Trump Is­sues Cryp­tic Warn­ing of “Calm Be­fore the Storm” – Hints of Plans for North Korea and Iran

The Jewish Voice - - FRONT PAGE - By: Fern Sid­man

Af­ter dis­cussing Iran and North Korea with a cadre of mil­i­tary lead­ers last Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump posed for a photo with them be­fore din­ner and de­clared the mo­ment “the calm be­fore the storm.”

“You guys know what this rep­re­sents?” Trump said af­ter jour­nal­ists gath­ered in the White House state dining room to pho­to­graph him and first lady Melania Trump with the uni­formed mil­i­tary lead­ers and their spouses.

Ges­tur­ing to his guests, he said, “You guys know what this rep­re­sents? Maybe it's the calm be­fore the storm.” “What's the storm?” asked one re­porter.

“Could be the calm be­fore the storm,” Mr. Trump re­peated, stretch­ing out the phrase, a sly smile play­ing across his face. “From Iran?” ven­tured an­other re­porter. “On ISIS? On what?” “What storm, Mr. Pres­i­dent?” asked a third jour­nal­ist, a hint of im­pa­tience creep­ing into her voice.

Clas­si­cal mu­sic played in the back­ground and ta­bles were set in the nearby Blue Room for a fancy meal. The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­ply to a re­quest to clar­ify Trump's re­mark.

Ac­cord­ing to an NYT report of last week, the pa­per opined that Trump was clearly look­ing to make some kind of news, but about what, ex­actly, was not clear. And the mys­tery, as it of­ten does with a pres­i­dent whose state­ments baf­fle even his staff, only deep­ened the next day.

The report in­di­cated that by Fri­day, the White House was still un­able to shed light on the mat­ter; sev­eral of Mr. Trump's aides said they had no idea what the pres­i­dent meant. But the press sec­re­tary, Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, wanted to make one thing clear: Mr. Trump wasn't just teas­ing his fa­vorite an­tag­o­nists. He was send­ing a mes­sage.

“I wouldn't say that he's mess­ing with the press,” Ms. San­ders told re­porters. “I think we have some se­ri­ous world is­sues here. I think that North Korea, Iran both con­tinue to be bad ac­tors, and the pres­i­dent is some­body who's go­ing to al­ways look for ways to pro­tect Amer­i­cans, and he's not go­ing to dic­tate what those ac­tions may look like.”

Push­ing back against what he per­ceives to be veiled threats to launch pos­si­ble mil­i­tary ac­tions on North Korea and the pos­si­bil­ity of jeop­ar­diz­ing Mid­dle East peace by “de­cer­ti­fy­ing” the con­tro­ver­sial Ira­nian nu­clear deal, Se­na­tor Bob Corker, the Repub­li­can chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, charged in an in­ter­view on Sun­day that Pres­i­dent Trump

Ges­tur­ing to his guests, Trump said, “You guys know what this rep­re­sents? Maybe it's the calm be­fore the storm.” “What's the storm?” asked one re­porter.

was treat­ing his of­fice like “a re­al­ity show,” with reck­less threats to­ward other coun­tries that could set the na­tion “on the path to World War III,” ac­cord­ing to a New York Times report.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary re­buke of a pres­i­dent of his own party, Se­na­tor Corker said he was alarmed about a pres­i­dent who acts “like he's do­ing ‘The Ap­pren­tice' or some­thing.” “He con­cerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to con­cern any­one who cares about our na­tion.”

Over the week­end, in ad­di­tion to his usual Twit­ter storms, Trump hinted to the me­dia gath­ered at the White House of a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary ac­tion against North Korea. Trump also took an­other shot at Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, de­spite the fact that he said he en­joyed a good re­la­tion­ship with him. Last week it was re­ported that Tiller­son called Trump a “mo­ron”. Trump has in­sisted that the story was of a bo­gus na­ture and fab­ri­cated by NBC News. He in­sisted that it was part of the in­ces­sant “fake news” cy­cle, but he did say that he would like Tiller­son to be “tougher.”

More­over, dur­ing the en­counter with White House re­porters, Trump even fo­cused on the grow­ing con­tro­versy that has been swirling around Hol­ly­wood movie mogul Har­vey We­in­stein and the al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him of sex­ual ha­rass­ment of fe­male em­ploy­ees and as­pir­ing ac­tresses.

