Well, he did hold Iran responsible. But the statement was not very menacing. We’ll see what President Trump says and does.
Well, he did hold Iran responsible. But the statement was not very menacing. We’ll see what President Trump says and does.
Well now, that’s bad. You don’t cancel a meeting with someone like Angela Merkel unless some serious schmidt is going to hit the fan, or is at least in danger of doing so.
According to CNN:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly canceled a scheduled trip to Germany where he was planning to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel “due to pressing issues,” the State Department said early Tuesday.
No specific reason was given for the cancellation. The press pool traveling with Pompeo has not been told where they are going next, and have been warned they may not be able to report from the country they are going to until after they leave.
“Unfortunately, we must reschedule the Berlin meetings due to pressing issues. We look forward to rescheduling this important set of meetings. The Secretary looks forward to being in Berlin soon,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, according to the press pool traveling with Pompeo.
He’s probably headed to Iraq. But either way, we are in danger of war now with either Iran or Venezuela. We’re squeezing the Iranians hard, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they strike.
I hope that White House has thought through the end game here, because if we’re seeking regime change, the regime is not going to change without a major fight.
So this Venezuela thing is starting to move toward a point of no return as President Trump’s own advisors seek to box him in and force military action in Venezuela.
Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton made statements Wednesday that put U.S. credibility on the line, saying military force would be used if necessary. They both went beyond the “all options are on the table” formulation they previously have been using.
According to the Washington Post:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a peaceful resolution was still desired but that “military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” he told Fox Business Network.
Asked if the U.S. military would be used to protect Guaidó, White House national security adviser John Bolton told MSNBC that President Trump “has been clear and concise on this point: All options are open. We want a peaceful transfer of power. But we are not going to see Guaidó mistreated by this regime.”
This is what’s known in technical, foreign policy language as a BAD IDEA. Venezuela is a problem, but the U.S. military is already over-extended with obligations and the need to be ready to face true enemies like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and various Islamists. WE HAVE TO CHOOSE OUR FIGHTS. Great nations of the past have fallen when they tried to do too much.
The military, and Trump, are unconvinced they we need to send in troops. But they are being dragged into a conflict, and Trump needs to rein in Pompeo and Bolton if he doesn’t want to invade Venezuela.
Top Pentagon officials emphasized nonmilitary options and said they had not been given orders to pre-position troops or prepare for conflict. “We’re obviously watching the situation very closely in Venezuela. The president’s made it clear that all options are on the table,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in congressional testimony. “To date, most of our actions have been diplomatic and economic.”
Trump has shown little willingness to plunge into Venezuela, according to current and former aides, although he has already imposed sanctions on Cuba — which the administration has accused of controlling the Venezuelan military — and threatened more. Russia, the White House said in a statement late Wednesday, “must leave” Venezuela “and renounce their support of the Maduro regime.”
The president has occasionally mused to others that Bolton wants to get him into wars. Two advisers who have discussed Venezuela with him said Trump often brings up Florida politics, and his golf club in Doral, when talking about the subject. Both said Trump was unlikely to authorize any sort of long-term military action there.
At the same time, however, aides said he has given Bolton wide purview over Venezuela.
As he has pushed for a more aggressive policy, Bolton has angered some within and outside the White House. Even before Tuesday’s events, his staff clashed with Gen. Paul Selva, Dunford’s vice chairman, during a meeting to address the ongoing Venezuelan crisis, according to several officials with knowledge of the exchange.
Trump has to make some decisions. Once we get into Venezuela, the extent to which we will have to escalate is completely unpredictable. China and Russia will be all too happy to bog us down there.
The situation is tragic, but we cannot save everyone. The Venezuelans chose the people who now oppress them. Socialism has repeatedly been shown to lead to tragedy, despite what some leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are telling you.
Of course, still, the Venezuelans don’t deserve this fate. But we, and our brave young men and women, don’t deserve to be pulled into it either.
From remarks Tuesday at the State Department:
To those who want to come here: Come here legally. Legal immigration is the surest way to obtain the better life you are looking for here in the United States of America.
From a security standpoint, there is no proper accounting of who these individuals in the caravan are, and this poses an unacceptable security risk to the United States. Moreover, many of these people are ripe targets for human traffickers and others who would exploit them. We don’t want that to happen.
I’ve spoken twice in the last two days to my counterpart, Foreign Secretary Videgaray. We trust that Mexico’s leaders know what the best steps are to resolve this situation, and we urge timely action on their part. The United States also has a message for those who are currently part of this caravan or any caravan which follows: You will not be successful at getting into the United States illegally, no matter what. I repeat: The caravan will not cross our southern border illegally under any circumstances.
