Mark Armstrong’s Weekly News Review – Friday, 11 May 2018

Weekly Update

 Greetings from Tyler,

            Two of the greatest dangers on earth have been engaged simultaneously, North Korea and Iran.  Everybody was scared to death of North Korea’s nuclear accomplishments and the fact that they were demonstrating ICBM’s in various range categories. We’ve chronicled the threats, the insults and mainstream reaction to the tough stance taken on behalf of the United States, and surely no one has forgotten the abject fear projected throughout the mainstream media.   

            This has been a week that history will remember, much to the chagrin of expert analysts.  It was nothing if not a proud and gratifying moment to see political prisoners released from the hermit kingdom and flown home accompanied by the Secretary of State.  The expert panelists attributed praise to the South Korean President, to the Chinese Premier, to Kim Jong-un himself, and figure aloud that credit for the apparent move toward a peaceful resolution belongs to anybody but the American President. Oh it’s pretty amazing alright, the speed at which the situation seems to have turned around, but there has to be some explanation other than the obvious. 

            Iran is a different story.  The same week that carried signs of a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea also saw the United States withdraw from the Iran “deal,” considered the greatest foreign policy achievement of the previous administration. Former Secretary of State John Kerry held talks secretly with world leaders to shore up sentiment for saving some semblance of a legacy.  He met with German leaders and the Iranian hierarchy in person in addition to telephone communications with EU representatives. 

            But, as the whole world knows, the President pulled the United States out of the arrangement, calling it a disaster and a bad deal for the security of the United States as well as Israel.  Within moments of the announcement, Israel became aware of unusual Iranian military activities in Syria, and responded by bombing installations near Damascus.  The Golan Heights lit up with Iranian rocket fire.  Some twenty missiles were fired at Israel, some were knocked down by Iron Dome missile defense systems but most reportedly fell short, detonating inside Syrian territory.  Israel then bombed some seventy Iranian military strongholds inside Syria saying, it will be some time before the destroyed capabilities can be reestablished. 

            The Iranians are furious.  American flag burning has been a staple of Iranian protests ever since the Islamic revolution thirty five years ago.  But this week we’ve been treated to scenes where they burned an 8  ½ x 11 printed copy of our flag in the Iranian parliament, fists waving amid the familiar chant.  Iran says it will begin uranium enrichment “on an industrial scale,” in retaliation. Islamic clerics boast a capability of destroying Israeli cities, and warn that Israel better not act foolishly. 

            Experts worry that diplomatic relations with important European allies have been irrevocably damaged.  Not surprisingly, Europe’s leaders are horrified that the U. S. has taken such a dramatic action without their approval.  And they don’t approve.  Word is that they intend to honor their commitments, which is to say that they’ll continue doing business with Iran even as the United States implements sanctions that were previously suspended.  German flagship Der Spiegel says the action amounts to a “temporary suspension of the Trans-Atlantic alliance.”  It’s a short article lampooning President Trump personally, financially, and in matters of diplomacy. 

            You’ll find this short quote interesting and telling. “He isn’t curious.  His preparation is nonexistent.  Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him.  Trump is only proficient in destruction.  And that’s what he does.”

            The editorial goes on to make that case on the basis of backing out of the Paris climate agreement and “dismantling the legacy of his predecessor” by “destroying Obamacare.”  Now the Iran “deal” is being destroyed without a coherent plan.  We can hope the author doesn’t speak for all of Europe. 

            There’s no denying heightened tensions between Israel, Iran and its proxies in Syria and Lebanon.  But Israel’s leadership couldn’t be happier.  They’re flying American flags alongside the Israeli flag in Jerusalem, naming a city square after the President and preparing for the dedication of the  new American Embassy in Jerusalem.  It is now recognised by the United States as the official capital of Israel, and we’ll see if everybody, including the Europeans, can get used to the idea.

            The time for pretense has passed.  Clearly the Iran “deal” would have resulted in future problems of the nuclear variety for which no remedy exists.  Hopefully the Europeans will get over it and realize that relations with the United States are far more important than whatever they stand to earn doing business with the world’s foremost sponsor of terror. But maybe not.  This administration has charted a course destined to collide with much that Europe has embraced.  Those leaders are predictably put out, if not embarrassed. Maybe they’ll cast their lot with the pope.  They may have already. 

Mark Armstrong

 

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