Richard Goldberg, a Grand Old Party foreign policy expert, is joining the White House’s National Security Council as its new Director for Countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction.
Earlier in the Obama era, he was the main designer and negotiator of the Congress on Iran’s sanctions and resigned after concluding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA.
Goldberg, senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), was a Republican negotiator for the United States Senate for several rounds of congressional sanctions against Iran.
He also identified himself as one of the leading FDD ideologues in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Among his prominent proposals, is to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) which has already come into effect.
Who is Richard Goldberg?
Goldberg holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. He is an officer in the US Navy Reserve with prior service in Afghanistan.
From 2004 to 2014, he worked on Capitol Hill, serving as deputy chief of staff and senior foreign policy adviser to former US Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. From 2015 to 2017, he served as deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs and later chief of staff for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
As a staff associate for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, Richard worked on a wide range of issues related to US foreign assistance, including foreign military financing, international security assistance, international peacekeeping, development, global health and economic support funds. He was a founding staff director of the House US-China Working Group and was among the first Americans ever to visit China’s human space launch center. A leader in efforts to expand US missile defense cooperation with Israel, Richard played a key role in US funding for the Arrow-3 program, Iron Dome and the deployment of an advanced missile defense radar to the Negev Desert.
In the Senate, Goldberg emerged as a leading architect of the toughest sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran. He called on US President Donald Trump to bring Iran’s economy “to its knees.” He was the lead Republican negotiator for three rounds of sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, the SWIFT financial messaging service, and entire sectors of the Iranian economy. Goldberg also drafted and negotiated legislation promoting human rights and democracy in Iran, including sanctions targeting entities that provide the Iranian government with the tools of repression. His Iran sanctions work was featured in the book The Iran Wars.
As the governor’s chief of staff, Richard managed government in America’s fifth-largest state with oversight of all day-to-day operations, including homeland security, public safety, and public health. He also spearheaded the first-ever state legislation to divest public pension funds from companies engaged in boycotts of Israel, which sparked a nationwide initiative in state capitols around America.
Designing common plans with Israel against Iran
He threatens to the boycott of central European banks and the board of directors of SWIFT on charges of facilitating trade with Iran, with an emphasis on crazy theory. He undermines international obligations on Iran’s nuclear deal and eliminates those who resist the US sanctions on Iran.
With the formation of the puzzle of the Tramp consultants, the unveiling of his main goal of his administration in confronting Iran has fallen since the heavy defeat of Washington in creating an international consensus against Iran. One of the main goals of Goldberg’s membership since yesterday is to express a vague concern about Iran’s nuclear program and create conditions for a possible war with the country.
In summer, Goldberg met with the Israel Interior Council’s Jacob Nagel in which both sides agreed that the Trump administration should use sanctions power to target foreign governments as well as international agencies and their officials who have agreed to the JCPOA in order to reduce Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.
For example, Goldberg and Nagel said that foreign governments involved in rebuilding and reconstructing Iran’s nuclear reactor should also be targeted by the US sanctions.
In fact, the move will allow Washington to respond to the alleged mitigation of the risks of its proliferation by targeting foreign governments for its scientific cooperation with Iran.
That way, the White House can claim that foreign governments engaged in building Iran’s nuclear activity, such as the reconstruction of the Arak nuclear reactor, are engaged in activities that can effectively contribute to the risk or spread of weapons of mass destruction.
International Atomic Energy Agency is the next target of sanctions
Financial and technological support, even in form of attempts to reduce Iran’s capability of nuclear reactor, should be sanctioned and all assets of the parties involved in these activities will be subjected to US secondary sanctions.
Goldberg’s next suggestion is that Washington should reduce the IAEA’s budget if the Agency continues to provide technical assistance to Iran and host seminars and conferences in the country.
However, according to the JCPOA, the IAEA is responsible to contribute to all types of cooperation and technical assistance projects in Iran. For example, the JCPOA requires a joint commission to support Iran for the IAEA’s technical cooperation projects. The Arak reactor modernization project includes significant international support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear power will be.
However, Trump’s National Security Advisers have other agenda on mind which is not to limit Iran’s nuclear technology, nor to reduce the risks of developing nuclear weapons, but to pave the way for a war with Iran. Consequently, they have made an all-out-effort to undermine the nuclear accord and intensify international monitoring on Iran to achieve the objective.
It seems the US is willing to impose sanctions even on its allies, and international organizations and agencies to attain malicious plan against Iran.
