Foreign Affairs

Afghan peace deal on verge of collapse after Pompeo’s intervention fails

One of President Trump’s top foreign policy priorities appeared on the verge of collapse Monday after the U.S. announced it was slashing aid to the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan as a feud between its leaders threatens to undermine a delicate peace deal inked last month between the Trump administration and Taliban. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement in an unusually blunt statement after a whirlwind day of diplomacy in which he made an unannounced trip to Kabul. The half-day visit evidently failed to resolve a bitter power battle between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chief rival Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom claim to have won the country’s disputed September presidential election. Despite separate and joint talks with the visiting American diplomat Monday, the two men “have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens,” the State Department said Monday evening. Mr. Pompeo said the U.S. was “disappointed” in both men and their conduct, which he said had “harmed U.S.-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, American and coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country.” The State Department said aid this year would be slashed by $1 billion, and a similar amount could be cut in 2021. Other aid programs will also be reviewed for “additional reductions.” The impasse puts in doubt Mr. Trump’s plans to withdraw the bulk of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the coming months, ending the combat role in what is now the country’s longest war

Pompeo accuses Chinese government of secrecy about coronavirus

China must provide more information about the nature of the coronavirus now ravaging populations and economies around the world, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday. Speaking after an online meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers, Mr. Pompeo criticized the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for what he said was secrecy and dissembling about the virus outbreak and more recently for a disinformation campaign blaming the U.S. for the pandemic. He said the other G-7 ministers shared his concerns. “The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” Mr. Pompeo said. The pandemic dominated the teleconference of ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the U.S., and Mr. Pompeo repeated charges that China continues to withhold information about the coronavirus and COVID-19. He called for “full transparency” from all states. Beijing has said the spread of the virus has receded inside China, although the accuracy of data on the declining number of new infections has been questioned. Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration has sought to work with the Chinese leaders throughout the crisis that began with the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in early December. “We tried – you’ll remember – from the opening days to get our scientists, our experts on the ground there so that we could begin to assist in the global response to what began there in China, but we weren’t able to do that,” he said. A joint report by China and the World Health Organization made public in February stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping was in charge of a high-level Party “leading small group” that handled the response to the virus.

Kudos to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, a man who graduated #1 in his class from West Point, for sticking to his guns and putting pressure on the corrupt communist Chinese government on this issue.  Outstanding!!  For more, click on the text above.

N. Korea Says Trump Sent Letter to Kim, Offers Cooperation

President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim’s sister said Sunday. The latest correspondence came as Kim observed the firing of tactical guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as the nuclear talks remain deadlocked. In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, praised Trump for sending the letter at a time when “big difficulties and challenges lie ahead in the way of developing ties” between the countries. In the letter, she said Trump explained his plan to “propel the relations between the two countries … and expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work” in an apparent reference to the global coronavirus outbreak. North Korea has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case of the coronavirus on its soil. Some foreign experts question that claim and say an outbreak in the North could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its poor medical infrastructure. There was no immediate comment from the White House. Kim Yo Jong said Trump’s letter is “a good example showing the special and firm personal relations” between the North Korean and U.S. leaders. But she said it’s not a good idea to “make hasty conclusion or be optimistic about” the prospect for bilateral relations. “In my personal opinion, I think that the bilateral relations and dialogue for them would be thinkable only when the equilibrium is kept dynamically and morally and justice ensured between the two countries,” she said. “Even at this moment we are working hard to develop and defend ourselves on our own under the cruel environment which the U.S. is keen to ‘provide.’” Kim and Trump have met three times and exchanged letters and envoys on many occasions since 2018, when they launched talks on the fate of Kim’s advancing nuclear arsenal. The two leaders have avoided harsh language against each other and Trump once said he and Kim “fell in love.” But their diplomacy has largely come to a standstill since the breakdown of their second summit in Vietnam in February 2019, when Trump rejected Kim’s demands for broad sanctions relief in return for a partial disarmament step. Kim pressed Trump to come up with new proposals to salvage the negotiations by the end of last year. Kim later vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent, unveil “a new strategic weapon” and warned he would no longer be bound by a major weapons test moratorium. In recent weeks, North Korea has fired a slew of artillery and other rockets into the sea in what experts say is an attempt to improve its military capabilities. The weapons were all short range and did not pose a direct threat to the U.S. mainland. A resumption of long-range or nuclear weapons tests by Kim would likely completely scuttle diplomacy with Trump, experts say. KCNA said Kim watched the test firing of tactical guided weapons on Saturday with Kim Yo Jong and other top officials. South Korea’s military called the demonstration “very inappropriate” at a time when the world is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. South Korea’s military said Saturday it detected two presumed short-range ballistic missiles that flew from a site in western North Korea across the country and landed in the waters off the east coast. The weapons flew 410 kilometers (255 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sending that letter to Kim Jong Ding Dong was a smooth move on the part of President Trump.  It was his classic “art of the deal;” seeing an opportunity to reopen a door that had been temporarily shut.  We’ll see if this goes anywhere.  But, it was definitely a smart strategic move, and frankly..the right thing to do.  After all, the healthcare infrastructure in the DPRK is like the middle ages.  And, while the North Korean regime is claiming they have not a single case of the Wuhan virus…we all know better.  We’ll keep an eye on this developing story…

