David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the news that U.S. sanctions are inflicting a devastating economic toll and putting a lot of political pressure on North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un. They also cringe at reports that President Trump promised China two months ago that he would not condemn a Chinese crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. And they hammer PolitiFact for refusing to criticize Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris over their characterization of Michael Brown’s death as murder. PolitiFact says, “Legally, it wasn’t. How much should this word choice matter?”
President Trump opted for additional sanctions against Iran in response to the shooting down of a U.S. drone last week, and one expert says the new economic penalties will make Iran leaders even less popular among its own people.
The new sanctions are aimed at key individuals inside the regime, including Supreme Leader Ali Khameini as well as military officials and even Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
“This is an attempt by the administration to hit back at Iran for its escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf but do so in a non-military fashion. There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the media about how President Trump is rushing to war, but it’s very clear that he doesn’t prefer military confrontation,” said American Foreign Policy Council Vice President Ilan Berman.
“He wants Iran to pay but he wants Iran to pay in a way that doesn’t escalate actual physical hostilities,” added Berman.
But while Iran avoided military strikes, Berman believes the sanctions could do even greater damage for the long-term health of the regime.
“This is a very shrewd move by the administration because it plays on a fault line that is very visible within Iran but much less so outside. Ordinary Iranians understand very well that the supreme leader and the unelected clergy that run Iran have enriched themselves tremendously at the expense of ordinary people,” said Berman.
“The administration is trying to widen that rift that exists between the Iranian people and the Iranian leadership by highlighting just how corrupt that leadership is,” he said.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Berman explain why he thinks the sanctions will force Iran back to the bargaining table and why he believes Trump’s decision to pull back military strikes sent the wrong message.
North Korea demanded $2 million in exchange for the return of a comatose American prisoner, and even though the U.S. never actually paid for his release one of the leading experts on the North Korean threat says President Trump needs to get much tougher on the communist regime and the sooner the better.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea demanded $2 million for the return of Otto Warmbier, the American college student sentenced to hard labor for allegedly stealing a political poster. Warmbier was flown back to the U.S. in 2017. He was in a coma and died just hours later.
Multiple sources insist the U.S. never paid the ransom, but North Korea expert Gordon Chang says this story just confirms the barbaric nature of the Kim Jong-Un regime.
“I think the most important thing is that the North Korean regime is the most horrific on earth. In this case, they brutalized Otto Warmbier and then have the audacity to bill us $2 million for this. This money, of course, will never be paid,” said Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”
Chang says this latest revelation is further proof that dealing with Kim is fruitless.
“We will not have satisfactory relations with North Korea on anything – especially nuclear weapons – until there is a new government in North Korea which is democratic,” said Chang.
The news of the ransom demand for Warmbier comes the same week as Kim met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok. Chang says Kim’s agenda is to coax Russia into into greater investment in North Korea and into backing sanctions relief.
Chang is also frustrated with President Trump for easing sanctions enforcement on North Korea around the time of the first summit in 2018. He says Trump needs to clamp down harder on North Korea and needs to do it now.
“We’ve got to go back to really enforcing those sanctions to the point where North Korea doesn’t get any money. Because if North Korea doesn’t get any money, it’ll realize it has to give up its nukes and missiles,” said Chang.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Chang explain how North Korea is pitting Russia and China against one another, how weak sanctions enforcement is a major threat to the people of South Korea, and what two things North Korea must do before the U.S. should even consider another summit.
Evidence is growing that North Korea is refusing to wind down its ballistic missile program and even appears to be adding sites while failing to report them.
As part of the framework agreed to between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong -Un in June, North Korea was supposed to pursue the dismantling of its nuclear program and its ballistic missiles.
Earlier evidence showed North Korea not following through on the commitment and now the Center for Strategic and International Studies says North Korea is operating mobile missile bases close to the South Korean border.
North Korea expert Gordon Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World,” says the revelations are not all that new but the involvement of the mobile missiles is very disturbing.
“It’s the mobile missiles that can hide before launching that we’re really concerned about,” said Chang.
“We’d have maybe only an hour’s notice, and that should be sufficient time to find and destroy a mobile missile that is about to be launched, but in a wartime situation we may not be able to do that,” added Chang.
Chang says Trump should have already re-imposed sanctions against North Korea and slapped others on China and Russia for flouting sanctions to help North Korea continue its nuclear and missile programs.
