Empty Rhetoric

More of it, this time from European signatories of the failed-at-birth Iran nuclear weapons deal. Iran has announced that it’s going to disregard entirely the deal’s limits on Iran’s production of weapons grade uranium, and in response, Britain, France, and Germany have said they’re going to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism that’s written into the deal.  That mechanism, on a finding of serious violation, involves getting the UN Security Council to reimpose UN-originated sanctions on Iran.

Contradictions?

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D, MN) condemns our sanctions against Iran—sanctions against that nation’s government, various members of that government, and against that government’s oil sales and other business’ international activities.

calling them “crippling” and asserting they would “starve the Iranian people.”

Of course, the crippling nature of the sanctions is the point of them: to convince the men of the Iranian government to change their ways, to in President Donald Trump’s words, stop trying to kill Americans, stop trying to kill our friends and allies, and to stop trying to get nuclear weapons. If sanctions were not crippling, they’d have no effect. Omar knows this.

A Shootdown

Iran shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner as it departed a Tehran airport, with the loss of all aboard.  The shootdown occurred shortly (a few hours) after Iran had launched some missiles at Iraqi facilities on which were based a number of American soldiers.

Stipulate the shootdown was accidental.

It also was an example of monumental incompetence: ill- to nonexistent discipline on the part of the antiaircraft missile crew and breathtaking lack of situation awareness by every single individual in the crew’s chain of command from the operational commander all the way to the top in the Iranian military establishment.

Some Predictions

Because the air is fresh out on the end of a limb.

The Wall Street Journal asked a question regarding Iran’s next moves following the successful killing of its head terrorist, Qasim Soleimani:

What do you think are Iran’s next steps?

My predictions—among other things, Iran will do these:

  • hook up with the Taliban
  • strike Saudi oil fields
  • take speedboat shots at our fleet in the Arabian Gulf
  • mine the Strait of Hormuz
  • sink some oil tankers rather than just put minor holes in them, including British and French tankers—not necessarily in the Arabian Gulf

A Retreat

In the aftermath of killing Qasim Soleimani, the Iranian government is trying to create the impression of subsequent American retreat from the Middle East.

Certainly Iran’s leaders already are working to create that impression. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, citing the angry reaction to the Soleimani killing within Iran and Iraq, tweeted Monday that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun.”

Iran’s government isn’t the only one trying to manufacture the impression.  See Gerald Seib’s characterization of Soleimani in his piece at the link:

Iran’s top military leader, Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani

and

It’s a Start

TikTok is a People’s Republic of China company (for all its public moves to resite its headquarters outside the PRC) that’s a popular social-media app that’s used for posting short videos.

However.

TikTok collects information about its users, including data that could be used to track the location and movements of individuals….

As a result, tour military is banning the use of the app on government devices; the Coast Guard and Air Force have joined DoD, the Navy, the Army, and the Marines in the ban.

Engraved Invitations

…personally hand-delivered.

President Donald Trump has notified Congress of his intent to respond to any Iranian attack against Americans or American facilities:

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!
2:25 PM · Jan 5, 2020

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Mayor Pete Buttigieg is dismayed by this form of notification.

A Strike

President Donald Trump ordered the strike against Qassem Soleimani that led to the killing of Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport a couple days ago.  The Left, here expressed by members of those unified by their disdain for and resistance to Trump, has been objecting ever since.

[M]any Washington insiders and defense experts remain skeptical about whether those attacks were truly imminent.

Bar Them

It turns out the hacks into various cloud-based services and cloud providers by the People’s Republic of China was far more extensive in depth and breadth than heretofore reported.

They came in through cloud service providers, where companies thought their data was safely stored. Once they got in, they could freely and anonymously hop from client to client, and defied investigators’ attempts to kick them out for years.
Cybersecurity investigators first identified aspects of the hack, called Cloud Hopper by the security researchers who first uncovered it, in 2016….
A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the attack was much bigger than previously known. It goes far beyond the 14 unnamed companies listed in the indictment, stretching across at least a dozen cloud providers, including CGI Group Inc, one of Canada’s largest cloud companies; Tieto Oyj, a major Finnish IT services company; and International Business Machines Corp.

Countering Interference

The Republic of China has passed a law aimed at blocking the People’s Republic of China’s efforts at interfering with the RoC’s elections, which will occur 11 Jan.

Passage gained urgency after RoC opposition parties—especially the KMT—nominated candidates who openly and enthusiastically support “reunification” with the PRC and after the PRC’s influence over RoC media companies became overt.  The PRC has been

providing campaign funds and even mobilized support on social media for candidates from the main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT)….

These elections, with President Tsai Ing-wen expected to be reelected despite PRC interference, make this an especially fragile time for the nation.