America May Not Care About Africa But Iran Does

In 2013, American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Rubin wrote, “With successive US administrations and European governments effectively ignoring Africa, Tehran sees many of Africa’s 54 countries as diplomatic easy picking in a zero-sum game for influence.” The United States now has a fourth successive administration ignoring Africa, save the engagement from the Department of Defense. As the United States Executive Branch goes, so goes the media, which is to say most of the Western world ignores Africa much to the delight of despotic regimes like Iran.

If this course goes unaltered the Western world will regret it.

Vice, with their giant HBO budget, had a very good piece on migrants from the Horn of Africa crossing a narrow point of the Red Sea into Yemen through its 1200 miles of coastline, to find work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Vice was exposing the horrible conditions inside the camp where migrants were being held and Godspeed to them in their endeavor. The documentary featured good reporting that required bravery on the part of the Western journalist who covered it and is well worth watching.

But whether the people of Vice know it or not, they have seriously harmed Iran’s narrative and mission in Yemen. How? Iran’s biggest deflection from Yemen is to say “we aren’t smuggling weapons in or rather “you can’t prove it” with a shitty wink at the end. It is a difficult thing to prove, but Vice has given researchers and analysts a very good place to start.

At this point, this is a theory. Not a conspiracy theory, but one based on logical deduction. There are only so many ways to logistically get something from Iran into Yemen. Taking it past the American 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain or through an air space controlled by Saudi Arabia seems like a pretty stupid way to go, so, that leaves only an approach from the Horn of Africa.

This is where open source intelligence, which is a really fancy way of saying everything available on the internet, comes into play. Open sources, like social media posts or business articles, are not classified and it isn’t information designed to expose or conceal anything. Social media deserves the bad wrap it gets, but it isn’t completely useless. Social media was actually what exposed Russia’s involvement in Ukraine so this is not a crackpot theory.

The problem with the Horn of Africa is it has far less technological infrastructure than the Middle East and Eastern Europe;  which is to say there are not as many smartphones posting information and the media coverage is sparse if existent at all. It’s there, it just requires an intrepid set of nerds to sift through the data or a major media outlet to open up its checkbook and pay for the research on the ground.

There’s plenty of reason to hone in on Iran in Africa. “The CIC’s (Council on Islamic Courts) purported  political moderation was placed further in doubt during the autumn of 2006 by reports that strengthened the “Taliban and Iraq” analogies. In mid-November 2006, reports surfaced that 720 CIC Somali fighters had been sent to Lebanon to do battle with Hezbollah against Israel during the July-August 2006 war in Lebanon, and that Hezbollah had subsequently sent a small number of military advisers to Somalia. Moreover, the November 2006 UNMGS report detailed three illegal Iranian arms shipments to the CIC that occurred in late July. Reportedly, Tehran offered  to provide more weapons to the CIC in exchange for uranium (small amounts were purportedly located in areas under the control of the CIC), presumably for use in Iran’s nuclear program.”

This is my plea to the media: if we want want to stop the wars in the Middle East then shut up about Donald Trump’s tweets and follow the money that fuels these wars. It is not cheap and there is very little profit to be gained.

Yemen has a 1200 mile coastline with almost no navy patrolling it and if impoverished Ethiopians can get through imagine how well the Iranians, with money and connections, could exploit this situation. They are well organized and well- connected throughout most of Africa. If Vice can find the smuggling routes so can anyone seeking to make a case against Iran.

The media can do better. It has to do better.

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Sorry, President Macron Is Not The “Trump Whisperer”

First lady Melania Trump, second from right, and Brigitte Macron, second from left, watch as President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron participate in a tree planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Unfortunately, for many in Western Civilization, French President Emmanuel Macron is not the fix-all the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) needs. Macron, much like Barack Obama, is something to be projected upon, not something that projects upon time or history. He is an ether-soaked rag over the mouths of the resistance and Iran’s longshot for keeping the United States in the Iran deal, but nothing more.

