Foreign Affairs

Trump turns tables, scores wins over Russia

President Trump’s often-criticized effort to forge better relations with Russia has morphed into a confrontational stance that this week scored economic and national security wins. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government is backing construction of a shipping depot for importing liquefied natural gas from the U.S., bowing to Mr. Trump’s demand that she loosen Russia’s grip on the country’s energy supply. Mr. Trump then went directly after Moscow. He announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that for the past 31 years limited the development and deployment of missile or launch systems that can threaten Russia’s European neighbors. The president accused Russia of violating the missile system ban for years and, to the Kremlin’s dismay, vowed to force an expensive new arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin was riled. At a meeting Tuesday in Moscow with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Mr. Putin described the developments as “unprovoked moves that are hard to call friendly.” He said a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump was in order. Later, Mr. Trump said he is willing to sit down with Mr. Putin when the two men are in Paris next month for events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “It hasn’t been set up yet, but we probably will” meet, Mr. Trump said at the White House. When he last faced off with Mr. Putin at a July summit in Helsinki, Mr. Trump was roundly criticized for being too soft and timidly accepting the Russian’s denial that his country meddled in the 2016 presidential election. In Paris, Mr. Putin might be looking to reset the relationship. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce told The Washington Times that he welcomed the advances against Russia, saying the LNG terminal would help make Germany “less vulnerable to Russian manipulation.” The California Republican backed up Mr. Trump on quitting the nuclear missile treaty. “The Russians have been violating INF for years, making this deal unsustainable. We need durable arms control agreements,” he said. Russia’s violations of the missile system ban go back 10 years, with allegations of cheating leveled by the Obama administration and European leaders.

More winning!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Canada, US confirm new deal with Mexico updating NAFTA

The United States and Canada confirmed Sunday they had reached a deal on a “new, modernized trade agreement,” which is designed to replace the 1994 NAFTA pact. In a joint statement the two nations said the new deal would be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said following a cabinet meeting, “It’s a good day for Canada.” Trudeau plans to address the media on the deal on Monday. President Trump tweeted about the deal on Monday morning, calling it a “great deal for all three countries” and that it will open markets to farmers and manufacturers. “Late last night, our deadline, we reached a wonderful new Trade Deal with Canada, to be added into the deal already reached with Mexico,” Trump tweeted. “The new name will be The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It is a great deal for all three countries, solves the many deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA, greatly opens markets to our Farmers and Manufacturers, reduce Trade Barriers to the U.S. and will bring all three Great Nations closer together in competition with the rest of the world. The USMCA is a historic transaction!” The agreements reportedly will boost U.S. access to Canada’s dairy market and protect Canada from possible U.S. autos tariffs. Trump’s administration has said Canada must sign on to the text of the updated NAFTA by a midnight Sunday deadline or face exclusion from the pact. Washington has already reached a bilateral deal with Mexico, the third NAFTA member. If Canada did not sign a new deal, Trump had threatened to impose steep tariffs on all automotive imports. In late August, the U.S. and Mexico negotiated a new pact to replace NAFTA, snubbing Canada in the process. President Trump has also repeatedly suggested that he might leave Canada out of the new agreement — which would be called the “United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.” Trump blames NAFTA for the loss of American manufacturing jobs and wants major changes to the pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade. Markets fear its demise would cause major economic disruption. Negotiators from both sides spent two days talking by phone as they tried to settle a range of difficult issues such as access to Canada’s dairy market and U.S. tariffs. As part of any agreement, Canada looks set to offer increased access to its highly protected dairy market, as it did in separate pacts with the European Union and Pacific nations. Officials have blown through several deadlines since the talks started in August 2017.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Dinner with Trump About North Korea, Trade ‘Very Constructive’

