Tags:  Rex Tillerson    Kim Jong II     Strategic patience      Donald Trump       Bill Clinton      Madeleine Albright        Condi Rice         Dick Cheney       


 We are Crazy, so Waltz Me Around Again Willy!

 Jiri Valenta with Leni Friedman Valenta


                                                                                 Updated April 30, 2017

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proclaimed the ending of the doctrine of strategic patience with rogue regimes like nuclear North Korea. At the U.N., however, he seemed to be suggesting we can seek a resolution of the crisis through economic pressure and diplomacy. In response, the North Korean regime fired a ballistic missile. It exploded but the response tells all about the North Korean willingness to find any meaningful compromise. We’ve tried such solutions for a few decades. They have not worked. 

The basic theme of North Korean response can be posited as “We are crazy, so, Waltz me around again Willie.” The dictators, father and son, only used our diplomacy as a respite to advance their nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. In our view, more negotiation will be interpreted by both North Korea and Iran as more of Obama’s strategic patience.
Yes, this time China is more helpful. Donald, Secretary of Defense Mattis and NSA H.R. McMaster deserve credit for using the attack on the Syrian airport in the midst of dinner with the Chinese president to change Chinese perceptions. They do have economic clout with North Korea. Although we are not convinced Beijing wants to replace the friendly communist regime on its borders with another South Korean-type one, they are already convinced them that freezing North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons is in their interests.  
Don´t we know the steps of this U.S. - North Korean waltz by now? Menacing threats against democratic U.S. allies, South Korea and/or Japan, while testing WMD or its delivery system. “We are crazy,” is the implicit message, “and you better send a high level person to mollify us and give our starving country (above all its nomenclature and military) economic aid.”
President Clinton fell into the trap after sending special envoy Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang in 1994. In October 2000, he sent Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  Her successor, Condi Rice, described Albright’s mission rather unkindly as her “… somewhat infamous visit…” complete with a stadium presentation of more than 100,000 North Koreans in a “cultural performance…” intended to invoke a presidential visit.  But the intended goal of verifying U.N. inspections of nuclear development and turning over spent fuel rods was not achieved.  
In October 2008, before the presidential election, the North Korean dictator tried to lure another high envoy into his hermit kingdom.  President Bush initially rejected that option. “No! That would really legitimize him!” 
But Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, nevertheless dittoed Madeleine’s mistake. She drew criticism from Vice President Dick Cheney on how she tried to reach a nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea. He recorded Rice saying to Bush, ‘“Mr. President, this is just the way diplomacy works sometimes. You don´t always get a written agreement.”’  

Calling Rice´s advice on this issue “utterly misleading,” Cheney further complained that she made  "... concession after concession to North Korea and turned a blind eye to their misdeeds.”
Sadly, some of her proposals were approved by Bush.  North Korea was removed by Rice from the State Department´s list of terrorist-sponsoring states!   “It was a sad moment,” commented Cheney, reversal of so much of what we had accomplished in the area of non-proliferation in the first term.”. Recalled Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, “Rice and Ambassador Christopher Hill, [the diplomat who convinced Condi to appease North Korea and is now pontificating on American TV], seemed to believe they could obtain North Korea’s agreement to end its WMD programs.” 
In 2014, President Obama sent DNI James Clapper on a secret, mission to North Korea, ostensibly to secure the release of two hostages, which he did. But we still don´t know all the details of the presidential message. What was he negotiating about? Was it once again waltz me around again Willy?
Rex Tillerson must not repeat the mistake of the other two secretaries of state. Rather than giving in to their usual pattern of blackmail, hostage-taking, promises, withdrawal from negotiations, U.S. high level visits, resumption of negotiations, more lies and more threats. Trump and his top team are surely looking at options, while they sit out this dance. We hope they are drafting other options -- something similar to what Bill Clinton seriously considered before he sent Madeleine Albright to waltz with Willy.

Our chosen option must be framed by strategic savvy, rather than going back to strategic patience. Besides strong economic measures in combination with China, we have only three options. One is to dismantle the North Korean nuclear program in a single, massive surprise strike. . However this option is extremely dangerous and very costly. 

 A second one is to freeze North Korea’s nuclear testing by preventive cyber warfare or other very limited, military means such as a strike on the launching pad and hope they get the message. This is unlikely to provoke an attack on Seoul. The young dictator likes his power, big parades, his wife, the food that his skinny people never get, and killing an occasional relative now and then. He doesn’t want to die and he knows if he attacks Seoul, he will.

The third option  is bankrupt --strategic patience.If we simply engage in in  negotiation with North Korea before showing we mean business, they will cheat, and will also continue aiding Iran in their own development of nuclear weapons and deliveries systems.  The decision to negotiate will be surely interpreted by foes and friends as continuation of Obama ‘s strategic patience. Strategic savvy dictates we must not allow North Korea to continue their nuclear testing.  






