Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

The Bear Strikes Again

It appears that Putin is just sending out assassins to murder people all over the world.

An exiled critic of Vladimir Putin died from ‘compression to the neck’ at his London home, Scotland Yard announced today, as detectives revealed they are treating his death as murder.

Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was found dead by his daughter, Natalia, at his suburban home in New Malden, south London on Monday night – just eight days after the nerve agent attack on spy Sergei Skripal.

Mr Glushkov was one of the last surviving members of an ill-fated circle of Russian exiles – led by Putin’s enemy Boris Berezovsky – who have died in suspicious circumstances.

The announcement of the murder probe comes amid mounting tensions between the Whitehall and the Kremlin over the shocking chemical weapons attack in Salisbury.

Tillerson Sacked

Ouch. Sacked by a tweet.

US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

In general, this is a positive move. Tillerson was ineffective as SOS. But it isn’t too much to ask that the President pick up the phone and do it in person.

China Confirms Dictatorship

They move from pretend non-dictatorship to unabashed totalism.

China has approved the removal of term limits for its leader, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

The constitutional changes were passed by China’s annual sitting of the National People’s Congress on Sunday.

The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

Scores of Witnesses of Attempted Murder

We haven’t seen this kind of bold public murder attempt in the West in a while. It’s a statement.

More than 240 witnesses have been identified as police investigate the Russian ex-spy poisoning “at speed”, the home secretary has said.

Amber Rudd praised the professionalism of the police who are now looking at more than 200 pieces of evidence.

The investigation into the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is now in its sixth day.

Meanwhile, Det Sergeant Nick Bailey, who fell ill attending the pair, has denied he is a “hero”.

Mr Bailey remains seriously ill but is awake and engaging with his family.

Ms Rudd said both Col Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, who are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital, remain in a “critical but stable condition” after being exposed to a nerve agent.

Progress in North Korea?


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Donald Trump to meet him, an invitation the US leader has said he will accept.

The shock announcement was made by senior South Korean officials in Washington, who passed on a letter from the North Korean leader.

They said Mr Kim had also agreed to halt nuclear and missile tests and was “committed to denuclearisation”.

It appears to be a major breakthrough after months of threats and violence.

The South Korean delegation had held unprecedented talks with Mr Kim in Pyongyang earlier this week, part of a diplomatic thaw following the Winter Olympics in South Korea, then travelled to the US to pass on their message.

Mr Trump, who has previously said there is no point in talking to North Korea, said the development was “great progress”.

But he said sanctions will remain in place until a firm agreement is reached.

The problem with North Korea is that they are liar liars who lie. The emphasis must be on “verify.”

Illegal Alien Steals Identity for 37 Years


SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Mexican man who was deported twice and had a history of arrests was able to assume the identity of an American citizen and receive more than $360,000 in government benefits for nearly four decades, California court records show.

Andres Avelino Anduaga used a fake birth certificate starting in 1980 to develop a seemingly legitimate persona by applying for a California driver’s license, Social Security number and U.S. passport, according to documents obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune . The official U.S. documents identified him as Abraham Riojos, born in Texas in 1958.

Anduaga, who’s actually 66 years old and a resident of Tijuana, Mexico, pleaded guilty last week in San Diego to theft of public property and being a previously removed unauthorized immigrant in the U.S., the newspaper reported Saturday.

Russians Charged with Interfering in U.S. Election

I doubt that this activity actually moved any votes, but I’m glad that we are taking actions to punish foreigners who committed crimes while trying to interfere with an American election.

It says a group of Russians:

  • Posed as Americans, and opened financial accounts in their name
  • Spent thousands of dollars a month buying political advertising
  • Purchased US server space in an effort to hide their Russian affiliation
  • Organised and promoted political rallies within the United States
  • Posted political messages on social media accounts that impersonated real US citizens
  • Promoted information that disparaged Hillary Clinton
  • Received money from clients to post on US social media sites
  • Created themed groups on social media on hot-button issues, particularly on Facebook and Instagram
  • Operated with a monthly budget of as much as $1.25m (£890,000)
  • Financed the building of a cage large enough to hold an actress portraying Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform

The indictment says those involved systematically measured how well their internet posts were doing and adjusted their strategies to maximise effectiveness.

Corbyn Spied for the Communists?


JEREMY Corbyn met a communist spy at the height of the Cold War and warned him of a clampdown by British intelligence, according to secret files obtained by The Sun.

Mr Corbyn was vetted by Czech agents in 1986 and met one at least three times — twice in the Commons, it was claimed.

Earlier today a spokesman for the Labour leader said he met a diplomat, but never knowingly talked to a spy.

