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National Security Desk / Jan. 30, 2019

Leftmedia Spin on the U.S. Intelligence Threat Assessment

Actually, Trump has a maddening ability to be both wrong and right at the same time.

President Donald Trump loves this country and strongly advocates and advances an “America First” foreign policy. Whether it’s withdrawing from the terrible nuclear deal with Iran or the hamstringing climate accord from Paris, he’s moved to undo the “America Last” agenda of his globalist predecessor. And the Leftmedia hates him for it.

So we’re treated to New York Times headlines such as, “On North Korea and Iran, Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump” that are meant to portray Trump as an uninformed rube blundering his way through foreign policy. The topic at hand is the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the U.S. intelligence community. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the assessment.

The trio warned about threats from Russia and China, which the assessment says are “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.” They also addressed North Korea, Iran, and ISIS. On each nation, Coats, Haspel, and Wray did indeed contradict some of Trump’s more brash assertions. For example, in announcing U.S. withdrawal from Syria, Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS; we’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly.” By contrast, Coats said the Islamic State will continue “to stoke violence” in Syria.

In our humble shop, however, we consider this to be another instance when Trump should be taken seriously but not literally. While Barack Obama effectively created ISIS, Trump has done a lot to beat it back. Unfortunately, by making hyperbolic, black-and-white declarations, he opens himself up to eye-rolling “fact checks” by the media and others. Trump has a maddening ability to be both wrong and right at the same time.

On North Korea, he did the same thing, saying after his summit with Kim Jong-un, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” Yes, there is, says the intelligence assessment. “We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities, because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Coats said. “Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization.”

Naturally, a good deal of time was spent on Russia’s election interference through Facebook. But Terence Jeffrey astutely argues what grassroots Americans are thinking: “The top national security issue facing the federal government today has nothing to do with deceptive political speech on social media. It has everything to do with our southern border.”

In the final analysis, the intelligence threat assessment is done in conjunction with the White House — these are executive agencies, after all — and the apparent disagreement arguably strengthens the American position in negotiations with our geopolitical foes. How? By keeping them off balance, on the ropes. Meanwhile, here at home, the Leftmedia is happy to keep churning anything that can be spun to make Trump look bad, reporting on complicated issues as checker games rather than chess matches.


Update: And of course Trump couldn’t resist punching back against the impression of him given over the last 24 hours:

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

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