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, visiting New York on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, told reporters on Sunday that his dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump that night was “very constructive” and ranged from sharing opinions about North Korea to securing mutually beneficial trade agreements. Trump made dinner with Abe his first appointment for the General Assembly week. The two heads of government share a close relationship; Abe was the first world leader to visit Trump personally following his election in 2016. On this occasion, Abe greeted Trump on the heels of an overwhelming election victory to remain the head of his right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, ensuring that Abe will remain prime minister for the next three years. “We had a very constructive discussion on trade and investment between Japan and the United States,” Abe told reporters, according to the Japan Times. “We agreed to make the momentum created in the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June even stronger and to continue to coordinate closely toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” He noted the two met for two-and-a-half hours and that Abe made advocating for the rights of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea a priority in negotiating with the communist rogue state. Abe added that Trump appeared caring and attentive in listening to his concerns. North Korea implemented a policy of kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s, using them to train would-be spies on Japanese language and culture. North Korea denied the policy for decades until 2002, then claimed it had only abducted 13 Japanese nationals. Tokyo estimates that up to 800 missing Japanese citizens were abducted and remain in North Korea. Japan has played a key role in negotiations regarding North Korea. Trump met with Abe shortly before his scheduled meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which is expected to occur on Monday. Moon is also in New York for the U.N. General Assembly and makes his arrival shortly after his first-ever trip to Pyongyang. Upon returning from North Korea, Moon claimed that communist dictator Kim Jong-un had given him a personal message to deliver to Trump that he would not disclose publicly. Trump invited Abe to dinner and announced Sunday they would discuss “military and trade.” The two are reportedly scheduled to meet once again on Monday evening. On the issue of trade, the president said on Twitter that he hoped “to see more of a reciprocal relationship” with Japan, expressing hope “it will all work out!” Following the first dinner, Abe told reporters, “I will continue discussions on trade with him in our summit after economy minister Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer meeting,” according to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun. Abe did not elaborate on any specifics regarding discussions on trade. Abe arrived in New York emboldened by a significant electoral victory last week. He is set to become the first Japanese prime minister to serve for three terms, defeating a challenge within his own Party from fellow lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba. Abe is expected to use his comfortable position to negotiate trade and push for changes to Japan’s Constitution to allow the nation greater self-defense abilities. The post-World War II Constitution does not allow Japan to maintain a standing military, only “self-defense forces” that cannot be used preemptively. In light of growing threats from North Korea and its patron state, China, Abe has pushed for allowing Japan greater military leverage. “I will finally embark on constitutional revision, which has never been achieved in the 70 years since the end of the war, and start building a new nation as we look to the future,” Abe said last week after his re-election.

John Kerry Meeting With Iran to Salvage Nuke Deal With Rogue Diplomacy

Former Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed that he has been conducting rogue diplomacy with top Iranian officials to salvage the landmark nuclear deal and push the Islamic Republic to negotiate its contested missile program, according to recent remarks. Kerry, in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote his new book, said that he has met with Iranian Former Minister Javad Zarif—the former secretary’s onetime negotiating partner—three or four times in recent months behind the Trump administration’s back. “I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said, adding that he has been conducting sensitive diplomacy without the current administration’s authorization. Kerry said he has criticized the current administration in these discussions, chiding it for not pursuing negotiations from Iran, despite the country’s fevered rhetoric about the U.S. president. Kerry’s comments are in line with previous reporting on his behind-the-scenes attempts to save the nuclear deal and ensure that Iran continues receiving billions in cash windfalls. These payments were brought to a halt by the Trump administration when it abandoned the nuclear agreement and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran that have nearly toppled its economy and sparked a popular revolution. Kerry said he met Zarif in Norway, Munich, and other international forums. As Iran continues to plot terror attacks across the globe and transport weapons to regional hotspots in Syria and Yemen, Kerry has tried to help Zarif preserve the nuclear agreement with European nations. “What I have done is try to elicit from him [Zarif] what Iran might be willing to do to change the dynamic of the Middle East for the better,” Kerry said. “How does one resolve Yemen, what do you do to try and get peace in Syria? Those are the things that really are preoccupying him because those are the impediments to Iran’s ability to convince people its ready to embrace something different.” Kerry said he has offered blunt talk to Zarif in order to push the regime to accept restrictions on its foreign interventionism. “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif. I told him, ‘Look, you guys need to recognize the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,'” Kerry recounted. “You’re supporting an ongoing struggle there.” Iran has said “they’re prepared to negotiate and resolve these issues, but the [Trump] administration’s taken a very different tact.” Criticizing the current White House, Kerry lamented that “it appears right now, as if the administration is hell-bent … to pursue a regime change strategy” in Iran that would “bring the economy down and try to isolate further.” The former secretary of state cautioned the current administration, saying “the United States historically has not had a great record in regime change strategies, number one, and number two that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for any Iranian leader to sit down and negotiate anything because they’re not going to do it in a capitulatory situation.” Iranian leaders have said multiple times in recent months that they will not take any meetings with Trump or his administration.

Just who the hell does FORMER Sec. of State John Kerry thinks he is?!?!  He has NO authority to be “negotiating” anything on behalf of the U.S.  So, don’t know what he hopes to achieve.  But, he’s doing it without the blessing of the ACTUAL (Trump) administration.  President Trump tore up the Iran nuke deal, as it was a complete disaster…which Obama never got the (Dem-controlled, no less) Senate to ratify anyway.  Either Kerry is trying to act as a shadow entity, or he’s simply an ivy-leage educated hippy who has gone crazy..

U.S. readying more Turkey sanctions unless detained American pastor is released

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Thursday that the United States is preparing more sanctions against Turkey if American pastor Andrew Brunson is not released from custody. “We have more that we’re planning to do if they don’t release him quickly,” he said. Mr. Mnuchin gave the update at a Cabinet meeting, where President Trump said Turkey is not turning out to be a great friend of the U.S. Mr. Trump said of the pastor, “He’s a very innocent man.” The administration sanctioned two top Turkish officials last week over the imprisonment of Mr. Brunson, who was released from jail last month but is still being detained on house arrest. Turkey has accused him of fomenting an attempted coup, but the U.S. says the charges are phony. Turkey is also seeking the extradition from the U.S. of a Muslim cleric whom it accuses of inciting the coup attempt.

