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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
Guest
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.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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