Beyond the Cusp

September 12, 2017

State Department Declaring Open Season on Middle East and Israel

 

We once predicted Rex Tillerson would be a problem for Israel in particular and much of the Middle East as a whole. Secretary of State Tillerson belongs with the State Department with only one shortcoming; he is an Arabist and not a supporter of the new Persians in Iran. Making his position to be at odds with his own department will come when the struggle finally turns to Iran against Saudi Arabia. Rex Tillerson, before becoming Secretary of State for President Trump, was the CEO for ExxonMobil and as such had many enjoyable and enriching relations with the Saudi Royal Family. In that position, Rex Tillerson was granted honors and received with feasts and joyous celebrations. He saw the most shining and generous side of Saudi Arabian culture as he was an honored guest who brought great prosperity with his visits which enriched the Royal Family. He would have stayed in five star hotels in the finest suites available and eaten at royal feasts so it is no wonder that he has great affection, respect and possibly love for the Saudi Arabian rulers, and thus favors their nation which he has only seen their best side. One cannot blame the man for the views he gained in a lifetime of working in the oil industry.

 

Secretary of State and Former CEO for ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State and Former CEO for ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson

 

Another problem with Rex Tillerson and the State Department is their view that the Kurds should postpone their September 25th vote and any consideration of declaring their independence until it will be more suitable to the understandings and outlook of the United States State Department. Imagine a people, a proud people with a history and who had their own nation until empires came and erased their nations and enslaved them and who, despite the best efforts of Saddam Hussein and his chemical weapons, survived and have been the ones who initially stopped ISIS leading to the current offensive and the best hope for their defeat, having to wait until the United States State Department decides they are ready for their own country. Had President Truman listened to the State Department, the United States would not have recognized Israel but President Harry Truman listened to his mother growing up and read his Bible and was a good man who decided he would listen to his mother and his learnings as a youth over some government department. Now we need to hope that President Trump, another president whose last name begins with a “T” like Harry S. Truman, also can find his way to disregard the State Department and give the Kurds recognition simply because they deserve the recognition and any assistance they require as they have carried the fight against Islamic State for the world. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his State Department have not changed since 1948 where they simply do not believe that people can have their own nation without their permission. With any good fortune, the Kurds will hold their vote, take the world by the horns and declare their independence and the world has the great goodness to recognize their aspirations and recognize that without the Kurds, ISIS might still be rampaging across the Middle East instead of being pushed out of Mosul with the Kurds playing a major role.

 

The Middle East is going through a period of great turmoil shaking off the old lines imposed upon them by the Europeans at the close of World War I. After World War I, the victors (Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan) decided where the new boundaries and borders with much of the decisions made by two men, British diplomat Mark Sykes and a French diplomat François Georges-Picot, called the Sykes–Picot Agreement. The lines were drawn with no regard to tribal allegiances, without regard to Sunni and Shiite observance and simply decided on how the major powers decided they would carve up the remains of the former Ottoman Empire. These lines were set up in such a way as served the major powers in Europe and the Russians agreed as they were given some parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and protected them from any resurgence from Turkey. Russia also was in the weakest position as they had left the war early after the revolution unseated the Tsar and the Communists had finally established governance which was to last until almost the end of the Twentieth Century. The Middle East was colonized mostly by the British, French and Italians who gave up their colonies mostly by the end of World War II through until around 1970 (see map below). Still, the nations that were formed were ungovernable resulting in mostly dictatorships, which suppressed most of the population. This led to such leaders as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Abdullah I bin al-Hussein and the Saudi Royals and their successors. Now the Middle East is making its first steps to figuring out where the lines need be drawn and what belongs to whom and everything else. Like any continental shifts in a world, the Middle East will take some time to shake out and there will be those who believe they are entitled to an empire on the backs of others while still other leaders will refuse to surrender rights to their people. This will be where the State Department will take their position that nobody deserves anything without their consent.

 

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

 

