Iraq

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You may start the war but we will end it: Soleimani warns Trump

Who is Qasem Soleimani?

Iran’s revolutionary guard explained

Is this Iranian the most powerful man in Iraq? – Newsnight

President Trump: U.S. Won’t Stand For Iranian President’s ‘Demented Words’ | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Sebastian Gorka: Trump understands how fragile Iran is

Iranian President Warns Trump Not To ‘Play With The Lion’s Tail’

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

The differences and similarities between Sunni and Shia Isalm

10 Differences Between Shia and Sunni Muslims

 

Story 1: Islamic Republic of Iran Threatens United States Again — Waiting For President Trump Tweet Response — Videos

Trump Tower in ruins? Iranian special forces leader warns Trump that war ‘will destroy everything you own’ and boasted that ‘nation of martyrdom’ can strike U.S. military

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would ‘destroy everything you own’
  • The boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike the president’s real estate properties
  • Soleimani said U.S. military in the Red Sea area are not secure: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him’
  • Trump softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal
  • That came after he warned Iran’s president that he would ‘SUFFER CONSEQUENCES’ for threatening the U.S.

The general in charge of Iran‘s elite paramilitary Quds Forces warned Donald Trumpon Thursday that war with the Islamist country would eliminate his entire net worth, suggesting terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike his real estate properties.

‘You know that this war will destroy everything you own,’ Major General Qassem Soleimani said during a speech in the central Iranian city of Hamedan.

He also said the Red Sea is not secure while U.S. troops are deployed in the area: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him.’

‘We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready. If you begin the war, we will end the war,’ he boasted.

Iranian Quds Forces commander Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would 'destroy everything you own'

Trump had already softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal

The latest Iranian boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Tehran's military are prepared to strike the president's real estate properties

‘You have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic.’

Iran this week dismissed a warning from Trump that Tehran risked dire consequences if it made threats against the United States.

Trump softened his threatening tone on Tuesday, just two days after he blasted an allcaps warning about ‘consequences’ for Tehran’s anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Addressing the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump took credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear accord, but said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate would be an appetizing target for America's enemies

The president warned Iran's president Sunday night not to provoke him

The president warned Iran’s president Sunday night not to provoke him

‘We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,’ he said.

Late Sunday night he tweeted to Rouhani: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.’

Rouhani had claimed that ‘Iran is the mother of all peace’ before warning Trump that ‘war with Iran is the mother of all wars.’

‘Don’t play with fire, or you will regret [it],’ the Iranian leader continued. ‘Iranian people are the master and they will never bow to anyone.’

Iran President warns Trump not to take military action

Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations, put his disdain for Trump in more personal terms.

‘Trump’s language is still the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls,’ he said Thursday.

His threat directed at U.S. troops in the Red Sea area came as Saudi Arabia said it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, following an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Yemen, where a U.S-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for three years, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.

 

ww.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5995587/Iranian-special-forces-leader-warns-Trump-war-destroy-own.html

 

Qasem Soleimani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sardar
Qasem Soleimani
Sardar Qasem Soleimani-01.jpg
Native name قاسم سلیمانی
Nickname(s) Haj Qasem” (among supporters)[1]

“The Shadow Commander” (in the West)[2][3][4][5][6]

Born 11 March 1957 (age 61)
Qanat-e MalekKermanImperial State of Iran
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Years of service 1979–present
Rank Major general
Unit Quds Force
Commands held 41st Tharallah Division of Kerman
Quds Force
Battles/wars

show

See battles
Awards Fath Medal.jpg Fath Medal of Honor (3)[14]

Qasem Soleimani (Persianقاسم سلیمانی‎, born 11 March 1957) is an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and since 1998 commander of its Quds Force—a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.[15]

A veteran military officer of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s with a humble background, he has been active in many conflicts in the rest of the Middle East, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, while maintaining a very low profile. His methods have been a blend of military and financial assistance to Shiite allies and hard-nosed strategic diplomacy. It has long provided military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.[16]

 

Background

Soleimani was born in Qanat-e Malek village, Rabor CountyKerman Province, to an impoverished peasant family. In his youth, he moved to the city of Kerman and worked as a construction worker to help repay a debt his father owed. In 1975, he began working as a contractor for the Kerman Water Organization.[17] When not at work, he spent his time lifting weights in local gyms and attending the sermons of a traveling preacher by the name of Hojjat Kamyab – a protege of Ayatollah Khomeini.[18]

Military Career

Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.[18]

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Suleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.[19] He quickly earned a reputation for bravery,[20] and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in retaking the lands Iraq had occupied, eventually becoming the commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still in his 20s, participating in most major operations. He was mostly stationed at the southern front[19][21] He was heavily injured in Operation Tariq-ol-Qods. In a 1990 interview, he mentions Operation Fath-ol-Mobin as “the best” operation he participated in and “very memorable”, due to its difficulties yet positive outcome.[22] He was also engaged in leading and organizing irregular warfare missions deep inside Iraq carried out by the Ramadan Headquarters. It was at this point that Suleimani established relations with Kurdish Iraqi leaders and the Shia Badr Organization, both of which opposed to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.[19]

On July 17, 1985, Soleimani opposed the IRGC leadership’s plan to deploy forces to two islands in western Arvandroud (Shatt al-Arab).[23]

After the war, during the 1990s, he was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province.[21] In this region, which is relatively close to Afghanistan, Afghan-grown opium travels to Turkey and onto Europe. Soleimani’s military experience helped him earn a reputation as a successful fighter against drug trafficking.[18]

During the 1999 student revolt in Tehran, Soleiman was one of the IRGC officers who signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami. The letter stated that if Khatami did not crush the student rebellion the military would, and might also launch a coup against Khatami.[18][24]

Command of Quds Force

The exact date of his appointment as commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force is not clear, but Ali Alfoneh cites it as between 10 September 1997 and 21 March 1998.[17] He was considered one of the possible successors to the post of commander of the IRGC, when General Yahya Rahim Safavi left this post in 2007. In 2008, he led a group of Iranian investigators looking into the death of Imad Mughniyah. Soleimani helped arrange a ceasefire between the Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army in March 2008.[25]

Following the September 11 attacks of 2001, Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official in the United States, flew to Geneva to meet with Iranian diplomats who were under the direction of Soleimani with the purpose of collaborating to destroy the Taliban, which had targeted Shia Afghanis.[18] This collaboration was instrumental in defining the targets of bombing operations in Afghanistan and in capturing key Al Qaeda operatives, but abruptly ended in January 2002, when George W Bush named Iran as part of the “Axis of evil” in his State of the Union address.[18]

In 2009, a leaked report stated that General Soleimani met Christopher R. Hill and General Raymond T. Odierno (America’s two most senior officials in Baghdad at the time) in the office of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani (who has known General Soleimani for decades). Hill and General Odierno denied the occurrence of the meeting.[26]

On 24 January 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[21][27] Khamenei is described as having a close relationship with him, helping him financially and has called Soleimani a “living martyr”.[18]

Soleimani has been described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today” and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran’s effort to combat Western influence and promote the expansion of Shiite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East.[18] In Iraq, as the commander of the Quds force, he is believed to have strongly influenced the organization of the Iraqi government, notably supporting the election of previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.[18][28] Soleimani has even been described as being “Iran’s very own Erwin Rommel“.[29]

According to some sources, Soleimani is the principal leader and architect of the military wing of the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah since his appointment as Quds commander in 1998.[18]

Syrian Civil War

A map of Al-Qusayr and its environs. The Al-Qusayr offensive was allegedly masterminded by Soleimani[30]

According to several sources, including Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier who defected in August 2012, he is also one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[18][28] In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war, when Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s lack of ability to fight the opposition, and the fallout to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell. He is reported to have coordinated the war from a base in Damascus at which a Lebanese Hezbollah commander and an Iraqi Shiite militia coordinator have been mobilized, in addition to Syrian and Iranian officers. Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, the Basij’s former deputy commander helps to run irregular militias that Soleimani hopes to continue the fight if Assad falls.[18] Under Soleimani the command has “coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications”. According to a Middle Eastern security official Dexter Filkins talked to, thousands of Quds Force and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Syria are “spread out across the entire country.”[18] The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from Syrian rebels was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.[18]

He is widely credited with delivering the strategy that has helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.[31] The details of his involvement however are little known but many events from the training of government allied militias and coordination of decisive military offensives[18] to the sighting of Iranian UAVs & spy-drones in Syria, strongly suggest that his command (the Quds force) is heavily involved in many aspects of the civil war.[18] In a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday 29 Jan 2015, Soleimani laid wreaths at the graves of the slain Hezbollah members, including Emad Mughniyah, the son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah which strengthens some possibilities about his role in Hezbollah military reaction on Israel.[32]

Soleimani helped in formation of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria.

In October 2015, it was reported that he had been instrumental in devising during his visit to Moscow in July 2015 the Russian-Iranian-Syrian offensive in October 2015.[33]

War on ISIS in Iraq

The east of Saladin Province in Iraq where Qasem Soleimani was involved in breaking the Siege of Amirli by ISIS[34]

Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amerli, to work with the Iraqi forces to push back militants from ISIS.[35][36] According to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Amerli was the first town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion, it was secured thanks to “an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and U.S. warplanes”. The US acted as a force multiplier for a number of Iranian-backed arm groups—at the same time that was present on the battlefield.[37][38]

A senior Iraqi official told the BBC that when the city of Mosul fell, the rapid reaction of Iran, rather than American bombing, was what prevented a more widespread collapse.[9] Qasem Soleimani also seems to have been instrumental in planning the operation to relieve Amirli in Saladin province where ISIS had laid siege to an important city.[34] In fact the Quds force operatives under Soleimani’s command seem to have been deeply involved with not only the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias but also the Kurdish in the battle of Amirli,[39] not only providing liaisons for intelligence sharing but also the supply of arms and munitions in addition to “providing expertise”.[40]

In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described Soleimani as “fearless”—one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines.[41]

Soleimani was also intimately involved in the planning & execution of the operation to liberate Tikrit[42][43]

Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization [an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country] highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for Iran, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile right now.[44] and he added there would be no Iraq if Gen. Soleimani hadn’t helped us.[45]

There were reports by some Western sources that Soleimani has been seriously wounded in action against ISIL in Samarra. The claim was rejected by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[46]

Soleimani played an integral role in the organisation and planning of the crucial operation to retake the city of Tikrit in Iraq from ISIS. The city of Tikrit rests on the left bank of the Tigris river and is the largest and most important city between Baghdad and Mosul, gifting it a high strategic value. The city fell to ISIS during 2014 when ISIS made immense gains in northern and central Iraq. After its capture, ISIL performed its most infamous massacre at Camp Speicher. After months of careful preparation and intelligence gathering an offensive to encircle and capture Tikrit was launched in early March 2015.[43] Soleimani is directing the operations on the eastern flank from a village about 35 miles from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured over the weekend. The offensive is the biggest military operation in the Salahuddin region since last summer, when ISIS fighters killed hundreds of Iraq army soldiers who had abandoned their military base at Camp Speicher outside Tikrit.

Orchestration of military escalation in 2015

In 2015 Soleimani started to gather support from various sources in order to combat the newly resurgent ISIL and rebel groups which were both successful in taking large swathes of territory away from Assad’s forces. He was reportedly the main architect of the joint intervention involving Russia as a new partner with Assad and Hezbollah.[47][48][49]

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia’s help. Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. “Putin reportedly told the envoy ‘Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani’. Gen. Soleimani went to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.[48]

Operations in Aleppo

Map of the offensive.[50][51][52][53][54][55]

Soleimani, who assumed overall command in the Aleppo offensives of 2015,[citation needed] had a decisive impact on the theatre of operations and led to a strong advance in southern Aleppo with the government and allied forces re-capturing two military bases and dozens of towns and villages in a matter of weeks. There was also a series of major advances towards Kuweiris air-base to the north-east.[56] By mid-November, the Syrian army and its allies had gained ground in southern areas of Aleppo Governorate, capturing numerous rebel strongholds. Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages fell into government hands. Soleimani reportedly commanded the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers).[57]

It is unclear whether or not the General sustained possibly grave injuries, but in response to reports about his injury[58] during the southwest Aleppo operation, he is quoted as saying, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys, but it isn’t granted yet”.[59]

In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside,[60] which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off rebel’s main supply route from Turkey. According to a senior, non-Syrian security source close to Damascus, Iranian fighters played a crucial role in the conflict. “Qassem Soleimani is there in the same area”, he said.[61] In December 2016, new photos emerged of Soleimani at the Citadel of Aleppo, though the exact date of the photos is unknown.[62][63]

Operations in 2017

In late March 2017, Soleimani was seen in the northern Hama Governorate countryside, reportedly aiding Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan in repelling a major rebel offensive.[13]

CIA’s chief, Mike Pompeo, said that he sent Soleimani and other Iranian leaders a letter holding them responsible for any attacks on US interests by forces under their control. According to Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide for the country’s supreme leader, Soleimani ignored the letter when it was handed over to him while he was in the Abu Kamal offensive against ISIL, saying “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”[64][65]

In popular culture

General Soleimani in civil dress during a public ceremony in 2013

He is said to have a calm presence about him,[66] carry himself “inconspicuously and rarely raises his voice”, exhibiting “understated charisma“.[20] In Western sources, Qassem Suleimani’s personality has been compared to the fictional characters KarlaKeyser Söze,[20] and Scarlet Pimpernel.[67]

The 2016 award-winning movie Bodyguard, directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, was inspired by Soleimani’s activities.[68]

The 2016 Persian book Noble Comrades 17: Hajj Qassem, written by Ali Akbari Mozdabadi, contains memoirs of Qassem Soleimani.[69]

Hadi Al-Ameri the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq says about him: “If Qasem Soleimani was not present in Iraq, Haidar al-Ibadi should form his cabinet out of Iraqi borders”.[70]

In politics

In 1999, Soleimani, along with other senior IRGC commanders, signed a letter to then-President Mohammad Khatami regarding the student protests in July. They wrote “Dear Mr. Khatami, how long do we have to shed tears, sorrow over the events, practice democracy by chaos and insults, and have revolutionary patience at the expense of sabotaging the system? Dear president, if you don’t make a revolutionary decision and act according to your Islamic and national missions, tomorrow will be so late and irrecoverable that cannot be even imagined.”[71]

Iranian media reported in 2012 that he might be replaced as the commander of Quds Force in order to allow him to run in the 2013 presidential election.[72] He reportedly refused to be nominated for the election.[71] According to BBC, in 2015 a campaign started among conservative bloggers for Soleimani to stand for 2017 presidential election.[73] In 2016, he was speculated as a possible candidate,[71][74] however in a statement published on 15 September 2016, he called speculations about his candidacy as “divisive reports by the enemies” and said he will “always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution”.[75]

Personal life

Qasem Soleimani is from Kerman. His father was a farmer who died in 2017. His mother, Fatemeh died in 2013.[76] He comes from a family of nine and has five sisters and one brother, Sohrab, who lived and worked with Soleimani in his youth.[77] Sohrab Soleimani is a warden and former director general of the Tehran Prisons Organization. U.S. put sanctions on him in April 2017 “for his role in abuses in Iranian prisons”.[78]

Soleimani has Dan in karate and was a fitness trainer in his youth. He has four children: two sons and two daughters.[79]

Sanctions

In March 2007, Soleimani was included on a list of Iranian individuals targeted with sanctions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747.[80] On 18 May 2011, he was sanctioned again by the United States along with Syrian president Bashar Assad and other senior Syrian officials due to his alleged involvement in providing material support to the Syrian government.[81]

On 24 June 2011, the Official Journal of the European Union said the three Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now subject to sanctions had been “providing equipment and support to help the Syrian government suppress protests in Syria”.[82] The Iranians added to the EU sanctions list were two Revolutionary Guard commanders, Soleimani, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.[83] Soleimani was also sanctioned by the Swiss government in September 2011 due to the same grounds cited by the European Union.[84]

He is listed by the United States as a known terrorist, which forbids U.S. citizens from doing business with him.[25][85] The list, published in the EU’s Official Journal on 24 June 2011, also includes a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding Assad’s government. The list also includes Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hossein Taeb.[86]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasem_Soleimani

Quds Force

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Quds Force
سپاه قدس
Seal of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.svg
Active 1980–present
Country Iran
Branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Type Special operations force
Role Special operations
Size Classified (estimate: 15,000)
Engagements Iran–Iraq War
1982 Lebanon War
Bosnian War
South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
Battle for Herat
Balochistan conflict
Iran–PJAK conflict
Syrian Civil War
2014 Northern Iraq offensive
Military intervention against ISIL

Commanders
Commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani

The Quds Force[1] (Persianسپاه قدس‎ sepāh-e qods) is a special forces unit of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations.[2] The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of IranAli Khamenei.[3][4] Its commander is Major General Qasem Soleimani[5] and his deputy was Hossein Hamadani.[6] While “little is reliably known” about the force,[7] as of 2007, its size was estimated at 15,000 troops.[8]The United States has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007.[9]

 

History and mission

The Quds Force was created during the Iran–Iraq War as a special unit from the broader IRGC forces. Both during and after the war, it provided support to the Kurds fighting Saddam Hussein. In 1982, a Quds unit was deployed to Lebanon, where it assisted in the genesis of Hezbollah.[10] The Force also expanded its operations into neighboring Afghanistan, most notably aiding Abdul Ali Mazari‘s Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat in the 1980s against the government of Mohammad Najibullah. It then began funding and supporting Ahmad Shah Massoud‘s Northern Alliance against the Taliban.[11] However, in recent years, the Quds Force is alleged to have been helping and guiding the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] There were also reports of the unit lending support to Bosnian Muslims fighting the Bosnian Serbs during the Yugoslav wars.[19][20][21]

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad helped fund the Quds Force while he was stationed at the Ramazan garrison near Iraq, during the late 1980s.[22]

In January 2010, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the mission of the Quds Force was expanded and the Force along with Hezbollah started a new campaign of attacks targeting not only the US and Israel but also other Western bodies.[23]

Organization

8 directorates of Quds Force Operations

The force is described as “active in dozens of countries”.[7] According to former U.S. Army intelligence officer David Dionisi, the Quds force is organized into eight different directorates based on geographic location:[24]

According to journalist Dexter Filkins, the force’s members are “divided between combatants and those who train and oversee foreign assets”, and the force is divided into branches focusing on “intelligence, finance, politics, sabotage, and special operations. Members are chosen both for their skill and “allegiance to the doctrine of the Islamic Revolution”.[25]

In addition, Dionisi asserts in his book American Hiroshima that the Iranian Quds Force headquarters for operations in Iraq was moved in 2004 to the Iran-Iraq border in order to better supervise activities in Iraq.[24] The Quds Force also has a headquarters in the former compound of the U.S. Embassy, which was overrun in 1979.[26]

According to Filkins and American General Stanley A. McChrystal, it was the Quds Force that “flooded” Iraq with “explosively formed projectiles” which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, and which accounted for “nearly 20%” of American combat deaths in Iraq (i.e. hundreds of soldiers).[25] In September 2007, a few years after the publication of American Hiroshima: The Reasons Why and a Call to Strengthen America’s Democracy in July 2006, General David Petraeus reported to Congress that the Quds Force had left Iraq. Petraeus said, “The Quds Force itself, we believe, by and large, those individuals have been pulled out of the country, as have the Lebanese Hezbollah trainers that were being used to augment that activity.”[27]

On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in The New Yorker revealing that President Bush had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command to conduct cross-border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against the Quds Force and “high-value targets”.[28] “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change”, a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups”.[28]

Size

The size of the Quds Force is unknown, with some experts believing that Quds Force numbers no more than 2,000 people, with 800 core operatives, and others saying that it could number anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000.[29][30][31]

Outside analysis

While it reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, there are debates over how independently Quds Force operates.[29]

Mahan Abedin, director of research at the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism (and editor of Islamism Digest), believes the unit is not independent: “Quds Force, although it’s a highly specialized department, it is subject to strict, iron-clad military discipline. It’s completely controlled by the military hierarchy of the IRGC, and the IRGC is very tightly controlled by the highest levels of the administration in Iran.”[32]

According to a Los Angeles Times report,[29] in Abedin’s view, “[I]t’s a very capable force—their people are extremely talented, [and] they tend to be the best people in the IRGC”.[32]

Activities

The Quds Force trains and equips foreign Islamic revolutionary groups around the Middle East. The paramilitary instruction provided by the Quds Force typically occurs in Iran or Sudan. Foreign recruits are transported from their home countries to Iran to receive training. The Quds Force sometimes plays a more direct role in the military operations of the forces it trains, including pre-attack planning and other operation-specific military advice.[24]

Afghanistan

Since 1979, Iran had supported the Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat forces against the Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah. When Najibullah stepped down as President in 1992, Iran continued supporting Hezbe Wahdat against other Afghan militia groups. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, Hezbe Wahdat had lost its founder and main leader, Abdul Ali Mazari, so the group joined Ahmad Shah Massoud‘s Northern Alliance. Iran began supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, who were backed by Pakistan and the Arab world.[33] In 1999, after several Iranian diplomats were killed by the Taliban in Mazar-e Sharif, Iran nearly got into a war with the Taliban.[34][35] The Quds Force reportedly fought alongside the United States and the Northern Alliance in the Battle for Herat. However, in recent years Iran is accused of helping and training the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration.[12][13] Iranian-made weapons, including powerful explosive devices are often found inside Afghanistan.[14][16][17][18]

We did interdict a shipment, without question the Revolutionary Guard‘s core Quds Force, through a known Taliban facilitator. Three of the individuals were killed… Iranians certainly view as making life more difficult for us if Afghanistan is unstable. We don’t have that kind of relationship with the Iranians. That’s why I am particularly troubled by the interception of weapons coming from Iran. But we know that it’s more than weapons; it’s money; it’s also according to some reports, training at Iranian camps as well.[15]

In March 2012, Najibullah Kabuli, leader of the National Participation Front (NPF) of Afghanistan, accused three senior leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of plotting to assassinate him.[36] Some members of the Afghan Parliament accuses Iran of setting up Taliban bases in several Iranian cities, and that “Iran is directly involved in fanning ethniclinguistic and sectarian tensions in Afghanistan.”[37] There are reports about Iran’s Revolutionary Guards training Afghans inside Iran to carry out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.[38]

Currently, the Revolutionary Guards recruit young people for terrorist activities in Afghanistan and try to revive the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar and Taliban groups[38]

— Syed Kamal, a self-confessed agent for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and member of Sipah-i-Mohmmad

India

Following an attack on an Israeli diplomat in India in February 2012, Delhi Police at the time contended that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had some involvement.[39] This was subsequently confirmed in July 2012, after a report by the Delhi Police found evidence that members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had been involved in the February 13 bomb attack in the capital.[39]

United States

On 11 October 2011, the Obama Administration revealed the United States Government’s allegations that the Quds Force was involved with the plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir, which also entailed plans to bomb the Israeli and Saudi embassies located in Washington, D.C.[40][41][42]

South America

It’s been reported that Iran has been increasing its presence in Latin America through Venezuela. Little is known publicly what their objectives are in the region, but in 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced Iran for meddling in “subversive activities” using Quds Forces. However, Iran claims it is merely “ensuring the survival of the regime” by propagating regional influence.