‘Alternate reality’: U.S. demands China halt coronavirus ‘disinformation’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China’s Communist Party to halt disinformation spread by propaganda outlets claiming the novel coronavirus was first spread in China by the U.S. Army. Mr. Pompeo made the comments in a phone call Monday to Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China. The secretary “conveyed strong U.S. objections to PRC efforts to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States,” according to a statement issued by the State Department. “The secretary stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat.” Mr. Yang, according to state-run Chinese television, told Mr. Pompeo that any attempt to smear China for its efforts to counter the coronavirus “will not succeed,” Reuters reported. The Chinese senior diplomat also threatened unspecified retaliation about what he said were efforts by U.S. politicians to denigrate China’s efforts to fight the virus. The exchange is the latest in Washington and Beijing’s growing war of words about the virus. White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien had harsh criticism in remarks last week to The Heritage Foundation for China’s early handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Mr. O’Brien said that instead of using best practices for handling new diseases, “this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up.” Doctors who sought to disclose the virus were imprisoned or silenced, he added.

The disinformation campaign about the Wuhan virus by communist China continues.  Kudos to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, and all the good folks at the State Dept, for putting pressure on those lying tools.  Again, when you need to buy a good or service, now more than ever BUY AMERICAN!!  Avoid “made in China” products if at all possible.  For more on this article by veteran journalist Bill Gertz, click on the text above.

State Department summons Chinese ambassador over ‘blatant’ disinformation campaign on coronavirus

The State Department on Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador after a spokesperson with China’s foreign ministry suggested the U.S. military might have brought coronavirus to Wuhan — where the outbreak first emerged last year. A senior State official told Fox News that Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell called in Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai over China’s “blatant, global” disinformation campaign on the novel coronavirus. It’s unclear whether other statements might have been discussed at the meeting. But it comes after foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian wrote on Twitter: “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals?” Zhao went on to suggest that it “might be [the] US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” “Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation,” he wrote. Days earlier, China’s ambassador to South Africa also downplayed his country’s role in the pandemic. “Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus originated from China, let alone ‘made in China,'” he tweeted. The remarks come as part of a massive public relations campaign from the Chinese to convince the world that the United States bears the blame for the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed roughly 5,000 lives around the globe. The Chinese government has already published a book in English — with translations in the works in French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic — touting its handling of the deadly disease. “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting COVID-19 in 2020” is a mishmash of glowing state media reports on the accomplishments of President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party and the dominance of the Chinese system in fighting the crisis.

