Thursday 6 April 2017
Photo, left: Syrian Air Force defector Mig.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board & host of Opinion Journal on WSJ Video. Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, The Great Voice of the Great Lakes; and author, Liberty Risen. Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents. Gordon Chang, Daily Beast and Forbes.com.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 1, Block A: David M Drucker, CNN & Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent; in re: nuclear option to confirm Judge Gorsuch.
[At 7:15 EST: BREAKING: Tillerson states new Trump Syria policy: regime change. "Those steps are under way" for US to lead int'l effort to remove Assad.]
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 1, Block B: Michael Ledeen, FDD, in re: Who are the bad guys in the current bellicose activities in Syria? Almost to many to keep track of – Assad. Putin, Khamenei. . . .
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 1, Block C: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR; in re: Tomahawk missiles just launched against Homs; what happens when the smoke clears? To get to Assad, you'd have to go through Russia and Iran. Devin Nunes withdraws temporarily from House Intell Committee investigation into Russian activities. Calling Russian hacking “an act of war” is dangerous against a nuclear-armed state.
“The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was the Syrian government's use of banned chemical weapons blamed for having killed at least 100 people on Tuesday, U.S. military officials told NBC News.
“The U.S. military fired at least 50 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha'irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said.
“That's the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons. . . . ” —NBC
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 1, Block D: Isaac Stone Fish, The Atlantic, in re: Pres Trump took time out from mtg with Pres Xi to fly to Washington to confer on Tomahawks launched against Homs. How would Xi see this missile strike? Probably, Oops, the US might do the same thing to North Korea.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 2, Block A: Yoram elGrabli, El Al general manager in North and Central America, in re: US launch of Tomahawk missiles; MH: America showing strength may work out favorably. JB: Israeli asked about the first night of a war. How will El Al respond to a war so close to Israel? Unfortunately, we're used to this sort of event. At present, operating normally with full aircraft, esp two days before major holy day, Pesach/Passover. No interruption at Ben Gurion Airport. “El Al” is from the Bible [Hosea?] means “From the sky.” Each aircraft is named after a city in Israel. Are El Al aircraft prepared to deal with an incoming missile? Can’t comment, but we take all necessary steps possible. Coming soon: sixteen Dreamliners from Boeing, first arriving 17 August, and first flight to N America will be Nov 1. Every three mos, will recruit another aircraft. Yes, the 747 is great . . . El Al has just won a prize for innovative blankets. JB covering the war in 2003. Yoram’s son is a young officer in Israeli air force, on the Arrow system.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 2, Block B: David Schenker, Washington Institute, in re: Jordan. How much is Jordan at risk in this new hot war into which we’ve inadvertently tumbled? Right now, not much – de facto buffer zone with Syria; overall probably good for Jordan. . . . Trump Adm budget cutting back State 28%; Jordan is second-largest aid recipient. Is Amman more at risk now than yesterday? No; the risk is from Hezbollah.
David Schenker is the Aufzien fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. Previously, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Levant country director, the Pentagon's top policy aide on the Arab countries of the Levant. In that capacity, he was responsible for advising the secretary and other senior Pentagon leadership on the military and political affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2005.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 2, Block C: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, & Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos; in re: Radical Islam. The decision by Pres Trump to fire warning shots at Pres Assad shows that this Adm will do things differently from previous; but Obama Adm allowed a large vacuum to form in the Middle East. European churches have been secularized for a long time, but now there’s an aggressive effort by Islam to take over the churches and the religious space – Benelux, France; German. Spiritual and religious demographics in a massive shift; irreversible absent a massive Christian regeneration. Marine LePen polling very well against Macron although Macon probably will win; French people deciding that Islamic terrorism will be a permanent fixture in their lives. White House: many who were brought in by Flynn are being eased out; McMaster has a very different conception of security issues, esp relating to Islam, Iran. With many many positions at State unfilled, holdovers are hostile to Israel, pro-Iran. Jihadists will make their way to Europe and the US. A consequence of the removal of Gen Flynn. Turf/ideological wars for primacy in Pres Trump’s foreign policy. Europeans prepared for return of trained terrorists? No! London attacks will be the norm. About 5,000 Europeans fighting in Syria; many will return to Europe: 250,000 passports circulating, and Euro officials have no idea who’s who. In Germany, 400-plus jihadist have been found to have crossed the border. Totally unprepared.
Soeren Kern is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Gatestone Institute, and the Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. One of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain, the Strategic Studies Group is closely tied to Spain's center-right Partido Popular/Popular Party and former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar. A political scientist by training, Soeren specializes in European politics as well as US and European defense- and security-related issues
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 2, Block D: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re: Egypt. El-Sisi strongly supports Assad over the opposition on the grounds that Assad is more stabilizing. Ergo, Pres Trump’s Tomahawk missile strike at Homs will probably displease him. El Sisi, leader of the most populous Arab state, got a warm welcome at the White House but not much extra funding. A frankly even-better reception for King Abdullah of Jordan. Turkey’s first response to tonight’s strike was favorable – Erdogan is cross at Assad. Muslim Brothers also support the air strike?
