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TBR News April 30, 2018

Apr 30 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. April 30, 2018:” We read that millennials are not interested in the programs of the Democratic Party.

This is parallel with the statement that a chimpanzee is not interested in brain surgery.

The American media constantly assures its readers that the millennials are “the best educated of all historical American youth.”

The same media assures us that only 2% of Americans are unemployed and that homes are selling at a fantastic rate.

If given the chance, the same media would assure us that Santa Claus is a real person and that George W. Bush was a good president.

The youth of America are not the best educated but the worst, the unemployment stands at a stunning 95 million and no one can afford to buy a house in America because a one room shack in Tennessee sells for $90,000.

At the same time, the public is comforted with the news that while sea levels are indeed rising, they won’t reach the 2” top until the turn of the century.

And what are the brilliant millennials?

They went to for-profit former teacher’s colleges cunningly disguised as universities where they are stuck with student loans for $35,000 and for that get PhDs in Advanced mopery or Creative basket weaving.

A millennial woman wears ‘layered’ clothes; five sweaters and a jacket, a pleated long skirt, blue knit knee-lengths stockings and mismatched golf shoes.

Her significant other wears bib overalls, a blue sweater and combat boots.

They enjoy attending Reading Sessions where an older, literate, person reads from the latest Danielle Steele love novel and afterwards, listen to a live jug band where they can stamp their feet in unison.”

Table of Contents

  • Nicholas Kristof, Korea, and the Orientalist Temptation
  • Boaty McBoatface leads £20m mission to melting Antarctic glacier
  • Inside the secret U.S. stockpile meant to save us all in a bioterror attack
  • James Comey dismisses House Russia report as ‘political document’
  • Crisis Point: The State of Literacy in America
  • Trump threatens government shutdown in September if no funding for wall
  • The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action

Nicholas Kristof, Korea, and the Orientalist Temptation

Liberals are reeling over Trump’s Korean peace initiative

April 29, 2018

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

The stupidity and arrogance of America’s political class is on full display lately, and the White House Correspondent’s “roast” is the least of it (albeit the most visible). The conceit and open identification with Power – i.e., with the very Washington insiders they’re supposed to be guarding against – by our “mainstream” journalists explains why they’re held in such contempt by the public. And what better example of our compromised political class is there than Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and professional “humanitarian” whose calls to send in the Marines are always clothed in the raiment of altruism. It’s people like Kristof that libertarian author Isabel Paterson warned us against when she wrote about the “humanitarian with a guillotine.”

For I can hardly recall a single war of the recent past that Kristof has not wholeheartedly embraced: while he shied away from jumping on the Iraq war bandwagon, he was gung ho for destroying Syria and making it a safe haven for jihadists: he’s never revisited that stance, nor apologized for it in any way. He’s all for arming the Ukrainian government, which is surely one of the most corrupt in the world, and which has a huge neo-Nazi problem. To top it off, he’s one of the loudest voices urging the US to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and support a crew of jihadist rebels “formerly” associated with al-Qaeda.

Oh, and he’s a leading Trump-hater. It’s only natural: after all, it was precisely because of Trump’s “isolationist” (i.e., pro-peace) stances and his determination to effect a radical change in our globalist foreign policy that rallied Kristof and his Davos crowd buddies to the “Stop Trump” cause. Well, they didn’t stop him, and there’s The Donald now, busting through decades of inertia to forge a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

The anti-Trumpers like Kristof are reeling: why, just a few months ago they were predicting that Trump would bomb North Korea, millions would perish, and the President was busy assembling his “war cabinet” in order to start World War III. Now they’re screaming that he’s being “played” by Kim Jong-un, with all the familiar “wily Asian” racist tropes thrown into the mix. In his most recent column, Kristof reluctantly gives the President “some credit,” but then goes out of his way to show how ignorant he is of Korean affairs by disparaging the whole effort as an elaborate deception authored by Kim Jong-un and inexplicably accepted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump.

“North Korea doesn’t have enough food, it lacks Facebook and Beyoncé, and its diplomats have to ration their use of computers in the Foreign Ministry because of electricity shortages.

“But North Korea excels at choreography and theater, and its officials are well educated, very savvy, and agile with a pirouette. So we have peace breaking out on the Korean Peninsula – and President Trump gets some credit for that.

“As with any circus performance, it’s amazing to behold but not quite as billed.”

Perhaps the lack of Facebook and Beyoncé is a virtue, although the self-satisfied smugness of the Kristofian mentality prevents him from even considering this possibility. But never mind that: what are we to think of some entitled upper class American gloating over the lack of food in North Korea? I mean, this is someone whose market niche as the Mr. Goodie Two-Shoes of American Newspaper Columnists is uncontested: isn’t this kind of pauper-taunting a bit, uh, unseemly?

Plus what’s up with this Orientalist tripe about the “very savvy and agile with a pirouette” North Koreans, who are likened to animals in a circus. Their performance, it seems, is “amazing to behold but not quite as billed.” Well, you know how those Asians are…. The real purpose of all this peace-mongering by the North, we are told, is because

“Kim is now aiming to squirm out of sanctions, build up his economy and retain his nuclear arsenal, all while remaining a global focus of attention.”

How bizarre to argue that the North Koreans want to remain “a global focus of attention” when that “attention” has, up until this point, consisted of harsh economic sanctions, provocative “military exercises” carried out a few miles from their border, endless declarations of condemnation by the UN Security Council, and the alienation of their former allies in Beijing. Kristof infantilizes the North Koreans, and specifically Kim Jong-un, whom he describes in terms one would normally reserve for depicting an unruly teenager. And yet Kristof acknowledges that Kim has “played a weak hand” quite well, fooling those naïve Westerners who think he really wants peace into going along with the charade.