Now the State Department is demanding that President Trump demand that Israel return seventy-five-million dollars voted for Israel to build additional equipment for their defense against rockets and missiles which Israel requires to upkeep their defenses. The State Department demands these finances be returned as they exceeded the limitation that President Obama placed upon Israeli aid. The State Department claims that Israel lobbied Congress for the additional funds. Many in Congress claim that they voted for the funding without any requests or coaxing from the Israelis. Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, stated, “Congress is not a party to this agreement nor is this agreement binding on future congresses. Congress has an independent duty to make a decision about the proper level of support for Israel or our other allies. To suggest this will bind future presidents and Congresses for the next decade is constitutionally flawed and impractical.” Many have commented that this is an internal war within the United States government where the Department of State is doing everything they are capable to drive a wedge between the Trump Administration and the Israelis. There are those in Congress who have their hackles up over this claiming that they had no part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that they feel President Obama forced and threatened on the Israelis. They also declare that it is the duty and responsibility of the Congress and that no President, especially any past President, can limit or restrict their decisions on spending beyond their veto power. Once a President has left office, he can no longer veto Congressional legislation once passed, only the sitting President has such power and the Congress has promised to flex their power and pass legislation to resend these funds should the State department win this round. This is a war that will decide exactly how much influence Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Department of State are going to have over the Administration of President Trump. In all honesty, we hope that their influence will be as minimal as possible as it has been our opinion that the Department of State has been on the wrong side of history and the fight from the very start from before World War II onward. We will be watching this test for President Trump as if he gets this one wrong, then we will know that there is troubles coming.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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August 22, 2017

Trump Bordering Clueless on the Middle East

 

President Donald Trump is bordering on clueless regarding much of the Middle East and who are the best and who are troublesome. He has occasional bursts of insight and then appears to slide back into oblivion. One of his problems is his advisors are all over the map on their advice and no two are coming from the same objective point. There is one advisor who, while being amongst the loudest, acts as if he were paid by George Soros which, according to his resume, he once was paid by George Soros as have so many as Soros has his fingers in virtually every dark corner in this world, and you don’t get to the positions Tillerson has held without some contacts with undesirables. Still, Tillerson is at the State Department likely because he was the sole friend or acquaintance who was at all willing to enter that snake-pit and war with the vipers and constrictors who squeezed and poisoned the minds of previous Secretaries of State such as John Bolton, Condoleezza Rice, Collin Powell, and probably others all the way back to Timothy Pickering. Tillerson has some contrary views on the Middle East as he is an oil soaked Arabist. As such, he is opposed to Israel, the Kurds an oddly every true friend the United States has in the Middle East. Trust that Israel and the Kurds are more than simply friends for the United States but also barometers of whether she is steering a true path or sailing towards the craggy cliffs of futile endeavors which will steal from her life, blood and treasure and return nothing but rude awakenings when the truth be known.

 

We will leave the Israel part for background and look largely at the coming binding resolution the Kurdish People will be taking in their regions on September 25, 2017, on whether they should secede from Iraq. Their nonbinding resolution on this subject taken a little over a decade ago passed with 99.8% supporting secession declaring their own nation of Kurdistan. We are equally supportive of the establishing of a greater Kurdistan which would be carved almost exclusively from Iraq and Syria (see map below). We would favor this nation having a Right of Return law similar to the Israeli Right of Return for the Jewish People except for Kurdish People to return to their homelands. This would actually be something which honestly is owed the Kurdish People as they were initially promised by the British that they were to be given their homelands after World War I. When oil was found near Kirkuk and King Feisal offered the British rights to the oil fields, the offers made to the Kurds were found to be inconvenient. The British were good at altering their deals with indigenous peoples in order to suit the Arab demands. The Arabs claimed all of the Ottoman lands claiming, as per their Quran, that all lands which were part of the Caliphates and thus also the Ottomans were to remain as Arab lands and were not to be permitted to be allowed for any others. This was also the deal with Israel and in order to prevent the founding of Israel as the Jewish State the British kept paying Arabs to move from Iraq, Jordan, and even Syria and especially Egypt into the areas west of the Jordan River in order to maintain the Arab majority and thus permit refusing to allow the Jews sovereignty. The Jews eventually, after the agreement passed by the General Assembly accepted any deal while the Arabs refused the deal demanding they have all the lands and promising to destroy the Jews by war if necessary. That was the reason for the War of Annihilation against the Jews by at least a half dozen Arab armies and numerous militias starting at dawn of May 15, 1948, the same date when the Jews declared their state. The Kurds were not as fortunate as the Arabs overran their area and they did not have the organizations to resist, something the Jews managed despite losing the areas of Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

 

Our Idea for a Proposed Kurdistan

Our Idea for a Proposed Kurdistan

 

Things have changed and the Kurds now have one of the more proficient military forces in the conflict-savaged areas of Iraq and Syria. The Kurds have proven to have the most effective military forces which stopped the spread of ISIS when they were spreading into Iraq and again as they advanced on northern Syria. What is confusing is, despite the Kurds providing the most reliable fighting force assisting the United States efforts against the Islamic State, President Trump has opposed their intentions for independence. It is known that the State Department also opposes Kurdish independence, as does Secretary of State Tillerson, unsurprisingly. Both the State Department and their boss, Secretary Tillerson, are strongly influenced by their ties and deference to Arab influences. Tillerson is reflexively influenced by Arab desires and influences due to his deep experiences with the oil companies and Exxon-Mobile in particular. The State Department went from being supportive of Arab influences in correlation with their subversion to the Soviet Union and their interests. During this period, there were a number of Arab supporters hired into the State Department and the atmosphere turned against Israel and now against the Kurdish hopes. These influences remain and are continuing to serve interest not of the United States. President Trump claimed he would drain the swamp but thus far, it appears more as if the swamp has begun to drain him as it has others before him.

