Category: Middle East

Is the Iran Deal on the Rhode to Recovery?

This originally appeared in my townhall column:

“I always figured a breach in the seemingly impenetrable circle surrounding the administration and its puzzling national security solutions would be the result of loose lips, rather than revulsion at the troublesome ideas circulating therein. And now deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes is trying to take back his words.

Most know by now his admission that the White House misled the public on the purpose of the deal, and acknowledged that many of his media “compadres” serve as palace guards for the Obama administration. But retrieving words once spoken is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. And now Congress needs to step in. The Senate should consider using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect the country and our allies from the administration’s “agreement” with Iran.

Apologists are trying to save face in the wake of these comments by attempting to rebrand the deal as a clumsy product of group think; or the hurried maturation of a bad idea in a space completely insulated from counter-arguments. An “echo chamber,” as Rhodes called it.

My father has a better term: group stupid. He correctly reasons that we do things in a group that we would never consider on our own.

In any case, group stupid now remains the most attractive excuse for this pitiful agreement, simply because critics will often extend grace to the hapless. After all, most observers recognize actions of group stupid to be reckless and impulsive, and if given a second chance, believe those involved would generally avoid the same course of action.

Rhodes’ comments, however, confirm that the Obama administration brokered the agreement with full knowledge of its terrible structure and unbalanced conditions, and then sold it as something else. That’s premeditation, not imprudence.

Rhodes has verified this deal to be as solid as a pinky swear with an Ayatollah missing both hands.

Congress can begin to fix it, here’s how.

The NDAA, the annual bill that sets the military budget, has arrived in the Senate. As part of funding our defense force, the Senate could also consider adding portions of proposed legislation as amendments to the NDAA to rectify this miserable pinky swear agreement.

First, the Senate could consider using excerpts from H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), as an amendment. In one instance, the proposed bill legislates congressional authority wherein “Any rule to amend or otherwise alter a covered regulatory provision regarding sanctions on Iran shall be subject to congressional review requirements.” In other words, this statue prevents the executive branch from unilaterally and arbitrarily applying or rescinding sanctions. This would curb the excesses of an otherwise emboldened executive branch and limit future administrations who harbor similar ambitions.

Congress could also consider including excerpts from of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), as another amendment as a means of penalizing Iran for its missile tests.

Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines. And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they so stringently disagree with the administration.

The Rhode to accountability starts with the NDAA.

The NCPA is proposing a viable course to achieve a fiscally responsible military that will keep America safe. Join us in this endeavor as we focus on the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act at NCPA.org and our Provide for the Common Defense Now! Petition.”

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Use the NDAA Against Iran

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual bill that sets the military budget, is in the markup phase. As Congress begins to review and edit the content of the bill, now is the time to make our voice heard. The urgency in repairing our defense readiness capabilities dovetails with the U.S. national security urgency in holding Iran accountable for acts of aggression.

First, the Senate could consider adding a version of H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), as an amendment to the NDAA.  I have written previously about the bill here, which passed the House but has not received a vote in the Senate.

Congress could also consider a version of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D. MD), as another amendment. Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines.  And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they stringently disagree with the president.

In any case, something must be done.

Iran has repeatedly violated the so-called “agreement,” which has turned out to be more like a Pinky-Swear Agreement (PSA) rather than a real contract. And for some unknown reason, the Obama administration plans to comply with the PSA with or without Iran. Now the Department of Energy has gone through with its purchase of Iran’s heavy water — used in the process of creating nuclear material — per the PSA. The Islamic Republic will receive $8.6 million. As the agreement stands, that money could be used to fund terrorism. Speaker Paul Ryan rightly called this idea subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program. This is just the latest mind-numbing strategy from the administration, and does not include billions in unfrozen assets flowing into Tehran. American Soldiers on their knees in surrender, rocket tests, etc; the in-your-face dissent will continue because Iran simply has no incentive to abide.

Meanwhile, Russia has recently agreed to supply Iran with S-300 missiles ahead of schedule and remains in talks to send even more military equipment.  I continue to believe that Israel will likely be the first victim of the Ayatollah’s wrath. And the PSA sets the ground work for that.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey once said, in reference to how American dollars sent to buy Middle East oil help enrich hostile governments and terrorist organizations, “Except for the Civil War, [the War on Terror] is the only war that we have fought where we are paying for both sides.”

