Tag Archives: Foreign Affairs

Putin builds China links as ties with west fray

10 Nov

Putin builds China links as ties with west fray

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on November 9 2014 in Beijing, China

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing

When Vladimir Putin met China’s president Xi Jinping, a memorandum of understanding for a second massive gas supply deal caught most of the attention.

For the Russian president, the deal may be less appealing for its commercial benefits than its ability to advance the larger goal of cementing ties with its eastern neighbour.

 According to Russian officials and security analysts, Moscow’s worst stand-off with the west since the end of the cold war has convinced Mr Putin’s government that it must moor its security interests to China because the Euro-Atlantic security architecture is broken beyond repair.

“Co-operation between Russia and China is extremely important to keep the peace in the framework of international law, making it more stable,” Mr Putin told his Chinese counterpart, just two weeks after he accused the US of destabilising the world by frequently violating international law.

Russia’s updated military doctrine is expected to target Nato and the US more clearly as the Ukraine crisis has frayed Moscow’s relations with the western alliance. The current doctrine lists only Nato expansion, foreign troop deployments in neighbouring states, destabilisation in certain countries and deployment of missile defence systems as “external military dangers”.

People familiar with the document said Nato and the US would be openly designated as threats or adversaries in the document’s new version, due to be published next month.

Russian diplomats and analysts also said Moscow hoped to build the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, founded by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tadjikistan in 1996, into a more meaningful security alliance.

In a speech last month that left western observers bewildered for its rabid anti-Americanism and its lack of proposals for a positive agenda, Mr Putin bemoaned what he described as the destruction of the mechanisms that used to govern international security affairs.

“Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed,” Mr Putin said. He accused the US of creating a world order in which brute force could become the only means for resolving conflicts.

According to people involved in drafting Mr Putin’s speech, it initially contained a reference to “Helsinki II” – the idea that Russia, the US and Europe should try to work out a new framework governing their security relations similar to the 1975 Helsinki Accords. A proposal by then-president Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 for a new version of the agreement credited with lowering tension during the cold war failed to get off the ground because western countries saw it as a bid to undermine Nato.

Putin snubs Europe with Siberian gas deal that bolsters China ties

Moscow and Beijing signed an agreement to supply gas from western Siberia to China, in a deal that could eventually see more of Russia’s gas flowing to its vast eastern neighbour than to its traditional European markets. Assuming crucial details such as price are agreed, the deal would mark another big step in President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to build a closer energy relationship with China to offset increasing isolation from the west.

“The concept had been prepared for Putin back then, but they have lost confidence that this could work now, so it was dropped from Putin’s speech last month,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, a Moscow think-tank. “Helsinki was about fixed spheres of influence, and it worked as long as there was balance of power and deterrence. That spirit is gone now.”

Another longstanding piece of the European security architecture is the Nato Russia Act, in which Nato pledged not to create permanent bases on Russia’s borders.

But the tension over the Ukraine crisis has fuelled Russian fears that this promise is being undermined.

In addition, even though Nato has little intention of welcoming Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, member countries see it as politically impossible to openly rule out their membership in order to keep them as buffers between the western alliance and Russia.

Mr Putin is under no illusion that things will get any easier. The next US president is almost certain to be more hawkish towards Russia than Barack Obama, who entered the White House seeking a hopeful reset of relations.

“This forces Russia to head in a different direction – towards China and Iran, out of the western international system,” says Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group risk consultancy.

Moscow is already giving Nato a taste of what that means. The Russian air force has been probing the air space of Nato members with increasing frequency and range over the past two years, repeatedly forcing European militaries from Norway to Turkey scramble fighters.

NEW YORK TIMES : A President Whose Assurances Have Come Back to Haunt Him

9 Sep

 ISLAMIC STATE IN BLACK

WASHINGTON — When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”

Nor does he seem likely to describe Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” with a “representative government.” And presumably he will not assert after more than a decade of conflict that “the tide of war is receding.”

As he seeks to rally Americans behind a new military campaign in the Middle East, Mr. Obama finds his own past statements coming back to haunt him. Time and again, he has expressed assessments of the world that in the harsh glare of hindsight look out of kilter with the changed reality he now confronts.