 

It would be a sad thing should the swamp, which has spread into the areas of Washington D.C. which were originally drained from swamp to make room for the buildings, which comprise the governing conglomerate, should eek its way and permeate the government deeper than Trump is able to drain the morass and its accompanying miasma. Perhaps this was ordained from the start when the decision was made to use reclaimed swamplands for the mall and seat of the Federal Government. Perhaps a little foresight and a better selection of lands, as it might be difficult to build a shining city on a hill if you start in lowlands formerly the habitat of rodents and other creatures of the tidal wetlands of the Potomac River. Just because you name a place Capital Hill, that does not make it into an automatically high place. Perhaps such is the challenge put before the elected officials to take the former swamp and clear it of the current affliction which President Elect Donald Trump claimed was the swamp he would drain. By all current appearance, President Trump may have chosen a task for which he does not posses the requisite skills to accomplish. Perhaps time will prove him capable, but for now, he has yet to get his own Cabinet in order. President Trump has appointed a former military man, a retired Four Star Marine General named John F. Kelly, as his new Chief of Staff who will hopefully find some order and get the members of the Trump team to follow the same script. His first job will be to find a common chord upon which they can all find agreement and work from there to fill out an entire program. Eventually, General Kelly will have to find some means of untangling the Middle East, the area where there appears to be most disagreement and confusion. Within the Cabinet and advisors there are those who support a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule and those who believe that the two state solution will but need the division once again of Jerusalem. Oddly enough, that might be the area of least disagreement. The seeming discordance of views may be the biggest disappointment for Trump supporters and should this not be rectified and set to right with the greatest of urgency, President Trump may find his support vanishing. Already there have appeared cracks in the foundation of the Trump White House and the need for order could not be more obvious. President Trump should Tweet less and instead get his songbirds all tweeting the same tune, or at least from the same operetta.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 23, 2017

The Subject Best Left Untouched Today is Korea

 

Korea gets stark coverage in the news; a short article here and there often buried with a headline every couple of weeks with sparse follow-up. There actually is a good reason, there is no good coverage or any way Trump can be blamed or criticized as he has taken measured steps increasing pressure slowly without crossing any critical lines as of yet. The distance from where everyone and everything currently stands and those aforementioned lines has shrunk to a very small distance. Kim has not altered his trajectory launching larger and longer range missiles with his latest calculated to be capable of reaching Alaska and potentially the West Coast of the United States mainland. Kim is pressing all the buttons which distress the Pentagon and make some of those older men with the largest number of medals on their uniforms excessively nervous and rightfully so. On the other side, President Trump has ordered three super-carrier groups to the area in and around the Sea of Japan, sufficient airpower to neutralize all known North Korean launch and nuclear facilities and destroy the vast majority of the rocket and projectile artillery placed just north of the demilitarized zone (see map below) all of them targeting Seoul, the South Korean Capital and home to near twenty-seven-million people. This has been the big threat held by the Kim family as they have ruled, or should we say ruined, North Korea making it a virtual hell on Earth for the entire population with the exception of the elites who live lives as if they were the monarchs and royal court over their medieval serfs who live at their pleasure.

 

Demilitarized Zone Between North Korea and South Korea

Demilitarized Zone Between North Korea and South Korea

 

The founder of North Korea was Kim Il-sung who was a believer in the myth of Communism and how it could make everyone live better under its socialized dictatorship with central planning and everybody receiving an equal portion. Just like most Communist dictatorships, North Korea failed with an ever-shrinking economy which remains now based on selling what meager oil and other natural resources they have most often to China. Much of the industrial base went to the manufacture of military hardware and development and little in consumer goods. Such placement of the investment in military hardware and the military left little for the people. Subsistence farming became a larger and larger part of the economy in the hope of feeding the people. Kim Il-sung died unexpectedly from a sudden heart attack on July 8, 1994, and was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il. Things continued in their steady decline throughout his years leading the militaristic country of North Korea. But at least things appeared sane, Russia and China assisted the nation and they threatened to attack South Korea and annihilate Seoul on a semiregular basis in order to gain some form of relief from the West, meaning the United States, which was regularly met by whoever was in the White House as it beat risking the war resuming in the Korean Peninsula. The North continued to press their demands that the Korean Peninsula be united and all the Korean people be ruled by their rightful rulers, the Kim family. The trades with North Korea were always the same basic deal, the United States sent tons of food and other provisions and of course a fair amount of funds all in return for a promise not to cause any disturbances, or in simple terms, peace and quiet and little if anything else which is a large quantity of basic nothing.