I might have picked on any number of liberal pundits who almost universally deride the Korean peace initiative: I chose Kristof because he exemplifies the single-minded arrogance of the “humanitarian” interventionists, who — when you get right down to it – make the same arguments as their neoconservative bedfellows:

“When North Korea talks about ‘complete denuclearization,’ it typically means that the U.S. ends its alliance with South Korea, and then North Korea will no longer need nuclear weapons to defend itself. But the US won’t give up the South. And North Korea has been pursuing nuclear weapons since the 1950s, and I don’t know any expert who thinks that it will genuinely hand over its arsenal.”

Those strange alien peoples who live in the “Hermit Kingdom” don’t even speak the same language as you and I! To them, “denuclearization” means “nuke the dirty Westerners!” Is Kristof kidding, or is he really this steeped in laughable Asian stereotypes?

And what’s this about how “the US won’t give up the South.” I wasn’t aware that the United States had annexed South Korea, and I’m sure the South Koreans don’t know a thing about this breaking news.

Finally, didn’t Kristof and the other “experts” confidently predict the victory of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election? Didn’t they blithely assume that Brexit would fail at the polls? Tell me again what the “experts” believe will happen – so I can go out and put money on the exact opposite.

Kristof’s arrogance is underscored when he relates a conversation he had with a North Korean official, who told him Pyongyang would never give up its nuclear arsenal because of what happened to Ghadafi. We aren’t supposed to remember that it was Kristof who was the biggest promoter of Hillary’s War in Libya, which led to the establishment of yet another jihadist stronghold in the region.

The whole thing is unreal, says Kristof: Kim isn’t going to give up anything, there will be no inspections, and this is all just a way for both sides to “save face” and back away from the prospect of war.

Kristof’s inability to see what’s really going on in the two Koreas is due to the same ideological blinders that prevented him from sensing the seriousness of Trump’s populist rebellion, and the nationalist uprisings that are occurring all over the world – including on the Korean peninsula. Our political class instinctively despises all forms of nationalism, and especially the American “isolationist” variety, because it would limit the power and reach of Washington’s empire-builders. Their second least favorite kind is what we’re seeing in South Korea, with the election of a new President whose program of decolonization conflicts directly with the plans of the Washington foreign policy elite. President Moon campaigned on a platform of bringing back the “Sunshine Policy” of rapprochement with the North that was vetoed by Washington under President Bush II, and never given a real chance to develop: he has a mandate to pursue peace.

Kristof’s woeful ignorance of Korean affairs is underscored by the complete lack of attention paid to President Moon, who is not even mentioned once in the space of a 1000-word column.  The absurdity of this omission should be clear to anyone who knows anything about the origins of the Korean peace initiative and the recent history of South Korea: President Moon has been the key driver of the process which culminated in the Panmunjom Declaration.

Indeed, Kristof writes as if the Korean people are only spear-carriers in a drama starring Trump and Kim Jong-un. And the Americans are the drivers of events, always: lesser peoples are either the ones we are saving or the ones they need to be saved from. Yet after months of Trump’s threats to visit “fire and fury” on the North, Koreans on both sides of the DMZ must be asking: who will save us from the crazy Americans?

This, I believe, did much to generate a countervailing push for peace on the ground in Korea, where the initiative started: however, Trump does indeed deserve credit for the alacrity with which he agreed to meet Kim. Unlike the Bush II administration, Trump seems inclined to get out of the way while the Koreans do the heavy diplomatic lifting –and then take credit for the success if and when it comes.

When Trump brought up Korea at a rally in Michigan, the crowd chanted “Nobel! Nobel!” Of course the rotten Nobel Prize judges, phonies all, would never think of giving Trump anything but the back of their hand — and yet if Trump pulls this one off the whole world will know that he deserves the Prize regardless of what the judges decide.

Of course the really deserving recipient of the Nobel Prize would be President Moon, who fought off attempts by his own hardliners to scotch the peace initiative, and resisted as well attempts by our hardliners to do the same.

When I was a young schoolboy there was a newspaper serial that ran in the Sunday comics called “Impossible! Yet it Happened!” It featured some “impossible” event that occurred despite the protestations of the “experts,” and it invited the skepticism of my rationalistic thirteen-year-old mind. If something was “impossible,” I reasoned, and yet it happened anyway, then it was never “impossible” to begin with! I would ask my readers to apply the same epistemological flexibility to current events, especially overseas events. Expect the unexpected: this should be the working credo of any pundit worth his or her salt these days.

Boaty McBoatface leads £20m mission to melting Antarctic glacier

British and US scientists are to examine the risk of the Thwaites glacier collapsing, which is already responsible for a 4% sea-level rise

April 30, 2018

by Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent

The Guardian

The precarious state of a vast, remote Antarctic glacier will provide an inaugural mission for the British vessel once dubbed Boaty McBoatface, as scientists from the UK and US set up a new £20m research operation.

Scientists from both countries are to collaborate on the five-year project to examine the Thwaites glacier in west Antarctica, a major structure that drains an area about the size of the UK.

Any firm indication that the glacier could be responding to a warmer climate with faster icemelt could presage disaster for coastal areas of the globe, with the potential for sea-level rises some scientists put as high as 1.5m by the century’s end.

One of the principal research vessels will be the RSS Sir David Attenborough, the £200m research ship originally voted to be christened Boaty McBoatface in an online poll two years ago. The joke name lives on in the ship’s remotely operated submarine.

Scott Borg, deputy assistant director of the US National Science Foundation, said the expedition was of global significance. “This is critically important to all of us, no matter where we live. What happens in the Antarctic does not stay in the Antarctic. We do not know how quickly [the glacier] will contribute to sea level rises, and whether we have decades or centuries to prepare for it.”

He warned of possible changes to global ocean circulation, as well as sea-level rises, that could result from more rapid melting. Scientists have grown increasingly concerned over the effect of melting ice, from the polar ice caps and glaciers on land, on global ocean currents, with a recent study showing the Atlantic’s gulf stream at its weakest for 1,600 years.

In a nod to climate sceptics in the US, Borg said: “Some people say this is expensive. But our coastal cities and economies are at stake.”