                                                            Jiri Valenta with Leni Valenta
                                                                    March 19, 2018

   “He's a foreign policy generalist with a firm grasp of the facts, a clear sense of American national interest, and firm philosophical undermining. I just wish he were secretary of state.” So wrote, Daniel Pipes, CEO of the Middle East Forum, when we queried him about  reports that John Bolton might possibly replacing H.R. McMaster as NSA.

 We have no quarrel with Bolton’ as Secretary of State.He has some outstanding abilities. A Yale grad, he was previously  a lawyer at a distinguished law firm and has already served as an Undersecretary of State and UN ambassador. He also had a long career in the  Justice and State Departments during both Bush administrations. He was treated poorly by the Democrats in the U.S. Senate when he served as a U.S. Ambassador to U.N.   A Senior Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, he also serves as Board Chairman of  Nina Rosenwald’s unique, Gatestone  Institute, conducting serious research into the threat of Islamo fascist terrorism and Sharia          law   to Western  democracies. 

Nevertheless, we posit that Bolton would not be the best choice for National Security Adviser (NSA). In this century thus far we have  witnessed the repeated use of force by the United States. Other conflicts may be coming because of the latest challenge of Vladimir  Putin’s autocratic regime in Russia. The barbaric use by Russian agents of nerve gas against a former Russian KGB man and his  daughter, now British citizens living in Britain, crossed a serious red line. We are also facing dangerous conflicts with North Korea and Iran. 


With multiple wars and other conflicts brewing in this era, the NSA should ideally be a warrior scholar, someone with battlefield  command experience as well as a profound knowledge military strategy, history and international relations. Present NSA H.R.  McMaster fills that bill. If not him, it should be someone like him.

  Contrary to popular belief, military men abhor war. Having tangled with blood and guts, they tend to be very thoughtful in  recommending the use of force. McMaster’s disdain for civilians eager to advocate war is pinpointed in his book, Dereliction of Duty;  the Lies that led to Vietnam. In the mid 1960’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and NSA McGeorge Bundy were civilian hawks  who did not have battlefield experience. Eager to please the president, they deceived the U.S. Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and  the American public by prevaricating about casus belli of the war and the U.S. strategy in Vietnam. Here we found some similarities  with our wars in Iraq and Libya.   

John Bolton was a cheerleader for the Iraq war. He supported the murky evidence of WMD as a basis for the 2003 Iraq invasion while we were still in involved in the unfinished Afghanistan war. So far he has not apologized for his stance and we know that President

Donald Trump came to abhor the Iraq war. 

Bolton, as a member of the U.S.government, must be aware of the British 2002 “Downing Street Memo,” which exposed some of the  prevarications that led to the decision to invade Iraq. It circulated publicly in the U.S. in 2006. More recently, Britain’s  2016 Chilcot  Report revealed that the evidence of WMD was disputed by French and Russian intelligence, and quietly even by British intelligence,  but overruled by outspoken American civilians who never fought in any war themselves. Moreover, “Iran, North Korea and Libya were  greater threats [than Iraq] in terms of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation...” 

What comes to mind, above all, are the actions of President Bush, his NSA Condi Rice, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz and yes John Bolton. Rice and Bush got rid of Iraq war naysayers, including seasoned Secretary of State General Colin Powell who,  having commanded the 1991 Iraq war behind the scenes, strongly advised them against a new Iraq war.  

John, was also a hawk during the Obama administration, when it came to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2011 pitch for a NATO  intervention in Libya. The casus belli here was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s insistence that Gaddafi was imminently going to  massacre civilians in Benghazi, a pretext with which, Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice even sold a “humanitarian” NATO  intervention to the Russians. 

 The truth, recently published in another devastating, 2016, British Parliament report, “Libya: Examination of Intervention and Collapse and the UK’s Future Policy Options,” is that Hillary’s claim of the impending Gaddafi massacre of Benghazi civilians “was not supported by the available evidence.” But even if John, didn’t know that, he did not reason, as did then former CIA chief-turned Defense Secretary Bob Gates, that we were already involved in two wars and shouldn't get into another.  Moreover, like the Iraq  invasion, the Libyan intervention had nothing to do with protecting our vital national interests!   

The intervention also flew in the face of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, having given up his WMD and become a U.S. ally in fighting al Qaeda! Moreover, involved in civil war during the Arab Spring, Gaddafi was not only interested in negotiations, but open to a peace deal overseen by General Wesley Clark. 