Ac­cord­ing to a CNN report, Trump also re­vived his base-pleas­ing cul­ture war furor with the NFL af­ter Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence left a game in In­di­anapo­lis on his or­ders af­ter sev­eral play­ers took a knee dur­ing the na­tional an­them to protest what they per­ceive to be racial dis­crim­i­na­tion. He also com­plained that his own ef­forts in Puerto Rico were not get­ting enough credit, de­spite clear lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems in the hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­fort.

"No­body could have done what I've done for #Puer­toRico with so lit­tle ap­pre­ci­a­tion. So much work!" Trump tweeted on Sun­day.

On Thurs­day of this week it was re­ported that Pres­i­dent Trump is ex­pected to de­cer­tify the Iran nu­clear agree­ment next week but stop short of com­pletely scrap­ping the deal.

Trump will de­clare it is not in U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests to cer­tify the 2015 deal that Wash­ing­ton reached with Iran and five other coun­tries, say of­fi­cials quoted in me­dia re­ports. The move would launch a 60-day pe­riod dur­ing which Congress must de­cide whether to reim­pose some or all of the eco­nomic sanc­tions that had been lifted as part of the agree­ment.

Mean­while, Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani de­fended the nu­clear deal Satur­day, say­ing not even 10 Don­ald Trumps can roll back gains made by Iran, state TV re­ported. It broad­cast Rouhani while ad­dress­ing stu­dents at Tehran Uni­ver­sity, mark­ing the begin­ning of the ed­u­ca­tional year.

"We have achieved ben­e­fits that are ir­re­versible. No­body can roll them back, nei­ther Trump, nor 10 other Trumps,'' he said.

Rouhani warned the U.S. not to vi­o­late the deal. "If the United States vi­o­lates [the nu­clear deal], the en­tire world will con­demn Amer­ica, not Iran,'' he said.

Many Repub­li­cans and Democrats are op­posed to re­in­stat­ing sanc­tions, which would ef­fec­tively kill the agree­ment, and re­ports sug­gest Trump may hold off on urg­ing Congress to do so. Trump, a self-pro­claimed mas­ter ne­go­tia­tor, has called the pact "one of the dumb­est deals ever" and re­peat­edly sug­gested that he may do away with it.

Speak­ing late last week, Trump said Iran has "not lived up to the spirit" of the agree­ment. "You'll be hear­ing about Iran very shortly," he said be­fore meet­ing with mil­i­tary lead­ers.

If Trump takes steps to aban­don the nu­clear deal, he would be go­ing against the ad­vice of his top na­tional se­cu­rity lead­ers, in­clud­ing Sec­re­tary of De­fense Jim Mat­tis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Joseph Dun­ford. Dun­ford and Mat­tis have both told law­mak­ers they be­lieve stay­ing in the pact is in the U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est. They also say Iran is abid­ing by the terms of the deal, an as­ser­tion echoed by the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency.

Un­der U.S. law, the pres­i­dent must cer­tify to Congress ev­ery 90 days that Iran is in com­pli­ance with the nu­clear deal and that it is in U.S. in­ter­ests to stay in the agree­ment. Trump has twice cer­ti­fied the deal, but done so un­hap­pily, re­ports sug­gest.

The next cer­ti­fi­ca­tion dead­line is Oc­to­ber 15. Trump could ad­dress the Iran is­sue in a speech that White House of­fi­cials say is likely to oc­cur on the 12th. Trump is also ex­pected to lay out his wider strat­egy for Iran and the Mid­dle East.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­tin­ued to ac­cuse Iran of spon­sor­ing ter­ror­ism, threat­en­ing U.S. al­lies in the Mid­dle East and test­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles. Trump has pub­licly lamented that the agree­ment does not cover these is­sues.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials have stressed that the deal is not up for rene­go­ti­a­tion. Rouhani has threat­ened to leave the deal "within hours" if the U.S. im­poses new sanc­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a Times of Is­rael report, Is­rael's Chan­nel 2 re­ported last Thurs­day that Trump was also set to an­nounce a se­ries of mea­sures to pun­ish Iran for its re­gional be­hav­ior.

Chief among these, the TV report said, would be “harsh sanc­tions” against the IRGC, Iran's most pow­er­ful se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tion which also dom­i­nates sig­nif­i­cant ar­eas of the Ira­nian econ­omy. Some re­ports in the US have sug­gested that Trump may des­ig­nate the en­tire IRGC as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion; 10 years ago, it de­signed the IRGC's AlQuds Force as a ter­ror group, and the en­tire IRGC has been sanc­tioned for ac­tiv­i­ties re­lat­ing to nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion and hu­man rights abuses.

