Wednesday Noon ~ thefrontpagecover

~ Featuring ~  
Tension Points With Iran
National Security Desk  
The strategic incoherence of our carrier policies
KzIa71t40115sCvhWwL0NQyoViRZFIeG_YPJ0PvdybBcFRM0xv7DERkwksJwRmAXJO3XCmtuC9JzkxMJxyQeIgEEHEoyMJarTuSJb09cdXeS4s3o_aWxx8AxPIyl_oNQDbtPvDQ_DYNXeuYeVwhGiRvyB-IaJpwYyMQs_fljkPXaSU-WL-tplMOtwvoxHWi896zXmW_4zjDLKEPY3RPi-PdyGo-im4qsezSY6z0d8c3eAE_yqz3xYLmL_V6km4Gcbt0=s0-d-e1-ft#%3Ca%20rel%3Dnofollow%20href=?profile=RESIZE_710xby Rick Berge } ~ Standing on board the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, Vice President Mike Pence announced on April 30 that the White House reversed its earlier decision... to retire the warship early by foregoing its midlife nuclear refueling. This flip-flop torpedoed the Navy’s narrative that decommissioning was necessary to implement the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s pivot to great-power conflict with China and Russia. Less than a week later, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group cut short its deployment in the Mediterranean Sea to head for the Persian Gulf amid a botched attempt at strategic messaging vis a vis Iran. Prior to its re-tasking, the Lincoln CSG had participated in a high-profile dual-carrier deployment in Mediterranean intended to demonstrate U.S. capabilities to Russia. Together, these two choices starkly illustrate the limits of the National Defense Strategy and serve as a reminder that strategy cannot wall itself off from politics. It’s fashionable for defense technocrats to rail against the often frustrating and arbitrary political constraints within which they operate. But to paraphrase the political theorist Thanos: “I know what it’s like to feel so desperately that you are right and yet to fail all the same…. Dread it, run from it, politics still arrives.” The National Defense Strategy remains open to interpretation. Policymakers should recognize that its call to accelerate U.S. conventional military efforts against China and Russia is an additive demand for resources, unable to be met through quixotic “hard choices” like retiring an aircraft carrier or pivoting significant attention and money away from secondary theaters and threats... 
China, Russia Deepening Defense Partnership
by Aaron Kliegman } ~ China and Russia have developed an increasingly close security relationship that poses new and difficult challenges to the United States, according to a new report... Dr. Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, explains in the report that the Sino-Russian defense partnership is based on arms sales, military exercises, and "other forms of interactions such as meetings, declarations, and exchanges." "Moscow has supported Beijing's military ambitions by providing sophisticated weapons platforms to the People's Liberation Army (PLA)," Weitz writes. "These weapons transfers have bolstered China's air defense, anti-ship, and other critical capabilities in significant ways. In particular, they have enhanced the PLA's capability to threaten foreign navies and air forces in the waters and airspace near China." "Most recently," the report continues, "the S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries and Su-35 fighter planes that Russia sold to the PLA could target drones, jets, and ballistic missiles over much of the western Pacific. Meanwhile, the joint drills and other Sino-Russian military engagements have allowed the PLA to learn valuable skills from the more combat-experienced Russian armed forces. "This military cooperation will only become stronger with time, according to Weitz, who notes that both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin want a closer defense partnership. And that partnership may extend beyond arms sales, military exercises, and high-level meetings. "Chinese-Russian military action may come in the form of a combined effort to suppress an Islamist insurgency in a Central Asian country, using a sectoral approach of concurrent but separate military operations," the report states. Despite the trajectory of the Sino-Russian relationship, the report notes that the partnership is limited for important reasons...  
So, You Want to Invade Iran?
uRoMOhCMBFadeHSuiFt8rj9i7NO08TlyY_3P-7Df8UEA5DXK7lWI2qkEiy7-Dw2D-Zk4i0_tbexETRtoVfkYGHU3vMK5fpbgRwtmNKTDmTn9uXfIcM-4uGNyt0uSXXkB7Zdb_G1ORluuRz6shtm7yEsMd3MKSrahqAwuYW6IQEORsA00cgRHT4fxCUcPcIRhYkxixbmAVZOutLpyhJNPjv1wcDtAUA=s0-d-e1-ft#%3Ca%20rel%3Dnofollow%20href=?profile=RESIZE_710xby Brandon J. Weichert } ~ Recently, the Trump Administration announced that it was deploying both an American aircraft carrier as well as B-52 bombers to the Middle East as a show of force against the Iranians... According to National Security Adviser John Bolton, intelligence provided by Israel suggested that Iranian proxies were readying to strike against U.S. assets in war-torn Syria and against oil tankers passing through the vital oil transit chokepoints known as the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb and Hormuz. More ominously, the president is reportedly reviewing Pentagon war plans for an invasion of Iran. This plan calls for the buildup of 120,000 U.S. troops into the region in a strange replay of the Iraq War of 2003. Washington’s War Party undoubtedly believes that it has learned the hard lessons of the Iraq War. Many assume that the ill-advised American decision to de-Baathify Iraqi culture thereby removing the educated technocrats who could have best rehabilitated postwar Iraq simply because they had joined Saddam’s Ba’ath Party and to disband the Iraqi Army which rendered tens of thousands of desperate, angry, and