United States Foreign Policy And International Affairs

jking948

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Hey,

So I am going to try a thread dedicated solely to foreign policy. I thought this article about the "privatization" of US foreign policy would be good to kick-start things.

http://lobelog.com/the-privatization-of-u-s-foreign-policy/

The unethical blurring of private interests and public business is a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency. That blurring has increasingly involved U.S. foreign policy. The possible effects on U.S. foreign relations may be subtle and largely out of public view. But they arise every time, for example, that foreign governments wanting something from the United States bring their business to the hotel that Trump’s company runs a few blocks from the White House.

The blurring was more openly displayed this week as Donald Trump Jr. traveled to India—with security provided by the U.S. Secret Service, assisted by the U.S. embassy—to drum up business involving the Trump Organization’s real estate endeavors. Sales reportedly have been good, aided by the chance to rub elbows with the U.S. president’s son if prospective buyers paid a $38,000 booking fee toward a Trump high-rise project south of New Delhi. The mixing of public policy and private business was scheduled to go even farther, with the younger Trump to give a speech on “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” at a conference just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to speak at the same podium. But this bit of mixing was too blatant for even the Trumps to blow off the criticism, and Junior instead substituted a different sort of public appearance.

Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump currently is in South Korea, for the close of the Winter Olympics. Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, got much attention as “North Korea’s Ivanka” when she was in the south for the opening of the games. Now the real Ivanka, if true to form, will be mixing public and private business again. Her past involvement with the East Asia region has entailed the leveraging of official contacts to benefit sales of her brand of jewelry and accessories.

The intrusion of private interests into U.S. foreign policy under this administration is not limited to the Trumps’ own commercial interests. The latest news on this subject is that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is offering to pay for the construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Such an offer constitutes a sort of bonus to show Adelson’s satisfaction with how his earlier large financial contributions to Trump’s campaign helped to buy the president’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move was a personal goal of Adelson, based on a personal affinity with Israel that exceeds any affinity he has with the United States. Looked at from the standpoint of U.S. interests rather than private interests, the move was a huge mistake. It isolated the United States and dealt a major blow to any remaining hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Many processes are in play here, including the power of well-known lobbies and the role of money in U.S. politics. But as with any of Trump’s excesses, it’s an extreme manifestation of a trend that became pronounced during the last two decades—the era of the Tea Party and of the Gingrich style of scorched-earth political warfare—away from the concept of “general welfare” embodied in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. This trend involves the rejection of any idea that some of the most important things that citizens do and experience, and some of the most important ways in which their interests are affected, can only be done as a community—and that in many cases community necessarily means government.

This trend is most apparent on domestic matters. It is seen in the tearing down of a health-care system without any adequate replacement. It is seen in the depleting of the public treasury without regard for the down-the-road fiscal implications. It is seen in a rejection of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s observation that taxes are what we pay for civilized society. It is seen in the every-man-for-himself approach to gun violence that calls for arming schoolteachers and goodness knows whom else.

It wasn’t always this way. Much in American history has been an embrace of the common interest and, per the Constitution’s preamble, a promotion of the general welfare. The policies involved have included not just the likes of the New Deal and the Great Society, and they have come from the right as well as the left. The history has run from Alexander Hamilton’s industrial policy to Henry Clay’s American System to Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. Today what passes for an “infrastructure plan” is mostly an invitation to states and localities to spend money they don’t have.

The corollary in foreign policy is a rejection of the concept that the United States has important, continuing interests that all U.S. citizens share and that must be vigorously defended and represented to the outside world, and with regard to which any one group of office-holders is only a temporary steward. Rejection of this concept leads to the casual mixing of foreign policy and private business interests. It leads to the selling of major foreign policy decisions to the highest bidder. It leads to a president expressing nonchalance about many senior-level vacancies because “I’m the only one that matters.” It leads to devastation of the State Department’s budget and of the department’s ability to represent and defend vigorously U.S. interests before the outside world.