Macron was hailed as the “Trump whisperer” by Yasmeen Serhan in The Atlantic and was set to swoop in like a Roman god and save us all which, oddly enough, was a theme started by the alt-right. That, dear readers, is not the case. Emmanuel Macron has no more leverage to influence events than his French predecessor did and is even less equipped.

The French president wanted the Western world, particularly the American left, to believe he waved his hand over the troubled waters of the Iran Deal and those waters would instantly be at peace. Again, please understand, not a single fact on the ground changed. Once reality set in and he returned to Europe, Macron clarified that he had no control over President Donald Trump. The tone has now changed; Macron went from being the “Trump whisperer” to “urging” and “warning” President Trump.

Western progressives, like in so many other policy debates, have no other alternatives  than resisting Trump. That is insanity. Specifically, in regards to Iran and the Iran Deal. It is accurate to say the United States is at odds with their European allies over this one policy, but it is suicide to make the alliance of the strongest coalition in human history contingent upon it.

The myth that this will isolate the United States from Europe and the rest of the world is an outright lie being fed to the public by people who tried to inject “social justice” into geopolitics. That is what the Iran Deal is: By any means necessary. It is “leveling the playing field” in the Middle East in favor of the Iranians by relieving sanctions and allowing more economic growth.

What the whole world is arguing about is what  Iran will do with that economic growth. Will it invest in its own infrastructure and domestic quality of life or will it invest in its military operations in Syria and Yemen? If behavior is any indicator, Iran will invest in missile systems in Syria and that is something Israel will not abide idly. The problem isn’t with the United States and Iran it’s with Iran and its neighbors who were ignored when Iran was handed this deal.

This is something one of the Iran Deal’s biggest fans and most fierce defenders, Jeffrey Lewis knew and told Vox in 2015. Concluding the interview with Max Fisher by saying “I interpret [Iran] as being interested in sanctions relief, and that’s I suppose a way in which they’re becoming less of a pariah, that they can trade. So I guess in a narrow sense that’s not being a pariah. But until they stop supporting [Lebanese terrorist group] Hezbollah, doing what they’re doing in Syria and Iraq and Yemen, I don’t think there’s going to be a transformation in the relationship.”

Lewis went on to say that Iranians should manage their expectations a “little better.” Perhaps the progressive left should take its own advice and manage their expectations of Iran better . Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, chided State Department officials for not having “a coherent strategy” when they said the quickest way to end the crisis in Yemen was to get Iran out of there. But what the Senator from New Jersey failed to realize is that the Iran Deal is that strategy and is failing miserably.

Tommy Vietor, left, former National Security Council spokesman, and Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security Adviser. ASSOCIATED PRESS

As recertification day approaches, we should not let the likes of Obama bros Tommy Vietor or Ben Rhodes guide the debate, but rather be honest and direct about our concerns and expectations with our allies like Macron on how to move forward with Iran. Perhaps we should hear from Iran’s neighbors who see them, according to the expert Jeffrey Lewis, as “pariahs”. Whether the deal is nixed, fixed, or kicked down the road for another 90 days, the media should stop treating this like a public relations game because what is a stake is very real.

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The Facebook Effect: New Media Shaping The Old World

In 2016, America was forced to comprehend the possibility that their media could be hijacked and their elections could be rendered meaningless. It was a hard moment, a moment some have not yet gotten over. But it wasn’t quite the invasion it was made out to be, and there has been a concerted, albeit inconsistent, effort within the media industry since to not propagate misleading news and propaganda.

But what does one do when you aren’t living in the western world with access to blogs, websites, and cable news dedicated to correcting false news? What is one to do when your society has been expedited past a crucial phase of technological evolution, and you are instantly connected to the globe? What happens when giant corporations like Facebook are the only source for these developing places, because Facebook is the only one willing to invest in such developing places?

These are serious questions that we, as America, as the West, as the Free World, as the people who opened this Pandora’s box, have to consider.

