Friday, October 11, 2019

Turkey set to redraw map of Syrian war once more - Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff

Now that the US is withdrawing, leaving northeast Syria open to a Turkish invasion, what can the country, the government, the Kurds, and the West expect?

Turkey set to redraw map of Syrian war once more
A Turkish military helicopter flies over as Turkish and US troops return from a joint patrol in northern Syria | Photo: Reuters/Murad Sezer

A looming Turkish incursion into northern Syria is set to reshape the map of the Syrian conflict once again, dealing a blow to Kurdish-led forces that have battled Islamic State while widening Turkey's territorial control at the border.

This would be Turkey's third such incursion since 2016. Motivated largely by the aim of containing Syrian Kurdish power, Turkey already has troops on the ground across an arc of northwestern Syria, the last stronghold of anti-Damascus rebels.

What does Turkey want? 

Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where 2 million Syrian refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled.

It had been pushing the United States to jointly establish a "safe zone" extending 20 miles (32 km) into Syrian territory, but repeatedly warned it could take unilateral military action after accusing Washington of dragging its feet.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has recently talked about pushing even deeper into Syria, beyond the proposed "safe zone" region to the cities of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, in order to allow still more refugees to return to Syria.

How will the Kurds be affected? 

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have spent years expanding its control across northern and eastern Syria, helped by the US-led coalition against Islamic State.

A rare case of a winner in the Syrian war, the Kurds and their allies have set up their own governing bodies while always insisting their aim is autonomy, not independence.

All of this could unravel in the event of a major Turkish invasion that would plunge the area into warfare. The SDF-affiliated Syrian Democratic Council said an attack would trigger a new wave of mass displacement.

For the SDF alliance, in which the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia is the dominant force, much will depend on whether the United States continues to keep forces in other parts of the northeast and east. A full US withdrawal would expose the area to the risk of more Turkish advances, an Islamic State revival, or attempts by Iranian- and Russian-backed government forces to gain ground.

Confronted by the prospect of US withdrawal last year, the Kurds beat a path to Damascus for talks over allowing the Syrian government and its ally Russia to deploy at the border.

The talks made no progress, but such negotiations could be an option again in the event of a wider US withdrawal.

How far could Turkey go? 

The northeastern border region, currently controlled by Kurdish-led forces, stretches 480 km (300 miles) from the Euphrates river in the west to the Iraq border to the east.

The immediate focus of Turkey's military plans appears to be around a section of the border between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, which are about 100 km (62 miles) apart. A US official told Reuters on Monday US forces had withdrawn from observation posts there.

Although under the control of Kurdish-led forces, that part of the border has historically had a strong Arab presence.

"It's a region where the population is Arab and where Turkey has good ties with the leading groups," said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli of the German Marshall Fund. If the YPG tries to hold territory there "it will lose a lot of blood," he said.

Turkey has not spelled out the scope or the initial focus of its planned operation. "The location, time and scope for implementing the measures against security risks will once again be decided by Turkey," a Turkish official told Reuters.

Do Russia and Iran back Turkey's move? 

Russia and Iran, the other two major foreign powers in Syria, strongly support Syrian President Bashar Assad – unlike Turkey and the United States, which both called for him to stand down and supported rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Russia has said that Turkey has the right to defend itself, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Syria's territorial integrity must be preserved and that all foreign military forces "with illegal presence" should leave Syria.

If the US pulls out all its troops from northeast Syria, the Damascus government – backed by Russia – may try to retake control of much of the region not seized by Turkey.

What is the western reaction to Turkey's plan? 

There has been no public support from Turkey's Western allies for its plan to settle 2 million Syrians – more than half of the refugees it currently hosts – in northeast Syria.

The main Western concerns are that an influx of Sunni Arab Syrians into the largely Kurdish northeast would change the demographics of the region.

The United Nations regional coordinator for the Syria crisis said all sides should avoid major displacement of civilians if Turkey launches an assault.

What does this mean for Assad? 

While the territory in question is already outside Syrian government control, a Turkish incursion would mean the area switching from a non-hostile force – the SDF – to Turkey and rebels that have sought to topple Assad.

Damascus has long viewed Turkey as an occupying power with designs on northern Syria. It has also at times suggested a willingness to strike a deal with the Kurds, though their last negotiations got nowhere.

What could this mean for the Islamic State? 

Chaos could present Islamic State with an opportunity to stage a revival and the SDF has been conducting operations against ISIS sleeper cells since capturing its final territorial foothold earlier this year.

Syrian Kurdish leaders have long warned that the SDF may not be able to continue holding IS prisoners if the situation was destabilized by a Turkish invasion.

The SDF is still holding 5,000 ISIS fighters of Syrian and Iraqi nationality and a further 1,000 foreigners from more than 55 other states, according to the foreign relations department of the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria.

Reuters , Israel Hayom Staff


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Can We Keep Our Republic? - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

If the Dems win, Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America will be complete.

When asked the type of government the Constitutional Convention had created, Benjamin Franklin famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin and the Founders understood that given a flawed human nature and its passion for power, no form of political order can survive if it is not continually maintained and defended against attempts to dismantle it in order to empower one faction at the expense of others, thus diminishing their freedom.

Since the election of Donald Trump, we have been watching one of the most serious assaults on the Constitutional Republic in our history. With the current efforts of the Democrat-controlled House to engineer public support for impeachment, this three-year attack is intensifying. The climactic battle will be fought on November 3, 2020 when America goes to the polls to select the president. On that day will be decided not just which party will take the White House, but which vision of government will rule us: The Constitutional order of popular sovereignty, federalism, and divided powers; or a technocratic oligarchy of centralized and concentrated power.

Or to put it more starkly: Can we keep our nation of free citizens, or will we become one of managed clients?

This competition of political philosophies is not about Donald Trump’s alleged violations of mythic “democratic norms” or “presidential decorum.” In fact, the bipartisan evocation of such codes of political manners reflects the preference for the technocratic oligarchy that has ruled and misruled the country since the Second World War. Its roots go back even farther than that. The first progressives of the late 19th century were frankly technocratic, disdainful of separated and balanced powers, and advocates of the new “human sciences” that they claimed had made obsolete the wisdom of the Founders, the guidance of tradition, and the lessons of history.