Sounds like the PSA.  Even worse, we provided money that will likely fund Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations for virtually nothing in return.  The NDAA could help turn that around.

We, at the National Center for Policy Analysis, have developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition to ensure that the FY 2017 NDAA helps provide for a strong, fiscally responsible national defense plan. If you stand with us, please sign it.

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The Hidden Enemy

This post originally appeared in my townhall column: “There is a Chinese proverb that states, “May you live in interesting times,” which has become a defining character of these times in which we are living. This new 21st century battlefield has brought a seemingly innumerable level of conflict and conflagrations that expands across the globe. It is a battlefield that has no boundaries or borders, and finds attacks occurring against civilian populations near and far.

It is not just the threat from traditional nation-state actors, but also the proliferation of non-state, non-uniformed, unlawful enemy combatants that makes this a rather complex battlespace. The latter enemy blends in with civilian populations as a means of cover. There are nations that provide support and sanctuary for these unlawful actors, enabling their sustainment. What has been a new frontier in this battle has been the use of new information technology, which gives a new and broad platform for the enemy and adversaries to promulgate their violent ideology.

But, there is also another means by which technology is enabling our enemies to be successful on the battlefield.

Tuesday the 26th of April is recognized as World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. According to the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here are the major impacts of IP for America:

  • Incentivizes innovation and creativity,
  • Creates 40 million jobs, drives 2/3 of our GDP, and ¾ of all US annual exports, and
  • Protects consumer safety by allowing consumers to make informed decisions about the safety, reliability, and quality of the products they purchase.

 

But there is a very vital aspect of our IP that relates to the most critical function of our federal government — national security.

These are times when we are decimating our current military force structure. We have an Army that is being cut down to pre-World War II levels. Our U.S. Marine Corps is at World War I levels. Our venerable U.S. Navy, “a global force for good,” is now the smallest Navy we have fielded when analyzing surface warships since 1917 — and it appears Russia enjoys “buzzing” our Destroyers. Our U.S. Air Force is the smallest and oldest fleet since we created the modern Air Force as a separate service branch. There are those who would say this is all good. Easy for them to say such, when they are not on those frontlines for freedom as guardians.

Our defense discretionary budget is approximately 18% of our overall budget. Nearly 64% of our federal budget is spent on the mandatory spending side encompassing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the net interest on our ever growing debt. As a percentage of our GDP, defense takes up about 3.2%. Sure, we can find savings in our defense budget. One of the most obvious is to reform our weapons systems acquisition and procurement process – where protection of our IP is paramount. Many believe that we can “afford” to cut back on our manpower requirements because we have a technological edge, advantage. But on this new battlefield, that may just no longer be the case.

If you have not paid requisite attention, there has been a marked increase of cyber-attacks against the United States. This has not just occurred against our military facilities and forces, but has rather been targeted towards our private sector industry, research and development, and institutions of higher learning. In a recent speech delivered to the National Center for Policy Analysis, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn stated that the Chinese have a Cyber Unit with a manning level of some 800,000. In contrast, our US CYBERCOM has between 10-15,000 manpower, and we all know that cyber is another area of this new battlefield.

What are the dangers?

If you have not noticed, China’s new fighter aircraft has a very marked resemblance to our F-35 fighter. And there is another very dangerous aspect of this new hidden enemy: parts counterfeiting. Several years ago, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) looked into this very problem. In a year-long investigation the SASC examined some 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts, involving a total of more than 1 million individual counterfeit parts found in the military supply chain — totally unconscionable.

Some of the critical weapon systems where these counterfeit parts were found include helicopter forward-looking infrared, F-16 hostile tracking radar, portable nuclear identification tools, and aircraft pilot displays. There appears to be a very targeted method for these counterfeit parts. In the report from the SASC, former Chairman Senator Carl Levin stated, “Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens our national security, the safety of our troops, and American jobs. It underscores China’s failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts — a failure China should rectify.” Senator John McCain chimed in on the subject, stating, “Our committee’s report makes it abundantly clear that vulnerabilities throughout the defense supply chain allow counterfeit electronic parts to infiltrate critical US military systems, risking our security and the lives of the men and women who protect it.”