Iraq

The Quds Force has been described as the Iranian “unit deployed to challenge the United States presence” in Iraq following the U.S. invasion of that country, which put “165,000 American troops along [Iran’s] western border,” adding to the American troops already in Iran’s eastern neighbor Afghanistan.[43]

The force “operated throughout Iraq, arming, aiding, and abetting Shiite militias”—i.e., the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in IraqDawa, and the Mahdi Army—”all” of which “had close ties to Iran, some dating back decades” as part of their struggle against Saddam Hussein‘s oppressive Arab nationalist regime.[43]

In November 2006, with sectarian violence in Iraq increasing, U.S. General John Abizaid accused the Quds Force of supporting “Shi’a death squads” even while the government of Iran pledges support in stabilization.[44] Similarly, in July 2007, Major General Kevin Bergner of the U.S. Army alleged that members of the Quds Force aided in the planning of a raid on U.S. forces in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007.[45]

Former CIA officer Robert Baer asserts the Quds Force uses couriers for all sensitive communications.[46]

2006 detainment in Iraq

On 24 December 2006, the New York Times reported that at least four Iranians were captured by American troops in Iraq in the previous few days. According to the article, the U.S. government suspected that two of them were members of Quds Force, which would be some of the first physical proof of Quds Force activity in Iraq.[47] According to The Pentagon, the alleged the Quds Force members were “involved in the transfer of IED technologies from Iran to Iraq”.[48] The two men had entered Iraq legally, although they were not accredited diplomats. Iraqi officials believed that the evidence against the men was only circumstantial, but on 29 December, and under U.S. pressure, the Iraqi government ordered the men to leave Iraq. They were driven back to Iran that day.[49] In mid-January 2007 it was said that the two alleged Quds force officers seized by American forces were Brig. Gen. Mohsen Chizari and Col. Abu Amad Davari. According to the Washington Post. Chizari is the third highest officer of Quds Force, making him the highest-ranked Iranian to ever allegedly be held by the United States.[50]

American newspaper The New York Sun reported that the documents described the Quds Force as not only cooperating with Shi’a death squads, but also with fighters related to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna. It said that the Quds Force had studied the Iraq situation in a similar manner to the U.S. Iraq Study Group, and had concluded that they must increase efforts with Sunni and Shiite groups in order to counter the influence of Sunni states.[51]

U.S. raid on Iranian liaison office

On 11 January 2007, U.S. forces raided and detained five employees of the Iranian liaison office in Irbil, Iraq. The U.S. military says the five detainees are connected to the Quds Force.[52][53] The operation has drawn protests from the regional Kurdish government while the Russian government called the detainments unacceptable.[54]

Alireza Nourizadeh, a political analyst at Voice of America, states that their arrests are causing concern in Iranian intelligence because the five alleged officials are knowledgeable of a wide range of Quds Force and Iranian activities in Iraq.[55] According to American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, one of the men in custody is Quds Force’s director of operations.[56]

Iranian and Iraqi officials have maintained the detained men were part of a diplomatic mission in the city of ErbilIraq.[57] The five Iranian detainees were still being held at a U.S. prison in Iraq as of 8 July 2007.[58] The U.S. says they are “still being interrogated” and that it has “no plans to free them while they are seen as a security risk in Iraq”.[59] Iran says the detainees “are kidnapped diplomats” and that “they are held as hostages”.[60]

On 9 July 2009, the five detained diplomats in question were released from U.S. custody to Iraqi officials.[61]

Allegations of involvement in Karbala attack

On 20 January 2007, a group of gunmen attacked the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, captured four American soldiers, and subsequently killed them. The attackers passed through an Iraqi checkpoint at around 5 pm, a total of five black GMC Suburbans, similar to those driven by U.S. security and diplomatic officials. They were also wearing American military uniforms and spoke fluent English. Because of the sophistication of the attack, some analysts have suggested that only a group like the Quds Force would be able to plan and carry out such an action.[62] Former CIA officer Robert Baer also suggested that the five Americans were killed by the Quds Force in revenge for the Americans holding five Iranians since the January 11 raid in Irbil.[63] It was reported that the U.S. military is investigating whether or not the attackers were trained by Iranian officials; however, no evidence besides the sophistication of the attack has yet been presented.[64]

On 2 July 2007, the U.S. military said that information from captured Hezbollah fighter Ali Moussa Dakdouk established a link between the Quds Force and the Karbala raid. The U.S. military claims Dakdouk worked as a liaison between Quds force operatives and the Shia group that carried out the raid. According to the United States, Dakdouk said that the Shia group “could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Quds force”.[65]

Allegations of support for Iraqi militants

In June 2007, U.S. General Ray Odierno asserted that Iranian support for these Shia militia increased as the United States itself implemented the 2007 “troop surge“.[66] Two different studies have maintained that approximately half of all foreign insurgents entering Iraq come from Saudi Arabia.[67]

In December 2009 evidence uncovered during an investigation by The Guardian newspaper and Guardian Films linked the Quds Force to the kidnappings of five Britons from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007. Four of the hostages, Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec Maclachlan, and Alan McMenemy, were killed. Peter Moore was released on 30 December 2009. The investigation uncovered evidence that Moore, 37, a computer expert from Lincoln was targeted because he was installing a system for the Iraqi Government that would show how a vast amount of international aid was diverted to Iran’s militia groups in Iraq. One of the alleged groups funded by the Quds force directly is the Righteous League, which emerged in 2006 and has stayed largely in the shadows as a proxy of the Quds Force. Shia cleric and leading figure of the Righteous League, Qais al-Khazali, was handed over by the U.S. military for release by the Iraqi government on 29 December 2009 as part of the deal that led to the release of Moore.[68]

Allegations by U.S. President Bush

In a 14 February 2007 news conference U.S. President George W. Bush reiterated his claim that the Quds Force was causing unrest in Iraq, stating:

I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops. And I’d like to repeat, I do not know whether or not the Quds Force was ordered from the top echelons of government. But my point is what’s worse – them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening? And so we will continue to protect our troops. … to say it [this claim] is provoking Iran is just a wrong way to characterize the Commander-in-Chief’s decision to do what is necessary to protect our soldiers in harm’s way. And I will continue to do so. … Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they’re there, and I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops. … I don’t think we know who picked up the phone and said to the Quds Force, go do this, but we know it’s a vital part of the Iranian government. …What matters is, is that we’re responding. The idea that somehow we’re manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous. … My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we’re going to do something about it, pure and simple. … does this mean you’re trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I’m trying to protect our troops.[69]

Mohsen Sazegara, who was a high-ranking Tehran official before turning against the government, has argued that Ahmadinejad does not control the Guards outside of Iran. “Not only the foreign ministry of Iran; even the president does not know what the Revolutionary Guards does outside of Iran. They directly report to the leader”, he said, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.[70] Although Ali Khamenei is the ultimate person in charge of the Quds Force, George Bush did not mention him.[71] According to Richard Clarke, “Quds force reports directly to the Supreme Ayatollah, through the commander-in-chief of the revolutionary guards.”[71]

Detainment of alleged bomb smuggler

On 20 September 2007, the U.S. military arrested an Iranian during a raid on a hotel in Sulaimaniyah, a city in the Kurdish-controlled north. The military accused the Iranian of being a member of the elite Quds Force and smuggling powerful roadside bombs, including armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators, into Iraq. The military said intelligence reports asserted the suspect was involved in the infiltration and training of foreign fighters into Iraq as well.[72]

On 22 September 2007, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani criticized the United States for arresting the Iranian and called for his immediate release. Talabani argued he is a civil servant who was on an official trade mission in the Kurdish Region and stated Iraqi and Kurdish regional government representatives were aware of the man’s presence in the country. “I express to you our outrage for these American forces arresting this Iranian civil official visitor without informing or cooperating with the government of the Kurdistan region, which means insult and disregard for its rights”, Talabani wrote in a “letter of resentment” to Ryan CrockerU.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus.[73]

Allegations of 2007 market attack

On 24 November 2007, US military officials accused an Iranian special group of placing a bomb in a bird box that blew up at a popular animal market in central Baghdad. “The group’s purpose was to make it appear Al Qaeda in Iraq was responsible for the attack”, Admiral Smith said. He further emphasized there was “no evidence Iran ordered the attack”.[74] In May 2008, Iraq said it had no evidence that Iran was supporting militants on Iraqi soil.[75] Al-Sadr spokesman Al-Ubaydi said the presence of Iranian weapons in Iraq is “quite normal,” since “they are bought and sold and any party can buy them.”[76]

Allegations of ties to Al-Qaeda

According to reports produced by Agence France-Presse (AFP), The Jerusalem Post, and Al Arabiya, at the request of a member of the United States’ House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in 2011 Congressional counter-terrorism advisor Michael S. Smith II of Kronos Advisory, LLC produced a report on Iran’s alleged ties to Al-Qaeda that was distributed to members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.[77][78][79] Titled “The al-Qa’ida-Qods Force Nexus: Scratching the Surface of a Known Unknown”, a redacted version of Smith’s report is available online via the blog site owned by American military geostrategist and The Pentagon’s New Map author Thomas P.M. Barnett.[80] The report’s Issue Summary section explains: “This report focuses on the history of Iran’s relationship with al-Qa’ida, and briefly addresses potential implications of these ties. Additionally, its author provides a list of recommended action items for Members of the United States Congress, as well as a list of questions that may help Members develop a better understanding of this issue through interactions with defense and intelligence officials”. A member of the Quds Force was alleged arrested with 21 other suspects in the attack on the Israeli and United States embassies on 14 March 2012 in Azerbaijan.

Combat against Islamic State

The Quds force’s leader, Gen Qasem Soleimani was involved with both the planning as well as the execution of the operation to expell ISIL from Tikrit

In 2014, Quds Force was deployed into Iraq to lead Iranian action against ISIL. Iran sent three Quds Force battalions to help the Iraqi government repel ISIL’s 2014 Northern Iraq offensive.[81] Over 40 officers participated in the Second Battle of Tikrit (March 2015), including the leader of the force, Gen. Qasem Soleimani who took a leading role in the operation.

Syria

IRGC Commander Jafari announced on 16 September 2012 that Quds Force “were present” in Syria.[82]

Coinciding with the Geneva II Conference on Syria in 2014, Iran boosted its presence in Syria with several “hundred” military specialists, including senior commanders from the Quds Force, according to Iranian sources and security experts. While recently retired senior IRGC commander told that there were at least 60 to 70 Quds force commanders on the ground in Syria at any given time.[83] The primary role of these forces is to gather intelligence and manage the logistics of the battle for the Syrian Government.[83][84]

In November 2015 the Quds Force conducted a successful rescue mission of a Russian bomber pilot who was shot down by a Turkish fighter. Commander of Quds Force of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Major General Qasem Soleimani got in touch with his Russian counterparts and said that a special unit had been formed and was ready for the rescue operation. He also explained that the squad was made up of men from the Lebanese “Hezbollah” and soldiers from the Syrian Special Forces, who had undergone special training under the guidance of Iranian instructors. Apart from this fact, the Syrian soldiers were familiar with the terrain. The general assumed command of the ground operation and Russian aircraft had to carry out air cover and enable satellite surveillance. Once the location of the Russian pilot was determined via satellite through the built-in GPS device, it became clear that the pilot was located six kilometers behind the front line between the Syrian army forces and the opposition forces. The Special squad that entered the territory controlled by militants was not only able to save the Russian pilot, but also destroy all of the remaining terrorists there who had the most modern weapons in their possession. All of the 24 fighters not only survived, but also returned to their base without injuries.[85]

In May 2018, Quds forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights allegedly fired around 20 projectiles towards Israeli army positions without causing damage or casualties.[86] Israel responded with airstrikes against Iranian bases in Syria.[87] At least twenty-three fighters, among them 18 foreigners, were reportedly killed in the strikes.[88]

Germany

In January 2018, German authorities conducted raids in Baden-WürttembergNorth Rhine-WestphaliaBavaria and Berlin, searching homes and businesses belonging to ten alleged Iranian Quds Force members, suspected of spying on Israeli and Jewish targets.[89]

Designation as a terrorist organization

The United States Department of the Treasury designated the Quds Force under Executive Order 13224 for providing material support to US-designated terrorist organizations on 25 October 2007, prohibiting transactions between the group and U.S. citizens, and freezing any assets under U.S. jurisdiction.[9] The Government of Canada designated the Quds Force as a terrorist organization on 17 December 2012.[90] Egypt’s nominations included the organization.[91]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quds_Force

Story 2: Vice President Pence Talks Turkey: Free Pastor or Face U.S. Sanctions — Release Now — Videos

See the source image

Pence: US to Sanction Turkey Unless Pastor Freed

Vice President Pence: ‘Deep Concern’ About Americans Held in Turkey

Senators seek sanctions until Turkey frees Pastor Brunson

Turkey Refuses to Release Jailed American Pastor

US pastor facing terrorism charges in Turkey

Erdogan spokesman says United States will not achieve results by threatening Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Thursday the U.S. administration will not achieve its desired results by threatening Turkey, after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of sanctions unless Ankara freed an American pastor.

“The United States must reconsider its approach and adopt a constructive position before inflicting further damage to its own interests and its alliance with Turkey,” Ibrahim Kalin said in a written statement.

Trump demands Turkey ‘immediately’ release US pastor

US President Donald Trump said American pastor Andrew Brunson, pictured, "is suffering greatly" during detention in TurkeyUS President Donald Trump said American pastor Andrew Brunson, pictured, “is suffering greatly” during detention in Turkey

President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded Turkey free a detained American pastor, warning the United States was ready to impose “large sanctions” against its NATO ally.

“He is suffering greatly,” Trump said of 50-year-old pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been in detention for almost two years. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

Brunson ran a protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir when he was detained in October 2016 on terrorism-related charges.

Brunson was moved from jail to house arrest on Wednesday, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move was “not enough.”

The Trump administration — which is broadly supported by powerful US evangelicals — has made defending Christians abroad a tenet of its foreign policy.

“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being,” Trump said.

The escalating war of words between Washington and Ankara risks worsening already poor ties, which hold enormous military and economic importance for both countries.

The United States has long used bases in Turkey for operations across the Middle East, but relations have been strained by Washington’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Brunson still faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of carrying out activities on behalf of two groups Turkey deems terrorist organizations. One is led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara says was behind a 2016 failed coup, while the other is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

His next hearing is set for October 12.

The pastor denies the charges and his defense team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements that should never have been brought to court.

Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said “there is no credible evidence” against Brunson.

Last week a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require the United States to reject international loans to Turkey until Brunson and other Americans are freed or the harassment against them ends.

“I find it difficult to see how this relationship moves forward… if the Turkish government continues to detain Pastor Brunson as well as locally employed staff, journalists, and civil servants,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said at the time.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5996073/Trump-demands-Turkey-immediately-release-US-pastor.html

Story 3: House Republicans Trying To Impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosestein — Trump Will Fire Rosestein After Midterm Elections and Attorney General Sessions Will Either Appoint Second Counsel or Trump Will Accept Resignation — Videos —

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Trump allies move to impeach Rosenstein

Dershowitz on the case against impeaching Rosenstein

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Paul Ryan: I do not support impeaching Rosenstein

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Ex-DOJ attorney: Rosenstein should have already been fired

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Sources: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Is Prepared To Be Fired | MSNBC

Rep. Ron DeSantis on the push to impeach Rosenstein

Articles of impeachment filed against Rod Rosenstein

Story 4: Special Counsel Mueller Goes After President Trump’s Tweets — Desperation Move — Complete Investigation or Face Firing — Videos

Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry

Fox News’s Napolitano: Trump tweets are a ‘treasure trove’ for Mueller

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller knows President Trump‘s tweets are a “treasure trove” for his probe into whether the president obstructed justice.

“Mueller knows that those tweets are a treasure trove and a window into Trump’s thinking,” Napolitano said on Fox News’s “Outnumbered.”

“Did the president send messages to people of threats, or rewards, via his tweets? People who he knew or expected would be interviewed by Bob Mueller?” Napolitano said. “And if he did, was he engaging in witness tampering?”

Napolitano’s comments came shortly after a new New York Times reportthat said Mueller is reviewing Trump’s tweets as part of his investigation into whether he obstructed justice.

The Times reported that Mueller is focusing on Trump’s tweets about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, each of whom the president has repeatedly criticized on Twitter. 

Among other things, Trump has tweeted and said in interviews that he would not have nominated Sessions as attorney general if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public,” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer in Mueller’s Russia probe, said in a statement in response to the report.

The report from the Times comes only a few days after Giulani told Bloomberg News that he suggested to Mueller that Trump would sit for an interview only if Mueller agreed to rule out questions about obstruction of justice. 

http://thehill.com/homenews/media/399056-fox-news-napolitano-trumps-tweets-are-a-treasure-trove-for-mueller

Like the Rest of Us, Mueller Is Obsessing Over Trump’s Tweets

By 

That smile won’t last once he starts reading Trump’s tweets. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

Somewhere on the long list of reasons that Donald Trump is president is his early embrace of Twitter. First, Trump used it to promote himself as a brilliant businessman (which he’s not); then, as a medium to attack political opponents (which he’s good at); and now, as a way to communicate with the world as president (which is making most people crazy).

Ironically, now, according to the New York Times, there’s at least a small chance that Twitter could also lead to his demise. On Thursday, the paper reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing Trump’s tweets as he investigates the president for obstruction of justice.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.

The report goes on to cite Mueller’s desire to “question the president about the tweets.” Among the missives in question are those targeting Sessions in July of 2017. These were sent at the same time, Mueller has learned, that Trump was privately pressuring Sessions to resign so he could be replaced with someone who would not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Mueller is also interested in Trump’s attacks on Comey, which include a veiled threat about taped conversations between the two men. Such “tapes” do not exist, Trump later admitted.

While none of these tweets alone are believed to amount to obstruction of justice, they’re thought to be a part of Mueller’s plan to build a case that Trump was on a broad mission to interfere with the investigation.

Trump’s lawyers continue to insist that he’s done nothing outside of the scope of his power, though. And anyway, Rudy Giuliani told the Times, “If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public.”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/special-counsel-mueller-is-examining-trumps-tweets.html

 

 

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1112, July 23, 2018, Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes — Story 2: Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos — Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes

Sanders: Trump won’t stand for empty threats against America

Trump no nonsense approach on Iran is the right strategy: Gen. Jack Keane

Secretary Pompeo remarks on “Supporting Iranian Voices” – Speech only

Iran feeling the strain from Obama’s deal?

Trump weighs in after Iran threatens the ‘mother of all wars’ | In The News

US not afraid to sanction top Iran leaders: Pompeo

U.S. Pushes Confrontation with Iran: Trump Warns of “Consequences,” Pompeo Likens Leaders to “Mafia”

Scott Adams – President Trump’s All-Caps Tweet to Iran

 

Just tough Trump tweeting? US ratchets up Iran pressure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s explosive twitter threat to Iran’s leader comes as his administration is ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change.

No one is predicting imminent war. But Trump’s bellicose, all-caps challenge addressed to President Hassan Rouhani followed a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he accused Iran’s leadership of massive corruption and widespread rights abuses and urged Iranians to rise up in protest.

Trump’s tweet doesn’t appear to have been prompted by any notable shift in rhetoric from Iran.

It could have been an impulsive reaction to reports from Tehran quoting Rouhani as giving the U.S. an oft-repeated reminder that conflict with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.” Yet animosity directed at the Iranian leadership is an established part of the administration’s broader foreign policy.

The White House says President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet shows he’s not going to tolerate critical rhetoric from Iran, but claims the U.S. leader isn’t escalating tensions between the two countries. (July 23)

Iran publicly shrugged off Trump’s late Sunday message — “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday: COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones_for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, “None at all.”

Tehran is already aware of what is coming from the administration as consequences of Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord take shape.

As Pompeo noted in his speech to Iranian-Americans and others in California on Sunday, the centerpiece will be the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions; the first batch will go back into force on Aug. 4 targeting the Iranian automotive sector and trade in gold and other metals. A more significant set of sanctions that will hit Iran’s oil industry and central bank by punishing countries and companies that do business with them will resume on Nov. 4.

Pompeo also slammed Iran’s political, judicial and military officials, accusing several by name of participating in rampant corruption, and called its religious leaders “hypocritical holy men” who amassed wealth while allowing their people to suffer. He said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms,” and he hailed the “proud Iranian people (for) not staying silent about their government’s many abuses.”

“The United States under President Trump will not stay silent either,” he said.

He was right. True to form, Trump did not stay silent. But the White House blamed Rouhani for inciting the war of words with his comment that “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

“WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!,” Trump wrote.

Reaction from Congress, particularly Democrats, was swift and critical.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged that Iran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East pose a threat but suggested it wouldn’t be solved through a tweet from Trump.

“Sadly, after pulling us out of the nuclear deal with Europe and Iran, there doesn’t seem to be strategy for how to move forward to fight Iran’s activities,” she said.

And Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, called the Twitter blast from the White House “another warning sign that Trump is blundering toward war with Iran.”

Trump’s National Security Council pushed back:

“Our differences are with the Iranian regime’s actions and, in particular, with the actions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not the Iranian people. The Trump administration’s Iran policy seeks to address the totality of these threats and malign activities and to bring about a change in the Iranian regime’s behavior.”

“If anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. She added that Trump has been “very clear about what he’s not going to allow to take place.”

Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate long-standing disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the U.S.

In the case of North Korea, the verbal war cooled quickly and gradually led to the high-profile summit and denuclearization talks. Still there has been little tangible progress in a global push to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons program since the historic Trump-Kim Jong Un summit on June 12.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, David Rising in Dubai, Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire contributed.

___

This story has been corrected to correct Trump tweet: ‘Likes’ of which, not ‘like.’

https://apnews.com/33bbdee2506645859222e0f5252b288f/White-House-blames-Iran-for-war-of-words-with-Trump

 

Story 2: President Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos —

Trump may revoke security clearances for Obama-era officials

Rand Paul urges Trump to pull security clearances

Ex-CIA chief Brennan: Trump’s comments nothing short of treasonous

Rand Paul SHUTS DOWN Trump’s Critics & DESTROYS Obama’s Former CIA John Brennan

Scott Adams – The Newest Reason to Love Rand Paul

Clapper On President Donald Trump Revoking Security Clearance: Very Petty | Hardball | MSNBC

What’s Needed Desperately: Operation Wrath of Trump

Trump looking into revoking security clearances for Brennan, other top Obama officials

President Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of several top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, accusing them of having “politicized” or “monetized” their public service.