Many places in the world have skipped an entire portion of the technological revolution that many westerners look back on as their boring adolescent years of small bandwidth and dial-up. Some parts of the world have gone from television broadcasts via airwaves to smartphones in their pockets and skipped a whole phase that the western world went through.

America tells itself it is barely able to manage to survive this cultural transition that changed the way we communicate and consume information and entertainment. How well are less developed and even third world countries expected to handle this miracle or vice, depending on one’s perspective, of technology?

The impact of social media, and more specifically Facebook, on the 2016 U.S. election wasn’t mentioned until after it was all over, but the scope of its impact is significant, though overstated. Imagine Facebook operating with zero competition. Its impact on that society would be massive. In places like Myanmar, Facebook isn’t just your social media of choice, it’s your access to the internet via your phone. This CBS special explains the situation very well.

This media construct fed the crisis that sprang from Bangladesh and then blew back on their border when violence broke out between the Myanmar military and the Rohingya Muslim minority. The same exact thing is happening in Sri Lanka where last month CNBC reported that

“by forcing internet service providers to pull the plug on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, the government there hopes to stem the spread of hate speech and fake news it blames for attacks on the country’s Muslim minority.”

This is not an optimistic trend for the Facebook brand or free speech in general. What can we expect in places that are even farther behind in technological development like Africa, whose people still don’t have ready available social media? Africa is currently experiencing a blitz in recruitment from Al-Qaeda, as foreign powers seek to invest in cultivating natural resources like Russia and China, and Facebook will instinctively want to expand in those markets. If nothing changes, this pattern of extremism and violence all looks set to repeat itself.

This trend cannot just be written off as a Muslim minority phenomenon as Facebook will absorb a giant portion of the media market, of which only 2% is penetrated by broadband, that Nicaraguan President Ortega has shut down by closing televisions stations. People who have no television will rely on people who have access to Facebook. This is something the U.S. State Department mentioned specifically about Nicaragua after the news of a reporter killed using Facebook Live broke.

Facebook didn’t cause these conflicts, but it is driving actions and public sentiments that go well beyond the political punchline it has become in American politics. Whether the West likes it or not, freedom of speech is now tied to social media, and that symbol is taking a global beating.

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The 7th Anniversary of the Death of Usama Bin Laden

Writing in the first person is something I try to avoid, as it was something beaten into my head by writing mentors early on, but when it comes to Usama bin Laden, it always felt very personal for people my age. We were just out of high school and entering college when bin Laden’s cowardly plan was set in motion. It seems almost impossible to describe what we saw in real time, with our own eyes, on live television, to our kids and the generation that followed: people jumping out of buildings, buildings collapsing, and thousands of people covered in rubble dust.

Nearly 17 years after that terrible day, we still debate what radicalizes extremists and drives them to commit such horrific acts, but no one ever stopped to ask, were Americans radicalized? Allow me to spoil it for you: They absolutely were radicalized by what they saw in September of 2001.

How radicalized? Even after a decade of inflated identity politics, most on the right will, some begrudgingly, tip their caps to the man who got the appropriate pounds of flesh from Usama bin Laden and then dumped his dead body at sea: Barack Obama.

Obama has taken a well-deserved beating over his foreign policy in the last few days, particularly in regard to the Iran Deal. The fact that Obama gave too much to the Iranians without getting enough, boxed Congress out of the process, allowed half a million people to die in Syria, all while lying to the American people with a grin on his face, is becoming impossible to ignore. The echo chamber can’t keep up with the demand for spin, and Obama’s legacy is unraveling faster than a ball of yarn thrown down a hill.

But his reckoning can wait until tomorrow.

I was standing in a steakhouse working a second job, drenched in sweat, when out of the corner of my eye, on the only screen visible in the bar from the kitchen, I saw President Obama walk down the long red carpet to address the nation. Being tall, I just walked over and turned the volume up to hear the President speak, and when I looked around, everyone — employees and patrons — had gravitated to this television.  

