of doing harm.

In the same context, the Israeli Knesset has just passed a Bill into law that allows the Government to bar the entry into Israel of anyone who is involved in the BDS movement and/or is traveling here seeking to do harm to Israel.  In the past many anti-Israel activists have passed through Israel to get to the Palestinian territories where they have participated in violent protests against Israel.  From now on this will stop.

US Response to Anti-Semitic Incidents?

How is it that with all the electronic spying that the US Government is supposed to be doing on its citizens, there are no immediate arrests in the current wave of anti-Semitic attacks and phone calls in the USA?  How can it be that this has been going on for weeks, there have been hundreds of calls all over the US to Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Schools and other institutions, and two large cemeteries in Missouri and Philadelphia have been vandalized (so far) and there have been no arrests, not even a hint of an arrest.

Can it be that all this much-ballyhooed intrusion of the Government into the privacy of US citizens is so much nonsense?  Can it be that there is a highly organized gang of extreme anti-Semites, I would guess either neo-Nazi or Islamo-fascists, but that’s purely a wild guess, operating in the USA, with impunity, with no records and with no tabs being kept on them?  Is the much-vaunted FBI indeed toothless, without a clue and without a hope? Where is the Dept. of Homeland Security, even the CIA?  Why is there no arrest, no idea? Is it Johnny from down the block doing it for a prank or are these hundreds of calls throughout the country just random cases of copy-cats?  I think we’d all like to know.

Note that above I have posed many questions.  If I were Pres. Trump I would expect answers and in a hurry.  But, that doesn’t seem to be happening.  Do US Jews feel safe and secure? If there are no good answers soon, would you just forget about it and hope it will blow over?  I certainly wouldn’t accept that.  I don’t want to suggest that American Jews should be worried of a real anti-Semitic wave of killings and attacks on schools, etc.  But, it can happen there as anywhere.  Anti-Semitism didn’t die with the Holocaust, it just faded into the background for a few years.  Even in the USA with one of the lowest scores of anti-Semitism in the world it is showing its face again.  We want to know who is doing this, and we want o know now.   We want arrests.  If there aren’t any, there could be serious consequences.