But expert Prof Anthony Glees said: “It shows breathtaking naivety from someone who wants to head the British Government.”

The Soviet-backed spies had a simple code-word for their new-found comrade Jeremy Corbyn: COB.

According to secret files, he passed on material about the arrest of an East German and was allegedly put on a list of Czechoslovakian state security team’s agents and sources.

Reports noted in 1986 he was: “Negative towards USA, as well as the current politics of the Conservative Government.”

His attitude towards Eastern Bloc countries was “positive” and he was “supporting the Soviet peace initiative”.

The Left in the West has always been very cozy with communists. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Run Down of Events From the IDF


In total, the IDF targeted 12 military objectives, including 3 aerial defense batteries and 4 Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria. “We carried out a wide-scale attack on the aerial defense system – radars, rockets, batteries, posts, and we performed a substantial strike, which as can be seen – they are trying to hide” says Brig. Gen. Amnon Ein Dar, Head of the Air Group in the IAF. According to Brig. Gen. Ein Dar, it is “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has carried out against Syrian air defenses since 1982.”

Trump’s Middle East Policy

Since we were remembering Obama’s Middle East Policy, what about Trump’s?

Such absurd New York real estate boasting aside, in his first year in office, Trump has taken a number of truly radical steps. In December, he promised to meet a longstanding Israel wish: moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has also challenged the Palestinians frontally, closing the spigot of funds the U.S. provides to the UN under the rubric of refugee assistance.

Neither move is likely to advance a “peace process” that has been moribund almost from birth. Both have spurred condemnation worldwide. But neither move has sparked the kind of conflagration on the Arab street that was predicted by so many experts.

Indeed, both moves might even be called Reaganesque. By staking out firm positions, stating obvious truths and aligning the U.S. more closely with the only democracy in the region, the Trump administration is forcing all the players in the region to reconsider stale positions that have brought them nothing but sporadic violent collisions with Israel for half a century.


If Reagan-like boldness can be detected in some of Trump’s statecraft, so can Obama-like fecklessness, or worse. In dealing with Iranian imperial ambitions, Trump has been talking loudly and carrying the smallest of sticks.

Trump came into office pledging to tear up the Iranian nuclear deal and set new “red lines” on Iranian behavior. But when push came to shove, he has let the Iranians do the shoving while allies of the U.S. have been pushed around.

The most dramatic case in point concerns treatment of our longstanding ally, the Kurds. This past October, less than two days after Trump blasted the Iranian revolutionary guard’s Quds Force as the “corrupt personal terror” militia of Iran’s supreme leader, and then promised to “work with our allies to counter the (Iranian) regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region,” the United States did precisely the opposite of what he pledged.

The U.S. stood by as Iraqi troops, aided by the very same Quds Force Trump had just promised to resist, conquered the Kurdish-held oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the nucleus of a future independent Kurdistan. This betrayal of an ally was not preordained. It was also not an irony but the opposite of irony if one considers that during the presidential campaign Trump jumbled the Quds with Kurds and was unable to say which was which.

Of a piece with this passivity is Trump’s response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons. Readers will recall that while serving Chinese President Xi Jinping “the most beautiful chocolate cake” in Mar-a-Lago back in April, Trump informed his guest that a fusillade of 59 American cruise missiles had just been launched toward a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

Remembering Obama’s “Red Line”

Interesting reminder.

It was a sunny morning on Saturday 31 August 2013 – Labor Day weekend in the US – when Barack Obama strolled into the Rose Garden of the White House. The last thing most Americans were thinking about was war in a far-off Middle Eastern country.

But Obama faced a dilemma. The decision he was about to announce would come to be seen as a defining moment for his presidency. It also marked a tipping point for the international strategic balance of power. It was a moment that would transform the civil war in Syria into the epic failure of our age.


It was a moment full of dire portents. Obama’s disregard for his own “red line” was interpreted in Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and other Arab capitals as confirming a fundamental shift – evidence that a chastened, post-Iraq America was retreating from its global policeman role. Obama’s hesitation gave Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, an opening. It fitted his core agenda: to rebuild Moscow’s influence in the Middle East and make Russia great again by restoring Soviet-era global reach.

It is far from clear what the impact of a US-led military intervention in 2013 would have been. It could have exacerbated the plight of Syria’s civilians without toppling the regime or curtailing the war. It could have escalated uncontrollably – although it is difficult to see how things could be worse than they are now.

But by deciding to hand off responsibility, Obama sent another damaging message: that the US, the world’s only superpower, and key allies such as Britain, were not prepared to fight for a free, democratic Syria, no more than they would fight for democracy in support of other Arab Spring revolts. They tried it in Libya in 2011 and quickly recoiled.