He called the five-year project, to begin this October, “international cooperation at its best, and in keeping with the Antarctic treaty” that would “yield unprecedented understanding of the future of this critical part of Antarctica”.

The participation of the US was seen as particularly significant, given the withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate ordered by president Donald Trump, who has also put forward plans to cut climate science budgets.

Duncan Wingham, chair of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, described the Thwaites glacier as “one of the least explored parts of the Antarctic continent”, making the investigation crucial to studying the state and future of the region.

Sea-level rises are a hotly contested area of climate science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has forecast that average sea-level rises could be held to roughly 25cm to 40cm if governments take strong action on greenhouse gases. However, this does not take account of the potential for rapid melting or collapse of glaciers in Antarctica.

Satellites already show the Thwaites glacier is changing rapidly, but only by putting researchers close to the glacier itself will it be possible to measure the rates of ice volume and ice mass change. Remote submersibles such as Boaty McBoatface will be essential: recent research showed that the undersea melting of Antarctic glaciers is more of a problem that had been thought. If the expedition discovers stability in the Thwaites glacier, it could assuage some of the worst fears of climate experts.

Changes in global ocean circulations have also fallen under the spotlight as scientists warned only weeks ago over the effects on the Gulf stream, which brings temperate weather to Europe. The potential effects of climate change and melting ice on ocean currents are still poorly understood, requiring intensive and often expensive scientific research involving ships, buoys, satellites and complex computer models.

The £20m will be used by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and the US National Science Foundation, involving about 100 scientists, in the biggest joint project by the two countries in Antarctica since the end of a mapping project in the late 1940s. Researchers from other countries, including South Korea, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland, will also contribute and the resulting science made available globally.

 

Inside the secret U.S. stockpile meant to save us all in a bioterror attack

April 24, 2018

by Lena H. Sun

The Washington Post

A SECRET LOCATION OUTSIDE WASHINGTON, D.C. — From the outside, it looks like an ordinary commercial warehouse, only much bigger, about the size of two super Walmarts. Inside it’s dark except when motion sensors are triggered. When the lights come on, hundreds of thousands of shrink-wrapped boxes of medicines emerge from the gloom, stacked on shelves nearly five stories high.

This is quite a different kind of warehouse. It and several others across the country are part of the $7 billion Strategic National Stockpile, a government repository of drugs and supplies ready for deployment in a bioterrorism or nuclear attack, or against an infectious disease outbreak — of either a known pathogen or some unknown threat with pandemic potential, which global health officials dub “Disease X” — or other major public health emergency. There are antibiotics, including the powerful medication Ciprofloxacin, vaccines for smallpox and anthrax and antivirals for a deadly influenza pandemic.

The need for biodefense has become more clear in the wake of outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa, Zika in the Americas, devastating wildfires and hurricanes, and the poisonings of the North Korean leader’s half brother in Malaysia and former Russian spies in England with nerve and radiological agents. Last year, the federal government added three new chemicals to its list of high-priority threats, including chlorine and blister agents, such as mustard gas, that have been used in deadly chemical weapons attacks in Syria. On Monday, officials announced plans to add more anthrax antitoxin.

For nearly two decades the repository has been almost exclusively managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That will change under a Trump administration plan to shift oversight of the $575 million program to a different part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Doing so, proponents say, will keep the program intact but streamline decision-making and create “efficiencies.”

But some public health officials and members of Congress in both parties worry the move will disrupt a complex process that relies on long-standing relationships between the federal program and the state and local agencies responsible for distributing the medicine. During a congressional hearing last week, lawmakers expressed concern that a change could risk the government’s ability to deliver lifesaving medical supplies to what public health officials call “the last mile” — to people in need during a disaster.

“You have spent years planning and exercising and training because you need to know what to do if 100,000 doses of Cipro showed up in your state,” said Ali Khan, who used to oversee the program and now is dean at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. “How would you get it out? Who would dispense it? These parts are as critical as maintaining the medicines in pristine condition.”

He and other public health experts also question whether the administration’s plan will politicize decision-making about products bought for the stockpile. The office of the assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) oversees the process by which the government awards contracts to private biotechnology companies that develop and manufacture medicines such as anthrax vaccine. The CDC then is responsible for buying and replenishing the materials. Eligible medicines are tested by the Food and Drug Administration to check if, and for how long, the expiration date can be extended.

Come October, however, the ASPR will be in charge of choosing the products and then purchasing them for the stockpile. Proponents say the shift makes sense operationally to place key decisions about the repository under one office.

“I think this is a very good move,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “It will help coordinate and organize the delivery of vital medical responses.”

But critics say it will allow biotech companies to lobby for more of their specialized, and often more expensive, drugs to be included because the federal government is often the only purchaser. Just because the government can buy these products, they say, doesn’t mean it should do so given the parallel need for medications, like antibiotics, that have much broader use.

And it’s not clear, they caution, whether the new structure will make Americans safer.

The stockpile should contain “the stuff we need for the disasters we know we’re going to have — like gloves, syringes, Cipro, penicillin, antibiotics, and influenza vaccines — versus the newest, sexiest version of the anthrax vaccine,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was Maryland’s health secretary during the 2001 terrorist and anthrax attacks.

Officials won’t say how many stockpile warehouses exist. But there are at least six, according to a 2016 independent report. All the locations are secret, including this one in an industrial complex off a busy highway. A reporter allowed to tour the facility had to agree not to disclose the location. No camera, video equipment or cellphone is permitted inside.

In the early hours of a crisis, the warehouse can send an affected city or region a “12-hour push package,” a pre-configured cache of 130 containers of antibiotics, syringes and oxygen tubing, enough to fill the belly of a widebody plane. “About 50 tons of materiel,” said Shirley Mabry, the stockpile’s chief logistics officer.

