Foreign Policy

Opinion/Analysis: Trump Should Copy Reagan and End Détente — with China

President Trump seems resigned to the expectation that China will be of no help in resolving the North Korea challenge. That he (and his predecessors) ever believed otherwise is the most salient evidence of the consensus by successive U.S. administrations that a soft touch toward the People’s Republic of China is in order because it is a growing, influential power. Soon, so the argument goes, the PRC will be the largest economy in the world and an able military power, capable of altering outcomes in ways detrimental to the United States. The U.S. must avoid confrontation lest this burgeoning power react in kind. Wrong. It’s the same thinking — yes, in a quite different context and time — that led earlier presidents to accept accommodation with the USSR during the Cold War. Ronald Reagan recognized that the policy benefited the Soviet Union and that Moscow was in no position to dictate terms once pressure was applied. President Trump should take this approach toward the PRC. Doing so would lead to a more cooperative China. There are several manifestations of America’s 21st-century détente policy toward Beijing beside Washington’s failure to hold Beijing to account over its rogue client regime in Pyongyang. These include the tepid U.S. response to China’s outlandish claims of sovereignty in the East and South China Seas, and Washington’s overall reluctance to acknowledge and counter Beijing’s growing military capabilities; complete silence as the PRC has violated at least the spirit if not the letter of its agreements to let Hong Kong develop with its own political system since the British handover in 1997; and the snubs, by presidents of both parties, to democratic Taiwan in ways large and small, to avoid irking China. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on China policy so far. The president-elect’s call to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and near-mocking of the PRC when it stole a U.S. Navy drone during the post-election transition have been supplanted by the president’s apparent desperation to be liked by China’s president and by his declaration in a media interview that his very presence in office caused China to end the currency manipulation of which Candidate Trump had accused Beijing. In the aftermath of Pyongyang’s abuse and murder of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, the president tweeted plaintively that he appreciates that President Xi tried to help with North Korea — with no apparent indication that Xi did any such thing — but that the assistance isn’t working. The administration’s most persistent point of contention with Beijing is the U.S. trade deficit with China. Otherwise, it appears that the only consistency in the administration’s China policy is inconsistency. But a tough, even confrontational U.S. across the policy spectrum is needed. Beijing’s foreign-policy belligerence is meant to distract from its internal social and economic problems. This posture will moderate if it is met firmly by the U.S. and our Asian allies.

Agreed..   To read the rest of this insightful op/ed by Therese Shakeen, click on the text above.

Cuba deal rollback: Trump says he’s nixing Obama’s ‘one-sided’ pact

President Trump, speaking at a Miami theater associated with Cuban exiles, announced Friday he is nixing his predecessor’s “one-sided deal” with the Communist nation – moving to restrict individual travel to the island, crack down on the flow of U.S. cash to the Cuban military and demand key reforms in Havana. While stopping short of a full reversal, Trump said he would challenge Cuba to come back to the table with a new agreement. “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd. Trump cast his announcement Friday as the fulfillment of a campaign pledge to turn back former President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to the country. “I keep my promises,” Trump said. “And now that I am your president, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime.” A cornerstone of the new policy is to ensure Americans traveling to Cuba only support private businesses and services, banning financial transactions with the dozens of enterprises run by the military-linked corporation GAESA. The Trump administration also says it will strictly enforce the 12 authorized categories allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba – banning one particular type of travel, known as individual “people-to-people” trips, seen as ripe for abuse by would-be tourists. Most U.S. travelers to Cuba will again be required to visit the island as part of organized tour groups run by American companies. Obama eliminated the tour requirement, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to book solo trips and spend their money with individual bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurants and taxi drivers. The rules also require a daylong schedule of activities designed to expose the travelers to ordinary Cubans. Trump focused his speech Friday on the crimes and misdeeds of the Castro government, saying his administration would not “hide from it.” He accused the regime of harboring “cop killers, hijackers and terrorists” while casting the policy changes as meant to encourage a free Cuba. “With God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve,” Trump said. Critics of the United States’ decades-long freeze – and embargo – with Cuba say it failed to spur such changes, and had welcomed Obama’s outreach as a fresh approach. But many Cuban-American lawmakers recoiled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American lawmaker who helped craft the new policy, spoke before the president in Miami on Friday and took a shot at Trump’s predecessor for his visit to Cuba last March. “A year and a half ago … an American president landed in Havana to outstretch his hand to a regime. Today, a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba,” Rubio said.

