Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

South Korea says it wants U.S. troops to stay regardless of any treaty with North Korea

MAY 2, 2018 / 4:22 AM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO
Christine Kim
3 MIN READ

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Wednesday the issue of U.S. troops stationed in the South is unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement is signed.

“U.S. troops stationed in South Korea are an issue regarding the alliance between South Korea and the United States. It has nothing to do with signing peace treaties,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House, citing President Moon Jae-in.

The Blue House was responding to media questions about a column written by South Korean presidential adviser and academic Moon Chung-in that was published earlier this week.

Moon Chung-in said it would be difficult to justify the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea if a peace treaty was signed after the two Koreas agreed at an historic summit last week to put an end to the Korean conflict.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Thucydides Trap

When one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result -- but it doesn’t have to be.
BY GRAHAM ALLISON | JUNE 9, 2017, 10:21 AM

n April, chocolate cake had just been served at the Mar-a-Lago summit when President Donald Trump leaned over to tell Chinese President Xi Jinping that American missiles had been launched at Syrian air bases, according to Trump’s account of the evening. What the attack on Syria signaled about Trump’s readiness to attack North Korea was left to Xi’s imagination.

Welcome to dinner with the leaders who are now attempting to manage the world’s most dangerous geopolitical relationship.

The story is a small one. But as China challenges America’s predominance, misunderstandings about each other’s actions and intentions could lead them into a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As he explained, “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling one. Twelve of these ended in war.

Of the cases in which war was averted — Spain outstripping Portugal in the late 15th century, the United States overtaking the United Kingdom at the turn of the 20th century, and Germany’s rise in Europe since 1990 — the ascent of the Soviet Union is uniquely instructive today. Despite moments when a violent clash seemed certain, a surge of strategic imagination helped both sides develop ways to compete without a catastrophic conflict. In the end, the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War ended with a whimper rather than a bang.

Although China’s rise presents particular challenges, Washington policymakers should heed five Cold War lessons.

Lesson 1: War between nuclear superpowers is MADness.

The United States and the Soviet Union built nuclear arsenals so substantial that neither could be sure of disarming the other in a first strike. Nuclear strategists described this condition as “mutual assured destruction,” or MAD. Technology, in effect, made the United States and Soviet Union conjoined twins — neither able to kill the other.

Today, China has developed its own robust nuclear arsenal. From confrontations in the South and East China Sea, to the gathering storm over the Korean Peninsula, leaders must recognize that war would be suicidal.

Lesson 2: Leaders must be prepared to risk a war they cannot win.

Although neither nation can win a nuclear war, both, paradoxically, must demonstrate a willingness to risk losing one to compete.

Consider each clause of this nuclear paradox. On the one hand, if war occurs, both nations lose and millions die — an option no rational leader could choose. But, on the other hand, if a nation is unwilling to risk war, its opponent can win any objective by forcing the more responsible power to yield. To preserve vital interests, therefore, leaders must be willing to select paths that risk destruction. Washington must think the unthinkable to credibly deter potential adversaries such as China.

Lesson 3: Define the new “precarious rules of the status quo.”

The Cold War rivals wove an intricate web of mutual constraints around their competition that President John F. Kennedy called “precarious rules of the status quo.” These included arms-control treaties and precise rules of the road for air and sea. Such tacit guidelines for the United States and China today might involve limits on cyberattacks or surveillance operations.

By reaching agreements on contentious issues, the United States and China can create space to cooperate on challenges — such as global terrorism and climate change — in which the national interests the two powers share are much greater than those that divide them. Overall, leaders should understand that survival depends on caution, communication, constraints, compromise, and cooperation.

Lesson 4: Domestic performance is decisive.

What nations do inside their borders matters at least as much as what they do abroad. Had the Soviet economy overtaken that of the United States by the 1980s, as some economists predicted, Moscow could have consolidated a position of hegemony. Instead, free markets and free societies won out. The vital question for the U.S.-China rivalry today is whether Xi’s Leninist-Mandarin authoritarian government and economy proves superior to American capitalism and democracy.

