At the Singapore summit, President Trump got played

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President Trump got played.

After all the hoopla and pageantry and Trump braggadocio at the Singapore summit, with Kim Jong Un standing alongside the U.S. president in front of thousands of journalists, the North Korean leader came out the winner.

Kim had already racked up points just by standing alongside the U.S. president as an equal, showered with Trump’s praise and transformed from pariah to international rock star.  In recent weeks he was welcomed to Beijing and Seoul, and invited to Moscow. China and Russia have already started to loosen up sanctions.

All this might have been an acceptable cost for achieving the U.S. goal: to get Kim to commit specifically to shedding his nuclear weapons within a reasonable time frame, in a verifiable fashion.  But, on this, Trump failed big time: The joint statement that emerged from the summit included no such firm commitments, using vague language on denuclearization that is interpreted very differently by the two sides. “It does not meet the minimum requirements in terms of what we expected them to do,” Ambassador Joseph Y. Yun, the former Special U.S. Representative to North Korea, told CNN.

>> READ MORE: Analysis: By Trump’s own yardstick, North Korea pact falls flat

Instead, Trump made a huge concession up front stopping joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea, a key tool for keeping pressure on the North. And he didn’t even inform the Seoul government beforehand, leaving it publicly grasping for information on U.S. intentions.

“I gave up nothing,” the president insisted in a press conference. He was clearly oblivious to the fact that he was playing into North Korea’s longtime game plan: to emerge as an internationally recognized state, recognized by America and the world — without surrendering all of its nukes.

Let’s look at what the president did give up.

In the run-up to the summit, U.S. and Korean negotiators were wrestling over whether North Korea would make a substantial pledge of denuclearization up front, including details of its nuclear program and a timeline for dismantling it.

But, going into the summit, the two sides could not even agree on a common definition of the term  “denuclearization.”

“Our definition of denuclearization is they give up all their fissile material, facilities, nuclear material taken out, irrevocably and verifiably,” says Dr. Jung Pak, top Korea expert at Brookings and former senior CIA Korea analyst.

The joint statement, however, contained only a vague commitment to “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” – terminology favored by Pyongyang and Beijing.  In North Korea’s interpretation, say North Korea experts, this means an end to the U.S. troop presence in South Korea and nuclear umbrella over that country and Japan – without any corresponding specifics on eliminating its own nuclear program.

By using this language – and ending joint exercises – Trump acceded to Kim’s game plan. He went even further, repeating his desire to pull U.S. troops out of Korea (although not immediately) and emphasizing his desire to save money by so doing.  All this before North Korea makes any firm commitment to giving up its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

True, Kim has frozen his nuclear tests and missile tests – for now.  And he has destroyed an already collapsing nuclear test site and promised Trump more on other sites.  But none of this speaks to the onetime American demand that North Korean completely, irrevocably and verifiably destroy its weapons.

Negotiations will now commence, but if the past is history, they could drag on for a very long time and never reach a firm conclusion.  Meanwhile, U.S. leverage on North Korea is declining,  as China and Russia push to loosen sanctions.  A push for a formal peace between North and South Korea will further weaken any future pressure.  And Trump’s eagerness to halt joint military excercises – and remove U.S. troops – undermines U.S. leverage further.

This gives North Korea little reason to swiftly negotiate an end to its weapons program.  After all, the U.S. president has told the world that Kim is “very smart” and “honorable” and “wants to do the right thing.”  Trump even sloughed off questions at the press conference about North Korean forced labor camps where thousands are tortured and murdered, saying such things happen elsewhere.

How embarrassing it would be for Trump to resume insulting the great Korean leader.  Much easier to insult a democratic prime minister like Justin Trudeau.

The irony here is that, contrary to Trump’s exaggerated claims, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush got much more specific commitments from Pyongyang. In 1992, 1994 and 2005, the North Koreans pledged to eliminate all their nuclear weapons.  They reneged.

When asked why he’d do better, Trump bragged: “This is a much different president.”  Clearly this president believes his smarts will get results from North Korea, where previous presidents met failure.

The good news is that war on the Korean peninsula looks far less likely than a few months ago. But judging from the Singapore summit, it is Kim Jong Un who has mastered the art of dealing with Trump.

By Trudy Rubin/Phillynews

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

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GOP senators not satisfied with Rice explanation of Benghazi aftermath

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Image: AP(Bebeto Matthews)

Old man McCain has got nothing better to do…

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Republican senators emerged from their meeting Tuesday with United Nations envoy Susan Rice saying they were more disturbed than before the meeting about the misleading explanation she gave after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, when Rice said in TV interviews that the violence was due to an anti-Islamic video that was circulated on YouTube.

“It is clear that the information she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video. It was not, and there was compelling evidence at the time that that was certainly not the case,” said McCain.

More from NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

Old Man McCain vs. Obama

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Image: AP

President Barack Obama just finished his second presidential campaign — but he’s not finished lashing out at his opponent from his first.