Given these prevailing attitudes and given the penury being forced on the State Department, perhaps a future step in the privatization of U.S. foreign policy will be the selling of naming rights. Maybe the building to be erected in Jerusalem will have a sign in front identifying it as the “Sheldon Adelson Embassy” or, along the lines of most naming rights deals, the “Las Vegas Sands Embassy.”
 

jking948

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So this is interesting. It looks like Bolton is going to replace McMaster. Anyone who wants to avoid conflict with North Korea should be very afraid. Bolton has never seen an intervention that he did not like.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/an-attack-on-north-korea-would-be-massive--and-massively-stupid/2018/02/25/4830251e-18dd-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html?utm_term=.b3b689b23588

In response to worries that it is planning a “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, the Trump administration has been offering an odd reassurance. Any attack on the regime of Kim Jong Un would not be limited, officials and surrogates are saying, but enormous and overwhelming. That, of course, is not reassuring at all: A massive attack on North Korea would be massively stupid.

The White House calls reports that President Trump is considering a small-scale North Korea military option exaggerated. The administration understands that there is no guarantee Kim won’t respond with his full military might — a nightmare scenario. But embedded in every denial is a consistent pledge that Trump will not accept North Korea achieving the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile — a clear red line.

That means the military option Trump is actually considering foremost is one that would be huge, complex and devastating. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said he was told the conflict would be brief and would cause “mass casualties the likes of which the planet has never seen.”

On Friday, Trump himself warned that if North Korea doesn’t buckle under sanctions, he would move to “Phase 2.”

“Phase 2 may be a very rough thing, may be very unfortunate for the world,” he said. “It we can make a deal, it will be a great thing, and if we can’t, something will have to happen.”


Trump: If sanctions on North Korea don't work, next phase could be 'very rough'
President Trump said Feb. 23 if new sanctions on North Korea fail, the next move by the U.S. could be "very rough" and "very, very unfortunate for the world." (The Washington Post)

Nobody truly knows what Trump will do when the intelligence community tells him that Kim can strike Washington. Trump’s two main foreign-policy instincts are to avoid starting wars and to reject President Barack Obama’s practice of allowing dangerous threats to fester. Those instincts clash when dealing with North Korea.

Trump is “frustrated” with the situation, senior officials said, and believes the military threat must be credible to work. He also believes he has the authority to order a strike at any time.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, whom Trump reportedly is considering to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, supports preventive war through a massive strike, if sanctions fail. During an appearance last week at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security, he said the United States would have to simultaneously destroy all known North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile sites, submarine bases, and artillery, mortar and missile installments along the North’s border with South Korea.

The Kim regime would soon collapse, Bolton predicted, which would then require the deployment of American and South Korean troops inside North Korea to secure the nuclear sites. China could, in advance, be offered a chance to participate, to protect its interests and minimize the adverse effects, Bolton said.

“My argument to China would be, look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way,” Bolton said. “I would like to find a way to convince the Chinese to do this with us, to have a controlled collapse of the North Korean regime.”

Bolton acknowledged that we can’t be sure of where Kim is hiding all his weapons and that there would be massive humanitarian consequences. But he calculated that the risks of Kim threatening the world with nuclear weapons or selling them to others outweigh the potential costs.


But a true accounting of those costs would also include the likelihood that the U.S.-South Korea alliance would be shattered, along with the regional stability the United States spent 70 years trying to build. The global economy would be thrown into disarray; America would be on the hook for untold billions in reconstruction and refugee assistance. China would then move to replace the United States as the responsible regional leader.


“The big strategic objective in the region is to be able to be more competitive with a rising China. If we have a war with North Korea, we throw everything away,” said Patrick Cronin, senior adviser at the Center for a New American Security.

Trump’s coming decision is not a binary choice between war and accepting a nuclear North Korea. A middle option would be to first follow the South Korean government’s lead to exhaust every diplomatic avenue. If that fails, we turn to the plan of the South’s conservative opposition: deterrence, containment and escalation.