Maintaining China’s extraordinary economic growth, which provides legitimacy for sweeping party rule, is a high-wire act that will only get harder. Meanwhile, in the United States, sluggish growth is the new normal. And American democracy is exhibiting worrisome symptoms: declining civic engagement, institutionalized corruption, and widespread lack of trust in politics. Leaders in both nations would do well to prioritize their domestic challenges.

Lesson 5: Hope is not a strategy.

Over a four-year period from George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” which identified the Soviet threat, to Paul Nitze’s NSC-68, which provided the road map for countering this threat, U.S. officials developed a winning Cold War strategy: contain Soviet expansion, deter the Soviets from acting against vital American interests, and undermine both the idea and the practice of communism. In contrast, America’s China policy today consists of grand, politically appealing aspirations that serious strategists know are unachievable. In attempting to maintain the post-World War II Pax Americana during a fundamental shift in the economic balance of power toward China, the United States’ real strategy, truth be told, is hope.

In today’s Washington, strategic thinking is often marginalized. Even Barack Obama, one of America’s smartest presidents, told the New Yorker that, given the pace of change today, “I don’t really even need George Kennan.” Coherent strategy does not guarantee success, but its absence is a reliable route to failure.

Thucydides’s Trap teaches us that on the historical record, war is more likely than not. From Trump’s campaign claims that China is “ripping us off” to recent announcements about his “great chemistry” with Xi, he has accelerated the harrowing roller coaster of U.S.-China relations. If the president and his national security team hope to avoid catastrophic war with China while protecting and advancing American national interests, they must closely study the lessons of the Cold War.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of FP magazine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Trump's CIA chief in secret meeting with North Korean leader - U.S. officials

APRIL 17, 2018 / 8:08 AM / UPDATED 15 MINUTES AGO
John Walcott, Steve Holland
7 MIN READ
Reuters
WASHINGTON/PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State nominee and CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea over the Easter weekend and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Pompeo’s trip made him the most senior U.S. official ever known to have met with Kim and provided the strongest sign yet to Trump’s willingness to become the first serving U.S. president ever to meet a North Korean leader.

Pompeo’s conversations fuelled Trump’s belief that productive negotiations were possible with North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but far from guaranteed, according to a U.S. senior official briefed on the trip.

The visit, a second U.S. official said, was arranged by South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, and was intended to assess whether Kim was prepared to hold serious talks.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Turkey’s Double ISIS Standard

Foreign Policy Blog
Ankara claims to oppose the Islamic State. Its actions suggest otherwise.
BY AHMET S. YAYLA, COLIN P. CLARKE | APRIL 12, 2018, 4:43 PM

he decline of the Islamic State, nearly four years after its emergence, was the result of an aggressive military campaign to combat the group spearheaded primarily by the United States. That has not stopped Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu from writing an article for Foreign Policy to take credit for the group’s demise, insisting that Turkey’s actions in northern Syria have helped lay the groundwork for a sustainable peace.

What he neglected to mention is that it was Turkey’s actions, or perhaps the lack thereof, that helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State in the first place. The two most commonly cited factors leading to the growth of the Islamic State are the Syrian civil war and the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and its persecution of Sunni Arabs in Iraq. But another significant part of this story is the negligence exhibited by the Turkish state.

UPDATE 2-Turkey's Erdogan lashes out at investors over tumbling lira

APRIL 12, 2018 / 2:29 PM / UPDATED 18 HOURS AGO
Reuters Staff

3 MIN READ

(Adds graphic, central bank governor)

By Tuvan Gumrukcu

ANKARA, April 12 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at international investors on Thursday, saying that no one could use exchange rates to bring the country to heel - casting a slide in value of its currency, the lira, as a foreign conspiracy.

His comments came after the lira plumbed record lows for five straight trading days, a sell-off that Erdogan and his ministers called an economic attack by outside forces.