First published in our partner MNA
Trump’s New Wall? Mexico’s Southern Border
For much of modern history, Mexico defined itself in opposition to the United States. In recent years, the two countries stepped up cooperation on almost all relevant issues, and the two nations are now deeply intertwined politically, economically and culturally. This is bound to change. After months of ignoring Donald Trump’s provocations, López Obrador reacted rapidly to Trump’s shakedown and agreed to a number of resolutions of extraordinary scope and urgency: the new Mexican administration agreed to deploy the country’s federal police to its southern border to crack down on immigration; and opened the door to the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy that would turn Mexico into a Third Safe Country in less than a month from now.
As stated in the agreement, Mexico would take in all the refugees that the US decides to send back to Mexico to await resolution of their asylum process. This could take years, given the substantial immigration backlog in American courts. The agreement goes further: Mexico is responsible for the provision of education, health care and employment for such refugees. This could easily lead to a serious humanitarian crisis that Mexican institutions will be unable to deal with.
This approach contradicts previous Mexican presidential vows for regional development and humanitarian relief rather than confrontation and enforcement. Conditions on the ground in Mexico are far harsher than the Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister, Marcelo Ebrard and the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would like to admit, and this is partly due to the current administration’s miscalculations: López Obrador has dramatically cut the budget for governmental agencies responsible for managing refugees and processing removals. Mexican border towns are also ill-equipped for handling transient migrant populations; and Mexico also faces other more systematic challenges, such as corruption and lack of rule of law enforcement. The new policy agreed with the American government is likely to result in a significant increase in claims filed for asylum in Mexico. Mexico’s immigration bureaucracies are utterly overwhelmed, and López Obrador’s misguided budget cuts have exacerbated their failings.
Mexico’s immigration policy is now bound by an immoral and unacceptable deal that will effectively turn Mexico into Trump’s border wall. The global system for the protection of refugees is based on the notion of shared responsibility among countries. It is very dangerous for the US to use Mexico as a pawn to set an example and ignore its international responsibility. This agreement also violates international law on refugees: Mexico is a life-threatening country for undocumented migrants. Human trafficking, recruitment for organised criminal organisations, abduction, extortion, sexual violence, and disappearances are some of the issues migrants face in Mexico. Finally, Mexico’s National Guard, the agency that will be in charge of monitoring the southern border, was created by López Obrador to tackle domestic crime. Its members have no training nor knowledge on immigration matters. It is an untested new military force that could end up creating more problems than the ones it is trying to solve. Deploying agents to the border could also have a high political cost for the president.
The agreement with Trump gives López Obrador 45 days to show progress. If Mexico fails, Mexico will be forced to set in motion some version of Safe Third Country agreement, or face further tariff bullying from the US. This deal has been sold by the new Mexican administration as a victory over the US. More migrants, less money, extreme violence and a recalcitrant, unpredictable northern neighbour are the ingredients for a potential, impending refugee crisis, not a diplomatic victory.
Could Mexico have taken a different approach? Yes. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs would exacerbate the underlying causes of immigration in the region and do nothing to address it. His bullying to force Mexico to crack down on immigration was a cheap electoral ploy to mobilise its base with a view to winning the 2020 elections. This is nothing new. Trump is not seeking a solution; he is seeking a political gain. He built his first presidential campaign on an anti-Mexico and an anti-immigrant rhetoric. It worked in 2016, and he is planning to repeat the same formula.
The Mexican administration lack of knowledge on diplomatic matters, and their inability to play politics let a golden opportunity go. Using trade to bludgeon Mexico into compliance with an immigration crack down makes no sense: Mexico is not responsible for the increase in migratory flows. Central America’s poverty and violence trace back to American policies in the 1980s. Mexico is not responsible either for America’s famously dysfunctional immigration system. Trump’s economic threats against Mexico may not even have been legal: both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the newly agreed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) require most trade between members to be tariff free.
Mexico could also have hit back with by levying tariffs that would have hurt swing-state voters, and in turn hurt Trump. This was the golden opportunity Mexico let slip from its hands. Mexico could have responded by hitting Trump where it hurts: Tariffs on American goods heading south. Mexico responded in a similar manner in June last year in response to the steel and aluminium tariffs. Mexico could have raised those tariffs each month in tandem with American levels.
This retaliation would have highlighted the gap between Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and the underlying interdependence of the US and Mexico with stark consequences for the US presidential elections of 2020. Many of the biggest exporters to Mexico such as Arizona. Florida. California, Michigan and Illinois are swing states. New tariffs could have thrown Texas into recession and put its 38 electoral votes into play. It is all too late now, Mexico could have inadvertently helped Trump to get re-elected. Mexico has less than a month left to show some backbone and demand real American cooperation on the region’s shared challenges and rejecting Trump’s threats once and for all. The relationship between Mexico and the US could have been an example of cooperation under difficult conditions, but that would have required different American and Mexican presidents.