The United States, Japan and South Korea should recognize that Pyongyang has already altered the regional strategic balance through its acquisition of nuclear weapons, and they should set about returning the balance to our favor with a new military buildup and a trilateral military alliance. That would get Beijing’s attention more than any sanctions, although more of those couldn’t hurt.

Then, the U.S. government should drastically increase investment in strategies that mitigate North Korea’s danger externally and challenge its legitimacy internally — including proliferation security, maritime interdiction, cyber-offense and information penetration.

The United States must still insist that North Korea completely denuclearize. But it needs a long-term strategy to make it happen, not a reckless and catastrophic war.
 

King Stannis

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The Human Q-Tip

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I like Bolton. He doesn't have the authority to order anything, but I think putting more pressure on NK is a good idea. "Strategic Patience" wasn't exactly a success.
 

jking948

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Just so people know, North Korea has a ton of trenches and landmines. Unless you can be 100% certain this can be won with an air-bombing (fwiw, Robert Pape has found that airpower very rarely can win a war on its own), we are talking a minimal estimate of 10,000 dead Americans, and likely closer to 30,000-50,000, and that's without counting nukes. North Korea also has a very large chemical weapons facility.

Then, the Pentagon estimates 20,000 people dead per day of conflict. These are conservative: some estimates go as high as 100,000 total dead in the first 48 hours.

Now, maybe the idea is that North Korea views us as a paper tiger and that a strategic bombing would force them to stop provoking the U.S. In my view that is unlikely because it begs the question as to why they currently won't stop building a nuclear arsenal?

Either way, Bolton, Trump, and co. better be damn certain that the Kim regime will cede from a bloody nose. Otherwise the outlook is pretty ugly.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/10/02/why-the-north-korean-artillery-factor-makes-military-action-extremely-risky-infographic/#39fa2dc0317e

Last month, a poll found that a majority of Americans now support military action against North Korea if diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis fail. While the United States undoubtedly possesses the military hardware and capabilities to deliver an effective strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities, retaliation by the North is highly likely to occur. While this could of course come in the shape of one of the regime's much vaunted intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with a nuclear warhead, observers believe the north's artillery would almost certainly inflict devastating damage against the south, regardless of the missile program.

While a substantial part of North Korea's military is made up of old antiquated Soviet weaponry, its artillery capabilities remain exceptionally powerful. The North Korean People’s Army Artillery Command has an estimated 12,000 pieces of tube artillery and another 2,300 multiple launch rocket systems. Koksan 170mm self-propelled guns and 240mm and 300mm multiple launch rocket batteries are capable of striking Seoul, though it is believed that the capital's northern outskirts would be under the most threat from the systems with the longest range. While some studies have predicted Seoul's annihilation, it's likely that some districts would be heavily damaged with a significant level of civilian casualties.

For North Korea, deciding exactly what to target with all of those heavy guns would prove vital in any conflict. The regime could strike military targets across the demilitarized zone or hit South Korean urban areas in an attempt to inflict a shocking blow through mass civilian casualties and economic damage. The latter strategy would leave North Korean artillery vulnerable to counter barrages and airstrikes, giving the U.S. and South Korea a better chance at containing and eliminating the threat.

The following infographic is based on research conducted by Stratfor and it shows where North Korean artillery fire could be most heavily concentrated in a war with the south. The scenario is based on known and expected positions of conventional artillery as well as a situation where North Korea exposes all of its artillery simultaneously without failures. While the immediate border area could be heavily saturated by explosives, the airport at Incheon and parts of Seoul would also come under threat. The danger posed by artillery was already highlighted in November 2010 when North Korean shells and rockets were fired at Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans and wounding another 19. If the U.S. and its allies do eventually conduct a strike against Pyongyang's nuclear facilities, the sheer size of the north's artillery force means it will always have a devastating card to play in the event of any conflict.