Kudos to our State Dept for calling out the Chinese for their lies and brazen bs.  We cannot tolerate them blaming US for THEIR incompetence in handling this virus that came from THEIR country….and which they sat on and didn’t admit to the world for two months!  Again, if you’re out shopping..BUY AMERICAN!  Let’s vote with our wallets and tell China what it can go do with itself.

Inside China’s high-stakes campaign to smear the United States over coronavirus

If you listened to Chinese state-run media, you’d think President Trump went to China and released vials of COVID-19 on groups of unsuspecting men, women and children. Beijing has been bending over backward trying to convince the world that the United States is the real culprit behind the quickly spreading virus that’s already claimed more than 4,600 lives across the globe. It’s a high-stakes strategy for the Asian nation fighting to keep its superpower status amid a national lockdown and palpable anger over claims that Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus, at first covered it up, triggering a worldwide health and economic crisis. The Chinese government has already published a book in English — with translations in the works in French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic — touting its handling of the deadly disease. “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combatting COVID-19 in 2020” is a mishmash of glowing state media reports on the accomplishments of President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party and the dominance of the Chinese system in fighting the crisis. At best, China’s aggressive new campaign can be chalked up to ambitious propaganda. At its worst, it’s a reckless display from a country that has actively misled the world while working overtime to save its own skin, foreign affairs expert Gordon G. Chang told Fox News. Chang believes Beijing has been laying the groundwork for a PR attack against the United States for more than a month, first by throwing doubt on the origin of COVID-19 and second, by slamming America’s handling of previous diseases like the swine flu, which decimated China’s pork industry. On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted that the U.S. military might have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan. “When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao said. A few days earlier, Lin Songtian, China’s ambassador to South Africa, said: “Although the epidemic first broke out in China, it did not necessarily mean that the virus is originated from China, let alone ‘made in China.'” Vague and misleading statements like the one from Lin are ripped right out of China’s propaganda playbook and attempt to sow doubt about the global crisis. Chinese officials have also pushed back on the expression “Wuhan coronavirus” — saying the name used frequently by U.S. conservative commentators unfairly stigmatizes the world’s most populous country. Chang said it’s just another tactic in China’s playbook, carefully choreographed to make Americans look petty and racist. “This an all-out assault on the United States,” Chang said. In December, when the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, many media around the world began referring to it as the “Wuhan virus.” But last month, the World Health Organization renamed the illness COVID-19 so as not to link it to a specific location or group of people. The name change didn’t stop some, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who blew past warnings and deliberately referred to it as the “Wuhan virus” after China’s foreign ministry called it “highly irresponsible” to do so. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, went even further Wednesday. “Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up,” O’Brien said at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington. “There’s lots of open-source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals, that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation, or that sort of thing, so that the word of this virus could not get out. It probably cost the world community two months.” O’Brien said if experts would have had those two months to get ahead of the spread of the virus, “I think we could have dramatically curtailed what happened both in China and what’s now happening across the world.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the Communist Party is pointing the finger at the U.S. so it can dampen discontent back home. “The Chinese military portal Xilu.com recently published an article baselessly claiming that the virus is ‘a biochemical weapon produced by the U.S. to target China,’” Rubio said. Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, has frequently used the term “Wuhan virus” on the Senate floor. Earlier this week, several social media users took House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to task when he referred to it as “the Chinese coronavirus.” Instead of backing down, Chang believes officials should keep calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” and push back on accusations of racism. “This isn’t a Republican thing. We all need to unite and for people to say, ‘this is racist’ is irresponsible,” Chang said. “There is no race known as Wuhanese.” Chang also said calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus” keeps pressure on the Chinese government and forces it to be held accountable by the rest of the world for its initial response to the global crisis, which was widely regarded as abysmal. China, though, is using everything in its arsenal to paint itself as a global hero, rewriting history and going so far as to demand a thank you for containing the virus as long as it did. “We should say righteously that the U.S. owes China an apology, the world owes China a thank you,” an editorial on state news agency Xinhua read. Also peculiar is that Beijing — which is normally quick to censor news — has refused to step in as a wave of anti-American conspiracy theories flood the internet. Among the rumors is that the U.S. created the coronavirus to make China look bad as well as one that accuses the government of covering up thousands of deaths by classifying them as the regular flu. “It’s more than just some disinformation or an official narrative,” Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Schools of Information, told The Washington Post. “It’s an orchestrated, all-out campaign by the Chinese government through every channel at a level you rarely see. It’s a counteroffensive.”

