Daily Archives: April 6th, 2017

Trump Meets His Creditor – China’s Xi Jinping

Andreas Becker writes for DW:

Infografik US trade deficitUS President Donald Trump loves to portray his country as a victim of free trade. That’s because the United States buys many goods from all over the world, but sells far less in exchange. The US has done this year after year for decades – in fact, for 41 years in a row, and counting. It has gone ever deeper into debt to the rest of the world, running a trade deficit to the tune of $750 billion (704 billion euros) in 2016 alone.

Trump keeps calling that “unfair.” But is it really? And does running trade deficits actually harm the United States?
The US trade deficit is caused by American businesses importing more goods than the country exported. By contrast, the US exported more services than it imported – in 2016, it ran a surplus of $250 billion in the value of services exported over the value of services imported.

Those numbers played an important role in the US presidential campaign. Many Americans believe the US trade deficit in goods is linked to a long-term decline in US industries, in which factories have moved abroad – especially to Mexico and China – and millions of American jobs lost. Trump was elected on a promise to turn that situation around.

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At 93, Henry Kissinger is Still Doing Deals and Courting Controversy in China

Heather Timmons and Ilaria Maria Sala write for Quartz:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger listens to questions during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 31, 2007.   REUTERS/Jim Young    (UNITED STATES) - RTR1LU5MFormer secretary of state Henry Kissinger may be in his nineties, but he’s continuing to play a key, globe-spanning role in one of the most substantive foreign policy negotiations of the US presidency so far.

Kissinger, who brokered a ground-breaking detente between the US and China’s Communist Party’s in 1972, has served a valued go-between for the two nations for more than four decades, earning him the nickname of “old friend of the Chinese people.” It’s privilege he has shared with at least 600 people, although Kissinger may be the living person who has held the nickname the longest.

As recently as December, when then US president-elect Donald Trump threatened upheaval between the world’s most powerful nations, by accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen, Kissinger was already in Beijing with Chinese president Xi Jinping, reassuring him that “overall, we hope to see the China-US relationship moving ahead in a sustained and stable manner.” (A Bloomberg report suggested that Xi may have turned to the venerable diplomat to better understand Trump, telling Kissinger he was “all ears” regarding what he had to say about the future of US-China relations.)

Kissinger met with the incoming Trump administration soon after the election, and helped to connect Chinese politicians with the US president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Washington Post reports—connections that ultimately led to this week’s meeting.

In doing so, he’s opened up a now familiar controversy in the US—who does Kissinger work for, exactly, and whose side is he on?

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Trump Conspiracy Tweetstorms Are The Infowars Of The Left

Paul Blest writes for The Concourse:

The fastest-growing career in America is not, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have you believe, in installing and repairing wind turbines. The fastest-growing career is doing 63 tweets in a row about why Donald Trump is a Manchurian president.

An increasing number of D-list Twitter celebrities are spewing unhinged takes and loosely-connected conspiracy theories about the still-developing story of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election. And they’re building sizable online fanbases among frustrated liberals by telling them exactly what they want to hear.

Most recently, Seth Abramson—a Huffington Post blogger, former attorney, and assistant English professor at the University of New Hampshire who once “remixed” mass shooter Elliot Rodgers last words into a poem—has emerged as the reigning king of diarrhea tweeting. Instead of simply threading his tweets like the rest of us plebes, Abramson has billed them as “mega-threads,” and their repackaging and promotion often take the form of a snake eating its own asshole.

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Trump Discussing Options for Attacking Syria

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Options for Attacking SyriaPresident Trump’s campaign stance, moving away from the  US trying to impose regime change on Syria, appears to have been totally abandoned at this point, with reports that he has informed some members of Congress that he is considering a military attack on Syria.

Trump is said to be discussing the different options on such an attack with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and that he is likely to rely on Mattis’ judgement on the matter. Officials say the Pentagon has had such plans ready to go for quite some time.

The shift in Trump Administration policy is publicly being justified by a bombing attack in northwest Syria Tuesday, allegedly a chemical weapons attack. President Trump insists Syria has “crossed many lines,” and is insisting that his position on Syria has changed, adding that “I now have responsibility when it comes to Syria.”

US, British, and French diplomats are once again pushing for UN action against Syria now, though a Russian veto at the Security Council is assured, with Russian officials saying the resolution is based on “fake information.” US officials are already looking beyond the UN and threatening unilateral action.

 

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Noam Chomsky: The Assad Regime is a Moral Disgrace

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez recently spoke with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky about the ongoing conflict in Syria. (Democracy Now!)

Why Is Trump Embracing Establishment GOP Foreign Policy?