In the section of the warehouse where biologic drugs such as botulism antitoxins are stored at minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit, workers wear full-body insulated suits. Because of the intense cold they are limited to 20 minutes inside the two enormous freezers, just enough time to drive a forklift in and retrieve a pallet of medicine. An intensely loud vibrating sound makes conversation impossible.

Nationwide, the repository contains enough medical countermeasures to add up to more than 133,995 pallets. Laid flat, they’d cover more than 31 football fields — or 41 acres of land. They contain enough vaccine to protect every person in America from smallpox.

The stockpile program was created in 1999 under President Bill Clinton to respond to terrorist events, including the first World Trade Center bombing, the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the Oklahoma City bombing. The original goal was to be ready for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. The repository includes nearly 2,000 caches of nerve agent antidotes, known as Chempacks, that are stored and maintained separately from the warehouses at more than 1,300 locations around the country where they can be accessed quickly.

Over time, the stockpile’s mission has expanded to include natural disasters and emerging infectious disease threats. The stockpile deployed antiviral medicine during the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic, and vaccines, portable cots and other supplies during the hurricanes that devastated Houston and Puerto Rico last year. As the only source of botulism antitoxin in the United States, it also sends medicine for about 100 cases a year of severe food poisoning.

The inventory exceeds 1,000 categories of drugs and other items, but CDC’s budget hasn’t always been able to keep up with the program’s ever-growing list of needs.

“It’s a mission among many pressing missions among the CDC,” said Tara O’Toole, who was undersecretary for science and technology under President Barack Obama and chaired a National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee in 2016 that reviewed the challenges facing the program. “Bottom line, it’s a good idea to lay the responsibility of the cost of maintaining it on the same people who decide what to put in the stockpile.”

The group of federal agencies making decisions about what goes in the repository is led by the ASPR office, which is headed by former Air Force physician Robert Kadlec. He is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush on biodefense and former deputy staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Kadlec stresses that the impending change has nothing to do with CDC’s performance. “The question here is whether we can get better efficiencies,” he said in an interview. At the same time, he said he will be able to advocate most effectively for the program to give it greater visibility, which could lead to more funding.

“Quite frankly, by the back of the envelope, they need more money,” he said.

When the stockpile was established, CDC was the only major public health agency in the federal government. The ASPR office, created in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to manage emergency responses across the government, was historically focused on natural disasters and threats from dirty bombs or crude biological or chemical weapons, he said. But since then, the world has changed, with many more unpredictable threats. The ASPR office needs to change to meet these threats. “The decision to move the stockpile, I think, was just a natural one,” Kadlec said.

Yet Congress has some bipartisan concerns about the stockpile’s future. Republican and Democratic appropriators, who just gave the program budget a slight boost for this year, signaled their unease as part of the recently passed spending bill. They specifically highlighted CDC’s “unique expertise in public health preparedness and response, science-based policy and decision-making, public health communication, and coordination with state and local groups.” Lawmakers also “strongly urged” HHS Secretary Alex Azar to “maintain a strong and central role for CDC” in the program.

Kadlec testified April 18 at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on next year’s HHS biodefense budget. Rep. Tom Cole, (R-Okla.), who chairs the health subcommittee, told Kadlec his main concern is “that we make this organizational change in a way that makes [the stockpile] stronger, not one that’s duplicative, let alone something that might disrupt the relationships we have.”

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, faults the administration for failing to get “any input from Congress” despite the fact that lawmakers are in the process of reauthorizing the law that includes the Strategic National Stockpile.

“We have yet to see proof this large-scale public health program with complex state, local and federal partnerships would be better served at ASPR than at CDC,” Murray wrote in a letter in February to Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director. At the CDC, she said, the program “may be better protected from politicization and therefore better able to be scientifically driven.”

Mulvaney defended the plan in his response, saying it will “streamline operational decisions during responses to public health and other emergencies and improve responsiveness.” It is unlikely Congress could derail the move, but appropriators have to fund it and still can provide direction and oversight.

At CDC, the program’s current director is hoping its planned move this fall will provide new ways to improve the stockpile’s capability. Regardless of where it is located within HHS, Greg Burel said, in an emergency “we will not change the way we respond.”

 

James Comey dismisses House Russia report as ‘political document’

  • Ex-FBI director: politicization ‘wrecked’ House intelligence panel
  • GOP-led committee says no evidence Trump colluded with Russia

April 29, 2018

The Guardian

Former FBI director James Comey on Sunday dismissed a House intelligence committee report that found no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as a “political document”.

Interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press, Comey said the most important investigation into Russian election interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow was being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The Senate judiciary and intelligence committees are also investigating.

Democrats on the House committee protested the conclusions of the report, claiming the Republican majority had acted primarily to defend Trump. The president has repeatedly denied that any collusion with Russia occurred and called the various investigations into the matter a witch hunt.

Comey said that though he himself had a “fine and professional” relationship with the House committee chairman, the California Republican Devin Nunes, the panel’s work had become too politicized. Nunes has been heavily criticized for being too close to the White House.

Politicisation, Comey said, had “wrecked the committee, and it damaged relationships with the Fisa court, the intelligence communities. It’s just a wreck”.

The House report was issued on Friday. Comey, who was fired by Trump last May, said his understanding of the facts at the time of his firing did not support the president’s assertion that there was zero evidence of collusion and that the Russia investigation was a hoax.

Shortly after Comey was fired, Trump told NBC he made the move because of “this Russia thing”.

Comey is in the course of a lengthy promotional schedule for his book, A Higher Loyalty. He has said he does not think Trump is morally fit to be president. Speaking to NBC, he said he had “serious doubts” about Trump’s credibility as a witness should he ever be interviewed by Mueller.

“Sometimes people who have serious credibility problems can tell the truth when they realize that the consequences of not telling the truth in an interview or in the grand jury would be dire,” Comey said. “But you’d have to go in with a healthy sense that he might lie to you.”

Trump has continually attacked Comey, accusing him of lying and leaking confidential material. On Friday, for example, he tweeted that the former FBI director was “either very sick or very dumb”.

