Weichert and Buskirk Discuss the State of the World

American Greatness contributing editor Brandon Weichert joined AG Publisher Chris Buskirk on the radio this week to cover the landscape of foreign affairs, including (especially) the uprising in Iran, which Weichert argues is partly result of a fertility crisis that has enveloped the Islamic Republic. Listen to the interview and read the transcript.

Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. What are we going to call this, the penultimate hour of the penultimate show of the inaugural week of 2018? I don’t know, that sounds like a mouthful. How about just “welcome back to the Seth and Chris show”? It’s the 4:00 hour, and we are joined by our friend and colleague Brandon Weichert. Brandon is a contributor to American Greatness, he is a Mount Vernon Fellow, he is an all-around good guy, we love him; don’t let him know that, it’ll go to his head. We’re going to get Brandon on the line. He’s not here yet, is he, because I don’t want him hearing all these nice things I’m saying.

Brandon Weichert: I’m here.

Chris Buskirk: Oh, gosh. That’s right, we’re mass communicating here, right? This isn’t just one-on-one, this is not one at a time. We’ve got everybody listening. Brandon, how are you? Happy New Year.

Brandon Weichert: Happy New Year. I’m fine, I’m fine. How are you?

Chris Buskirk: Very well indeed. Very well. Question for you. What a difference … what is it now, eight years, nine years? … makes on the way the United States handles protests … I guess it’s nine years now; 2009 to 2018.

Brandon Weichert: That’s right.

Chris Buskirk: What’s going on in Iran is fascinating to me. I don’t know if you saw this, Brandon. Of course, we would expect the way Donald Trump handles a grassroots uprising in Iran to be different than the way Barack Obama did it. It has been markedly different and a welcome, refreshing change. I don’t know if you saw this. VOA, Voice of America News had a fascinating statistic. They say this: one difference between 2009 and 2018 Iran protests: 48 million smart phones. What do you think of that? What is the implication of that?

Brandon Weichert: Well I think that that’s huge. One of the biggest things that these regimes fear is the instantaneous communication that modern society and technology allow their people to have. We do know … I remember, I worked on the hill … when there were people from USAID and people from these communications groups called diplomacy groups that would come to our office saying “look, the Obama administration is cutting funding for things like cell phone towers that broadcast into places like Iran or Cuba.” And these things, for a couple million dollars, have the potential to fundamentally alter the terrible regimes that exist in these countries. For whatever reason the Obama—

Chris Buskirk: Right, there’s a massive return on investment.

Brandon Weichert: Yes, much more so than any amount of U.S. boots on the ground, in this case, could do. It was just shocking. I remember … I worked there for three years. It was at Christmastime, because nobody would ever meet with these groups when we were in session, so it was always thrown into my lap, and I’d meet with them, and they were always depressed, and they were always coming in and they would always say “look, we have this cell tower that they’re going to cut access off to in Cuba and it’s a couple million dollars and we could really do some good there,” or “in Iran, this really could help people in the next protests and the Obama administration will not fund it. Will Congress fund it?” And, of course, we never could get ourselves together because we don’t understand public diplomacy, which is exactly what this falls under, these types of communications, using communications and our good will and messaging to influence foreign policies of other countries.

Chris Buskirk: I like the old-fashioned phrase “ideas have consequences.” So let’s get them our ideas.

Brandon Weichert: That’s right. As my friend, Sebastian Gorka, used to teach at the institute, enemy threat doctrine; you have to know your enemy threat doctrine and then you have to be able to battle their perceptions.

Chris Buskirk: The technological aspect … of course, this is a means for transmitting ideas, a means for people to communicate what it is they want to do and to organize. The World Bank says that in 2009, 15 percent of Iranians had smart phones. The first iPhone was released in January of 2007, so two years earlier. Now, here we are, nine years hence from 2009, they say about 50 percent, or 48 million Iranians have smart phones, which means that texting, Twitter, and there’s a million other communication sites.