She made the announcement at Monday’s press briefing, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called on the president to specifically revoke Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance.

Sanders said Trump is considering it — and also looking into the clearances for other former officials and Trump critics: former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden (who also worked under President George W. Bush).

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on the political fallout from the IG report and the Mueller investigation.

Sanders said Trump is “exploring mechanisms” to remove the security clearances “because [the former officials] politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.”

Sanders added that their clearances effectively give “inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

“When you have the highest level of security clearance … when you have the nation’s secrets at hand, and go out and make false [statements], the president feels that’s something to be very concerned with,” Sanders said.

According McCabe’s spokesperson Melissa Schwartz, however, his security clearance had already been deactivated when he was fired.

“Andrew McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps…,” Schwartz tweeted Monday.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey’s, tweeted Monday afternoon that he texted the former FBI director, who told him he doesn’t have a security clearance to revoke.

When asked whether former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden might have their security clearances revoked, Sanders said she did not have any further information.

FILE - In this June 7, 2017, file photo, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCabe drafted a memo on the firing of his onetime boss, ex-director James Comey. That’s according to a person familiar with the memo, who insisted on anonymity to discuss a secret document that has been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. The person said the memo concerned a conversation McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Rosenstein’s preparations for Comey’s firing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump is looking into revoking former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s security clearance, but McCabe’s spokesman said that clearance had already been deactivated.  (AP)

The topic came into the spotlight Monday morning, with Paul’s tweets against the former CIA director.

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?” Paul tweeted early Monday.

Brennan joined NBC News and MSNBC in February as a contributor and senior national security and intelligence analyst. A spokesperson for the networks did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Paul’s tweet, which did not list any specific allegations.

The Kentucky Republican, who last week jumped to Trump’s defense as the president faced bipartisan criticism over his summit and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed up the original tweet by saying:

“Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!”

Paul’s tweets come as fellow congressional Republicans push for Brennan to testify on Capitol Hill regarding the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

The former CIA director has been a consistent and harsh critic of the president, blasting his performance with Putin in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”

But Brennan is not the only former intelligence official to take to the media world. In April, Comey began a media blitz promoting his new memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” while Hayden and Rice also frequently make media appearances.

On Twitter, just minutes after the announcement from the White House brieifing, Hayden responded in a tweet to several journalists that a loss of security clearance would not have an “effect” on him.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” Hayden tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/23/trump-looking-into-revoking-security-clearances-for-brennan-other-top-obama-officials.html

 

 

Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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Hannity: FISA court was abused for political gain

Tucker: What the Carter Page FISA application proves

Carter Page reacts to ‘Russian spy’ accusations

DOJ RELEASES CARTER PAGE FISA DOCS

Andrew McCarthy Shocked FISA Application Used As Evidence To Spy On Carter

Judicial Watch urges WH to declassify Page FISA application

Trump calls for end to Russia probe after Carter Page surveillance records released

Bongino: Russia probe is biggest scam in modern US history

Dershowitz: FISA application provides support for both sides

BREAKING: Released FISA Warrants on Carter Page Confirm Obama FBI, DOJ Misled Courts to Spy on Trump

Malloch: My Book Details Deep State’s Plot to Destroy Trump

Ex-Trump adviser: My encounter with Mueller’s investigators

Ted Malloch Detained By FBI? WHY? McMaster, Exposing Assault on Families or His New Book?

FISA Applications Confirm: The FBI Relied on the Unverified Steele Dossier

One-time advisor of Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

A salacious Clinton-campaign product was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.

What ‘Verify’ Means
Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.” (See House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes March 1, 2018, letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, embedded here.) The point is to assure the court that the FBI has corroborated the allegations in the warrant application in the usual way.

A hypothetical shows how this works. Let’s say that X, an informant, tells the FBI in Washington that Y, a person in St. Louis, told him that Z, the suspect, is plotting to rob the bank.

X’s story is unverified; he doesn’t know anything firsthand about Z — he only knows what Y has told him. Obviously, then, the FBI does not instantly run to court and seek a warrant against Z. Instead, the bureau sends an investigative “lead” from headquarters in Washington to the FBI field office in St. Louis. FBI agents in St. Louis then go find and interview Y. Based on that interview, the FBI gathers supporting information (perhaps physical surveillance of Z, scrutiny of available documents and records about Z, etc.). Only then, after debriefing the witness with competent knowledge, do the Justice Department and FBI seek a warrant against Z from the court. In the application, they explain to the judge that they have verified X’s information by interviewing Y and then corroborating Y’s version of events. In fact, if they get solid enough information about Z from Y, there may be no reason even to mention X, whose tip to the FBI was sheer hearsay.

But that is not what happened with the Carter Page FISA warrants.

Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court? No, they were not.

The FBI presented the court with allegations posited by Steele. He is in the position of X in our hypothetical. He is not the source of any of the relevant information on which the court was asked to rely for its probable-cause finding that Page was a clandestine agent of Russia. In this context, source means a reliable witness who saw or heard some occurrence on which the court is being asked to base its ruling.

Steele has not been in Russia for about 20 years. In connection with the dossier allegations, he was merely the purveyor of information from the actual sources — unidentified Russians who themselves relied on hearsay information from other sources (sometimes double and triple hearsay, very attenuated from the supposed original source).

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

There Is No Reason to Believe the Redactions Corroborate Steele
I have been making this point for months. When I made it again in a Fox and Friends interview on Sunday morning, critics asked how I could say such a thing when the warrants are pervasively redacted — how could I be so sure, given all we concededly don’t know, that the redactions do not corroborate Steele?

The critics’ tunnel vision on the redactions ignores the months of hearings and reporting on this core question, which I’ve continuously detailed. Here, for example, is what two senior Judiciary Committee senators, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham, wrote in a classified memo early this year after reviewing FISA applications (the memo was finally declassified and publicized over the objections of the FBI):

The bulk of the [first Carter Page FISA] application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.

The senators went on to recount the concession by former FBI director James Comey that the bureau had relied on the credibility of Steele (who had previously assisted the bureau in another investigation), not the verification of Steele’s sources. In June 2017 testimony, Comey described information in the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

Moreover, the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.”

I freely acknowledge that we do not know what the redactions say. But we have been very well informed about what they do not say. They do not verify the allegations in the Steele dossier. I have no doubt that they have a great deal to say about Russia and its nefarious anti-American operations. But the FBI has been taking incoming fire for months about failing to corroborate Steele. No institution in America guards its reputation more zealously than does the FBI. If Steele had been corroborated, rest assured that the bureau would not be suffering in silence.

When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable.

Plus, do you really think the FBI and Justice Department wanted to use the Steele dossier? Of course they didn’t. They undoubtedly believed Steele’s allegations (the applications say as much). That is no surprise given how much their top echelons loathed Donald Trump. But they were also well aware of the dossier’s significant legal problems — the suspect sourcing, the multiple hearsay. If they had solid evidence that verified Steele’s allegations, they would have used that evidence as their probable cause showing against Page. Instead, they used the dossier because, as McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, without it they would have had no chance of persuading a judge that Page was a clandestine agent.

Whatever is in the redactions cannot change that.

There Is No Vicarious Credibility
To repeat what we’ve long said here, there is no vicarious credibility in investigations. When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable — i.e., they were in a position to see or hear the relevant facts, and they are worthy of belief. It is not sufficient to show that the agent who assembles the source information is credible.

The vast majority of our investigators are honorable people who would never lie to a judge. But that is irrelevant because, in assessing probable cause, the judge is not being asked to rely on the honesty of the agent. The agent, after all, is under oath and supervised by a chain of command at the FBI and the Justice Department; the judge will generally assume that the agent is honestly and accurately describing the information he has gotten from various sources.

The judge’s main task is not to determine if the agent is credible. It is to weigh the reliability of the agent’s sources. Are the sources’ claims supported by enough evidence that the court should approve a highly intrusive warrant against an American citizen?

Here, Steele was in the position of an investigative agent relaying information. He was not a source (or informant) who saw or heard relevant facts. Even if we assume for argument’s sake that Steele is honest and reliable, that would tell us nothing about who his sources are, whether they were really in a position to see or hear the things they report, and whether they have a history of providing accurate information. Those are the questions the FBI must answer in order to vet and confirm factual allegations before presenting them to the FISA court. That was not done; the FBI relied on Steele’s reputation to vouch for his source’s claims.

The FISA Judges
In my public comments Sunday morning, I observed that the newly disclosed FISA applications are so shoddy that the judges who approved them ought to be asked some hard questions. I’ve gotten flak for that, no doubt because President Trump tweeted part of what I said. I stand by it. Still, some elaboration, which a short TV segment does not allow for, is in order.

I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as myFBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence. I explained that if the bureau believed the information in a document like the dossier, it would pick out the seven or eight most critical facts and scrub them as only the FBI can — interview the relevant witnesses, grab the documents, scrutinize the records, connect the dots. Whatever application eventually got filed in the FISA court would not even allude en passant to Christopher Steele or his dossier. The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong.

I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.

Well, guess what? No one knows that better than experienced federal judges, who deal with a steady diet of warrant applications. It is basic. Much of my bewilderment, in fact, stems from the certainty that if I had been so daft as to try to get a warrant based on the good reputation of one of my FBI case agents, with no corroboration of his or her sources, just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.

That’s why I said it.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/carter-page-fisa-applications-fbi-steele-dossier/

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1106, July 11, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Is Right: “Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” — Germany Is Dependent Upon Russia For Natural Gas — Buy American LNG And Eliminate Some of The U.S. Trade Deficit With The European Union, Germany and China! — U.S. LNG Competes With Russian Natural Gas — World Economic Boom Fueled By Natural Gas and LNG — Free and Fair Trade Is A Winner — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Increases The Pressure on China To Eliminate Trade Deficits and Unfair Trade Practices or Face Higher Tariffs On Many Chinese Exports To United States — Videos

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‘Germany is a captive of Russia’: Trump dresses down NATO’s secretary general and threatens Berlin over its lagging defense spending and energy partnership with Putin’s government

  • Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday morning after the leader asked him about Vladimir Putin
  • ‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia,’ Trump charged. ‘I think its a very bad thing for NATO’
  • Merkel told press that her country is ‘independent’ after Trump’s tongue-lashing 
  • President Trump has berated America’s European allies for failing to meet their defense spending obligations to NATO
  • The complaints come full circle this week at the NATO leaders’ summit 
  • On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk hit back at Trump, telling him, ‘America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe’
  • Tusk said: ‘America appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many’  
  • President Trump tweeted minutes later: NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!’
  • He told reporters as he prepared to board Marine One that America has plenty of allies and put new pressure on NATO nations to increase their defense spending 

Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday for defending Germany‘s energy partnership with Russia and threatened Berlin with U.S. action over the deal that he said is wholly inappropriate.

Trump fumed that ‘Germany is a captive of Russia’ and said the U.S. would ‘have to do something’ in light of the pipeline deal that’s funneling billions of dollars to Moscow.

‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia,’ he charged. ‘I think its a very bad thing for NATO, and I don’t think it should have happened.’

Stoltenberg reminded him that the U.S. and Europe are ‘stronger together than apart’ and that has been proven by two World Wars and the alliance’s dealings with Russia.

The confrontation stunned the leaders’ senior advisers, including Trump’s secretaries of defense and state. A press aide demanded the media leave the room as Trump pushed Stoltenberg to explain how the U.S. is supposed to protect Germany when it’s opening its front door to Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday for defending Germany’s energy partnership with Russia after Stoltenberg reminded him that the U.S. and Europe are ‘stronger together than apart

Stoltenberg inadvertently whipped the U.S. president into a frenzy at an internationally-broadcast breakfast by asking Trump about his upcoming meeting with Putin. Trump responded with a tirade on Germany and its weaknesses and griped, again, about lagging contributions from members of the NATO alliance.

Trump gave Stoltenberg an earful with media present, telling the visibly startled NATO chief, ‘We’re protecting Germany. We’re protecting France. We’re protecting everybody, and yet, we’re paying a lot of money to protect.’

Trump said that past presidents did not confront America’s allies because they did not want to meddle in their affairs or they were blind to the problem.

‘I think that these countries have to step it up — not over a 10-year-period — they have to step it up immediately,’ Trump demanded. ‘Germany is a rich country. They talk about they’re gonna increase it a tiny bit by 2030. Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem.’

The United States’ more than 4 percent GDP contribution to the security group compared to its European allies is ‘very unfair’ to the American taxpayer, he said in a familiar complaint.

‘I don’t think it’s fair to the United States, so we’re going to have to do something, because we’re not gonna put up with it. We can’t put up with it, and it’s inappropriate,’ Trump on Wednesday proclaimed. ‘So we have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country that we’re supposed to be protecting you against.’

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2018. Still, it’s significantly more than the next closest country. Germany’s spending on defense as a percentage of GDP was on par with a handful of other NATO nations at 1.24 percent, putting it at the mid-to-lower end of the pack.

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation's GDP in 2018. Still, it's significantly more than the next closest country - and nearly three times as much as Germany

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2018. Still, it’s significantly more than the next closest country – and nearly three times as much as Germany

TERSE TALKS: Trump fumed that 'Germany is a captive of Russia' and said the U.S. would 'have to do something' about a gas deal that's funneling billions into Moscow's economy

U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Trump began his Wednesday morning rant by telling Stoltenberg that it’s ‘very sad’ when Germany, France and ‘numerous of the countries go out and then make a pipeline deal with Russia’ and then expect the U.S. to foot the bill for their security.

‘So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that’s very inappropriate,’ Trump said. ‘And the former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas.’

Trump informed Stoltenberg that ‘Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas’ when the deal is fully realized.

‘So you tell me is that appropriate?’ he said. ‘I mean I’ve been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should never have never been allowed to have happened.’

Now, he said, ‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia…And you tell me if that’s appropriate, because I think it’s not. And I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO, and I don’t think it should have happened, and I think we have to talk to Germany about it.’

Merkel told press in German as she arrived at NATO that her country makes ‘independent decisions,’ according to a translation of her remarks on NATO’s blue arrival carpet by AFP.

‘I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being occupied by the Soviet Union,’ said Merkel, who was born and raised in East Germany, in her native tougue.

She touched on her nation’s communist history, saying. ‘I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.’

The White House said after the president’s remarks went wide that he would hold private talks in the afternoon on the sidelines of the summit with Merkel and then meet separately with France’s president.

Trump told Stoltenberg that the alliance must confront Germany over its gas deal with Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen her on Wednesday during her Cabinet meeting in Berlin. She'll see Trump later today at NATO

Trump said last week at a rally that he told Merkel in an undated conversation that he couldn't commit to protecting Germany from Putin's army

In bringing up the gas deal on Wednesday, Trump returned to an issue he had raised before his trip in an attempt to put Germany on the defensive while simultaneously pushing back on the narrative that it is the U.S. that is cozying up to Moscow.

For much of the past year, it has been Trump who has been under attack for resisting sanctions imposed on Russia for its election interference. His frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his repeated attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe have also been the subject of national and international scrutiny.

But in Brussels, it was Trump who hammered Merkel for taking part in a deal that would give Germany direct access to Russian energy supplies and cut out Eastern European nations fearful of Moscow’s leverage

In March, Germany reached a deal to allow Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom to run its Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its waters. The $11 billion deal immediately outraged Eastern European allies.

Russia has used its oil and gas to pressure and punish its neighbors. In a shock move, the parties announced the deal a day after Germany joined UK in protesting the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Great Britain.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the Alliance's headquarters ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels

She will continue talking to Trump after everyone else has gone home as she is hosting the U.S. President in Britain for a two-day visit

The pipeline will send Russian oil and gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Poland and other Eastern European countries fear the pipeline could leave them vulnerable to Russian pressure.

In May, a State Department official weighed in against the project. Deputy Assistant Secretary Sandra Oudkirk said the pipeline could allow Russia to exert ‘malign influence’ in Europe. But the pipeline company said the project wouldn’t be used to blackmail other countries.

Stoltenberg unequivocally said at a news conference that followed his meeting with Trump that the pipeline deal is ‘a national decision’ and ‘it’s not for NATO to decide.’

‘It’s not for NATO to solve this issue,’ he asserted.

Trump bashed Germany over the pipeline issue at a campaign rally last Thursday in Montana, where he also raised the ally’s defense spending.

‘They go out and make a gas deal, oil and gas, from Russia, where they pay billions and billions of dollars to Russia. They want to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia,’ Trump said then.

He said at the rally that he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he could not ensure her nation’s security as a result.

U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels on Wednesday

Trump informed Stoltenberg that 'Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas' when the deal is fully realized

Former Secretary of State John Kerry blasted Trump for his display.

‘I’ve never seen a president say anything as strange or counterproductive as President Trump’s harangue against NATO and Germany,’ Kerry said in a statement. ‘It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America,’ the former top diplomat said.

 Then Kerry, a 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said of Trump: ‘He is steadily destroying our reputation in the world. He is undermining our interests. He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom.

House Speaker Paul Ryan invoked a bygone rule usually cited when members of one party refrain from attacking a president of the other.

‘I subscribe to the view that we should not be criticizing our president while he’s overseas,’ Ryan said.

‘NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been,’ Ryan said in defense of the organization Trump went after.

Germany’s defense minister told CNBC after Trump’s assault on her country on Wednesday that two weeks ago she had occasion to visit the United States and was reassured by her conversations with American lawmakers of the strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

‘The president is as the president is. We know him and we can cope with that,’ Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen told CNBC from outside of NATO’s headquarters. ‘This rhetoric also leads us to remember that a lot is at stake.’

Von der Leyen said that generations that came of age after WWII have taken peace for granted. ‘Now, we have to fight for democracy. We have to secure our international order, our peace architecture,’ she said.

It was Trump who had arrived in Brussels on the defense on Tuesday after the EU Council’s head berated him at an off-site event that was attached to the NATO summit.

Trump had signaled in early morning tweets on Tuesday that foreign leaders could expect a reckoning when he sees them this week over the ‘unfair’ burden on the U.S. taxpayer to carry the cost of Europe’s protection.

He was met with an immediate brush-back from European Council chief Donald Tusk, who said at a signing of a joint declaration between the Brussels-based security alliance and the body of EU nations that Trump should be more careful with his taunts.

‘America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China,’ he said in remarks that were addressed to Trump.  ‘And I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security.’

Then, in the toughest challenge yet to the U.S. president, Tusk said: ‘America: appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many.’

U.S. President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that European leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit and faced an immediate brush-back from European Council President Donald Tusk

U.S. President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that European leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit and faced an immediate brush-back from European Council President Donald Tusk

Trump signaled in early morning tweets that foreign leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit over the 'unfair' burden on the U.S. taxpayer to pay for Europe's protection. He's seen here in May of 2017 at a working dinner at last year's NATO gathering

Trump fired back minutes later as he left the White House en route to NATO.

‘We do have a lot of allies. But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘We lost $151 billion last year on trade, and on top of that we spend at least 70 per cent for NATO, and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us. So we’ll see what happens.

Trump had invited the challenge in the lead-up to the alliance’s summertime summit by pillorying NATO member nations in almost-day tirades.

Just prior to Tusk’s comments on Tuesday, Trump complained that the United States is bearing the brunt of the 29-nation security alliance’s costs and said that it’s not fair to Americans, especially when the U.S. is getting hosed in economic markets.

‘The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,’ he griped. ‘On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!’

After Tusk’s slap at him — which the EU Council leader also tweeted at Trump — the president doubled down on his position, saying, ‘NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!’

Trump woke up early on Tuesday chagrined about the United States' trade relationship with allies that are part of the Brussels-based security and their lacking contributions to NATO's defense fund

Tusk fired back at Trump from NATO's new headquarter city of Brussels: 'America: appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many'

Tusk had acknowledged in his remarks that European countries need to step up their contributions.

‘Everyone expects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped,’ he said.

The EU Council chief assessed that ‘money is important’ yet said that ‘genuine solidarity is even more important.’

‘Speaking about solidarity, I want to dispel the American president’s argument which says that the U.S. alone protects Europe against our enemies, and threat the U.S. is almost alone in this struggle,’ he said in a repudiation of Trump’s statements.

Tusk argued that Europe ‘was first to respond on a large scale’ when terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11. He further noted that European soldiers have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Afghanistan.

But Trump refused to climb down from his position as he spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning local time from the White House’s South Lawn.

‘NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little,’ he said. ‘But we will work it out and all countries will be happy.’

He acknowledged that the relationship between the U.S. and many of its traditional allies had soured in the nearly 18 months since he took office. He said a meeting next week with the Russian president may be the ‘easiest’ leg of his four-nation visit to Europe.

Trump refused to climb down from his position as he spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning local time from the White House's South Lawn. 'NATO has not treated us fairly...We pay far too much and they pay far too little'

Trump had invited the challenge in the lead-up to the alliance's summertime summit by pillorying NATO member nations in almost-day tirades

With Trump in the air, it was his NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison who was left to do the talking for him at a news conference where Trump’s flattery of Putin and his disagreements with Merkel and Tusk came up.

Hutchison told reporters that Trump backs Article 5 of NATO’s charter, which specifies that an attack on one is an attack on all.

‘He is committed to Article 5 protection just as it is in he NATO charter,’ she told press who arrived at the NATO summit in advance of the U.S. president.

She also stressed that ‘the importance of unity in NATO is what makes us different’ from other alliances that the U.S. and Europe are a part of.

‘I will say that in all of the disagreements that have happened between President Trump and the United States’ position and the EU,’ Hutchsion said, ‘our allies in NATO have remained steadfastly focused on the NATO issues, and we are in agreement, we are in unity on our security issues, and we are an alliance that has performed better, increasing our capabilities.’

Hutchison said that while Trump is hard on Germany, he believes he is ‘pulling them toward us, not away from us.’

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (second from left) arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels with her entourage

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrive at the Alliance's headquarters ahead of the NATO summit

At a news conference just before Hutchison’s, Stoltenberg had thanked Trump for the push as he informally kicking off the 2018 summit.

‘It is clearly having an impact,’ he said. ‘We estimate that European allies and Canada will add an extra $266 billion USD to defense between now and 2024. This is significant.’

Stoltenberg said that eight countries are on track to hit their contribution targets this year compared to three in 2014.

At the presser he said he was confident that leaders would be able to put their differences over trade aside as they have done in the past, because NATO has a good story to tell.

When it comes to defense spending, he said, it is true that the burden sharing has not been fairly distributed. That is why Canada and European nations that are part of the alliance are stepping up their donations.

‘I would not be surprised if we had robust discussions at the summit, including on defense spending,’ he said. ‘Different views are common between friends and allies.’