Chang worries Trump is too personally invested in the narrative that he was able to solve the North Korean threat, but he believes the evidence will soon be overwhelming. He sees Trump’s about-face on China on trade as an encouraging precedent.
“I think he could very well do the same thing to Kim Jong-Un, especially if he feels that he’s been embarrassed and humiliated by the North Korean leader.
“At this point, I think we can say there’s an ’emperor has no clothes” moment. So President Trump does need to pivot to a much more severe, harsh policy,” said Chang.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Chang’s explanation of how China has helped North Korea cheat on its missile program and how the world is likely to react if Trump does bring back sanctions.
The Trump administration began reapplying economic sanctions against Iran Monday, the latest consequence of President Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew the U.S. as a signatory of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May, and the new round of sanctions is the first of two rounds of crippling sanctions designed to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons and grant more liberties to its people.
“There’s the difference between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. The Obama administration was trying to placate. The Trump administration is trying to actually change Iranian behavior,” said retired U.S. Navy Captain Chuck Nash, who is also a Fox News military analyst.
This first tranche of sanctions forbids the importing of Iranian carpets, pistachios, and also voids licenses that allows Iran to buy American and European-made aircraft. Another round of sanctions targeting oil and banks is set to take effect Nov. 4.
European leaders are furious with Trump for bringing the sanctions back, but Nash says they have little choice but to go along.
“They were looking to sell a tremendous amount of goods to Iran. Those deals, now that the United States has pulled out, the administration has basically said, ‘Would you like to do business with the United States or would you like to do business with Tehran? Pick one,'” said Nash.
And Nash says the Europeans could not circumvent the sanctions even if they wanted to.
“Look at aircraft for example. There is so much United States technology in aircraft that there isn’t an aircraft manufacturer in the western world who can export to Tehran if the United States pulls the licenses for its technology. It’s embedded in those platforms,” said Nash.
Nash says the sanctions are also meant to make life uncomfortable for another group inside Iran.
“That impacts the bazaaris, which is the mercantile class inside of Iran,” said Nash. “They are the big supporters of the theocratic regime.”
Nash says the bazaaris were key allies of Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic Revolution of 1978-1979. But he says if the bazaaris feel the heat, the mullahs will also be sweating.
“When they start shifting because they’re under pressure, if things really start to happen, you’ll get the mullahs’ attention,” said Nash, who notes the Iranian economy is already hurting badly.
“In the last year alone, their currency, the rial, has lost 80 percent of its value. Things have been going south in Iran for years,” said Nash.
He says the mullahs are sure to blame the renewed sanctions for the economic misery in Iran, but Nash doesn’t think the people will believe them.
“The mullahs are trying to tell the people, ‘No, no, no. It’s not our gross mismanagement. It’s not our spending money on militarization instead of working on infrastructure and other things in the economy. No, no, no. It’s the Americans pulling out of the deal.’ And the people aren’t buying it,” said Nash.
Nash says the Iranian leadership has funneled valuable resources into the Revolutionary Guard Corps, which pledges allegiance not to the government but to the Islamic Revolution, similar to how the SS pledged fidelity to Adolf Hitler instead of the nation. That, in addition to the weak economy, is sparking large protests against the the regime.
Nash says Iranian leaders may soon have to make a very tough decision.
“The mullahs are probably going to be able to keep the lid on this but for how much longer? And that’s the equation they have to balance. ‘Can we really let the United States move on to the Nov. 4 exercise of sanctions, which would be the second tranche, where they then put sanctions against our banking industry and our energy sector?’
“When that happens, that could spell doom for the mullahs inside of Tehran,” said Nash.
Listen to “New Iran Sanctions, Warren Calls Justice System Racist, Trump’s LeBron Tweets” on Spreaker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America commend the Trump administration for reinstating sanctions on Iran after rescinding the failed nuclear deal, which the rogue regime did not follow. They also denounce Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth’s Warren’s far-left rhetoric about the criminal justice system and they blame the divisive discourse for the lack of meaningful reforms. And they are frustrated that President Donald Trump tweeted about LeBron James’ intelligence rather than thanking the NBA star for funding education and extolling the benefits of charter schools.
North Korea is bristling at American the verification demands for the dismantling of its nuclear program, but one prominent expert believes the Trump administration’s hardball tactics got Kim Jong-Un to the negotiating table and will likely lead to him truly abandoning his nukes as well.