Brandon Weichert: I don’t know if you know David Goldman.

Chris Buskirk: Very well.

Brandon Weichert: I’m friends with him and he’s been posting on his Facebook and I he just read an article a day or two ago in Asian Times about the protest, the video. He has a clip of one of these cell phone videos that one of the protesters took of them lighting this police station on fire at night. It’s just incredible what a little handheld smart phone can sow the seeds of revolution better than any U.S. military soldier could, with all due respect. It’s really interesting to watch how technology is breaking down the barriers, both good and bad; obviously, in this case, good. In other cases, it can be bad.

Chris Buskirk: In our own experiences, Brandon, think about the power of the Rodney King video. Without passing any judgment, we’re not wanting to reopen that old wound. Think about what that video did in this country, whenever that was, 20-some years ago. The power of a video can be really remarkable when setting something off that was ready to go anyway, and that’s the situation we have, I think, in Iran.

Brandon Weichert: Absolutely. When you look at the Arab Spring was initiated by that street vendor, and I believe it was in Morocco, or it was Tunisia. It was Tunisia. He set himself aflame after the government came in and took his wares that he was selling and so he had no way to make his rent and basically, he was protesting the economic conditions of that system there, which is what sparked the entire Arab Spring. Now, unfortunately you know how that went because of Islamist Winter. The one thing is, is the images and the power of the message of him lighting himself ablaze in defiance of a repressive, economically torpid regime … that’s what initiated the entire social and political unrest.

That’s something similar that you’re seeing in Iran today. The people in Iran protesting … I’ve written about this in American Greatness, I know Michael Ledeen’s written about this at PJ Media. David Goldman’s written about it. One key difference between today in Iran and 2009 in Iran is that the number of people involved is much larger and it’s also a wider group of people. In 2009, it was mostly urban, young, cosmopolitan, westernized, well-educated people. Today, it’s those people plus a lot of the more conservative, working-class, more religious elements in the countryside, as well as the cities. This is a mass movement and they’re protesting the economic conditions.

The one thing we know is that the economic conditions have been made worse in that country because of the fact that the sanctions were in place and what happened was, Obama came in with that nuclear deal, got the sanctions lifted. But when Trump was elected, the rest of the world was afraid to actually open up and do real business with Iran because they didn’t know if Trump was going to slap sanctions back on and renounce the deal. Now, he didn’t certify in October. I think that has also played heavily into making the economic situation so unbearable, that the people in Iran have had no choice but to rebel.

Chris Buskirk: I want you to explain that a little bit, maybe, for people who don’t follow this closely. When you say that, in October, President Trump didn’t certify and that that led to really tightening the economic noose, which led the Iranian people to rise up on their own, to try and take control of their own destiny. Explain what that means and how that works.

Brandon Weichert: Basically, for at least 20 or 30 years, we’ve had varied degrees of economic sanctions against Iran that were intended to make life very tough for the Iranian regime, to the point where the hope was that they would either collapse entirely, or that they would basically moderate. Of course, that didn’t happen. What we do know is that in the months and years leading into the 2015 deal with the Obama administration over their nuclear weapons in Iran, we do know that it was exceptionally bad for Iran, economically.

The belief among many on the right, at least, was that if we had continued upholding those sanctions and tightening them, it might have led to a collapse of that regime. And what the Obama administration did when they did the deal was they basically gave them a reprieve in Iran that allowed for Iran to become a more legitimate country in the eyes of the world. So, this actually loosened them out of their box to do all of these endeavors they’ve been doing in the Middle East; stabilizing Syria, stabilizing Lebanon, Yemen. So, when Trump came in, the deal that Obama had signed with Iran required re-certification every 90 days and, when Trump came in, he was very much opposed to the deal. Inevitably, when it was up for re-certification this last October, he finally said “enough is enough. I do not certify this deal.” That essentially started the process of putting Iran back in its proverbial box. That is largely what is playing into helping these protests, because the government is weakened already from the sanctions being put back on.