The lira’s slide - it is down 8 percent against the dollar so far this year, one of the worst performances among emerging markets - reflects the gulf between Erdogan and international investors over monetary policy. Erdogan, an economic populist and a self-described “enemy of interest rates” wants to see lower borrowing costs despite double-digit inflation.

“Do not worry, Turkey continues on its path with determined steps, nobody can discipline us based on exchange rates,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “The rise in exchange rates has no reasonable, logical or by-the-book explanation.”

Economists say the lira’s slide is a reflection of entrenched inflation and wage growth and that interest rates needs to be raised to arrest its fall.

The lira was at 4.0970 to the dollar at 1321 GMT. On Wednesday, it set a record low of 4.1944. It was trading at 5.0475 against the euro after reaching a record low of 5.1914 on Wednesday.

The lira has faced some pressure from growing tension between the United States and neighbouring Syria and from a sell-off in the Russian rouble, the currency of a major trading partner and a fellow emerging-market heavyweight. But investors say most of Turkey’s problems are home-grown.

Markets are looking ahead to the central bank’s next policy-setting meeting on April 25. The bank’s reluctance to raise rates at its last two meetings has heightened the perception that it is less than independent.

The central bank is following developments in inflation and will tighten monetary policy further if that is deemed necessary, the governor of the central bank, Murat Cetinkaya, said on Thursday, comments that appeared to give the currency some relief.

Data released on Wednesday showed the current account - a broadly defined measure of trade that includes services and investment income - recorded a deficit of $4.152 billion in February.

That was less than the $4.2 billion forecast in a Reuters poll but an increase of more than 60 percent from the same period a year earlier. Analysts said it affirmed Turkey’s vulnerabilities on the balance of payments front.

Additional reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu in Ankara and Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul; writing by David Dolan; editing by Robin Pomeroy, Larry King

Friday, March 30, 2018

Turkey says will take action if militants do not leave Syria's Manbij

MARCH 28, 2018 / 8:09 PM / 2 DAYS AGO
Reuters Staff

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will take action if militants do not withdraw immediately from Syria’s Manbij region and areas in the country east of the Euphrates, Turkey’s National Security Council said on Wednesday.

Turkey, which stormed the northern Syrian town of Afrin last week after a two-month offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, has repeatedly threatened to push its operations further east to Manbij where U.S. troops are stationed.

Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory further east, which President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to do, would risk confrontation between the NATO allies who have been at loggerheads over the U.S. policy in Syria and other issues.

“In the meeting, it is stated that the terrorists in Manbij should be removed from the area, otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take initiative by itself as it did in other regions,” the statement from the security council, chaired by Erdogan, said.

It said the same approach also applied to the militants on Syrian soil at the east of Euphrates, without elaborating where that would specifically apply to, or who it might target.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the state, and has been infuriated by the support Washington has provided the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Council said it also expected Iraq’s government to prevent the PKK operating in Iraq, especially in towns of Sinjar and Qandil. If that was not possible Turkey would prevent them itself, the council added.

“In the meeting it is stated that aside from Syria, Turkey expects Iraq to prevent operations by the separatist terrorist organization in its territory and if it is not possible Turkey will prevent them by itself,” the council statement said using the term it applies to PKK.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi armed forces would prevent Kurdish militants based in northern Iraq from staging cross-border attacks against Turkey during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The United States and Turkey should fix their relationship—Before it’s too late

ORDER FROM CHAOS
Amanda SloatFriday, February 16, 2018

The Brookings Institute

Editor's Note: It is positive that Washington is going to Ankara this week. Engagement by America’s three most senior national security officials with their Turkish counterparts in the same week sends a strong signal about the seriousness with which the United States takes this relationship. At the same time, U.S. officials must express their concerns about Turkish actions that are contributing to fractious ties. This piece originally appeared on Foreign Policy.