Over the weekend, North Korea accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of engaging in “gangster” tactics for making a number of unilateral demands for North Korean disarmament.
The negotiations themselves followed international reports that North Korea was upgrading its primary enrichment site at Yongbyon and two other facilities. There is also evidence that North Korea is moving forward with its ballistic missile program.
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher doesn’t see North Korean cheating as evidence that the deal is collapsing but as proof the Trump administration intends to see the entire nuclear program reduced to rubble.
“I think the Trump administration is leaking intelligence reports to the media in order to put Kim Jong-Un on notice that we are watching,” said Mosher.
“We’re putting Kim and his people on notice that if they do not tell us exactly where all the missile launch and manufacturing sites are, all the centrifuges are, all the nuclear sites, all the nukes they may have in storage somewhere,” said Mosher.
And despite the North Korean pushback on Trump’s tactics, Mosher is confident Kim will ultimately comply.
“My guess is that he is (going to go along with nuclear disarming). I hope he understands that the sanctions will not be lifted unless he denuclearizes. He knows, I think, that the president has his number. I think that’s why the U.S. has the upper hand in these negotiations,” said Mosher.
Mosher says Trump caught Kim off guard by not communicating in the same manner as his predecessors. He says Trump’s threatening Kim with “fire and fury” and comparing the sizes of their nuclear buttons appears to have rattled Kim.
He also asserts that Trump promising to help revitalize the North Korean economy once the nukes are gone is a major attraction for Kim. But even if all of that happens, Mosher says the Kim regime’s days are numbered.
“[Trump] made clear in Singapore that he can make life in North Korea much easier. Kim Jong-Un can stay in power. His economy can develop and his people will be much better off.
“Now think about his other options. I believe we’ll see other steps taken to lock up the North Korean regime inside the hermit kingdom that it really is. That will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime,” said Mosher.
One of the other options is for Kim to demonstrate the power of his arsenal with a desperate pre-emptive strike on the U.S. or one our allies in the region. Mosher says that would be a colossal mistake.
“If he tries some sort of pre-emptive strike against the South, that would only accelerate this process. He would be driven back. The Chinese would be forced to intervene again. He would be signing his death warrant and all but inviting China to absorb his half-kingdom,” said Mosher.
Even though China keeps North Korea afloat economically, there’s no great love for the Chinese in Pyongyang. Mosher points out that the government forces women impregnated by Chinese men to undergo abortions so as not to pollute the race.
But China is another reason Mosher thinks Kim will eventually play ball and get rid of his nuclear program. He says Trump has China in a position of weakness as well.
“We’ve caught China cheating on the sanctions a half dozen times already. We caught them cheating on land when the trucks and the trains were still going into North Korea carrying Chinese goods. We caught them at see when they were doing at-sea fuel transfers and goods transfers. Satellite photos showed they were Chinese ships doing the cheating.
“And we caught them again just a couple of weeks ago, when Chinese businesses were rushing into North Korea, anticipating the lifting of the sanctions. We said, ‘Wait a minute. The sanctions are still in place.’ Beijing has ordered all the companies and their representatives back to China,” said Mosher.
Mosher says China is also cautious about flouting sanctions due to the resurgent American economy.
“The American economy may grow faster than the Chinese economy this year. They’re claiming six percent growth but that probably a 30 percent exaggeration. The real growth is about four percent. They have an aging population because of the one-child policy, a shrinking workforce.
“They have huge government corruption and they have off the books debt that is just enormous, probably 300 percent of GDP,” said Mosher.
So what are the demands that have North Korea so upset over the past few days? Mosher hopes Pompeo is leaving no wiggle room for Kim to cheat on his promises.
“You have to have verified, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. We have to have American teams of inspectors going in there, unrestricted by any conditions of when you can visit a site and how often you can visit a site and where you can go.
“We’ve denuclearized countries before. We went into Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and de-nuked that country in a couple of years. We know how to do it if we have access,” said Mosher.
If North Korea fails to allow that kind of access or reneges on it’s promises, Mosher says the consequences should be severe.
“I think the sanctions can be tightened even further. We have to make sure that China’s not cheating. Russia needs to be sidelined as well. They’re both spoilers. They’ve violated the sanctions regime in the past. If we’re not watching and putting pressure on them, they’ll violate the sanctions regime in the future.