Starting with Woodrow Wilson, and continuing through FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society programs, and Barack Obama’s further expansion of entitlement programs and take-over of the health care industry, the country has been moving relentlessly toward more and more centralization of federal power, expansion of the federal regulatory regime, and encroachment on the freedom of states, civil society, families, and individuals.

And don’t forget, along the way Republican elites have supported and abetted this weakening of the Republic. They have created or expanded intrusive regulatory agencies like the EPA and the Department of Education, illiberal programs like race-conscious set-asides, and increased the number and scope of redistributionist programs like Medicaid and Social Security. More recently they have joined forces with the identity-politics left to support amnesty for illegal aliens and laxer immigration protocols. Worse yet, they have frequently endorsed and legitimized the politicized, illiberal ideology of race, “gender,” ethnicity, and sexual identity that provides Democrats with tools for leveraging political power and influence in order to achieve “social justice.”

Whether through design, instinct, or common sense, Donald Trump exposed this capitulation of many establishment Republicans to the shibboleths of the illiberal, Leviathan Democrats. His patriotism and populism spoke to millions of voters who could tell when they were being ignored or talked-down to by so-called conservatives, who joined their fellow globalist elites in dismissing the working-class voters’ concerns about lost jobs, lost foundational beliefs and values, and lost love for America and our national identity.

Hence the bipartisan rage against Trump and the 63 million Americans who ignored their “betters” and put Trump in office. And the president’s successes in invigorating the economy, rolling back regulations, championing religious freedom, and taking off the “kick me” sign the previous administration had hung on America’s back, all enraged his enemies further. NeverTrump Republicans are the worse. They became unhinged, obsessing over Trump’s brash, vulgar, plain-talking, hit-back style, rather than acknowledging that his governing actions like tax reductions and deregulation have long been conservative desiderata, and are certainly light-years ahead of what a President Hillary Clinton would have wrought. Such Republicans have become the de facto fifth column of the progressive “resistance,” giving aid and comfort to those who once in power would continue to dismantle the Constitutional order that protects the citizens’ political freedom and autonomy.

Most important, the means by which this assault on Trump has been executed represent the most sustained abuse of government power at least since World War II. The administration of the previous president––including very likely the president himself––and the powerful federal agencies overseeing police, justice, and intelligence, like classic tyrants turned these lethal government powers against a political rival, blatantly violating the oaths they had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Abetted by a corrupt media that no longer hide their political passions, they used state power to engineer the “Russia collusion” hoax that was so flimsy even two years of investigation by hostile deep-state operatives and Democrat donors could not find any evidence to support it.

And along the way, they violated the protocols and legal guard-rails of formal investigations to achieve their ends: First, to discredit the Trump campaign, and then to hamstringing his presidency. The examples of this professional and civic malfeasance are legion and amply documented by Andy McCarthy, Gregg Jarret, and many others. But there are two that are particularly egregious.

First was James Comey’s phony investigation of Hillary’s felonious abuse of rules for handling sensitive government information. Even worse was the press conference in which he laid out the obvious predicates of an indictment, then found a nonexistent  “intention” proviso in the penumbras and emanations of the relevant statute, and then usurped the Attorney General’s authority as to whether or not to indict by making the decision himself during the press conference.

The second violation has not been as commented on as it should be––the handling of  the “hacked” DNC servers scandal. We know the narrative, since it is regularly repeated even by conservative commentators: Several of our intelligence agencies discovered that a Russian operative named Guccifer 2.0 hacked the DNC servers, and then via Wikileaks publicized the contents to embarrass Hillary and weaken the Democrats, the goal being to help Donald Trump in the 2016 election. This has become a foundational dogma of the whole Russia collusion, foreign interference, Trump corruption tale that provides the flimsy rationale for the Trump-haters’ invective and calls for impeachment.

But as George Parry summarizes in an important analysis, this claim is unsubstantiated by any forensic evidence. On the contrary, an investigation by the “Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), an organization of former CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, and military intelligence officers, technical experts, and analysts,” discovered something quite different. The whole report is worth reading, but here is the salient conclusion that the files were not hacked, but downloaded directly from the DNC server:

How was this determined? The time stamps contained in the released computer files’ metadata establish that, at 6:45 p.m. July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes (not megabits) of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. This took 87 seconds, which means the transfer rate was 22.7 megabytes per second, a speed, according to VIPS, that “is much faster than what is physically possible with a hack.” Such a speed could be accomplished only by direct connection of a portable storage device to the server. Accordingly, VIPS concluded that the DNC data theft was an inside job by someone with physical access to the server.
VIPS also found that, if there had been a hack, the NSA would have a record of it that could quickly be retrieved and produced. But no such evidence has been forthcoming. Can this be because no hack occurred?
Even more remarkable, the experts determined that the files released by Guccifer 2.0 have been “run, via ordinary cut and paste, through a template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints.” In other words, the files were deliberately altered to give the false impression that they were hacked by Russian agents.
Some have challenged VIPS’s analysis, but one fact casts a huge cloud of suspicion on the intelligence agencies’ publicized assertion that Russians engineered the hack: None of them have analyzed the server themselves, despite having the resources to do so. The DNC refused to hand over the server, instead passing along a forensic analysis by a firm it hired called CrowdStrike, according to VIPS “a cybersecurity firm of checkered reputation and multiple conflicts of interest, including very close ties to a number of key anti-Russian organizations.”

Again, the FBI and other security agencies came to their conclusion about the Russian hack based on the word of a dodgy outfit paid by the DNC. Remind you of a famous fake “dossier” also paid for by Democrats, and used by government officials to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on American citizens?

Apart from that hard evidence casting doubt on the narrative, we can challenge the assumption that Russia would prefer Trump over Hillary. Hillary had a public record of supporting Obama’s “reset” with Russia, which featured his infamous hot-mic promise of “flexibility” on granting Putin’s wish for the US to stop missile-defense installations in Eastern Europe after Obama’s reelection––an example of actual collusion with a foreign power in order to affect the outcome of the imminent 2012 presidential election. And Hillary herself, through Russian donations to her foundation and her help in transferring 20% of our uranium stocks to a subsidiary of a Russian company, had raked in millions of dollars. Why wouldn’t Putin prefer this known appeaser and grifter over the volatile and unknown Donald Trump, who has in fact been much tougher with Putin than Obama and Clinton ever were?