Exactly!!  This is great news for the good people of Cuba who have been brutalized by the communist dictator Castro brothers for over half a century.  Outstanding!!   🙂

Former US officials, senior North Korea reps reportedly prepare for talks

Senior North Korean officials are reportedly preparing to come to the U.S. to talk with former government officials, the first time a meeting has happened on U.S. soil since 2011. The officials representing the U.S. usually take part in Track 2 – or unofficial – talks with North Korea, The Washington Post reported Sunday. North Korean government officials were still preparing for the talks. The State Department has not yet approved visas for the Pyongyang officials, according to the paper. “The North Koreans have expressed an interest in engagement, but nothing’s been approved yet,” a person familiar with the planned talks told The Post. Should the talks go on, some might see it as an indication that North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un is willing to open up a dialogue with the Trump administration, despite Kim’s hopes to develop a nuclear weapon and recent missile tests. So-called “Track 1.5” talks have previously taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Berlin and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, but haven’t taken place in the U.S. since July 2011 – before Kim took over power in North Korea. The newspaper reported that the meeting was being organized by Donald S. Zagoria of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He worked as a consultant on Asia during President Carter’s administration and organized previous talks. The talks are planned to be ran independently of the State Department. However, if the visas are approved, it would be seen as approval from the State Department. Choe Son Hui is expected to lead the Pyongyang delegation. Choe is director of the U.S. affairs department in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry. She previously participated in six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and other Track 1.5 talks. Aside from recent rhetoric from the Trump administration on North Korea’s missile tests and Kim’s insistence his missile launches are for protection, upcoming U.S.-South Korea military drills could put a damper on talks before the visas are even considered.

An interesting development..  We’ll, of course, keep a close eye on this one.  For more on this story, click on the text above.

US quietly sent $221M to Palestinians in Obama’s last hours

Officials said Monday that the Obama administration– in its waning hours– defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking. A State Department official and several congressional aides told The Associated Press that the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office. In addition to the $221 million for the Palestinians, the Obama administration also told Congress on Friday it was going ahead with the release of another $6 million in foreign affairs spending, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations, the congressional aides said. The aides and the State Department official weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated. The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and is to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress. The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House. Trump has vowed to be a strong supporter of Israel and has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington next month. Some of Trump’s incoming administration has been split on whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Washington Post noted that most of the world doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. East Jerusalem is also considered “occupied territory,” which Palestinians hope to call their capital if a two-state solution is ever reached. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, said Wednesday that she would back the embassy move, while Trump’s Defense Secretary nominee retired Marine Gen. James Mattis said he would “stick to U.S. policy” regarding Jerusalem. Trump’s next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, supports Israeli settlements and other changes to U.S. policies in the region. Friedman said he looked forward to carrying out his duties from “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” even though the embassy is in Tel Aviv. Trump advisers have said that the president-elect will follow through on his call for moving the embassy.

This should outrage every clear-thinking American.  The audacity of Obama to just send over $200 MILLION dollars of our hard-earned tax dollars to the Islamic terrorist affiliated Palestinian government is shocking, and deeply offensive!  Trump should do everything in his power to stop that cold in its tracks if at all possible.  Not only is it outrageous, and offensive..  But, it sends absolutely the WRONG message to that part of the world.  Obama always loved to cozy up to dictators, communist nations, Islamic wackos, and other evil regimes…while throwing our friends under the bus.  This was one of Obama’s final acts of giving we-the-taxpayer, and Israel, the finger.  Awful..

CNN Runs Fake News Story About Russia Closing Anglo-American School in Moscow

CNN, one of the media outfits that regularly complains about “fake news,” ran a fake news story of its own when it claimed that Russia was closing an Anglo-American school in Moscow as retaliation for President Obama’s sanctions. “Russian authorities ordered the closure of the Anglo-American School of Moscow, a US official briefed on the matter said. The order from the Russian government closes the school, which serves children of US, British and Canadian embassy personnel, to US and foreign nationals,” reported CNN. However, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova responded swiftly by denying that the school had been closed. “US officials ‘anonymously informed’ their media that Russia closed the Anglo-American School in Moscow as a retaliatory measure,” Zakharova wrote on her official Facebook page. “That’s a lie. Apparently, the White House has completely lost its senses and began inventing sanctions against its own children.” Zakharova accused CNN of spreading “false information citing official American sources”. The misreported story is an embarrassment for the network, which has run a series of articles over the past month complaining about so-called fake news. Russia’s actual response to the sanctions was to propose that Vladimir Putin declare “31 employees of the US Embassy in Moscow and four diplomats from the US Consulate service in St. Petersburg as persons ‘non-grata.’” However, Putin later rejected this measure. Meanwhile, in a related story, a senior U.S. official told Reuters that President-elect Donald Trump could reverse Obama’s executive order once he takes office and allow the 35 expelled Russian officials to return to America.