“I think we also have to ask countries to send the North Korean workers home who are working in their countries. That’s a big source of revenue for Pyongyang,” said Mosher.
He also says the U.S. could put the North Korean economy in a vise grip to compel compliance.
“Finally, I think we need to consider blockading North Korean ports to stop North Korean trade through the oceans. If we do that, we can then sit back and watch the North Korean economy gradually grind to a halt. That, if anything, will bring Kim Jong-Un back to the negotiating table to get serious this time,” added Mosher.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America devote all three martinis to the Trump-Kim summit. They are happy that President Trump did not promise to revoke any of the North Korean sanctions and that Kim reportedly made concessions on his missile program. They also rip the deal over Trump agreeing to end joint military exercises with South Korea, while only getting a vague promise from Kim to move towards denuclearization. They also berate Trump for lavishing public praise towards Kim, calling it a great honor to meet with him and suggesting Kim loves his people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will apply the toughest sanctions in history in order to squeeze the life out of Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions and a former Clinton administration official says the Trump administration is headed in a much better direction than the one charted by the Obama administration.
During a speech Monday morning at the Heritage Foundation, Pompeo made it clear Iran’s belligerent behavior is already resulting in economic pain.
“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness. Thanks to our colleagues at the Department of Treasury, sanctions are going back in full effect and new ones are coming.
“Last week, we imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank and other entities that were funneling money to the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’] Quds Force and were also providing money to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations,” said Pompeo.
Pompeo then elaborated on what new sanctions were coming.
“The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations,” said Pompeo.
Lawrence J. Haas served as communications director to Vice President Al Gore and was spokesman for the Clinton administration’s Office of Management and Budget. He is now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and was a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s approach to Iran and Israel.
While eager for more details, Haas says Pompeo’s remarks are a welcome step.
“It’s bold. It’s comprehensive,” said Haas. “In an extremely unpredictable presidency, we do have some consistency here. President Trump has said for a long time that one of the main problems with the Iran nuclear deal is that it wasn’t comprehensive enough.
“That is is only addressed the nuclear program and did not address the other damaging aspects of Iranian behavior: the ballistic missile program that’s tied to the nuclear program, the terror sponsorship, the efforts in the region to destablilize other regimes, the presence in Syria and all the rest,” said Haas.
He says the Trump approach takes all Iranian threats and destructive policies into consideration.
“Here we see a policy that, at least on paper, is broader and does take in all these different aspects of Iranian behavior,” said Haas.
Haas believes Pompeo’s speech was also aimed at our former partners in the Iran nuclear deal, putting Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China on notice that their own economic fortunes could be imperiled if they keep cooperating with Iran. He says that’s easier said than done since the U.S. does not want to ostracize those allies, whom we will need for other international priorities.
However, if Trump can convince those other nations to get on board with the sanctions, it could have a massive impact.
“This could be potentially game-changing,” said Haas.
Pompeo made it clear that Iran will need to reverse course in a host of areas to see sanctions relief. In addition to no enriching of uranium or pre-processing of plutonium, Iran would also have to scrap its missile program, get out of Syria, stop aiding the Houtis in Yemen and end its threats towards Israel.
Haas wonders if the Iranian regime has such a sea change in its DNA, even if were to see the benefits of becoming a responsible government.
“Can this regime do all this and still be true to itself, which is a brutally hostile anti–American, anti-Israeli, expansionist, revolutionary regime?” asked Haas.
Right now, Haas wants to know what the U.S. is willing to do economically and otherwise to keep Iran in check.
“I’m curious to see the specifics of the sanctions and I’m curious to see how the administration follows through on it’s promises to constrain Iranian behavior in the region,” said Haas.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for inflicting punishing sanctions on Iran, making it clear the Trump administration does not think the Iranian regime can be partners on anything. They also sigh as the gun control movement tries to advance its agenda again after the Santa Fe High School shooting, even though their proposed legislation would have done nothing to prevent this horrific shooting. Jim also asks why so few are interested in finding out why teenage boys are now lashing out and killing people when they are bullied or rejected by girls. And they discuss Don Blankenship’s pathetic attempt to keep running for U.S. Senate in West Virginia despite getting thrashed in the GOP primary and a West Virginia law that prevents losers in primaries from running again in the general election.