American diplomats are out in force in Turkey this week. On Sunday, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster met in Istanbul with Ibrahim Kalin, his nominal counterpart. On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli in Brussels on the margins of the NATO ministerial summit. Later this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to visit Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The new geopolitics of Turkey, Syria, and the West


Kemal Kirişci
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Brookings Institute
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/02/14/the-new-geopolitics-of-turkey-syria-and-the-west/

As the turmoil in Syria enters its seventh year, its adverse geopolitical consequences stretch far beyond the Middle East. Developments in Syria have affected Turkey, too. Before the Arab Spring, Turkey was a rising star in its neighborhood, but has become a troubled nation in the years since. Its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is increasingly cited as a model for authoritarians around the region and the world, and if tensions between Turkey and the West lead to a fracture, more adverse geopolitical consequences could follow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Turkey Is Out of Control. Time for the U.S. to Say So.

There’s a real danger of a clash between U.S. and Turkish forces. The administration should make clear that it won’t tolerate any more bad behavior—now.

By ERIC EDELMAN and JAKE SULLIVAN February 13, 2018

Following Turkey’s incursion into Syria, the once unthinkable prospect of a direct clash between Turkish and American soldiers has become alarmingly real. Turkey’s current fight, against U.S.-backed Kurdish troops in the northwestern Syria territory of Afrin, is destabilizing enough. But the real risk will come if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan follows through on his repeated promises to press further east toward the Kurdish-controlled and U.S.-patrolled city of Manbij. The only way to prevent a conflict is for U.S. policymakers to adopt a clear and tough-minded approach to Turkey now, before things get worse.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Turkey assails US over ties with Syrian Kurdish militia


By Associated Press February 12 at 7:39 AM
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister assailed the United States on Monday, claiming that American forces in Syria are intentionally stalling the fight against Islamic State militants as an excuse not to cut ties with Syrian Kurdish militiamen as Ankara has demanded.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul that U.S. forces are leaving “pockets” with IS militants intact to justify continued cooperation with the Kurdish militia.

Speaking ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later this week, Cavusoglu said Turkey’s ties with the U.S. are at a make-or-break stage and that Washington needs to take “concrete steps” to regain Turkey’s trust.

“Our relations are at a very critical stage,” Cavusoglu said. “Either we will improve ties or these ties will totally break down.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Campaign Approved Russia Meeting

By Greg Farrell , David Voreacos , and Henry Meyer
1 Νοεμβρίου 2017, 12:29 π.μ. EET Updated on 1 Νοεμβρίου 2017, 3:45 π.μ. EET
Plan to include top aides ‘approved by our side,’ he wrote
Ex-adviser’s claim unsubstantiated; no sign meeting took place

Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos made a significant claim in an email: Top Trump campaign officials agreed to a pre-election meeting with representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Five Argentines among 8 dead in New York City terror attack

By Renae Merle, Devlin Barrett, Wesley Lowery, Rachel Siegel and Samantha Schmidt November 1 at 12:19 AM

The Washington Post

NEW YORK — A 29-year-old man driving a rental truck plowed down people on a Manhattan bike path Tuesday in what authorities described as a terrorist attack that killed eight and injured 11 before the suspect was shot and arrested by police.

A sunny fall day along the Hudson River erupted in chaos just around the time students were getting out from nearby Stuyvesant High School, when a rented Home Depot truck turned on to the bike path along the West Side Highway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Xi Jinping Unveils China’s New Leaders but No Clear Successor

By CHRIS BUCKLEYOCT. 24, 2017


The New York Times

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping thrust China into a new era of strongman politics on Wednesday, unveiling a leadership team without a likely successor among the six officials who will help him rule for the next half decade.

In a nationally televised ceremony, Mr. Xi introduced the new members of China’s highest council of power, the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, on the red carpet of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In addition to Mr. Xi and China’s premier, Li Keqiang, the committee included five new members, all men in their 60s.

“Over the past five years, we’ve done a lot. Some work has been finished, some we must continue with,” Mr. Xi, 64, said after briefly introducing the committee members, who stood stiffly in line. “A new era needs a new look, and even more needs new accomplishments,” he added.

