Majorityrights News > Category: World Affairs

The Coming Persian War

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 20 October 2017 00:09.



The Coming Persian War, Jason Reza Jorjani, 16 Oct 2017
:

On Friday the 13th of October, 2017, President Trump gave a speech on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Persians will forever remember as “the Arabian Gulf” speech. Seven months earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the United States was initiating a “comprehensive review” of its Iran policy, including the JCPOA colloquially known as “the Iran nuclear deal.” About a month after Tillerson’s April 19th statement, the Secretary of State accompanied President Trump on a state visit to Saudi Arabia where the President addressed tens of Arab nations in a speech that identified Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. This, despite the fact that Iran has never carried out an act of terrorism on American soil whereas, during his campaign, Donald Trump himself rightly identified Saudi Arabia as responsible for helping to plan and organize the 9/11 attacks. A comparison of the remarks of candidate Trump regarding Saudi Arabia to the policies of President Trump on Saudi Arabia is one of the clearest examples of Donald Trump’s hypocrisy and charlatanry. Another is his not having included the Saudis in his “Muslim ban” that does prevent Iranians from immigrating to the United States. The candidate who lambasted Hillary Clinton for taking money from Saudi Arabia went on to literally do a war dance with the Saudis, and to form a coalition with them against Iran. Several weeks after this trip to Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Tillerson referred to the Persian Gulf as “the Arabian Gulf”.

During his Friday the 13th speech decertifying the JCPOA and laying out a strategy for regime change in Iran, President Trump echoed his Secretary of State when nearly six minutes into the twenty minute speech, he said that Iran “harasses American ships and threatens freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea.” Trump’s speech presented the outcome of the “comprehensive review” of Iran policy announced by Tillerson back in April. In summary, the new Iran policy includes renegotiating the nuclear deal to remove the time limits on the heavy restrictions of Iran’s nuclear energy program, to target Iran’s ballistic missile development, especially its efforts to acquire ICBMs, as well as measures not directly related to the nuclear program but targeting the regime, such as the imposition of crippling sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which “has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy”, and finally, to support “regional allies”, i.e. Sunni Arab states, in confronting the Iranian military and paramilitary presence in Shiite-majority countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

For someone who has long been involved in the Iranian opposition to the Islamic Republic, and who was outraged by Obama Administration policies toward that regime, there were certainly elements of Trump’s speech that, on the face of it, seemed positive. These included his description of the regime as a tyranny that does not reflect the character and will of “a proud people”, a regime that has “raided the wealth of one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant nations.” Trump rightly condemned the Islamic Republic for brutally crushing the peaceful mass demonstrations of the summer and fall of 2009. He rightly chastised Obama for a nuclear deal that “threw Iran’s dictatorship a political and economic lifeline, providing urgently needed relief from the intense domestic pressure…” Indeed, Obama was penning secret letters to the Supreme Leader at the same time that the latter was ordering the murder and torture of young unarmed protestors whose chants included “Obama, Obama, either with us (the Iranian people) or with them (the Islamic regime)!” Trump’s evocative description of Obama’s perverse physical transfer of “huge piles” of cash to the Mullahs by airplane was particularly compelling.

There is, however, good reason to question the sincerity of the President when he claims that in his proposed policy of confronting the Islamic Republic, the United States government stands “in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest suffering victims… The Iranian people [who] long to… reclaim their country’s proud history, its culture, its civilization…” The bare minimum of showing respect for the people of Iran’s millennial Persian civilizational heritage is to refer to the Persian Gulf by its proper name, which dates from the time of classical Greek geographers and has since been officially recognized by all major international organizations. Wanting to get under the skin of the Mullahs and threaten them is no excuse, since from the moment that they seized power in 1979, they have been Arabizers that tried to suppress Iran’s Persian identity. At one point they even wanted to bulldoze Persepolis and change Iran’s language to Arabic. President Trump’s use of the bogus term “Arabian Gulf” was bound to terribly offend the Persian people themselves. It reveals that the rest of his rhetoric about Persians being oppressed and victimized by the Islamic Republic was primarily for domestic consumption, preparing Americans for the “liberation” of yet another country.

Trump’s deployment of the phrase “Arabian Gulf” was no more accidental than Secretary of State Tillerson’s seven months earlier. It signals the true end game of the new Iran policy: the transformation of the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Gulf through targeting Iran’s nationwide Persian cultural identity by engineering ethnic separatism, reducing Iran to an impoverished rump state of ‘Persia’ surrounded by resource-rich “microstates” exploitatively controlled by Saudi Arabia and the rootless global capitalists whose cancerous Deep State has destroyed America’s moral compass. That Trump and Tillerson intend to pursue a war with this outcome was made clear in statements that Walid Phares volunteered to Fox News on October 13th during a preview and preliminary analysis of the President’s “Arabian Gulf” speech.