The bartender recognized the same strange thing, and she killed the music and turned up the other televisions about 20 seconds before Obama said those words: “After a firefight, they killed Usama Bin Laden.” The place went absolutely bananas; people were buying drinks and the owners were letting employees drink on the clock. It was a fine day indeed.

Obama is going to be put through the ringer like every other President in history, but for this, his bright shining moment, we should celebrate the 44th president of the United States. It should be remembered that the celebrations that night weren’t just in a steakhouse in Missouri, they were everywhere, and it was real joy.

Here are some videos of those celebrations at Ground Zero in New York and Philadelphia:

And Ohio: 

 

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With a Joke, Iran’s Foreign Minister Just Confirmed the Israelis Have Their Documents

Credible people give credit where credit is due and we must tip our caps to the Iranians for a clever response to having half a ton of documents stolen from a facility in Tehran. Their response was to announce the relocation of their embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

When Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was asked why Iran would be moving their embassy to Jerusalem Zarif replied, “because our paperwork is already there.” That is probably the most clever way anyone has ever confirmed news that made them look awful and vulnerable. What Zarif did was confirm that the Israelis had gotten to them in the heart of Tehran.

Zarif confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was saying at his press conference yesterday. The other joke, of course, is that Iran doesn’t have an embassy in Israel nor do the Israelis have an embassy in Iran. Iran’s entire foreign policy strategy for 39 years has been to destroy Israel.

While Zarif has earned cool-points for cleverness he is still representing a country that is the single most destabilizing element in the Middle East. Israel is not going to tolerate a sustained or continued Iranian military presence in Syria and much to Iran’s chagrin that has nothing to do with the Iran deal or where America’s embassy is in Israel.

But seriously, Zarif, thanks for the laugh.

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No, a Typo Did Not Almost Start a War

It seems that Rachel Maddow is somewhat a grammar nazi. This is how she teased her audience about her show last night. “Boy howdy, is that one robust clerical error. The White House sort of declaring on war on Iran tonight.” The White House originally said, “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.” They later issued a statement correcting the present tense of “has” to the past tense of “had,” taking away Iran’s chance to engage the United States in war. Oh darn, but there’s always next time. 

“Clerical error”… No, the United States did not accidentally declare war on Iran. That is either stupid or irresponsible; either way, that is not what happened. Has/had is not really the point; It is what to do about behavior that scares their neighbors. Wanna know what wasn’t a clerical error? The military site Iran chose to build in Syria, nor the bombs Israel used to destroy it.

But sure, Ms. Maddow, complain about yellowcake uranium in Africa to deflect from Iran creeping on capabilities to hurt Israel. That apocalyptic grammar alert was really helpful to the overall dialogue the region is trying to have about a neighborhood bully.

Iran has the capability to start making a nuclear weapon at any time but says they are not developing weapons. A fact they spent all of last weekend in America repeating to CBS and at a forum at the Council on Foreign Relations. It doesn’t seem as though Ms. Maddow had time between defending the reputations of Joy Reid and Tom Brokaw to cover those significant events.

Anyhow, if Ms. Maddow had any idea what was going on in Syria she wouldn’t be worried about a [bleeping] clerical error escalating to war with the Iranians. Iranians have clashed with Americans in Syria multiple times. Most clashes with Iran have come in the air, but others occurred by proxy. Most recently, when tribesmen near Deir Ezzor tried to take three villages and also in February when American special forces killed a “couple hundred” Russian mercenaries in the same area.

Furthermore, the escalation isn’t between the United States and Iran, but rather Israel and Iran. When it comes to the United States and Iran, officially, America doesn’t seek engagement; it is only Iran who threatens to attack the US in Iraq and Syria.  A conflict with Israel has been what the Iranians have been seeking since Jimmy Carter was President. Iran is not just in Syria, they are also in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, and Bahrain, but when those issues are brought up, Iran only wants to talk in terms of the Iran Deal.