So the most powerful investigative agencies in the world have relied on the investigation of  foreign hired guns to determine that Russia hacked the DNC to help Donald Trump. Nor did the FBI or the Mueller investigation seem interested in getting to the bottom of this blatant act of foreign interference in an American election, the ostensible reason for the Special Counsel’s investigation in the first place. A better explanation is that yet once again, government security and police agencies were colluding in fabricating the narrative to misdirect the people from Hillary’s various shady actions, and to tar her rival with a Russian bogeyman redolent of the  McCarthy era “Red scare.”

The Mueller investigation having come a cropper, now we have the even more transparently contrived and dishonest “Ukraine” scandal to provide the media fuel for impeachment. The media are in a frenzy, and their Republican NeverTrump allies are contributing to the effort. Mitt Romney and other Republican preemptive cringers are piling on. The Dems think that even if the Senate doesn’t vote to convict, they’ll have thrown enough mud on the president that a critical mass of voters will turn against him. And if the economy slows down enough, that could turn out to be a smart strategy.

Nor should we take comfort in the buffoonish slate of Dem primary candidates to save us, for the stakes are too high. The corruption of the Constitution and federal agencies of the past three years is exactly what follows when power is concentrated and citizen autonomy is surrendered to unaccountable, unelected technocrats. In the end the primary job of our national government is to defend us from foreign enemies and protect our freedoms from internal ones, not intrude into elections for their own political and careerist aggrandizementß.

If the Dems win, and they succeed in abolishing the Electoral College, making the Senate proportionately representative, eviscerating the First and Second Amendments, and transforming the United States from the exceptional Republic and indispensable champion of unalienable rights and freedom it is, to just another client of a supranational, technocratic empire like the EU––then Obama’s aim of “fundamentally transforming” America will have been achieved.

And that will be the moment, after more than two centuries, we failed to keep our Republic.

Bruce Thornton


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Biden Demands Impeachment - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Packing so many lies into so few words.

At a campaign event in Rochester, N.H., former Vice President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to impeach President Donald Trump as he recited a litany of supposed abuses by Trump that could more appropriately be attributed to himself and to his power-mad comrade, former President Barack Hussein Obama.

On Oct. 9, the fading gaffe-a-minute contender for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nod laid into a transformative figure who, in the greatest upset in American electoral history and with hardly any campaign infrastructure behind him, defeated the perennially scheming, venal, and thoroughly unlikable Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“With his words and his actions, President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with the congressional inquiry. He’s also convicted himself in full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,” Breitbart News reports Biden saying.

“You know to preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached. That’s not only because of what he’s done. To answer whether he’s committed acts of [sic] sufficient to warrant impeachment is obvious. We see it in Trump’s own words. We see it in the texts from State Department officials that have been made public. We see it in his pulling much of the United States government into his corrupt schemes, individuals within the government, his appointees. But we have to remember that impeachment isn’t only about what the president’s done. It’s about the threat the president poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office. One thing about this president is absolutely clear, and I don’t think anyone can contradict this, he has seen no limits to his power regardless of what the Constitution says.

“He believes the entire United States government can be corrupted into furthering his personal political needs. He’s even willing to hold Congress and congressionally appropriated aid to a foreign nation hostage to his personal political demands. He believes if he does something, it’s legal, period. And perhaps most importantly, he believes there is nothing we can do about it. He believes he can and will get away with anything he does. We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it. It’s no joke. He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it.”

So many lies, distortions, and misrepresentations in so few words.

Let’s unpack them together.

President Trump cannot have obstructed justice by refusing to comply with the congressional impeachment inquiry because there is no such thing.

A so-called impeachment inquiry unprecedented in the annals of presidential impeachment sagas was unilaterally declared Sept. 24 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as news spread that President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to assist in a probe into the leftist plot to remove him office, as well as to investigate the shady dealings of Biden and his cokehead son, Hunter, who was dishonorably discharged by the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Pelosi was in such a frenzied rush to oust Trump she didn’t bother asking the House of Representatives, whose constitutionally-specified duty is to consider impeachment, to go on record on the matter. Even though the House had a recorded vote all three previous times it considered impeaching a U.S. president, Pelosi discarded 151 years of precedent in an extraordinarily risky act of political expediency.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone quite properly sent a letter Oct. 8 to Pelosi and the chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, advising them of everything they have been doing wrong:

“As you know, you have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.

“For example, you have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans. You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives. All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent. Never before in our history has the House of Representatives—under the control of either political party—taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue.”

Biden’s claim without evidence that Trump “has violated his oath of office,” “betrayed this nation,” and “committed impeachable acts” are the whole ball game here. If House Democrats, who only care about the Constitution when it benefits them politically to do so, want to impeach President Trump badly enough, they will have the chamber pass articles of impeachment formally accusing him of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But Biden’s claim on its own is empty rhetoric.

Biden claims that “texts from State Department officials that have been made public” show Trump is worthy of impeachment. In fact, all the texts show is that U.S. diplomats disagreed over the president’s policies regarding Ukraine.

What Biden means when he says Trump is “pulling much of the United States government into his corrupt schemes, individuals within the government, his appointees,” and that he “believes the entire United States government can be corrupted into furthering his personal political needs,” only crazy old Uncle Joe knows.

Biden’s assertion that Trump “has seen no limits to his power regardless of what the Constitution says,” is patently false. Same thing for Biden’s claim that Trump “believes if he does something, it’s legal, period.” Trump has on multiple occasions acknowledged the limitations on his power as president.

And unlike Obama, Trump hasn’t announced he couldn’t do something only to turn around and do that precise prohibited thing later, as Obama did with his highly controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Before Obama created DACA in 2012 with the stroke of a pen, he acknowledged such a program would be unconstitutional. “I am not king,” Obama said in 2010, adding the subsequent year that with “respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” But Obama did it anyway, unilaterally, by executive action.

Trump is trying to limit the reach of the federal government over which he presides and is enjoying modest success.

Although federal spending is skyrocketing on Trump’s watch—unfortunately, there hasn’t been any real constituency in Washington for cutting spending for decades—the president has been shrinking government through deregulation. He pushed through a massive tax cut. He has signed onto the effort to get rid of Obamacare through the courts after federal Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the statute in December 2018. The case is now working its way through the appeals courts.