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Pence brought to you by the Koch bros anti-EPA, Evangelical, Heritage fndn & all right wing concerns

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 19 October 2017 00:01.

Pence owes his position to doing the dirty bidding of the Koch brother’s interests, starting with lobbying against carbon tax, an initiative that wound up putting oil man Scott Pruitt in charge of EPA - the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house. That’s not the half of Pence’s classic story of right wing corruption.

NPR, “Understanding Mike Pence And His Relationship To Trump: ‘His Public Role Is Fawning”, 18 Oct 2017:

Though President Trump ran as an outsider, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer describes his vice president as “the connective tissue” between Trump and the billionaire donors in the Republican party.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Many of President Trump’s critics are hoping he won’t serve his full term, but what kind of president would Mike Pence make? That’s one of the questions Jane Mayer sets out to answer in her new article about Pence titled “The President Pence Delusion.” It’s published in the current issue of The New Yorker.

She writes about how Pence became an evangelical Christian and how he became a favored candidate of billionaire backers, most especially the Koch brothers. She traces how religion and money shaped his ideology. She investigates how Pence became Trump’s running mate and how much power he has in the White House and how he’s used it.

Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She’s also the author of the bestseller about the Koch Brothers titled “Dark Money: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right.” Last March in The New Yorker, she profiled another billionaire funder of right-wing causes, Robert Mercer, who she says has become a major force behind the Trump presidency.

Jane Mayer, welcome back to FRESH AIR. So I feel like I don’t see Mike Pence very much, and I often wonder if he’s a power behind the scenes or if he really doesn’t matter that much within the Trump administration. So what’s your impression?

JANE MAYER: Well, it’s really hard to tell. He is - as Joel Goldstein, a specialist in the vice presidency, told me, he calls him the sycophant in chief because when you do see him, he’s usually acting as an emcee to Trump or kind of echoing Trump and praising Trump. So his public role is really fawning. Behind the scenes, though, according to Newt Gingrich, he’s 1 of the 3 people who have the most power in the Trump administration along with the chief of staff, John Kelly, and Trump himself.

GROSS: What are the signs that he’s that powerful?

MAYER: Well, (laughter) that’s a good question - because I think he acts as the connective tissue between the Trump administration and Congress, between the Trump administration and the - kind of the socially conservative base of the party. And most importantly, he is the connector between the Trump administration and the billionaire donors in the Republican Party. He is the guy who does most of the fundraising and outreach to the money.

GROSS: And the money includes the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer.

MAYER: It does. And one of the interesting things to me in writing about Pence is it poses such a juxtaposition between the way that Trump ran, which was as a populist outsider who was attacking the big-money forces in the Republican Party as corrupt and saying that they were puppeteers trying to control the candidates as puppets. And Trump made a huge point of saying, I’m my own man; I’m so rich; no one controls me. Yet as his vice president, he chose Mike Pence. And you could hardly find a candidate in the American political scene who has closer ties to the big donors and particularly the Koch brothers. He’s been sponsored by them for years.

GROSS: So how do the Kochs first start backing Mike Pence?

MAYER: So this was when Pence was in Congress in 2009. He really did the Kochs a big favor. There was legislation pending that might have put a tax on carbon pollution, and it would have been terrible for Koch Industries. And Pence took up the cause and tried to help defeat that legislation and specifically carried around a pledge that the Kochs had created, trying to get people to sign it. And after he was successful in that, the Kochs invited him to come to their secret donor summits. And at that point on, they started showering him in money. So it was - it’s really became a working relationship then. And I hadn’t realized that until recently.

GROSS: One of the things you say Mike Pence is responsible for is bringing the Kochs and Donald Trump together. The Kochs didn’t support Trump’s candidacy. Charles Koch described the choice between Trump and Hillary as one between cancer or a heart attack. (Laughter) So what did Pence do to bring the Kochs and Trump together?

MAYER: Well, so this is what was interesting to me - is that Pence has been very close with the Kochs, and they have just showered money on his campaigns. And he’s kind of act as a peacemaker between the Kochs and Trump. And but in that process, what interested me most was that I really do think that Trump ran as a different kind of Republican. He ran against the big-donors orthodoxy and kind of libertarian vision of people like the Kochs. He said he was going to deliver something for the little guys and build infrastructure all across the country and use the government in various ways that the Kochs disapprove of.

And what you’ve seen with Pence is that in many ways, Pence has brought in a ton of people who are allied with the Kochs into the government, and he’s brought a lot of their policies in - so whether it’s on environmental issues or tax policy now where the Kochs are working very closely with the Trump White House on the Trump tax plan. And it is a tax plan that the Kochs love, and it’s a tax plan that’s going to help the super-rich according to many nonpartisan analyses and not do very much for the middle class. So you’re beginning to kind of see the government moving in the direction of the Kochs.