Regarding when he thought Mueller might complete his investigation, as November’s midterm elections approach, Comey said the special counsel was “definitely attentive to the calendar, and like all good prosecutors, wants to finish as quickly as he can”.

 

Crisis Point: The State of Literacy in America

March 5, 2018

by Concordia Faculty

The United States is facing a literacy crisis. Yes, crisis. It isn’t new, but its impact upon our kids, our economy, and our society are far-reaching and expanding. How bad is it? Take a look at some numbers.

  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level. — ProLiteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
  • Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health

The history of American literacy

To truly understand the state of literacy in today’s United States, we need to go back to the beginning. Literacy has long been used as a method of social control and oppression. Throughout much of history, the ability to read was something only privileged, upper-class white men were allowed to learn. School wasn’t free like it is today. Education was provided to only a select few, and this preserved a class system that kept the poor powerless and the rich powerful—a practice, we’ll see later in this piece, that continues today.

According to the Smithsonian, after the slave revolt of 1831, all slave states except Maryland, Kentucky, and Tennessee passed laws that made it illegal to teach slaves to read and write. The Alabama Slave Code of 1833 included this following law: “Any person who shall attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read or write, shall upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum of not less than two hundred fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.” That was a whole lot of money in 1833. Why were they so concerned about slaves learning to read? Because if slaves learned to read, they could access information. They could read newspapers. They could read books and understand their rights. They could organize and rise up against the institution of slavery. Slave owners wanted to keep their slaves uneducated and powerless because they understood that literacy represents power.

A prime example is former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass who learned the alphabet secretly as a child from his slave master’s wife, Sophia Auld. As a young adult, Douglass pursued learning on his own, secretly reading books and newspapers. He famously said that “once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

Schools + learning to read

In the 17th century, public schools existed in the New England states, but largely taught students about religion and family. It wasn’t until the 19th century that public schools truly focused on academics. In the South, public schools were slower to arrive. Rich people paid private tutors to educate their children in the southern states, relegating the poor to perpetual disenfranchisement. The main author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, created a bill in early Virginia (in the 1770s), titled “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge.” His bill proposed that public schools should be started in Virginia to teach basic “reading, writing, and common arithmetic” to “all the free children, male and female.”

This did not, however, include slaves. His bill was not passed, nor was any public school law in Virginia until decades later in 1796. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the most growth in education and popular literacy. We then saw steady increases in literacy rates until the 1980s—when rates began to dip slightly.

Female literacy

Women, too, were largely left out of education. Educating women simply was not a priority until the early 1900s and even then, women attending college was rare up until the 1960s. Early Americans often believed it was a waste to educate women past the basics they would need to run a home and raise a family. Bard College’s Joel Perlmann and Boston College’s Dennis Shirley say that “half the women born around 1730 were illiterate.” Women might have been taught to read at home or in an early girl’s school, but they largely weren’t taught to write, and often didn’t have access to secondary school in the early American colonies and states.

Literacy as a social justice issue

Think about it: When someone cannot read, they are excluded from many of the things that allow us to be fully functional citizens with choices. Those who are illiterate can lack access to information, are excluded from making choices about their rights or government through voting, and have less opportunities for employment. Illiteracy keeps people trapped in a cycle of poverty and subjugation, limiting life choices and making it difficult to achieve social mobility. Literacy truly is power—power over one’s own life.

While today’s American public schools are compulsory and free to attend, and we now have things like television and the internet, reading still remains a critical pathway to freedom.

The achievement gap

In the United States, literacy rates vary greatly between racial and socio-economic groups. Even today, minorities are still oppressed by lower literacy levels. Literacy continues to be a mechanism of social control and oppression.  On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress 12th Grade Reading Level Assessment (2015), 46 percent of white students scored at or above proficient. Just 17 percent of black students and 25 percent of Latino students scored proficient. Females scored higher than males. In McKinsey & Company’s  The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools, “Black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind White students of the same age.” McKinsey’s research showed that that the achievement gap can lead to “heavy and often tragic consequences, via lower earnings, poorer health and higher rates of incarceration.” This achievement gap becomes an opportunity gap, an economic gap, and a racial gap, which gets passed on generation to generation unless it’s disrupted.

The literacy crisis today

Comprehensive national literacy studies are not conducted annually, but the National Commission on Adult Literacy released its report in June 2008 naming several factors contributing to the nation’s literacy crisis. Minority and immigrant groups are growing in population, but remain low in educational achievement. The report claims that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. drop out of high school, and that 1 in 4 American families is low-income with parents who lack education and skills to improve their economic status. This maintains a cycle of poverty, affecting each new generation of children. Further, 1 in every 100 adults is in prison in the United States, and more than half of those inmates have low literacy skills. Lastly, language barriers resulting from increased immigration have contributed to lower literacy levels in modern America. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 41 percent of adult immigrants score at or below the lowest level of English literacy and 28 percent have not completed high school, limiting access to higher education, employment and increasing the likelihood of living in poverty.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released the results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The PIACC provided an overview of proficiency in adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving. In literacy, people born after 1980 in the U.S. scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries. Overall, U.S. adults aged 15-65 scored below the international average in all three categories— ranking near the very bottom in numeracy.

Other studies by testing agencies and literacy organizations confirm the widening literacy gap, the perpetuation of poverty and a resultant expanding unskilled workforce in the coming years—the economic, social, and health-related results of which could be dreadful for the United States as a developed nation. The NCAL report notes that the U.S. is less educated than it was a generation ago, and our growing levels of illiteracy will foster a downward slide in our ability to compete economically with other nations. McKinsey Research finds that education gaps have contributed more than recessions to trillions in GDP losses. Not to mention, a national abjection from the unending toxicity of racial divides built upon 300 years of oppression and antipathy.