Just how robust they would get, even he did not seem to have imagined. The NATO secretary general was pummeled in his Wednesday morning breakfast by a fired-up Trump.

Trump indicated Tuesday that he was chagrined about the United States’ trade relationship with allies that are part of the Brussels-based security organization NATO and intended to make their contributions to its defense fund the focal point of his conversations in Belgium.

The president directly linked the the trade discrepancies that inspired his heavy metal tariffs in tweets that contradicted his NATO ambassador's assessment a day prior that the policies should be evaluated separately from one another. He's pictured here talking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June at the G7 summit

Just 16 countries are on track to meet the agreed upon spending obligation of 2 percent GDP, the United States has said, in accordance with a 2014 pact. That’s roughly half of NATO’s 29 members.

In tweets on Monday, President Trump berated the rest for relying on America for protection while at the same time running massive trade deficits with the U.S.

The president directly linked the trade discrepancies that inspired his heavy tariffs on metal imports to Western security in tweets that contradicted his NATO ambassador’s assessment a day prior that the policies should be evaluated separately from one another.

‘NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitments,’ Trump said. ‘On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!’

The president put trade on the table in talks that begin Wednesday in Brussels with the tweets that he continued to send even after he had departed the U.S. for Belgium.

His trip to Brussels was proving to be a repeat of the testy confrontation he had with leaders from allied nations in June at the G7 summit in Charlevoix.

He butted heads with them on trade in Canada, also, complaining in conversations that NATO is ‘much too costly for the U.S’ and almost as bad as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In Belgium, he was due to come face-to-face with Canada’s Justin Trudeau for the first time since senior aides to Trump accused the prime minister of trying to sabotage the American president’s Singapore summit.

He was also assured to have an uncomfortable encounter with Germany’s long-running chancellor, Merkel.

He put on the table in talks that begin Wednesday in Brussels with the tweets that kicked off a day that was supposed to be focused on his Supreme Court appointment on Monday

TRUMP’S AGENDA IN BRUSSELS

President Trump arrives in Brussels on Tuesday evening local time July 10.

He begins his Wednesday with a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. His secretaries of defense and state and his national security adviser will also participate in the conversation.

Trump will next meet with the United States’ Brussels missions’ staff and families, as is customary for a U.S. president when visiting foreign countries.

Later on Wednesday he will attend an opening ceremony at the NATO headquarters. There, he will meet privately with unknown heads of government.

He will attend a working dinner that evening with fellow leaders.

Wednesday morning leaders will participate in meeting with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine.

An Afghan strategy session follows.

Trump departs Belgium on Wednesday afternoon for London, where he has a working visit with Prime Minister Theresa May and an audience with the queen before a weekend in Scotland.

He caps his trip to Europe with a stop in Helsinki, Finland, for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He will also likely to be pressed on a decision to conclude his trip to Europe with a tacked-on stop in Finland to negotiate with NATO nemesis and Russian head of state Putin.

The president who has groused since he was a candidate about NATO burden sharing was expected to put pressure of his own on member nations in Brussels to meet the soft goal of 2 percent GDP for defense spending. The guideline was agreed to by the group years before he took office.

‘The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%,’ Trump harped in a message on Monday.

He has singled out Germany as a violator incessantly. His defense secretary recently put a microscope on spending by the contribution-abiding U.K. in a new twist of the knife, as well.

Trump hammered Germany at a Thursday evening rally, in Montana, where he claimed that he told Merkel that he believes Europe is benefited more by the security alliance because of its proximity to Russia than the U.S.

He repeated the charge in tweets on Monday in which he again brought up the EU’s trade deficit with the United States.

A day prior, Hutchison, had insisted on Fox News that trade and security were not related and should not be a subject of NATO talks.

‘One thing I will say is that in all of the disagreements that we have seen at the G7 and with allies with whom we are now having trade talks and negotiations and tariffs, that has not come up in the NATO context,’ she stated. ‘Our diplomats are professional and they are staying on our NATO issues, where we are 100 percent allied.’

An outside view of the NATO building is seen at the NATO's new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The security organization has its annual summit in Belgium this week

An outside view of the NATO building is seen at the NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The security organization has its annual summit in Belgium this week

She said prior to the summit that Russia’s ‘malign activities’ and a ‘rising China’ would be the foremost topics.

The president on Friday slapped $34 billion in tariffs on China that were aimed at reducing a trade deficit with the country that the U.S. has also accused of rampant and intentional intellectual property violations. He said Tuesday that he intends to hit Beijing with $200 billion more in penalties.

He is also said to have told France’s Macron that the EU is worse than China on trade in some ways when they met in Canada last month.

The rift over trade and the president’s planned talks with Putin set the stage for more tension in Belgium.

Hucthison pointed out on Sunday that Trump’s way of doing business had been effective, though, pointing to increased contributions to NATO since he took office.

‘NATO really is making progress and they are doing it really at President Trump’s insistence, and I think that it’s very clear, and he’s been very direct about the Europeans needing to do more for their own security,’ she said. ‘Every ally is now increasing defense spending.’

Trump’s liaison to NATO said, ‘We’ve had the largest increase in defense spending since the Cold War. And in the year and a half since President Trump has been in office, it has doubled since 2014.

‘So, I think he is making an impact and I think that the Europeans, including Chancellor Merkel just recently who has said we are going to do more,’ she said. ‘We need to do more, it’s the right thing to do and she is encouraging her Bundestag, her parliament, to increase the defense budget so that we will be more fit for purpose in NATO for the fights that we want to deter.’

A day prior, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hucthison, had insisted on Fox News that trade and security were not related and should not be a subject of NATO talks

Merkel said last month in a speech to parliament that she anticipates ‘very difficult’ talks in Brussels in a reference to the increasingly complicated relationship between Germany and the United States in the era of Donald Trump.

‘It is no secret that the transatlantic alliance is under strain at the moment but we are convinced that the alliance remains central to our common security,’ the European leader stated.

Trump hit back at her on Thursday evening, saying in remarks at a campaign event for a U.S. Senate candidate that Europe is killing America on trade and paying Russia billions for oil and gas all while complaining that it needs protection from Putin and his military.

‘We’re paying anywhere from 70- to 90-percent to protect Europe. And that’s fine. Of course, they kill us on trade. They kill us on other things,’ he proclaimed. ‘So they want to protect against Russia, yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia and we’re the schmucks paying for the whole thing.’

The president said he told Merkel in an undated conversation that he couldn’t commit to protecting Germany from Putin’s army.

‘Putin is fine. He’s fine. We’re all people,’ he said. ‘Will I be prepared? I’ve been preparing for this stuff all my life.’

Hutchison said Sunday that she does not agree with the president’s assessment of Putin. She said Trump is right, however, to engage with the former KGB spy who has personally been accused by the U.S. of directing a scheme to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

‘We should be talking to Vladimir Putin and many of our allied nations do as well,’ she said. ‘But it is to try to bring them in the tent instead of just constantly seeing them do these things that are attempting to disrupt us, but will not.’

She claimed on Tuesday at a news conference that Trump was saying at his rally that he was ‘not certain’ that Germany could pay out more money to NATO, not that he was unclear about the United States’ continued ability to protect the ally from Russia. Trump promptly contradicted her Wednesday when he indicated that’s exactly what he meant during his breakfast with Stoltenberg.

Germany’s defense minister, von der Leyen, said Wednesday on CNBC that Trump is right that Germany needs to increase its defense contribution — and said that it has.

The German official said her country also backs Trump’s summit next week with Putin.

‘It is good that he talking to President Putin,’ she said. ‘We have a lot of issues with Russia without question, but it’s good to be in a dialogue.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5941337/Germany-captive-Russia-Trump-dresses-NATOs-secretary-general-Brussels.html

The LNG supply chain

What is LNG ?

LNG, which stands for Liquefied Natural Gas, is natural gas that has been converted to a liquid state by cooling to below -163°C. In this form, it occupies 600 times less space than before cooling, while retaining the same calorific value. This makes transport much easier.

Setting up a LNG chain requires investment in several types of facility:

– Exploration, to detect deposits of natural gas (which are generally discovered during oil exploration operations) and extraction/production

– Storage then liquefaction, to convert the natural gas from “gaseous” to “liquid” form in which it can be transported by tanker

– Transportation by special vessels called LNG tankers

– Storage then regasification, to restore the natural gas to its gaseous form, in which it can be transmitted through pipelines for consumption by end customers.

The differents steps of a LNG supply chain

 

The history of LNG

Natural gas liquefaction was developed in the 19th century by the British chemist and physicist Michael Faraday, who experimented with liquefying several gases, including natural gas. The first liquefaction plant was built in the United States in 1917. The first commercial operation began in 1941, again in the US. In January 1959, a former World War II cargo ship was converted into a tanker, the Methane Pioneer, to carry LNG between Lake Charles (Louisiana, USA) and Canvey Island (UK). Long-distance LNG transportation had become a reality. The 7 deliveries made in the following 14 months suffered only minor technical problems. Following this success, the British Gas Council decided to set up a commercial route between Venezuela and Canvey Island. In 1964, the UK became the first LNG importer, and Algeria the first exporter. Subsequently, several countries became interested in this new supply technique, including France, which built its first LNG terminal at Le Havre in 1965 (dismantled in 1989). The terminals of Fos-Tonkin (1972), Montoir-de-Bretagne (1980), Fos-Cavaou (2010) and Dunkerque (2016) are all part of the strategy to diversify national and European natural gas supplies.

sharelngimports

Share of LNG among the total of natural gas imports in France in 2014

Worldwide, there are currently 26 liquefaction terminals in 16 countries, and 95 regasification terminals in 33 countries. Furthermore, there are plans for several both liquefaction and regasification terminals: if some of these projects  will never be built, other are under construction.

 

The LNG supply chain

A LNG supply chain is made up of 4 interdependent segments: exploration/production, liquefaction, transportation and regasification. Each of these segments has its own specific industrial processes and involves specific rules and participants.

1. Exploration – production

At the heart of this essential activity, specialists analyse geological structure to identify areas that may contain hydrocarbons. They carry out special tests, such as seismic analysis, to confirm their initial assessments. Drilling is undertaken when there is a high probability of discovering gas (or oil). If the well is viable (after a series of tests, measurements and additional drilling), it can go into production.

2. Liquefaction

The natural gas extracted from the deposit is filtered and purified, so as not to damage equipment during the conversion from gas to liquid, and in order to meet the specifications of the importing regions. This means that the liquefaction process produces a natural gas with a methane content close to 100%. Liquefaction plants often consist of several installations arranged in parallel, called “liquefaction trains”. The liquefaction process reduces the volume of gas by a factor of around 600, in other words 1 cubic metre of LNG at -163°C has the same energy content as 600 cubic metres of “gaseous” gas at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. The density of LNG is around 45% that of water.

3. LNG transportation

LNG tankers are double-hulled ships specially designed to prevent hull leaks and ruptures in the event of accident. The LNG is stored in tanks (generally 4 to 5 per tanker) at a temperature of -163°C and at atmospheric pressure. There are currently 3 types of LNG carrier, each corresponding to a different tank design: membrane tanks, spherical tanks and IHI Prismatic tanks. In 2009, carriers with membrane tanks accounted for more than 60% of world LNG transportation capacity, and more than 85% of orders. This is so far the only technology which allows the construction of large capacity carriers such as the Q-flex (210,000 cu. m.) and Q-max (260,000 cu. m.) vessels.

Chaine-GNL-31

 

Interior of a membrane type tank in an LNG carrier (Source: GTT)

 

4. Storage and regasification

Once received and offloaded, the liquefied natural gas is returned to cryogenic storage tanks – usually varying in capacity from 100,000 to 160,000 cubic meters, depending on the site – where it is kept at a temperature of -163°C prior to regasification. Regasification consists of gradually warming the gas back up to a temperature of over 0°C. It is done under high pressures of 60 to 100 bar, usually in a series of seawater percolation heat exchangers, the most energy efficient technique when water of the right quality is available. An alternative method is to burn some of the gas to provide heat. On its way out of the terminal, the gas undergoes any treatment processes needed to bring its characteristics in line with regulatory and end-user requirements. Its heating value, for example, may be tweaked by altering nitrogen, butane or propane content or blending it with other gases.

 

Exporting and importing countries

image1

The LNG importing countries can be divided into 2 markets: the Atlantic Basin and the Pacific Basin. The Pacific Basin comprises countries along the Pacific and in South Asia (including India). The Atlantic Basin covers Europe, North and West Africa and the Atlantic coast of the American continent.

The Pacific Basin market emerged in the 1990s, at a time when demand in some Asian countries increased significantly (mainly Japan and South Korea). LNG represented an alternative to oil, and the goal was to maintain security of supply even at relatively high cost. The Atlantic Basin market emerged later in the 1990s, for reasons of security of supply and also in anticipation of a fall in some countries’ domestic reserves.

We can note that there are less and less exporting countries. Thus, in 2015 there were 17 exporting countries whereas there were 19 in 2014.

LNG exports (Source: IGU “2016 World LNG Report”)

 

In contrast to the declining number of exporters, the number of importers is growing. In 2015, there were 34 LNG importing countries. Although it tends to import lower LNG quatities, Japan remains the world’s biggest LNG importer, followed by South Korea. The reason is that those countries – just like a great part of Asia-Pacific region –  are extremely dependent on LNG for their gas consumption.

LNG imports (Source: IGU “2016 World LNG Report”)

 

https://www.gasinfocus.com/en/focus/the-lng-supply-chain/

 

Trump and Merkel clash at fraught NATO summit

Damon WAKE

,

AFP

US President Donald Trump traded barbs with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a tense NATO summit Wednesday after he accused Berlin of being “captive” to Russia and demanded it immediately step up defence spending.

The two-day meet in Brussels is shaping up as the alliance’s most difficult in years, with Europe and the US engaged in a bitter trade spat and Trump demanding that NATO allies “reimburse” Washington for defending the continent.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

European alliance members were braced for criticism from Trump on defence spending, but his blistering attack on Germany at a breakfast meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg took the summit by surprise.

“Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said, taking particular aim at the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which he has previously criticised.

“Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.”

Video: Trump Attends NATO Summit Amid Tense Relations With Allies

For more news videos visit Yahoo View.  

Merkel ramped up the febrile atmosphere of the summit with a sharp reply on arriving at NATO HQ.

“I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union,” she said.

“I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.”

The pair later met for a one-on-one meeting and while Trump insisted they had a “very very good relationship”, their frosty body language suggested otherwise.

Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an “exchange of views” with Trump.

– ‘Step it up’ –

Trump has long complained that European NATO members do not pay enough for their own defence, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

NATO allies agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to move towards spending two percent of GDP on defence by 2024. But Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, spends just 1.24 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for the US.

“These countries have to step it up — not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately,” Trump said.

“We’re protecting Germany, France and everybody… this has been going on for decades,” Trump said. “We can’t put up with it and it’s inappropriate.”

Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in “very direct language” but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO’s resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.

NATO officials and diplomats will try to promote an image of unity at the summit in the face of growing unease about the threat from Russia, but with the row between Merkel and Trump it may prove difficult to paper over the cracks.

The mercurial tycoon said before leaving Washington that his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday “may be the easiest” part of his European tour, which also includes a trip to Britain, where the government is in crisis over Brexit.

– ‘Appreciate your allies’ –

Trump ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks, explicitly linking NATO with the transatlantic trade row by saying the EU shut out US business while expecting America to defend it.

EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to “appreciate your allies” and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

European diplomats fear a repeat of last month’s divisive G7 in Canada, when Trump clashed with his Western allies before meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a summit and praising him as “very talented”.

There have been fears that Trump, keen to be seen to make a breakthrough with the Kremlin strongman, might make concessions in his meeting with Putin that would weaken Western unity over issues such as Ukraine and Syria.

US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison urged allies to look beyond Trump’s rhetoric and focus on the summit declaration for the alliance’s future work — which the US is expected to back.

And she said she expected Trump to recommit to one of the founding articles of NATO — Article 5 — which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-slams-captive-germany-nato-summit-081237901.html

NATO Funding and Burdensharing
May 19, 2017 (IN10704)
|
Related Author
Paul Belkin
|
Paul Belkin, Analyst in European Affairs (pbelkin@crs.loc.gov, 7-0220)
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with NATO heads of state and government in Brussels on May 25, 2017.
This will be the President’s first collective meeting with his counterparts from NATO’s other 27 member states.
President Trump is expected to continue to strongly urge NATO members to increase defense spending and enhance
military capabilities.

For numerous reasons—not least the United States’ status as the world’s preeminent military power—U.S. defense
spending levels long have been significantly higher than those of any other NATO ally. Since NATO’s founding,
successive U.S. Administrations have characterized a steadfast U.S. commitment to NATO as essential to advancing a
key U.S. security interest: peace and stability in Europe. Nevertheless, the relative imbalance in defense spending and
military capabilities within NATO has long fueled concerns about burdensharing and European allies’ reliance on U.S.
defense guarantees.

NATO members contribute to the alliance financially in various ways. The most fundamental way is by funding, in
members’ individual national defense budgets, the deployment of their respective armed forces to support NATO
missions.

NATO member states also fund NATO’s annual budget of about $2.5 billion. National contributions fund the day-to-day
operations of NATO headquarters, as well as some collective NATO military assets and infrastructure. The U.S. share
of these so-called common-funded budgets is currently about 22%, followed by Germany (15%), France (11%), and the
United Kingdom (UK; 10%).

Defense Spending Targets
As signatories of NATO’s founding North Atlantic Treaty, member states commit to “maintain and develop their
individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack” (Article 3) and, in the case of an armed attack against one or
more allies, to take “such action as [they] deem necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the
security of the North Atlantic area” (Article 5). However, decisions about individual national contributions to specific
NATO missions are essentially voluntary.

In 2006, NATO members agreed informally to aim to allocate at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) to their
national defense budgets annually and to devote at least 20% of national defense expenditure to research and
development and procurement. These targets were formalized at NATO’s 2014 Wales Summit, when the allies pledged
to “halt any decline in defence expenditure” and to “aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade.” The 2%
and 20% spending targets are intended to guide national defense spending by individual NATO members; they do not
refer to contributions made directly to NATO.

Most analysts agree that the 2% spending figure “does not represent any type of critical threshold or ‘tipping point’ in
terms of defence capabilities.” The target is considered politically and symbolically important, however. NATO does
not impose sanctions on countries that fail to meet the target.

In 2016, 5 allies met or exceeded the 2% target (Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK, and the United States); 10 allies met
or exceeded the 20% target (France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, the UK, and the
United States); and 3 allies met both targets (Poland, the UK, and the United States).

NATO figures for 2015 indicate that if every ally were to have met the 2% benchmark, the aggregate sum of NATO
members’ national defense budgets would have increased by about $100 billion (from $891 billion to $989 billion).
Although most analysts agree that such an increase could benefit the alliance significantly, many stress that how
additional resources are invested is equally, if not more, important. Critics note, for example, that an ally spending less
than 2% of GDP on defense could have more modern, effective military capabilities than an ally that meets the 2%
target but allocates most of that funding to personnel costs and relatively little to procurement and modernization.
Defense Spending Trends and Future Prospects
NATO and U.S. officials say they are encouraged that many allies have bolstered their defense budgets in recent years,
largely in response to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. According to NATO, in 2016, 23 allies increased defense
spending compared to 2015, in real terms. NATO officials expect at least three more allies (Latvia, Lithuania, and
Romania) to meet the 2% guideline in 2017 or 2018. Other allied governments, including France and Germany, have
reiterated their commitment to meeting the 2% target by 2024.
Nevertheless, ongoing fiscal challenges facing many European governments and broad public skepticism of military
action could impede some allies’ plans to increase defense spending. To help stretch existing defense resources, NATO
and U.S. leaders have called for more progress on allied defense cooperation initiatives, including the joint acquisition
of shared capabilities.

U.S. Policy and Considerations for Congress
U.S. calls for increased allied defense spending are not new, but the Trump Administration has approached the issue
more stridently than its predecessors. Defense Secretary James Mattis’s suggestion in February 2017 that the United
States could moderate its commitment to NATO if spending increases are not forthcoming caused particular concern
within the alliance, given that past U.S. Administrations had never linked spending levels to the U.S. commitment to
NATO to this degree.

Trump Administration officials have acknowledged the upward trend in allied defense spending but also have indicated
that they will continue to seek more specific commitments to achieve NATO targets.
U.S. concerns about defense spending and burdensharing raise several broader policy questions related to the nature and
scope of U.S. commitments to NATO and the appropriate U.S. military presence in Europe that could be of interest to
Congress, including the following:
How does NATO membership advance U.S. national security interests? Some analysts argue that a robust U.S.
commitment to NATO and force presence in Europe continues to advance key U.S. national security interests,
especially given recent Russian aggression in Europe. Others contend that the U.S. commitment to European security
could be scaled back to ensure greater European contributions.

Is the 2% defense spending target the best means to enhance allied military capabilities? Some analysts argue that
NATO should focus more on ensuring more effective defense spending than on increasing aggregate defense spending,
including through pooling and sharing of defense resources. Others counter that effective defense cooperation requires
minimum defense spending levels.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IN10704.pdf

NATO

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
NATO OTAN landscape logo.svg

Logo
Flag of NATO.svg

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (orthographic projection).svg

Member states of NATO
Abbreviation NATO, OTAN
Formation 4 April 1949; 69 years ago
Type Military alliance
Headquarters BrusselsBelgium
Membership
Official language
English
French[1]
Jens Stoltenberg
Air Chief MarshalStuart PeachRoyal Air Force
General Curtis ScaparrottiUnited States Army
Général Denis MercierFrench Air Force
Expenses (2017) US$946 billion[2]
Website NATO.int

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO /ˈnt/FrenchOrganisation du Traité de l’Atlantique NordOTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The alliance is based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.[3][4] NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO Headquarters are located in HarenBrusselsBelgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near MonsBelgium.

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War galvanized the organization’s member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US Supreme Commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact which formed in 1955. Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defense against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of France from NATO’s military structure in 1966 for 30 years. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1989, the organization conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999 during the breakup of Yugoslavia.[5] Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks,[6] after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations[7] and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times following incidents in the Iraq WarSyrian Civil War, and annexation of Crimea.

Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 29. The most recent member state to be added to NATO is Montenegro on 5 June 2017. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and HerzegovinaGeorgiaMacedonia and Ukraine as aspiring members.[8] An additional 21 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.[9] Members’ defense spending is supposed to amount to at least 2% of GDP by 2024.[10]

History

Beginnings

Eleven men in suits stand around a large desk at which another man is signing a document.

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed by US President Harry S. Truman in Washington, on 4 April 1949 and was ratified by the United States in August 1949.

