Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

KEY POINTS
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.
  • The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
  • Hours before it was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic apparently mocking Trump.
GP: Donald Trump NATO Summit 191204 BRITAIN-NATO-SUMMIT
US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) pose for the family photo at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a press conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.

“When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!” Trump said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Great progress has been made by NATO over the last three years. Countries other than the U.S. have agreed to pay 130 Billion Dollars more per year, and by 2024, that number will be 400 Billion Dollars. NATO will be richer and stronger than ever before….

14.5K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….Just finished meetings with Turkey and Germany. Heading to a meeting now with those countries that have met their 2% GOALS, followed by meetings with Denmark and Italy….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!

14.2K people are talking about this

The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Hours before the news conference was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic mocking Trump.

Watch Trudeau, Macron and Johnson appear to gossip about Trump on hot mic

Trump offered a blunt retort when asked Wednesday about Trudeau’s comments.

“He’s two-faced,” Trump said, before adding, “I find him to be a very nice guy but the truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it.” Trump has long griped about NATO members paying less than their “fair share” toward the alliance, and brought up the issue repeatedly over the two-day anniversary meeting this week.

In an audio clip later published by reporters covering the NATO event, Trump appeared to compliment himself for his harsh words toward Trudeau. “That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced,” Trump is heard saying.

Trudeau, speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said that Trump “was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau said at another point in the video, raising his eyebrows and motioning with his hand for effect.

None of the politicians in the hot mic video, which emerged on social media Tuesday evening, mentioned Trump by name. But Trudeau reportedly said Wednesday that it was Trump’s surprise announcement of the location for next year’s Group of Seven summit that made “his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Trump revealed Tuesday that the 2020 G-7 summit will be held at Camp David in Maryland, weeks after he retreated from a plan to host it at his own Miami golf resort.

Later Wednesday, while sitting alongside Conte, Trump explained that “There’s no reason to have press conferences because you had about eight of them,” apparently referring to his lengthy prior remarks to reporters.

The hot mic gossip was the latest point of tension at the meeting, but it was far from the only dispute between leaders on display.

Macron defended his recent claim that NATO was suffering from “brain death” from critics including Trump, who had called that comment “very nasty.”

The French leader also called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his threat to oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if it does not recognize groups Turkey deems as terrorists. The White House announced Wednesday morning that Trump had met with Erdogan during the NATO event.

Trump calls Canada’s Prime Minister ‘Two Faced’ at NATO meeting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

London (CNN)After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
Trudeau indicated that he wasn’t concerned about his comments impacting the US-Canadian relationship, but Trump reacted angrily earlier Wednesday calling Trudeau “two-faced,” before adding, “honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy.”
Trump also canceled his own press conference scheduled for the end of his trip to the NATO summit. The President was caught on a hot mic of his own after the cancellation, saying, “Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”
The 25-second clip was first reported by CBC, begins with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked.
Macron nodded, as Trudeau replied, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”
At no time in the video do the leaders mention Trump by name.
None of them seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others.
“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau also appears to say at one point. Trudeau said during his press conference that the comment was made in reference to Trump’s announcement during their bilateral meeting that the upcoming G7 summit will be hosted at Camp David.
“Every different leader has teams who now and then (had) jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video for itself, for example,” Trudeau said.
Johnson at a press conference said it was “nonsense” to suggest the video indicated he didn’t take Trump seriously.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” he added.
Microphones could only pick up snippets of the conversation at the reception, which the press was given limited access to.
Trump also criticized Trudeau over the fact Canada does not currently meet NATO’s 2% defense spending target.
“The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said, adding that “he should be paying 2%” and that Canada “has money.”
“I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
A spokeswoman for Macron at the Elysée Palace told CNN they had “no comment. This video does not say anything special.” A spokesperson for Rutte also told CNN they do not comment on closed-door sessions.

Clash with Macron

Trump spent Tuesday in meetings in London headlined by a clash with a key ally, France. He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, making extended remarks and taking questions from the press on each occasion.
Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Macron was remarkably tense as the French President refused to back down from remarks that Trump called “nasty” and “insulting.” Last month, Macron had described NATO as suffering from “brain death” caused by American indifference to the long-time alliance.
But the two leaders appeared to be on good terms as they walked onto the road leading to 10 Downing Street together for another reception following the gathering at the palace. It appeared that Trump had given Macron a lift in his motorcade vehicle commonly referred to as “the beast.”

Trump blasts French President Emmanuel Macron at NATO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Trump blasts French President Emmanuel Macron at NATO meeting planned to show unity

NATO Summit

President Trump during his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday.
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump lit into French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, criticizing comments the French leader made about NATO as “insulting” “very, very nasty,” and “very disrespectful.”