Chris Buskirk: Brandon, hold that thought. We’ve got to run to our break. Brandon Weichert is our guest. He’s a contributor to American Greatness, friend of this program, and very, very helpful in understanding what’s going on in Iran. I’m Chris, he’s Seth. We’ll be right back.

I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. We’re joined by Brandon Weichert. We are talking about what is going on in Iran; how to understand how we got here, what it means for the United States, and how Trump administration policy has really been instrumental in helping to bring this about. Do you think that’s a fair statement, Brandon?

Brandon Weichert: What was that last part? What did you say?

Chris Buskirk: Do you think the Trump administration policy towards Iran has been instrumental in bringing the country to the point where there is a grassroots protest movement?

Brandon Weichert: Well, I think it’s one of those “chicken or the egg” things. I think that the grassroots movement, the organic revolt, was always there. All that we did … the Trump administration … what they rightly did was recognize that that movement was there and then proceeded to act in a way, with our policy, that would undermine the regime, weaken it to a point where that organic grounds up movement had the momentum to burst forward. So I think that this movement probably would have happened irrespective of what the Trump administration did. But it was the perfect confluence of events, and you throw in the Trump administration’s decision to act the way they did toward Iran, and I think that it has just been a brilliant, brilliant move by the current administration to kind of throw oil onto that fire.

Chris Buskirk: Brandon, when you say that you think this would have happened anyway, I wanted to clarify that. Do you mean, “yeah, someday; all regimes come to an end”? Or do you mean that it’s imminent?

Brandon Weichert: I just did an article for American Greatness on this. David Goldman has spent many years talking about this specific issue. If you look at the fertility rates in Iran, they have been in the in the doldrums for a long time. They are not having enough young people. Of course, if you’re a young person in Iran, or a woman, you are more than likely to be killed or tortured by the regime than any other group of people. The country was looking at a very bleak demographic future, and so, at some point, in the next decade, and I wrote this … I’ve also written this on my site … at some point in the next decade, or in the next 15 years, I really think that time is working against the current leadership because a lot of them are 60, 70. I think that time is working against them, and that eventually, there’s going to be, whether it’s a revolution, like we’re seeing now or a revolt, or if it’s just a natural evolution of these young people growing up, wanting more liberal reforms, better economic circumstances, taking government power through quote unquote “legitimate means,” inevitably … in my lifetime at least; I’m 29 … that this regime, if left alone, I think would have collapsed in the next 10 to 15 years. I think the fact that we added on with doing these moves in the Middle East with Trump, that this has been instrumental in expediting—

Chris Buskirk: In accelerating their arrival to the destination that they were headed towards anyway. You have a really interesting graphic that comes from the World Bank that’s in your article in American Greatness, which is called “Time is Not on the Mullahs’ Side.” It goes back to 1960, your graphic, but basically throughout the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, the number of births per women, the fertility rate, in Iran was over six. It was between six and seven. Then it peaked in the late 1980s and then just kind of walked off a cliff. Basically, by about 2000 it was right at about two, replacement more or less. It continued going down so between 2000 and 2015, which is when the data is from, it kept declining to the point where, for the past several years, it’s been about 1.68 births per woman, which is below replacement.

Brandon Weichert: Yes, because the replacement levels, for those who don’t know, is 2.1 births per 1,000 women. So that’s the baseline number, 2.1. That’s the magic number you need to make sure you’re going to at least maintain some stability in your society. When you start dropping below that number, as Europe has done, as Turkey has done, Iran, we know, has done. When you start dropping below that number and you start doing that consistently … Russia is also doing this … you’re going to have some significant socioeconomic and political problems.