The Treaty of Brussels was a mutual defence treaty against the Soviet threat at the start of the Cold War. It was signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom. It was the precursor to NATO. The Soviet threat became immediate with the Berlin Blockade in 1948, leading to the creation of a multinational defence organization, the Western Union Defence Organisation, in September 1948.[11] However, the parties were too weak militarily to counter the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’état by the Communists had overthrown a democratic government and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevinreiterated that the best way to prevent another Czechoslovakia was to evolve a joint Western military strategy. He got a receptive hearing in the United States, especially considering American anxiety over Italy (and the Italian Communist Party).[12]

In 1948, European leaders met with US defence, military and diplomatic officials at the Pentagon, under US Secretary of State George C. Marshall‘s orders, exploring a framework for a new and unprecedented association.[13] Talks for a new military alliance resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by US President Harry S. Truman in Washington on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.[14] The first NATO Secretary GeneralLord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[15] Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949. The creation of NATO can be seen as the primary institutional consequence of a school of thought called Atlanticism which stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation.[16]

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently, they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some overseas departments of France.[17]

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting US practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAG) codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries.[18] Fabrique Nationale de Herstal‘s FAL, which used the 7.62mm NATO cartridge, was adopted by 75 countries, including many outside of NATO.[19] Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.[20]

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans.[21] Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed to direct forces in Europe, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951.[22] In September 1950, the NATO Military Committee called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon. The Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia.[23][24] Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post.[25]

Two soldiers crouch under a tree while a tank sits on a road in front of them.

The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe.

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.[26] Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving American, British, Greek, Italian and Turkish naval forces.[27]

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure.[22] While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.[28][29]

A 1952 US postage stampcommemorating the third anniversary of NATO. Stamps honoring the organization were issued by many member countries.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.[30] The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. This gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons as existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard LangeForeign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time.[31] A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion.[32] One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter PunchOperation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.[33]

French withdrawal

A map of France with red and blue markings indicating air force bases as of 1966.

Map of the NATO air bases in France before Charles de Gaulle‘s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command

NATO’s unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle‘s presidency of France.[34] De Gaulle protested against the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK.[35]

Considering the response to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defence force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO–Warsaw Pact war.[36] In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command,[37] and later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the air force bases that it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command.[38] In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk was later quoted as asking de Gaulle whether his order included “the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”[39] This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from Rocquencourt, near Paris, to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967.[40] France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Warsaw Pact attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between US and French officials, the Lemnitzer–Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO’s command structure should East-West hostilities break out.[41]

When de Gaulle announced his decision to withdraw from the integrated NATO command, President Lyndon Johnson suggested that when de Gaulle “comes rushing down like a locomotive on the track, why the Germans and ourselves, we just stand aside and let him go on by, then we are back together again.”[42] The vision came true. France announced their return to full participation at the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.[43]

Détente and escalation

Two older men in suits sit next to each other, while a third stands behind leaning in to listen to the right man talk. US President Richard Nixon talked with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1973.

Détente led to many high level meetings between leaders from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Wim van Eekelen, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, greeting US soldiers arriving as they are deployed to NATO bases (1987).

During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action. On 1 July 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as US forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged. In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.[44]

A map of Europe showing several countries on the left in blue, while ones on the right are in red. Other unaffiliated countries are in white.

During the Cold War, most of Europe was divided between two alliances. Members of NATO are shown in blue, with members of the Warsaw Pact in red, unaffiliated countries are in grey. Yugoslavia, although communist, had left the Soviet sphere in 1948, while Albania was only a Warsaw Pact member until 1968.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US GLCM cruise missiles and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy.[45] Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war.[46] This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.

The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980[citation needed]. The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty specifies that collective self-defence is only applicable to attacks on member state territories north of the Tropic of Cancer.[47] On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance; Spain’s membership was confirmed by referendum in 1986. At the peak of the Cold War, 16 member nations maintained an approximate strength of 5,252,800 active military, including as many as 435,000 forward deployed US forces, under a command structure that reached a peak of 78 headquarters, organized into four echelons.[48]

After the Cold War

The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO and caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and their focus on the continent of Europe. This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent that continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.[49] At that time, European countries accounted for 34 percent of NATO’s military spending; by 2012, this had fallen to 21 percent.[50] NATO also began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Central and Eastern European nations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.

Two men in suits sit signing documents at a large table in front of their country's flags. Two others stand outside watching them.

Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.

The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and there are diverging views on whether negotiators gave commitments regarding further NATO expansion east.[51] Jack Matlock, American ambassador to the Soviet Union during its final years, said that the West gave a “clear commitment” not to expand, and declassified documents indicate that Soviet negotiators were given the impression that NATO membership was off the table for countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.[52] Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the West German foreign minister at that time, said in a conversation with Eduard Shevardnadze that “[f]or us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.”[52] In 1996, Gorbachev wrote in his Memoirs, that “during the negotiations on the unification of Germany they gave assurances that NATO would not extend its zone of operation to the east,”[53] and repeated this view in an interview in 2008.[54] According to Robert Zoellick, a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception, and no formal commitment regarding enlargement was made.[55]

As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the NATO Military Command Structure, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.[41][56]

Enlargement and reform

A pale yellow building with square columns with three flags hanging in front and soldiers and dignitaries saluting them.

The NATO flag being raised in a ceremony marking Croatia‘s joining of the alliance in 2009.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1998, the NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Central and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. At that time, the decision was criticised in the US by many military, political and academic leaders as a “a policy error of historic proportions.”[57] According to George F. Kennan, an American diplomat and an advocate of the containment policy, this decision “may be expected to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”[58]

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished. In 1997, NATO reached agreement on a significant downsizing of its command structure from 65 headquarters to just 20.[59] The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a further restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.[60] In March 2004, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing jet fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Eight multinational jet fighters are based in Lithuania, the number of which was increased from four in 2014.[61] Also at the 2004 Istanbul summit, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.[62]

Two older Caucasian men in black suits and red ties sit facing each other in a room with green, white, and gold trimmed walls.

Meetings between the government of Viktor Yushchenko and NATO leaders led to the Intensified Dialogue programme.

The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and highlighted the issue of energy security. It was the first NATO summit to be held in a country that had been part of the Soviet Union. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they could eventually become members.[63] The issue of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO prompted harsh criticism from Russia, as did NATO plans for a missile defence system. Studies for this system began in 2002, with negotiations centered on anti-ballistic missiles being stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though NATO leaders gave assurances that the system was not targeting Russia, both presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev criticized it as a threat.[64]

In 2009, US President Barack Obama proposed using the ship-based Aegis Combat System, though this plan still includes stations being built in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Poland.[65] NATO will also maintain the “status quo” in its nuclear deterrent in Europe by upgrading the targeting capabilities of the “tactical” B61 nuclear bombs stationed there and deploying them on the stealthier Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.[66][67] Following the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, NATO committed to forming a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.[68][69]

The Russian intervention in Crimea in 2014 lead to strong condemnation by NATO nations, and Poland invoked Article 4 meetings.[70] At the subsequent 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO’s member states reaffirmed their pledge to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their gross domestic products on defence by 2024.[71] In 2015, five of its 28 members met that goal.[72][73][74] On 15 June 2016, NATO officially recognized cyberwarfare as an operational domain of war, just like land, sea and aerial warfare. This means that any cyber attack on NATO members can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.[75] Montenegro became the 29th and newest member of NATO on 5 June 2017, amid strong objections from Russia.[76][77]

Military operations

Early operations

No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.[78]

Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention

A fighter jet with AV marked on its tail takes off from a mountain runway.

NATO planes engaged in aerial bombardments during Operation Deliberate Force after the Srebrenica massacre.

The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 until October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctionsagainst the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.[79]

On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War, the United Nations Protection Force called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Bosnian Serb military command outpost near Goražde by two US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction.[80] This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April.[81][82] On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces.[83] A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.[84]

NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995.[84] As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, named IFOR. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller SFOR, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations were then passed onto European Union Force Althea.[85] Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.[86]

Kosovo intervention

Three trucks of soldiers idle on a country road in front of trees and red roofed houses. The rear truck has KFOR painted on is back.

German KFOR soldiers patrol southern Kosovo in 1999

In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević‘s Serbian-led crackdown on KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO,[87] which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999.[88] Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.[89]

Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted UN resolution 1244, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR’s mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence.[89][90] In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.[91] As of 1 December 2013, 4,882 KFOR soldiers, representing 31 countries, continue to operate in the area.[92]

The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the UN Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.[93] The US/UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post-Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.[94]

War in Afghanistan

A monumental green copper statue of a woman with a torch stands on an island in front of a mainland where a massive plume of gray smoke billows amongst skyscrapers.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke its collective defence article for the first time.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization’s history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.[95] The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea which is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, as well as enhancing the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.[96]

The alliance showed unity: On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes troops from 42 countries. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area.[97]

A general hands a NATO flag from a soldier on the left to one on the right.

ISAF General David M. Rodriguezat an Italian change of command in Herat.

ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Talibanal Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan,[98] and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.[99]

On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a US-led anti-terrorism coalition.[100] Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, in 2011 France allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts.[101] During its 2012 Chicago Summit, NATO endorsed a plan to end the Afghanistan war and to remove the NATO-led ISAF Forces by the end of December 2014.[102] ISAF was disestablished in December 2014 and replaced by the follow-on training Resolute Support Mission

Iraq training mission

In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the US led MNF-I.[103] The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO’s North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the US-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who was also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.[104]

Turkey invoked the first Article 4 meetings in 2003 at the start of the Iraq War. Turkey also invoked this article twice in 2012 during the Syrian Civil War, after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria,[105]and again in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.[106]

Gulf of Aden anti-piracy

A tall plume of black smoke rises from the blue ocean waters next to a large gray battleship and a small black inflatable boat.

USS Farragut destroying a Somali pirate skiff in March 2010

Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in SomaliaRussiaChina and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well.[107][108] The operation seeks to dissuade and interrupt pirate attacks, protect vessels, and abetting to increase the general level of security in the region.[109]

Libya intervention

During the Libyan Civil War, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards, beginning with Opération Harmattan by the French Air Force on March 19.

On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1,[110] and additional ships and submarines from NATO members.[111] They would “monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries“.[110]

Pieces of a destroyed tank, notably the gun turret, lie on a sandy landscape.

Libyan Army Palmaria howitzersdestroyed by the French Air Force near Benghazi in March 2011

On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained with the coalition’s forces.[112][113] NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[114] By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations,[115] resulting in a confrontation between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict.[116][117][118] In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO.[119] The German foreign ministry pointed to “a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations” and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.[120]

While the mission was extended into September, Norway that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August.[121] Earlier that week it was reported Danish air fighters were running out of bombs.[122][123] The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country’s operations in the conflict were not sustainable.[124] By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.[125][126] A report from the organization Human Rights Watch in May 2012 identified at least 72 civilians killed in the campaign.[127] Following a coup d’état attempt in October 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested technical advice and trainers from NATO to assist with ongoing security issues.[128]

Participating countries

Map of NATO affiliations in Europe Map of NATO partnerships globally
A map of Europe with countries in blue, cyan, orange, and yellow based on their NATO affiliation. A world map with countries in blue, cyan, orange, yellow, purple, and green, based on their NATO affiliation.

Members

Twelve men in black suits stand talking in small groups under a backdrop with the words Lisbonne and Lisboa.

NATO organizes regular summits for leaders of their members states and partnerships.

NATO has twenty-nine members, mainly in Europe and North America. Some of these countries also have territory on multiple continents, which can be covered only as far south as the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, which defines NATO’s “area of responsibility” under Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies such as the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty.[129][130]French Algeria was however covered until their independence on 3 July 1962.[131] Twelve of these twenty-nine are original members who joined in 1949, while the other seventeen joined in one of seven enlargement rounds.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, France pursued a military strategy of independence from NATO under a policy dubbed “Gaullo-Mitterrandism”.[citation needed] Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the return of France to the integrated military command and the Defence Planning Committee in 2009, the latter being disbanded the following year. France remains the only NATO member outside the Nuclear Planning Group and unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, will not commit its nuclear-armed submarines to the alliance.[41][56] Few members spend more than two percent of their gross domestic product on defence,[132] with the United States accounting for three quarters of NATO defense spending.[133]

Enlargement

A map of Europe with countries labeled in shades of blue, green, and yellow based on when they joined NATO.

NATO has added 13 new members since the German reunification and the end of the Cold War.

New membership in the alliance has been largely from Central and Eastern Europe, including former members of the Warsaw Pact. Accession to the alliance is governed with individual Membership Action Plans, and requires approval by each current member. NATO currently has two candidate countries that are in the process of joining the alliance: Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia. In NATO official statements, the Republic of Macedonia is always referred to as the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, with a footnote stating that “Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name”. Though Macedonia completed its requirements for membership at the same time as Croatia and Albania, who joined NATO in 2009, its accession was blocked by Greece pending a resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute.[134] In order to support each other in the process, new and potential members in the region formed the Adriatic Charter in 2003.[135] Georgia was also named as an aspiring member, and was promised “future membership” during the 2008 summit in Bucharest,[136]though in 2014, US President Barack Obama said the country was not “currently on a path” to membership.[137]

Russia continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and European and American negotiators that allowed for a peaceful German reunification.[52]NATO’s expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia,[138] though they have also been criticised in the West.[139] A June 2016 Levada poll found that 68% of Russians think that deploying NATO troops in the Baltic states and Poland – former Eastern bloc countries bordering Russia – is a threat to Russia.[140] Ukraine‘s relationship with NATO and Europe has been politically divisive, and contributed to “Euromaidan” protests that saw the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. In March 2014, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk reiterated the government’s stance that Ukraine is not seeking NATO membership.[141] Ukraine’s president subsequently signed a bill dropping his nation’s nonaligned status in order to pursue NATO membership, but signaled that it would hold a referendum before seeking to join.[142]Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.[143]

A 2006 study in the journal Security Studies argued that NATO enlargement contributed to democratic consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe.[144]

Partnerships

Hundreds of soldiers in military uniforms stand behind a line on a tarmac with 14 flags held by individuals at the front.

Partnership for Peace conducts multinational military exercises like Cooperative Archer, which took place in Tblisi in July 2007 with 500 servicemen from four NATO members, eight PfP members, and Jordan, a Mediterranean Dialogue participant.[145]

The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation.[146] Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[147] The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.[148] The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.[146] Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework such as Afghanistan.[149]

The European Union (EU) signed a comprehensive package of arrangements with NATO under the Berlin Plus agreement on 16 December 2002. With this agreement, the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called “right of first refusal“.[150] For example, Article 42(7) of the 1982 Treaty of Lisbon specifies that “If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power”. The treaty applies globally to specified territories whereas NATO is restricted under its Article 6 to operations north of the Tropic of Cancer. It provides a “double framework” for the EU countries that are also linked with the PfP programme.

Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses its activities with numerous other non-NATO members. The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa. The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialog forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council.[151]

Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and since then, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of these cooperation initiatives.[152] In 1998, NATO established a set of general guidelines that do not allow for a formal institutionalisation of relations, but reflect the Allies’ desire to increase cooperation. Following extensive debate, the term “Contact Countries” was agreed by the Allies in 2000. By 2012, the Alliance had broadened this group, which meets to discuss issues such as counter-piracy and technology exchange, under the names “partners across the globe” or “global partners”.[153][154] Australia and New Zealand, both contact countries, are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance, and similar regional or bilateral agreements between contact countries and NATO members also aid cooperation. Colombia is the NATO’s latest partner and Colombia has access to the full range of cooperative activities NATO offers to partners; Colombia became the first and only Latin American country to cooperate with NATO.[155]

Structures

Two gray haired older men talk with a soldier wearing camouflage and a green beret who is facing away.

Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg (right) and his predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen(left), talk with members of the Norwegian army’s Telemark Battalionin Oslo.

The main headquarters of NATO is located on Boulevard Léopold III/Leopold III-laan, B-1110 Brussels, which is in Haren, part of the City of Brussels municipality.[156] A new €750 million headquarters building began construction in 2010, was completed in summer 2016,[157] and was dedicated on 25 May 2017. The 250,000 square metres (2,700,000 sq ft) complex was designed by Jo Palma and home to a staff of 3800.[158] Problems in the original building stemmed from its hurried construction in 1967, when NATO was forced to move its headquarters from Porte Dauphine in Paris, France following the French withdrawal.[159][40]

The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices and officers or diplomatic missions and diplomats of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states.[160] Non-governmental citizens’ groups have also grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council/Atlantic Treaty Association movement.

The cost of the new headquarters building escalated to about €1.1 billion[161] or $1.23 billion.[162]

NATO Council

Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 29 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty and other agreements outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 29 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.[163] The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry during the NATO Summit in Newport, 5 September 2014

NATO foreign ministers and Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Đukanović have signed a protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO on 19 May 2016

Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministersdefence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States are together referred to as the Quint, which is an informal discussion group within NATO. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.[164]

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.

List of Secretaries General[165]
# Name Country Duration
1 Lord Ismay United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
Sergio Balanzino Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
Sergio Balanzino Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen Denmark 1 August 2009 – 30 September 2014
13 Jens Stoltenberg Norway 1 October 2014 – present
List of Deputy Secretaries General[166]
# Name Country Duration
1 Jonkheer van Vredenburch Netherlands 1952–1956
2 Baron Adolph Bentinck Netherlands 1956–1958
3 Alberico Casardi Italy 1958–1962
4 Guido Colonna di Paliano Italy 1962–1964
5 James A. Roberts Canada 1964–1968
6 Osman Olcay Turkey 1969–1971
7 Paolo Pansa Cedronio Italy 1971–1978
8 Rinaldo Petrignani Italy 1978–1981
9 Eric da Rin Italy 1981–1985
10 Marcello Guidi Italy 1985–1989
11 Amedeo de Franchis Italy 1989–1994
12 Sergio Balanzino Italy 1994–2001
13 Alessandro Minuto Rizzo Italy 2001–2007
14 Claudio Bisogniero Italy 2007–2012
15 Alexander Vershbow United States 2012–2016
16 Rose Gottemoeller United States 2016–present
 Acting Secretary General

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

A large baroque yellow and gold room with a stage on the left and long tables filled with men and women in suits on the right.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, an intergovernmental organization of NATO and associate countries’ elected representatives, meets in London prior to the start of the 2014 Newport summit.

The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other time during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. Karl A. Lamers, German Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag and a member of the Christian Democratic Union, became president of the assembly in 2010.[167] It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.

The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:

  • Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
  • Defence and Security Committee
  • Economics and Security Committee
  • Political Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee

These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.

Military structures

Location of the commands attatched to NATO‘s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), also referred to as Allied Command Operations (ACO)

An older man with a gray beard, red beret, and olive green military suit.

Petr Pavel (right), of the Czech Republic, was Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018

Three soldiers in camouflage stand in salute while a fourth raises a blue and white flag on a red and white striped flagpole.

NATO flag raising at opening of Exercise Steadfast Jazz at Drawsko Pomorskie in Poland in November 2013.

NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee with the Deputy Chairman, and split into two Strategic Commands commanded by a senior US officer and (currently) a senior French officer[168] assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.[60]

Each country’s delegation includes a Military Representative, a senior officer from each country’s armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee, a body responsible for recommending to NATO’s political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council.[169] The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach of the United States, since 2018, and the Deputy Chairman is Steven Shepro of the United States, since 2016.[170]

Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation’s armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country’s 1966 decision to remove itself from the NATO Military Command Structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members.[171] Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.[172] The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.

The structure of NATO evolved throughout the Cold War and its aftermath. An integrated military structure for NATO was first established in 1950 as it became clear that NATO would need to enhance its defences for the longer term against a potential Soviet attack. In April 1951, Allied Command Europeand its headquarters (SHAPE) were established; later, four subordinate headquarters were added in Northern and Central Europe, the Southern Region, and the Mediterranean.[173]

From the 1950s to 2003, the Strategic Commanders were the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT). The current arrangement is to separate responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations (ACO), responsible for NATO operations worldwide.[174] Starting in late 2003 NATO has restructured how it commands and deploys its troops by creating several NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, including EurocorpsI. German/Dutch CorpsMultinational Corps Northeast, and NATO Rapid Deployable Italian Corps among others, as well as naval High Readiness Forces (HRFs), which all report to Allied Command Operations.[175]

In early 2015, in the wake of the War in Donbass, meetings of NATO ministers decided that Multinational Corps Northeast would be augmented so as to develop greater capabilities, to, if thought necessary, prepare to defend the Baltic States, and that a new Multinational Division Southeast would be established in Romania. Six NATO Force Integration Units would also be established to coordinate preparations for defence of new Eastern members of NATO.[176]

Multinational Division Southeast was activated on 1 December 2015.[177] Headquarters Multinational Division South – East (HQ MND-SE) is a North Atlantic Council (NAC) activated NATO military body under operational command (OPCOM) of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) which may be employed and deployed in peacetime, crisis and operations by NATO on the authority of the appropriate NATO Military Authorities by means of an exercise or operational tasking issued in accordance with the Command and Control Technical Arrangement (C2 TA) and standard NATO procedures.

During August 2016, it was announced that 650 soldiers of the British Army would be deployed on an enduring basis in Eastern Europe, mainly in Estonia with some also being deployed to Poland. This British deployment forms part of a four-battle group (four-battalion) deployment by various allies, NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, one each spread from Poland (the Poland-deployed battle group mostly led by the US) to Estonia.

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO

Story 2: President Trump Increases The Pressure on China To Eliminate Trade Deficits and Unfair Trade Practices or Face Higher Tariffs On Many Chinese Exports To United States — Videos

 

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US to impose tariffs on $200bn of Chinese imports

US says to slap tariffs on extra $200 billion of Chinese imports

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(6 Jul 2018) The United States hiked tariffs on Chinese imports Friday and Beijing said it would be forced to counterattack in a dispute between the world’s two biggest economies that President Donald Trump says he is prepared to escalate. Washington increased tariffs at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time (0401 GMT) on 34 billion US dollars worth of Chinese imports, a first step in what could become an accelerating series of tariffs. China’s Commerce Ministry said it would be “forced to make a necessary counterattack.” It gave no immediate details but Beijing earlier released a target list of American goods for retaliation including soybeans, electric cars, whiskey, pork and pork products. Ohio pig farmer Brian Watkins expressed the worry that the tariffs would rob him of the majority of his profits. Watkins said he’s worried that a prolonged trade dispute could take the US out of the pork equation as the global market becomes reliant on other countries’ production. He said he thought trade would be a big issue on farmers’ minds as they take to the polls in auturmn.

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U.S. Threatens Tariffs on $200 Billion of Chinese Goods, From Tilapia to Handbags

The trade war with China intensified as the Trump administration outlined tariffs on another $200 billion worth of products. China has already retaliated against the first round of tariffs with its own levies on American goods, including soybeans.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Ana Swanson and Jim Tankersley

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration escalated its trade dispute with China on Tuesday, saying it would impose tariffs on roughly $200 billion worth of Chinese fish, petroleum, chemicals, handbags, textiles and other products if Beijing does not change its trade practices.

