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Jim Mattis on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

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Jim Mattis on North Koreas nuclear ambitions

North Korea allegedly has nuclear weapons capabilities. Some say they can barely make low-yield weapons and have no way of delivering them outside of their own borders. North Korea claims they have hydrogen bomb capabilities and can strike anywhere in America (and therefore just about anywhere in the world). The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was in Seoul today. Talking to South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, the four-star general declared that the North was in the midst of an illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear program. He had harsh words on the subject, including an not-so-subtle innuendo:

“I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power.”

Source: Washington Post

Mattis says threat of nuclear attack by N.Korea accelerating – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/mattis-says-threat-of-nuclear-attack-by-nkorea-accelerating/2017/10/27/a237d018-bb8e-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html?utm_term=.51b66c99c550“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” he said, adding that U.S.-South Korean military and diplomatic collaboration thus has taken on “a new urgency.”

“With that said,” he added, “make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming.”

Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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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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