Stories We’re Watching
President Trump’s Own Party Rebukes his Foreign Policy
Yesterday, the Senate voted to advance legislation to formally express opposition to President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan. The largely symbolic move is the harshest rebuke from the Republican-led Senate yet. In a rare bipartisan agreement, Senator Mitch McConnell led the Senate’s latest pushback to POTUS’s foreign policy. At home, President Trump’s policies have increasingly come under attack by US military leaders, intelligence officials, and elected lawmakers. Abroad, key US allies such as Germany and Canada have expressed frustration and disappointment over the Trump Administration’s policies. President Trump has often responded to such criticism by tweeting personal insults.
- NPR: Senate Republicans Rebuke President On Syria And Afghanistan Policy
- DefenseNews: Lawmakers urge Trump to protect Kurds after US withdrawal
- Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. Foreign Policy Powers: Congress and the President
- Voice of America: Senate Leader Wants US Troops to Stay in Syria, Afghanistan
UN Executions Investigators in Turkey, Turks Claim MBS Tops UN Suspect List
The UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard and her team are currently in Turkey investigating the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish media report that the UN legal experts are expected to listen to the audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder. According to Turkish authorities, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tops the UN investigators’ list of suspects. MBS has repeatedly denied involvement with the murder. Since Khashoggi’s murder in October, the Kingdom has come under fire for human rights abuses at home and in Yemen. Though, none of this stopped Mariah Carey from performing in the Magic Kingdom last night. Seriously.
- Bloomberg: Saudi Prince Tops Khashoggi Suspect List, Turkey Aide Says
- Insider: Saudi Arabia runs a huge, sinister online database of women
- CNN: Mariah Carey defies calls to cancel Saudi Arabia concert
- The Intercept: Mohammed bin Salman Is Running Saudi Arabia Like a Man…
The Good, Tremendous, Candid, Specific, & Fruitful US-China Trade Deal is Quickly Becoming Word Salad
President Trump has boasted of a ‘good chance’ and ‘tremendous’ progress over the current round of US-China trade negotiations, and China’s official news agency has characterized the talks as ‘candid, specific, and fruitful’. Trade analysts predict that the two sides are likely to make a deal despite the recent tension over China telecom giant Huawei. President Xi faces slowing domestic demand, and President Trump faces multiple scandals at home such as the Special Counsel investigation, a Senate rebuke, a public feud with US intelligence community, and another looming government shutdown over a border wall. Early reports indicate that Presidents Xi and Trump will meet again to finalize the agreement before the March deadline.
- Financial Times: Trump floats fresh Xi summit to settle trade war
- South China Morning Post: US and China may seek to extend trade war truce
- Bloomberg: US-China Trade War Timeline: What’s Happened and What’s Next
- MarketWatch: Opinion: There is no US-China trade war
US Envoy Reveals North Korea Nuclear ‘Pledge’, 2nd Kim-Trump Summit Planned for Vietnam
In other tremendous news, Trump-appointed US Envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun has revealed what he calls a North Korean nuclear pledge; however, North Korea has not confirmed ever making such a pledge. Earlier this week, the US intelligence community released a 42-page threat report that directly contradicted President Trump’s claims on North Korean nuclear disarmament. Despite lack of progress since last year’s summit, a second Kim-Trump summit is planned for Vietnam later this month according to inside sources.
- WSJ: Trump: ‘We’ve Made Tremendous Progress With North Korea’
- BBC: US envoy Stephen Biegun ‘reveals’ North Korea nuclear pledge
- CNN: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for Vietnam, source says
- Reuters: US envoy calls for full list of North Korean weapons programs
- The Guardian: US North Korea envoy says Trump is ready to ‘end this war’
Pompeo Announces US Suspension of INF Treaty, NATO Allies Give US ‘Full Support’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the official US suspension of the INF treaty earlier this morning. The suspension is effective beginning tomorrow, and it gives Russia a six-month window to come into compliance with the treaty. After that, the US could completely withdraw. Weapons experts say that 6 months is too little time to develop new weapons, so they expect the US to modify existing weapons instead. Non-proliferation experts urge the US, Russia, and others to re-negotiate the treaty. Already, Germany has vowed to use the six month period to hold further discussions, and NATO has pledged its ‘full support’ of the US decision. Meanwhile, in a report released earlier this week, Greenpeace outlines a growing, but overlooked nuclear threat: nuclear waste.
- Deutsche Welle: With INF treaty at risk, Germans fear new arms race
- Reuters: NATO allies ‘fully support’ US action on INF treaty
- Council on Foreign Relations: The Ailing INF Treaty: What to Know ICYMI
- White House: Statement from the President Regarding the Intermediate-Range official press release
From Deep State Radio
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The Least Sexy Threat in the US Worldwide Threat Assessment
Earlier this week, the US intelligence community concluded in its Worldwide Threat Assessment report that: “China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines […] to disrupt critical infrastructure.” The report cites China and Russia as the greatest source of cyber threats and warns that “China has the ability to launch cyber attacks that cause localized, temporary disruptive effects on critical infrastructure—such as disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks”. According to the report, Russian cyberattacks could easily disrupt critical, national infrastructure like electrical distribution networks. In fact, the intelligence community believes the Kremlin has already begun mapping critical US infrastructure as well as “staging cyber attack assets to allow it to disrupt or damage US civilian and military infrastructure during a crisis.” The report also outlines threats posed by emerging 5G networks if “US data flows across foreign-produced equipment and foreign-controlled networks”. One threat the assessment is missing? POTUS. READ MORE
FP INTERRUPTED: Venezuela & Afghanistan: The Intervention Issue
5,000 troops to Colombia.”
Those two lines, caught this past week on John Bolton’s yellow legal pad, not only encapsulated the week’s headlines, it summarized the administration’s schizophrenic foreign policy. (Also, has no one else noticed that he has flying elephants on his tie?!) Let’s start with the first point.In Afghanistan, the U.S. has been in talks to end the 17-year war in that country, with the very people who prompted American intervention: the Taliban. (You remember those guys, yes? Charming.) On Monday, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan, announced “a draft framework” deal, brokered between American and Taliban officials — not with the Afghan government. The deal would guarantee that Afghan territory is never used by terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden. In exchange, the U.S. would fully withdraw its troops from the country. Yes, that’s the catch: American retreat. CONTINUE