Today we see these divides widening, and the impact will be immense as poverty, racism and achievement gaps continue to pass down to future generations. United Nations Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere called poverty and racism “inextricably linked,” noting that “racial or ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by poverty, and the lack of education, adequate housing, and health care transmits poverty from generation to generation and perpetuates racial prejudices and stereotypes in their regard.”

What we can do as educators

Literacy is an authentic and complex social justice issue as it determines many of the factors that contribute to a student’s future quality of life. As teachers across the U.S. will tell you, especially those in low-income areas, students are coming to their classrooms each year reading well below grade level. Unfortunately, there isn’t one magic solution to our nation’s literacy problem—mostly because its causes aren’t singular. However, good work is being done in communities across the country that we can learn from. There are schools that prioritize literacy instruction all the way through from K to 12 — not just in the lower grades, ensuring that students graduate at or above grade level. There are “Two Generation” programs that afford both children and their parents with education, job training and community assistance. There are language acquisition, adult learning and job training programs for immigrants and workers in need that help elevate literacy and work skills and provide access to higher income and opportunities. There are organizations and communities that work to provide books to schools and directly to families. It’s these holistic approaches that address not only reading at the classroom level for students, but that acknowledge the contributing factors to illiteracy and achievement disparities.

The work we do every day as teachers is part of the solution to this crisis. The bottom line… keep working, educators. And the more multigenerational programs we can offer, and the most literacy instruction we provide throughout a child’s progression through school, the better the outcomes for our students, our communities, and our nation.

 

Trump threatens government shutdown in September if no funding for wall

April 28, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Michigan (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened to shut down the federal government in September if Congress did not provide more funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

That wall has started, we have 1.6 billion (dollars),” Trump said at a campaign rally in Washington, Michigan.

“We come up again on September 28th and if we don’t get border security we will have no choice, we will close down the country because we need border security.”

Trump made a similar threat in March to push for changes in immigration law that he says would prevent criminals from entering the country. The government briefly shut down in January over immigration.

A $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Trump signed last month, will keep the government funded through the end of September. A government shutdown ahead of the November mid-elections is unlikely to be supported by his fellow Republicans who are keen to keep control of the U.S. Congress.

Trump cited the hundreds of Central American migrants traveling in a “caravan” as one of the reasons for strong border security.

“Watch the caravan, watch how sad and terrible it is, including for those people and the crime that they inflict on themselves and that others inflict on them,” said Trump.

“It’s a horrible dangerous journey for them and they come up because they know once they can get here they can walk right into our country.”

Migrants, who include women and children, have said they fled their homes in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras because of death threats from gangs, the murder of family members or political persecution.

Reporting by Amanda Becker, writing by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Susan Thomas

 

The Attack on Iran: Israel’s Plans for a US Action

April 30, 2018

by Christian Jürs

 

1.The problem under consideration here is that Iran has, or will have, a nuclear weapon within a two year time span. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Israelis are afraid Iran will use it on them.

2.Israel would have logistical problems attacking Iran. Any attack would have to be an aerial attack, using fighter-bombers to pin-point known Iranian nuclear facilities.

The current opinion in some circles, mostly in the United States, is that at some point in the near future, the growing threat or re-imposition of devastating economic sanctions on Iran will convince its radical religious leaders to terminate their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also, there is the growing hope that the CIA’s funded Iran’s Green Movement will overthrow, a la the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and replace the Muslim fundamentalist regime, or at the very least find the means to modify and secularize the regime’s ideological extremism. It is also possible that disrupting operations  now being implemented by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through physical sabotage and, upon occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have derailed Iran’s progress towards achieving the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

It is now planned in Tel Aviv that senior Israeli officials, representing both their political and military establishments, will come to Washington for conferences both with their American counterparts and, eventually, with President Trmup. These conversations, which have been carefully planned and scripted, will have the Israelis advising their American counterparts that they are planning an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear as the situation develops, on Iran because a nuclear Iran poses the ‘gravest threat since Hitler’ to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe that  by launching a preemptive strike at all possible Iranian sites suspected of participation in their nuclear program they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years,. Further, talking-point secret Israeli memos state: Israel will inform their American counterparts that Israel has no other choice than to launch this attack. They will not ask for permission for this attack, because it will soon be too late to ask for permission.

Insofar as President Trump is concerned, the Israelis are considering the most important point of these interviews would be to discover as to what would be the circumstances under which President Trump would move to halt the Iranian projects. The primary point, then, is to convince the Americans that only military force, i.e., heavy bombing raids, would be able to “totally obliterate Iran’s attempts to get a nuclear weapon and, further, to prevent them from rebuilding their infrastructure in the foreseeable future.” From the Israeli point of view, all of their future actions, which also include the use of their own nuclear weapons on Tehran depends entirely upon the answers, primarily of the President but also of the American military leadership..

Also, in the possible event that the American President were to agree fully with Israeli wishes, i.e., to use American aircraft to obliterate the perceived Iranian threat by bombing specific, and even general, Iranian targets, could an Israeli-sponsored domestic American propaganda campaign to encourage sections of the American public, outside of the fully-cooperative Jewish community, to support such an American attack.

At the present time, it is well-established that Israeli agents, Mossad and others, have inserted themselves into all the instruments of power and propaganda in the United States where they have sent any pertinent information to Israel and kept up a steady offensive against the minds, and wills, of the American people. Also, many of the more prominent American newspapers, such as the New York Times is entirely Jewish-owned, this is stated to be the most receptive to the needs of both Washington and Tel Aviv.

Israel is fully prepared to take a chance on permanently alienating American affection in order to make a high-risk attempt at stopping Iran. If Iran retaliates against American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the consequences for Israel’s relationship with America’s military leadership could be catastrophic.

It has been seriously discussed in Tel Aviv and in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that probably the best way to compel the American public and through them, the President, to unilateral action, would not be to launch an attack on Tehran but instead, attack America through a false-flag operation. This would consist of a believable attack, or attempted attack, on a major American target a la the 9/11 Saudi-supported attacks.

