The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 10 January 2017

Air Date: 
January 10, 2018

Photo, left: Doha, Qatar
Co-hosts: Gordon Chang, & Daily Beast.
Hour One
Sung-Yoon Lee. Cleo Paskal. Andrew McCarthy. Thaddeus McCotter.
Hour Two
David Maxwell. Rick Fischer. Jerry Hendrix. Eli Lake.
Hour Three
Bob Zimmerman His Excellency Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry.
Hour Four
Co-hosts: Christopher Nixon Cox, OC Global Partners; Gordon Chang*, Daily Beast; Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, the Great Voice of the Great Lakes.
“355-plus” is the new motto 0f the John Batchelor Show.
Hour One
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 1, Block A:  Sung-Yoon Lee, professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, in re: Kim Jong Un sending athletes to the Winter Olympics – “the North Korean Olympics,” where the South pays for the entire delegation, possibly leading Eun to think that his violent threats gained him this favor. 
History of sports diplomacy in Asia; potential for a wedge to be driven between ROK, whose president wants to [cousin up] to the north, and the US, whose president holds a different view. Ancient Chinese strategy of “using barbarian against barbarian.” Eun may think he’s got a free pass to launch a missile on his dad’s birthday (in 2018, Lunar New Year), in the midst of the Games. 
“By us, the Korean people, exclusively” – id est, no pesky US intrusion. 
Prof Sung-Yoon Lee:
But, now, thank God we have Sports Diplomacy!
Sports diplomacy is inherently a sexy affair. It melts negative frozen images between adversaries. It creates excitement and expectations—at times even euphoria. It lubricates the diplomatic process, even if it falls short on progress. Therefore, Pyongyang has all the reason to jazz up the Winter Olympiad and become the center of attention. It's a no-risk high-payoff game.
Pyongyang has already bought a free pass on the next big provocation, even if it’s an ICBM or nuclear test right in the middle of the Games; for example, Feb 16 (Kim Jong Il's birthday and, by coincidence this year, Lunar New Year Day). The US will be hamstrung. With athletes and visitors from almost 100 countries, including the US, gathered in South Korea, Trump will be forced to grit his teeth and defer to Seoul’s initiative.
All this is a predictable ploy. To deescalate at the start of 2018 after a banner ballistic year and paint Trump as the aggressor does wonders for Kim's image makeover. And to mesmerize Seoul with inter-Korean talks and ethnic nationalism-wrapped talks like one-shot, chaperoned family reunions and the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (where over 50,000 North Korean workers were employed by South Korean companies and which served as a cash funnel in excess of $100 million per year for Pyongyang) would drive a useful wedge between Seoul and Washington. It would spell a return to the policy incoherence of Seoul and Washington simultaneously subsidizing and sanctioning the same target.
"Sexy" is not a word that come to mind when one invokes the phrase "North Korea." But should Kim Jong Un unleash on South Korea the triad of North Korean "sexiness"--the female cheerleaders, the miniskirt-donning, classically-trained girl band Moranbong, and his own sister--it will be the North Korean Olympic Games, held in and paid for by the South. And there shall be no need for a preemptive strike, for there shall forever be peace—Communist-enforced misery.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 1, Block B:  Cleo Paskal, visiting Trudeau Fellow, University of Montreal, and associate Fellow, Chatham House, in re: India and the Middle East. Abt 65% of India’s LNG comes from Qatar (which also sells a good deal to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Many among the Qatari population are from the Subcontinent; the trade routes go back millennia; ergo, India doesn’t take a position on intra-Arab politics. Our Arabic numerals came from India through its trade with Middle Eastern traders. A proto-IndoPacific communication. Maritime links from Africa to Japan; and Hinduism went from India to Bali. In modern times, the US has long been guarantor of free sea lanes. Another component: India has extremely good info networks across the region – in Qatar, UAE, Saudi. Note that info coming out of Pakistan hasn’t been terribly reliable.
 Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 1, Block C: Andrew C McCarthy, National Review, in re: We’re near the hundredth anniversary of the Zimmerman Telegram; one-year anniversary of the Steele dossier:  govt went to FISA court to get permission to listen in on telephone conversations of American citizens. Both the FBI and Steele say that the dossier’s allegations are unproven. All done about six weeks before election day; thus used for potential spying purposes and oppo research in the campaign.
It’s amazing —where’s the due process? Sounds like a Salem witch trail; all totally outside of the eye of the public; smear reputations without any due process. Till 1978, when FISA was passed, foreign intell was a unilateral Executive show; mostly collecting intell on foreign actors who posed a threat to the US.   . . . Not always a lack of due process but sometimes governmental [malfeasance]. This situation is unprecedented; we've seen many abuses historically, but if you look at this as a sustained transaction going back to the Clinton-Trump campaigns of 2016 and follow it on, see how the govt bowed to give every consideration to the Clinton campaign; then fast fwd to tartgetting the Republican campaign on dodgy allegations: to me, that seems unprecedented in our history.  Esp problematic when Fusion GPS and DFB corroborated each other even when FBI knew that Fusion GPS was hired by one of the campaigns. It was reluctantly that I came to these thoughts; initially, I thought it would be inconceivable for the FBI to present uncorroborated allegations to a court. It seems that that elemental process broke down. Have been asked, “What’d you do to verify?”  — and they can’t seem to answer.
How can we clear this up? Usually I’d say a new broom sweeps clean as new people come in; but that doesn't seem to have happened in this new Administration.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 1, Block D: Andrew C McCarthy, National Review, in re: DiFi “felt pressured” to release the document? Whom does that benefit? It's a miscalculation; doesn't {   } Russia-Trump communications. Seems more designed to promote Simpson’s narrative than get at the truth. Yes, but seemed to be shots against Bill Broward (Magnitsky Act). Any Republicans worried by the release? Don't think so.  It's a long affidavit they filed; release of 312 pages of documents by Glenn Simpson? Papadopoulos: Another instance where they can't get their stories straight — Simpson says that through Steele there was a source inside the Trump campaign that got in touch with the FBI, but now they’re walking away from that. Do the Russians still consider Carter Page to be an idiot? Maybe they think the whole country are idiots by now.
Is this FBI incompetence or real criminality? Won't know till they release all the info.
Glenn Simpson takes money from all sides; is he at risk for criminal charges? Didn't see anything incriminating.
- How long before we see docs showing criminality or the lack of it from the Obama Adm? A week or two, I think.
-Let's hope that when the docs come out Trump can move on with his agenda? I think the dossier is only one chapter in this saga.
-The mid-term elections, and Mueller has indicted Manafort and Gates, so this is going to the middle of 2019.
-My guess is that Steele will avoid coming to the US.
Hour Two
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 2, Block A:  David Maxwell, retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel and Fellow at the Institute of Corean American Studies, in re:  the North Korea-South Korea talks. Potential long-term damage the US-ROK alliance if Kim Jong-eun succeeds in driving a wedge ‘twixt the two. Mil-to-mil talks: can we get our South Korean military associates to bring up the critical questions? I hope so – will make clear the power of the alliance; should the North in any way attack the South, that’ll be met by a response such as they have not seen before. China doesn’t want war or collapse, so would favor calm, but they do support splitting the US-ROK alliance.  . . . even during the Sunshine Policy here were still the Crab Wars and other [spats], and DPRK conducted tests and other major provocations even as it as receiving overt aid and under-the-table cash. . . . I think China isn’t that worried about this because the contact China-DPRK are so established.   . . . I, however, do think that China is concerned about DPRK collapse; will not allow refugees to enter China. I expect intervention – military eqpt and materiels.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 2, Block B:  Rick Fisher, senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in re:  Chinese proliferation in the Middle East. China is upgrading the American F4Es and F4Ds with avionics and anti-ship missiles; China is selling UAVs esp to Saudis and Iraqis; at the same time, it's been arming Iran for a long time, and those weapons are going to the Houthis.    . . .  Chinese Kalashnikov-style rifles and machine guns and RPGs blanket the Middle East; also artillery rockets you can put on a small mound of earth. China’s game is to replace he American power; success in Asia, and working in South America, Middle East, Africa Hope to arm Iran to become a nuclear missile state to exacerbate fears and drive countries to buy Chinese arms.  A Chinese UKAV:  UAE has bought the Petrosaur UAV, a 20-hour endurance; Iraq an Saudi have bought the CH4 (Chinese): slightly larger than Pertrosaur, 40-hour endurance and carries missiles and bombs. US wants to sell the F35 to the UAE.