Friday, October 20, 2017

China’s leader Xi Jinping declares the start of a “new era”


It sounds much like the old one—only more so

The Economist

Oct 21st 2017 | BEIJING
IN THE days before the opening on October 18th of the Chinese Communist Party’s quinquennial congress, the country’s security officials put their surveillance efforts into overdrive. On Chang’an Avenue, the boulevard that passes by the venue in Tiananmen Square, naked flames were banned. Tough luck for restaurants, family dinners and smokers. Out-of-towners driving to the capital were stopped at checkpoints and made to sign papers promising not to get into trouble during the week of the congress. Foreigners were barred from travelling to Tibet. The region is well over 1,000 miles from the capital, but the party fears that even a lone banner-waving separatist sympathiser that far away could spoil the event in Beijing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.

By PETER BAKER and RICK GLADSTONESEPT. 19, 2017


The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump brought the same confrontational style of leadership he has used at home to the world’s most prominent stage on Tuesday as he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if it threatened the United States and denounced the nuclear agreement with Iran as “an embarrassment” that he may abandon.

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Trump framed the conflicts as a test of the international system. The bombastic flourishes that generate approving roars at political events were met by stony silence, interrupted a few times by a smattering of applause, as Mr. Trump promised to “crush loser terrorists,” mocked North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and declared that parts of the world “are going to hell.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First on CNN: US troops exchange fire with Turkish-backed rebels in Syria



By Ryan Browne, CNN
Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT) August 29, 2017

(CNN)US troops in northern Syria came under direct attack last week by Turkish-backed rebels, a military official with the coalition fighting ISIS told CNN Tuesday. The official said that while US troops returned fire there were no casualties on either side.

The coalition believes the attackers are part of the Turkish-backed opposition forces, a loose grouping of Arab and Turkmen fighters that have helped the Turkish military clear ISIS from the Turkish-Syria border area.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria

Ankara has long been angered by the alliance between Washington and Kurdish factions. But a new report exposing secret American bases is a dangerous way to strike back.

Roy Gutman
ROY GUTMAN
07.19.17 1:00 AM ET

The Daily Beast

ISTANBUL—In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa.
The list published by the Anadolu news agency points to a U.S. presence from one end to the other of the Kurdish self-administration region—a distance of more than 200 miles. The Anadolu news agency even listed the number of U.S. troops in several locations and in two instances stipulated the presence of French special forces.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Friends say Texan killed in Greece was easygoing, fun-loving

By Jamie Stengle | AP July 10 at 6:03 PM

The Washington Post

DALLAS — A 22-year-old Texas man who was beaten to death at a bar on a Greek island recently graduated from college and was known to his friends for his fun-loving and friendly demeanor.

Bakari Henderson, of Austin, was beaten to death early Friday at the bar in Lagana on the island of Zakynthos.

Authorities haven’t disclosed a possible motive for the attack, but eight people have been arrested. Greek police said among them were a 34-year-old Greek and a 32-year-old British man of Serbian origin. Serbia’s foreign ministry said six of its citizens were arrested.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Comey: White House lied about me, FBI


The Washington Post

By Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Ed O'Keefe June 8 at 8:38 PM
Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday used a dramatic appearance before a national audience to sharply criticize the character of the president, accusing Trump of firing him over the Russia investigation and then misleading the public about the reasons for the dismissal.

Trump and his team, Comey said, told “lies, plain and simple,” about him and the FBI in an effort to cover up the real reason for his sudden sacking last month. Comey said that after one particularly odd private meeting with the president, he feared Trump “might lie” about the conversation, prompting him to begin taking careful notes after each encounter.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Trump offers to help resolve Gulf crisis, UAE tightens squeeze on Qatar

 Wed Jun 7, 2017 | 8:40pm EDT

Reuters

By William Maclean and Tom Finn | DUBAI/DOHA
U.S. President Donald Trump offered on Wednesday to help resolve a worsening diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Arab powers as the United Arab Emirates invoked the possibility of an economic embargo on Doha over its alleged support of terrorism.

In his second intervention in the row in as many days, Trump urged action against terrorism in a call with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a White House statement said.