Nukes or no nukes, Iran’s neighbors are tired of their constant destabilizing behavior. Israel and Saudi Arabia are not constrained by the Iran Deal and how they choose to handle the situation seems like a regional issue. Rachel Maddow is too smart to be acting so dumb. Be better, this is not a game.

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Iran Is a Lying Bunch Of Liars

So, Israel dropped a bombshell on the global media today after dropping actual bombs on Iranian installations in Syria last night. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed that Mossad was able to acquire half a ton of Iranian documents on their nuclear program.

The size of what was stolen is truly staggering, but it didn’t quite reveal  what many were hoping to see: a smoking gun that proved Iran was still working to get its nuclear weapon after it had pledged to stop in 2015. While the international community says Iran has stopped, what exactly is in the over 100,000 documents has yet to be fully understood. What is likely to be learned is just how close Iran was/is to the weapon, according to their own internal documents.

Israel and others have always just been guessing, some more educated than others, at where Iran exactly is in its development of a nuclear weapon. This matters to Israel, because Iran has been threatening to destroy them since the Iranian revolution brought the Mullahs to power in 1979. This is particularly vital because Iran has threatened to walk away from the Deal several times since President Trump took office in 2017.

When Iran says they will “walk away” from the Deal they’re really saying “we will restart our nuclear weapons program.” And that part — that critical part — is what scares the Israelis to the point of preemptive strikes. That is not going to get better with Iran building more installations in Syria, it is actually going to do the opposite.

Iran has masterfully kept the regional focus on the Iran Deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It’s the UN Security Council making Iran sign a piece of paper saying they won’t build nukes and as a reward they get money that’s been frozen due to sanctions, as well as having the sanctions lifted. President Trump has not verified that Iran is complying with the deal. Instead, he has chosen  to extend the deal every 90 days exactly as his predecessor Barack Obama.

The Iranians feel this is all a coordinated attempt by Western powers to undermine their regional influence. And the Iranians are one hundred percent right. Israel is not bound by the Iran Deal, nor have they ever once asked permission to defend themselves when they thought it necessary (See: Six Days War). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Bahrain are all not constrained by the Iran Deal. They, too, have all expressed concern or downright terror at the thought of a cash-flushed Iranian Regime operating unchecked in the region, let alone becoming a nuclear power.

This is not “Western meddling.” The region, Iran’s neighbors, are sick to death of Iran’s regional adventurism of revenge and spite that the regime needs to portray to maintain its domestic power. It’s bad for business and it’s bad for everyone. Now all eyes turned to May 12th and whether or not President Trump will fix, nix, or kick the deal down the road for another 90 days.

Redstate will be there when it happens.

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White House Releases Photo’s of Mike Pompeo And Kim Jong Un’s Meeting

CIA Director Pompeo and Kim Jong Un

The United States Senate has confirmed CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next Secretary of State by a vote of 57-42. Pompeo’s itinerary for the next few days was released to the press a few hours before his confirmation was made official.

A few hours later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders shared pictures of, now former, CIA Director Pompeo and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un meeting on the Korean Peninsula.

They are far less flashy and cringe-worthy than the photo op Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had with Un’s father, Kim Jong Il in the 1990’s. The two toasted the non-proliferation agreement signed during the Bill Clinton Administration that clearly didn’t work as the US and North Korea are once again experiencing high tension over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Funny enough, when the media asked Press Secretary Sanders about Pompeo meeting Un last week, she said “this administration does not comment  on the CIA Director’s travel.” That is true, until the Director becomes America’s top diplomat and then this administration shares the victorious optics with everyone.

There is hope among foreign policy observers and foreign leaders that Pompeo will be able to corral Trump and his inability to stay on message or at least not undercut his cabinet members and diplomats that are abroad trying to maintain stability. Getting North Korea to soften and open up to meaningful dialogue that will bring about results in Far East Asia would be one heck of an opening act for Pompeo.