..  ..  .. 
China is upgrading Iran's F-4D and F-4E fighters with new radar and the ability to carry new AAMs and anti ship missiles. SAMs may also be an unremarked but important PRC contribution. A Yemen/Iran SAM hit a Saudi F-15E yesterday or the day before.  Where did that SAM come from? Yet, Saudi is going to build [buy?], reportedly, hundreds of Chinese UAVs.  
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 2, Block C:  Jerry Hendrix, USN (ret), and CNAS, in re: US foreign policy of strategic ambiguity; USN can bring pressure to bear from multiple angles and approaches, is the ideal tool for a president who understands the uses of coercive diplomacy. Pres Trump really enjoys creating the largest number of opportunities to get the strongest position before closing the deal. As a candidate, he called for a 350-ship Navy, and now for 355.   CHC: The Arctic- what's Pres Trump doing? Nuclear-powered subs with reinforced sails (the top, outside structure) and can surface through the ice; also new Coast Guard icebreakers. Potentially 20 ships (could be 50) of a new kind of frigate with hardened hulls to operate in frozen seas. Our allies - Canada and NATO – are in a very competitive position  JB: I want to praise Undersecretary Thomas Modly; when asked if he needs 355 ships, he said “355-plus” and the room broke into cheers. He’ll have four Asst Secretaries reporting to him, incl James F. Geurts [U.S. Special Operations Command acquisition executive, and assistant secretary of the Navy for research].   CNC: South China Sea and Taiwan? -- China made its outward expansion when it recognized weakness on the part of the Americans during the Obama Adm; now, we’ll have a [different policy].
JB: Workarounds [concerning the damage to the two Arleigh-Burkes]? Plan B is to be able to flex. We have 328 ships now, have four Arleigh-Burke class ships in Rota, Spain; also have ships in Japan, Australia, even Singapore. Also look at new force structure: new frigates are cheap; increase production in Virginia-class subs and do drydock of two [enormous ships] simultaneously.
China’s anti-access air denial investments; we can invest in our carrier air wing, whose range has decreased from 900 miles to 500 miles; also mission-tanking aircraft to extend ranges. Also invest in a new gen of Cruise missiles to be launched from our aircraft: if the plane can go 500 mi and the missile 1,000 . . . we need to invest in a new gen of land-attack missiles.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 2, Block D:  Eli Lake, Bloomberg View, in re: One of the bright moments of the day for me was when Eli sent me an article on Federica Mogherini, EU foreign secretary; Eli’s remarks about her as an appeaser – a poor appellation in the US but seems to be good business in Europe.  The new Europe – Poland, the Baltics – do not take kindly to her remarks, esp anent Russia, Ukraine; they're a bit horrified. Now she’s in a publicity tour in Cuba: The EU will not abide by the US policy of political and economic isolation, and she has no time to visit political prisoners and human rights victims here; then she issues a statement calling on US and Iran to be nice. The silver lining is that she has little power.  She’s stuck in a world when a US president was enthusiastic about cutting a generous deal with Iran. Pres Trump doesn't care for that. She was a member of the Italian Communist League initially when she was young.  She’s a poster woman for a mushy-headed talk-talk. John Kerry-esque. Flabby, valueless foreign policy is discredited.   . . . We just have to kick this rotten group of politicians out; she’s making a fool of herself right now and [ignorant] of the values we cherish.   . . . Bldg an Ariane 6 rocket for 2020.