The threat comes just days after President Trump imposed levies on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods, including robotics, airplane parts and ball bearings. Mr. Trump has said he is prepared to tax as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese products.

On Tuesday, his administration detailed the next list of products that would face Mr. Trump’s wrath unless Beijing folds to Washington’s demands. The White House is pushing China to reduce its trade surplus with the United States, halt intellectual property theft and open its markets to American companies.

Neither side appears eager to blink first. China has responded to Mr. Trump’s initial tariffs with its own equal amount of levies on American goods like pork, steel, cars and fiber optic cable and has said that it is prepared to continue retaliating.

The Chinese government said it would take unspecified countermeasures against new tariffs and renewed its threat to take its complaints to the World Trade Organization, which handles trade disputes.

“The American side’s behavior harms China, harms the world and also harms itself,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

With no official discussions scheduled to settle the trade dispute, it is unclear how or when the differences get resolved. A senior White House official said on Tuesday evening that the administration welcomed China’s engagement and had been “extremely clear” with China about its concerns over its trade practices, but that China had been “nonresponsive.” The official said that the process of imposing tariffs on the new list of goods would take roughly two months, with a public hearing on the tariffs scheduled for Aug. 20 through Aug 23.

The trade war has already started to raise costs for businesses that depend on international supply chains, from manufacturers to retailers, and consumers that purchase their products. The Trump administration said it intended its first wave of tariffs to target industrial products that the Chinese government subsidizes and to minimize the impact to American households.

But as the list of taxed products grows, the number of consumers and businesses that will feel the pinch also increases.

“It gets harder for them to keep it from the shelves of Walmart and Target and Best Buy,” said Mary E. Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It also gets harder for them to continue to hide behind this rationale of hitting China for forced technology transfer.”

The administration’s approach has prompted criticism from lawmakers, particularly those from farm states, who say Mr. Trump is approaching a serious issue in an undisciplined way that could backfire.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that he supported the administration’s effort to crack down on Chinese practices, but the decision to use tariffs was not the proper response.

“Tonight’s announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach,” Mr. Hatch said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to China’s mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy.”

The White House administration disagrees. Robert E. Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said in a statement that the announcement was “an appropriate response.”

“Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products,” he said. “There is no justification for such action.”

For now, the limited tariffs combined with a booming economy seem to be having little impact beyond targeted industries.

Goldman Sachs economists estimated this week that the initial tariffs on Chinese goods would reduce the size of the United States economy by a minimal amount, and said they did not expect the White House to follow through on Mr. Trump’s latest threatened tariffs.

But Federal Reserve officials and others are worried about potential damage from a prolonged trade war. Minutes from the Fed’s June meetingshow business contacts “indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy.”

Goldman economists said in a report earlier this month that, if the broader range of tariffs were actually enacted, it would be more damaging because they would hit Americans more quickly in the wallet than the initial round of tariffs.

Economists have also cautioned that the potential damage to the economy could grow if the trade conflict grows. Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University, said that it was difficult to see a path to cooling off tensions, especially with the highly charged midterm elections approaching in the United States.

“With China in attack mode as well, additional tariffs risk escalating the trade war to a level from which it is becoming increasingly difficult to envision an exit path,” he said.

U.S. LNG, ethanol sellers buoyed by China trade talks

(Reuters) – China’s interest in reducing its trade surplus with the United States through increased energy imports could advance plans for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants and ethanol sales, analysts and energy executives involved in developing new LNG facilities said.

Washington and Beijing stepped back from the brink of a full-blown trade war after talks last week, with the United States appearing to set aside for now its demands that China revamp key planks of its industrial policy.

“China represents an enormous economic opportunity for U.S. LNG and ethanol exports as both products will likely see dramatic demand growth in the coming years, during which time the United States is also expected to dominate global export markets,” Katie Bays, energy analyst at Height Securities in Washington, D.C., said in a note on Tuesday.

Bays estimated that substantial LNG sales commitments could bring in between $20 billion and $30 billion annually and ethanol sales could reach $5 billion to $7 billion annually. She noted, however, that the LNG and ethanol markets are not big enough by themselves to meet President Donald Trump’s goal of reducing the Chinese trade deficit by $200 billion per year.

On Tuesday, Cheniere Energy Inc said its board approved financing for an LNG unit, the first new approval in the United States since 2015. The decision adds a third unit capable of producing 0.7-billion cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas to its Corpus Christi, Texas, plant.

There are more than two dozen proposed U.S. LNG plants waiting for customer commitments to reach a final investment decision, many of them looking to China for deals.

China overtook South Korea in 2017 as the world’s second biggest buyer of LNG behind Japan. The country, which imported 5.6 billion cubic feet per day last year, is looking to buy more low-cost sources of energy, like gas, to reduce its use of coal and cut pollution.

Charlie Cone, LNG proprietary analyst for energy data provider Genscape, said at least 13 percent of total U.S. LNG cargoes currently go to China. “We expect this number to grow as more U.S. firms sign long-term agreements with Chinese buyers as their nation continues to develop its gas infrastructure,” Cone said.

Bays said a hold on the trade war could drive Chinese customers to sign new LNG contracts with Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass or Corpus Christi facilities, Sempra Energy’s Cameron, Freeport LNG, NextDecade Corp’s Rio Grande, or Pembina Pipeline Corp’s Jordan Cove.

“We see it as a positive development,” said William Daughdrill, director of health, safety and environmental matters at Delfin Midstream. The company’s chief executive was in Asia last week pursuing customers, Daughdrill said.

Delfin is proposing a floating LNG facility in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and aiming for a final investment decision as early as this year to go ahead and produce up to 13 million metric tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG for export.

“For us, it’s strictly been about marketing to China,” said Greg Vesey, chief executive of LNG Ltd, which is developing an LNG plant in Louisiana and another in Nova Scotia in Canada. It hopes to reach a final investment decision on the U.S. project by year-end and begin exports in 2022, he said.

“If you look at some forecasts for 2035, there are really only two places that have significant increases in LNG imports. Europe goes up about 100 mtpa and China goes up about 200 mtpa,” Vesey said.

Texas LNG, which is proposing a 4-mtpa export facility in Brownsville, Texas, and has five early-stage agreements with Chinese customers, hopes to make a final decision next year, about six months behind its original goal.

“Sentiment in the LNG markets is heating up again,” said Langtry Meyer, co-founder of the company. He added, however, that Texas LNG was not considering developing an import terminal in China, which would likely be needed to expand U.S. exports.

As for ethanol, Bays at Height Securities said ethanol producers like Archer Daniels Midland Co and Green Plains Inc could benefit from negotiations with China given the political importance of corn producers to Trump, coupled with China’s need to increase ethanol imports dramatically to meet its 2020 renewable fuel objectives.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; Writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1099, June 26, 2018, Story 1: Supreme Court Affirms By 5-4 Ruling President Trumps’ Authority To Implement A Travel Ban For Travelers From Certain Muslim Countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia) Plus North Korea and Venezuela To Protect American People’s Safety and Security — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Awards Medal of Honor Posthumously To Army World War II Hero and Veteran — Videos — Story 3: National Debt As Percentage of Gross Domestic Product Exceeds 100 Percent — Highest Level Since World War II — Videos

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Story 1: Supreme Court Affirms By 5-4 Ruling President Trumps’ Authority To Implement A Travel Ban For Travelers From Certain Muslim Countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia) Plus North Korea and Venezuela To Protect American People’s Safety and Security — Videos —

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Supreme Court rules 5-4 to uphold Trump travel ban

Supreme Court ruling upholds Trump’s travel ban

Supreme Court upholds Trump’s travel ban

Supreme Court Upholds President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban In 5-4 Ruling | NBC News

Supreme Court upholds Trump’s travel ban in a 5-4 ruling – Daily Mail

Supreme Court hears arguments on Trump’s travel ban

Muslim activist: Why I agree with Trump’s travel ban

How Trump’s travel ban ended up at the Supreme Court

Tucker vs. group opposing Trump’s revised travel ban

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump Muslim ban case later

Trump defends proposal to ban Muslims entering U.S

 

Trump´s travel ban upheld by US supreme court

The US supreme court has upheld Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries – rejecting a challenge that it discriminated against Muslims or exceeded the president’s authority.

The 5-4 decision is the court’s first substantive ruling on a Trump administration policy.

Mr Trump responded to the decision with a “Wow!” on Twitter.

He later called the decision “a moment of profound vindication” and a “tremendous victory for the American people and the Constitution”.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!

In a statement issued by the White House, he said the ruling follows “months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country”.

Mr Trump added that as long as he is president, he will “defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American People, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens”.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by his four conservative colleagues. He wrote that presidents have substantial power to regulate immigration. He also rejected the challengers’ claim of anti-Muslim bias.

The US supreme court

The US supreme court

But the judge was careful not to endorse Mr Trump’s provocative statements about immigration in general and Muslims in particular.

“We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

The travel ban has been fully in place since the court declined to block it in December. The justices allowed the policy to take full effect even as the court fight continued and lower courts had ruled it out of bounds.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent that based on the evidence in the case “a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus”.

She said her colleagues arrived at the opposite result by “ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens”.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan also dissented.

The policy applies to travellers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

It also affects two non-Muslim countries: blocking travellers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families. A sixth majority Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list in April after improving “its identity-management and information sharing practices”, Mr Trump said in a proclamation.

The administration had pointed to the Chad decision to show that the restrictions are premised only on national security concerns.

The challengers, though, argued that the court could just ignore all that has happened, beginning with Mr Trump’s campaign tweets to prevent the entry of Muslims into the United States.

Just a week after he took office in January 2017, Mr Trump announced his first travel ban aimed at seven countries.

That triggered chaos and protests across the US as travellers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours.

Mr Trump tweaked the order after the 9th US circuit court of appeals in San Francisco refused to reinstate the ban.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The next version, unveiled in March 2017, dropped Iraq from the list of covered countries and made it clear the 90-day ban covering Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen did not apply to those travellers who already had visas.

It also eliminated language that would give priority to religious minorities. Critics said the changes did not erase the ban’s legal problems.

The current version dates from September and it followed what the administration has called a thorough review by several federal agencies, although it has not shared the review with courts or the public.

Federal trial judges in Hawaii and Maryland had blocked the travel ban from taking effect, finding that the new version looked too much like its predecessors. Those rulings were largely upheld by federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia, and San Francisco.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that presidents have frequently used their power to talk to the nation “to espouse the principles of religious freedom and tolerance on which this Nation was founded”.

But he added that presidents and the country have not always lived up “to those inspiring words”.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5887965/Trump-s-travel-ban-upheld-US-supreme-court.html

 

The Supreme Court Travel Ban Ruling: A Summary

By Hilary HurdYishai Schwartz

Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 2:18 PM

The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday in Trump v. Hawaii decisively puts to bed the “preliminary injunction” round of litigation over President Trump’s travel ban. In a 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court issued two core holdings: (a) that the latest ban does not exceed the president’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); and (b) that ban does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

The present case deals with the third iteration of the travel ban, “Proclamation No. 9645.” The proclamation replaces two earlier executive orders, each of which was replaced after meeting significant legal challenges. The most recent version is more carefully drafted and appears to be, at least in part, the result of an interagency policy process that included input from the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.

Shortly after it came into effect, Proclamation 9645 was challenged in federal district court in Hawaii. The challenge was brought by three U.S. nationals whose relatives are from affected countries; by the Muslim Association of Hawaii; and by the state of Hawaii in its capacity as operator of the University of Hawaii system, which recruits students and faculty from affected countries. The district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction, finding that the plaintiffs were “likely to succeed” in full litigation, as the proclamation appeared to violate both the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Establishment Clause. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that the proclamation likely violated the INA, but it declined to reach the constitutional question.

Majority Opinion

A. Statutory Claim

Justice Roberts begins the opinion by quickly assuming (without deciding) that the court does indeed have the power to review the challengers’ statutory claims. Jurisdiction, he warns, may be complicated by the doctrine of “consular non-reviewability” (reflecting the fact that visa decisions are “a fundamental act of sovereignty”). Nevertheless, as in a 1993 case (Sale v. Haitian Centers Council), the Supreme Court can proceed by assuming it has jurisdiction—as it will find against the plaintiffs on the merits.

Next, the court turns to the statutory text. §1182(f) of the INA, the court emphasizes, seems to give the president broad discretionary power. The provision empowers the president to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens” if he “finds” that entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The court explains that this language “exudes deference” to the president, a deference heightened by the foreign policy and national security context. The court also emphasizes that the statute only mentions a presidential finding of national interest; the statute does not, however, seem to require the president “to explain that finding with sufficient detail to enable judicial review.” Moreover, given the sparse explanations offered in previous exercises of §1182 (such as President Bill Clinton’s 1996 exclusion of Sudanese government and military officials), Trump’s explanation of the ban’s purpose more than suffices.

The court also rejects plaintiffs’ insistence that the proclamation’s open-endedness violates §1182(f)’s “suspension” language (implying a “temporary measure”). Justice Roberts writes that most similar executive orders have not had specific end dates but were “temporary” in that they were linked to a specific problem or circumstance and would presumably be lifted with the addressing of such circumstances. Trump’s ban appears to follow precisely this pattern.

Next, the court rejects claims that the ban violates other provisions of the INA. Plaintiffs had argued that Congress had already legislated specific means to address certain countries’ failure to provide adequate information: Such measures included: (a) Individual consular assessments and requirements that individuals supply such information and (b) a visa waiver program to apply pressure to recalcitrant countries. The Supreme Court concluded, however, that nothing about such measures limits the power that the INA grants the president to apply additional measures if he deems the circumstances require them. Similarly, nothing in the statutory text nor consistent practice limits the use of §1182(f) to “emergency” situations, as the plaintiffs argued.

Finally, the court rejects plaintiffs’ argument that another provision of the INA, §1152(a)(1)(A) (providing that “no person shall … be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of Residence”) limits the president’s broad §1182(f) authority to deny entry based on nationality. §1152’s non-discrimination provision, the court emphasizes, applies simply to the issuance of visas; it has nothing to do with determinations of admissibility—which under the INA is an entirely different stage of the process, subject to an entirely different set of legal rules and standards. Historical practice confirms this: Past executive orders (by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and President Ronald Reagan in 1986) also suspended entry to aliens based on nationality.

B. Constitutional Claim

The Supreme Court then turned to the plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim.

First, the court quickly determines that plaintiffs do indeed have standing. While the question of standing based on a nebulous “dignitary” harm to their religion might be debatable, standing based on family separations—caused by the order’s prohibition on travel into the United States from certain countries—is not. Such separations, when based on a possible constitutional violation, are unquestionably a concrete harm sufficient for Article III standing. (Whether the Establishment Clause itself confers a legally protected interest to family members for their relatives’ admission is a separate question, to be decided on the merits.)

After cataloguing a number of explicit statements by the president (and his advisers) connecting a prospective travel ban with animus toward Islam and Muslims, Roberts seems to gently chide the president. Recounting expressions of religious tolerance by a number of presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush, the court notes that “Presidents have frequently used that power to espouse the principles of religious freedom and tolerance on which this Nation was founded. … Yet it cannot be denied that the Federal Government and the Presidents who have carried its laws into effect have—from the Nation’s earliest days—performed unevenly in living up to those inspiring words.” Nevertheless, the court concludes that it is not its place “to denounce the statements” but to determine “the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility.”

Unlike traditional Establishment Clause cases (such as “religious displays or school prayer”), the court emphasizes that this case takes place within an arena (that of national security, immigration and foreign policy) that is generally left to the political branches. A different standard of review is therefore necessary. And citing a 1972 case, Kleindienst v. Mandelthe court points out that it generally does not look beyond the “facially legitimate and bona fide” reasons offered by the executive branch in such areas. Such deference is critical, the court explains, in allowing the president the “flexibility” necessary to respond to a rapidly changing immigration and national security landscape. Nevertheless, the court seems to be willing to move a bit beyond Mandel, ruling that “for our purposes today, we assume that we may look behind the face of the Proclamation to the extent of applying rational basis review.” In a footnote, the court clarifies that the “constrained standard of review” represented by rational basis “applies to any constitutional claim concerning the entry of foreign nationals.”

Applying rational basis review, the court agrees to “consider” extrinsic evidence but explains that it will ultimately decide the case based on whether the “policy is plausibly related to the Government’s stated objective” (i.e., protecting the country and improving the vetting processes). Under this lenient standard, the court decisively upholds the policy. The court explains that the policy “is expressly premised on legitimate purposes,” “reflects the results of a worldwide review process undertaken by multiple Cabinet officials and their agencies,” and justifies the inclusion of each country placed on the list.

Moreover, the court concludes that the removal of three Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Sudan and Chad) from the list, the existence of carve-outs for non-immigrant permanent residents and asylum seekers, and the inclusion of a waiver program all add plausibility to the travel ban’s facially claimed purposes. It emphasizes that, despite the doubts raised by the plaintiffs and the dissenting justices over the “effectiveness and wisdom” of the order, the court “cannot substitute [its] own assessment for the Executive’s predictive judgments on such matters,” particularly in the realm of national security and foreign policy.

Finally, the court forcefully dismisses Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s invocation of Korematsu v. United States in her dissentUnlike the current ban, which simply denies the “privilege” of entry to foreigners based on “facially neutral” policy, the court argues that the forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” The comparison, the court insists, is “wholly inapt.” In any case, the court concludes, that the dissent’s reference to Korematsu provides  the opportunity “to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—’has no place in law under the Constitution.’”

Finding that the plaintiffs have not shown a “likelihood of success on the merits”—the legal standard for granting a preliminary injunction—the Court reverses the injunction and remands to the Court of Appeals.

 

Concurrences

Justice Anthony Kennedy

In a short concurrence, Justice Kennedy agrees with the majority opinion that governmental action may be subject to judicial review to determine whether “anything but animus” can explain it, while noting that the question of reviewability is a matter for the lower court to determine on remand. In a tacit acknowledgement of the president’s comments, Justice Kennedy emphasizes that even in those “numerous instances in which the statements and actions of Government officials are not subject to judicial scrutiny or intervention,” those officials are not “free to disregard the Constitution and the rights it proclaims and protects.” He goes on to say that “the very fact that an official may have broad discretion, discretion free from judicial scrutiny, makes it all the more imperative for him or her to adhere to the Constitution and to its meaning and its promise.”

 

Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Thomas’s concurrence briefly addresses the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims but centers on the remedy: a preliminary nationwide injunction awarded by the lower court.

On the merits, Justice Thomas first says that Section 1182(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act does not provide any “judicially enforceable limits that constrain the President,” “nor could it” given the president’s “inherent authority to exclude aliens from the country.” Citing Town of Greece v. Galloway, he adds that the Establishment Clause does not create an individual right to be free from all laws that a “reasonable observer” might view as religious or anti-religious; further, the plaintiffs are unable to raise any other First Amendment claim because the alleged discrimination is directed at aliens abroad, not U.S. persons. Finally, he says that the evidence of anti-Muslim discrimination that the plaintiffs proffered was unpersuasive.

The body of Justice Thomas’s concurrence focuses on the remedy that the plaintiffs sought and obtained from the district court: a nationwide injunction. Justice Thomas first emphasizes the negative impact of nationwide injunctions, which first emerged in the 1960s, arguing that they prevent “legal questions from percolating through the federal courts”; promote forum shopping; and make “every case a national emergency for the courts and for the Executive Branch.” He then questioned the district court’s specific authority to issue such injunctions, concluding that they “appear to be inconsistent with longstanding limits on equitable relief and the power of Article III courts” because:

  1. No statute expressly grants the district courts the power to issue universal injunctions; and
  2. The court’s inherent constitutional authority is limited by the traditional rules of equity at the time of the founding (Guaranty Trust Co. v. York), which did not provide for universal injunctions.

Justice Thomas goes on to explain why the founding generation viewed equity with suspicion, emphasizing that U.S. courts have traditionally understood judicial power as the “the power to render judgements in individual cases.” (Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn.) “As a general rule,” he says, “American courts of equity did not provide relief beyond the parties to the case. If their injunctions advantaged nonparties, that benefit was merely accidental.” He concluded by finding universal injunctions to be both “legally and historically dubious.”

 

Dissents

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Elena Kagan

Justice Breyer’s dissent considers whether the president’s travel ban was indeed a Muslim ban or a security measure by focusing on the proclamation’s elaborate system of exemptions: both their legal language and their realized application. He writes that if the government were applying the proclamation as written, there would be a strong argument for its lawfulness and resemblances to two prior presidential precedents on points (the 1979 Carter order and the 1986 Reagan proclamation). But there is, he writes, strong evidence that the government is not actually applying the proclamation’s system of exemptions and waivers, raising questions about how “the Government [can] successfully claim that the Proclamation rests on security needs if it is excluding Muslims who satisfy the Proclamation’s own terms.”

Justice Breyer grounds this evaluation of the proclamation’s practical implementation on basis that that no guidance was issued to the secretaries of state or homeland security to decide whether to grant a waiver; only a “miniscule percentage” of immigrant visas were granted for those eligible (only two out of 6,555 eligible in the first month after the proclamation was promulgated); despite the fact that the proclamation does not apply to asylum seekers or refugees, only have a few have been admitted (13 have arrived since 2018, compared with 15,000 in 2016). According to an affidavit filed in a pending case in the Eastern District of New York, a consular officer reportedly said that he did not have the discretion to file waivers at all; another report showed that the U.S. embassy in Djibouti received instructions to grant waivers only in “rare cases of imminent danger.”

Acknowledging that “declarations, anecdotal evidence, facts, and numbers taken from amicus briefs are not judicial factfindings” and that the government did not have the opportunity to contest these figures, Justice Breyer says that that he would send the case back to the district court for further proceedings and would, in the meantime, leave the injunction in effect. However, if pressed to decide the case without further litigation, Justice Breyer concludes that “I would, on balance, find the evidence of antireligious bias … a sufficient basis to set the Proclamation aside.”

 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In a 28-page dissent, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg, said that the court’s opinion failed to safeguard the fundamental principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment and a “reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

Acknowledging that the court must “take care not to engage in ‘any judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s hearts of hearts’” (internal citations omitted), Justice Sotomayor argues that the text of the government’s policy, its operation and available evidence regarding its historical background would suggest a government policy explicitly favoring one religion over another—an action the court has historically recognized as fostering “hatred, disrespect, and even contempt of those who [hold] contrary beliefs.” As evidence of the proclamation’s racial animus, Justice Sotomayor cites President Trump’s 2015 campaign statement (which remained on his website until May 2017); the manner in which Trump characterized the proposal during the election campaign, including analogies he made to President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment policy for Japanese-Americans during World War II; the White House press secretary’s statement following the issuance of the second executive order that the president would continue to deliver on his “most significant campaign promises”; Trump’s tweets after the ban went into effect, including references to the story of Gen. John J. Pershing’s massacre of Muslims in the Philippines; Trump’s retweet of three anti-Muslim videos initially tweeted by a British political party whose mission is to oppose “all alien and destructive politic[al] or religious doctrines, including … Islam”; and the fact that “[d]espite several opportunities to do so, President Trump has never disavowed any of his prior statements about Islam.”