What happened to all the talk about the Logan Act, now that Democrats are conducting foreign policy as private citizens?
From the Logan Act:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Trump officials were threatened with the act, which is never enforced, for actions taken after the election but before the inauguration. But they were the incoming administration. It would be foolish of them not to have some contact with foreign leaders. Kerry is the administration that just left power. There’s a big difference. Evidently, he thinks he is still secretary of state.
Kerry admits he’s been engaging in chats with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in which Kerry appears to be trying to extract good behavior from the Iranians in order to mitigate the case for President Trump’s moves to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal. Other countries that are party to the deal so far have not gone along with Trump.
Kerry admitted in an interview this week that he is conducting foreign policy:
What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different. I mean, and I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues.
The actual secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, Friday blasted Kerry for playing dress up:
“It’s inconsistent with what the foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this president, and it’s beyond inappropriate,” Pompeo said during an appearance at the State Department. “I’ll leave the legal determinations to others, but what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented.”
In a newly released report, the International Atomic Energy Agency states that North Korea is continuing and expanding its nuclear program even as President Trump maintains that his outreach to Pyongyang is a success.
From the report, which uses the term DPRK for Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea:
The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear programme and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern. The DPRK’s nuclear activities, including those in relation to the Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant (5 MW(e)) reactor, the use of the building which houses the reported centrifuge enrichment facility and the construction at the LWR, as well as the DPRK’s sixth nuclear test, are clear violations of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2375 (2017) and are deeply regrettable.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to North Korea next week to try to salvage the process. As columnist Josh Rogin suggests in the Washington Post, Kim Jong-un is playing Trump, with success:
The fundamental problem with the Trump-Kim scheme remains: Until there is tangible evidence Kim is actually willing to denuclearize, each concession only plays into his strategy to stall for time, relieve financial pressure and normalize his regime’s status as a de facto nuclear state.
Unlike Trump, Pompeo has never said he believes Kim is sincere, only that the United States must test that sincerity. Time is almost up for North Korea to pass or fail that test. Pompeo must not return from his fourth trip to Pyongyang empty-handed.
Actually, returning with some new worthless commitment would be worse, because it buys North Korea more time. I have said since Trump agreed to play nice with Kim early this year that North Korea was doing what it always does, fooling everyone while it goes about creating a nuclear arsenal.
Trump was bold in actually credibly threatening North Korea. Kim needed more time to develop his capability to hit the United States with nuclear ICBMs, so he agreed to start a new “process.”
Unfortunately, with Trump’s cooperation, Kim is getting the time he needs to forever put the United States in peril of being destroyed by a third world, totalitarian dictator.
Trump told Reuters this week that there “most likely” will be another summit. Unfortunately, this will probably take weeks or months to arrange. But at the very least, Trump needs to deliver Kim an ultimatum. It’s time, and hopefully not past time, to transform back from good cop to bad cop.
Released by the White House. From their recent meeting. Charming.
President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Tillerson, saying Tuesday that he will replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Gina Haspel, a longtime CIA official and currently the deputy director, will be nominated to become CIA director. She would be the first woman to do so. Both Pompeo and Haspel must be confirmed by Congress.
Trump announced the move via Twitter.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson’s departure has long been expected. He and Trump never bonded, and even many outside the administration questioned Tillerson’s suitability for the job.
Before departing the White House for California, Trump explained that he and Tillerson just weren’t on the same page:
Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along, actually, quite well but we disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal; I think it’s terrible, I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently.
So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well. Rex is a very good man. I like Rex a lot. I really appreciate his commitment to service and I’ll be speaking to Rex over a long period of time . . . I actually got along well with Rex, but really it was a different mindset, a different thinking.
A spokesman for Tillerson told the Washington Post he “had every intention of staying” in his job and was “unaware of the reason” for his firing. The White House, but apparently not Trump, told Tillerson Friday that he would be leaving. Tillerson was traveling in Africa, and he cut the trip short.
A White House official Tuesday put out word that Trump wanted to have a new team in place before starting talks with North Korea and before he begins to embark on other discussions related to trade.
Haspel may be a controversial choice. While she has received rewards for her service, questions have been raised about her involvement with CIA detention sites. Nevertheless, despite his past conflicts with the agency, Trump has decided on what would appear to amount to a status quo choice by choosing from within its ranks.
For Tillerson, the announcement via Twitter amounts to a pretty unceremonious dumping. Usually with these things, there’s a small event at the Whtie House where the president and both the incoming and outgoing people make remarks and everyone pretends to be happy about the situation.
Trump did issue a statement thanking Tillerson, at least. “I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,” Trump said.