GROSS: You say 16 high-ranking officials in the Trump White House have ties to the Koch brothers.

MAYER: Well, and that’s according to a study by a group called the Checks And Balances Program. And you can count them. You can see it online. They’re - that’s in the White House. There are also many, many people who’ve worked for the Kochs in the government at large, in the cabinet, in the other departments. And a tremendous number of people who work with and for Pence have gone in and out of working for the Kochs to the point that you had Politico saying - they quoted a Republican operative saying that the Koch operation really was the shadow campaign for Pence for president.

And chief among them really has been Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, who went - after working for Pence in Congress, he went to run the Koch’s political operation, Freedom Partners. And then when Pence was chosen as vice president on the ticket, Marc Short came back, worked with Pence in the campaign and is now the head of Congressional Liaison in the Trump White House. So the man that actually ran the Koch’s political operation is a key player inside the Trump White House.

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Alt Right Jews

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 17 October 2017 02:17.

Luke Ford, “Alt Right Jews”, 15 Oct 2017 by Luke Ford

The Z Blog posts:

Anyone who has engaged with Orthodox Jews knows they regard Liberal Jews with a high degree of hostility. They are not as bad as the Hasidim, but they view Reformed Jews as fakers, getting the benefits of being Jewish without the commitment. Their relatively small numbers have made them easy to ignore, but demographics are changing quickly. Orthodox are 10% of American Jews and a full decade younger than the median age of Reformed Jews. They also have many more children per female.

Now, the Orthodox are famously ethnocentric. They also vote for conservative white candidates in elections. When it comes to identity politics, the Orthodox favor it over consensus. They may not be talking about ethno-states and separatism, but their revealed preferences run strongly in that direction. Like the Amish though, their numbers will only grow the old fashioned way. They don’t recruit so they don’t attract a lot of converts. Talk to anyone who has converted and they will tell you it is a long and challenging process.

There’s another division, somewhat related to the Orthodox movement, and that is the Chabad movement. Here’s a Globe story from two years ago and a Forward story from last year for some background. One of the unique things about Chabad is they recruit and do so aggressively. They even recruit gentiles. I’ve had them put the arm on me more than once, even though they know I’m not a Jew. President Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are Chabad. Joel Pollak, the Breitbart big shot, is Chabad. This is not an accident.

As that Globe story makes clear, the Chabad movement is a curious thing. On the one hand, they are Orthodox, which puts them culturally to the right of most people and way to the Right of most Jews. On the other hand, they seem to be following the model of the early Christian church by letting converts ease into the life. Jared Kushner is not growing a beard and wearing all black anytime soon. It’s hard not to think that they are first concerned with growing the movement. They’ll worry about discipline later.

There’s another piece to the puzzle. There are Conservative Jews who make up about 20% of American Jewry. These are the folks you will not only see filtering into the Chabad movement, but also on the fringes of the alt-right. They may or may not consider themselves white, but either way, they are fine with white identity politics. They think multiculturalism is madness. It’s not just madness for Jews, but for everyone. Diversity is a cancer to be avoided. These are folks who would be called Alt-Jew.

The number of Conservative Jews sympathetic to the alt-right is debatable, depending upon how you define the terms. There are quite a few Jews supporting Jared Taylor’s work at American Renaissance. I correspond with maybe half a dozen Conservative Jews who share my politics. They think their numbers are growing as Jews in America come to terms with the failings of liberalism and reformed Judaism. To use a phrase I picked up at AmRen, these are Jews who are religious, if not spiritual.

None of this means that Jews are suddenly going to lift Richard Spencer up and carry him to the throne of the ethno-state. It just means that demographics and shifting politics spare no one. Liberal Jews are old and not particularly fertile. Orthodox Jews are young and extremely fertile. Conservative Jews fall somewhere in between, but probably represent a much more practical alternative for American Jews who wish to remain American and Jewish. In a majority-minority world, everyone is going to have to pick sides.

The Z Man, “Alt-Jew”, 29 Aug 2017:

Someone contacted me the other day saying they were starting a site called Alt-Jew and he wanted to know if I knew any right-wing Jews that would be interested. You never know about these things. It could have been a terrorist organization trying to get some names of people they could terrorize. Anyone can register a website. Well, not anyone, thanks to terrorist groups like the SPLC and ADL. Still, you never can be sure about these things. The Reagan Battalion was an elaborate Soros fraud.

Regardless, it provides a reason to write about a subject that gets zero attention. That is the schism among American Jews, one that is looking a little bit like the divide within the white world. There are a growing number of right-wing Jews, who are wondering if liberal Jews are bad for Jews. It’s not just politically, but culturally and racially. They look around at the demographics in America and see greater out-marriage, lower birth rates and the telltale signs of assimilation and secularization.