Throughout her opinion, Justice Sotomayor cites the court’s recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm’n, emphasizing that “the Court recently found less pervasive official expressions of hostility and the failure to disavow them to be constitutionally significant.” Justice Sotomayor goes on to say that the majority’s rational-basis review of the proclamation is perplexingly lenient: She would evaluate the travel ban under the heightened scrutiny used in other Establishment Clause cases, “including those involving claims of religious animus or discrimination.”  But, she writes, the proclamation would fail even under rational-basis review because the proclamation is “‘divorced from any factual context from which we could discern a relationship to legitimate state interests’ and ‘its sheer breadth is so continuous with the reasons offered for it.’” She continues: “even a cursory review of the Government’s asserted national-security rationale reveals that the Proclamation is nothing more than ‘a religious gerrymander.’” That the proclamation included minor restrictions on two non-Muslim-majority countries, she argues, is of “no moment.” Not only had Congress already addressed the national security concerns at issue in the proclamation through an extensive scheme embodied in the Immigration and Nationality Act and Visa Waiver Program, but the fact that “the Government’s analysis of the vetting practices of hundreds of countries boiled down to such a short document raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the President’s proclaimed national-security rationale.”

Turning to the remedy sought by the plaintiffs, Justice Sotomayor argues that the plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction because they have (1) have shown a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction and (2) demonstrated that the balance of the equities tips in their favor in light of the government’s “nebulous national-security concerns.” She writes, “Although national security is unquestionably an issue of paramount public important, it is not ‘a talisman’ that the Government can use ‘to ward off inconvenient claims’—a ‘label’ used to ‘cover a multitude of sins.’” (quoting Ziglar v. Abbasi)  In contrast to Justice Thomas, who questioned the historical legitimacy of nationwide injunctions that provide remedy to parties external to the suit, Justice Sotomayor emphasizes  the public interest at stake in denying an injunction.

Justice Sotomayor concludes by likening the court’s decision to Korematsu v. U.S.Despite Chief Justice Roberts’s renunciation of the decision, she writes, “The court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”

https://www.lawfareblog.com/supreme-court-travel-ban-ruling-summary

 

READ: Supreme Court Decision Upholding Trump’s Travel Ban

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban. The court’s majority ruled the ban is “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA,'” referring to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump’s travel ban by a 5-4 vote.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA,” referring to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Read the court’s full opinion in the case here:

In his concurrence, Justice Anthony Kennedy referred to the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion and noted that it’s “imperative” for government officials to “adhere to the Constitution and to its meaning and its purposes.”

Read Kennedy’s full concurring opinion here:

In one of two dissenting opinions, Justice Sonia Sotomayor — who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — said the court’s decision “fails to safeguard” the “principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment.”

“It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns,” Sotomayor wrote.

Read her full dissent here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/26/623525875/read-supreme-court-decision-upholding-trumps-travel-ban

Story 2: President Trump Awards Medal of Honor Posthumously To Army World War II Hero and Veteran — Videos —

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White House Medal of Honor Ceremony (C-SPAN)

Published on Jun 26, 2018
President Trump posthumously awards Medal of Honor to Army First Lt. Garlin Conner. Conner’s widow, Pauline, widow accepts on his behalf. Full video here: https://cs.pn/2tud4U4

 

A remarkable hero: Trump awards WWII Kentucky soldier Medal of Honor

U.S. President Donald Trump is presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to Garlin Conner, a 1st Lieutenant in the Army, for conspicuous gallantry during World War II. (June 26) AP

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President Donald Trump posthumously honored a Kentucky soldier with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday for his actions in World War II.

First Lt. Garlin M. Conner, a native of Albany, Kentucky, and a longtime farmer of the commonwealth soil, has been celebrated as one of the most decorated in soldiers in U.S. history. His honors include the Distinguished Service Cross, four Silver Star medals, a bronze star and three Purple Hearts for injuries suffered in combat.

But to his widow, Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the only thing missing was the nation’s highest military award for valor.

More: President Trump honors late WWII veteran Garlin Murl Conner with Medal of Honor

“He was my hero,” Pauline Conner said at a Department of Defense roundtable Monday. “And he still is since he has been gone for the last 20 years … I didn’t think this would happen, I never thought it would happen.”

Tuesday marked the end of more than a two-decade campaign to award him the Medal of Honor since Galin Conner’s death in November 1998.

Armed with nothing but a telephone

It was a snowy and frigid day in Houston, France, on Jan. 24, 1945. Temperatures had dipped to 10 below zero at night, according to an Army account of Conner’s actions.

Conner was serving as an intelligence officer with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. Department of Defense historians said he was in the hospital but snuck back to his unit to assist them.

Not long after rejoining his unit, the American troops found themselves under attack by a wave of nearly 600 German soldiers.

Watch: Kentuckian recounts being shot down in WWII and being a POW

You may like: WWII vet, who just turned 100, recalls landing on Normandy Beach

Conner, previously wounded from the other theaters of war he had fought in, volunteered to direct artillery fire against the incoming tanks and troops.

He willingly ran out of the forest, out into the open, armed only with a telephone to call in artillery strikes within 15 feet of his boots to fight off the waves.

“Think about that,” Erik Villard, a digital military historian, said at the Pentagon on Monday. “Running forward with nothing more than a telephone in your hand and facing that wave of Germans and calling in that artillery, the heroism is remarkable.”

‘Reliving his memories’

He went home, back to Kentucky, shortly after the battle. He was given the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, for his actions.

The Army account of Conner’s heroism was quoted a letter written by Lt. Col. Lloyd Ramsey less than a month after the battle, USA TODAY reported.

“He has the Distinguished Service Cross which could have been, I believe, a Congressional Medal of Honor, but he was heading home and we wanted to get him what he deserved before he left,” Ramsey wrote.

Conner, a native of Kentucky, was discharged from the Army on June 22, 1945, shortly after Victory in Europe Day on May 8, according to an Army press release.

Read this: Oldham County WWII vet remembers Normandy invasion

While Pauline Conner told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday that her husband kept many of the horrors of war to himself, she recognized that he carried the weight of that snowy day in France for the rest of his life.

“He’d wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares, he’d go outside on the porch and smoke cigarettes,” Pauline Conner remembered. “He was reliving his memories of what had passed.”

Conner died in Albany, Kentucky on Nov. 5, 1998 at age 79, according to the Courier Journal archives.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a moment on Monday afternoon to talk about Galin Conner’s service and sacrifice.

“I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “And I want to thank her for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Conner.”

https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/26/trump-giving-wwii-kentucky-soldier-garlin-conner-medal-honor/730562002/

Garlin Murl Conner

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Garlin Murl Conner
Garlin Murl Conner.jpg

Garlin Murl Conner in approximately 1945
Born 2 June 1919
Aaron, Kentucky
Died 5 November 1998 (aged 79)
Albany, Kentucky
Resting place Memorial Hill
Cemetery, Albany
 (36.69780°N 85.13170°WCoordinates36.69780°N 85.13170°W)
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit K Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment3rd Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Battle of Anzio
Awards

Garlin Murl Conner (2 June 1919 – 5 November 1998) was a United States Army technical sergeant and first lieutenant in the Second World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, four Silver Stars, and the French Croix de guerre for his heroic actions in Italy and France during the war. During his campaigns, he was wounded seven times. An attempt to upgrade Conner’s Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor, the United States military’s highest decoration for valor, was advanced during 2017. On 29 March 2018, the White House announced[1][2] President Trump would award the Medal of Honor to Garlin Murl Conner in a ceremony at the White House. On 26 June 2018, the president presented the medal to Pauline Conner, his widow.[3]

Biography

Conner was born on 2 June 1919 in Aaron, Kentucky.[4] He was the third child of eleven brothers and sisters. He and four of his brothers served during World War II. He stood at 5 ft 6 in (168 cm).

Military service

Conner was a selectee for the military and entered the U.S. Army on 1 March 1941 in Louisville, Kentucky.[5] He completed his basic training at Fort LewisWashington where he became a member of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment3rd Infantry Division. After training with his division at Fort Lewis, he was sent with the 3rd Infantry Division division to Camp Ord, California and Fort Pickett, Virginia for further combat training.

On 23 October 1942, Conner and his division departed the United States from Norfolk, Virginia to fight in the European-African-Middle Eastern theater of operations arriving on 8 November for the invasion of French North Africa. He participated in four amphibious assault landings and eight campaigns including the Anzio Campaign in Italy during which he earned his second Silver Star (Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster).[6][7][8] He was promoted to technical sergeant on 13 January 1944. He was discharged on 27 June 1944, and commissioned a second lieutenant on 28 June 1944.[6][9] On 29 December 1944, he was promoted to 1st lieutenant.

Conner was awarded four Silver Stars for gallantry in action: in October 1943, 30 January 1944, 11 September 1944, and 3 February 1945.[6] He was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action on 6 March 1944, in August, and in September 1944.[6][7] He was presented the Distinguished Service Cross from Lieutenant General Alexander Patch, the Commander of the Seventh Army, for extraordinary heroism during a German counterattack with six tanks and 600 infantrymen on 24 January 1945, near Houssen, France.[6] Recently returned to his unit from the the hospital, intelligence staff officer Lt. Conner volunteered to go forward to direct artillery fire against the German counterattack. The enemy got so close that Lt. Conner had to call artillery fire directly on his own position, leading to the death of more than 50 Germans and stopping the assault.

In March 1945, Conner was sent back to the U.S. and was honorably discharged on 22 June 1945.[6]

Post-military and death

Conner married Lyda Pauline Wells on 9 July 1945.[10]

After the war, the Conners lived in Albany, Kentucky. They had one son, Paul, one grandson, and three granddaughters. Conner was in the farming business, working his farm in Albany where he was president of the Clinton County Farm Bureau for seventeen years. He was active in various veterans organizations including the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He was handicapped from his war wounds and from heart surgery in 1979.

Conner died in 1998, and was buried in Memorial Hill Cemetery in Albany.[11] In 2012, the U.S. Army honored Conner by designating a portion of a new maintenance facility at Fort Benning, Georgia as Conner Hall.[12]

Military awards

Conner’s military decorations and awards:

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Width-44 purple ribbon with width-4 white stripes on the borders

Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

Combat Infantryman Badge
Medal of Honor[6][13]
Silver Star w/ three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters[6][7] Bronze Star Medal[6][14] Purple Heart w/ two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters[6][14]
Army Good Conduct Medal American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal w/
Arrowhead device3/16″ silver star, and three 3/16″ bronze stars[6][8]
World War II Victory Medal French Croix de Guerre[6][15]
Bronze oak leaf cluster

Presidential Unit Citation w/ one bronze oak leaf cluster[16]

Distinguished Service Cross citation

Conner’s Distinguished Service Cross reads:

Name: First Lieutenant Garlin M. Conner
Unit: Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division
Place and date: Near Houssen, France, 24 January 1945
G.O. No.: 47, 10 February 1945

Citation:
For extraordinary heroism in action. On 24 January 1945, at 0800 hours, near Houssen, France, Lieutenant Conner ran four hundred yards through the impact area of an intense concentration of enemy artillery fire to direct friendly artillery on a force of six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, followed by six hundred fanatical German infantrymen, which was assaulting in full fury the spearhead position held by his Battalion. Unreeling a spool of telephone wire, Lieutenant Conner disregarded shells which exploded twenty-five yards from him, tearing branches from the trees in his path, and plunged in a shallow ditch thirty yards beyond the position of his foremost company. Although the ditch provided inadequate protection from the heavy automatic fire of the advancing enemy infantry, he calmly directed round after round of artillery on the foe from his prone position, hurling them back to the shelter of a dike. For three hours he remained at his OP [observation post] despite wave after wave of German infantry, which surged forward to within five yards of his position. As the last, all-out German assault swept forward, he ordered his artillery to concentrate on his own position, resolved to die if necessary to halt the enemy. Friendly shells exploded within five yards of him, blanketing his position, wounding his one assistant. Yet Lieutenant Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the assault elements swarming around him until the German attack was shattered and broken. By his exemplary heroism, he killed approximately fifty and wounded an estimated one hundred Germans, disintegrated the powerful enemy assault and prevented heavy casualties in his Battalion. Entered military service from Aaron, Kentucky.
By command of Lieutenant General Patch[6]

Medal of Honor campaign

Since 1996, there have been continuous efforts to have Conner’s Distinguished Service Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The numerous requests for the change of award required Army approval and were denied by the Army up until 22 October 2015.[6][11] Included in these requests was a comparison of Conner’s actions on 24 January 1945 to Audie Murphy‘s Medal of Honor actions two days later.[6][19] Murphy, one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II,[20] also served in the 3rd Infantry Division.

Through the pictures, medals, and testimony of Conner’s superior officers, including Maj. Gen. Lloyd Ramsey, the story of Conner’s heroic actions more than 50 years earlier in France came back to life. Early on 24 January 1945, Conner’s commanding officer was seeking a volunteer for a dangerous and life threatening mission: Run 400 yards directly toward the enemy while unreeling telephone wire all the way to trenches on the front line. From that point, the volunteer would be able to call in targeting coordinates for mortar fire. Conner and another soldier with him, grabbed the spool of wire and took off amid intense enemy fire. They made it to the ditch, where Conner stayed in contact with his unit for three hours in near-zero-degree weather as a ferocious onslaught of German tanks and infantry bore down on him.[6]

Korean War veteran Richard Chilton, whose uncle Pfc. Gordon W. Roberts served with Conner in combat and was killed in action at Anzio on 31 January 1944, stated in 2015, “My God, he held off 600 Germans and six tanks coming right at him. When they got too close, his commander told him to vacate and instead, he says, ‘Blanket my position.'”[10] The request meant Conner was calling for artillery strikes as he was being overrun, risking his life in order to draw friendly fire that would take out the enemy, too,[10] during which time he directed his men for three hours by telephone. During the action, Conner killed 50 German soldiers with artillery fire and his companion was wounded.[6] Lt. Harold Wigetman a member of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, credited Conner with saving the battalion.[11]

Pauline Conner with the help of Chilton and others,[10] waged a seventeen-year campaign for the Medal of Honor recognition for Garlin, for the 24 January 1945 action. On 11 March 2014, U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell ruled that Pauline had waited too long to submit her most recent request.[11]

There is no doubt that Lt. Conner should have been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. One of the most disappointing regrets of my career is not having the Medal of Honor awarded to the most outstanding soldier I’ve ever had the privilege of commanding.

— Maj. Gen. Lloyd B. Ramsey, Ret.

In late October 2015, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the parties into mediation. The Army’s Board for Correction of Military Records recommended Connor for the Medal of Honor.[10]

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 which was signed into law by the President on 12 December 2017, includes in an amendment, the “Authorization For Award Of The Medal Of Honor To Garlin M. Conner For Acts of Valor During World War II”, that waives the time limit to award the Medal of Honor to Conner for which he was previously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism on 24 January 1945 in France.[21][22]

On 29 March 2018, The White House announced that President Trump would present the Medal of Honor posthumously to Conner; the presentation took place on 26 June 2018.[2][3][23]

Notes

  1. Jump up^ Normally the fourragère requires two cites. The 3rd Infantry Division was cited one time and awarded the fourragere.

References

  1. Jump up^ “President Trump to award Medal of Honor to World War II hero for repelling German attack”.
  2. Jump up to:ab “President Donald J Trump to Award the Medal of Honor”whitehouse.gov. The White House. 29 March 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  3. Jump up to:ab “WWII Soldier’s Widow to Accept Medal of Honor for Late Husband”.
  4. Jump up^ “Conner, G. Murl”Gravesite Locator. U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  5. Jump up^ “Access to Archival Databases”. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  6. Jump up to:abcdefghijklmnopq “Army Board for the Correction of Military Records: AR20150006700”Boards of Review Reading Room. US Department of Defense. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  7. Jump up to:abc “Garlin Murl Conner”Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  8. Jump up to:ab (CMH), U.S. Army Center of Military History. “3d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment – Lineage and Honors – U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH)”history.army.mil.
  9. Jump up^ Baxter, Randall (2013). The Veteran Next Door: Randall Baxter, Volume 1. AuthorHouse. p. 110. ISBN978-1491803806.
  10. Jump up to:abcde Wilson, Greg (4 November 2015). “Battle joined: Army panel backs WWII vet’s posthumous bid for Medal of Honor”. Fox News. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  11. Jump up to:abcd “Second-most decorated WWII soldier won’t get Medal of Honor”CBS News. March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 15,2014.
  12. Jump up^ Rodewig, Cheryl (3 October 2012). “TACOM FMX dedicates buildings”Bayonet & Saber. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  13. Jump up^ 3d Infantry Division (1947). Donald Taggart, ed. History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II. 1115 17th Street NM, Washington 6, DC: Infantry Journal. p. 389. Retrieved 21 March2014.
  14. Jump up to:ab Ridenour, Hugh (Winter 2012). “Garlin M. Conner: The Elusive Medal of Honor”. Register of the Kentucky Historical Society110 (1): 79, 81.
  15. Jump up^ “Rhode Island State Senate 05-R 300”.
  16. Jump up^ “Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1” (PDF). K Company, 7th Infantry Regiment cited for the period 29 February to 1 March 1944, War Department General Order 64-47 / 7th Infantry Regiment cited for the period 22 January to 6 February 1945, War Department General Order 44-45.
  17. Jump up^ [1] DA GO 43, 1950. 3rd Infantry Division awarded under Decision No. 976, 27 July 1945 (cited for the period 15 August 1944 to 6 February 1945)
  18. Jump up^ “Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1” (PDF). Foreign Unit Awards, #50 French Fourragere. Page 21, awarded to 3rd Infantry Division for the period 15 August 1944 to 6 February 1945, DA GO 43-50 (DA GO 43, 1950)
  19. Jump up^ Sergeant Audie Murphy Association, Medal of Honor Citation
  20. Jump up^ “SMA William G. Bainbridge, 4th SMA, passes – The NCO Historical Society – NCOHistory.com”The NCO Historical Society – NCOHistory.com.
  21. Jump up^ Mac, Thornberry, (12 December 2017). “H.R.2810 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018”http://www.congress.gov.
  22. Jump up^ Mac, Thornberry, (12 December 2017). “Amendments – H.R.2810 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018”http://www.congress.gov.
  23. Jump up^ Seck, Hope Hodge (29 March 2018). “Trump to Award Medal of Honor to World War II Infantryman”. Military.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlin_Murl_Conner

Story 3: United States National Debt As Percentage of U.S. Gross Domestic Product Exceeds 100 Percent By 2028! — Highest Level Since World War II — Videos

Image result for cartoons united states financially broke

Donald Trump’s $20 Trillion Problem

Paul Ryan says Congress will take up entitlement spending in 2018

 

U.S. Debt Clock.org

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

See the source image

See the source image

$20,000,000,000,000 in Debt and Rising

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John Williams – Fed Flirting With Massive Sell-off in Dollar

John Williams – US Deficit Is Beyond Control

Former Reagan budget director on national debt nearing $20T

David Stockman discusses why he disagrees with President Trump’s tariffs against China

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America’s Debt Crisis Explained

Published on Feb 24, 2014

The National Debt Scam

How Big Is the U.S. Debt?

Published on Feb 11, 2011

Where Does the Federal Government Get All That Money?

Milton Friedman – A Limit On Spending

TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

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US Debt & Unfunded Liabilities-Where we are going-Dr. Yaron Brook

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Deficits, Debts and Unfunded Liabilities: The Consequences of Excessive Government Spending

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‘US hides real debt, in worse shape than Greece’

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Could USA Default On Its Debt? Mike Maloney

Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff on the Implications of Rising National Debt

National Debt by Year Compared to GDP and Major Events

U.S. Debt by Year Since 1929

The national debt is more than $21 trillion. It exceeded that amount on March 15, 2018. It’s greater than the economic output of the entire country. It occurred despite Congressional attempts to cut government spending. These included threats to not raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. debt crisis in 2011. That’s when the U.S. headed toward a debt default. It continued with the fiscal cliff crisis in 2012 and a government shutdown in 2013.

You can’t look at a country’s national debt in isolation. Sometimes expansionary fiscal policy, such as spending and tax cuts, was needed to spur the economy out of recession. Other times, the United States increased military spending to respond to national threats. For more, see Why Is the U.S. Debt So Big?

For those reasons, the national debt by year should be compared to the size of the economy as measured by the gross domestic product. This gives you the debt to GDP ratio. You can use it to compare the national debt to other countries. It also gives you an idea of how likely the country is to pay its debt back.

By spurring economic growth, the government spending or tax cuts that created the national debt can reduce it in later years. That’s because a growing economy will produce more tax revenues to pay back the debt.

For more, see Supply-side Economics.

There are other events that can increase the national debt. For example, the U.S. debt grew after the 9/11 attacks as the country increased military spending to launch the War on Terror. Between FY 2001-FY 2017, it cost $1.9 trillion. This included increases to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.

National Debt by Year Since 1929:  Compared to Nominal GDP and Major Events

End of Fiscal Year  Debt (as of 9/30, in  billions)  Debt/  GDP  Ratio Major Events by Presidential Term
1929 $17 16% Market crashDepression reduced tax receipts so Hoover raised taxes which worsened depression. Smoot-Hawley tariffs reduced trade.
1930 $16 18%
1931 $17 22%
1932 $19 33%
1933 $23 39%
1934 $27 40% FDR’s New Deal increased both GDP and debt.
1935 $29 39%
1936 $34 40%
1937 $36 39%
1938 $37 43% FDR cut spending to balance budget. Depression returned. He increased debt and GDP to prepare for WW2. Depression ended.
1939 $40 43%
1940 $51 50%
1941 $58 45%
1942 $79 48% US entered WWII. Increased debt and GDP. WW2 end created recession.
1943 $143 70%
1944 $204 91%
1945 $260 114%
1946 $271 119% Truman’s 1st term budgets. Recession as economy adjusted to peacetime.
1947 $257 104%
1948 $252 92%
1949 $253 93%
1950 $257 89% Truman’s 2nd term. Korean War (1950-1953) boosted growth and debt, but created recession when it ended.
1951 $255 74%
1952 $259 72%
1953 $266 68%
1954 $271 70% Eisenhower’s budgets. Recession. Fed raised rates. Worsened recession.
1955 $274 65%
1956 $273 61%
1957 $271 57%
1958 $276 58% Eisenhower’s 2nd term. Recession.
1959 $285 54%
1960 $286 53%
1961 $289 52%
1962 $298 49% JFK budgets. Cuban Missile Crisis. U.S. aided Vietnam coup.
1963 $306 48%
1964 $312 46%
1965 $317 43% LBJ‘s budgets. War on Poverty. Vietnam War. Fed raised rates.
1966 $320 40%
1967 $326 38%
1968 $348 37%
1969 $354 35%
1970 $371 35% Recession. Wage-price controls. OPEC oil embargoNixon ended gold standard. Fed doubled interest rates. Vietnam War ended.
1971 $398 34%
1972 $427 34%
1973 $458 32%
1974 $475 31% Stagflation. Watergate.
1975 $533 32% Ford budgets.
1976* $620 33%
1977 $699 33%
1978 $772 32% Carter budgets.