well-armed Arab men unemployed were the main failures of the Iraq War. Certainly, these decisions did not help the American reconstruction effort in Iraq. But, the biggest problem of all was a lack of proper force size. What was needed was more than 500,000 troops with a dedicated plan of staying in Iraq for decades. What the Pentagon got was a force of around 250,000 troops with a plan that would have seen the bulk of those forces out of Iraq by September 2003. In 2003, as now, the United States simply could not field an army large enough to invade and pacify Iraq while maintaining its global defense posture. So, it fought the Iraq War on the cheap — and it paid the price with interest on the backend. This is the main lesson that few in Washington — particularly the proud members of the bipartisan War Party — have taken to heart. There is no such thing as a cheap war. And, if you’re not willing to pay the butcher’s bill then don’t go to war. Iran Is Not Iraq. In Iraq, the United States military faced off against a desperate, rag-tag army that had been weakened by a decade of sanctions. They were also mostly Arabs, with a long history of military ineffectiveness. And, Iraq was dominated by a strongman who professed a secular authoritarian ideology — Baathism — that was deeply unpopular among many Iraqis. When Saddam was removed from power, most Iraqis were happy to see him go. The only concern that the minority Sunni population of Iraq had was that they would suffer political alienation and violent retribution at the hands of their Shiite and Kurdish neighbors once Saddam Hussein, a fellow Sunni, was removed from power. Therefore, keeping the people who happened to have joined Saddam’s Ba’ath Party in order to get decent jobs during his reign, and keeping the core of Saddam’s army intact, would have more quickly stabilized Iraq...  
Devin Nunes Discusses Importance 
of Russia Narrative Origination
_Z0tF8VhjvUSetFLvxzmrtK7yjz9lg1KzYsMyrK1fv8-SkhjiMu13vPOmsOBVENg0ARBDev3FCZQipuIJ6uvybWYwoc7CKMvkPEXoMLWNvYbCvsk0bcdjy5TLAfsFahT_Q59Uf4n73lP_h29ji2cnOdAIh5UXYjXDHbldXY0IHCpFN7eshCjDU5HIaNOM4JdOzguZVc=s0-d-e1-ft#%3Ca%20rel%3Dnofollow%20href=?profile=RESIZE_710xby sundance } ~ Devin Nunes appears on Fox News to discuss why the origin of the Russia narrative is important. The scale and scope of the fraudulent construct is now a strongly enmeshed narrative, toxic to the systems of cohesive government... If you read the Weissmann/dirty cop-Mueller report carefully one aspect stands out strongly; the dirty cop-Mueller investigation was fully committed to The Steele Dossier. An inordinate amount of the report is focused on justifying their investigative validity and purpose in looking at the claims within the Steele Dossier. Repeatedly, the investigative unit references their mandate based around the Steele Dossier, and the mid-summer 2016 origin of the FBI counterintelligence operation. Why? Why was/is Crossfire Hurricane (July ’16) and the Steele Dossier (Oct. ’16) so important to the principle intelligence apparatus, and the Mueller team (’17, ’18, ’19)?...
Palestinians: No Freedom of Expression 
Under New Government
KArpsI7hPvcEegcEW1F5ezhB9EKFQ5rs2zujSvAFfzccw8B3bh3DtE1LMU2m2407QsRlnvgsjYwBDKE8HpRJ5s1B4Q=s0-d-e1-ft#%3Ca%20rel%3Dnofollow%20href=?profile=RESIZE_710xy Khaled Abu Toameh } ~ The first promise the new Palestinian Authority (PA) government made after it was sworn in last month was that it would honor public freedoms, particularly freedom of the media and freedom of expression... Ibrahim Milhem, the new spokesman for the PA government, headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, said in a radio interview that no Palestinian journalist would be arrested for expressing his or her views. Milhem promised that his government would allow the press to play its role as a watchdog over the performance of the ministers and their ministries. Palestinian journalists living and working in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank  welcomed Milhem's statement and expressed hope that it would mark the beginning of a new era between the media and the government. For the Palestinian journalists, the promise indicated a refreshing change of direction, particularly after years of PA crackdowns on freedom of the media in the West Bank. Under the previous PA government, headed by Rami Hamdallah, Palestinian journalists and social media users faced various forms of harassment and persecution. According to Palestinian journalist Nur al-Din Saleh, the PA measures include arresting and summoning reporters and social media users for interrogation. The measures, he said, are in the context of the PA leadership's policy of "silencing their voices and combating freedom of expression." Since the beginning of the year, Saleh noted, the PA security forces have arrested or summoned for interrogation several journalists, including Ziad Abu 'Ara and social media activists Mutasem Sakf al-Hait, Ayman Abu Aram and Mahmoud Abu Hraish. Palestinian journalist Khaldoun Mazloum said that the PA has been pursuing a "gagging" policy to prevent the media from exposing its practices against Palestinians, including those who protest its policies and decisions...  
Tension Points With Iran
National Security Desk:  Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased since President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that U.S. sanctions waivers would not be renewed, and that our goal was to “reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.” It’s been an eventful few weeks, to say the least, with more developments undoubtedly to emerge in the near future.