U.S. Intelligence Duped

First reported in the New York Times. This is ridiculous.

The seller, reached through a chain of intermediaries, wanted $1 million.

The $100,000, delivered in a cash-stuffed suitcase handed over in a Berlin hotel room, was an initial payment by US agents still dubious he really had what he was promising.

– Trump kompromat –

The seller also repeatedly pressed US agents with offers of compromising materials, or kompromat, on Trump, the Times said, citing US and European intelligence officials.

It seems like they were overzealous in giving away suitcases full of cash in exchange for dirt on the President.

Chinese Allegedly Develop Functional Rail Gun


WANT to win a war? Build a better gun. Now China appears to have taken a huge stride ahead of the United States with the first experimental deployment of a new ‘supergun’ aboard a warship.

The first images began circulating on the internet last week.

They showed a Chinese amphibious assault ship — usually used to deploy troops and tanks on a beach — fitted with an enormous cannon on its bows.

Overnight, Beijing’s official mouthpiece The People’s Daily Online published an article reporting speculation the unusually large single-barrelled weapon was an electromagnetic rail gun.

This is significant.


The Chinese newspaper says cutbacks in US funding for rail gun research had allowed Beijing to catch up: “the US Navy demonstrated its rail gun prototypes in 2006 and announced in 2016 that it would test electromagnetic railguns on the joint high-speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3), though no rail gun has ever been seen on any US military vessels …

“Though the test rail gun is not the final version of the hi-tech weapon, its size does fit the 055 destroyer, which would become an invincible vessel once equipped with electromagnetic weapons.”

Turkey Uses Advanced German Tanks Against Kurds

The Kurds are American allies too.

The German government is facing calls to halt arms exports to Turkey after reports emerged that German-made Leopard tanks were being used in an offensive against the Kurdish YPG.

Some German politicians have requested that any moves to approve a tank upgrade deal be halted.

Turkish-led forces began an assault in Syria’s north-west on Saturday.

The row comes just weeks after the two countries’ foreign ministers vowed to improve bilateral ties.

Relations between the two Nato members have soured dramatically in recent years.

Reports on Friday suggested Berlin was moving to approve a request from Turkey for German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall to upgrade its Leopard 2 tanks, to make them less vulnerable to explosives.

The tanks are thought to have been used by Turkey against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria. However, defence experts have claimed in German media that recent images from Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” appear to show them being used against Kurdish groups.

Getting Personal in the UK

And you thought American politics were raucous.

The leader of the UK Independence Party has broken up with his girlfriend following revelations of her shocking comments about American actress Meghan Markle.

“I don’t defend these comments whatsoever,” UKIP leader Henry Bolton, 54, said on “Good Morning Britain” on Monday.

Bolton said the “romantic side” of his relationship with Jo Marney, a 25-year-old model, ended Sunday night after a “long and upsetting conversation” for both of them.

“At the moment it is obviously quite incompatible to continue the relationship,” he said. But “I’m going to be continuing to support her family because Jo is absolutely distraught by this.”

The split followed an uproar over Facebook messages Marney sent to a friend about Markle, who will marry Prince Harry this spring. Marney described Markle as a “dumb little commoner,” and called black people “ugly.” She also said Markle would “taint” the royal family and pave the way for a “black king.”

When a person responded to the comments by calling them racist, Marney answered: “So what?” the BBC reported.

DC Renames Street in Front of Russian Embassy

That’s some good trolling there.

Washington DC has renamed the street the Russian embassy sits on after a murdered Russian opposition politician.

The city council voted to rename the street outside Russia’s embassy complex after Boris Nemtsov, who was shot outside the Kremlin in 2015.

A statement from the council said the decision to honour the “slain democracy activist” passed unanimously.

Head of Revolutionary Guards Claims Opposition Has Been Crushed

I hope that this is an optimistic statement on his part.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has declared the defeat of the “sedition” in the country, referring to a wave of anti-government protests.

Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari made the announcement as tens of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies called to counter the unrest.

It began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad and has seen 21 people killed.

The protests were initially against price rises and corruption, but turned to wider anti-government sentiment.

They have been the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Trump’s conservative record

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The closing of one year and opening of the next offers the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate one’s preconceptions and biases. As a conservative who opposed President Donald Trump, I must admit that I have been very favorably surprised by his first year in office.

My reasons for opposing candidate Trump were simple, if heart wrenching. He is a man with a history of wretched character who rode a dangerous populist wave to the White House while shouting some empty conservative rhetoric. My worry was, and continues to be, that Trump will govern as a big-government populist and tear apart the conservative movement in the process. That may still come to be, but his accomplishments during his first year in office would be the envy of any would-be conservative president. For that, he deserves praise and thanks.