Scandinavia Veers Left plus D-Day Reflections as Trump Storms Europe
Mette Frederiksen of the five-party Social Democrat bloc won 91 of the 169 seats in the Danish parliament ending the rule of the right-wing Liberal Party group that had governed for 14 of the last 18 years. The election issues centered on climate change, immigration and Denmark’s generous social welfare policies. All parties favored tighter immigration rules thereby taking away the central issue dominating the far-right Democrat Freedom Party which has seen its support halved since the last election in 2015.
Ms Frederiksen promised more spending to bolster the much loved social welfare model and increased taxes on businesses and the wealthy. A left wave is sweeping Scandinavia as Denmark becomes the third country, after Sweden and Finland, to move left within a year. Mette Frederiksen will also be, at 41, the youngest prime minister Denmark has ever had.
Donald Trump has used the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations to garner positive publicity. The supreme promoter has managed to tie it in with a “classy” (his oft-chosen word) state visit to the UK spending a day with royals. It was also a farewell to the prime minister as her resignation is effective from June 7. Add a D-Day remembrance ceremony at Portsmouth and he was off to his golf course in Ireland for a couple of days of relaxation disguised as a visit to the country for talks — he has little in common with the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, who is half-Indian and gay.
Onward to France where leaders gathered for ceremonies at several places. It is easy to forget the extent of that carnage: over 20,000 French civilians were killed in Normandy alone mostly from aerial bombing and artillery fire. The Normandy American cemetery holds over 9600 soldiers. All in all, France lost in the neighborhood of 390,000 civilian dead during the whole war. Estimates of total deaths across the world range from 70 to 85 million or about 3 percent of the then global population (estimated at 2.3 billion).
Much has been written about conflict resolutions generally from a cold rational perspective. Emotions like greed, fear and a sense of injustice when unresolved lead only in one direction. There was a time when individual disputes were given the ultimate resolution through single combat. Now legal rights and courts are available — not always perfect, not always fair, but neither are humans.
It does not take a genius to extrapolate such legal measures to nations and international courts … which already exist. Just one problem: the mighty simply ignore them. So we wait, and we honor the dead of wars that in retrospect appear idiotic and insane. Worse is the attempt to justify such insanity through times like the “good war”, a monstrous absurdity.
It usually takes a while. Then we get leaders who have never seen the horror of war — some have assiduously avoided it — and the cycle starts again.
To Impeach Or Not To Impeach? That Is The Question
Robert Mueller let loose a thunderbolt midweek. Donald Trump had not been charged, he said, because it was Department of Justice policy not to charge a sitting president. Dumping the issue firmly into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lap, he reminded us of the purpose of the impeachment process. According to Mueller there are ten instances where there are serious issues with the president obstructing justice adding that his report never concludes that Trump is innocent.
So here is a simple question: If Mueller thought the president is not innocent but he did not charge him because of Justice Department policy, and he appears also to favor impeachment, then why in heaven’s name did he not simply state in his report that the preponderance of evidence indicated Trump was guilty?
Nancy Pelosi is wary of impeachment. According to the rules, the House initiates it and when/if it finds sufficient grounds, it forwards the case to the Senate for a formal trial. The Senate at present is controlled by Republicans, who have been saying it’s time to move on, often adding that after two years of investigation and a 448-page report, what is the point of re-litigating the issue? They have a point and again it leads to the question: if Special Counsel Mueller thinks Trump is guilty as he now implies, why did he not actually say so?
Never one to miss any opportunity , Trump labels Mueller, highly conflicted, and blasts impeachment as ‘a dirty, filthy, disgusting word’, He has also stopped Don McGahn, a special counsel at the White House from testifying before Congress invoking ‘executive privilege’ — a doctrine designed to keep private the president’s consultations with his advisors. While not cited anywhere in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held it to be ‘fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the Separation of Powers under the Constitution.’ Separation of powers keeps apart the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary, meaning each one cannot interfere with the other.
Nancy Pelosi is under increasing pressure from the young firebrands. Rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has already expressed the view that it is time to open an impeachment inquiry against Trump given the obstruction of lawmakers’ oversight duty.
Speaker Pelosi is a long-time politician with political blood running through her veins — her father was Mayor of Baltimore and like herself also a US Representative. To her the situation as is, is quite appealing. Trump’s behavior fires up Democrats across the country and they respond by emptying their pockets to defeat the Republicans in 2020. Democratic coffers benefit so why harm this golden goose — a bogeyman they have an excellent chance of defeating — also evident from the numbers lining up to contest the Democratic presidential primaries, currently at 24.
Will Trump be impeached? Time will tell but at present it sure doesn’t look likely.
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