The most current plan would be for a known militant Arab anti-Israel group, Hezbollah, to actually deliver an atomic device to the city of New York, or, alternatively, to Washington.

The American Central Intelligence Agency, now seeking to reshape its negative image, would report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the exact details of the arrival and placement of the bomb.

The actual bomb would be genuine but would have a part that was malfunctioning, thus rendering the weapon impossible to detonate. The Arabs involved in this delivery would have in their number, a Yemeni Jew, such as the ones that instigated the 9/11 Saudi attacks, and this sleeper would carry numerous forged documents “proving” that Tehran was directly behind this planned attack.

Revelation of these documents by the fully-supportive New York Times and Washington Post would immediately swing a significant bulk of the American public behind an immediate attack on Tehran with the purpose of neutralizing its atomic weapons capacity.

This program is now on the table and undercover Israeli agents, posing as top-level Iranian operatives, have located a small group of Hizbollah in Lebanon who would be willing to deliver and prepare this device in New York or, as an alternative, Washington itself. Israeli intelligence feels that the use of Hizbollah personnel would entirely justify their obliterating Hizbollah-controlled territory in southern Lebanon that now house many thousands of long-range surface to surface missiles that could easily reach Tel Aviv and other vital Israeli targets.

This action, which has already been planned in detail, would be conducted by Israel alone and would compliment the projected American attack on Tehran. Israel stresses the fact that both attacks must be simultaneous lest a forewarned Hezbollah launch rocket attacks on Israel upon hearing of the American attack. Timing here is considered to be absolutely vital.

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said “certain contingents” of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.

Israel has long been a serious planning for a future invasion of Lebanon and such an assault would continue attacking until both Hezbollah’s membership and their system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, because Israel will never tolerate a “zone of invulnerability” occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah’s rockets.

In the event that Israeli military aircraft attack Tehran, there is the vital necessity that these Israeli military aircraft would be under great pressure to return to base at once because Israeli intelligence believes that Iran would immediately order Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli cities, and Israeli air-force resources would be needed to hunt Hezbollah rocket teams.

Israel’s Northern Command, at its headquarters near the Lebanese border, is ordered that in the event of a unilateral Israeli or American strike on Iran, their mission would be to attack and completely destroy any and all identified Hezbollah rocket forces, by any and all means necessary, to include small nuclear devices that could destroy a number of square miles of what is called ‘terrorist territory’ and render it useless as any future base of attack against Israel. At the present time the Iranians are keeping their Hezbollah firm ally in reserve until Iran can cross the nuclear threshold.

During  the years since the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon Hezbollah has greatly increased its surface-to-surface missile capability, and an American/Israeli strike on Iran, would immediately provoke all-out retaliation by Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most Israeli/American intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 surface-to-surface rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel. It is further known that Russia has sent large numbers of longer range surface-to-surface missiles to Syria which has, in turn, shipped them to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. These missiles have the capacity to easily reach Tel Aviv and Israelis are very concerned that a massive rocket barrage deep into Israel could not only do serious damage to their infrastructure but could easily provoke a mass immigration of Israelis to other areas, thus depriving Israel of both civilian and military personnel it would certainly need in the event of increased Arab military actions against Israel.

Even if Israel’s Northern Command successfully combated Hezbollah rocket attacks in the wake of an Israeli strike, which American experts have deemed to be “nearly impossible” political limitations would not allow Israel to make repeated sorties over Iran. “America, too, would look complicit in an Israeli attack, even if it had not been forewarned. The assumption—that Israel acts only with the full approval of the United States is a feature of life in the Middle East, and it is one the Israelis are taking into account. A serious danger here to Israeli attack plans would be if the United States got wind of the imminence of such an attack and demanded that Israel cease and desist in its actions. Would Israel then stop? Though highly unlikely, this is an unpleasant and unacceptable

At this time, the Israelis have drawn up specific plans to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and the Bushehr reactor, along with four other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program that have been identified by joint past and present Israeli-American aerial surveillance.

If Israeli aircraft succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, all well and good but even if  they fail to damage or destroy these targets ,such an attack is feared by American and other nations as risking a devastating change in the Middle East. Such an attack could initiate immediate reprisals such as a massed rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon as well as other actions from neighboring Muslim states.

This could become a major diplomatic crisis for President Trump that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the international price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of seriously endangering Jewish groups around the world, and especially in the United States by making them the targets of Muslim-originated terror attacks and most certainly accelerating the growing immigration of many Israelis to what they felt might be much safer areas.

An Israeli political and military consensus has now emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by December of 2010. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Trump administration. The Netanyahu government is already intensifying its analytic efforts not just on Iran, but on a subject many Israelis have difficulty understanding: President Trump.

The Israelis argue that Iran demands the urgent attention of the entire international community, and in particular the United States, with its unparalleled ability to project military force. This is the position of many moderate Arab leaders as well that if America allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection. Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran. They argue, self-interestedly, that an aerial attack on a handful of Iranian facilities would not be as complicated or as messy as, say, invading Iraq. The basic question then is why the Jewish state should trust the non-Jewish president of the United States to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

For more than a year, these White House officials have parried the charge that their president is unwilling to face the potential consequences of a nuclear Iran, and they are frustrated by what they believe to be a caricature of his position. It is undeniably true, however, that the administration has appeared on occasion less than stalwart on the issue.

One question no administration official seems eager to answer is this: what will the United States do if sanctions fail?