Hour Three
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 3, Block A:  Robert Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack, and author of Universe in a Mirror; in re: “When in Doha, do as the Qataris.”  Last night as I looked at huge aircraft taking off over the Gulf and the mist drifting over the shore, I saw a glorious crescent moon.  Why did the Falcon Heavy 27 engines firing [test] launch get scrubbed for a day? Dunno yet, but apparently not a major problem.  Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket launched since  the Saturn 5; if this succeeds, it’ll make it possible to put a  lot of weight into orbit for  a manageable price and so open he Solar System to us.  Demonstrate once again that the free market works.   . . . Can China get to the Moon in the next five years?  The competition will be between China and multiple American companies. As they compete, they're able to do bigger and better things; I hope we’ll return to our roots of free enterprise and competition; China won’t relinquish its state-controlled system.   . . .  India has bowed out and Japan was counting on them, so both are now out of business.   Google XPrize.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 3, Block B:  Robert Zimmerman, BehindtheBlack, in re: Periodicity of sunspots: inactive, a weak cycle, possibly a Grand Minimum.  Usu points to cooling on Earth, although that’s not proven. Ham radio operators love fewer sunspots;   the question is, why does this occur?   More active Sun, warming the climate, increases crop yields is good for humans.  The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has cast the first six segments of 800; built in Chile.  Now have to cool them for  a 39-meter-diameter telescope (bigger than a football field). 
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 3, Block C:   Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry; in re: We’re blessed with hydrocarbons, esp gas the cleanest form; and we use revenue to bld infrastructure, now in the stage of diversifying our economy Our vision not to depend wholly on oil and gas.  Liquid natural gas:  the as fields, the biggest export terminal in the world; Qatar is adamant to dvp this clean form of energy. Now we have partners who share the vision, many from the US. The technology comes from a Pennsylvania-based firm to convert the gas into LNG.  The know-how, the operational side: how safely to produce and export energy. We learn from long-term partners and relationships with customers, we need to be reliable. The unfortunate, sudden blockade [a GCC crisis since June 2017]: we managed with help from partners and did not miss a single shipment, because being a reliable supplier is essential in these strategic commodities, badly needed by the recipients. 
The Indian Ocean basin: natgas.   . . . We availed and secured jobs for jobs for talented citizens from [the Indian Ocean Basin]. We look at East Africa and South Africa; also US and Europe. 
Desalination plants: water is a scarce commodity around the Middle East; we use the exhaust heat from desalination to produce power.   Our research in water: we want to conserve it, and dvp more efficient storage facilities; also reduce the costs of desalination sea water.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 3, Block D:  Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry; in re: Texas A&M.  . .  relevant specialty: cities host he relevant topic, and majority of universities comes from the US.  Football, 2022 World Cup: putting in light rail, subways.  My fave team – local and national – but also outside, my fave is Man United.  We share the passion for football so hosting the world cup here for the very first time; His Highness said we represent not only Qatar but the entire region; we want the world to say that Qatar organized the best Fifa Cup in history.
I tell my children that things don't happen by accident; that we need to focus and be diligent. 
Yallah, 2022!
Hour Four
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 4, Block A:  David Crist, The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran 
The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing news-breaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war
For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.
This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal.
A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran's proposal for a grand bargain for peace—which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences.
Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other's biggest national security nightmares. "The Iran problem" is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 4, Block B:  David Crist, The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran 
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 4, Block C:  Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century   (part 2 of 2).     Most historians would have us believe that the twenty-first century began in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the world we live in today and the problems that plague it can actually be traced back a decade earlier. 1979 was the year that the postwar order evaporated, reshaping the international system and making way for a new era of global history. Christian Caryl discusses each of the year's five major counterrevolutions in turn, weaving together the dramatic stories into a paradigm-shifting revision of our recent history. The result is a startling new argument about the hinge on which the twentieth century turned. 
Wednesday  10 January 2018/ Hour 4, Block D:  Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century  (part 2 of 2).