Anyone who has engaged with Orthodox Jews knows they regard Liberal Jews with a high degree of hostility. They are not as bad as the Hasidim, but they view Reformed Jews as fakers, getting the benefits of being Jewish without the commitment. Their relatively small numbers have made them easy to ignore, but demographics are changing quickly. Orthodox are 10% of American Jews and a full decade younger than the median age of Reformed Jews. They also have many more children per female.

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Trump gained presidency through pledge to YKW to undo Iran Deal: that promise he’s materializing

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 14 October 2017 01:00.

Ending the Iran deal has been the veritable raison d’être for the Trump Presidency. Trump refers to an “international community” whose opinion on the matter he will take under consideration. The “international community”, i.e., YKW and other right wingers.

Way to go Alt-Right! Along with Donald, you sure know how to make a deal.

Donald Trump: Given the regime’s murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future. As I have said many times, The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one sided transactions The United States has ever entered into. The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement, for example, on two separate occasions they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tonnes of heavy water; until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges. The Iranian regime has also intimidated international inspectors into not using the full inspection authorities that the agreement calls for; Iranian officials and military leaders have repeatedly claimed they will not allow inspectors onto military sites even thought the international community suspects some of those sites were part of Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. Importantly, Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal. So today, in recognition of the increasing menace posed by Iran and after extensive consultations with our allies, I am announcing a new strategy to address the full range of Iran’s destructive actions. First, we will work with our allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region. Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification.


What about Saudi, Donald
? He cites Iran’s backing of terrorists; this, coming from a man who just a few months back lavished Saudi - Saudi - with a 110 billion dollar arms deal. 

Related Story: 11 September Attacks: 28 Pages Declassified.

Related Story: What Saudi Arabia’s royal reshuffle means for the world.

The Hill, “Trump makes his move on Iran nuke deal”, 13 Oct 2017:

President Trump declared Friday that the Iran nuclear deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States, but stopped short of withdrawing from the Obama-era pact.

“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House.

“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” he continued.

The president said that Iran “has committed multiple violations of the agreement” and accused Tehran of “not living up to the spirit of the deal.”

Trump ticked off a list of problems with the deal and laid out a new, tougher strategy to confront “the rogue regime” over a series of other “hostile actions” unrelated to its nuclear program.

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Giving Islam it’s Due

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 13 October 2017 04:03.

Paul Weston, an ex-Muslim and Anne Marie Waters -


(((Molyneaux))) defends Richard Spencer’s HuWhite Nationalism with objectivist example of Ashkenazi

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 12 October 2017 01:10.

More indication that Jews are favoring objectivist arguments against “the left” and using the Alt-Right and Lite to that end.

Stefan Molijew, er eaux (19:25): Again, I’m sort of paraphrasing from my perspective, which is that if you have a free market then the most intelligent will generally gather the most resources, become the wealthiest and therefore have the most children. And this is exactly how Jewish intelligence, particularly in language skills, verbal intelligence, has advanced so significantly; the most intelligent Jews had the most children and then you get a whole bunch of Ashkenazi Jews, you get a bunch of very intelligent Jews, I mean this is just how it works, this is evolution.


(49:00) I have a question for the media, how many Jewish experts does it take to overturn the hearsay of one non-Jew. Is it five Jewish experts versus one non-Jew, is it ten…I’m just curious what the ratio is because that seems pretty anti-Semitic to me. ..how many Jews do you have to stack up to overturn the hearsay of one non-Jew? if it’s more than one, you might be an anti-Semite.


Tension with Tillerson, Trump & Mattis in frightening times as brinksmanship with N. Korea continues

Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 01:05.

NPR, “Tensions Rise Between Tillerson And Trump As The Threat Of War In N. Korea Looms”, 10 Oct 2017:


New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins describes Sec. of State Tillerson as frustrated amidst very scary negotiations with N. Korea and without sufficient support and staff - most Republicans with wherewithal have been purged from Trump’s administration. While Filkins describes General Mattis as a very well read, interesting and thoughtful man who prefers negotiation to his profession of war - which, in the case of war with North Korea, “would bring the worst casualties and the worst bloodshed that any of us have ever known in our lifetimes.”

New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins says Sec. of State Rex Tillerson is a diplomat in an administration that doesn’t value diplomacy: “Rex is a sober, steady guy, and the president is anything but that.”

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Ever since NBC reported last week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called President Trump a moron, speculation has increased about whether Tillerson will last much longer in the job. My guest Dexter Filkins has a new article in The New Yorker titled “Rex Tillerson At The Breaking Point.” Filkins started researching the article months ago. It’s about the tensions between Trump and Tillerson, Tillerson’s legacy at Exxon, where he became CEO in 2006, his strategies today in dealing with North Korea and Iran and how he’s presiding over a State Department in which most key positions remain unfilled.

One of the things we’re going to focus on is North Korea and the possibility of the escalating rhetoric actually leading to a war. Filkins’s previous article for The New Yorker was about Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, who Filkins first met when he was reporting on the war in Iraq. Filkins covered the war for The New York Times. He’s now a staff writer at The New Yorker covering foreign affairs.