Biden claims Trump is “willing to hold Congress and congressionally appropriated aid to a foreign nation hostage to his personal political demands.” There is, of course, no evidence Trump did so with Ukraine, and even if there were, presidents routinely attach conditions to foreign aid. It’s the norm.

And it was Biden who bragged to a Council on Foreign Relations audience Jan. 23, 2018, that in March 2016 as vice president he had strong-armed the Ukrainians:
I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.
Democrats are fine with asking foreign governments to assist them in accomplishing domestic political objectives. In fact, it’s a tradition. The late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts even reached out to the KGB in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War to undermine President Ronald Reagan’s policies.

And a few months after Biden’s comments, Senate Democrats asked Ukrainian authorities to investigate President Trump on pain of losing U.S. foreign aid.

In May 2018, Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, sent a letter to Ukraine’s then-Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko asking him to keep open four investigations related to the Mueller probe or risk losing a foreign aid package.

The Democratic National Committee asked then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for help in its unseemly plot to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Biden’s claim that Trump is “shooting holes in the Constitution” is rich coming from a left-winger who routinely wiped his posterior with that document when he was in office.

Throughout his agonizingly long presidency, Barack Obama serially abused his powers as the nation’s Chief Executive to undermine his political opponents. It might be said that every day of his presidency he committed at least one impeachable offense.

Obama used the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party nonprofits, along with Catholic, Jewish, and pro-Israel organizations. He brazenly lied about it, too. His Justice Department surreptitiously obtained telephone records for more than 100 reporters. He did nothing while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, an anti-corruption statute. He unilaterally read new language into the Obamacare statute several times instead of asking Congress to fix unworkable legislative language.

Biden can’t claim he didn’t know about what Obama did. He was complicit whether by deed or acquiescence.

Projecting his own flaws and wrongdoing onto President Trump won’t end well for Joe Biden.

Matthew Vadum


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The Bluffpeachment - Gary Gindler

by Gary Gindler

[W]hat is happening now in the House of Representatives is an unauthorized -- political show of two congressmen with demonstrably low I.Q.s

The current situation in Washington is, in the language of poker, a bluff. The Democrats are bluffing; they have only weak cards in their hand. They actually have nothing against Trump. That's all they have ever had.

As it is known, impeachment is simply a vote of no confidence. A vote of no confidence exists in many countries where there is a political separation of powers. In some countries, for example, the president has the right to dissolve parliament and call new parliamentary elections, and as a political counterbalance, the parliament can declare a vote of no confidence against the president. In America, the president cannot dissolve Congress under any circumstances, but the price for such protection of the Congress is high: as a counterweight, both chambers — the Senate and the House of Representatives — must speak out against the president in case of impeachment. This process of a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives is called impeachment, and in the Senate, a trial.

What awaits the president after impeachment? The answer is...nothing. Impeachment is a purely political maneuver, and the president remains to fulfill his duties until the end of his term, knowing that the House is unhappy with him. The last well known example is President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in 1998 (but acquitted by the Senate). And so what? Nothing — he continued to work.

The fact is that the second part of the vote of no confidence takes place in the Senate. Here in the Senate, according to the US Constitution, a trial of the president occurs. The trial takes place in a manner close to a real court proceeding — with lawyers, prosecutors, judges, prosecution witnesses, and defense witnesses. Contrary to the House decision, the Senate's trial considers whether or not there was a violation of the law by the president. If a violation of the law has occurred, then the president could lose his post.

The current hysteria of the Democrats regarding impeachment is unusual. Firstly, it is based on rumors. That is why, secondly, the Democrats still have not decided which law Trump has violated. Thirdly, there was no vote in the House of Representatives to initiate the impeachment procedure (more precisely, the House of Representatives, in which the majority belongs to the Democrats, in a 332-95 decision, chose not to bother with impeachment).

Therefore, what is happening now in the House of Representatives is an unauthorized (albeit with the verbal approval of Speaker Pelosi) political show of two congressmen with demonstrably low I.Q.s: the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Schiff, and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Nadler. Since the current case of impeachment in the House is an unofficial media spectacle but legally does not exist, the Republican congressmen officially have no way to participate in this case: neither to interrogate witnesses nor to get acquainted with documents. They are completely squeezed out of the process.

Why is all the talk about Trump's impeachment a bluff? The U.S. Constitution empowers only the entire House of Representatives with the impeachment authority, not just the speaker of the House or the chairmen of the committees of the House. The Constitution refers specifically to the entire House of Representatives and never mentions any individual members of Congress. The impeachment decision must be made by the entirety of the chamber's vote, not by its high-ranking representatives. 

This backstage fuss over impeachment without the authorization of the entire House is a procedure on the verge of illegitimacy. This conclusion follows both the letter and the spirit of the law. The U.S. Constitution clearly shows that the Founding Fathers foresaw such situations in advance and tried their best to protect the institution of the presidency from frivolous accusations by individuals.

In fact, in any election, there are winners and losers, and the Founding Fathers deliberately established a system in which said losers would not have an opportunity to seek revenge on the winners. In other words, impeachment can be initiated only by a public institution — the House of Representatives — and not by individual citizens, no matter how high they are in the public hierarchy. If they do otherwise, the Democrats could well lead America to a constitutional crisis.

The Founding Fathers intentionally raised the bar for impeachment and the subsequent trial to unprecedented heights, demanding that the removal of the president from office be for a flagrant violation of the most serious laws by the president — such as, for example, betrayal. The Founding Fathers tried their best to reduce the likelihood of settling political scores with the help of endless impeachment procedures. That is why a Senate trial requires a constitutional two thirds of the vote. Such a high level was supposed to cool the ardor of all those individuals who, instead of a constructive opposition, would decide to participate in a political vendetta.

The TV propagandists talk a lot about the fact that some senior White House officials have already been officially subpoenaed: Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, and others. This is a bluff. There are no formal subpoenas — subpoenas can be sent only after voting in a committee of the House (for example, the Judiciary Committee or the Intelligence Committee). So far, no committee has voted.