To Mr. Obama’s critics, the disparity between the president’s previous statements and today’s reality reflects not simply poorly chosen words but a fundamentally misguided view of the world. Rather than clearly see the persistent dangers as the United States approaches the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they said, Mr. Obama perpetually imagines a world as he wishes it were.

“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.” .

White House officials said the president’s opponents distorted what he said to score political points or hold him responsible for evolving events that were not foreseen. They also say Mr. Obama’s past statements are hardly on a scale of Mr. Bush’s unfounded assertions about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, not to mention Mr. Bush’s May 2003 speech in front of a banner that said “Mission Accomplished,” meant to signal an end to the major combat in Iraq.

“There is context or facts that explain what the president meant at the time, or things change over the course of time,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “The people who try to beat us up over these things will continue to do so.”

The comment that has caused Mr. Obama the most grief in recent days was his judgment about groups like ISIS. In an interview last winter with David Remnick of The New Yorker, Mr. Obama sought to make the point that not every terrorist group is a threat like Al Qaeda, requiring extraordinary American action.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Remnick. He drew a distinction between Al Qaeda and “jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

Asked about that by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” last weekend, Mr. Obama denied that he necessarily meant ISIS. “Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the group.

“I’ve said that regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally — weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11,” Mr. Obama said. And some groups evolve, he noted. “They’re not a JV team,” he added of ISIS.

But the transcript of the New Yorker interview showed that Mr. Obama made his JV team comment directly after being asked about terrorists in Iraq, Syria and Africa, which would include ISIS. After Mr. Obama’s initial answer, Mr. Remnick pointed out that “that JV team just took over Fallujah,” a city in western Iraq seized by ISIS. Mr. Obama replied that terrorism in many places around the world was not necessarily “a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY

Journalistic organizations like PolitiFact, Factcheck.org and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker all rejected the contention that Mr. Obama was not referring to ISIS when he made his comment about JV teams.

Other statements by Mr. Obama look different today as well. When the president pulled American troops out of Iraq near the end of 2011 against the urging of some Republicans, he said the armed forces were “leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government.”

Aides defended the conclusion, saying that was the president’s hope and it was up to the Iraqis to make good on that promise, an opportunity they squandered, leading to the emergence of ISIS as a major threat.

Just a few months before that, Mr. Obama told the United Nations that “the tide of war is receding.” Aides said that statement had to be viewed in the context of two wars fought with hundreds of thousands of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 13 years. Even with new airstrikes in Iraq and potentially in Syria, they noted, just a fraction of those troops were still overseas.

Other statements that have come under fire lately include Mr. Obama’s comment setting a “red line” if the government of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his people, which he eventually did. Mr. Obama vowed to retaliate but instead accepted a deal to remove and destroy Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons.

Just a month ago, Mr. Obama told Thomas L. Friedman, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, that it had “always been a fantasy” to think that arming moderate rebels in Syria a few years ago would have made a difference in Syria. But now his emerging strategy for combating ISIS in Syria involves bolstering those same rebels rather than using American ground troops. Aides said Mr. Obama was referring to the rebels as they were three years ago, arguing that they have developed a lot since then.

Either way, Aaron David Miller, author of the forthcoming “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President,” said Mr. Obama would have a real challenge selling his new approach to the public on Wednesday.

“Presidents rarely persuade through speeches, unless the words are rooted in context that seems real and credible,” Mr. Miller said. “Obama has a problem in this regard because his rhetoric has often gone beyond his capacity to deliver, especially on Syria.”

 isis

SAUDI KING WARNS JIHADISTS WILL REACH WEST IN MONTHS

30 Aug

KING ABDULLA

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is “rapid” action.

“If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month,” he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

“Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East,” said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States.

The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group has prompted widespread concern as it advances in both Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of people, including in gruesome beheadings and mass executions.

Lack of action would be “unacceptable” in the face of the phenomenon, King Abdullah said.

“You see how they (jihadists) carry out beheadings and make children show the severed heads in the street,” he said, condemning the “cruelty” of such acts.