 

The original Korean War was fought with the free world with the backing of the United Nations due to a Security Council vote which took place, conveniently, after the Soviet Union walked out in a show of solidarity with Nikita Khrushchev who walked after slamming the table with his shoe, fighting the Communists, largely the Soviet Union. The forces backed by the United States had been pushing the Communists back when the other Communist nation decided to join the fight, one might say the eight-thousand-ton gorilla in the zone, the Chinese came over the border with forces of hundreds of thousands of soldiers pushing the Americans and their allies almost off the peninsula. The American forces rallied and in the end they decided to call it quits and draw a line on or about the 38th Parallel and rather than end the war, just allow it to stall for the time being, an armistice. Kim Jong-Il died on December 17, 2011, and was quickly succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un. This is where the problems set in. There are many who claim that Kim Jong-un might be unbalanced, a little unstable and frankly dangerous and a potentially dangerous threat. Add in President Donald Trump and things get really dicey.

 

The Kim Family

 

Kim Jong-un is attempting to use the time honored tradition of threaten the world and the Western nations will come up with the goods sooner or later. The problem is, he is basically selling the same nothing for something to a businessman, and that will not fly. President Trump’s answer to Kim Jong-un’s threats has been to slowly build the United States presence sending super-cruiser groups to attend training exercises with allies in the area including South Korea, Japan and others. President Trump attempted to resolve the situation by requesting the North Korean allies in China to talk the situation down. The Chinese and the Russians instead gave the United States an ultimatum to break off their planned operations with South Korea and potentially end their support for the South Koreans. This is all simply another attempt to isolate the South Koreans and allow for North Korea to do the same thing to South Korea as happened to South Vietnam after the United States removed their support. The Cold War is back and as healthy as it ever was and Russia is hoping to make President Trump back off in North Korea as if they can push him around there, they will then do more threatening to force the free world to allow Russia to retake as much of their former satellite nations as they are able. That would bring the end to the freedom in the Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and potentially Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and even the Czech Republic, and this is simply Eastern Europe. Then there is Central Asia where Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and a few other nations north of Afghanistan. Once again, should Russia force President Trump to trip and retreat in the Korean Peninsula and then continue the pressure in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the break where the West would no longer back further and instead would be up in arms, just as in World War II, might very well be Poland again.

 

This hugely dangerous game of chicken is showing no signs of either side blinking and has every sign of reaching a breaking point. If North Korea launches an actual and undeniable ICBM capable of reaching any point on the globe and then start placing satellites into low Earth orbit, with some crashing back to the planet even striking within the United States or Canada, then all bets are off because telling the difference between a crashing weather satellite and an incoming ballistic missile is impossible. The one and most trusted way of knowing the difference is asking the launching nation and trusting their answer. This is not exactly something in which North Korea would be considered a trustworthy nation as far as truth is concerned. Further, once North Korea reaches such ability for launching ballistic missiles and the miniaturized warheads to place atop of these missiles, then everyone need decide whether they can live with a nuclear armed North Korea or would defanging the rogue nation be the only viable option. These two scenarios are on a crash course with reality and the decisions reached by President Trump and his advisors will be weighty and potentially threatening the peace in Asia. The results against the North Korean nuclear missile threat will also go a long way in resolving the war in Syria and whether or not the killing simply continues endlessly. The decisions made in the standoff on the peninsula will send ripples around the world. What is the right move for President Trump? Should he again return to the days when the United States stationed ballistic nuclear missiles in South Korea or place them in Japan or Taiwan as a message to China and Russia that their nuclear mischief in North Korea had its consequences for them equal or greater than the threat the North poses to the Western World? Let’s just say that we had all better wish him decent advice, certainly better and more useable advice than he appears to have received about the Middle East and Israel. If he is as ill prepared to judge Kim Jong-un as he appeared to be with Mahmoud Abbas and his pack of lies, then the world had best tighten their seat-belts, because a misreading of the ripples in this crisis result in a huge conflagration or an alteration in the power centers of the world, largely from Washington the power would flow to Moscow and Beijing. Best of all, everybody tread quietly and carefully as a misstep will be ruinous for all involved.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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