Trump’s comments came hours before he was scheduled to meet with Macron at the start of a two-day leaders conference of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that is supposed to stress unity for an alliance that is marking its 70th anniversary.

While Trump targeted Macron’s comments that questioned NATO’s effectiveness — something he has also done — he suggested that his greater ire stemmed from Macron’s threat to levy a 3% tax on tech companies, including American giants Facebook, Google and Amazon, a topic he and Macron have been at odds over for much of this year.

“If anybody’s going to take advantage of the American companies it’s going to be us,” Trump said. “It’s not going to be France.”

On another international economic issue, Trump continued the slow walk-back of his statement from last week that the U.S. and China were close to resolving their trade war.

“I have no deadline,” Trump said, suggesting that a new trade deal with the Chinese might not come until after next year’s election. “The China trade deal is dependent on one thing: Do I want to make it?” he said.

Trump has made a habit of clashing publicly with allies and breaking diplomatic norms during international conferences, which factored into NATO officials’ decision to keep this year’s leaders meeting short.

Trump arrived in London late Monday evening and is scheduled to depart on Wednesday.

Trump answered questions for more than 50 minutes with reporters during his initial meeting here with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, at the Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in the United Kingdom, located in Regent’s Park.

As Trump held forth on a variety of issues including impeachment, Russia, China trade and North Korean missile tests, Stoltenberg mostly sat watching, occasionally interjecting a comment about the importance of unity.

In addition to NATO officials, British political figures and candidates in next week’s parliamentary elections have also worried Trump would interfere in the campaign during his visit. Some conservatives here fear that Trump’s association with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party leader, could hurt Johnson with British voters.

Trump said he would stay out of the election, but praised Johnson and insisted the two would be meeting, even though he does not have a one-on-one with the British leader on his public schedule.

“I stay out of it,” Trump said. “I think Boris is very capable, and I think he’ll do a good job.”

Trump also said he “can work with anybody” when asked about Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor Party leader who is Johnson’s chief opponent.

Macron had stirred controversy last month, worrying about NATO’s “brain death” in an interview with the Economist.

Ironically, the comments were spurred in large part by Trump’s “America First” agenda and his overall go-it-alone approach in Syria and other global hot spots that have concerned European allies about America’s reliability.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” during his campaign for president. But on Tuesday, he cast himself as the alliance’s defender, blaming Macron as an outlier while touting his own efforts to prod allies to increase the size of their defense budgets.

“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump said. “We benefit the least….That’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

He said the United States is helping Europe protect against a foe “that may or may not be a foe,” referring to Russia. Trump took credit for pushing NATO, which was founded to counter what was then the Soviet Union, to broaden its focus to other threats.

“There are other foes out there also,” he said, further de-emphasizing Russian aggression.

Macron has tried more than other European leaders to befriend and flatter Trump. But like other allies, he has been frustrated by Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal as well as his fights over trade. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on wine and other French products in retaliation for France’s tech tax.

The public clash with an ally is hardly unusual for Trump, who has flouted diplomatic norms observed by his predecessors. During the same session, Trump also attacked domestic foes, something prior presidents have usually resisted while on foreign soil.

“In Germany, they like Obama. The reason they like Obama because Obama gave the ship away. He allowed them to take everything,” Trump said of his predecessor. “They may not like me because I’m representing us, and I represent us strong. President Obama did not represent us strong.”

“He gave everything away” to Europe, Trump said, without specifying what he was talking about. “We’re still paying the price for what he did.”

He called Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry against him “unpatriotic” and said they would be to blame if the probe causes “a cloud” on his efforts internationally.

He said he would not accept a censure resolution that would condemn his actions in Ukraine while stopping short of removing him.

“You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong,” he said. “They’re what you call an investigation in search of a crime.”

Trump also weighed in on another domestic issue, the possibility that Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo would resign to run for Senate in Kansas.

Trump said Pompeo, who stood behind him while he made the comments, was doing a “tremendous job,” but “if I thought there was a risk to losing that seat, I would sit down and seriously talk to Mike.”

Many Republican leaders think there is a serious chance the party could lose the Senate seat being vacated by Pat Roberts, who plans to retire, and they have urged Pompeo to run.

Even as Trump clashed with an ally and Democrats, he continued to stress his strong relationship with American adversaries. He shrugged his shoulders when asked about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s missile tests.

“He really likes sending rockets up doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man,” Trump said, again emphasizing his personal ties to the autocrat.

And even as NATO allies and American officials have complained about Turkey’s incursion in northern Syria and its decision to purchase Russian S-400 missiles, Trump undercut any attempts to rein in the NATO member country.

He praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for allowing the U.S. military to cross its airspace during the mission that led to the death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the founder of Islamic State. And he misleadingly blamed Obama for Turkey’s decision to buy the weapons, echoing Erdogan’s own line.

In addition to meeting Macron later today, Trump is also scheduled to hold a Republican fundraiser expected to raise $3 million, meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have tea with Prince Charles and his wife, Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles, and attend a reception with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.


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Trump Sweet, Congress Sour On Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Trump Sweet, Congress Sour On Turkey

President Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) take part in a joint press conference during Erdogan’s visit to the White House on Wednesday.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

After welcoming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the opening day of public impeachment hearings for a second visit to the Oval Office, President Trump did something highly unusual for such encounters: He invited a select group of Republican senators to join the two leaders’ meeting.

Trump’s decision to invite fellow Republicans only from the GOP-led upper chamber of Congress was telling. Bipartisan legislation and resolutions condemning Turkey’s Oct. 9 invasion of northern Syria (three days after Trump removed U.S. forces from that area) have abounded on both sides of the Capitol, but only the Democrat-held House of Representatives has actually voted on and passed such measures.

On Oct. 16 — the same day that Trump announced sanctions against Turkey for its Syria incursion — every member of the House GOP leadership voted in favor of a bipartisan resolution opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the area invaded by Turkey and calling on Erdogan to end military action there immediately. The measure passed 354-60, with only Republicans voting against it.

Trump then dropped the sanctions for Turkey’s incursion after one week, citing a cease-fire agreement worked out between Turkey and Vice President Pence.

The House was not swayed. It responded Oct. 29 with the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act. PACT, as the bipartisan measure was dubbed, calls for sanctions against high-ranking Turkish officials and a State Department estimate of the net worth of Erdogan and his family members.

“These sanctions are specifically designed to target the Turkish officials and institutions responsible for the bloodshed in Syria without senselessly hurting the Turkish people,” House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said in a floor speech preceding the 403-16 vote that passed the measure. “After all, it is Erdogan—not the Turkish people—that is responsible for this horror. Erdogan is an authoritarian thug.”

House Republicans joined in the condemnation of Turkey’s leader. “We’re sending a message to the Erdogan government that the U.S. will hold them liable for their actions,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. “If he does not want to act like a NATO nation, then his government will feel the repercussions of such decisions.”

The PACT floor action took place the same day the House infuriated Turkey by holding the first full chamber vote ever to condemn as “genocide” the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians a century ago by Ottoman Turks. Again, the vote was overwhelmingly lopsided in favor, 405-11.

For decades, Turkey had successfully lobbied Congress to prevent such a vote characterizing that killing of Armenians as genocide.

“When I was ambassador to Turkey 15 years ago, there was a very deep well of public support for Turkey in the United States and particularly in the U.S. Congress, and that really doesn’t exist very much anymore,” says Eric Edelman, who served as the top U.S. diplomat in Ankara during the George W. Bush administration. “I think that the Turks have counted for some time on the personal relationship between [Erdogan and Trump] to get them out of the deep trouble they’re in in the Congress.”

Turkey’s acquisition in July of Russia’s S-400 air defense system crossed a line for many lawmakers. The Russian system is not only incompatible with NATO military equipment — it is designed to shoot down advanced aircraft such as the F-35 stealth fighter jet, 100 of which Turkey had planned to acquire as a partner in the international consortium building the Lockheed Martin warplane.

For choosing Russia’s S-400 over Raytheon’s Patriot surface-to-air missile system, Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 consortium and training of its pilots to fly the stealth fighter at U.S. military bases was suspended.

But lawmakers are demanding further punishment for Turkey’s defiance. The House’s PACT measure designates Ankara’s acquisition of the S-400 system as a “significant transaction” with Russia’s arms industry. That would automatically oblige the Trump administration to impose on Turkey 5 of 12 sanctions listed by the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

Under that law, it’s actually up to the executive branch to determine if a “significant transaction” has occurred. Because the Trump administration has failed to do so, Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., have introduced a privileged resolution in the Senate obliging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make such a determination within 30 days of the resolution’s passage. Such a rarely used privileged resolution could bypass the Foreign Relations Committee and would have to be voted on by the full Senate, where it would not need the 60 votes usually required for final consideration.

“The administration is breaking the law by ignoring this provision [of CAATSA] and kowtowing to Ankara,” Menendez said last week on the Senate floor. “Turkey must be sanctioned for the S-400 system, and it should happen today — otherwise, it will send a global message that we are not serious about sanctioning significant transactions with the Russian military.”