But the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported, cit­ing four peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the pres­i­dent's think­ing, that Trump would “hold off on rec­om­mend­ing that Congress re-im­pose sanc­tions on Iran that would ab­ro­gate the agree­ment.”

Ac­cord­ing to an op-ed piece penned by re­tired Har­vard law school pro­fes­sor Alan Der­showitz en­ti­tled, “Trump's ‘Calm Be­fore the Storm' is a Mes­sage to North Korea and Iran” which ap­peared on the Gatestone In­sti­tute web site, Pro­fes­sor Der­showitz wrote:

“The North Kore­ans con­tinue test­ing nu­clear weapons and long-range mis­siles and threaten to launch a nu­clear at­tack on Amer­ica and our al­lies that could kill mil­lions. Iran is likely en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties that could con­trib­ute to the de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of its own nu­clear ex­plo­sive de­vice.

If these wor­ri­some ac­tions by the two rogue na­tions per­sist, there will be a storm. And as can­di­date Trump said dur­ing his cam­paign for the White House, he will not tell our en­e­mies what kind of storm to ex­pect — only that he will not al­low cur­rent trends that en­dan­ger our na­tional se­cu­rity and that of our al­lies to con­tinue un­abated.”

Strik­ing an pre­scient but omi­nous note, Pro­fes­sor Der­showitz con­tin­ued: “U.S. pol­icy to­ward both Iran and North Korea is closely re­lated, be­cause we must pre­vent Iran from join­ing the nu­clear club and be­com­ing an­other, even more dan­ger­ous ver­sion of North Korea.

The sad re­al­ity is that even if Iran were to com­ply with the let­ter of the nu­clear agree­ment, it will still be able to de­velop the ca­pa­bil­ity to build up a vast nu­clear arse­nal within a rel­a­tively short time. This is the fun­da­men­tal flaw of the agree­ment.

And Iran claims that the nu­clear deal per­mits it to refuse to al­low the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) to in­spect mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties. This has led the IAEA to con­clude that it can­not as­sure the world that Iran is not even now de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear arse­nal with mis­siles ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing them to Amer­i­can al­lies in the Mideast and Europe, and soon the U.S. it­self.

All the Ira­ni­ans need to do to be­come a nu­clear power is to resume spin­ning cen­trifuges. The nu­clear agree­ment, which was reached with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2015, will al­low them to do that in a few years.”

(Photo Credit: Bre­it­bart.com)

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pose for pic­tures with se­nior mil­i­tary lead­ers and spouses af­ter a brief­ing in the State Dining Room of the White House last Thurs­day. It was on this oc­ca­sion that Pres­i­dent Trump told the gath­ered me­dia that this was “the calm be­fore the storm.” Me­dia out­lets in­ter­preted the cryp­tic mes­sage as a pos­si­ble change of pol­icy to­wards the rogue regimes of North Korea and Iran.

Push­ing back against what he per­ceives to be veiled threats to launch pos­si­ble mil­i­tary ac­tions on North Korea and the pos­si­bil­ity of jeop­ar­diz­ing Mid­dle East peace by “de­cer­ti­fy­ing” the con­tro­ver­sial Ira­nian nu­clear deal, Se­na­tor Bob Corker, (pic­tured above) the Repub­li­can chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, charged in an in­ter­view on Sun­day that Pres­i­dent Trump was treat­ing his of­fice like “a re­al­ity show,” with reck­less threats to­ward other coun­tries that could set the na­tion “on the path to World War III,” ac­cord­ing to a New York Times report.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani de­fended the nu­clear deal Satur­day, say­ing not even 10 Don­ald Trumps can roll back gains made by Iran, state TV re­ported. It broad­cast Rouhani while ad­dress­ing stu­dents at Tehran Uni­ver­sity, mark­ing the begin­ning of the ed­u­ca­tional year. "We have achieved ben­e­fits that are ir­re­versible. No­body can roll them back, nei­ther Trump, nor 10 other Trumps,'' he said. Rouhani warned the U.S. not to vi­o­late the deal. "If the United States vi­o­lates [the nu­clear deal], the en­tire world will con­demn Amer­ica, not Iran,'' he said.

Trump also took an­other shot at Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, de­spite the fact that he said he en­joyed a good re­la­tion­ship with him. Last week it was re­ported that Tiller­son called Trump a “mo­ron”. Trump has in­sisted that the story was of a bo­gus na­ture and fab­ri­cated by NBC News. He in­sisted that it was part of the in­ces­sant “fake news” cy­cle, but he did say that he would like Tiller­son to be “tougher.”

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