Hungry to raise funding for her pseudo Clinton Foundation from Arab potentates and Western arms merchants, Hillary listened to the advice of her her influential adviser, Sid Blumenthal, a/k/a “Rasputin.” She pushed for the covert arming of presumably “moderate” Libyan rebels, and refused to negotiate with Gaddafi. The outcome was Gaddafi’s brutal murder   by the U.S.-armed rebels, publicly cheered  by Hillary!  Then the power vacuum that resulted  led to Libya’s becoming   a failed state  nd a paradise for Jihadists.  

The fear of these writers is that Bolton, who advocated war in Libya while we were already fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, tends to demonstrate the irrational exuberance of one who never himself fought in a war and is unaware of the costs in either blood or money. As Gates noted, this is also an unfortunate habit of American presidents. Surely Bush ignored those costs. So did Obama. 

Of course there have been a couple of brilliant civilians who have served as NSAs, but I doubt that Kissinger and Brzezinski would  have opted for a third U.S. intervention in the Middle East while fighting two other wars in the region. Yet, Bolton seems not to  understand what Gates does; that the sine qua non of any U.S.military action is defense of America’s vital national interests!   

I do agree with Bolton’s hardline views on Iran and North Korea. Our vital national interests dictate that we master the statecraft to  ultimately deny nuclear weapons to both of these terrorist regimes. Presently, the most dangerous one is North Korea. But while  toughness  is required, these writers at this junction would rather have a seasoned warrior-scholar with battlefield experience in the  NSA position than  an outspoken, patriotic lawyer. 

Whether or not McMaster remains, Congress would be wise to follow the lead of the British parliament in undertaking blue ribbon,      bi-partisan parliament reports like the 2016 Chilcott Report on Iraq and the latest one on Libya. Serious reviews of our policy-making in the last two decades are necessary, especially regarding Russia and the Middle East. Were our decisions in these areas  justified by our vital national interests? If not why did we commit such enormous blunders as unleashing ongoing war on two fronts in  Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001-2003?  

Why in 2011, did we forge a NATO intervention of Libya against Muammar Gaddafi who was working with us fighting al Qaeda and had given up his WMD? Why, as Hillary’s Benghazi gate revealed, did we begin running covert supplies of weapons from Libya to the  Syrian rebels. This could have resulted in a possible fourth Middle East war with Russia and Iran had Hillary been elected. Why, did we continue to arm rebels who were not moderates, but had become jihadists?  Why have three administrations kicked the can down the  road with North Korea?

 We find it preposterous that those responsible for our past follies should be allowed to go on to higher office simply because their past performance was not vetted or because of considerations of gender and race. A case in point is Bush’s ambitious NSA, Condi Rice,  now seeking to become a future vice presidential candidate with Mike Pence. Together with “W,” she was much responsible for  disregarding repeated warnings of coming 9/11 by the CIA; even one by Putin! She also supported the Iraq war, refusing to engage in  the net assessment of cost/benefit of it, asked by Colin Powell’s State Department.  Then there was North Korea.  Wrongly believing       in   making a deal with the dictator, she  convinced “W” to take North Korea off list of  state sponsors of terror.  

We can not take away from President Donald Trump that in spite of his real estate mogul’s approach to various decisions, he is now dealing courageously with the consequences in North Korea and the Middle East , of strategic American follies at best -and  at worst, dereliction of duty by our three former presidents and some key aides.                                                                                           

Is our president aware that the hiring of Bolton who enthusiastically cheered both the Iraq and Libya ventures would undermine not just the promises he made to his base that brought him to the White House, but also the rational for his anti- interventionist and anti-nation building strategy in the Middle East?  

We understand that independent -minded McMaster may have had repeated policy differences with Trump. That isn't bad unless  there are  loyalty issues as well. A very good NSA must challenge and question the president. Of course,  personal chemistry  also counts. 

If the differences are serious enough that McMaster has to be replaced, we recommend it should be by our national hero, Genera l David Petraeus, architect of the 2006-07 surge in Iraq, or even a Democrat like Admiral James G. Stavridis, another  rare breed of soldier scholar.  Such leaders know how to keep us out of war, but also how to fight one if necessary. 

A known Russologist and writer on U.S. National security Dr. Jiri Valenta is a non-resident, senior research associate with the  BESA [ Begin-Sadat] Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. He also manages with his wife, and frequent         co-writer, Leni, a small think tank, the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism (jvlv.net). Among their longer BESA papers is    their June 20, 2017 “Washington and  Moscow: Confrontation or Cooperation?” a historical account of 21st century U.S. and  Russian interventions  that details U.S. Follies in Iraq and Libya. A former tenured professor of National Security at the  U.S. Postgraduate Naval School, Jiri is a longstanding member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations. 


                       Unafraid, Bipartisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom     

Presidents Trump and Putin meeting  briefly in Danang during Trump's Far East tour.


Tags:   Bashar al Assad       Donald Trump and Syria       Richard Lloyd Report         Seymour Hersh      Whose Sarin?      Putin