As leader of the Executive Branch, President Donald Trump now takes on the ceremonial position of “Chief of state” as well as “Chief policy maker”. He has tried to balance both crowns on his head during a recent meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The event was covered by Mark Landler in a recent New York Times article. As “Chief of State,” The Donald tried to foster a friendly relationship with the foreign leader by dictating the similarities between them. This similarity is, of course, the fact that both leaders were victims of former President Barack Obama’s wiretapping. This act of appeasement was not taken well by the Chancellor who simply shuffled her notes and gave a very thin smile.
As “Chief of State,” The Donald tried to foster a friendly relationship with the foreign leader by dictating the similarities between them. This similarity is, of course, the fact that both leaders were victims of former President Barack Obama’s wiretapping. This joke, or in Trump’s case, issue of great urgency did not sit too well with the Chancellor who simply responded with a thin smile.
Then came the “Chief policymaker.” Throughout his campaign, The Donald has criticized NATO’s infrastructure by advocating for members to increase their own military spending in order to prevent themselves from becoming heavily reliant on America. The Donald made sure to bring this topic up during the press conference and it seemed to be successful when Mrs. Merkel responded to such policies. She stated that Germany was doing its best to increase military spending however also indicated that NATO had more compelling priorities such as developing regions within Africa.
What gets to me, however, is that the meeting was falsely symbolized as “The great disrupter confronting the last defender of liberal world order.”
This notion undermines leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who si currently trying to preserve a liberal political atmosphere. He recently responded with the following tweet “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada” after Trump placed a temporary ban on all refugees from Syria and other nations. Justin Trudeau also advocates for free trade. He recently presented an economic policy to the European Union entitled The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Within the proposal, he defined the benefits that the middle class within Europe and Canada will experience if free trade is upheld between the two regions.
From a strictly political perspective, I would say that Trump is doing a well enough job of being both the “Chief policymaker” and “Chief of the state.” He made sure to confront the Chancellor on issues that he finds important such as Germany taking advantage of the US through trading, but doing so in a respectful manner. For example, he did not blatantly attack Germany’s acceptance of refugees but instead made a remark that “Immigration is a privilege, not a right.”
Remember the months-long public hearings conducted in 1997 by the Republican-led US Congress on whether China helped Clinton win the 1996 elections?
Well, then you probably think that a similar investigation will take place by the current Republican-led US Congress on the basis that the current Trump appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions conducted meetings with a Russian Ambassador during Trump’s campaign for the presidency and lied about it to a Congressional Confirmation Hearing.
The author of a recent New York Times article, Carl Hulse states that being in the majority matters, both in starting an investigation and in stopping one. This opinion is out of context however given the fact that many Republicans are in fact strongly pushing for an investigation on Jeff Sessions.
Of course, this opinion is out of context given that both the Democrats and Republicans are pushing for an investigation on Jeff Sessions.
The difference is that Democrats want a special bipartisan inquiry into the issue whilst Republicans’ want the Senate Intelligence Committee taking things into its own hands. One would have an open investigation televised live on cable news and C-span with witnesses deemed important by both parties, while the other would be behind closed doors being led by a Republican Chairman. The Senate Intelligence Committee offers the latter.
Republicans make a claim that it does not matter whether the hearings are done privately. The Senate Intelligence Committee is subjectively at a location that would take any other new investigation 6 months to locate. They also state that daily communications of a bipartisan committee would never equal to the success of the Intelligence committee.
However, giving this investigation solely to the committee would allow the republican party to dissolve the accusations laid on Jeff Sessions with the highest form of secrecy. This is clearly their interest given that another Russia tie to the Trump Administration would mean another blow to the GOP. The media has already taken off claiming that the GOP knew about Trumps connection with Russia. Such accusations could hurt the GOP’s grasp on the White House in future years. The GOP needs Jeff Sessions to be found truthful just as much as Trump does.
The Republican party is bleeding, and the Committee may turn out to be a band-aid. Instead of a “behind the doors” investigation, there needs to be an open bipartisan inquiry.
America’s allies are a little tense about Trump’s administration in regards to foreign policy. The Las Vegas Review- Journal discusses this being the need for Mike Pence’s first actions on the international platform.
The severity of Pence’s job can be understood with an analysis of which countries Trump has pissed off.
Germany and Belgium are only a few countries who are worried that the President will not stay committed to the goals of transatlantic institutions such as NATO and the European Union. Trump recently stated during his campaign that he will only offer help to countries against Russia if they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” This has put countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey and Ukraine under tremendous stress given that they are currently facing the threat of Russian aggression. Trump’s mentioning of an isolationist foreign policy has not ameliorated the situation.
On the other hand, Donald Trump #2 has stated that he will not follow an isolationist foreign policy given that he will be heavily involved with defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Afghanistan. For payment, Trump has said that he will put his hands on the oil fields in Iraq, which is unsurprisingly similar to how Trump treats his women.
So guess what? Iraq’s mad.
Also, Mike Pence is heading over to all the aforementioned countries.
