North America

‘A rogue presidency’: The era of containing Trump is over

For two years, they tried to tutor and confine him. They taught him history, explained nuances and gamed out reverberations. Philip Rucker The Washington Post They urged careful deliberation, counseled restraint and prepared talking points to try to sell mainstream actions to a restive conservative base hungry for disruption. But in the end, they failed. For President Trump, the era of containment is over. One by one, the seasoned advisers seen as bulwarks against Trump’s most reckless impulses have been ... Read More »

Trump Says Turkey Should Easily Be Able to Mop Up ISIS in Syria

Days after handing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a diplomatic win by announcing he’ll pull U.S. troops out of Syria, President Donald Trump defended the move, saying Turkey “should be able to… By Onur Ant, Nick Wadhams, and Selcan Hacaoglu Bloomberg Trump’s action on Syria, which was announced on Twitter and triggered the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and later Brett McGurk, a leading U.S. diplomat, came a week after the… Instead, during a lengthy phone call on Dec. 14, Trump shocked ... Read More »

What Aristotle can teach us about Trump’s rhetoric

From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats to Ronald Reagan’s reputation as the “great communicator” to Barack Obama’s soaring oratory to Donald Trump’s Twitter use, styles of presidential communication have… Anthony F. Arrigo The Conversation But what is similar across all presidents is their ability to create persuasive messages that resonate with large segments of the U.S. population. Whatever your opinion about Donald Trump, he is highly effective at doing this. The question is why, and how does he do… As ... Read More »

Avoiding a Free-for-all in Syria’s North East

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from north-east Syria. ICG This risks chaos and drives home the urgent need for a deal that restores Syrian state sovereignty to its north east, assuages Turkish security concerns and allows for some degree of Kurdish self-rule. What’s new? President Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria followed previous warnings that he justified their presence only as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Trump said ... Read More »

The biggest winner of Trump’s Syria withdrawal? Turkey.

When President Trump announced Wednesday that he was pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, it came as a shock to much of Washington. Ishaan Tharoor The Washington Post Key U.S. military officials reportedly felt hoodwinked by the drastic shift in policy; Trump’s secretary of defense quit. Counterterrorism experts warned that a departure could lead to an Islamic State resurgence. Critics in the foreign-policy community declared that Trump was giving “a Christmas gift to our enemies” — namely Russia and Iran, whose influence the… ... Read More »

Duterte: Philippines’ brutal president must be condemned, but the West is guilty of double standards

Not since the grim Marcos era have Western commentators been so interested in the Philippines. Their focus is the country’s brutal and boorish president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose gruesome anti-drug campaign – death… Tom Sykes The Conversation But some of these Western critics ignore or understate the role of Western policy in helping to create the conditions that birthed “Dutertismo”. They have also simplified Duterte’s erratic policy gestures and not held the Western powers to the… In his book Duterte Harry, ... Read More »

North Korea: We Asked 27 Experts What They Think Will Happen in 2019

The world’s best Korea and Asia watchers gave us their predictions. Will we go back to “fire and fury” or is lasting peace just over the horizon? Harry J. Kazianis and John Dale Grover The National Interest The following is a note from our Executive Editor and the Center for the National Interest’s Director of Defense Studies, Harry J. Kazianis : What happens next when it comes to the North Korea challenge? Your guess is as good as mine, but by looking ... Read More »

China says third detained Canadian is woman being punished for working illegally

China’s Foreign Ministry has said that a Canadian woman is undergoing “administrative punishment” for working illegally, after Canada’s Government said a third Canadian had been detained in China. ABC Reuters Chinese state security agents last week detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, saying they were suspected of endangering state security. The two Canadians were detained after the December 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Ms ... Read More »

Jim Mattis, Defense Secretary, Resigns in Rebuke of Trump’s Worldview

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose experience and stability were widely seen as a balance to an unpredictable president, resigned Thursday in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria and… Helene Cooper The New York Times Mr. Mattis had repeatedly told friends and aides over recent months that he viewed his responsibility to protect the United States’ 1.3 million active-duty troops as worth the concessions necessary as defense secretary to a… But on Thursday, in ... Read More »

Anger, confusion greet Trump’s surprise decision on Syria

Senate Republicans uncharacteristically lashed out at President Trump on Wednesday for announcing a sudden and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, a decision that came without consulting Congress and seemed to catch the Pentagon off guard. Rebecca Kheel The Hill Several lawmakers said Congress received no advance notice of Trump’s announcement, leaving them fuming and scratching their heads. “I don’t know what they’ve done, but this is chaos,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch Trump ally and Armed Services Committee ... Read More »

US approves possible Patriot missile sale to Turkey in bid to block Russian purchase

Washington (CNN) – Amid diplomatic tensions between the US and Turkey on a range of issues, the US State Department announced Tuesday that it approved the possible sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey. By Ryan Browne, CNN The approval is an attempt by the US to get Turkey to give up its plans to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. The proposed purchase has been a major impediment to closer US-Turkish relations amid fears the Russian ... Read More »

Don’t let Russian S-400s peel Turkey away from the West

U.S.-Turkish relations are enjoying a somewhat warmer moment, following the resolution of the crisis over American pastor Andrew Brunson and the recent dialogue to resolve differences over U.S. cooperation with the… Kemal Kirişci and Seçkin Köstem Brookings However, Ankara’s commitment to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia presents a big challenge with important geopolitical implications. Among other problems, the plan could get Turkey sanctioned and removed from the U.S.-led program to provide F-35 aircraft. Some experts have recently argued that ... Read More »

Michael Flynn’s former associate charged with secret lobbying for Turkey against Fethullah Gulen

An ex-business partner of former US national security adviser Michael Flynn and a businessman with ties to Turkish Government officials have been charged with undisclosed lobbying aimed at the… ABC Reuters Mr Flynn’s former partner, Bijan Rafiekian, was indicted on two criminal counts, including conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in the… Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish-Dutch businessman, was charged for allegedly plotting with Turkish officials to cause ... Read More »

Climate action must now focus on the global rich and their corporations

The latest UN climate talks, known as COP24, have just concluded. Nicholas Beuret The Conversation The supposed story this time was one of a grinding victory by the EU and developing nations over recalcitrant petro-states – Russia, the US, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These four, condemned as “climate villains” over the past week, worked to block the adoption of a critical IPCC report that detailed how woefully inadequate current international action was for limiting future climate change to 1.5C. Building ... Read More »

Goldman’s Woes Mount as Malaysia Slaps First Criminal Charge

Malaysia is demanding Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bear the brunt of the 1MDB scandal, opening up another legal front for the Wall Street firm over its role raising money for the investment fund. By Anisah Shukry and Sridhar Natarajan Bloomberg The country filed the first criminal charges against the U.S. bank in the global corruption probe on Monday, after publicly urging Goldman to come to the negotiating table or face litigation. The firm already is in the thick of investigations ... Read More »

Time for a Modest Deal: How to Get U.S.-North Korean Talks Moving Forward

Last June’s U.S.-North Korean summit cleared the atmosphere, but follow-up talks have accomplished little, meaning that dark clouds could easily gather again. ICG To jump-start progress, negotiators should start small, moving incrementally toward realising the long-term goals of Washington, Pyongyang and Seoul. What’s new? 2017’s war of words between the U.S. and North Korea is a fading memory. In its place has come a period of calm, particularly after the leader-level summit in June. But substantive negotiations have foundered, and ... Read More »