Actually, the concern I had long had with Iran, in particular, is that the more unstable and bleaker their future is, the current group of fanatics running the government … the mullahs, the president and the people who have been selected by the mullahs and ayatollah to lead the country … my concern is that they were going to start doing things in the here and now, start acting extremely aggressively and extremely boldly, because they know that whether it’s a lower number people being born, there’s not enough to sustain their society, or the young people get older and they just take the country in the direction they want to take it, which is more moderate. This current group of leaders knew their days of being able to implement their Islamic revolution across the Middle East and the world was coming to an end so it was an “either put up or shut up” moment.

Chris Buskirk: Explain the backdrop here, Brandon. There is an impending changing of the guard just due to age within the mullah-ocracy, yes?

Brandon Weichert:  Yes, and so, with the mullahs, obviously though, you’re always going to have, because the mullahs are the most conservative, strict … they’re part of this specific branch of Shia Islam that is colloquially known as the Twelver branch. Basically, the Twelver branch of Shia Islam … they’re the ones who believe, especially the mullahs have a very literal interpretation of this form of Islam. It’s apocalyptic, and they basically want to bring about … and I’m going to put it in layman’s terms here … they want to bring about, basically, the apocalypse or the end of the Jews and the Christians in order to create an Islamic paradise on earth. It’s not the precise language academics like to hear, but basically it’s a very apocalyptic worldview. I’m not shared by everyone in the country, but the people who matter … the majority of them … share this view, particularly the mullahs. That is the problem right now that they’re dealing with.

The people behind them, the young people, they tend to get more moderate. I don’t know how moderate the next generation of mullahs will be but I can tell you right now the majority, I think, of Iranian young people today are more moderate and are more cosmopolitan and they are more westernized. So that in and of itself is going to, I think, lend the country to being more moderate in its foreign policy, over time.

Chris Buskirk: Which is what we really care about. I mean, there’s a sense of “would you care?” What does that even mean? We care, in some sense, about what their domestic policies are, but really, as Americans, we care about what they do outside of their borders, right? This is the number one question for us.

Brandon Weichert: Unfortunately, we do have to worry when there’s the kind of ideology involved. We have to worry about … because the way a country like Iran, with a totalitarian, apocalyptic ideology, the Twelver ideology … the problem is, how they operate domestically does inform how they’re going to operate on the foreign international stage. So that is the one reason why, at the very least, we should always keep our eye on what’s going on domestically in these countries.

Chris Buskirk: Sure. Brandon, when we come back, I’m going to ask you this question, which is what is a good outcome for the United States with these current uprisings? What’s the yardstick that we use? What should we be hoping for? I’m Chris Buskirk. He’s Seth Leibsohn, Brandon Weichert is our guest. We’ll be right back.

I’m Chris Buskirk, he’s Seth Leibsohn, and our guest is Brandon Weichert. Brandon, before the break I asked you to just think on this question; I know it wasn’t the first time you’ve thought about it so you probably just had to marshal some well-developed thoughts on the subject, but when we look at Iran, we watch what’s going on there. This is, in some ways, a replay of 2009 but, as you said, broader, deeper. So it’s better, right? This is the new and improved version of the popular protest movement in Iran. You know, Iran is the central vector in most of the problems throughout the Middle East. Yeah? The way they fund terrorism, terror-related Islamic supremacist organizations throughout the Middle East, throughout the world, they’re a huge problem. So, what is it that, when we’re looking at what’s going on in Iran as Americans from an American interest, what’s our yardstick? What should we want to see happen?

Brandon Weichert: Clearly, we want three things. We want them to denuclearize; we don’t want them to have nukes. We want them to stop funding terrorism, both in the region and throughout Latin America, because people don’t realize how, basically the large chunks of Latin America have been somewhat colonized by the Irani revolutionary guard. Then we also want them to stop trying to wage war on their neighbors, whether it be then Sunni Arab States, or more importantly, Israel. If we can get those three objectives, everything else is irrelevant.