So what happened? There were just letters sent to some members of Trump's staff, signed by the chairmen of some committees of the House. That's all, folks. The letters call Trump employees for voluntary testimony and the voluntary submission of documents, and a warning is made that if they do not agree to this, a subpoena may be issued. That is the maximum that the chairpersons of committees of the House can do as individuals, without a vote, while remaining within the law.

Democrats and their ideological comrades in the mass disinformation media are recognized masters of the fake news. No doubt, their next big project is a fake impeachment.

Why do Democrats behave in this manner? To a large extent, because voting in the House of Representatives and its committees is never secret. It is always out in the open. So the Democrats do not want the voters to know who voted for impeachment and who is against it. All Democrats — members of Congress from traditionally Republican states — watch this circus with horror. They know very well that if they vote for impeachment, the 2020 elections will be their last.

We should not forget that impeachment is the only weapon left for the Democrats to at least somehow resist the investigation of the Department of Justice about the origins of the failed "Russiagate" palace coup and the role of the Obama administration in the widespread surveillance of Trump in 2016–2017. The irony of the situation is that Trump's political opponents — the Democrats and the disinformation media supporting them — have been complaining for more than three years that other states' interference in the U.S. election is bad and not acceptable. So now, when Trump decided to conduct a thorough investigation of such interference, they fell into hysteria.

The conclusion is unequivocal: the Democrats want Trump's impeachment, but only in virtual form, only on a TV screen, since they are guaranteed to lose a rigorous legal or political trial.

Democrats went all in: they decided not to recognize the results of the 2016 elections and embarked on a new, unprecedented in America path — the path of a permanent palace coup.

However, an attempt to impeach the president responsible for the lowest unemployment rate in America in the last 50 years is political suicide. Trump knows this well, so he constantly encourages and gently pushes the Democrats to impeach him.

Therefore, the Democrats are forced to roll this bluffpeachment process despite Trump not violating any laws (at least, the Democrats carefully do not mention any statute that Trump has presumably violated). However, it is clear to everyone that Trump's indictment, if brought forward, could only be for the worst — from the point of view of the Democrats — crime: the crime of winning the election.

Gary Gindler, Ph.D. is a conservative columnist at Gary Gindler Chronicles, and the founder of a new science — Politiphysics. Follow him on Twitter and Quodverum.


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Democrats turning California into a third-world hellhole: Going without electricity edition - Tom Trinko

by Tom Trinko

If you're an immensely wealthy Google employee, California is Heaven. If you're not, it's becoming more and more like Hell.

Democrats are turning California into a third-world hellhole without electricity, water, and freedom.

Due to Democrats' love for trees, at least 800,000 Californians will be without power for several days. Instead of properly managing California forests to reduce the chances of big fires, Democrats are saying Californians have to go without lights, refrigerators, and air-conditioning. Democrats could also avoid this by not making the power company financially liable for all forest fire damages, but since PG&E is a company, not an illegal alien, the Democrats couldn't care less about doing what's best for California.

While they try to blame climate change and the infrastructure, the reality is that neither of those has caused any significant changes in the last ten years — but now, suddenly, due to Democrat policies, Californians have to start living in the 18th century.

The Democrats who run California also refuse to build more water storage capacity even though the state's population has dramatically increased, ensuring that water has to be rationed during droughts.

Democrats are turning California into a third-world country economically. The income inequality between the über-rich Silicon Valley workers and the rest of Californians is huge, just like in third-world countries, while the elites live in luxury and the rest live in squalor. 

Democrats are doing a great job manufacturing poverty and homelessness even as they fail to instill hope in Californians.

California has four times more homeless per capita and three times more poor per capita than the rest of America. Half the homeless in America are in California, even though California has only 12% of the U.S. population. Also, blacks are six times more prevalent in the San Francisco homeless population than they are in California in general.

The homeless explosion has brought the return of third-world diseases like typhus to California — not to mention streets littered with human feces.

Democrats are trying to keep people from having cars, just like the people of the Third World. After all, a car gives people the freedom to move, and freedom is a bad thing in the minds of Democrats since it limits the power the government has over citizens.

Recently, Gavin Newsom, the Democrat governor, transferred millions of dollars that the voters had been ensured would go to improve the state's failing road infrastructure to a fund designed to convince Californians to give up their cars.

Democrats are also working to make cars unaffordable for any but the richest Californians.
Californians pay $1.53 more for a gallon for gasoline than the rest of America. That's $21 more for a tank of gasoline. Facebook employees won't notice it, but the poor in California who can't afford to live near their jobs are paying through the teeth.

Like all third-world tyrants, Democrats are doing everything they can to eliminate democracy in California.

The jungle primary, where the top two candidates in the primaries go against each other, has resulted in many races where two Democrats are running against each other, giving voters who don't agree with the Democrats' failed policies no one to vote for.

California is doing nothing to ensure that people who shouldn't vote don't vote. Instead, the people running the state are doing everything possible to let illegal aliens vote. When illegal aliens go pick up their driver's licenses, they're automatically enrolled to vote unless they say they're not citizens.

California is also trying to end democracy by keeping the Republican presidential candidate off the ballot. Democrats passed an unconstitutional law to keep any candidate who didn't release his tax returns off the ballot solely to keep Californians from voting for Trump.

Finally, the Democrats are going after freedom of the press. An undercover journalist revealed that Planned Parenthood was selling aborted baby parts. Instead of investigating that illegal practice, Democrat Kamala Harris decided to put the journalist on trial.

Democrats keep telling us California is the future if they get elected. That means that poverty, homelessness, the end of democracy, and a press that reports only what Democrats want heard are what Democrats are promising us.

If you're an immensely wealthy Google employee, California is Heaven. If you're not, it's becoming more and more like Hell.

You can read more of Tom's rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious, and feel free to follow him on Twitter.

Tom Trinko


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Turkey's Erdogan warns of flooding Europe with Syrian refugees if EU calls assault an 'invasion' - Greg Norman

by Greg Norman

[T]he European Union said Thursday that the Turkish offensive in Kurdish-held areas of Syria is setting back any hope for progress toward ending the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened Thursday that his country could “just open the gates and send 3.6 million Syrian refugees into Europe” if the European Union classifies his military’s ongoing assault on Syria as an “invasion”.