It appears unlikely the privileged resolution will sway Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “Do we know what the political impact such sanctions will have inside Turkey?” McConnell asked late last month on the Senate floor. “Will they weaken President Erdogan or rally the country to his cause? Do we know the impact sanctions will have on U.S. companies?”

Former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Edelman sees further sanctions, which could limit U.S. arms sales to Turkey, as problematic. “It’s a little bit awkward to be saying we’re going to sanction you because you’re buying Russian military equipment, we don’t want you buying Russian military equipment,” he says, “and so the punishment is you’re not allowed to buy American military equipment.”

The U.S. has been the source of nearly two-thirds of Turkey’s imported weapons of war, according the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“If you go back over the last few decades, Turkey is one of the major importers of U.S. weapons,” says William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. “A huge proportion of their arsenal comes from the United States.”

But efforts in both the House and Senate to curtail arms sales to Turkey, which hosts several key U.S. military bases, have failed to gain much traction in a Congress where most lawmakers have significant numbers of defense contractors in their home states.

The peril of pushing too hard on placing U.S. weapons off limits to Turkey is that Turkey may go shopping elsewhere, says Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“If the current trends continue — more sanctions or an absolute ban on weapons sales to Turkey — then Turkey pivots and buys all of its arms from Russia and other suppliers,” says Gordon, who oversaw Turkish affairs in the Obama White House. “And then the strategic relationship within NATO is really broken.”

Turkey’s relationship with Congress may already be broken. Not so much, though, at the Trump White House.

30 Years Since Berlin Wall Fell, Now It Is All At Risk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

  • This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event has failed to deliver on its full potential, writes Frederick Kempe.
AP: Berlin Wall pulled down 891111
East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate Saturday, November 11, 1989.
Lionel Cironneau | AP

The most significant hopes and gains unlocked by the Berlin Wall’s fall, which was 30 years ago Saturday, are all at risk.

They included a historic expansion of democracies and open markets, a wave of globalization that created the greatest prosperity and largest global middle class the world has ever seen, and the enlargement the European Union, to 28 from 12 members, and NATO, to 29 from 16 – deepening ties among the world’s leading democracies.

That all brought with it the hope of what then-President George H.W. Bush called in 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free,” in which Russia could find its proper and peaceful place. Bush went even further in September 1990, after the UN Security Council had blessed the U.S.-led coalition’s war to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, envisioning a New World Order, “an era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.”

The idea had been hatched a month earlier by President Bush and General Brent Scowcroft, his national security adviser, while fishing near the president’s vacation home at Kennebunkport, Maine. They came home with three bluefish and an audacious vision that the Cold War’s end and the Persian Gulf Crisis presented a unique chance to build a global system against aggression “out of the collapse of the US-Soviet antagonisms,” in the words of General Scowcroft.

Reflecting on those heady days, Scowcroft recently told me that he felt everything he had worked for in his life was now at risk. If U.S. and European leaders don’t recover the common purpose they shared at that time – and there is yet little sign they will – this weekend’s Berlin Wall anniversary is more a moment for concern than celebration.

“Look at what is happening in the world,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a freshly published interview in the Economist. “Things that were unthinkable five years ago. To be wearing ourselves out over Brexit, to have Europe finding it so difficult to move forward, to have an American ally turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues; nobody would have believed this possible.”

This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall provides a good moment to reflect on four reasons that event – one of freedom’s greatest historic triumphs – has failed to deliver on its full potential. Understanding that, might unlock a better path forward.

1. China’s authoritarian turn

Another thirtieth anniversary this year, the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989, might have had even more lasting consequences.

The regime’s attack on the pro-democracy movement, at a time when the Communist Party could have chosen greater liberalization over repression, ensured that the most important rising power of this century would be increasingly authoritarian in nature.

The lesson Beijing took from the Cold War’s end was that the Soviet Union had failed because it had liberalized its economy too little and its politics too much – a fatal combination. Economic liberalization and a growing Chinese middle class failed to bring with it the Western-style democratic freedoms that some thought would follow.

That doesn’t mean a New World Order can’t still be built with Beijing, but it will take considerable vision and patience to knit the two most important countries of our times together simultaneously, as strategic competitors and collaborators.

2. Revanchist Russia and the ‘Gray Zone Conflicts’

There’s a lot of finger pointing still about “who lost Russia” after the Cold War, whether it was Westerners who didn’t offer enough of an embrace or Russians who missed the opportunity.

Wherever you stand in that debate, the U.S. and its European allies failed to appreciate the potential or staying power of Putin, who has made it his life’s purpose to redress what he considered the biggest disaster of the 20th century, Soviet collapse.

