North Korean Nuclear Debacle is Iran’s Debacle in Waiting

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

President Clinton was so eager to resolve the Korean nuclear threat, I believe he was willing to sign an agreement with North Korea written in snow and accept mist in promises. It would seem the negotiating team (part of whom were also amazingly brought in by President Obama for the Iran negotiations) were outclassed, outsmarted and outwitted. To the extent any person outside China actually believed China had or has any interest whatsoever in ending North Korea’s program, they are sadly misinformed. Communist China has directly benefited from North Korea’s bad acts for twenty years, and has continued to expertly play US presidents like fiddles, including Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump.

If there is no diplomatic solution now outside Communist China, one can look to the previous administrations for blame, each having to some degree allowed Communist China to have its way with them instead of taking steps to actually put an end to Korea’s nuclear program. It is too late now. With an ICBM in the oven, and hardened facilities under mountains and underground, there is little that can be done short of decapitation or immediate regime change, and even in that case, there is no telling what would follow the end of the Kim dynasty.

North Korea violated its Agreement during negotiations, while it was being drafted, moments after it was signed, and every day since then.

The trouble is, at the beginning, there was far more of a chance to take military action to stop North Korea from actually developing nuclear weapons technology and the weapons themselves, and with each succeeding year it became more difficult. Nothing was accomplished during the Bush Administration, and the final nails in the nuclear coffin were put in place during President Obama’s Oppeasement foreign policy debacle, repeated in rushed negotiations in horrible detail with Iran before Obama left office, a gift so to speak that will keep on giving for decades, and the full effect of which has not yet been felt around the world when Iran becomes a nuclear power (as it will under the dubious agreement).

Communist China and North Korea have played this game well for such a long time. CCP leaders pretend to call out North Korea, even vote in favor or abstain from heavy sanctions, but secretly violate those sanctions almost immediately. They call for patience, negotiations, peace in the region (for instance calling for cessation to joint military exercises between the US and South Korea), all as part of this grand scheme and game. Whenever Communist China needs a threat, it just winks at North Korea, and missiles are aloft, and dire warnings come from Beijing (“Woe is us, woe is us, what are we to do? Peace, negotiate, leave it to us”). This is usually followed by laughter in the CCP’s lair.

China will continue to prop up North Korea, secretly or otherwise, because it is the most useful tool in keeping the US in check, achieving its goals regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, the South China sea, human rights, and a host of other issues it wishes the US to stay away from.

The longer we play this game of loser’s chess, the worse the situation grows. Pretending to be the peacemaker (and the environmentalist and the voice of reason and the next great source of trade and money) is China’s long term strategy to relegate the US to a back seat to its hegemony and intentions to remake the world in its own totalitarian image. North Korea is simply a tool in that game.

Just as Clinton did 25 years ago, Obama began the game with Iran several years ago. It does not end well. It never does, particularly when it is played by the JV team (led by President Obama whistling Kumbaya, Kerry and his merry band of fools and appeasers) and the quintessential flim-flam men from Iran. There was no contest. And now, President Obama, having been intent on singing Kumbaya instead of ending Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and having prevented destruction of Iran’s facilities after developing the weapons to do so while it was actually possible, has ensured we are stuck with a nuclear Iran, something that can lead to disaster.

Good men doing nothing. This is the hallmark of diplomacy for the past twenty five years. When will anyone learn?

“Terrorism blowback” is just a convenient excuse – the causes and the solution come from within Islam only

I ran across Professor Brahma Chellaney’s article on the Strategist website entitled “How to stop terrorism in Europe” from September 2016. When I read his article published here today (Taipei Times, June 10, 2017, P. 9), I thought of the two articles together, and thought I would address Professor Chellaney’s propositions, which while detailed are simplistic.

 First, one proposition in the former article caught my attention. Professor Chellaney says: “The problem is not Islam, as many populists claim…. Today, that threat results from radical Islamism—a fundamentalist vision of society reordered according to Sharia law.” I can agree with this, for the most part.