*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)

Statista
North Korean artillery fire by kilograms of high explosives per square kilometer per hour
 

gourimoko

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gourimoko

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As an aside:

US ambassador to Mexico unexpectedly resigns amid increased tensions under Trump
Christopher Woody


Presidencia de la Republica de Honduras/Reuters


  • The US ambassador to Mexico plans to leave her post in May.
  • Her nomination was delayed in the Senate for 10 months, and she was not confirmed until April 2016.
  • Much of her time in Mexico has been spent managing rocky US-Mexico relations under President Donald Trump.
Roberta Jacobson, the US ambassador to Mexico, announced her resignation on Thursday, saying on Twitter she would be leaving her post at the beginning of May "in search of other opportunities."

"I do it knowing that the US-Mexico relationship is strong and crucial and that the incredible team in our mission in Mexico will continue making sure that it is so," Jacobson wrote.

Jacobson said she had no information about her successor, though a US official with knowledge of the decision told The New York Times that the Trump administration had selected a nominee.


Jacobson, a career diplomat, was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2015, but her confirmation was held up for 10 months in the Senate— led by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez — over objections to the Obama administration's reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba, which she helped negotiate as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Jacobson was not in her post long before relations between Washington and Mexico City became strained under President Donald Trump. Much of Jacobson's time was focused on working with her Mexican counterparts to soothe concern and displeasure in Mexico over Trump's policies and rhetoric toward the US's southern neighbor, according to The Times.

Under Trump, many of the US's communications with Mexico's government have been routed through the White House and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law, who has developed close ties to Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who is himself close to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Those dealings have largely excluded officials in the US State Department, though their status going forward is uncertain, as Kushner recently had his top-secret security clearance revoked.

Jacobson was a member of the State Department's civil service, not the foreign service, from which ambassadors are typically drawn.

But she was held in high regard for her experience and connections in Mexico, considered vital to managing the closely intertwined politics and economies of both countries at a time of particular tension.

"No career official has more consummately understood US-Mexico relations," Carlos Pascual, a former US ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine, told The Times.

Jacobson is only the latest high-profile departure from the State Department, which has shed many of its most senior officials under Trump and failed to fill many vacancies.

In January, US ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and retired Marine pilot, announced his resignation, saying he did not feel able to serve Trump. Feeley was considered by many to be one of the US's most talented officials on Latin American matters.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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In my view that is unlikely because it begs the question as to why they currently won't stop building a nuclear arsenal?
Because they don't believe we are lilely to do anything about it. So, perhaps convincing them that we will do something about it isn't so nutty.

Anyeay, I don't believe the goal would be to defeat NK as a nation. It would be to neutralize their nuke and/or launch capability.

What I really worry about is that a poor, starving country like that may choose to sell nukes to terrorists who might actually use one.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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In January, US ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and retired Marine pilot, announced his resignation, saying he did not feel able to serve Trump. Feeley was considered by many to be one of the US's most talented officials on Latin American matters.
Not a retired Marine.

Obama appointee.

Buh-bye!
 

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Because they don't believe we are lilely to do anything about it. So, perhaps convincing them that we will do something about it isn't so nutty.

Anyeay, I don't believe the goal would be to defeat NK as a nation. It would be to neutralize their nuke and/or launch capability.

What I really worry about is that a poor, starving country like that may choose to sell nukes to terrorists who might actually use one.

There is no May about it. They already supply missile stuff to Iran. They helped Syria build a reactor as well. (Which Israel bombed into oblivion).

I don't see us bombing NK. China would have to be complicit,and I don't see us getting there.
 

jking948

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Because they don't believe we are lilely to do anything about it. So, perhaps convincing them that we will do something about it isn't so nutty.

Anyeay, I don't believe the goal would be to defeat NK as a nation. It would be to neutralize their nuke and/or launch capability.

What I really worry about is that a poor, starving country like that may choose to sell nukes to terrorists who might actually use one.
How are you getting at their nuclear facilities buried in tunnels?

They have nukes. They aren’t abandoning them unless they are defeated in war. The regime and military have been around for a long time. They know what the normative and security value of nukes are.
 
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