Chris Buskirk: So those are the things we want to see happen as a matter of Iranian policy. What are the means to achieve that?

Brandon Weichert: We can either do what the Obama administration did, which is a disaster, which is to make a deal with them and try to stabilize relations. Basically, what the Obama administration did is they got into a very, I think, skewed notion of balance of power deterrence. Obama wanted to, understandably, pull us out of the Middle East, except for the most minimal amount of interaction. He wanted to pull us out of the Middle East, defer to Iran, and then use Israel and the Sunni states to balance against each other. The problem is, though, we ended up, under Obama, empowering Iran, weakening the Sunni Arab States, evidenced with the Arab Spring. At the same time, we ended up pushing Israel away, so that was one way to do it.

Another way to do it is, we do the Bush doctrine, which is, we go in heavy-handed and we send in the military and it’s regime change, it’s Baghdad ’03 all over again, only this time it’s going to be a lot worse … which is obviously another bad idea. The only hope we have is that internal dynamics lead to a fundamental political, sociopolitical change in the government there, which is what’s going on right now. Now whether or not this current wave of protests is going to go the way of ’09, where it failed ultimately, or it’s going to go the way of ’79, which is what catapulted the current evil regime into power, I contend it’s irrelevant because the seeds have already been sown, they’re already growing in terms of discontent, and whether it happens with this regime, in the next year, or whatever near term is overthrown, or if it happens in another eight years, in my lifetime this is going to happen because the youth are going to take over as time progresses.

I think everyone is playing it safe when I watch on the news these pundits, and they’re saying this is probably not going to happen this time. I think, actually, this is a repeat of what happened to the end of the Soviet Union and what happened at the end of the Shah’s reign in Iran. The same conditions exist in Iran today that existed in ’79, that precipitated the current regime’s rise to power. The same type of conditions, in terms of economics, and social and political oppression exist today in Iran that existed in the Soviet Union in 1991 when it ultimately collapsed. Remember, everyone in 1991, Robert Gates and the Democrats alike, were saying the Soviet Union’s going to be here another 40 years. That ended up being completely wrong. I really think that what’s going on now, the internal revolution, or uprising, or whatever you want to call it, that is what we hope we have to avoid a major, severe, devastating regional war in Iran and I hope that we can continue to see positive movement in that direction.

Chris Buskirk: Brandon, we’re going to break here, but when we talk about regime changes, though that is in and of itself the solution, but I always ask the same question which is, what’s the replacement? What is the replacement? We see these seemingly, more or less spontaneous mass demonstrations throughout Iran. It kind of looks like … the analogy I like is … Romania under the Ceausescu regime, when that regime collapsed. Who leads? What comes next? Do we have any insight to that? Do you? Do the people who study Iran closely and understand the dissident and opposition movements in Iran? We’re going to go to break. Think on that, and we’ll talk about that on the other side. I’m Chris, that’s Seth, Brandon Weichert is our guest. We’re talking Iran. We’ll be right back.

I am Chris Buskirk. He is Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. Brandon Weichert’s our guest. Talking about the protest movement in Iran that is quite a bit larger than the one that Barack Obama helped snuff out in 2009.

Brandon, we talked about what we should hope for in terms of policy coming out of Iran, what would be good for this country. Denuclearization, of course, is a big one. Stopping the financing and export of terror is another one. There are other things that we would look for Iran to stop doing. How do we get there? That’s the question. This protest movement has given Americans and other people around the world some hope for that. Iran is a central vector in all kinds of problems throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. We talked about regime changes, though, that were some type of a certainty. People talked about that during the Arab Spring, as well. I remember talking with some people during the Arab Spring with regards to Egypt. How great! Regime change in Egypt. They’re terrible totalitarians in Egypt. What do we get instead? The Muslim Brotherhood. If this mullah-ocracy falls, what would you think would be the replacement?

