Twenty-five years of ‘talking’ with North Korea, going back to the Clinton Administration, has done little. More than two decades ago, President Clinton thought that he had come to terms that would limit North Korea’s nuclear development. In 1994, he reached an agreement for North Korea to limit its nuclear program in return for normalized economic and diplomatic relations with the United States. Continue reading “No Easy Answers for North Korea”
Most Americans probably know little about Turkey, yet it is one of the most important members of NATO. It was a key ally throughout the Cold War, bordering the Soviet Union. Turkey was important enough that as a condition for removing missiles from Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union got the US to restrict what planes and weapons it based in Turkey.
And Turkey may be even more important now. Turkey is the only Muslim-majority member of NATO and it borders Syria, Iraq and Iran. Continue reading “Talking Turkey”
This week’s updates on the war on terror and NATO:
Progress in the War on Terror
The Defense Dept. announced late last week that the head of ISIS in Afghanistan. Abu Sayed, head of the organization in Afghanistan, was killed by a drone strike this week in another series of high profile defeats for ISIS since the beginning of the year. In 2017, this is the third high ranking leader that has been killed in Afghanistan.
As well, the Iraqi government announced that it had retaken the city of Mosul from ISIS giving a major setback to the radical Muslim group. Mosul is the biggest city held by ISIS, and taking Mosul was announced at the same time that Iraqi forces are battling for Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the ISIS ‘caliphate’.
Pentagon Changes Obama’s Mandate on What to Call Terrorist Organization
On a related note, earlier this year the Pentagon also did away with the order from the Obama Administration that the radical Muslim group be referred to as ‘ISIL’ and now refers to the group primarily as ‘ISIS’ as is done most widely around the world. Pretty much alone in using that term, the Obama Administration required every part of the Executive Branch to refer to the group as ‘ISIL’.
Why is that significant? Well, it’s much more than many realize. ISIL was short for the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” instead of ISIS which was the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. So why did Obama demand that everyone use the term ‘ISIL’? Because the Levant (the ‘L’ in ISIL) was what that area of the world was called before Israel became a nation. President Obama was showing his anti-Jewish bias by forcing a reference back to a time before Israel was a nation. So much so that the liberal President ordered literally the words that his staff could use.
One can only guess why no one called it what it was before now—evidence of President Obama’s anti-Jewish prejudices.
Defense Spending by NATO Allies
For all of President Trump’s (many) faults, and his often less than civil and diplomatic ways, his ranting against NATO allies and their low defense spending seems to have had at least some effect. NATO countries have increased defense spending by a combined $22 billion this year.
In a polarized political environment, the Senate yesterday passed a bill that imposes sanctions on Iran and Russia with overwhelming bipartisan support. The legislation passed 98-2, coming months after intelligence agencies said Russia interfered in US elections. It also strikes at Iran, who continues to expand its ballistic missile program and also continues to support terrorism.
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul were the only senators to vote against the measure.
The bill is aimed primarily at financial resources for both countries, attempting to limit access to capital resources for both countries, and also for specific groups and individuals in those countries.
However, the bill’s real effect could be somewhat different in two ways. First, current sanctions on both Russia and Iran were done by Executive Order, meaning that the President imposed them through and, by extension, a President could remove them. By passing this bill, the Senate hopes to make the sanctions law, and so could not be changed by a President without changing the law. Secondly, by tying the sanctions of Iran and Russia together in one bill, the Senate’s Republican leadership likely is attempting to tie President Trump’s hands on this point. The President and Secretary of State Tillerson have only given luke-warm support on increasing sanctions against Russia. But they have strongly supported sanctions against Iran. With passage of this bill, the Senate is saying that you can’t get increased sanctions on Iran without increased sanctions on Russia.
The bill now goes to the House, where it appears to have strong bipartisan support, as well.
With Donald Trump as President, one thing Thinking Man assumes that everyone agrees on is that the important and significant news changes almost hourly. Trump seems to thrive in this ‘managed chaos’, but it does mean that the most relevant topic has often changed by the time the next news cycle comes along. And even more, it seems as if we sometimes have two Presidents who bear only a passing resemblance to each other in demeanor and speech. Such has certainly been the case over the last seven days. Continue reading “Which is the real one?”
So was the recent retaliatory US missile strike on a Syrian airbase launched before there was evidence that it actually was the Syrian government that was the one that actually used chemical weapons?
Syria and their allies Iran and Russia say so. On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavros joined Iran and Syria in calling for an independent investigation and those opposed to the call “don’t have a clear conscience,” Lavrov said.
Of course last week, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an independent inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.
So can we finally just put it down as a ‘given’ that Susan Rice, UN Ambassador and National Security chief under President Obama is a political hack that would have said anything to promote a political agenda, with truth and integrity being only a minor inconvenience. Continue reading “Susan Rice’s Legacy”