At the same time, the enlargement of the European Union and NATO left behind a “gray zone” of 14 countries like Ukraine that were no longer in the Soviet bloc or Warsaw Pact but hadn’t been integrated into Western institutions.

French leader Macron has argued that it would be a huge mistake not to work to find more common ground with Russia. The difficulty is how to do so without selling out the democratic, sovereign hopes of Russia’s neighbors.

3. Europe’s lost momentum

Bill Emmott argues in Project Syndicate this week that the European Union’s biggest problem “is not Euroskepticism but indifference.”

He’s partially right: some 72% of French respondents in an opinion poll based on interviews with over 12,000 respondents across the 28 EU countries don’t think they would miss the EU as well as 67% of Italians and 60% of Germans.

That said, the EU also suffers from not having addressed design flaws that hobble it even as it has grown to its current size of 28 member states with 513 million citizens and a GDP of $18.756 trillion.

They include a monetary union without a fiscal union, immigration policies that allowed free movement inside the so-called Schengen Zone but too-porous external borders, and a failure to envision a world where the U.S. is losing interest, Russia remains a problem, and China is remaking global politics and economics.

Europe is “on the edge of a precipice,” Macron told the Economist. “If we don’t wake up … there’s a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear Geo-politically, or at least we will no longer be in control of our destiny. I believe that very deeply,” he stated.

4. The lack of U.S. vision and strategy

The Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989 – taken together with Soviet collapse and the Cold War’s end – marked an inflection point of history for U.S. leadership globally that one can compare to 1919, the end of World War I, and 1945, the end of World War II, in its potential historic consequences.

U.S. and European leaders failed after 1919 to prevent the rise of European fascism, and then the Holocaust and World War II. The US got it more right than wrong in 1945 after World War II, creating the institutions and principles that paved the way for one of the world’s most sustained periods of relative peace and prosperity.

In his 1989 “A Europe Whole and Free”, President H.W. Bush underscored how “too many in the West, Americans and Europeans alike, seem[ed] to have forgotten the lessons of our common heritage and how the world we know came to be. And that should not be, and that cannot be.”

Thirty years later, the jury is still out on what the post-Cold War period will bring, but none of the post-Cold War presidencies – from President Bill Clinton to President Donald Trump – have yet recognized the stakes or laid out a strategy commensurate to the risks.

Trump is about to give Putin another gift

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(“Sometimes the only way to explain/predict Trump’s foreign policy is to think ‘what would Putin want the US to do?'”)

Trump is about to give Putin another gift

David A. Andelman, Executive Director of The RedLines Project, is a contributor to CNN, where his columns won the Deadline Club Award for Best Opinion Writing. Author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today,” he was formerly a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN

(CNN)Another critical legacy of the post-Cold War era may be on the verge of biting the dust now that President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows member states to conduct unarmed surveillance over one another’s territories and helps verify arms control agreements. Watching Trump drive a stake through the heart of this treaty should be quite a pleasant prospect for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