The National Center for Policy Analysis has developed the “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!” petition, which advocates for reforming the military acquisition and research and development process to eliminate significant cost overruns and guarantee warfighters receive modern weapon systems on time and under budget. If you stand with us, please sign it.

On this World IP Day we can certainly celebrate the incredible innovations and ingenuity resulting from the indomitable American entrepreneurial spirt. But what we must never forget is that exact same innovative capacity and capability is being targeted, and threatens our national security. If we continue decimating our force structure while the hidden enemy unlawfully usurps our technological advantage on the battlefield — then we are not ensuring that seminal responsibility to “provide for the common defense.”

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The Military, Nation-Building and Counterterrorism in Africa

“History does not repeat itself, as the old adage goes, but it surely rhymes. What began in 2002 as an antiterrorism assistance program for a handful of impoverished African countries at risk from violent extremist groups has since expanded into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.

This expensive, Department of State-led program, which is now integrated into the military’s U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), boasts lackluster oversight and a penchant for nation-building –‒ using multiple agencies to rebuild a given country’s political, economic and social infrastructure. In fact, its shape and language resembles failed, Cold War anticommunism programs in Latin America that ended up complicating rather than solving American security problems.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must take a more measured approach to the military’s financial commitment to the Trans-Sahara partnerships and its counterterrorism efforts in Africa, and rethink the rules of engagement within this broadly defined “capacity-building” program….” Read the full report here.

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The Decline of American Regard

This post originally appeared in West’s Townhall column: “When I was a Congressional representative from South Florida, one of the major concerns was beach re-nourishment, the process of pumping sand back onto eroded beaches. The district I represented was all coastline, from Ft. Lauderdale up to Jupiter Inlet, and one of the major economic concerns was the erosion of the beaches. As we all can understand, if the beauty of the south Florida beaches declined, so did the attraction of visitors and economic growth.

It is no different when one considers the slow erosion of American strength that has been occurring over the past seven years. This has led to the decline of our regard on the global stage. Recent events tell the tale cracks in our foundation, as well as serious (and we pray not irreparable) damage to American strength.

Take the economic blackmail threat by the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister’s reference to legislation supporting the declassification of 28 pages from the 9/11 investigative report. There are many who believe that these pages contain information implicating Saudi officials in the financial and resource support of the 9/11 conspirators, many of whom were Saudi nationals. The fact that the Saudi Foreign Minister would threaten the sell-off of U.S. treasury securities is a blatantly disrespectful gesture. It is reprehensible when we consider that this is the Saudi response to what could be a revelation of their complicit actions in an act of war against the United States. However, when there is a decline in American regard, such obtuse and belligerent statements can be made with full arrogance.

China, whose President Xi Jinping received full honors and a State dinner at the White House recently, has defied every sense of international regard in constructing islands in the South China Sea. And, have emplaced military weaponry and airstrips on them, which now receive military aircraft. Those who know a little about history can recall in the 20th century when an Asian nation militarily fortified islands, constructed airstrips, and sought to build its maritime force. This action has sought to evidence a lack of regard for American influence with other nations in the Pacific Rim region such as Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. China has strategically built these new islands along a major sea lane of commerce with some 30-35 percent of trade transits. Certainly not a coincidence, considering the impending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.

And, let us not forget the massive “investment” China has made into its offensive cyber capability. Some say its dedicated unit is comprised of some 800K. The continued aggressive nature of Chinese cyber activity, along with their focused intellectual property threats, cannot be debated. Yet, we are dismissing it. This, along with their economic subterfuge, shows a clear decline in American regard that has even inspired China’s attack dog, Kim Jung Un and North Korea, to ramp up its belligerence.

With Iran, there can be no more greater evidence of a decline of American regard. First, let’s be very clear. There is no such thing as a nuclear agreement with Iran — they are not signatories of anything. Yet, the current presidential administration has released billions of dollars to the number one state sponsor of Islamic jihadism and terrorism. And no, there is no such thing as “snapback sanctions.” That horse has long since left the barn.