Are there people who actually watch CNN still?  Unreal..

Huckabee: We Ought to Jackhammer the UN Into the East River

During Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends,” former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) suggested taking a jackhammer to the United Nations after the Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements. “I think we ought to get jackhammers and we ought to jackhammer the whole thing off, float it into the East River,” Huckabee said. “Ask anybody who would like to host it, to come pick it up, haul it off. And it’ll be a lot easier to park in Manhattan after we get rid of it.”

No kidding..  The United States SHOULD remain in the UN, and retain it’s permanent position on the UN Security Council with its veto power.  That said..  What has the UN ever done for the national security, or economic, interests of the United States?  Short answer..nothing.  And yet we throw BILLIONS and BILLIONS of our hard-earned tax dollars at this organization…knowing we’ll get nothing in return.  That’s a very bad investment, and it’s needs to stop.  So, we should kick the UN out of NYC, and send to Geneva, Switzerland or some other western European nation…and then let those nations fund it.  Kudos to former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) for saying what needs to be said more often.

Editorial: Obama’s Shameful Parting Shot at Israel

In a parting, spiteful shot at Israel, the Obama administration permitted a U.N. Security Council resolution to pass that seeks to permanently change the international legal status of so-called Israeli “settlements” in Jerusalem and the disputed West Bank. Departing from almost 50 years of bipartisan American precedent — and from the administration’s own past practice — the Obama administration abstained from a vote for the resolution demanding that Israel “cease all settlement activities” and declaring that all existing settlements were in “flagrant violation” of international law. Just yesterday the resolution appeared dead, as Egypt, the resolution’s original sponsor, withdrew it under pressure from the incoming Trump administration. The president-elect took the unusual step of injecting himself into a U.N. controversy before taking office precisely because the Obama foreign-policy team was broadcasting its intent to abstain. Incredibly, however, four nations with precisely zero security interests at stake in the Middle East — New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal — revived the resolution and forced a vote. The administration’s fecklessness has harmed Israel, endangers ordinary Israelis, and hurts the elusive quest for an enduring peace. Moreover, the Trump administration is powerless to revoke the resolution: It would have to introduce and pass a new resolution, and either Russia or China would be sure to veto it. Thus, Israel will find itself at the bargaining table in any future peace negotiation with Palestinian territorial demands backed by the U.N.’s most powerful body. By declaring that settlements — including “settlements” in Israel’s capital — violate international law, the resolution purports to carve into stone the armistice lines that existed at the end of Israel’s war for independence. Yet these lines didn’t become lawful permanent borders precisely because hostile Arab nations specifically refused to recognize the existing battle lines as Israel’s border, specifically declined to create a Palestinian state, and instead maintained a posture of armed hostility to Israel. Indeed, since the West Bank hasn’t been part of a sovereign nation since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the so-called occupied territories aren’t truly “occupied” under international law. They’re more accurately termed “disputed” territories, with the precise resolution of the dispute to be negotiated by the relevant parties. There are implications for ordinary Israelis as well. If an Israeli lives in a suburb of Jerusalem, is he or she now a criminal? Can he be arrested and tried in activist courts in Europe or in international legal tribunals? Radical U.N. action will only harden Palestinian intransigence and worsen already rising anti-Semitism (thinly disguised as anti-Zionism) on the international left. To put this radical resolution in context, under its terms, it is now an alleged violation of international law that the Western Wall remains in Israeli hands. It’s difficult to interpret the Obama administration’s actions as anything other than a parting shot at Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Obama administration’s frustrations with the Netanyahu government are well known, but now was hardly the time to break with almost 50 years of American policy, and frustration or spite were hardly sufficient reasons. As Trump said in his statement, if there is to be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, “it will only come through direct negotiations between the parties and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.” The world will soon move on from Barack Obama, but he’s doing his best to extend his legacy of failure and appeasement. The Palestinians deserved a rebuke. Instead they received a gift. Our closest Middle Eastern ally will pay the price.

Agreed!!  Obama is such a petty man.  This was essentially him giving Bibi the finger and sayin, “nanny nanny boo boo!”..and it is the regular folks in Israel who will pay the price for Obama’s pettiness.  Ironically, it is Bibi that may benefit from this, as he will be emboldened to fight back against the brazenly anti-Semitic United Nations.  The editors over at National Review were responsible for that spot on op/ed.