David Andelman

Though President Dwight Eisenhower first proposed such a treaty in 1955, it did not become a reality until 2002. Since then, the Open Skies Treaty has allowed reconnaissance flights over each of the 34 nations that have signed it — largely NATO nations and others across eastern Europe. This arrangement has allowed American surveillance aircraft to keep track of just what the Russian military is up to in areas like eastern Ukraine, or in Georgia, where Russian troops once tried in vain to seize large swaths of territory.
An American withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty would give Putin more leeway to make forays into areas like eastern Ukraine, where he’d love to keep his actions concealed from western scrutiny. As Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote in a letter to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, “Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance and would further undermine America’s reliability as a stable and predictable partner when it comes to European security.”
By withdrawing from the Open Skies treaty, the United States would fulfill Putin’s goals by effectively “driving another wedge into the NATO alliance,” Reif says. President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes may have put it best in a recent tweet: “Sometimes the only way to explain/predict Trump’s foreign policy is to think ‘what would Putin want the US to do?'”
Each time Donald Trump has withdrawn from an international treaty, I’ve declared it his single most cataclysmic move. And each time, he has surprised me by topping his previous actions. He certainly surprised me with the audacity of his decision in 2017 to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and with his utter failure to understand what the consequences would be. Trump followed this move in 2018 by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, to similarly disastrous consequences. Then there was Trump’s withdrawal from the INF (intermediate nuclear forces) agreement this August, touching off what will inevitably be a new arms race, and certainly freeing up Russia’s ability to test and deploy new generations of advanced missiles threatening America’s allies in western Europe.
Now, the administration is threatening to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies.
“The view within DOD and the State Department is that there continues to be significant value here to the United States and to our allies and partners” in maintaining the treaty, Kingston Reif, director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, tells me in an interview.
With this treaty in force, Reif says, “The United States has been able to fly over Ukraine and western Russia. These flights have yielded valuable data with respect to the Russian military.” Moreover, since Ukraine is also a signatory to the pact, its military has benefited from intelligence gleaned from these overflights, Reif tells me.
The Open Skies treaty allowed one particularly important flight over eastern Ukraine on December 6, 2018, after Russians attacked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea. The flight, which included American, Canadian, French, German, Romanian, British and Ukrainian observers on board the OC-135 surveillance plane, “reaffirm(ed) (the) United States’ commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations,” a Defense Department statement said. While the United States does have other sources of satellite surveillance, this particular flight was crucial: It produced images that could be broadly released because they were obtained from this less-classified source. Our ability to make and disseminate these images demonstrated to Russia that the world was watching.
The treaty has also allowed surveillance flights over the heavily armed Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where the Kremlin has been upgrading its nuclear weapons storage and deployment. These flights have been particularly useful to the Baltic members of NATO, including neighboring Lithuania, where advanced Russian systems pose an immediate and ever-present threat.
To get a sense of the shock and horror Trump’s withdrawal has elicited from America’s strategic establishment, look no further than the United States Strategic Command’s (Stratcom) Twitter account. It quietly asserted its support for the Open Skies Treaty by retweeting Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who wrote that the agreement “helps build confidence & increase transparency.”
It remains unclear why the Trump administration is looking to pull out of the treaty after 17 years. The administration has declined to comment to CNN, or to me, on the cause or the timing of the withdrawal.
Regardless, the treaty offers several critical functions. It supports our NATO allies while providing a security blanket over non-NATO members who are also interested in containing Russian expansion. It also offers us a window into Russia’s military operations, especially those along its borders.
Above all, Trump should start to consider the consequences of his impulsive actions — demonstrated recently and vividly in his ill-conceived decision to withdraw US forces from northeastern Syria, thereby giving Turkey and Russia an open avenue to occupy swaths of territory that they’d long been denied.
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While the consequences of a pullout from Open Skies may be less visible in the short term than those of the US withdrawal from Syria, on the long term, they could prove equally catastrophic.

Trump: The Result Of An Affluenza Child Now An Affluenza Old Man

Trump: The Result Of An Affluenza Child Now An Affluenza Old Man

(I first wrote/published this on June 29th, 2017)

My commentary this evening was brought on by President Trump’s latest immature tweets about the two folks who do a radio program called ‘The Morning Joe’. Like most Americans I wish that our President would be banned from Twitter as long as he is still our President because he does tend to say many things that are beneath the dignity of the Office he holds. Mr. Trump in my opinion has done many things to show his lack of knowledge since he has been in Office like not knowing that his favorite former President had died more than 15 years before the Civil War ever started yet was speaking about how he was distraught about that war. He has shown that he knew basically nothing about issues in the Middle East even though he liked to brag how he knew more than our military Generals knew and he has made it clear that he has no need for morning briefings from our Intelligence Agency Heads. Yet to me the most embarrassing thing he has done yet is how he acted at the group photo at the last NATO Summit. When he pushed the Prime Minister out of the front row center spot that he, Mr. Trump wanted to be in, he actually embarrassed me that he was even an American let alone our President.

 

Most of us probably remember at least a little bit about the young man in California that was nicknamed the ‘affluenza’ brat from a wealthy family who killed 4 people (if I remember correctly) while driving a car while drunk. His lawyer was able to get him off with just probation and no jail time because he had been raised ‘to wealthy’ to know right from wrong. He must have had an amazing lawyer and or an incompetent Judge for that verdict to have happened. You would think that a child who is being raised in a home where the family is in need of nothing would be a very grateful young person and not a menace to society but this is not always the reality. There is also another issue here in America where our legal system does not tolerate parents if they in any way discipline their child and the children know this so many act out like pure spoiled brats. Yet when a child acts out at school the courts then blame the parents for doing a bad job of raising their child when in many cases it is the politicians and courts that are to blame and not the parents.

 

I have always been a person who has been pleased when someone I know accomplishes something like being able to purchase a new car or is able to buy a new house or even be able to purchase a new living room suite or a new lawn mower. I have always been pleased when a person through their hard work or even good luck is able to become quite wealthy, as long as they did it honestly and decently. When a person obtains their wealth through stealing from other people then I have no respect for them.