Who can forget the pictures and videos of our U.S. sailors on their knees at gun point by the terrorist designated Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – and, then we thanked the Iranians. Israel just uncovered new Hamas tunnels.  Needless to say, we all know who funds Hamas and their exploits. Iran has fired off more ballistic missiles and we have done nothing. Iran’s head of the terrorist designated Quds Force, General Qassem Suleimani, has violated U.N. resolutions and traveled on several occasions to Russia. His latest excursion was to seal the deal on Iran’s acquiring, not just new state of the art T-90 tanks and fighter jets, but the lethal S-300 surface to air missile system — which Iran has stated it will parade upon receipt. The acquisition of the latter, with their new found economic boon, is a game changer for any potential operations against a nuclear facility. They know it, and we know it as well, but we are doing nothing. Iran has become a regional hegemony in the Middle East over these past seven years, now controlling Sanaa Yemen, Beirut Lebanon, Damascus Syria, and Baghdad Iraq. President Obama clearly stated his foreign policy strategy was to pivot from the Middle East and engage in the Pacific, a flawed strategic policy that has resulted in the further decline of American regard.

Lastly, the continued provocations of Vladimir Putin and Russia are not by mistake. After all, President Obama did tell then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after his reelection he would have more “flexibility.” That “flexibility” has resulted in our Naval warships, in international waters of the Baltic Sea, being buzzed at dangerously close distances by Russian Su-24 fighter jets. These actions against our maritime forces evidence Russian aggression at a time when the Baltic States have major security concerns. We continually hear the rhetoric of “avoidance of war” but those are sweet and aromatic words to despots and dictators — such as it was to the ears of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo in the last century. Even with a failing economy, Vladimir Putin shows strength, and on a grand international stage portrays American weakness.

Sadly, this will continue for the remaining months until our nation can make a decision in November as to whether we want to be liked or respected. In the past two presidential election cycles we chose the former. It has led to this, a decline in American respect and regard. And this missive did not make mention of the expansive growth of the global Islamic Jihad.

As Alexander the Great once stated, “I would not fear an army of lions if led by sheep, but I would fear an army of sheep if led by lions.””

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Brussels Attacks are, Unfortunately, Not Surprising

Last week Saturday, a young Marine SSgt from Temecula California lost his life due to an ISIS Katyusha rocket attack against their firebase, several other Marines were injured. That same firebase was attacked by ISIS again on Monday. Now, you may ask, what are US Marines doing in a firebase in northern Iraq, very near ISIS held territory? According to the US military spokesperson in Baghdad, Col. Steve Warren, they were there to provide force protection so that Iraqi forces could be trained.

In reading reports, it appears that the ISIS elements were able to close within small arms range of the firebase – meaning our Marines were not granted permission to engage. As we have stated before, an ROE that says you cannot fire until fired upon grants the initiative to the enemy. The results are not advantageous to our deployed troops, who are in combat, not some politically driven definition of the battlespace.

And so it goes for the Islamic jihadist attack in Brussels, where the sense of political correctness has afforded the enemy opportunity to create enclaves within the country. Knowing that the perpetrator of the Paris terrorist attack reentered Europe within the mass migration of individuals – namely single military aged Muslim males – is unconscionable. Our domestic rules of engagement are built around a self-imposed constraint based upon a reticence of being referred to as a racist, xenophobe, islamophobe, or being accused of profiling. Let us drop these monikers of defeatism and realize that we must institute measures of trend analysis that deny the enemy sanctuary within our borders. We can ill afford, unless we accept more jihadist assaults, the mentality of blaming ourselves for the savage barbarism that seems to occur every two to three months in western civilization. We need no more lectures about tolerance and false narratives about history. We need to accept history and how it relates to the present.

Just as it appears we have deployed Marines into a combat zone in a purely defensive posture, we cannot protect our liberties and freedoms in a purely defensive, reactionary, posture. Having served in the military for twenty-two years, and studied military history, I cannot recall any victory that was achieved on defense. Success comes in the counterattack, as the eventual sequel to a good defense, a mentality that seeks to stay on defense means it surrenders the initiative to the adversary. Such as it was at the Battle of Gettysburg, when General Meade decided to not pursue and defeat a retreating Army of Northern Virginia – the Civil War raged on for another two years.