Erdogan, in a speech to ruling party officials in Ankara, also announced that Operation Peace Spring so far has killed more than 100 Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, whom Turkey views as terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within its borders.

“Hey European Union, if you call this operation… an invasion, then we could just open the gates and send 3.6 million Syrian refugees into Europe,” the Middle East Eye quoted Erdogan as saying.

But Thursday was not the first time Erdogan made this threat.

In early September, Erdogan told the same group of politicians that he would be forced to “open the gates” and allow a route for Syrian refugees to travel into Western Europe unless a deal was reached with the U.S. by the end of the month to help resettle some migrants in a so-called “safe zone” within Syria.

“We will be forced to open the gates,” Erdogan said at the time. “We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone.”


More than half of Syria’s population has fled the country as a result of the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad's government and multiple opposing factions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reported. About 6.6 million refugees left Syria since 2011 — about half of whom settled in Turkey, which borders Syria from the north.

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria on Wednesday.

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria on Wednesday. (AP)

Yet the European Union said Thursday that the Turkish offensive in Kurdish-held areas of Syria is setting back any hope for progress toward ending the conflict.

"We believe that new armed hostilities would further undermine the stability of the whole region, would exacerbate civilian suffering, would provoke further displacements, would add another obstacle to the very difficult U.N.-led political process and would, that is also very important, threaten the progress that was achieved by the global coalition to defeat" ISIS, spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the crisis next Monday in Luxembourg before EU leaders pick it up again during their two-day summit meeting starting next Thursday.

The bloc released a statement Wednesday calling upon Turkey “to cease the unilateral military action.”

The Turkish invasion was launched three days after President Donald Trump opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Greg Norman


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Boris Johnson's Bold Brexit Proposal - Malcolm Lowe

by Malcolm Lowe

If Johnson's approach does not get off the ground, the UK could still fall back to one last attempt to leave without no-deal

  • It must be acknowledged that Johnson's proposal for a replacement Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has evident merits. But if EU leaders do agree – even against expectations – that Johnson's proposal is the way forward, why rush to complete all the legal complexities of that agreement in a few days instead of gratefully accepting an extension of time in order to let a good job be done?
  • If Johnson's approach does not get off the ground, the UK could still fall back to one last attempt to leave without no-deal. It is to demand a change to Article 20 of the original Protocol, the so-called "Backstop," such that instead of enduring for ever unless both sides agree to terminate it, the Protocol will endure for only an initial year, but can be renewed annually if both sides agree to continue it. If the EU refuses even this minimal demand, then it will have made it clear to the UK government, Parliament and the public that no-deal is indeed the UK's only way of escape.

In the turbulent weeks since Boris Johnson became prime minister of the United Kingdom, he has registered his first comparative success with his proposal for a change in Theresa May's Brexit deal. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In the turbulent weeks since Boris Johnson became prime minister of the United Kingdom, he has registered his first comparative success with his proposal for a change in Theresa May's Brexit deal. On the one hand, he has forced the EU negotiators to abandon their adamant refusal hitherto to reopen the wording of that deal; on the other, his proposal – with its firm emphasis upon the UK's essential interests – has united almost all Conservative MPs behind it.

The contrast with his previous missteps is striking. There was his unprecedented, unlawful and unnecessary attempt to prorogue Parliament for a whole month instead of the customary few days. This, in turn, prompted opponents of a no-deal Brexit to rush through legislation on the one day left before the prorogation: the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019, which orders Johnson to request from the EU a deferral of the looming Brexit day from October 31 to January 31 if there is still no agreed Brexit deal on October 19. Johnson then expelled from the party 21 Conservative MPs who voted for that legislation – also unprecedented in recent times. Remember that dozens of Conservatives, including Johnson himself twice, had voted against May's deal earlier in the year, yet she did not even think of punishing them. With their expulsion, moreover, Johnson lost a majority in the Commons for anything.

What can be the explanation? Maybe it depends on whom Johnson listens to. Those missteps involved advisors in Johnson's office, the naïve Nikki da Costa and the cunning (but not so clever) Dominic Cummings. A different team, led by David George Hamilton Frost, prepared the Brexit proposal.

How We Got Here

Let us briefly recall where we are. After the election of June 2017, Theresa May's Conservative government lacked a majority in the Commons and made an agreement with the ten MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP) in order to survive. Her major task was to implement the referendum of June 2016, in which the public voted by 17.41 million against 16.14 million to leave the European Union. Negotiations resulted in a Brexit deal in November 2018, consisting of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA, 584 pages + index) and the Framework for the Future Relationship (FFR, 26 pages).

This deal failed to pass the Commons three times because the DUP voted against it along with a number of Conservative MPs (34 the third time round on March 29, 2019). Opposition centred on the so-called "Backstop" (Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, 174 pages), a part of the WA designed to prevent the emergence of a hard border between the two parts of Ireland during negations to turn the FFR into a full-scale treaty defining future relations between the UK and the EU. May secured an extension to the deadline for leaving the EU from March 31 to October 31, 2019, but later resigned. The Conservative Party national membership chose Boris Johnson to replace her. He became Prime Minister promising to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

As things stand, Johnson cannot leave without a deal. The Act mentioned above not only orders Johnson to request a further Brexit extension if no deal is agreed by October 19; it even specifies the wording of the letter that he is required to deliver to Brussels. The EU will likely grant the extension, because on September 18 the European Parliament already approved it in principle by a very large majority (544 to 126 with 38 abstentions).

Johnson's advisors, led by Dominic Cummings, are seeking for loopholes whereby he can evade the Act. These are the same advisors who concocted the unlawful prorogation. Should he follow their advice, the issue will again go to the Supreme Court, which is likely to take a much more severe view of the matter than even in its Judgment on the prorogation. Johnson could be found "in contempt of Parliament," for which an offender normally goes straight to prison. We hope that Johnson will not follow that path, but we saw how Johnson followed those advisors from one misstep to another.

Indeed, Johnson has claimed paradoxically that he will both obey the law and never request the EU for an extension. A way out of the paradox seems to be forming. EU officials have said that, from their viewpoint, they do not need to receive the request from Johnson in person; any authorized representative of the UK will suffice. It is surmised that if Johnson's refusal to implement the Act is taken to the Supreme Court, the Court can order a civil servant of sufficient seniority to take the request to the EU for an extension of the deadline.