 

Donald Trump grew up in a very wealthy household and all I can say about that is, good for him. His Dad taught him many things in his childhood years, some good some bad, just like most parents do. Donald Trump was given millions from his Dad when he graduated college and all I can say to that is, good for him. The issue I have with Donald Trump is his pure greed and huge ego as those two issues are an embarrassment to any person who possesses them. Mr. Trump has bullied and stolen his way into becoming the billionaire that he is on the backs of anyone he felt he could ‘get over’ on. He has proven without any doubt that money is his God and when this is so a person tends to act like an immature habitual liar just as he is today and it appears that he has always been. I will end this commentary with this one thought and hope, for our Nations sake I really hope that somehow Mr. Trump would grow up and act like a responsible adult and quit acting like a little spoiled affluenza child in an old fat man’s body.

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself From NATO With S-400 Deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself from NATO with S-400 Deal

Friday, 3 May, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey is not distancing itself from the NATO alliance by buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, adding that Ankara should not be excluded from the F-35 jet project over the purchases.

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over Ankara’s move to buy the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO systems and may threaten the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, of which Turkey is a prospective buyer and partner in production, Reuters reported.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Akar said that excluding Turkey from the F-35 project would put “very serious” burdens on the other partners in the project.

“There is no clause saying ‘you will be excluded if you buy S-400s’ in this partnership. Excluding us just because any one country wants so would not be in line with justice, laws or rights. This should not happen,” Akar said, according to Reuters.

He said Turkey was trying to explain to the United States and other partners in the F-35 project that the S-400s would not pose a threat to the jets, and added that Ankara had taken measures to prevent that.

In his strongest challenge yet to warnings that Turkey may be removed from the F-35 project, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.

While Washington has warned of potential US sanctions if Ankara pushed on with the S-400 agreement, Turkey has said it would not back down from the deal.

Instead, Turkey has proposed to form a working group with the United States to assess the impact of the S-400s, but says it has not yet received a response from US officials.

Akar said on Friday Turkey was still evaluating the latest US offer to sell Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, which he said was more positive than Washington’s previous offers.

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘POLYGRAPH.INFO’)

                 (YES)

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?


LIBYA -- Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
LIBYA — Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
Sergey Lavrov

Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister

“The reason for the Libyan crisis lies in NATO’s actions in 2011. Precisely since that time, Libya has turned into a failed state and a ’black hole,’ through which terrorists, the smuggling of weapons, go south, and to the north – flows of illegal migrants.”

MISLEADING

The ongoing crisis in Libya was the reason for NATO intervention

Commenting on latest escalation of fighting in Bengazi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused NATO of causing the crisis, claiming Libya’s problems with terrorism, weapons smuggling and illegal immigration began “precisely” after the NATO intervention in 2011.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Russia in USA 🇷🇺

@RusEmbUSA

The cause of the Libyan crisis lies in ’s actions in 2011. Since then, has become a destroyed state and a ‘black hole’ for terrorists, arms trafficking and illegal migrant flows –

▶️ https://www.facebook.com/RusEmbUSA/photos/a.493759737501088/995742573969466/ 

100 people are talking about this

Opinions about the effect of NATO’s seven-month operation in Libya vary from praising the intervention as “highly successful” to condemning it as a “catastrophic failure.”

RT

@RT_com

US & NATO will always share blame for ’s re-descent into chaos

(Op-Ed by Darius Shahtahmasebi)https://on.rt.com/9rul 

28 people are talking about this

Yet, even the harshest critics agree NATO’s involvement in Libya did not cause that country’s deterioration: it was already in a civil war, with the UN and Arab League warning the regime could commit mass atrocities amid Muammar Gaddafi’s vows to “cleanse Libya.”

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

In 1996, I was a Reuters correspondent in . I went to to cover the 27th anniversary of the “Green Revolution.”I don’t have access to the Reuters articles I wrote from but here are some opeds I’ve written about Gaddafi the dictator and the hypocrisy of the West

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

’s quirks should never have distracted from his abysmal human rights record. Arbitrary arrests, a muzzled press, a ban on political parties and the squandering of ‘s oil wealth have never been laughing matters for Libyans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/2004/07/13/warming-up-to-a-dictator/5500a4a1-1cdb-49aa-adaa-0d6d5e3a2c94/?utm_term=.27787bb19427 

Warming Up to a Dictator

washingtonpost.com

See Mona Eltahawy’s other Tweets

Thus, Lavrov’s claim that NATO caused Libya’s crisis is misleading.

The legal basis for NATO’s intervention is also in dispute.