So, let’s all get on the same sheet of music and call it the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese coronavirus,” whichever you prefer.  And, NOW is a good time to start paying more attention to what you buy.  Avoid products made in China, and buy American!  I recently bought some New Balance tennis shoes.  NB is the only major tennis shoe company that makes most of its products here in the USA.  All the others (i.e. Nike, Adidas, etc) are all made in China.  Consider that approach when buying products, and vote with your wallet.

U.S. Orders Cap on Chinese State Media Personnel

The Trump administration is ordering China’s major state media companies to sharply reduce the ranks of Chinese nationals in the U.S. in retaliation for years of tightening restrictions on American news outlets by Beijing. State Department officials announced Monday that a personnel cap is being imposed on four Chinese media companies, forcing them to reduce their Chinese employees in the U.S. to 100 in total, from 160. The four outlets targeted—Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, China Global Television Network and China Daily—must comply with the new limits by March 13, the officials said. Those outlets purvey Chinese government views, and the State Department last month said their U.S. operations will be subject to the rules for representatives of a foreign government, not treated as independent news media. The Trump administration has adopted a get-tough policy toward Beijing, using tariffs, investment reviews and other tools as punishment for what it sees as a lack of reciprocity in its treatment of American businesses, products and, now, news organizations. In announcing the new cap, the State Department officials cited “a longstanding, negative trend” in Beijing’s treatment of foreign journalists. Though the officials said the action wasn’t taken in response to a particular incident, it comes after Beijing last month ordered the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters over a headline on an opinion column that the Chinese government and many Chinese say was offensive. The headline referred to China as “the real sick man of Asia.”

We’re happy to see the Trump Administration taking a tougher posture with China.  This is a good thing, and long overdue.

Trump rallies massive crowd in India, inks military deal with Modi

President Trump drew the crowd of a lifetime to kick off his first official visit to India. The president, who loves to play to a big audience, was met with a raucous ovation Monday as he addressed a crowd of more than 110,000 people in a joint rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Along with first lady Melania Trump, the visiting first family packed the world’s largest cricket stadium, as the U.S. president declared America’s love for the country and solidarity with its people — and announced a military partnership with the Indian government. “The first lady and I have just traveled 8,000 miles around the globe to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump said, drawing massive cheers. The two heads of state spoke at the “Namaste Trump” rally at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. It was a follow-up to the “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston last September. Later in his visit, the president and first lady toured the site of the Taj Mahal. The famous Indian landmark had served as the inspiration for a hotel and casino Trump once owned in Atlantic City, N.J. At the rally, Trump announced a $3 billion deal that will send state-of-the-art military helicopters to the country. “I believe that the United States should be India’s premier defense partner and that’s the way it’s working out,” Trump said. The president also spoke of both countries’ desire to combat radical Islamic terrorism. “Both of our countries have been hurt by the pain and turmoil of terrorism,” the president said, before boasting of the defeat of ISIS and the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump then drew a rousing ovation when he touted his administration’s work with Pakistan “to crack down on the terrorist organizations and militants that operate on the Pakistani border.” The president closed with a message of positivity and hope for a bright future for the two countries and the world. “So today I say to every Indian — North and South, Hindu and Muslim, Jewish and Christian, rich and poor, young and old: take pride in the glories of your past, unite for an even brighter future, and let our two nations always stand together as powerful defenders of peace and liberty, and the hope of a better world for all of humanity,” he said.