Volcker raised rate to 20%. Iran oil embargo. Recession.

1979 $827 31%
1980 $908 32%
1981 $998 31%
1982 $1,142 34% Reagan budgets from 1st term. Recession.
1983 $1,377 37%
1984 $1,572 38%
1985 $1,823 41%
1986 $2,125 46% Reagan lowered taxes. S&L Crisis.
1987 $2,340 48%
1988 $2,602 49%
1989 $2,857 50%
1990 $3,233 53% Bush 41 budgets. Desert Storm. Recession. Debt growth slowed.
1991 $3,665 58%
1992 $4,065 61%
1993 $4,411 63%
1994 $4,693 63% Clinton budgets.

Budget Act reduced deficit spending.

1995 $4,974 64%
1996 $5,225 64%
1997 $5,413 62%
1998 $5,526 60% Last Clinton budgets. 9/11 attacks. Recession. Bush added $22.9 billion to FY01 budget for War on Terror.
1999 $5,656 58%
2000 $5,674 54%
2001 $5,807 54%
2002 $6,228 56% First George W. Bush budgets. War on Terror cost $409.2 billion. Bank bailout cost $350 billion. Bush tax cuts.
2003 $6,783 58%
2004 $7,379 59%
2005 $7,933 60%
2006 $8,507 61% War cost $752.2 billion.

Katrina cost $24.7 billion. ARRA added $241.9 billion to FY09 budget.

2007 $9,008 61%
2008 $10,025 67%
2009 $11,910 ($11,000 on Mar 16 and $12,000 on Nov 16) 83%
2010 $13,562 ($13,000 on Jun 1 and $14,000 on Dec 31) 90% Obama Stimulus Act cost $400 billion. Payroll tax holiday ended. War cost $512.6 billion. Great Recession and tax cuts reduced revenue.
2011 $14,790 ($15,000 on Nov 15) 95%
2012 $16,066 ($16,000 on Aug 31) 99%
2013 $16,738  ($17,000 on Oct 17) 100%
2014 $17,824  ($18,000 on Dec 15) 102% War cost $309 billion. QE ended. Strong dollar hurt exports.
2015 $18,151 101%
2016 $19,573 ($19,000 on Jan 29) 105%
2017 $20,245  ($20,000 on Sep 8) 104% Congress raised debt ceiling.
2018 $21,478 (est.) ($21,000 on Mar 15.) 107% Trump tax cuts and spending above sequestration. Congress suspended debt ceiling until 2019.
2019 $22,703 (est.) 108%
2020 $23,901 (est.) 108%
2021 $25,020 (est.) 108%

* 1976 was the final year the fiscal year was July 1. Those years were compared to Q2 GDP for consistency.

Resources for Table

More History

https://www.thebalance.com/national-debt-by-year-compared-to-gdp-and-major-events-3306287

 

U.S. GDP Statistics and How to Use Them

The Five GDP Statistics You Need to Know

woman shopping

Gross domestic product measures a country’s economic output. There are five GDP statistics that give you the best snapshot of the health of the United States economy.

U.S. GDP is the most important economic indicator because it tells you the health of the economy. The U.S. debt to GDP ratio describes whether America produces enough each year to pay off its national debt.  U.S. real GDP corrects for changes in prices. The GDP growth rate measures how fast the economy is growing. U.S. real GDP per capita describes the standard of living of Americans.

 

1. U.S. GDP

U.S. GDP was $19,953,300 in the first quarter of 2018. What exactly does this mean? The gross domestic product of the United States ran at a rate of $19.965 trillion a year from January through March 2018. This statistic is also known as nominal GDP. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides this estimate in the National Income and Product Accounts Interactive Data, Table 1.1.5. Gross Domestic Product.

U.S. GDP is the economic output of the entire country. It includes goods and services produced in the United States, regardless of whether the company is foreign or the person providing the service is a U.S. citizen. To find out the total economic output for all American citizens and companies, regardless of their geographic location, you’d want to look at U.S. gross national product, also known as gross national income.

There are four components of GDP:

  1. Personal Consumption Expenditures – All the goods and services produced for household use. This is almost 70 percent of total GDP.
  2. Business Investment – Goods and services purchased by the private sector.
  3. Government Spending – Includes federal, state and local governments.
  4. Net Exports – The dollar value of total exports minus total imports.

 

2. Debt to GDP Ratio

The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio for Q1 2018 is 105.6 percent. That’s the $21.089 trillion U.S. debt as of March 30, 2018, divided by the $19.965 trillion nominal GDP.  Bond investors use it to determine whether a country has enough income each year to pay off its debt.

This debt level is too high. The World Bank says that debt that’s greater than 77 percent is past the “tipping point.” That’s when holders of the nation’s debt worry that it won’t be repaid. They demand higher interest rates to compensate for the additional risk. When interest rates climb, economic growth slows. That makes it more difficult for the country to repay its debt. The United States has avoided this fate so far because it is one of the strongest economies in the world. 

If you review the national debt by year , you’ll see one other time the debt-to-GDP ratio was this high. That was to fund World War II. Following that, it remained safely below 77 percent until the 2008 financial crisis. The combination of lower taxes and higher government spending pushed the debt-to-GDP ratio to unsafe levels. Even the the economy is growing at a healthy 2-3 percent rate, the government has not reduced the debt. It keeps spending at unsustainable levels.

 

3. Real GDP

U.S. real GDP was $17.386 for Q1 2018. This measure takes nominal GDP and strips out the effects of inflation. That’s why it’s usually lower than nominal GDP.

It’s the best statistic to compare U.S. output year-over-year. That’s why the BEA uses it to calculate the GDP growth rate. It’s also used to calculate GDP per capita.  The BEA provides this date in the NIPA charts, Table 1.1.6. Real Gross Domestic Product, Chained Dollars.

 

4. GDP Growth Rate

The U.S. GDP growth rate was 2.3 percent for Q1 2018. This indicator measures the annualized percent increase in economic output since the last quarter.  It’s the best way to assess U.S. economic growth.   If you look at U.S. GDP history, you’ll see this is a sustainable rate of growth. Current GDP statistics tells you what parts of economy are driving this growth. The outlook for 2018 and beyond is also within this healthy range.

 

5. GDP per Capita

For Q1 2018, the U.S. real GDP per capita was $53,099. This indicator tells you the economic output by person.

To compare the per capita GDP between countries, use purchasing power parity. It levels the playing field between countries. It compares a basket of similar goods, taking out the effects of exchange rates. In 2017, the United States ranks 20th compared to other countries.

https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-gdp-5-latest-statistics-and-how-to-use-them-3306041

Bar Chart of Government Spending by Agency

The bar chart comes directly from the Monthly Treasury Statement published by the U. S. Treasury Department. <—- Click on the chart for more info.

The “Debt Total” bar chart is generated from the Treasury Department’s “Debt Report” found on the Treasury Direct web site. It has links to search the debt for any given date range, and access to debt interest information. It is a direct source to government provided budget information.

$$$ — “Deficit” vs. “Debt”— $$$

Suppose you spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a “budget deficit”. So you borrow (ie; use your credit card). The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you spend more than your income, another deficit, you must borrow some more, and you’ll still have to pay the interest on your debt (now larger). If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don’t have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy.

“Reducing the deficit” is a meaningless soundbite. If the DEFICIT is any amount more than ZERO, we have to borrow more and the DEBT grows.

Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress’s appropriations. Here is a direct link to the Congressional Budget Office web site. Check out the CBO’s assessment of the Debt. We have to pay interest* on that huge, growing debt; and it dramatically cuts into our budget.

http://www.federalbudget.com/

 

The 2018 Long-Term Budget Outlook

June 26, 2018
Report
If current laws remain generally unchanged, CBO projects, federal budget deficits and debt would increase over the next 30 years—reaching the highest level of debt relative to GDP in the nation’s history by far.

Summary

At 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), federal debt held by the public is now at its highest level since shortly after World War II. If current laws generally remained unchanged, CBO projects, growing budget deficits would boost that debt sharply over the next 30 years; it would approach 100 percent of GDP by the end of the next decade and 152 percent by 2048. That amount would be the highest in the nation’s history by far. Moreover, if lawmakers changed current law to maintain certain policies now in place—preventing a significant increase in individual income taxes in 2026, for example—the result would be even larger increases in debt. The prospect of large and growing debt poses substantial risks for the nation and presents policymakers with significant challenges.

In this report, CBO presents its projections of federal spending, revenues, deficits, and debt for the next three decades and describes some possible consequences of those budgetary outcomes. This report’s projections are consistent with the 10-year baseline budget and economic projections that CBO published in the spring of 2018. They extend most of the concepts underlying those projections for an additional 20 years, and they reflect the macroeconomic effects of projected fiscal policy over that 30-year period. All together, they constitute the agency’s extended baseline projections.

CBO’s 10-year and extended baseline projections are not predictions of budgetary outcomes. Rather, they represent the agency’s best assessment of future spending, revenues, deficits, and debt under the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged. They also give lawmakers a point of comparison from which to measure the effects of proposed legislation.

Why Are Projected Deficits Rising?

In CBO’s projections, the federal budget deficit, relative to the size of the economy, would grow substantially over the next several years, stabilize for a few years, and then grow again over the rest of the 30-year period. In total, deficits would rise from 3.9 percent of GDP in 2018 to 9.5 percent in 2048. (Adjusted to exclude the effects of timing shifts that occur because fiscal year 2018 began on a weekend, the budget deficit in 2018 would be higher, at 4.2 percent of GDP). Those large budget deficits would arise because spending would grow steadily under current law, and revenues would not keep pace with that spending growth.

In particular, over the next 30 years, spending as a share of GDP would increase for Social Security, the major health care programs (primarily Medicare), and interest on the government’s debt. In CBO’s projections, most of the spending growth for Social Security and Medicare results from the aging of the population: As members of the baby-boom generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) age and as life expectancy continues to rise, the percentage of the population age 65 or older will grow sharply, boosting the number of beneficiaries of those programs. Growth in spending on Medicare and the other major health care programs is also driven by rising health care costs per person. In addition, the federal government’s net interest costs are projected to climb sharply as a percentage of GDP as interest rates rise from their currently low levels and as debt accumulates.

That spending growth would be only partially offset by declining spending for other programs. Mandatory spending other than that for Social Security and the major health care programs—such as spending for federal employees’ pensions and for various income security programs—is projected to decrease as a percentage of GDP. Discretionary spending is projected to decline in most years over the next decade and then roughly stabilize as a percentage of GDP. (Mandatory spending is generally governed by provisions of permanent law, whereas discretionary spending is controlled by annual appropriation acts.)

Revenues, in contrast, would take a different path. They are projected to be roughly flat over the next few years relative to GDP, rise slowly, and then jump in 2026. Revenues would sharply increase that year because most of the provisions of Public Law 115-97 (originally called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and called the 2017 tax act in this report) that directly affect the individual income tax rate are set to expire at the end of calendar year 2025. (The 2017 tax act lowered individual income taxes beginning in 2018.) Thereafter, revenues would continue to rise relative to the size of the economy—although they would not keep pace with spending growth.

The projected growth in revenues beyond 2028 is largely attributable to increases in individual income tax receipts. Those receipts are projected to grow mainly because income would rise more quickly than the price index that is used to adjust tax brackets and other parameters of the tax system. As a result, more income would be pushed into higher tax brackets over time. (Because of provisions of the 2017 tax act, the effect of real bracket creep in this year’s projections is slightly greater than the effect that CBO projected in prior years.) Combined receipts from all other sources are projected to increase slightly as a percentage of GDP.

What Might Happen If Current Laws Remained Unchanged?

Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy and constrain future budget policy. The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis. (In that event, investors would become unwilling to finance the government’s borrowing unless they were compensated with very high interest rates.)

How Does CBO Make Its Long-Term Budget Projections?

CBO’s extended baseline, produced once a year, shows the budget’s long-term path under most of the same assumptions that the agency uses in constructing its 10-year baseline. Both baselines incorporate these assumptions: current laws will generally remain unchanged, mandatory programs will be extended after their authorizations lapse, and spending for Medicare and Social Security will continue as scheduled even if their trust funds are exhausted. CBO makes those assumptions to conform to statutory requirements.

Some projections, such as those for Social Security spending and collections of individual income taxes, incorporate detailed estimates of how people would be affected by particular elements of programs or by the tax code. Other projections reflect past trends and CBO’s assessments of how those trends would evolve if current laws generally remained unchanged.

CBO’s budget projections are built on its demographic and economic projections. CBO estimates that the population will grow more slowly than it has in the past and will be older, on average. CBO also anticipates that if current laws generally did not change, real GDP—that is, GDP with the effects of inflation removed—would increase by 1.9 percent per year, on average, over the next 30 years. That rate is nearly 1 percentage point lower than the annual average growth rate of real GDP over the past 50 years. That expectation of slower economic growth in the future is attributable to several factors—most notably, slower growth of the labor force. Projected growth in output is also held down by the effects of changes in fiscal policy under current law—above all, by the reduction in private investment that is projected to result from rising federal deficits.

How Uncertain Are Those Projections?

If current laws governing taxes and spending remained generally the same, debt would rise as a percentage of GDP over the next 30 years, according to CBO’s central estimate (the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes). That projection is very uncertain, however, so the agency examined in detail how debt would change if four key factors were higher or lower than their levels in the extended baseline. Those four factors are labor force participation, productivity in the economy, interest rates on federal debt, and health care costs per person. Other factors—such as an economic depression, a major war, or unexpected changes in rates of fertility, immigration, or mortality—also could affect the trajectory of debt. Taking into account a range of uncertainty around CBO’s central projections of those four key inputs, CBO concludes that despite the considerable uncertainty of long-term projections, debt as a percentage of GDP would probably be greater—in all likelihood, much greater—than it is today if current laws remained generally unchanged.

How Large Would Changes in Spending or Revenues Need to Be to Reach Certain Goals for Federal Debt?

CBO estimated the size of changes that would be needed to achieve a chosen goal for federal debt. For example, if lawmakers wanted to reduce the amount of debt in 2048 to 41 percent of GDP (its average over the past 50 years), they might cut noninterest spending, increase revenues, or take a combination of both approaches to make changes that equaled 3.0 percent of GDP each year starting in 2019. (In dollar terms, that amount would total about $630 billion in 2019.) If, instead, policymakers wanted debt in 2048 to equal its current share of GDP (78 percent), the necessary changes would be smaller (although still substantial), totaling 1.9 percent of GDP per year (or about $400 billion in 2019). The longer lawmakers waited to act, the larger the policy changes would need to be to reach any particular goal for federal debt.

How Have CBO’s Projections Changed Over the Past Year?

Compared with last year’s projections, CBO’s current projections of debt as a share of GDP are higher through 2041 and lower thereafter. CBO now projects that debt measured as a share of GDP would be 3 percentage points lower in 2047 than it projected last year. (The previous edition of this volume showed projections through 2047.) The increase in debt through 2041 stems primarily from tax and spending legislation enacted since then that boosted projected deficits through 2025—especially the 2017 tax act, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141). In particular, the budgetary effects of the tax act are expected to peak during the middle of the next decade. In later years, the effects are expected to be modest, although their precise magnitudes are uncertain.

Deficits are smaller after 2025 than CBO projected last year because of lower projections as a share of GDP of noninterest spending and because of projections of revenues that are the same or higher than CBO estimated last year. The smaller deficits result in lower debt as a share of GDP after 2041 than CBO projected last year.

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/53919

What is the Total National Debt?

National Debt: Strictly speaking, the US national debt is the total of federal, state, and local debt. But people often talk about the debt of the federal government as the “national debt.”

At the end of FY 2017 the US national debt was “guesstimated” to be $23.27 trillion, including federal $20.21 trillion, state $1.18 trillion, and local $1.89 trillion.

Also, see Federal DebtState Debt, and Local Debt.

https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_national_debt_chart.html

Recent US Total National Debt

Chart D.11t: Recent US National Debt

Chart D.12t: Recent US National Debt as Pct GDP

Public Debt in the United States is principally the debt of the federal government.

In 2005 federal debt was about 60 percent of GDP, state government debt was about 6 percent of GDP and local government debt was about 10 percent of GDP.

But in the last ten years the federal debt has almost doubled to 103 percent GDP, while state government debt has stayed at a little over 6 percent GDP and local government debt has increased a little to 10.6 percent GDP.

https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_national_debt_chart.html

US Total Debt Since 1900

Chart D.13t: Total National Debt in 20th Century

Government debt began the 20th century at less than 20 percent of GDP. It jerked above 45 percent as a result of World War I and above 70 percent in the depths of the Great Depression. Debt has breached 100 percent of GDP twice since 1900: during World War II and in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008.

Federal, State, Local Debt in 20th Century

Chart D.14t: Total National Debt by Government Level

At the beginning of the 20th century debt was equally divided between federal and state and local debt, totaling less than 20 percent of GDP. After World War I, the total debt surged to 45% of GDP. But by the mid 1920s debt had declined to below 35 percent of GDP. Then came the Great Depression, boosting total public debt to 70 percent of GDP. World War II boosted federal debt to almost 122 percent of GDP in 1946, with state and local debt adding another 7 percent. For the next 35 years successive governments brought the debt below 50 percent of GDP, but President Reagan increased the federal debt up over 50 perent of GDP, and total debt towards 70 perent to win the Cold War. President Bush increased the debt to fight a war on terror and bail out the banks in the crisis of 2008.

https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_national_debt_chart.html

Your Pension Is a Lie: There’s $210 Trillion Of Liabilities Our Government Can’t Fulfill

In the US, we have two national programs to care for the elderly. Social Security provides a small pension, and Medicare covers medical expenses. All workers pay taxes that supposedly fund the benefits we may someday receive.

The problem is that’s not actually true. Neither of these programs is comprehensive.

The End of Government Entitlements

Living on Social Security benefits alone is a pretty meager existence.

Medicare has deductibles and copayments that can add up quickly. Both programs assume people have their own savings and other resources. Despite this, the programs are crucial to millions of retirees, many of whom work well past 65 just to make ends meet.

Having turned 68 a few days ago, I guess I’m contributing a bit to the trend

Limited though Social Security and Medicare are, we attribute one huge benefit to them: They’re guaranteed. Uncle Sam will always pay them—he promised. And to his credit, Uncle Sam is trying hard to keep his end of the deal.

Uncle Sam’s Debt Nightmare

In fact, Uncle Sam is running up debt to do so. Actually, a massive amount of debt:

Federal debt as a percentage of GDP has almost doubled since the turn of the century. The big jump occurred during the 2007–2009 recession, but the debt has kept growing since then. That’s a consequence of both higher spending and lower GDP growth.

In theory, Social Security and Medicare don’t count here. Their funding goes into separate trust funds. But in reality, the Treasury borrows from the trust funds, so they simply hold more government debt.

Today it looks like this:

  • Debt held by the public: $14.4 trillion
  • Intragovernmental holdings (the trust funds): $5.4 trillion
  • Total public debt: $19.8 trillion

Total GDP is roughly $19.3 trillion, so the federal debt is about equal to one full year of the entire nation’s collective economic output. That total does not also count the $3 trillion-plus of state and local debt, which in almost every other country of the world is included in their national debt numbers.

Including state and local debt in US figures would take our debt-to-GDP above 115%… and rising.

Just wait. We’re only getting started.

$210 Trillion Worth of Unfunded Liabilities

An old statute requires the Treasury to issue an annual financial statement, similar to a corporation’s annual report. The FY 2016 edition is 274 enlightening pages that the government hopes none of us will read.

Among the many tidbits, it contains a table on page 63 that reveals the net present value of the US government’s 75-year future liability for Social Security and Medicare.

That amount exceeds the net present value of the tax revenue designated to pay those benefits by $46.7 trillion. Yes, trillions.

Where will this $46.7 trillion come from? We don’t know.

Future Congresses will have to find it somewhere. This is the fabled “unfunded liability” you hear about from deficit hawks. Similar promises exist to military and civil service retirees and assorted smaller groups, too.

Trying to add them up quickly becomes an exercise in absurdity. They are so huge that it’s hard to believe the government will pay them, promises or not.

Now, I know this is going to come as a shock, but that $46.7 trillion of unfunded liabilities is pretty much a lie. My friend Professor Larry Kotlikoff estimates the unfunded liabilities to be closer to $210 trillion.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2017/10/10/your-pension-is-a-lie-theres-210-trillion-of-liabilities-our-government-cant-fulfill/#43e4277065b1

Continued from page 1

Pensions Are a Lie

Many Americans think of “their” Social Security like a contract, similar to insurance benefits or personal property. The money that comes out of our paychecks is labeled FICA, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act. We paid in all those years, so it’s just our own money coming back to us.

That’s a perfectly understandable viewpoint. It’s also wrong.

A 1960 Supreme Court case, Flemming vs. Nestor, ruled that Social Security is not insurance or any other kind of property. The law obligates you to make FICA “contributions.

It does not obligate the government to give you anything back. FICA is simply a tax, like income tax or any other. The amount you pay in does figure into your benefit amount, but Congress can change that benefit any time it wishes.

Again, to make this clear: Your Social Security benefits are guaranteed under current law, but Congress reserves the right to change the law. They can give you more, or less, or nothing at all, and your only recourse is the ballot box.

Medicare didn’t yet exist in 1960, but I think Flemming vs. Nestor would apply to it, too. None of us have a “right” to healthcare benefits just because we have paid Medicare taxes all our lives. We are at Washington’s mercy.

I’m not suggesting Congress is about to change anything. My point is about promises. As a moral or political matter, it’s true that Washington promised us all these things. As a legal matter, however, no such promise exists. You can’t sue the government to get what you’re owed because it doesn’t “owe” you anything.

This distinction doesn’t matter right now, but I bet it will someday. If we Baby Boomers figure out ways to stay alive longer, and younger generations don’t accelerate the production of new taxpayers, something will have to give.

If you are dependent on Social Security to fund your retirement, recognize that your future is an unfunded liability—a promise that’s not really a promise because it can change at any time.

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https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2017/10/10/your-pension-is-a-lie-theres-210-trillion-of-liabilities-our-government-cant-fulfill/2/#5a8250f562cd

 

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