According to The Brussels Times, Pence is currently at the 53rd Security Conference in Munich, which started just today and will end on the 19th. Pence will then meet the leaders of European Institutions beginning on the 20th of this month. Pence will also take part in a NATO summit this upcoming May in Belgium. It is unclear as to what Mike Pence will say and do to alleviate the situation, so hopefully, he reads this blog.
Mr. Vice President,
Please understand that America must utilize all its power to make sure that Russian aggression does not fall upon members of NATO. Trump’s conditions of aid for countries that are in need of American support go against the very logic that President John F Kennedy brought to light when he declared “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I understand that America leads the pack in spending for NATO, so decrease the spending if that is what must be done. However, do not leave NATO.
Unsanctioned Sanction Talks was published by US News just today. Within, author Hayley Hoefer discusses the political rumor that Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor has illegally discussed lifting US sanctions on Russia with Moscow. This along with recent claims made by President Putin on his desire to “restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration” brings a certain question to the surface; will the Trump Administration lift sanctions on Russia?
Now given that this is, in fact, a rumor, there is no clear indication of which sanctions Michael Flynn spoke of.
Let’s take a few guesses.
The most recent sanction put on Russia came as a result of the Obama administration reacting to Russia’s illegal involvement in the 2016 election. According to the Administration, the act was an example of “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.” The sanctions took the form of 35 Russian diplomats forced to leave the country within 72 hours.
Few of the other sanctions on Russia revolve largely around the issue of Russian intervention within Ukraine. One such sanction was authorized through Executive Order 13660, which authorized sanctions on individuals responsible for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine. The sanction put travel bans on certain people and continued to impose an economic cost to Russia.
If the Trump Administration wants to lift sanctions on Russia in relation to Crimea, it would result in an outcry from members of both parties who largely agree that Putin will invade one of Eastern Europe’s NATO members. It is against U.S interest for Russia to be awarded a Trump-card on invading its neighbors.
The same applies to sanctions in the result of the Cyber attack. According to Professor Kimberly Marten of Barnard College, GOP leaders such as Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham and John McCain support such sanctions.
It is true that Trump has the power to lift sanctions on Russia, however, it will result in a conflict between the executive and the legislative and cause Donald Trump to lose favor within his own party. Republicans and Democrats both agree that the sanctions are necessary, and in fact, sanctions on Russia has been passed by Congress by large margins before. It should be noted however that Congress has the power to craft legislation intended to apply some or all of the sanctions on Russia lost through Executive Orders. This would only slow down the American political system.
An article by Somini Sengupta on the NewYorkTimes entitled In South Sudan, Mass Killings, Rapes and the Limits of U.S. Diplomacy focuses on Samantha Power’s role with the recent civil war in South Sudan. The perspective shared by the author is that Samantha Powers, US Ambassador to the UN, was not able to properly use diplomacy to prevent mass atrocities within South Sudan.
Ms. Power’s supporters agree that she has done quite enough during her 3-year tenure with the Obama Administration. She has had a key role in dismantling Syria’s use of chemical weapons and imposing sanctions on North Korea. She has continued to use her position to discuss such matters. In fact, it was only a few months ago that she went to the Security Council and asked “Is there no execution of a child that gets under your skin? Is there literally nothing that shames you?” in response to her claims that Iran, Syria, and Russia all share responsibility for the killing of the civilians within Aleppo.
Critics say however that Ms. Powers has used her position only for theater, and cites her failure to impose an arms embargo within South Sudan. The fact of the matter is that South Sudan needs an Arms Embargo now more than ever. The country is ethnically divided after a civil war that broke out three years ago due to a conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former vice President, Riek Machar. United Nations Investigators say that 17,000 children have recently been recruited to fight an oncoming war and that the ethnic divides have caused for over three million people to leave their homes. To impose the arms embargo on South Sudan now would most likely halt another genocide within a Sudanese nation, and it is dauntingly becoming close.
However, Ms. Powers has very little to do with all of this. When the United Nations Security Council voted for an Arms Embargo, there were only 7 votes in favor of such an action, which is 2 votes away from that which is needed. Samantha Powers took this hit quite well warning the Security Council that there would be a cost for imposing “no cost” on South Sudan combatants from carrying out another genocide.
We can only hope that Trump’s new Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Hailey will be able to be as dutiful as Ms. Powers. That she will be able to call the UN out on the atrocities that it allows to take place. However, given that Ms. Hailey has little experience with international affairs, the chances of this is very little.
Julie Davis and Frances Robles recently covered an article entitled, Obama Ends Exemption for Cubans Who Arrive Without Visas. The article focuses on how Obama is no longer allowing Cubans to come into America undocumented, meaning that they will be deported back to the Cuban government. The two authors state that this is one of the last actions taken by Obama to end America’s period of isolation regarding Cuba.
So wait! How exactly is disallowing individuals from coming between America and Cuba an act of appeasement?
Well one needs to understand the nature of the 22 year law that Obama is officially terminating.