“It is no secret to you, what they have done and what they have yet to do. I ask you to transmit this message to your leaders: ‘Fight terrorism with force, reason and (necessary) speed’.”

President Barack Obama has yet to decide whether the United States should launch raids against positions held by the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria to follow US air strikes on IS activities in Iraq.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday for a global coalition to combat Islamic State fighters’ “genocidal agenda”.

Writing in the New York Times, Kerry said he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet European counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales next week, to enlist assistance.

They will then travel on to the Middle East to build support “among the countries that are most directly threatened”.

“With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries,” Kerry said in Friday’s op-ed piece.

Asharq Al-Awsat said the king urged other countries to join the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, set up in 2011 to respond to new threats, and to which Saudi Arabia has made a grant of $100 million

OBAMA ON ISIS: “WE DON’T HAVE A STRATEGY”

29 Aug

isis

Washington Post

By Editorial Board August 29 at 6:59 PM

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S acknowledgment that “we don’t have a strategy yet” in Syria understandably attracted the most attention after his perplexing meeting with reporters Thursday. But his restatement of the obvious was not the most dismaying aspect of his remarks. The president’s goal, to the extent he had one, seemed to be to tamp down all the assessments of gathering dangers that his own team had been issuing over the previous days.

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This argument with his own administration is alarming on three levels.

The first has to do with simple competence. One can only imagine the whiplash that foreign leaders must be suffering. They heard U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power denounce Russia as “today . . . they open a new front . . . Russia’s force along the border is the largest it has been . . . the mask is coming off.” An hour later, Mr. Obama implicitly contradicted her: “I consider the actions that we’ve seen in the last week a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now . . . it’s not really a shift.”

Similarly, his senior advisers uniformly have warned of the unprecedented threat to America and Americans represented by Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq. But Mr. Obama didn’t seem to agree. “Now, ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region,” he said. “My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back.” Contrast that ambition with this vow from Secretary of State John F. Kerry: “And make no mistake: We will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred. The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil.”

The discrepancies raise the question of whether Mr. Obama controls his own administration, but that’s not the most disturbing element. His advisers are only stating the obvious: Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Islamic State and the Americans it is training are a danger to the United States. When Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says the threat they pose is “in some ways . . . more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general,” it’s not because he is a warmonger or an alarmist. He’s describing the world as he sees it. When Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge the reality, allies naturally wonder whether he will also refuse to respond to it.

Which is, in the end, the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Obama’s performance. Throughout his presidency, he has excelled at explaining what the United States cannot do and cannot afford, and his remarks Thursday were no exception. “Ukraine is not a member of NATO,” he said. “We don’t have those treaty obligations with Ukraine.” If Iraq doesn’t form an acceptable government, it’s “unrealistic” to think the United States can defeat the Islamic State.

OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY

Allies are vital; the United States overstretched in the Bush years; it can’t solve every problem. All true. But it’s also true that none of the basic challenges to world order can be met without U.S. leadership: not Russia’s aggression, not the Islamic State’s expansion, not Iran’s nuclear ambition nor China’s territorial bullying. Each demands a different policy response, with military action and deterrence only two tools in a basket that includes diplomatic and economic measures. It’s time Mr. Obama started emphasizing what the United States can do instead of what it cannot.

 

Mark Caserta: ISIS to Christians: Convert to Islam

21 Aug

isis

Aug. 21, 2014 @ 12:00 AM
 

“Let the terrorist group, ISIS, see the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ,” decreed Pastor Chuck Lawrence this past Sunday during the morning worship service at Christ Temple Church in Huntington.

Pastor Lawrence referenced the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s recent rampage of violence and religious cleansing across northern Iraq following the return of a Christ Temple missionary from the troubled region. On Wednesday of last week, the humanitarian crisis was upgraded by the United Nations to a “Level 3 Emergency,” the organization’s highest ranking of severity.

ISIS jihadists have now declared the captured territories a new Islamic State, restoring “caliphate” in the Middle East. Multiple reports confirm that religious minorities, including Christians, are enduring horrific atrocities for refusing to denounce their religion and convert to Islam.

Understand the scope of all Islamist movements from their earliest inception was to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, which is believed to be the panacea to every Muslim ill around the world.