Obama’s irritation at his 2008 rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, flared Wednesday during the president’s first news conference since winning reelection. It was a startling moment in an otherwise unremarkable appearance — and hinted at lingering tensions with McCain.

At the heart of Obama’s outburst are Republican claims that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice covered up the genesis of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. Rice has become the symbol of Republican anger over the administration’s handling of the incident — at a particularly uncomfortable moment for both Obama and Rice, who is in contention to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama said. “And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

More from Reid Epstein @ Politico

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Netanyahu plays cartoonist, goes apocalyptic over ‘Iranian bomb’ at UN

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, pauses after drawing a red line on a graphic of a bomb while discussing Iran during an address to the United Nations General Assembly.(AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

When you draw red lines, are you declaring war? Is this a time line that is given? If he feels so strongly about it, have at it; by yourselves.

Unable to win US support for a figurative ‘red line’ on Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu drew a literal one during a speech to the UN General Assembly, and offered an apocalyptic vision of a nuclear bombing of Israel.
Netanyahu used a large diagram of a cartoonish bomb to represent Tehran’s alleged ambition to create a nuclear weapon. The drawing was divided into three sections, with marks indicating 70 percent and 90 percent of the uranium enrichment required to build an atomic bomb.
“Iran is 70 percent of the way there, and are well into the second stage. By next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there it is only a few more weeks before they have enriched enough for a bomb,” he said.
The Israeli leader used a red marker to show the line at which he believes the world should intervene to halt the enrichment, claiming that this was the only way to peacefully resolve the issue.
“I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down – and it will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy,” he said, adding that the deadline may come as soon as next Spring.
The alternative, Netanyahu said, is a nuclear-armed Iran, which he likened to a nuclear-armed Al Qaeda. He called the Iranian leadership “apocalyptic,” and argued that they would use a nuclear weapon against Israel even if it meant the destruction of their own country.
The diagram implied that Iran is amassing enriched uranium with the intention of creating a nuclear device, and that at the 90 percent mark it would be very close to completion. Netanyahu did not offer any new evidence that Iran had overcome the numerous other scientific and technological hurdles necessary to create a nuclear weapon.
Tehran dismissed Netanyahu’s charges as “baseless and absurd.” Israel, “on a daily basis, threatens countries in the region, particularly my country with military attack,” Iran’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Asman al-Habib Es’haq Al-e-Habib said. He warned that Iran would retaliate if Israel attempted to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
He also said, that Israel “has ignored repeated calls by the international community to accede promptly and without any conditions to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons party and place all its nuclear-related facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency verification system.”
Netanyahu is not the first politician to use props at the United Nations to call for international action against a sovereign country. In February 2003, then-US Secretary of State Collin Powell spoke before the UN Security Council holding a vial that he said could contain anthrax produced by Saddam Hussein. No anthrax or other alleged weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after it was invaded and occupied by a US-led coalition.

Netanyahu has been campaigning for a “clear red line” to curb Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions since the beginning of September. The hard pressure apparently cost him a meeting with US President Barack Obama. The American leader refused to sit down to talks with Netanyahu on the outlines of the 67th UN General Assembly after the Israeli PM lashed out at Washington’s unwillingness “to set deadlines” for Iran.
The address to global leaders may well be a final warning before Israel takes matters into its own hands. The country’s leadership has been relentlessly issuing warnings that it may soon stage a unilateral attack on Iran, flouting even American wishes.
Israel considers Iran an “existential” peril, given the rhetoric coming from the Islamic Republic’s leaders that Israel will be eliminited.
Nevertheless, Iran insists that its nuclear program seeks to meet energy supplies and medical needs.
The US, while trying to keep Israel away from attacking Iran, believes that Tehran is yet to make a final decision on whether to use its uranium stocks to build weapons. So far, in Washington’s opinion, the Islamic Republic does not appear to possess the necessary infrascture to do so.
‘Nothing will happen until November’
Netanyahu does not need to convince the entire world of his fears, as one actor is sufficient, Shikha Dalmia, senior policy analyst at the think tank Reason Foundation told RT.
“He is trying to raise the alarm level in the world over the possibility of a nuclear Iran,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is that he does not have to convince the whole world of his case. He just has to convince one country and essentially one person, and that is President Obama. Without US support for some kind of military intervention, he can draw whatever maps and charts and other graphs that he wants. It’s not going to mean a lot.”
And no matter what the US administration opts to do, it will have to wait until November, says Dalmia.
“One can argue that Iran would not be a full-fledged war, it would be a surgical strike, but it is till quite a lot,” she said. “So whether Obama is going to be able to undertake an action like that is completely up in the air, but one thing is clear: he will not want it before November, before the elections.”