Brandon Weichert: I disbelieve that whatever would replace it would be … I don’t think it would be any worse than what we have now. It might not be that much better, but ultimately the movement today started as an economic protest. They didn’t like the price of eggs. It was too high. Commodities were too high, everyday things that were needed to survive. It kind of just ballooned out from there. It’s touching everyone now. The fact that this is an organic movement with no real leaders, the difference between now and 2009 was that the Green Movement was an organized group, it had leaders, it had people who could be targeted by the state and they were. This one is not really well-led. There doesn’t seem to be any real group or movement that has a leadership here. It’s just happening organically and spasmodically.

In Egypt, we saw a lot of organic movement get hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. I’m not quite sure, in the internal Iranian political dynamics, if there is a similar … obviously, you have the Revolutionary Guard but they’re officially part of the state, so I don’t really know.

We know that the Kurds have 10 percent of the total population and we know that they certainly want their own country.  We know that the Baluchis are about 2 percent of the population in southeastern Iran and Arabs in the southwest are 2 percent, and then I think the Azeri Turks are probably 15 or 16 percent. So you could have some divisions along ethnic lines. I would think that what would form, there would be some sort of parliamentary system. Whether or not it looked like a real parliamentary system or just a slightly less pernicious version of the Islamic Republic that we have now, I don’t know. You live by the crystal ball, you’re going to eat glass. So I don’t want to make a prediction on that.

All I know is that the current regime, we cannot do business with. We know what they want, and we know that what they want is inimical to our interests and our national security, so I think the hope is that we have to accept that, if we really want real change coming from Iran, it’s going to have to be regime change. We cannot be the ones to do it directly the way we did in Iraq, and it’s going to be up to the people, and if it’s up to the people, then that means we’re going to have to let them figure it out. This is not the most optimal scenario, but I do think that, given the prevalence, especially again of the youth, there’s a large contingent of people who want economic freedom, and that their economic freedom, if granted, will lead to a greater level, I think, of moderation and stability. So I don’t know.

Chris Buskirk: Brandon, is there an organized opposition movement in Iran?

Brandon Weichert: There used to be the Green Movement, and again, the Kurds had their own, and the Baluchis. Unfortunately, the State has been very good, the revolutionary guard has been very good about crushing organized opposition. So that’s another problem that this group is facing, the people that are rebelling right now; they’re not organized.

Chris Buskirk:  So, to the extent that there was some type of regime change, whether it be today or years from now, there has to be a leadership that emerges but you’re saying it doesn’t seem to exist right now.

Brandon Weichert:  The Mujahedin-e Khalq is a previously Marxist revolutionary group that rose up along with the grand Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1979 revolution but then he turned on them, so they fled into Saddam’s Iraq and basically became a paramilitary force for Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. The moment they started killing Iranians, this MK group, they lost a lot of support in Iran, but this is the same group that gave the U.S. Congress the initial intelligence on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. They have been a consistent ally of ours the last 20 years.

There’s some hope, I think, among certain people in D.C. but I think this is unrealistic. There’s some hope that we could use them … I think we could use them in the sense of arming them and then having them go into Iran to add on to the chaos to ultimately break the back of the regime. But the hope of D.C., it sounds like, among those who do favor a great American invention of regime change, is that “hey, if we organize and arm up the MEK, they’ll go in and it’ll be a government in a box. We’ll just send the box in there and they’ll open it and they’ll take over.” We shouldn’t want them to take over.

Chris Buskirk: Please tell me there aren’t people who are peddling that obviously flawed idea.

Brandon Weichert: Oh yeah, it’s the same as the usual suspects. It’s all the groups that were in favor of Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq. The MEK has tentacles everywhere. By the way, I am for arming them if they’re going to use them as simply a destabilizing element, but the idea of handing power to them is … first of all, they have no support in Iran. It’s very little. Second of all their Marxist background leaves much to be desired, and they have killed Americans. They killed about 12 Americans in ’79. So this group has a very mixed history but they did help us out in acquiring the intel on Iran’s nuclear program to begin with. They have a huge lobbying effort out here.