We are in a struggle for civilization against Islamic jihadism. It is historic and can be traced back to 732 AD and the Battle of Tours (France), where the victor was Charles “The Hammer” Martel. This aged old confrontation has now returned, not just to Europe, but all across the globe. And success requires leaders, and the necessary national security vision and policies to secure our way of life, not just for western civilization, but for all.

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

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*IMPORTANT* Congress Responds to Iranian missile test

BREAKING: Sen. Kelly Ayote’s has just “introduced legislation to impose tough primary and secondary sanctions on every sector of the Iranian economy that directly or indirectly supports Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

The bill, I fear, may be coming a little too late.  I have explained here and here why the nuclear deal may have already let the “cat out of the bag.”

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Why is Russia pulling out of Syria?

Vladimir Putin is redeploying some forces out of Syria because they achieved their military objectives, strengthened Iran’s position in the region, and kept Assad in power.  Expect the leader of Russia to now turn his attention to Eastern Europe.  Putin has once again completely outmaneuvered President Obama.

I discussed this at length on Fox Business this morning.

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

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America faces terrifying new threat

This post previously appeared on AllenWest.com:

“As reported by Fox News, “Iran is preparing to launch a new long-range rocket into outer space as soon as this weekend, U.S. officials told Fox News…Officials told Fox they have not seen this specific type of rocket launched in the past. Iran has conducted four previous space launches. Any test of a new ballistic missile would be an apparent violation of a UN resolution forbidding Iran from working on its rocket program.

I don’t want to get into another discussion about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iranian nuclear deal; no such document exists.  The “agreement” has been violated continuously by Iran, along with other UN Resolutions so let’s agree to that understanding.

What I really want to discuss with you is my assessment of what Iran may be after in the long run.

A story from a year ago last March in the Washington Examiner lays out my concern: “Suspected for years of plotting to dismantle the U.S. electric grid, American officials have confirmed that Iranian military brass have endorsed a nuclear electromagnetic pulse explosion that would attack the country’s power system. 

American defense experts made the discovery while translating a secret Iranian military handbook, raising new concerns about Tehran’s recent nuclear talks with the administration. Iranian military documents describe such a scenario — including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States…A knowledgeable source said that the textbook discusses an EMP attack on America in 20 different places.

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who is leading an effort to protect the U.S. electric grid from an EMP attack, has recently made similar claims based on the document translated by military authorities. Once sneered at by critics, recent moves by Iran and North Korea have given credibility to the potential EMP threat from an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S.”

During my last visit to Washington D.C. and Capitol Hill I met with Rep. Franks (R-Ariz) and we discussed the EMP threat. In my capacity at the National Center for Policy Analysis, I’ve written on the potential for an EMP attack in America. I am especially concerned that the State of Texas has its own independent electric grid and it needs to be hardened. Consider what would happen if the twelfth largest economy in the world, the Texas economy, was shut down due to an EMP attack.

What if these missile launches into space by Iran were a predecessor for a potential high altitude nuclear detonation that would have as its objective to “fry” the American electric grid? This isn’t some “Star Trek” scenario, as the Iranians addressed this means of attack some twenty times in translated documents.

But here is a greater concern: why in God’s name would the Obama administration go into agreement with a nation that has an objective to attack and destroy your electric grid? Why would the Obama administration at this point in time, not vehemently reject all aspects of the JCPOA and do everything in its power to deter the military goals of the militant Islamic theocracy which is the number one state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world? And should the Obama administration be concerned about the raining and pouring of nuclear activity and missile testing by Iran and North Korea — who recently launched a ballistic missile and deployed a satellite that overflew the Super Bowl?

As usual, the progressive socialist acolytes of Obama will say this is much ado about nothing. I think they should ask themselves, do they really believe that, or just saying so not to admit the failure of their chosen one and the so-called “Obama Doctrine?” Regardless, leadership is about understanding the goals and objectives of your adversaries, and seeing their moves even before they do — that is the visionary aspect of principled leadership.

There is a storm a brewing and saying so isn’t fear mongering; it is leadership and leads to preparedness ensuring the safety and security of the American people. We will continue to educate and inform people about electro-magnetic pulse attacks and from whence they could emanate — forewarned is forearmed!

We here at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) are addressing this policy issue, but we need your help.  Sign our petition and tell congress to “Provide for the Common Defense, Now!”

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