That this may be the way forward is suggested by a government lawyer's statement to a court in Scotland on October 4: the prime minister accepts "he is subject to the public law principle that he cannot frustrate its purpose or the purpose of its provisions. Thus he cannot act so as to prevent the letter requesting the specified extension in the act from being sent." (The newspaper headlined this story "Johnson will write to EU requesting article 50 extension, court told." But the enigmatic "so as not to prevent the letter..." suggests the continuation "brought by whomever.")

Johnson's Five Elements

So does Johnson have a viable approach to obtaining a fresh deal with the EU before the middle or even the end of October? At first he said that he could accept all of May's deal, provided that the EU agreed to remove the "Backstop" from the WA. Obviously, the excision without replacement of 174 pages of the WA was an impossible demand.

Soon after he became PM, Johnson, during quick visits to European leaders, obtained a concession from some, notably German Chancellor Merkel, that if he could formulate a plausible alternative to the Backstop, the EU should consider it. The EU negotiating team reluctantly agreed. Reluctantly and amazingly, because up to then the EU negotiators had insisted relentlessly that not a word of the WA could be changed; only changes to the accompanying FFR could be envisaged. It is astonishing to think that if the EU had shown even a minimal readiness to consider just small changes to the WA ten months ago, when Theresa May was PM, the UK might have left the EU on the original deadline of March 31.

Now Johnson has sent a 40-page document to the EU which defines his proposal for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. An accompanying letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, outgoing President of the European Commission, summarized the proposal as "five elements":
First and foremost, our proposal is centred on our commitment to find solutions which are compatible with the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. This framework is the fundamental basis for governance in Northern Ireland and protecting it is the highest priority for all.
Second, it confirms our commitment to long-standing areas of UK/Ireland collaboration, including those provided for in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, but also others, in some cases predating the European Union: the Common Travel Area, the rights of all those living in Northern Ireland, and North/South cooperation. These were set out in the previous Protocol and should be maintained in the new one.
Third, it provides for the potential creation of an all-island regulatory zone on the island of Ireland, covering all good including agrifood. For as long as it exists, this zone would eliminate all regulatory checks for trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland by ensuring that goods regulations in Northern Ireland are the same as those in the rest of the EU.
Fourth, this regulatory zone must depend on the consent of those affected by it. This is essential to the acceptability of arrangements under which part of the UK accepts the rules of a different political entity. It is fundamental to democracy. We are proposing that the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly should have the opportunity to endorse those arrangements before they enter into force, that is, during the transition period, and every four years afterwards. If consent is not secured, the arrangements will lapse. The same should apply to the Single Electricity Market, which raises the same principles.
Fifth, and finally, under these arrangements Northern Ireland will be fully part of the UK customs territory, not the EU Customs Union, after the end of the transition period. It has always been a fundamental point for this Government that the UK will leave the EU customs union at the end of the transition period. We must do so whole and entire. Control of trade policy is fundamental to our future vision.

Good News and Not So Good

The good news is that there is a better prospect of obtaining a majority in the Commons for Johnson's version of the Protocol. The DUP is in favour of it and so are all, or almost all, of the Conservative MPs who voted against Theresa May. Johnson will need the support of the Conservative MPs whom he expelled, though he has not welcomed them back into the party. In the meantime, the 21 have dwindled to 17, since four of them in disgust (along with a fifth Conservative MP) have decided never to return. So whereas, had he not expelled them, he could have had a ready majority, now he will have to hope that a few Labour Party MPs will vote for his proposal, although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has denounced it.

The bad news is that while EU negotiators have not rejected Johnson's proposal out of hand, the most favourable response from any of them was Juncker's statement that the proposal included "positive advances" while still containing "problematic points." Most negative was Guy Verhofstadt, head of the European Parliament's Brexit steering group, who described the proposal as "not a serious attempt at reaching a deal but an effort to shift blame for failure to Brussels."

An intermediate position was taken by chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, who said publicly that the proposal should be taken seriously but is reported to have said privately that "The EU would then be trapped with no backstop to preserve the single market after Brexit." This report is strange. Johnson's third "element" would apply the EU single market ("regulatory zone") to the whole island of Ireland. His fourth "element" would make the single market subject to initial approval, and then renewal every four years, by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, but approval is guaranteed because the DUP has already agreed to Johnson's proposal.

Whether Johnson's proposal is taken up seriously, however, will depend not on the EU negotiators but on the EU leaders, who are due to hold a summit on October 17. The only one to react so far was Irish PM Leo Varadkar, who caused annoyance in the UK not merely by his cold reception of the proposal but by claiming that the UK public now wants to remain in the EU:
"All the polls since Prime Minister Johnson became prime minister suggest that's what the British people actually want, but their political system isn't able to give them that choice."
Like so many politicians who quote polls selectively and misleadingly in their own favour, Varadkar is half-right and half-wrong. What the polls show is a very complex state of public opinion that cannot be summed up in a slogan, as we noted previously. A majority of interviewees constantly agree that the UK must leave because of the referendum. They may even agree that a no-deal Brexit is better than a Corbyn government, but this is like asking San Franciscans whether a tornado is better than an earthquake. (When asked in a poll, only 22% said that a no-deal Brexit was their top preference.) Yet, when asked how they would have voted if the referendum had been held not in 2016 but today, a long series of polls conducted from 2016 until today shows that on most occasions "Remain" had a lead over "Leave," albeit by fluctuating percentages and with large numbers of "Don't know/undecided."

It must be acknowledged that Johnson's proposal for a replacement Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has evident merits. We just do not understand why he nevertheless insists that negotiations with the EU on its acceptance must finish by October 31. That might make some sense if EU leaders do not agree, by their summit on October 17, to take his proposal seriously and to seek an agreement based on it. But if EU leaders do agree – even against expectations – that Johnson's proposal is the way forward, why rush to complete all the legal complexities of that agreement in a few days instead of gratefully accepting an extension of time in order to let a good job be done?