In Israel, of course, officials expend enormous amounts of energy to understand President Trump, despite the assurances they have received from others. Delegations from Netanyahu’s bureau, from the defense and foreign ministries, and from the Israeli intelligence community have been arriving in Washington lately with great regularity. As an alternative to cooperation by Trump, Israel, through her supporters and lobbyists in the United States are preparing to offer extensive financial and other incentives to political opponents of Trump, mostly the right-wing Republicans and American Christian groups and cults. Both of these groups are being cultivated currently with the idea that if Trump will not cooperate, the Republicans will in the future as they always have before. Also to consider is the current antipathy of American Jews for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and these American Jews, who are, like the president they voted for in overwhelming numbers, generally supportive of a two-state solution, and dubious about Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

Both Israeli and American intelligence agencies are of the firm belief that Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability, which is the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device.. The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state, the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons and the regime’s theologically motivated desire to see the Jewish state purged from the Middle East

Patriotism in Israel runs very high, according to numerous polls, and it seemed unlikely that mere fear of Iran could drive Israel’s Jews to seek shelter elsewhere. But one leading proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, If Iran crossed the nuclear threshold, the very idea of Israel as a Zionist entity would be endangered. “These people are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if someone has a scholarship for two years at an American university and the university offers him a third year, the parents will say, ‘Go ahead, remain there,’ If someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there. It will not be that people are running to the airport, but slowly, slowly, the decision-making on the family level will be in favor of staying abroad. The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain. And an Israel that is not based on entrepreneurship that is not based on excellence will not be the Israel of today.”

Most critically if a Zionist Israel is no longer seen by its 6 million Jewish inhabitants and also by the approximately 7 millions of Jews resident outside of Israel that because of continuing threats from outside the country as no longer a natural safe haven for Jews then the entire concept of a Zionist haven/state is destroyed

To understand why Israelis of different political dispositions see Iran as quite possibly the most crucial challenge they have faced in their 62-year history, one must keep in mind the near-sanctity, in the public’s mind, of Israel’s nuclear monopoly. The Israeli national narrative, in shorthand, begins with shoah, which is Hebrew for “calamity,” and ends with tkumah, “rebirth.” Israel’s nuclear arsenal symbolizes national rebirth, and something else as well: that Jews emerged from World War II having learned at least one lesson, about the price of powerlessness.

If Israel is unable to change Trump’s mind, they will continue to threaten to take unilateral action against Iran by sending approximately one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—by crossing Saudi Arabia, and along the border between Syria and Turkey, and, without consulting the Americans or in any way announcing their missions by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)

The first belief by Israeli military planners is that Israel would get only one try. Israeli planes would fly low over Saudi Arabia, bomb their targets in Iran, and return to Israel by flying again over Saudi territory, possibly even landing in the Saudi desert for refueling—perhaps, if speculation rife in intelligence circles is to be believed, with secret Saudi cooperation.

Israel has been working through the United States to procure Saudi cooperation with an Israeli air strike against Tehran and other targets inside Iran.. The Saudis are treating this subject with great caution lest other Arab states learn of their putative cooperation in an Iranian attack with over flights of Saudi territory by Israeli military aircraft.

The current American/Israeli military plans are for the Saudis to turn off their radar after they have been noticed by the American embassy that an Israeli attack is imminent and also to permit the Israeli aircraft to land in their country for refueling The Israelis are not concerned with any kind of Iranian aircraft resistance because their airfields have been pinpointed by American satellites and one of the attacking groups would use low-yield atomic rocketry on all the identified Iranian bases. It is obvious that when, not if, the Saudis part in this becomes public, it will create immense ill-will in neighboring Muslim states, an impression the Saudi government is most anxious not to deal with.

Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting—forever, as it turned out—Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean–built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.

The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: At the present moment, Israel possesses 135 nuclear weapons, most of them  mainly two-stage thermonuclear devices, capable of being delivered by missile, fighter-bomber, or submarine (two of which are currently positioned in the Persian Gulf). Netanyahu is worried about an entire complex of problems, not only that Iran, or one of its proxies, would, in all probability, destroy or severely damage Tel Aviv; like most Israeli leaders, he believes that if Iran gains possession of a nuclear weapon, it will use its new leverage to buttress its terrorist proxies in their attempts to make life difficult and dangerous; and that Israel’s status as a haven for Jews would be forever undermined, and with it, the entire raison d’être of the 100-year-old Zionist experiment.

Another question Israeli planners struggle with: how will they know if their attacks have actually destroyed a significant number of centrifuges and other hard-to-replace parts of the clandestine Iranian program? Two strategists told me that Israel will have to dispatch commandos to finish the job, if necessary, and bring back proof of the destruction. The commandos—who, according to intelligence sources, may be launched from the autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq—would be facing a treacherous challenge, but one military planner I spoke with said the army would have no choice but to send them.

Netanyahu’s obvious course is to convince the United States that Iran is not Israel’s problem alone; it is the world’s problem, and the world, led by the United States, is obligated to grapple with it, not Israel alone. It is well-known that Israel by itself could not hope to deal with a retaliation against it by Iran and other Arab states but that a confederation of other nations, led, of course, by the United States could defend Israel against her enemies. The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, does not place and credence in the current sanctions against Iran, even the ones initiated by the United States at Israel’s urgent request. Is it known that Netanayahu is not happy with President Trumps’s reluctance to support an Israeli attack on Iran and has brought a great deal of political pressure to bear on the President by American Jewish political and business groups.

Netanyahu understands, however, that President Trump, with whom he has had a warm and friendly relationship, believes that stringent sanctions, combined with various enticements to engage with the West, might still provide Iran with a face-saving method of standing down.

Israel’s current period of forbearance, in which Israel’s leadership waits to see if the West’s nonmilitary methods can stop Iran, will come to an end this December.  The American defense secretary, said at a meeting of NATO defense ministers that most intelligence estimates predict that Iran is one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon. “

One of the consistent aims of Israel is to pressure President Trump, who has said on a number of occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” into executing a military strike against Iran’s known main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.

Donald Trump is steadfastly in favor of initiating new wars in the Middle East and an attack by U.S. forces on Iran is a foreign-policy goal for him or his administration. The Israeli goal is to compel him by public, and private, pressure to order the American military into action against Iran

President Trump has said any number of times that he would find a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.” His most stalwart comments on the subject have been discounted by some Israeli officials

If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Trump will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack.

 

 

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