The most recent accomplishment was the monumental tax reform bill that Trump signed into law a couple of weeks ago. With the help of the Republican Congress, Trump has slashed the corporate tax rate to slightly below the worldwide average, cut and simplified the income tax for individuals, moved the U.S. to a territorial tax system, cut taxes for other businesses, eliminated the alternative minimum tax for businesses and scaled back the alternative minimum tax for individuals. Any one of those would have been a conservative victory.

That’s not all. The tax bill also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, which imposed an unconstitutional tax penalty for people who chose to not purchase health insurance. This was a key pillar that underpinned Obamacare and was a flash point in every debate about repealing Obamacare, but it passed in the tax bill with barely a protest.

Also in the tax bill was the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy development. This has been a goal for 30 years and it was finally done with barely a whimper of protest.

The passage of the tax reform law alone, with all of its provisions, would have been considered a massive accomplishment for any conservative president. That was merely the capstone of Trump’s tremendous year.

Trump and the Republican-led Senate set a record for appointing conservative federal judges. The most important was the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, but he also appointed 18 other federal judges in his first year. Given how liberals challenge every piece of conservative legislation in federal court, filling the federal judiciary to a constitutionally conservative judges is critical to any long term reform.

In the area of federal regulations, where Trump has far more unilateral authority, he has made incredibly aggressive and sweeping conservative reforms. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has been sharply pulled back into its constitutional cage, as have the Education Department, Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission, and many other regulatory agencies. Thousands of individual regulations have been repealed or reprioritized with the overriding objective of getting the federal government out of people’s lives.

Among those regulatory reforms were the FCC’s repeal of President Obama’s 2015 Net Neutrality regulation, which imposed stringent regulations on internet service providers in favor of Big Media and others. Also, Trump’s administration broke loose the intentional regulatory roadblocks of the Obama administration by approving projects like the Keystone Pipeline.

Trump held firm on his campaign promises to honor our veterans. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act improved backlogs at VA facilities while other legislation improved overall access to healthcare and expanded educational opportunities for veterans.

In foreign affairs, Trump has reoriented our nation’s policies under the “America First” banner. Far from being the isolationist posture that many feared, Trump’s foreign policy is engaging and muscular. Trump has returned the U.S. to a more realpolitik foreign policy where our nation will act energetically to support our national interests and expects other nations to do the same.

To that end, Trump rightly pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords and Trans-Pacific Partnership – both of which were designed to benefit other nations at the expense of America. Trump has taken a less appeasing stance toward tyrannical regimes in North Korea and Iran. He is finally fulfilling the rhetorical promises of his predecessors of both parties by moving America’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Trump also decertified the treacherous Iran deal where Obama gave Iran a path to nuclear arms and billions of dollars to get there in exchange for empty promises of peace.

Perhaps most impressive, if woefully downplayed by much of the media, was the defeat of the Islamic State. Under Obama, who called them the “JV team,” IS rose to power conquering a huge territory in Iraq and Syria. IS exported terrorism to the world while murdering Christians, Jews and anyone else in their reach who did not subscribe to their cruel ideology. Trump allowed the military the latitude to act without tactical permission from political agents in Washington and supported our allies in Iraq and elsewhere to act aggressively. The result is that after years of growing and spreading, IS has been largely defeated and pushed completely out of Iraq.

It would be easy to lament what could have been had a traditional conservative won the Republican primary, but debating alternative futures is the realm of fiction authors. Trump’s record of conservative reforms is impressive as it stands. Let us hope that he can maintain pace and direction of reform in 2018.

Iran Erupting

It’s probably too much to hope for, but let’s hope that they people of Iran can cast aside the oppressive yoke of Islamic fundamentalism.

Anti-government protests have continued in Iran for a third day, with reports of demonstrations in many cities despite warnings from authorities.

At Tehran University, protesters called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and there were clashes with police.

Demonstrators ignored the interior minister’s warning that citizens should avoid “illegal gatherings”.

Meanwhile, thousands of pro-government demonstrators turned out for rallies.

These official rallies were organised in advance of the anti-government protests, to mark the eighth anniversary of the suppression of major street protests in 2009.

The current protests began in the north-east on Thursday over living standards and by Friday had spread to several major cities.

Audio Dead Hand


It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.


There’s no shortage of theories to explain what the Buzzer might be for – ranging from keeping in touch with submarines to communing with aliens. One such idea is that it’s acting as a “Dead Hand” signal; in the event Russia is hit by a nuclear attack, the drone will stop and automatically trigger a retaliation. No questions asked, just total nuclear obliteration on both sides.