Chris Buskirk: Where does the money come from?

Brandon Weichert: I don’t know, but I could tell you that there were elements, not just on the Left, but in the Trump campaign as well that were taking a lot of money throughout their careers from the MEK front groups here. MEK has a huge following in D.C. among both parties. The usual suspects. I’m all in favor of using them as a destabilizing agent but I’m not in favor of this idea of they’re going to go in, destabilize and then they’ll take power, because I can tell you what. They’re probably going to end up as bloody-minded as the Ayatollah was in power.

Chris Buskirk:  Exactly right, they’ve been out of power. They probably have a long list of scores that they would like to settle. Brandon, we’re going to run to a break. We’ve got a short segment on the other side where you can kind of wrap up, give us your concluding thoughts on Iran, on anything else that you think has caught your eye this week in the news. I’m Chris Buskirk. He’s Seth Leibsohn. We’ll be right back.

Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. I’m Chris Buskirk, he’s Seth Leibsohn. Our guest is Brandon Weichert. Brandon, concluding thoughts; where do we go from here on Iran, then anything else that has caught your eye.

Brandon Weichert: Cowed by the wonderful bumper music you have, but where we go from here …

Chris Buskirk: That’s our intent, by the way, Brandon; we try and cow our guests with our music.

Brandon Weichert: Where we go from here with Iran, is we kind of have to let the pieces fall where they may. Obviously, Trump can continue the diplomacy in terms of building up our ties with the Sunni Arab States as well as with Israel to kind of contain Iran, but we kind of have to let the pieces fall where they may in Iran and just be prepared to deal with all the knockout effects.

Another thing that I’ve been following very closely is both on your website, the American Greatness website, as well as my website, the Reichert Report. I just published a piece today called “It’s a Trap! North Korea Wants Talks with South Korea to Buy Their Nuclear Program Time.” I am convinced that Kim Jong-un, because of the Juche ideology that he has, he wants to invade the south, and all of this talk about being nice to South Korea, it’s all about separating South Korea from the United States. The moment that South Korea breaks with the United States, he’s going to go in, especially if he feels he has a reliable nuclear weapons arsenal, which he’s very close to having. All he needs is the ICBM and he’s almost there. I’d give it about 16 to 18 months. So that is a thing to be watching out for, as well, is North Korea.

Chris Buskirk: This is interesting, Brandon, to me, is that all of a sudden Kim Jong-un is trying to cozy up to South Korea. My take on this is that South Korea is dumb enough to fall for it.

Brandon Weichert: That they are dumb enough?

Chris Buskirk: Oh yeah. I don’t think it’s a close call.

Brandon Weichert: It’s not that they’re dumb. It’s that they’re desperate, because the future they know. Everybody knows where this is going. This is leading to the North Korean fire blitz into the south, and everybody knows it and the south doesn’t know what to do because even if they have a superior military technologically and better training, but even if they’re able to repel a northern invasion, they’re going to lose Seoul. Seoul, the capital of their country, is the economic engine of that country. Once you lose that, it’s going to be years before the South Korean economy and political system recovers, not to mention all the people that are going die over there. So I think that they’re just desperate and trying to convince themselves that there really is an alternative to war and unfortunately, in this case, there isn’t.

Chris Buskirk: Well, on that happy note, we now know there’s no alternative to war on the Korean peninsula. I laugh, but it is a serious issue. I know, Brandon. It’s troubling because South Korea, they have the problem that too many societies have.

Brandon Weichert: If they act now, with us, they can stop this from happening.

Chris Buskirk: Right. But they don’t want to pay the price now so they’re just going to cross their fingers and hope. This is the Chamberlain approach. Brandon, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it. We’ll be back after this with Michael Walsh.

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