Daniel McCarthy writes for The National Interest:

[…] These developments may all be unrelated, but their net effect is to reassert the Washington foreign-policy consensus over what had, until now, appeared to be a fundamental shift in national-security strategy. Trump came into office with the prospect of thawing relations with Moscow, over the objections of Russia hawks in media and think-tank world. Trump set a new course in the Middle East as well, prioritizing the defeat of ISIS, in place of Obama’s strategy of attempting to undermine Assad and ISIS at the same time. Countering radical Islamism by destroying ISIS and clamping down on immigration from hot spots of extremism was a distinctly different strategy from the one pursued by Obama or the one advocated by neoconservatives and humanitarian interventionists. To change U.S. policy so profoundly, the Trump administration had to weather political attacks from the mainstream media, Democrats, Republican hawks, and much of the national-security establishment.

Bannon appeared to be a key player in this struggle, as the architect of immigration restriction and the chief ideologist of “America First.” Recent weeks, however, have been marked by setbacks on every front of the ideological fight. Immigration restrictions have been frustrated by the courts, while rapprochement was Russia has been politically complicated by investigations into whether Trump campaign officials last year had improper dealings with Russian officials. In domestic matters, the administration found itself in a difficult position over repealing and replacing Obamacare: to many conservative activist organizations, the White House seemed to be on the side of the Republican establishment in pushing an unsatisfactory bill, which was ultimately withdrawn when it failed to garner enough support in the House from moderates or conservatives.

Each setback creates a new opening for Trump’s opponents to press the attack. They are aided by the presence in Trump’s administration of Republicans who, though they may serve the president, fundamentally agree with the old way of doing things and would like to see the president renew the Washington consensus rather than overthrow it. There are grave dangers in this direction, however. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both failed to advance American security by following the standard Washington playbook. Each was a disaster in foreign policy. President Trump is not in a position to improve on their performance with the same strategy—for one thing, he does not enjoy the popular support that Bush and Obama did, and what support he does have comes from voters who want America’s economic interests and cultural cohesion to rank first on the president’s agenda. For Donald Trump to pursue policies that might have come from Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush would be catastrophic both strategically and politically. Yet the pressure on Trump to conform will continue to grow.

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Bannon’s Out, But Did H.R. McMaster Win?

Jonathan Stevenson writes for The New York Times:

The Trump administration’s decision to remove its chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, from the National Security Council’s principals committee, along with the deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland’s likely exile to Singapore, as the United States ambassador, seems to indicate that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, is finally getting a little hard-earned bureaucratic traction.

Not so fast: Other signals suggest that President Trump’s national security team remains as weak and dysfunctional as ever. And while some people are crediting General McMaster with a big win, the reality is much different.

Reportedly from the moment he hired General McMaster, President Trump gave him broad staffing freedom. Yet Ms. McFarland, whom General McMaster wanted out, remained in place for well over a month. More egregiously, in mid-March, General McMaster tried to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council. Mr. Cohen-Watnick, a holdover from Michael Flynn’s aborted stint as national security adviser, complained to Mr. Bannon and Jared Kushner, who prevailed on Mr. Trump to have him reinstated.

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Why Was Steve Bannon Removed From Trump’s National Security Council?

Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola discuss Steve Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council. (The Young Turks)

Trump Expands U.S. Military Role in Saudi War as Yemenis Brace for Famine

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a from 2010 to 2015 as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London. (Democracy Now!)

U.S. Air Force Preparing for War in Space

Oriana Pawlyk reports for Military.com:

An artist's rendering of Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite. AEHF-1 launched Aug. 14, 2010 and reached its operational geosynchronous earth orbit Oct. 24, 2011. (Courtesy photo Space and Missile Systems Center)The U.S. Air Force is preparing airmen for a future in which war is waged in space, with training on hardening satellites against anti-jamming technology to protecting spacecraft from incoming missiles.

The goal is to train the service members to combat new and evolving threats against the service’s “vulnerable” space infrastructure, much of which dates to the Cold War, an official said.

The 527th Space Aggressor Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is tasked with training service members to fight in a contested space environment. Historically, that has meant jamming Global Positioning System and satellite communications signals, making it so troops can’t access the space assets they rely upon and forcing them to think of alternatives.

“There really is no such thing as a space war — it’s just war,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Pumroy, chief of Space Force Structure Plans for the Space and Cyberspace Superiority Division of the Air Force’s Directorate of Strategic Plans. Military.com sat down with Pumroy at the Pentagon before he was awarded the General Bernard Schriever Award by the National Space Club last month for his service and enhanced training techniques while leading the space aggressors in 2016.

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