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Kanye West Isn’t Crazy, He’s Just Tired of the BS

All of America is asking, “What in the world is Kanye West doing?He has been tweeting understanding, if not support, for President Donald Trump. This has the American political left lighting their hair on fire. It is as if God has forsaken them and put on a MAGA hat.

Well, what actually is happening is that he is acting on what, in December of 2016, was thought to be a nervous breakdown or mental exhaustion. West’s personal doctor was so worried about the rapper that he called 911 or rather that was the official story. West’s doctor actually called before even seeing or examining West according to this TMZ clip.

The same thing seems to be repeating itself. Kanye West says what seem like crazy things (only if you believe black people shouldn’t support republican ideas or candidates) and then his lawyers and management do damage control, but that might all be changing. West has reportedly fired his lawyer and manager according to this Hollywood Scoop report.

But when you look at everything, Kanye West seems consistent and even cogent in what he believes. RedState has linked the transcript of what is allegedly Kanye West’s meltdown in 2016. Please be advised this is a profanity-laced monologue and is not safe for family viewing. West said,

But as we learn all the politics that niggas was doing for years. Obama couldn’t make America great because he couldn’t be him to be who he was. Black men have been slaves. Obama wasn’t allowed to do this [screams] and still win. He had to be perfect. But being perfect don’t always change shit, bro.”

That’s pretty much the sentiment President Trump tapped into to win the White House.

And more...

“It’s a new world, Hillary Clinton, it’s a new world. Feelings matter. Because guess what? Everybody in middle America felt a way and they showed you how they felt. Feelings matter, bro. It’s a new world. It’s a new world, Barack. It’s a new world, Jay Z. Hey, don’t send killers at my head, bro. This ain’t the Malcolm X movie. We growing from that moment. Let ‘Ye be ‘Ye. And wait a second. Do y’all agree with that? Let ‘Ye be ‘Ye. Wait a second. I ain’t hear enough screams on that. Let ‘Ye be ‘Ye.”

This writer has read thousands of hot takes and think pieces expressing exactly this sentiment. “Middle Amera felt a way and they showed you how they felt.” That is pretty damn good political analysis for being 10 days after the election.

And Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg? He pulls no punches.

“I ain’t here to massage you with a fake truth, telling you that Hillary gon’ win over and over and over and then you wake up [and] you still can’t believe it! You know why? Because you was lied to by Google. You was lied to by Mark Zuckerberg”

Who among us does not feel that way about Mark Zuckerberg?

But his truest statement was his most profane, when he said,

“Fuck winning. Fuck looking cool. Fuck looking cool. Fuck being cool. Fuck all that, bruh! I’ve been sitting here to give y’all my truth even at the risk of my own life.”

C’mon, that’s like 98.6 percent of Twitter. What do Kanye West and The Dixie Chicks have in common? This — they’re both being told to shut up and perform

Is Kanye West crazy? It doesn’t look like it. It looks like he is just really tired of the bullsh**. But really, who isn’t? Would he make a good president? Elect him and find out…

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Kanye Goes MAGA and Donald Trump Tweets His Approval

Just now Kanye West, one of the most famous rappers in the world, tweeted out a picture of him wearing a MAGA hat. MAGA hats have been accused of being a part of the uniform for the growing white nationalist movement that has somewhat fizzled out.

One of the gentlemen in the photo with West is clearly holding up an “OK” symbol. Which was considered a secret sign being flashed by white nationalists wearing MAGA hats in 2017.

West has been tweeting throughout the day and to make things even more bizarre President Donald Trump thanked Kanye West for his sociological insight. Calling it “very cool.”

And the cherry on top of all this was the photo West most recently tweeted.

Yup, that is a photo of a #Kanye2024 poster. Is this how Kanye West announces his candidacy? Or has the seventh seal of the tribulation been broken? Only time will tell. But most people agree…this is pretty weird even by 2018 standards.

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