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Congress to bind President’s hands on troop removal from Korean peninsula

US congressmen are concerned that a peace arrangement might be brokered with North Korea

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When the President wants to wage a war somewhere, he just does it, and no one bats an eye. But for the first time in a very long time, as opposed to escalating tensions, invading, and bombing somewhere, a US president is proposing to deescalate a situation and establish peace somewhere.

That’s a major thing in and of itself. But that’s not alright in the minds of US congressmen, who are concerned that a peace arrangement might be brokered with North Korea if Trump withdraws American troops from the Korean peninsula.

Due to this worry, predicated on the reality that they simply don’t trust Trump at his word, quite openly, they are drafting up some legislation, in both houses, that would bind the president’s hands in order to prevent any meaningful reduction or removal of US military presence in Korea.

ABC News reports:

A pair of Senate Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally drawing down the American troop presence on the Korean peninsula – not necessarily because he’s said he will, but because they don’t want to rely on his word that he won’t.

Other measures that also tie the president’s hands, but don’t go as far, are already closer to being passed as part of an essential military policy bill.

The new legislation, from Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., would prevent Trump from withdrawing troops from South Korea unless the secretary of defense says it’s in the interest of national security and that it would not undermine the security of allies in the region.

“U.S. troops are not bargaining chips to be offered up in an off-handed manner,” Duckworth said in a statement.

During his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump announced the U.S. would be ending large-scale annual military exercises conducted with South Korea but insisted that the status of the 28,500 American soldiers on the peninsula is not up for negotiation.

“They are going to stay. We didn’t even discuss that, that wasn’t discussed,” Trump said in an interview with Voice of America.

But he also said, during a press conference, that he still wants to draw down troops in Korea at some point – just not as part of negotiations over the North’s nuclear capability.

“At some point, I have to be honest. I used to say this during my campaign… I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to be able to bring them back home. That’s not part of the equation. At some point, I hope it would be,” he said.

That type of uncertainty was enough for Murphy to try to establish some new restrictions.

“I don’t think it’s smart policy for Congress to rely on the word of the president,” the Connecticut Democrat told ABC. “This time he gave away exercises for nothing, what’s to stop him from giving away troops for nothing?”

The two Democrats want their amendment added to the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military policy for the next fiscal year. The House’s version already has a similar provision, which would limit funds that can be used to reduce troop levels in South Korea, and the Senate includes a “sense of the Senate” provision stipulating that “the significant removal of the United States military forces from the Korean Peninsula is a non-negotiable item” as it relates to North Korea’s denuclearization.

Once each chamber passes its respective NDAA, the two must be merged in what is known as a conference committee.

So while Murphy would obviously like to see his bill passed, he acknowledged that this year’s NDAA will be making some sort of a statement warning the president not to try to reduce troop levels in South Korea unless there is a national security imperative.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who wrote the sense of the Senate resolution, said he is concerned Trump might try to limit troop numbers on the Korean peninsula, which he warned would play right into China’s desires to have an unchallenged presence in the region.

“The Chinese have probably been coaching Kim Jong Un to seek that as part of the nuclear negotiation goals,” he told ABC.

Last month, Trump ordered the Pentagon to issue options for reducing the American presence in South Korea, despite his administration’s assurances that they were not a bargaining chip in the Kim talks.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said those kinds of comments indicate that it might be time to consider tying the president’s hands when it comes to defense on the peninsula.

“I generally wouldn’t be open to that, but I might be now,” he told ABC, although he added that the Senate should hold a hearing on the Murphy/Duckworth proposition before any votes are contemplated.

As we see, the American government really isn’t all that interested in a peace scenario being established on the Korean peninsula, and, one might well argue, anywhere else, for that matter. Consider Syria, when Trump announced he wanted to pull US troops out of Syria and to bring our boys home. What happened? Well, the military’s top brass and advisers raised a stink about it and insisted that the troops stay.

And, conveniently, Assad just happened to decide at that time to launch a gas attack on his own citizens, the perfect excuse to maintain a military presence in Syria, and maybe even to escalate US participation in the region by getting some allies together to blow some stuff up. The same sort of scenario, after a fashion, appears to be going on here.

Trump says he wants to bring America’s finest home and then the government raises a stink about it and tries to find a way to force Trump to not interfere with the war situation in Korea. That might ruin other US interests in the region, together with reducing the apparent budget requirements for the Pentagon, as well as damage any good pretexts for attempting some sort of regime change operation in North Korea, after the Libya model, of course. Apparently, the war mongering mentality isn’t something limited to John Bolton or Mad Dog Mattis, but looks to be shared by the rest of the Federal government as well.

However, that such measures would actually be of any use isn’t really all that certain, given that all Trump would have to do is to assign some national security priority to the denuclearization process in North Korea, indicating that such a withdrawal is therefore necessary for America’s security against a nuclear North Korea. Afterall, Trump’s tariffs regimes against China, the EU, the other members of NAFTA, and most of the rest of the planet, are all in the name of national security. So, all Trump really needs to do is utter those words, and his will is carried out, even if the US congress isn’t too excited that Trump happens to be the Commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, maybe with some emphasis on that chief part.

 

 

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IanShears2Aidi DeductioncolumGerTommy Jensen Recent comment authors
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IanShears2
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IanShears2

It seems that the military is right to rebuff the President. They fought a terror
campaign back in the 50s that failed. They have the right to insist
on this stick to beat up Congress. The money that should have come
for a nuclear attack has been withheld for many years. Now that
President Kim has won the geopolitics hands down the Generals and the
Beltway are in need of psychological babysitting and this can only be
afforded by denying a surrender and peace treaty.

Aidi Deduction
Guest
Aidi Deduction

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s response to a caller’s question – what about America?” curing a live radio broadcast on Israeli radio Oct 3, 2001: “I want to tell you something very clear. Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We the Jewish people control America and the Americans know it.” ”You know very well, and the stupid Americans know equally well, that we control their government, irrespective of who sits in the White House. You see, I know it and you know it that no American president can be in a position to challenge us even if we do… Read more »

colum
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colum

Well. Civil War abounds. If they want a fight, take it to them and keep it from us. America hasn’t learned that it is truly vulnerable. If it has then they are doomed to repeat their mistake.

Ger
Guest
Ger

The MICC gravy train rolls on loaded with trillions of dollars of military slop. Never oppose war but oppose peace …. the dots are easy to connect.

johnsang
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johnsang

I see that you are helping to perpetuate the myth that Assad gassed his own people. What actual evidence of that do you have?

Tommy Jensen
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Tommy Jensen

Trump is a loose missile. True Americans are tired of all this peace shit hence the Congress must have a hold on him.

rossco
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rossco

There will be no withdrawal of troops and no reunification of Korea!

There will be no denuclearisation of DPRK.

Irrespective of what Trump has said, and i believe he is genuine, the Dems and Republicans and the House Foreign Relations Committee would rather eat grass than allow this to happen.

As suspected -nothing will change , the hostile rhetoric will continue ,the mmedia will spread more fake news about North Korea, the war games will restart after a short break and we’ll all be closer to more war, which is exactly what the yanks want.

scanfish
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scanfish

What will they do if South Korea/US Govt sign a peace treaty with North Korea declaring the end of the 1953 hostilities, and as part of that peace treaty, there must be withdrawal of US troops, and South Korea insists on it? What will Lindsey Graham and his fellow skirt and bra wearing poofters and pedophiles in Congress do? Force themselves on the South Koreans? What a bunch of dumb a-holes.

Latest

US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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