The law is clearly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and it dates back to 1995. The very purpose of the law was to weaken the reign of Fidel Castro given that allowing Cubans to have safety within America once they reached American grounds would help to create mass mobilizations of Cubans from out of Cuba. The historic purpose of this law no longer serves the purpose of the Obama administration who wants to reconnect Cuba with America. This is clearly evident by his visit to Cuba in May of 2016. It was the first time that a US sitting president visited the communist ruled island since 1928.
Davis and Robles mention how the policy being taken down could also be a result of the fact that most Cubans currently leaving Cuba for the US are economic refugees. According to the Center for Immigration Studies this is in fact quite true. It is clear that “Cubans coming to the United States now are less likely to be genuine asylum seekers and more likely to be economic migrants.” Given that the Obama administration does not seem to want Cubans leaving their own country due to economic welfare, it is clear that Obama wants to create a new generation of individuals within Cuba who will solve the problems that their country is facing economically.
This is already starting to happen. Over the past few years, the Cuban government has started to implement more free-market initiatives. Cuba has recently mapped out a clear list of permissible small time business where individuals are allowed to hire employees. Islanders are even allowed to play with the market of credit.
It can be safely assumed that Obama’s policies of compelling Cubans to stay within their country and change the country themselves is working more than it is not. The question is however, what will happen when Trump takes office. President Elect Donald Trump has shown a deep desire to get more control on immigration into the United States. Politically it will be very hard for him to reverse Obama’s executive action.
January 2nd of 2017 brought a great article to theguardian entitled Trump says US safe from North Korean nuclear strike – no thanks to China. Author Joseph McCurry focuses on Trump’s reaction to the fact that North Korea is very close to launching and testing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (IBM) that could reach American mainlands. North Korea has already tested 3 nuclear weapons under Kim’s rule alone, the IMB would not be something new.
Yes, Trump states that he is going to keep America safe, however he has failed to mention a clear plan to addressing the issue.
So far Obama’s plan has been to isolate Korea. At a summit in Laos on September 6, 2016, Obama mentioned that “North Korea understands its provocations will only continue to deepen its isolation.” The plan isn’t working too well. So far, the most recent UN sanctions have only created an export ban on North Korea coal. Even this sanction is not working according to Stephan Haggard, a Korea expert at the University of California, San Diego who says that the loophole to the sanction, where North Korea can export the coal for humanitarian purposes is being overused. Maybe Donald’s plan will work.
Oh wait, what plan?
As of right now, Donald seems to be putting the entire blame on China saying that China should be punishing North Korea for/from testing nuclear weapons or working on developing an IBM. The thing is that China prefers to have North Korea be communist-ruled and nuclear-armed rather than have North Korea collapse. This would create a unified Korean Peninsula under American control and force millions of unwanted Korean refugees into China. As of right now, China is controlling North Korea by providing enough oil to keep the economy afloat.
If Donald Trump truly wants China to start helping out with keeping North Korea under control, he will most likely remove the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that is currently in South Korea as supplied by the United States. THAAD was a result of the Obama administration taking the North Korean threat into America’s own hands. However, it has resulted in Chinese Leadership to favor North Korea even more given that THAAD was against Chinese wishes. Removing THAAD might be one of the first acts of foreign diplomacy that Donald takes to make sure China takes more responsibility for the whole situation.
December 22nd of 2016 brought a great article to the NY Times entitled Bored, Broke, and Armed: Clues to Chicago’s Gang Violence. It focused and tried to rationalize the severity of violence that is currently within the city of Chicago. In fact, as of Wednesday, there has been 739 murders which have caused 2016 the deadliest year since 1997. Both the Cubs and violence managed to make 2016 a historic year. The author of this article, John Eligon, sheds a negative limelight on the notion that such violence is merely caused by gang members.
He first cited police statements such as the idea that a majority of the cities 3,451 shootings this year has been perpetrated by gang-related activity, and then said such claims are very “fuzzy” and tries to discredit it. This is not something new of course. The Chicago Police Department constantly tries to put blame on gang involvement to explain the illegal activity occurring every single night. Back in 2015, this same Police Department stated that 85 percent of the cities gun murders were attributed to gang violence (Chicago violence, homicides, and shootings up in 2015). The Police fail to define however the definition of what a gang is which is very important at this point given the level of change these gangs have gone through. According to experts such as Lance Williams, who is the co-author of a book about the rise and fall of the Black P Stone Nation (A gang that was eradicated in the 1980’s), gangs are no longer the sophisticated drug-selling organizations they once were like the Latin Kings. Now, they are more so younger and less structured “cliques” that fail to claim more of the city than one or two blocks.
The Chicago Police Department must look more into the issue of what exactly is a gang before they use the word with such freelance. By doing so they are perpetuating the violence and fail to mention how poverty and unemployment are adding to the violence as well. More than half of the population lives in poverty in Parkway and the surrounding neighborhood (Eligon, 2016). This poverty is overlooked when the violence is blamed simply on gangs and it will only call on legislation that tries to eradicate a gang that is simply not there as opposed to legislation that offers help to these people facing poverty.