On the other hand, the case against a no-deal Brexit is much stronger than is admitted by its cheerful champions, such as Nigel Farage. (His recent article in the Daily Telegraph is entitled: "Boris Johnson's Brexit plan is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. Far better to walk away now.") The Bank of England has warned against expected long-term damage to the UK economy, to which one must add entirely unforeseen disruptions of unpredictable magnitude. Add to this also sudden recent indications of a recession in the UK economy, where the FTSE 100 lost £87.6 billion (4.7% of its value) in four days to October 3, annulling a recovery that had begun in mid-August. The possible causes of a recession include not merely Brexit uncertainty but also new worldwide factors, such as US President Trump's decisions to raise tariffs sharply both on Chinese merchandise and on EU merchandise. What if the very grounds on which the champions of no-deal feel so cheerful vanish exactly around October 31?

An Alternative Approach

To understand what Johnson is proposing, we must go back to the original Protocol in the WA of November 2018 and remember what its role was meant to be. Article 1.4 of the Protocol emphasized that "the provisions of this Protocol are intended to apply only temporarily." Consequently, says Article 2.1: "The Union and the United Kingdom shall use their best endeavours to conclude, by 31 December 2020, an agreement which supersedes this Protocol in whole or in part."

The problem discerned immediately by many MPs was therefore Article 20 of the Protocol, which says that the Protocol "shall cease to apply, in whole or in part," only when "the Union and the United Kingdom decide jointly within the Joint Committee that the Protocol, in whole or in part, is no longer necessary to achieve its objectives." In other words, "temporarily" means for as long as the EU (or the UK) refuses to replace the Protocol with any alternative.

(The "Joint Committee" referred to here is defined in Article 164 of the WA as a body "comprising representatives of the Union and of the United Kingdom" and "co-chaired by the Union and the United Kingdom," with the purpose of being "responsible for the implementation and application" of the WA. It can take decisions only by consensus.)

Moreover, as long as "temporarily" continues, Article 6 of the Protocol specifies that "a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom shall be established." This prevents, or at best heavily restricts, the UK from entering into advantageous trade deals with countries outside to EU for as many years as the EU chooses to let "temporarily" continue.

Johnson's new Protocol is then, firstly, an immediate jump to a virtually permanent replacement for the "temporary" original Protocol (since automatic renewal by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly can be taken for granted, as we pointed out). Second, according to Johnson's fifth element, "Northern Ireland will be fully part of the UK customs territory, not the EU Customs Union, after the end of the transition period." Article 126 of the body of the WA specifies that the transition period shall "end on 31 December 2020," so the UK's complete freedom to enter into trade deals with countries outside the EU can begin right then.

Johnson and his team are to be congratulated on this cutting of the Gordian knot and their defence of the UK's just and vital interests. But what if the EU leaders either reject Johnson's approach outright or, more likely, prevaricate in an attempt to whittle away those interests of the UK? We think that there is still one alternative approach to be tried before the UK is reluctantly pushed into no-deal.

This approach is based, first, on the fact that EU leaders have obliged the EU negotiators to abandon their insistence on the impossibility of changing the WA. Second, there have also been rumours that some EU countries, including Germany and France, are considering the addition of a time limit to Article 20: the Protocol would expire automatically after several years. That is, a change that would ensure that "temporarily" cannot mean "forever."

Several years, however, is too long for the maintenance of a customs union with the EU that cripples the UK's ability to enter into trade deals with other countries. Rather, if Johnson's approach does not get off the ground, the UK could still fall back to one last attempt to leave without no-deal. It is to demand a change to that Article 20 of the original Protocol, the so-called "Backstop," such that instead of enduring for ever unless both sides agree to terminate it, the Protocol will endure for only an initial year, but can be renewed annually if both sides agree to continue it. This would end the justified fear that somehow the UK could remain trapped in the Protocol – and in the EU – indefinitely.

Indeed, we have already formulated a possible wording for such a change (see here and here), using the precise terminology employed elsewhere in the WA:
"The application of this Protocol shall end after twelve months unless the Joint Committee decides to extend its application in whole or in part. The extension shall last for a period of not more than twelve months and any further extensions shall likewise require a decision of the Joint Committee and last for a period of not more than twelve months."
That is, if the negotiations on the Framework for the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU are making progress, then both sides will readily prolong the application of the Protocol because it is in their joint interest. But if the negotiations collapse irreparably, the Protocol will automatically lapse within not more than one further year.

Note that Article 20 occupies a mere page and a half of the Withdrawal Agreement, but is the ultimate insuperable stumbling block to acceptance of the entire document. Changing it in the way described is both a minimal change of the document and the very minimum over which the UK cannot compromise. If the EU refuses even this minimal demand, then it will have made it clear to the UK government, Parliament and the public that no-deal is indeed the UK's only way of escape.

There is one more piece of advice that Johnson should take, if he hopes to continue on a successful track. It is to learn from his colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg that it is possible to formulate an elegant and compelling argument while never reviling an opponent but rather showing respect for whoever disagrees with oneself. (A composite video of Rees-Mogg in action is here.)

Johnson's first session of Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons was marked by the hurling of ludicrous epithets ("chlorinated chicken," "great big girl's blouse") at the Leader of the Opposition, making Corbyn – who was regularly refuted by Theresa May – look better for once. In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Johnson derided the very institution of Parliament before the public, potentially an invitation to mob rule. When opposition MP Paula Sherriff begged him to tone down his rhetoric because she and others were getting death threats, his response was the mere cliché "I have never heard such humbug in my life!" Following that, she received five more death threats, 1,000 abusive messages and two police visits (to discuss her security). All this echoes the style of Dominic Cummings and is the very contrary of the style of Rees-Mogg. The exit of the UK from the EU, possibly without a deal, requires a PM whose language seeks a maximum of national unity and the elimination of mutual hostility.

In the meantime, the readiness of EU leaders to consider a time limit to the Protocol has turned into an unofficial counterproposal to Johnson's proposal. Unfortunately, the counterproposal contains exactly the same fault as the original Protocol. The suggestion is to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to vote after three or four years on whether to end the application of the Protocol, but to make the vote conditional on the agreement of both Unionists and Republicans in the Assembly. Once again, this is a procedure in which two sides must agree to terminate the Protocol, whereas what is needed is to require agreement by both sides to continue the Protocol, without which the Protocol will automatically lapse.

Malcolm Lowe is a Welsh scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, the New Testament and Christian-Jewish Relations.


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