Iran initially responded with veiled threats against U.S. interests in the region, and with threats to stop any other nation from exporting oil through the Strait of Hormuz if Iran’s oil exports were cut off by the sanctions. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced last week that the United States would deploy an aircraft carrier group and an Air Force bomber group to the region, citing specific threat reporting. On Wednesday, Iran threatened to begin withdrawing from certain parts of the 2015 nuclear deal, including ramping up enrichment work, if its European allies — sorry, we meant the United States’ notional European allies — did not take action to help Iran avoid the effects of sanctions. President Trump in turn announced new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s metal industry, which accounts for around 12% of Iran’s economy. Iran also declared all U.S. forces in the region “terrorists,” a move that is merely an angry tit-for-tat with no legal impact.

What might be the next steps in this dance? Iran’s response to similar tensions in the past has been to hold a large, highly publicized military exercise involving its naval and missile forces, with the explicit message that Iran can control the Strait of Hormuz. Both Iran’s regular Navy and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy have stopped and boarded merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz, although none of those ships to date has been U.S.-flagged. Increased interference with merchant shipping, in particular oil tankers carrying Saudi or Kuwaiti crude oil, would be a simple way for Iran to exert leverage over the rest of the developed world’s economic safety.

Iranian-backed Shia militia groups in Iraq, which probably outnumber the Iraqi Army in manpower, are within eyeball range of U.S. forces every minute of every day, and would have ample opportunity to target those U.S. forces or the Iraqi forces we are training and supporting. And Iran can carry through on its threat to stop observing part or even all of the 2015 nuclear deal’s terms.

Or, Iran could agree to negotiate new terms to the nuclear deal. Those terms would have to include Iran’s ballistic missile development, its sponsorship of terrorism throughout the region, and the numerous unanswered questions about various Iranian nuclear facilities and past research on nuclear weapons. Iran has never allowed a detailed inspection of the Parchin complex, for example, and has literally dismantled and hauled away every brick and stone at other suspected facilities. It still has not provided a serious accounting of its pre-2003 work on nuclear triggers or warhead design. All of those issues must be addressed, and it is for that reason the United States has ramped up the pressure on Iran.

How long before that pressure changes Iran’s mind? Iran’s leaders are the true believers of the Islamic Revolution, and have suffered sanctions and deprivation since 1980. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps functions as a virtual state within the state, and its senior leaders are the hardest of the hard-core. They have the ability to limit Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s freedom of action if he was inclined to negotiate.

The Europeans have shown very little inclination to support efforts to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions, preferring instead to trade with Iran and pretend Iran can be trusted. And China has several massive economic development deals with Iran, including a deal to modernize Iran’s oil infrastructure, in addition to being highly dependent on Iranian oil.

All of those factors add to the challenge of keeping the pressure on Iran until it produces the desired outcome. But that pressure must be maintained if we are to rectify the serious deficiencies in the Iran deal while avoiding war.  ~The Patriot Post  

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