But Islamic jihadists are ruthless in their approach to eradicating Christianity.

While addressing the plight of Christians in Mosul, national spokesperson for Iraqi Christians, Mark Arabo, said the “evil” being carried out by ISIS militants in Iraq now shockingly includes beheadings of children.

“They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers,” Arabo told CNN’s Jonathan Mann. “There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick.” Mann described the acts as the “most heartbreaking” things imaginable.

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Reportedly, Christians were given three options: convert to Islam, pay a fine or die by the sword. Those fleeing to neighboring areas of Iraq harbor little hope of returning.

“They’ve marked the red stamp of death on Christian homes and basically saying we know who you are and if you come back, you will be killed,” said Arabo.

In his weekly address, President Obama told Americans the U.S. will not be dragged “into fighting another Iraq war” despite his authorization of military air strikes in the region.

But I submit that if the president hadn’t completely ignored the escalating unrest in the region and misled the American people for almost two years, ISIS may never have been allowed to balloon into such a regional power.

Experts agree that while these ISIS jihadists are now a distinctly different organization, they were parented by al Qaeda. Yet, Barack Obama described al Qaeda as having been “decimated,” “on the path to defeat” or some variation at least 32 times since the attack in Benghazi, according to White House transcripts.

Excuse me, Mr. President, but how did this group become so powerful in just a few months? Your recent disclaimer to being responsible for the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq is very telling. Apparently, once again, you see failure on the horizon and want to re-write history and blame your predecessor.

So I’m certain you shoulder no blame for the thousands of Christians being persecuted for a faith many are simply willing to die to protect.

May Pastor Lawrence’s heavenly request be honored and Iraqi Christians be protected by God’s mighty hand.

THE CROSS

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

This Romney – Obama debate moment now haunting the president! 45 seconds

23 Jul

http://conservativetribune.com/romney-makes-obama-foolish/romney obama

Mitt Romney saw this coming a long time ago, according to a video posted on IJ Review. “Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again,” he said to Obama during the third presidential debate in 2012. “I have clear eyes on this. I’m not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin. I’m certainly not going to say to him, ‘I’ll give you more flexibility after the election.’ ”

Romney predicted exactly how Putin would respond to such attempts at appeasement: “After the election, he’ll get more backbone.”

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, of course. There are many pundits who claim now to have seen all along what would happen in U.S. – Russia relations under a continued Obama presidency, just as there are many who predicted then that only Obama could keep the peace between the two countries.

Obama’s response, that Romney wanted to return the U.S. to the Cold War is equally telling. The Cold War had been “over for 20 years,” as Obama said. The president seems to forget, however, that it was Ronald Reagan’s policy of dealing with the Soviet Union from a position of strength that ended the Cold War.

Just as Obama’s appeasement seems poised to start it up all over again.

DEMOCRAT RIPS OBAMA FOR NOT VISITING THE BORDER

9 Jul

pool

Instead, He chose to drink a beer and shoot some pool…

Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar ripped President Obama for being “aloof” and “detached” by not visiting the Texas border to see first hand the immigration crisis. Cuellar made the comments on MSNBC:

“He’s so close to the border. And let me say this: when I saw, and I hate to use the word bizarre, but under the circumstances, when he is shown playing pool in Colorado, drinking a beer, and he can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border, and plus, if he doesn’t want to go down to the border, there’s the Air Force Base where HHS is holding some of the young kids from the border. He could at least make that trip to San Antonio, but again, border community leaders wants to see him down there on the border, and I think the optics and the substance of it is that he should show up at the border,” said Cuellar.

And he had some advice for the White House.”If they are worried about putting a face, the president’s face, to this human crisis, humanitarian crisis, I think it’s worse if he doesn’t even show up. Either way, he’s going to be tied into this humanitarian crisis. he either can roll up his sleeves and go down to the border, or he can just look aloof and detached and not go to the border, send surrogates down there, and say that he’s got everything under control.”

He adds, “It Just floored me, because if he’s saying he’s too busy to go to the border but you have time to drink beer, play pool.”
The president was in Colorado last night — drinking beer and playing pool.

(THE WEEKLY STANDARD)

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