Eric Trager, the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute, is an expert on Egyptian politics and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was in Egypt during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolts and returns frequently to conduct firsthand interviews with leaders in Egypt's government, military, political parties, media, and civil society. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, and the New Republic.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents; in re: Russia declares West Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, and East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. PA will slash the salaries of 50,000 civil servants, many of whom haven’t been working for a long time; those funds have provided a good deal of domestic purchasing power. Kleptocracy. UNWRA revises children’s textbooks to remove some flagrant misinformation; PA and Hamas vow to fight. Taylor Force Law: Taylor Fore was a young American strolling in a visit to Israel when he was blown up by a Palestinian bomb; law says that the funds Abbas channels to families of jihadist killers will be deducted from money from US to PA. Netanyahu’s request to have a buffer zone ‘twixt Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah attempts to encroach. Israel has treated 3,000 Syrians in Israeli hospitals in the last three years. Tomahawks are a message to Iran: ”a new sheriff in town.” Hitherto, US has shown weakness, emboldening terrorists; now, likely that they’ll back off to reconnoiter.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 3, Block B: Ali Alfona, Atlantic Council; in re: Iran is probably shocked at the Tomahawks; Assad also miscalculated according to Nikki Haley’s Syria saying that Syria wasn’t at the top of the list, so Assad thought he could launch a chemical attack. Error. Iran, esp IRGC, has invested 100% in Assad. Iranians think: “Saddam Hussein attacked us with chemical weapons and we were victims; now we’re supporting a dictator who uses them. Yike.” Difficult.
IRGC used to operate only domestically; now, a growing part is deployed in Syria in mil operations; it’s converting into one large expeditionary – Quds — force. Look for more intl interventions. Russia did not deploy its excellent antimissile system against the Tomahawks.
Ali Alfoneh is a senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. His research areas include civil-military relations in Iran with a special focus on the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Islamic Republic.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 3, Block C: Gordon Chang, Daily Beast, and Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, in re: US-launched Tomahawks. What may have been Assad’s motivation to launch a chemical attack – why would he gas a town of modest strategic importance and thereby alienate Russia? Putin asks UN: where did the Sarin gas come from and how was it launched? Putin needs to look strong while bailing out. All simultaneous with reception of Xi at Mar-a-Lago. Chinese leaders will be upset and may take a long time to figure out their response. They mistakenly thought that Trump would be similar to Obama, that the US is weak. Mene mene: There may have been Russians at the airbases, and they may have been killed. Before Nikki Haley and Trump issued threats to use force on Wednesday, Tillerson [?] said. “The clock as run out; all options are on the table.” North Korea surely must think the US will attack it. Reminiscent of 1914, when the situation was so complex that it led to war. XI was briefed on everything that cold be anticipated; this Tomahawks strike was inconceivable, so Chinese will take a long time to suss it out. Should Trump threaten Xi, no face-saving route; but Trump probably will give Xi a pass. Yes, this is a loss for XI: US has used force vs China’s best friend, Russia. Xi returns to Beijing crippled to some extent; he may make problematic moves — tighten screws against US companies, and/or become more aggressive in South and East China Seas.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 3, Block D: Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State, author of the just-released The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era; Gordon Chang, Daily Beast, and Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, in re: Syria has been short on pilots and North Korea has sent some; there may well have been North Koreans on the base attacked by Tomahawks and hey may have been killed, Pyongyang must be alarmed at the new US policy. As we speculated last night, North Korea may conduct a nuclear test in the immediate future, or a missile test; if neither, analysts will say that Kim is intimidated. What Pres Trump has done is got the North Koreans guessing. During the Bosnian war. Kim Jong-il actually went underground for weeks on end out of fear.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 4, Block A: Chris Harmer, Institute for the Study of War; Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, and Gordon Chang, Daily Beast, in re: Before the Syrian civil war, then oppo overran air fields, rendering airfields inoperative with probably only 50 operable air craft. Tonight, used Cruise missiles to attack the base; notified Russian in advance. Punished Assad for use of chem weapons. Best outcome for he US, Assad takes his medicine; however, still 10 million refugees for al Qaeda recruiting. Assad’s two state sponsors, Russia and Iran, have options. Nothing will restrict Syria’s using rotary aircraft to drop barrel bombs. Currently have five or six airfields on a North-South axis. Russia entered to rescue Syrian air forces from defeat. All US options are bad or horrible. Tonight’s deed was a highly visible show of force with no strategic [benefit]. With 500,000 dead in the sixth year of the Syrian civil war, tonight’s attack: a school boy got a short detention.
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 4, Block B: Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President on the national security advisory staff; in re: St Petersburg bomber & What is to be done? @SebGorka . . . .
First thing we can do as citizens is be alert. Galilov is from the Ferghana [Farghona, in Uzbek] Valley, a hotbed of radicalism. Fighters show pix of people with Caucasoid features. H St Petersburg bombing is not unusual in Russian experience, esp since Yeltsin flattened Grozny. Pres Trump called Pres Putin to express condolences and restate that Russia and US need to cooperate to eradicate terrorism.
. . . Investigators discovered tinfoil, double-sided tape and other components of explosive devices in an apartment Mr. Dzhalilov rented in northeastern St. Petersburg, but there has been little to explain what turned a 22-year-old Russian with Uzbek roots into a suicide bomber.
Mr. Dzhalilov had lived in St. Petersburg since 2011, after obtaining Russian citizenship through his father. Previously, he lived in the city of Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan, a region that has been the site of interethnic clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.
Many militants who have traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State or other militant groups have come from Osh, and an investigator told Kommersant, [the] Russian business daily, that Mr. Dzhalilov could have fallen under the influence of one of the terrorist organizations in Syria that [have] recruited Uzbeks. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/world/europe/st-petersburg-russia-met...
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 4, Block C: African Kaiser: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918, by Robert Gaudi Part III of IV; segment 5 of 8
Thursday 6 April 2017 / Hour 4, Block D: African Kaiser: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa, 1914-1918, by Robert Gaudi Part III of IV; segment 6 of 8
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