Terror Expert Compares Reaction to Trump’s Russia Efforts to Obama’s: ‘It’s Glaring Hypocrisy’

Former U.S. Army Special Forces member Jim Hanson said that the criticism President Trump is facing for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is hypocritical to what the Obama administration faced in 2012. Hanson, during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” specifically called out former President Barack Obama’s hot mic incident with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the lax media reaction to it. Obama told Medvedev that after the 2012 election, he’d “have more flexibility.” The former U.S. president and Medvedev were talking about missile defense, Hanson added, saying that the world’s security was actually being put at risk. “The media at that point in time had nothing to say,” he said. “Now, President Trump wants to make a less-antagonistic relationship with the Russians … and all of a sudden it’s the worst thing that ever happened. It’s glaring hypocrisy.” Trump is set to meet with Putin on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. Hanson said that the entire stature of Obama’s foreign policy was “cringing capitulation.” “It was ‘America last,’” he said. “It ended up making the world a much more dangerous place.” Hanson also recalled the 2009 meeting between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during which Clinton presented Lavrov with a physical “reset” button to signify resetting relations with Russia. “Hillary walks into that meeting asking for nothing … she’s telling them ‘OK, you can have whatever you want from us,’” Hanson said.

The hypocrisy is indeed, breathtaking.  Thanks to former U.S. Army Special Forces member Jim Hanson for calling out the dominantly liberal mainstream media, and Democrat politicians, who are using today’s summit between President Trump and President Putin as an excuse to have another beat-up Trump session.  The rhetoric has been SO over the top, that it isn’t worth even paying attention to.

Opinion/Analysis: Indictment arguments aside, Trump is right to meet with Putin

Calls by some Democrats in Congress for President Trump to cancel his Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin – in response to the indictment Friday of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking emails of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton – make no sense. President Trump is wise to stick with his plans to meet with the Russian leader in Finland. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Friday night that the summit will take place despite the indictments. President Trump agreed to the meeting with Putin not as a reward or endorsement for Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election, but because the meeting is in America’s national interest. Like it or not, Russia is a major nuclear power and the U.S. needs to maintain a relationship that will minimize conflicts between our two countries and advance U.S. foreign policy goals around the world. Similarly, when President Nixon began the process of normalization of relations with China that led to diplomatic recognition and trade with the communist nation he was under no illusions that China was a peace-loving democracy that posed no threat to U.S. interests. But President Nixon – like other presidents throughout our history – concluded that America must deal with nations with which we have adversarial relationships. Does anyone seriously think that President Franklin Roosevelt believed Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was a true friend bearing no ill will toward the U.S. when Roosevelt and Stalin formed an alliance to fight the Nazis in World War II? No one is talking now about Trump and Putin forming a military alliance – the two leaders just want to discuss issues of importance to both of our countries. The grand jury indictments Friday grew out of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Muller of Russian election meddling and allegations that some people in the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians. Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said that the indictment did not make any allegations that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to interfere with the U.S. election or that Russian interference influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The 11-count indictment of the 12 Russians includes charges of conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering and attempts to hack into the computers of government agencies including state election boards. President Trump said earlier in the day Friday in England that he would again bring up the issue of Russian interference in the American election when he meets with Putin Monday, but said he expects Putin will stick with Russia’s position denying such interference ever took place. Our president is right – it’s unrealistic to expect he can force Putin to admit something Putin has long denied. It’s about time the two leaders met one-on-one. President Trump has sat down with Chinese president Xi Jinping twice for lengthy meetings, once in Florida and once in Beijing. And Trump just concluded a meeting with leaders of the other 28 NATO nations in Belgium and with British Prime Minister Theresa May in England. In fact, Trump has met with many leaders from around the world, both friendly and unfriendly since taking office, including North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in June. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying there is no evidence that the 12 people indicted by Mueller are linked to Russian military intelligence and calling the indictments a “shameful farce” designed to “spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.” The Russians earlier blamed the U.S. political climate for holding up a summit, and they are right about that. Reporters and Democrats have whipped themselves into a frenzy with the false claim that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the presidential election, and are ready to pounce on President Trump for even the hint of a “tilt” toward Putin. Presidents Putin and Trump certainly have plenty of issues to discuss on Monday besides Russia’s meddling in our 2016 election, even though that’s unquestionably an important and serious issue.

For more on this excellent op/ed by best-selling author Kenneth R. Timmerman, click on the text above.  Mr. Timmerman, who got his M.A. from Brown University,  is a former lecturer at the Joint Counter-Terrorism Training Academy.  If you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of his book “Preachers of Hate:  Islam and the War Against America.”  It is a must read.