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Foreign Affairs

UN summit could be Trump’s shining moment. Or, he might ruin everything.

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Trump UN Summit

The enigma of President Donald Trump will hit the world stage today at the start of the 4-day United Nations summit. This could very well be the President’s biggest moment since taking over as leader of the free world. It may also prove to be a disaster. At this point, there’s no telling which way the ball will drop.

The best thing going for him is that events like these tend to be when he’s at his best. Unlike his Twitter persona or adversarial stance that he takes when addressing mainstream media, the president has always done well talking directly to “big wigs.” Even as a business man, he regularly worked directly with politicians and even heads of state. He has another advantage: his unpredictability. There may not be a whole lot of people in the room who like him, but most will want to get on his good side based upon his willingness to lash at publicly at those who cross him.

There’s a good chance that he may have the opposite effect on world leaders. If he overplays his hand with the wrong people, gets threatening when he should be diplomatic, or attempts to get diplomatic when he should be threatening, he could start new relationships with world leaders on the wrong foot.

There’s a ton on the table at this summit. Just in the last couple of weeks, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate deal, and an unstable North Korea have been dominating world news. All will be discussed. All of those discussions have the opportunity to become contentious.

Perhaps the biggest question looming over this particular summit is the future of the United Nations itself. Candidate Trump was very critical of the worldwide body and expressed extreme displeasure in the way the organization is funded. The United States pays by far the most out of the 120 or so nations involved, yet seems to receive little to no direct benefit. The word that’s been floated around by White House insiders is “reform.”

Here’s what’s buzzing so far about the summit:

Perspectives

Donald Trump’s U.N. meeting an ‘America First’ forum | S.A. Miller, Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/17/donald-trumps-un-meeting-an-america-first-forum/Mr. Trump will be pushing reforms to the U.N. and rethinking America’s massive contributions, brokering economic deals around the world and trying to inspire global resolve to confront North Korea, Iran, Islamic State and other threats, top aides say.

Trump’s message for the United Nations: Reform | Julia Manchester, The Hill

http://origin-nyi.thehill.com/homenews/administration/351077-trump-looks-to-set-the-tone-at-un?amp“The message he’s going to deliver in that speech is first he’s going to promote and advocate for the strength of democratic values. And he’s going to reinforce that it is those shared values that bind our alliances together and that have kept the world a stable place,” Tillerson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Trump heads to first UN summit amid uncertainty on North Korea, Iran, Paris climate deal | Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-heads-to-first-un-summit-amid-uncertainty-on-north-korea-iran-paris-climate-deal/article/2634709“At first glance, you’d think that this would be sort of a train wreck or a potential major confrontation,” said Stewart Patrick, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He’s going into, in a sense, the belly of the beast in terms of globalism.”

Final Thoughts

If the president goes in and uses his natural skills to win over the body and forge stronger relationships with world leaders, this could be exactly what the United States needs in order to rein in the United Nation’s failing world agenda. If he goes off the reservation completely, it could be disastrous. We’ll eagerly wait for his Tuesday address.

Foreign Affairs

President dispatches Pompeo after talking to Saudi King

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President dispatches Pompeo after talking to Saudi King

President Trump is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey claims to have ample evidence that the Saudis murdered Khashoggi at their consulate in Istanbul.

The situation is tense as pressure mounts for actions to be taken against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis fired back with threats of their own if such actions are taken. All of this is happening against a backdrop of increased engagement between Saudi Arabia and the United States as they work to put together a Middle East peace agreement.

Turkey claims to have a recording of Khashoggi’s murder captured on his Apple Watch. They also have the identities of a 15-man “kill team” that was allegedly sent to the consulate to capture and torture Khashoggi. Video shows him going into the consulate with his fiancee remaining outside, but no footage has been released of him leaving the consulate and his fiancee hasn’t seen him since. Turkey claims Saudi Arabia has sufficient surveillance cameras at the consulate that could prove he left, but the Saudis claim the equipment was not recording during his visit.

My Take

The White House is trying to sweep this under the rug. As obtuse as the Saudi government has been for decades, their strategic and economic importance to the United States is great. The last thing the White House wants is to be forced to choose between their close ally and public outcry, most of which is demanding repercussions in light of the alleged evidence.

Turkey has been adamant that their theory is correct.

At some point, we’re going to have to cut ties with Saudi Arabia unless drastic changes are made. Changes are underway, but they seem too slow to compensate for the backwards nature of the country. It’s time to just cut them loose now.

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Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia issues warning over “false accusations”

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Saudi Arabia issues warning over false accusations

Representative John Ratcliffe (R-TX) took to Fox News to try to bring calm to an escalating situation. Saudi Arabia has been accused of murdering Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who has been outspoken against the Saudi regime.

He points out that Saudi Arabia’s threats and proposed actions against them are premature. Until we see the evidence Turkey has against them, we must presume innocence, Ratcliffe said.

My Take

The Representative is right and wrong. He’s right that we shouldn’t act against the Saudis until we know for use. Then again, the evidence that U.S. officials have almost certainly seen and/or heard is enough to make pro-Saudi groups in Washington DC squirm. Then, there are the previous and ongoing abuses Saudi Arabia has committed that must be considered.

Backing away from our relationship with Saudi Arabia will hurt. Backing down to their threats is inexcusable. The White House is in a real pickle on this one.

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Foreign Affairs

Mike Pence calls out the reality in China

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Mike Pence calls out the reality in China

Headlines have been popping up for over a decade that China is embracing Western-style freedoms for its people. Some variation of praise and hope have littered our news wires for some time, yet the incremental changes that are so often touted rarely turn into anything substantial and are often replaced by setbacks.

The economy is still far from free. Access to information television and internet is heavily controlled. Religious activities must be held in secret. This isn’t the China we’ve been promised.

It’s not the China the government has been promising its people.

Vice President Mike Pence drew criticism from leftists who found his recent comments inflammatory, but at this point does it really even matter? After three presidencies that treated China like the great reformers they’re not, isn’t it about time we try to use honest words and aggressive actions to call them out rather than allow them to continue their expansion unchecked?

Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration’s Policy Toward China

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-vice-president-pence-administrations-policy-toward-china/Previous administrations made this choice in the hope that freedom in China would expand in all of its forms -– not just economically, but politically, with a newfound respect for classical liberal principles, private property, personal liberty, religious freedom — the entire family of human rights. But that hope has gone unfulfilled.

The dream of freedom remains distant for the Chinese people. And while Beijing still pays lip service to “reform and opening,” Deng Xiaoping’s famous policy now rings hollow.

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