Dexter Filkins, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Can we just start by acknowledging that the secretary of state you’ve just written about may not be the secretary of state much longer, which means your piece may’ve been written at exactly the right or exactly the wrong time (laughter)?

DEXTER FILKINS: Yeah, yeah, well, it’s great if you’re a journalist to have, you know, perfect timing. And in this case, I had perfect timing. I started working on that piece a long time ago, not knowing that all of this was going to come to a head. But I think he’s - you know, he’s still in the job as we speak. And I think he’s pretty frustrated. But that is a chaotic administration on any day of the week. And so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

GROSS: What are you hearing about the relationship between Tillerson and Trump?

FILKINS: Well, it’s funny. I’m the - initially, when I started talking to people, and the people around him say, it’s great. You know, they talk all the time. They talk several times a day. Trump calls him, you know, middle of the night, whenever he wants. And I think that’s true. But I - you know, there’s an anecdote, which many of your listeners will have heard by now, which is, Tillerson was apparently in a meeting after one of - he was complaining about one of Trump’s speeches. And he called him a moron, and there was a - you know, there was another word attached to the word moron, which I won’t repeat.

But I think - you know, I think he’s frustrated. I think it’s difficult for - you know, Rex Tillerson is, I think - he’s a pretty sober and a pretty steady guy. And of course, the president is anything but that. And I think Tillerson in particular has been trying very hard in places like North Korea, where we have a - you know, a terrible crisis on our hands, to make a diplomatic solution to try to avert war. I think, you know, the possibility of war with North Korea right now is very real. And so he - you know, he flies out to China to try to make a deal and - to try to make a diplomatic deal to stave off war. And the president makes fun of him. And he undercuts him - Rex, you’re wasting your time. And I - you know, he’s the secretary of state of the United States. It’s - I think he’s pretty frustrated with that, that he feels like he can’t do his job.

GROSS: One official told you, the only reason why Tillerson has stayed this long is loyalty to the country.

FILKINS: Yeah, you know, he’s an Eagle Scout. And there’s a lot of Eagle Scouts in the president’s cabinet, and there’s a lot of generals around him. And somebody said to me, the only people left around the president are generals and Boy Scouts. And they’re hanging in there out of - not because they like it or not because they’re, you know, pleased to go into work every day but because they feel a responsibility to the country.

GROSS: What have you heard about the so-called suicide pact - that if Tillerson is let loose, then Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin would leave as well? They would just - they would walk.

FILKINS: Well, I heard that. I - you know, Washington is - it’s such a chatterbox. And when you go down there, you know, it’s just an echo chamber, and everybody’s, like, gossiping. It’s hard to know what’s true. I do know that Tillerson and Mattis talk a lot, and they have a lot of respect for each other. And I think that they - you know, they talk a lot because it’s - they both deal with foreign affairs. And, you know, one is the carrot, and the other is the stick. And they’re trying to coordinate a lot. So they talk a lot. And so it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.

GROSS: Is Tillerson much of a carrot? Is he holding out many carrots?

FILKINS: Well, I think the carrot’s getting smaller. I mean - and I think that’s the concern. And the hammer or the stick is getting bigger. And so if you look at their respective budgets, the Office of Management and Budget, which has drawn up the proposed budget for 2018 - for next year - which is what they’re fighting about right now - they would cut the State Department’s budget by 30 percent. And that’s about - the State Department is - the budget’s about - right now about $55 billion a year. And they are proposing - at the same time that they’re cutting the State Department by 30 percent, they’re proposing a $50 billion increase for the Pentagon. So they’re - the proposal on the table right now is to increase spending on defense as much as, or nearly as much as, the entire budget for the State Department.

And so if you stand back and think about that, what does that mean for American foreign policy? You know, you’ve got the guns over here, and you’ve got the diplomats over here. And they are cutting the resources for the diplomats, and they’re giving more resources to the guys with guns. And so I think that’s what’s disturbing to a lot of people right now - that the balance is changing.

GROSS: But Tillerson seems to be one of the people leading the charge in dismantling the State Department. I mean, you write that there are, like, 48 ambassadorships that are vacant. Twenty-one out of 23 assistant secretary positions are vacant or occupied by provisional employees because Congress hasn’t confirmed appointees to the position. How much of this is intentional on Rex Tillerson’s part?

FILKINS: Well, I - that there - I think there’s two answers to that question. The first is - to answer your question - he has his marching orders, and it’s to cut the budget and to cut the number of people - cut the number of diplomats working for the United States. And he’s doing that. He’s doing that, and he’s - or he’s trying to do it. And, you know, Congress is actually pushing back. Remarkably, even the Republicans in Congress are saying, look, this is crazy. This is too much. These cuts are too deep. You know, we have to have a diplomatic presence abroad.