Senate Democrat Murphy acknowledges meeting with Iran’s foreign minister

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., confirmed on Tuesday that he met with Iran’s foreign minister, arguing that “it’s dangerous not to talk to adversaries.” The two met at the Munich Security conference amid tough rhetoric between President Trump and Iran’s leadership. Murphy claimed he told Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Congress is also responsible for setting U.S. foreign policy. “Many of us have met w Zarif over the years, under Obama and Trump,” Murphy tweeted. “So though no one in Congress can negotiate with Zarif or carry official U.S. government messages, there is value in having a dialogue.” According to his tweets, Murphy also urged Zarif to control any proxies that might attack U.S. forces, as well as release American citizens unlawfully detained in the nation. Murphy’s tweets confirmed an earlier report that Murphy and other Democratic senators held a secret meeting with Zarif. It’s unclear which other senators were involved. In a Medium post, Murphy expanded on his meeting and clarified that he wasn’t trying to sidestep the administration’s foreign policy. “I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State — I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator. I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so,” Murphy wrote. “But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should. And Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy. A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.” Murphy’s chamber recently voted on a war powers resolution aimed at reining in Trump’s actions against Iran. The resolution received a majority vote but ultimately failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overcome Trump’s veto. The meeting came as the Trump administration seeks to increasingly isolate Iran through the re-imposition of sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign” on the Islamic republic. Murphy has been a harsh critic of the administration’s policy toward Iran and said in a Medium post that he had raised the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq and told Zarif that despite differences, Congress and the administration are united in sending a message that any Iran-backed attack on American troops in Iraq would be “an unacceptable escalation.” The senator also said he had raised Iran’s support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and Americans held prisoner in Iran.

What Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has done here is mind-boggling, and sinister at best.  The President and the Executive Branch of government are responsible for setting and maintaining our nation’s foreign policy.  It is NOT something shared with the legislative branch.  Sen. Murphy knows this, despite his disingenuous comments to the contrary.  To be clear…  He is consciously, proactively undermining the Trump Administration’s foreign policy efforts with Iran because he disagrees with them, and he’s a Dem that doesn’t like Trump.  It’s that simple.  At best, Sen. Murphy is in violation of the Logan Act, and should be censured by the Senate.  At worst, he is undermining our national security, and might be engaging in treasonous activities and should be criminally charged accordingly. Sen. Murphy has NO business doing what he’s doing, and has no authority to be doing it whatsoever.  Yes, there ARE three co-equal branches of government, Senator.  But, they each have their separate roles and responsibilities and those roles and responsibilities are clearly laid out in our Constitution, Sir.  Perhaps you should read it.  The conduct of foreign policy resides solely in the purview of the executive branch.  Period.  Sen. Murphy is a legislator, and someone needs to tell him to stay in his lane.  What a self-serving, sanctimonious, sleazy tool…

Trump cuts short North Korea summit after dispute over sanctions: ‘Sometimes you have to walk’

President Trump abruptly walked away from negotiations with North Korea in Vietnam and headed back to Washington on Thursday afternoon, saying the U.S. is unwilling to meet Kim Jong Un’s demand of lifting all sanctions on the rogue regime without first securing its meaningful commitment to denuclearization. Trump, speaking in Hanoi, Vietnam, told reporters he had asked Kim to do more regarding his intentions to denuclearize, and “he was unprepared to do that.” “Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said at a solo press conference following the summit. Trump specifically said negotiations fell through after the North demanded a full removal of U.S.-led international sanctions in exchange for the shuttering of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear facility. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the United States wasn’t willing to make a deal without the North committing to giving up its secretive nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon, as well as its missile and warheads program. “It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.” “I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” Trump added, echoing his remarks from earlier in the day, when he insisted that “speed” was not important. “We’re in position to do something very special.” Both leaders’ motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other after both a lunch and the signing ceremony were scuttled. Trump’s closing news conference was moved up, and he departed for Washington on Air Force One several hours ahead of schedule. The president said he trusted Kim’s promise that he would not resume nuclear and missile testing, but that the current U.S. sanctions would stay in place.

Sounds like Trump made the right call.  “Sometimes you have to walk.”  Indeed..  For more, click on the text above..