 Going further, Professor Chellaney would seem to agree with one of the principal tenets of the Trump administration: “Beyond enduring untold suffering and violence, many of today’s refugees, from war-torn countries … have imbibed radical Islamist ideology and, specifically, calls to jihad. Some might be Islamic State fighters who have disguised themselves as asylum-seekers, in order to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe. US intelligence officials have repeatedly warned of this possibility.”

 The solution? Well, Professor Chellaney says “To many in Europe, these factors suggest that the key to keeping Europe safe is controlling the flow of refugees, including through improved vetting procedures.” But he rightfully observes that “…not even constructing a Fortress Europe would eliminate the terrorist threat. After all, some attacks, including in Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by Muslim European citizens who became radicalized in their own bedrooms.”

 And thus the simplistic answer: “The only way to address the threat of terrorism effectively is to tackle the radical Islamist ideology that underpins it.” Easier said than done, but there is something in there that Professor Chellaney overlooks that is absolutely correct. Professor Chellaney focuses on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and then suggests launching an information campaign to discredit the ideology, and then compares this to the success the West achieved against communism.

While there is something that seems correct about this (ignoring the vast distinction between Communism and deeply rooted religion), there is still one determinative thing that is missing.

Professor Chellaney rather simplistically concludes “To take down the terrorists requires delegitimizing the belief system that justifies their actions.” This is completely accurate. As if the West can do anything to discredit this extreme form of Islam (especially when the far left cannot even bring themselves to say the words “Islam” and “terrorism” in the same sentence).

 No, the point missing is this. Discrediting radical Islamist ideology is the only solution, and that must come from inside Islam itself, not from the West. Until Muslim leaders around the world stand up against radical Islam, there can be no solution. Until there are speeches and fatwahs by these leaders against terrorism, there can be no solutions that do not involve war and fighting and many innocent deaths. Until the ideology underpinning the ISIS rise is demonized from within Islam itself there will continue to be a long line of those willing to kill brutally in its name.

There are valuable insights in Professor Chellaney’s earlier article, but only half a solution, somewhat timidly presented, avoiding the real issue, can Islam learn to police itself and rid itself of this extremism? We have no business bringing down this hateful violent ideology from the outside. Islam must cleanse itself of this cancer.

 The article today “The age of blowback terror from Western interventionism” is just another Project Syndicate anti-America anti-West piece (from deep within George Soros’ viewpoint, I suppose). I bridle at the notion that liberal thinkers love to blame liberal Western democracies for the ills in the Middle-east, ignoring the fact that those conflicts actually predate the United States by at least 500 years. The Iraq war did not cause terrorism, it resulted from terrorism. Saddam, Ghadaffy, these men were brutal dictators who murdered hundreds of thousands of their own people.  To weep on one hand when we do not give aid to the Castros’ Cuba, which also has murdered many of its people, but decry helping the people of Iraq and Libya throw off the shackles of madmen is hypocritical, at best.

 It is true however that Iraq spawned ISIS, when President Obama ran away. Had he not, it is doubtful ISIS would have sprung from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or at least there would have been a greater chance to contain it.

 “Blame America” is Project Syndicate’s favorite mantra. However, I am perplexed by Professor Chellaney’s final thought: “As the US and its allies continue to face terrorist blowback, it is hoped that Trump comes to his senses, and helps to turn the seemingly interminable War on Terror that Bush launched in 2001 into a battle that can actually be won.”

 Is he referring to the ideological battle to kill the underpinnings of radical Islam, or something on the battlefield, or both? As I said before, the ideological battle must take place within the confines of Islam itself. The Muslim world must decide for itself whether it wants war or peace. Trump went directly to Saudi Arabia and began the dialogue to face this threat to peace. What follows remains to be seen.

 Golda Meir said it best so very long ago (60 years ago?), that “we won’t have peace until the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”  It still seems true today.

Don’t believe everything you read in Project Syndicate articles, particularly those regarding China.  I do thank Professor Chellaney for his two articles which provided the very thoughtful and detailed discussion which invited my comments here today. I can always appreciate an erudite argument from which to form an opinion.