And at the same time, I think that Tillerson is having a very, very difficult time - very difficult time - filling jobs and filling - you know, typically at the State Department, you have the secretary of state, and then he’s surrounded by assistant secretaries of state. And there’s 25 of them or so. And what’s happened, in this case, is because so many Republican - let’s say senior Republicans who - with deep experience on foreign policy - so many of them during the campaign publicly spoke against the Trump candidacy or signed letters, which were, you know, published in newspapers, et cetera, saying, Donald Trump is not fit to be president.

And so the whole Republican bench that you would call on to bring in to a new Republican administration, they’re essentially blackballed. And if you go down those lists, that’s a really long list. It’s most of the real brain power in the Republican foreign policy establishment. So the result is, Tillerson can’t get anybody to work for him.

GROSS: Let’s talk about North Korea. I mean, President Trump has said, we could totally destroy North Korea. North Korea has vowed to develop a nuclear missile capable of hitting the U.S. and warned it can conduct a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific. No ambassador to South Korea has been confirmed yet. Trump also warned recently that this is the calm before the storm. And nobody’s really sure what he means by that, and he’s declined to clarify. It’s kind of like, you’ll see.

So - and the president tweeted, presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years. Agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked. Agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators - sorry, but only one thing will work.

And I think it’s kind of implied what that one thing is. But we don’t really know for sure what he means. So what’s your sense of how close we’re getting to an actual nuclear war with North Korea?

FILKINS: Well, I don’t know if it’d be a nuclear war, but it would be - it’d be a very terrible war. I remember Secretary Mattis - I was on his plane earlier this year. And he said if - and he’s really sober about this. And he said, if there is a war with North Korea, it will bring the worst casualties and the worst bloodshed that any of us have ever known in our lifetimes. You know, that’s pretty strong stuff. And I think the - I think here’s where we are.

The Trump administration has decided, I think - it’s pretty clear - that the prospect of North Korea getting a workable ICBM with a nuclear warhead is worse than the prospect of war. So, I mean - and I spoke to people inside the administration who told me that. They said, we will not allow them to have a working ICBM. It’s not going to happen. And we will go to war if we have to. So short of that, what can you do? You can make a deal.

And so the plan - and I think this is what Tillerson has been working very hard on - is to squeeze the North Koreans. And there’s basically one way to squeeze the North Koreans, and that’s to squeeze China - to squeeze the North Koreans, and that it - because the Chinese economy is kind of - it’s the main - it’s the only lever, really, to pressure the North Koreans. And so the Chinese have been very reluctant to do that. They’re - for a lot of reasons - I mean, the main one is, they don’t want to have the North Korean state collapse on their borders. They’re terrified of that. They don’t want North Korea to have a nuclear weapon, I don’t think, any more than we do.

But so that’s the challenge right now, but I think it’s also the one means that the White House sees to make a deal is working with China. And that’s what Tillerson has been trying to do. So he’s been, you know, flying to China. He’s made several trips out there, and he’s pushing them. We have channels open to the North Korean leadership. And so, you know, to get back to President Trump, so the - so at the same time that, you know, the diplomats were trying to make a deal to stave off war, the president is sending out these tweets saying, I’m going to - you know, I’m going to annihilate North Korea, et cetera. And I don’t think there’s any calculation involved in that. I think the - you know, the president is just, you know, firing.

GROSS: OK, well, let’s take a short break here. If you’re just joining us, my guest is Dexter Filkins, a New Yorker staff writer who covers foreign affairs. His new piece is called “Rex Tillerson At The Breaking Point.” We’ll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you’re just joining us, my guest is Dexter Filkins, who is a staff writer at The New Yorker and covers foreign affairs. His new piece is about the secretary of state. It’s called “Rex Tillerson At The Breaking Point.”

Rex Tillerson told you - because you had a chance to speak with him - that he told China that if China and the U.S. don’t solve this - if he and his counterpart don’t solve this - these two guys - meaning Kim Jong Un and President Trump - these two guys get to fight, and we will fight.

FILKINS: Yeah. Yeah, it’s pretty scary.

GROSS: Did he elaborate on that for you? Like, what…

FILKINS: Well, yeah, a little bit. I mean, he essentially meant, look, the way this is - the way diplomacy works and works best is if it’s backed up by a threat of force. So when I walk in the room and I sit down with the Chinese, I say, look, you and I can make a deal, and we can, like, sign it on paper. And if we don’t, if diplomacy fails, there’s going to be a war. And nobody wants a war, so let’s do the deal. And I think, you know, that sounds right. Theoretically, that’s - and it sounds right. It’s just terrifying.

GROSS: Well, it - there seems to really be a game of brinksmanship being played right now.

FILKINS: Yes.

