Stories We’re Watching
In his own words. . .
National Security and Foreign Policy Highlights from SOTU
On North Korea, Trump claimed: we would be “in a major war with North Korea” if he “had not been elected president” and that “Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
On national security, POTUS suggested congressional oversight is a threat to national security and warned “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.” The president also claimed that “America saved freedom, transformed science”.
POTUS reaffirmed support for Guiado & claimed that Venezuela’s “socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”
The president cited “principled realism” as the reason his “administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.” President Trump also warned that Iran does “bad, bad things”.
On China, the president said that he doesn’t “blame China for taking advantage of us. I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen.” He also said that any trade deal “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices.”
Trump Announces 2nd N Korea Summit, UN Report Shows N Korea Evading Sanctions
In the State of the Union address last night, President Trump announced a second North Korea Summit at the end of the month in Vietnam. Earlier today, the US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, arrived in Pyongyang to discuss denuclearization in anticipation of February’s summit. Meanwhile, UN sanctions monitors have reported evidence that North Korea is evading sanctions and is using civilian facilities for hiding and assembly of ballistic missiles.
- Voice of America: New UN Report Shows North Korea Avoiding Sanctions
- Reuters: Trump says to meet North Korea’s Kim in Vietnam in late February
- South China Morning Post: North Korea hides weapons at airports and sanctions have been
- Council on Foreign Relations: Second Trump-Kim Summit Preparations: Where Do We Stand?
Saudi & UAE Pursue Formal OPEC Partnership with Russia
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have proposed a formal OPEC partnership with Russia and 10 other oil-producing nations. The OPEC+ arrangement would see Iran, Saudi, and Russia as members of the global cartel. OPEC and Russia had previously agreed in December to cut production amid collapsing global oil prices. Industry analysts say that speculation over peak demand and oversupply of US crude have put downward pressure on global oil prices and have weakened the cartel’s power to shape global oil prices.
- MarketWatch: OPEC wants to formalize its pact with Russia
- WSJ: OPEC Pursues Formal Pact With Russia
- Bloomberg: OPEC’s Oil Exports to US Fall to Five-Year Low in January
- Council on Foreign Relations: OPEC in a Changing World ICYMI
Taliban Meet with Afghan Opposition in Moscow Peace Talks, Still Shocked that Human Rights include Women’s Rights
Senior Taliban members, Afghan opposition politicians, former President Hamid Karzai, and—-Afghan women—-sat down to in Moscow to negotiate a solution to the decades-long conflict. Last week’s talks between US officials and Taliban officials in Doha resulted in a framework for a peace deal. Key issues include coalition government, women’s rights, and systemic political corruption. In a statement in English, Taliban officials have promised to grant Afghan women rights but only within the framework of Islam and Afghan Tradition, the same traditions that the regime used to disenfranchise over half the Afghan population. President Ashraf Ghani wasn’t present at the talks and has been largely absent from recent peace talks.
- CNN: As Trump seeks an exit from Afghanistan, Moscow steps in
- WSJ: Taliban Meet With Afghan Opposition in Moscow Peace Talks
- BBC: Taliban ‘not seeking to seize all of Afghanistan’
- RFE/RL: Afghan Taliban Open To Women’s Rights… But Only On Their Terms
- Deutsche Welle: Taliban outline vision for post-war Afghanistan in Moscow peace talks
North Macedonia Signs NATO Accession Agreement, Becoming 30th member
Earlier today, representatives from NATO’s 29 member states signed the Accession Protocol for the future Republic of North Macedonia, making North Macedonia the alliance’s 30th member. Previous efforts had stalled around the country’s claim to the name “Macedonia” since Macedonia is also a prefecture of northern Greece with its own distinct history. Macedonia follows Montenegro as the security alliance’s newest members. In other Balkan news, President Tsipras of Greece is in Istanbul today visiting President Erdogan.
- BBC: Macedonia signs Nato accession agreement
- WSJ: Greece, Turkey Try to Calm Tensions
- Voice of America: Greece to Ratify Macedonia’s NATO Membership
- NATO: NATO Allies sign Accession Protocol for the future Republic of North Macedonia official
Facing a Cash Crunch, Maduro Blows Through Gold Reserves & Increases Use of Special Police Forces to Crush Dissent
Earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Venezuelan ‘President’ Maduro via twitter not to interfere with upcoming humanitarian assistance. Maduro has increased the use of special police forces to crush dissent and to block a bridge to prevent emergency aid from reaching citizens. Regional experts warn that the economic crisis in Venezuela has deteriorated further since Juan Guiado challenged Maduro’s presidency. Economists and analysts point to failed economic policies and fiscal mismanagement. According to opposition lawmakers, Maduro is facing a liquidity crisis and has reportedly sold 40% of the nation’s gold reserves in the past year alone.
- Associated Press: Pompeo demands Maduro not block Venezuela aid
- Reuters: Inside a raid in Maduro’s crackdown on critics in Venezuela slums
- Bloomberg: Maduro Sold 40% of Venezuela’s Gold Last Year
- The Guardian: ‘They are murderers’: special forces unit strikes fear in Venezuelans
From Deep State Radio
DEEP STATE SPECIAL: STATE OF THE UNION LIVE BROADCAST
If you missed Deep State Radio’s live broadcast, don’t fret. Listen to the full show now!
THE BEST AMERICAN CONSPIRACY: A CONVERSATION WITH BRAD MELTZER
What if I told you I know this guy who counts U.S. Presidents as fans, has been on the New York Times Bestseller list (many times) & created a tv show that featured a little known actor named Bradley Cooper. You’d say this sounds like a character from a novel and I’d say…you’re close. It’s author Brad Meltzer whose own life is as interesting as the characters he writes. In this fascinating chat, we talk about his meeting with Tony Mendez (the real CIA officer behind Argo) when he read to George Bush Sr before he passed away and why women make the best subjects for his books on role models. Tune in!
PODCAST: THE STATE OF OUR UNION IS…YEP, THAT’S THE WORD WE WERE GOING TO USE, TOO
This week our leader will, as the Constitution mandates, let us know the state of our union. We won’t believe a word he says. And we already know the answer. Just look at the week’s other events from political chaos in Virginia to brewing wars overseas to upcoming testimony from the president’s lawyer that probably won’t be good for the occupant of the Oval Office. (Who’s not really orange, he just has “good genes.” Join us for a discussion with attorney Katie Phang, law professor Rosa Brooks and law-abiding columnist, Ed Luce as we prepare you for the week ahead. Don’t miss it!