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Obama threatens Iran in UN speech

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From New York, US President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that he advocates a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear conflict and condemns the anti-Islamic film that has sparked violent protests overseas.
Tuesday morning’s speech before the General Assembly marked President Obama’s last scheduled international address before he is up for re-election in November, and he used the opportunity to solidify the United States’ stance on several foreign policy issues while also clarifying his take on the Iranian nuclear conflict and the American-made movie that continues to fuel fiery rallies across the Muslim world.
President Obama began his address with words of admiration for Chris Stevens, the US ambassador slain earlier this month at a consulate building in Benghazi, and told the United Nations that while Mr. Steven’s diplomatic work represented America’s ideals as a whole, his execution has also affected those tied to not just the United States, but the United Nations as well.
“He acted with humility, but stood up for a set of principles,” President Obama said of Mr. Stevens, “– a belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny, and live with liberty, dignity, justice and opportunity.”
President Obama vowed to bring the ambassador’s killers to justice, and called the other outbursts that have happened overseas in the two week since to cease. The White House had originally considered Mr. Steven’s death a result of just one localized demonstration in a wave of violent protests that have swept the Arab World in recent weeks in response to “Innocence of Muslims,” an American-made film that mocks and ridicules the Islam prophet Mohammed. Although testimonies made since Mr. Steven’s September 11 execution have suggested that his death was perhaps the result of a planned terrorist attack and not a spontaneous, violent protest, President Obama nonetheless attempted to distance himself from the movie and said the continuing protests put the ideals of the United Nations at risk as well.
“I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity,” President Obama said. “It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.”
Elsewhere in his address, President Obama said the attacks at embassies and consulates across the world in response to the film and since Mr. Steven’s death “are not simply an assault on America” but “also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world.”
President Obama later advocated diplomacy once again, asking Iran to consider peacefully reconciling with America and their allies as the two sides try to come to terms with a rumored Iranian nuclear warhead procurement program. Although Iran claims that their energy facilities are researching peaceful uses for nuclear science, Israel insists that a bomb is in the works and that they will be among the first ones hit. Despite persistent pandering from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama has refused to take military action against Iran.
A day earlier on Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad commented on the issue with reporters in New York and hinted that Israel wants to provoke a war between Iran and the US, saying simply that “a few occupying Zionists are threatening the government of the United States.”
Before the General Assembly, President Obama acknowledged that an Iranian nuclear program may very well put the lives of allies in Israel at risk, and called a nuclear-armed Iran “not a challenge that can be contained” that has the potential to “threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.”
“That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the president added.
Even though Obama said that he believes in peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis, he also underscored that the time is not “unlimited.” And if diplomacy doesn’t succeed, the US “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” The Nobel Peace Prize laureate didn’t say the word “war” but his intentions — and the urging from Israel — are all too apparent.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Netanyahu denied meeting with Obama after lashing out at US

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Netanyahu is arrogant, I hope he doesn’t lead Israel down the wormhole!

The White House has shot-down a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with US President Barack Obama later this month, a rejection that comes right after an unusually hostile statement directed towards the United States.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is not expected to meet with Mr. Obama later this month when the Israeli PM comes stateside to visit the United Nations in New York City, despite a plea recently extended to the White House. Reuters report that Netanyahu’s office had requested a meeting with the American commander-in-chief, but that staffers for the president don’t seem interested in entertaining the idea.
“[T]he White House has got back to us and said it appears a meeting is not possible. It said that the president’s schedule will not permit that,” an Israeli official tells Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Washington has denied that they flatly refused Israeli PM Netanyahu’s request for a meeting and that a scheduling conflict was the catalyst in the decision. On the heels of a series of publicized disagreements between the two allies, however, the rejection is being seen by some as a response motivated by something much different.
Despite a time-tested relationship, Israel and the United States have not seem eye-to-eye as of late in regards to a nuclear procurement program in Iran that is rumored to have been established for the sake of securing a chemical weapon for the Iranians.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu deterred from a news conference with the prime minister of Bulgaria to speak, in English, about how he personally views the United States’ attitudes towards the Iranian nuclear conflict.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?'” Netanyahu said. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Netanyahu’s remarks are being considered a direct statement to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who days earlier said explicitly that the Obama administration doesn’t intend on laying out “red lines” regarding Iran, adding, “We’re not setting deadlines.”
Israel insists that Iran is eager to get their hands on a nuke and will strike Netanyahu’s government is given the chance, a dilemma that requires immediate American intervention before a full-fledged war erupts. President Obama, while still showing support for Israel, has refused to ramp up pressure on Iran to a point of aggression.
Conservatives in the US have made the Israel/Iran issue a main talking point of the Republican National Committee’s platform as the party faces the upcoming presidential election, and GOP candidate Mitt Romney has repeatedly vowed to ensure America’s allies are guaranteed a safety that sanctions authorized by Obama has not yet allowed.
On his part, President Obama says he refuses to allow Iran to procure a nuke, but Netanyahu suggests that current leadership in Washington may be attempting loosening their ties with Israel.
“If Iran knows that there is no ‘deadline’, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs,” Netanyahu added this week.
“So far we can say with certainty that diplomacy and sanctions haven’t worked. The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy but they haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear programme. That’s a fact. And the fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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