GROSS: And when you say you were told - and I forget who told you this - that if we go to war with North Korea, there will be more casualties than - what? - than…

FILKINS: Any of us know - have seen in our lifetimes. And that was Secretary Mattis.

GROSS: Oh, right. And I can - and he’s…

FILKINS: And you know…

GROSS: He (laughter)...

FILKINS: He’s seen a lot of war, you know? I mean…

GROSS: He’s seen a lot of war, right. So do you have any idea what kind of war he’s envisioning if we do go to war with North Korea? And I hate to even utter those words.

FILKINS: Yeah, God forbid. I think there’s a lot of different options. And, I mean, I’ve had some discussions about what those options are. I think they’re all terrible. I think that the easy scenario to imagine - I mean, it’s a terrible scenario - is the moment the United States strikes North Korea, say. And we’re speaking only theoretically here. The North Koreans have at their disposal thousands of artillery rounds that are within striking range of Seoul. And I think, you know, metropolitan Seoul has how many people - 20 million people. And so you can imagine.

So if the leadership of North Korea is, you know, still alive and if every piece of its army is still functioning - any piece of its army’s - is still functioning after that initial exchange, then they will fire everything they have at Seoul. And I think that’s - you know, that’s what’s got everybody’s attention. The prospect of that is terrifying because the bloodshed would be immense.

GROSS: OK.

FILKINS: And, you know, the numbers that you see are just - they’re terrifying. I mean, it’s, you know, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of casualties.

GROSS: I’m wondering if you feel any echoes of the eve of the Iraq War right now when President Bush and Saddam Hussein were threatened - threatening each other when President Bush decided to move forward not exactly unilaterally, but not really with the backing of the U.N. either. You know, we had some allies, but it wasn’t the full force of the U.N. Do - you covered the Iraq War. You covered it right from the start. So are you feeling any similarities now?

FILKINS: Well, the - I think the difference is, in Iraq, it was basically the United States. I mean, we’d - you know, Great Britain came along, but - and the United States was utterly determined to take down Saddam, you know? Come what may, we’re going to do it. And so there was this kind of, like, heedlessness involved. You know, we’re - we are going to do this. And the whole world was kind of freaking out.

It’s different in North Korea. I mean, I do feel like I have a - whenever I sit down and talk to somebody in Washington about - who knows the North Korean situation, I get these butterflies in my stomach because it feels like these are two - you know, North Korea and the United States, they’re both people who are - at the moment who are not willing to compromise. And that means, if that doesn’t - if they don’t reach a compromise, we’re going to go to war. And I think the prospect of war is very, very real.

And so in that sense, I’m feeling, like, pretty nervous about it. But I think that in - the difference between now and, say, in Iraq in 2003 was that I think the whole world is pretty worried about North Korea. You know, it’s a kind of crazy, unpredictable regime. And I think that the whole world is united in wanting to stop North Korea from acquiring an ICBM.

So to get back to what I had said earlier, I think the Trump administration - I spoke to somebody about this at some length - said that we - the reason why we cannot allow North Korea to acquire an ICBM is, think of the consequences. They would - they might use one. Oh, they’ll start threatening Japan. They’ll start threatening South Korea. They’ll threaten the United States. They - it will probably prompt, or could prompt, the Japanese to reversing, you know, decades of being a - having a very, very small defense force. They may have to go nuclear. So it could destabilize the whole region.

You - there’s no evidence that North Koreans would ever think twice about selling their nuclear technology to another country. So all of those things are terrifying as well. And so what the Trump administration has concluded is that this - or that scenario that I just painted - we cannot allow that, and we will not allow that under any circumstances.

GROSS: So if there is a war with North Korea, as it’s possible there will be, is there any scenario that you’ve heard in which the U.S. uses a nuclear weapon against North Korea?

FILKINS: Yes. Yes, I’ve had that conversation. It’s terrifying. I mean, it’s just not even something that you want to think about. But I will tell you about a conversation I had with a very senior person. He said, the problem, if the North Koreans, say, are 2 inches away from acquiring the capability - you know, a workable nuclear-armed ICBM - and we need to stop that, how do we do that? We kill the leadership, basically. We take out the whole leadership - Kim Jong Un, everyone around him.

Now, how do you do that? Because, you know, do we know where they are? Are they all scattered? And that’s where the nuclear weapon came in in the conversation that I had. So in other words, you decapitate the regime, and maybe you can avert the kind of horrible consequences that we’ve talked about with the North Koreans raining artillery shells down on greater Seoul. But that’s pretty terrifying. I think that option has been discussed. I think it’s on the table. That’s what was related to me. But, I mean, it’s pretty terrifying.

GROSS: How do you use a nuclear weapon to decapitate the regime?

FILKINS: God if I know. I don’t know. I mean, because - I don’t know. I mean, I think that the idea, at least in the discussion that I had, was that that would be the only way that you could guarantee that you would basically obliterate the leadership, wherever it was. The problem with that, obviously, is that you’re going to end up obliterating a lot of other things as well. And so I - you know, you - there’s no such thing as a surgical nuclear strike.