The United Nations University (UNU) wrote in a 2011 analysis: “Whenever States decide to use force against another State, whether individually or as a group, the first question that arises is whether such an action is pursuant to the right of self-defense (Article 51 UN Charter) or is one authorized by the Security Council. In the case of Libya, Article 51 does not apply, as Libya had not attacked any NATO member State. It therefore follows that only an authorization by the Security Council could provide a sound legal basis for any military action against Libya and keep NATO action from being in violation of UN Article 2(4). The question is: Was NATO action in Libya authorized?”

UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 11, 2011 created a no-fly zone over the whole of Libya. This was done in order to help protect civilians. The Security Council called on “Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary means to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6.”

The UNU analysis noted: “Thus far, NATO could not have legally responded to the Security Council’s mandate issued to ‘regional organizations and arrangements’ in Resolution 1973 because, by virtue of its own treaty, the alliance is neither such an organization, nor one that could be held bound by either Article 53 or Article 54 of the UN Charter. And since NATO acted in Libya collectively, in contradistinction from acting nationally, the latter caveat in the mandate does not save NATO from being in violation.”

The UNU analysis concluded that the Libya operation revealed a “gap between the law –­ UN Chapter VIII provisions — and NATO’s increasing policy of responding to Security Council resolutions and the Security Council’s silent reception of NATO’s generosity. It would be disingenuous, to say the least, to argue that NATO should not assist in implementing Security Council resolutions just because the alliance is not one of the organizations that could adhere themselves to the enabling mandates with any legal exactitude.”

NATOSource@NATOSource

Libyan military leader order his troops to take Tripoli from backed government. remains ‘s unfinished business in North Africa. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/eastern-libyan-commander-orders-his-troops-to-move-on-tripoli-video-idUSKCN1RG0RT 

See NATO Source’s other Tweets

Critics argue that NATO wrapped up Operation Unified Protector and left Libya when the country was still in a state of political chaos. In reality, NATO followed the UN Security Council’s resolution ending international military operations in Libya on October 31, 2011.

Norwegian warship sinks in fjord after rescue blunder

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT NEWS AGENCY)

 

Norwegian warship sinks in fjord after rescue blunder

$500m vessel now mostly underwater

A $500 m (£385 m) warship has almost completely sunk to the bottom of a Norwegian fjord after smashing into an oil tanker off the coast of the Scandinavian country.

KNM Helge Ingstad, a 5,290 ton frigate, was on an exercise in Hjeltefjord near Bergen when it collided with a Maltese flagged oil tanker in the early hours of 8 November.

Eight people were injured in the crash.

A large hole was also torn into the side of the vessel, which is under Nato command, according to CNN.

The ship is under NATO command (AFP/Getty)

The ship is armed with missiles, torpedoes and depth-charges.

“Due to the damage to the frigate, it was moved to a safe place,” Nato’s Allied Maritime Command said in a statement issued after the accident.

But the cables holding the wrecked vessel snapped this week, dramatically ending efforts to secure the ship.

Now only the top of the vessel remains above water, in a major blow to Norway’s navy.

The vessel is one of only five owned by the institution, part of a class of five Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates which were launched in 2007.

https://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/SydS6Pxaf_default/index.html?videoId=5837728067001&customParams=videoID%253D5837728067001%2526articleId%253D8639636%2526gs_channels%253Dshadow9hu7_safe_from_nestle_blacklist%2Csafe_from_essence_blacklist%2Csafe_from_harvey_weinstein%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_workdayh2%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_halifax_misc_blacklist%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_castrol%2Csafe_aegis%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_aegis_blacklist%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_emirates_pg%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_asda%2Cgv_military%2Cgv_death_injury%2Cshadow9hu7_safe_from_emirates_crew_incident%2Cbelvedere_negative%2Cair_travel_ba%2Csafe_from_emirates_blacklist%2Cpos_animal_cruelty%2Cpos_castrol_blacklist%2Cpos_terrorism_blacklist%2Cpos_ubs_tax_evasion%2Csafe_from_collective_landrover%2Csafe_from_facebook_blacklist%2Csafe_from_fas_blacklist%2Csafe_from_instagram-mobkoi%2Csafe_from_mobkoi-celine%2Csafe_from_mobkoi_facebook_keyword%2Cnestle_bespoke%2Cindy_cat-lovers_nestle_jul16%2526playertype%253Dclicktoplay%2526topictags%253Dnorway%2Cscandinavia&customTargeting=%2F71347885%2F_main_independent%2Fin_news%2Fin_world%2Fin_europe%2Fin_europe_article&playsinline=true

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The warship is designed to hunt enemy submarines.

Sola TS, the oil tanker, has returned to port for inspection. It is understood to have been UK-bound at the time of the accident.

A joint Norwegian and Maltese investigation into the cause of the crash is now underway.

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