And so I think if - you know, if nuclear weapons came into play here, the consequences would be horrifying. And I don’t - you know, I don’t - this is what - I think this is what keeps people awake at nights. I mean, everybody’s thinking about these options, and there are no good options. They’re all bad - all of them. But the nuclear one, of course, is conceivably the worst.

GROSS: My guest is Dexter Filkins. His new article “Rex Tillerson At The Breaking Point” is in the current issue of The New Yorker. We’ll talk more after a break. And our jazz critic, Kevin Whitehead, will have an appreciation of pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk, who was born 100 years ago today. I’m Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross, back with Dexter Filkins, a staff writer for The New Yorker who covers foreign affairs. His new article is titled “Rex Tillerson At The Breaking Point: Will Donald Trump Let The Secretary Of State Do His Job?” Filkins covered the war in Iraq for The New York Times and is the author of the book, “The Forever War,” which won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction.

After having written this piece about Rex Tillerson, for which you interviewed a lot of people in the State Department, and my impression is maybe some people in defense as well, people in the administration - what did you leave knowing that you didn’t know before, in terms of the larger story of where we’re going with North Korea and Iran?

FILKINS: Well, I think the most - you know, I’ve worked all around the globe, and I’ve been to, like, a zillion American embassies around the world. And, you know, they’re all kind of the same. You, you know, show your passport, and you go inside. And you meet the diplomats, and they’re all very competent. And they speak the language, and they know the history and the politics. And you kind of take it for granted.

You know, we have a really good State Department, and the embassies are filled with competent people. But you take it for granted. Like, what do they do in there? I think what I learned is that the world that we live in is governed by a very large kind of architecture of economic and political arrangements that have been, you know, whether by treaties or agreements - that have been kind of written, and orchestrated and erected since the second - the end of the Second World War.

And basically, if you go back to - I quoted Truman’s - President Truman’s secretary of state in my piece, Dean Acheson. If you go back that far, to the 19 - late ‘40s and early ‘50s, you know, Acheson says, we inherited a world that was in chaos and in ruins, and we wanted to, at - you know, at any cost, we wanted to avert another world war. And how can we do this? And so they came up with, you know, everything - all these institutions that we know today - The United Nations, NATO, you know, the European Union. And not - you know, this stuff was very ad hoc and, kind of - you know, this institution got formed in 1948 and the next one in 1950. And they kind of evolved over time.

But that - today, we’ve inherited this kind of vast architecture of arrangements, and relationships and treaties, and so that everything from bandwidth - computer bandwidth - to the number of bluefin tuna that you can take out of the water every year - just the number of things which are negotiated, and written down, and codified in treaties and which are managed every day by our diplomats because there’s disputes going on all the time and these arrangements have to be changed and altered - this is the world that we live in. And this is, you know, the world that we have - and, you know, for all of its problems.

But it’s - and I think the thing that is troubling is - and the thing it - which is worrying and which I think everybody needs to kind of think about is, if we - are we dismantling this? Is that what Secretary Tillerson and President Trump are doing when they say, we want to cut the budget of the State Department by 30 percent? If - I asked Secretary Tillerson, and he said no, that’s not what we want to do. But when you see what’s happening to our diplomatic corps and you see what’s the - what the budget cuts are potentially doing and the people who are leaving, the amount of expertise which is leaving, it’s scary. It’s scary.

READ MORE...


Football lads of various clubs, families, joined by vets to march in London protest against terror

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 10 October 2017 01:17.


The march in London was attended by thousands, with one Twitter user putting the demonstration’s attendance figure at 30,000. Ex-servicemen marched alongside the Football Lads Alliance in a demonstration against recent terror attacks that have hit the UK.

Daily Mail, “Thousands of football supporters march” in London, 8 Oct 2017:

Thousands of football fans marched against extremism today at a protest attended by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson.

The ex-English Defence League founder appeared to be reporting on the march for The Rebel Media, but was also spotted smiling with supporters

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) descended on London for a demonstration condemned by charity Stand up to Racism (SUTR) as well as Labour’s shadow home secretary Dianne Abbott. Dianne Abbott was among the signatories of a statement penned by Stand up to Racism, who said the group should make clear there is no place for right-wing extremists to speak on the march.

FLA founder John Meighan said the event was organised to show concern at a ‘recent upsurge’ in UK terrorist attacks, according to the Evening Standard.

Although hobbled by the kinds of constraint that Tommy Robinson is beholden to, including Dianne Abbott’s “Stand Up to Racism” (SUTR) statement, the march’s implicit Whiteness is overwhelming, and is cause for optimism that it will have momentum to carry beyond superficialities of anti-nativist political “correctness.”


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