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The Senate comes to the White House. Is war with North Korea coming?

Briefing of the entire Senate in the White House on Wednesday increases prospect of US military action against North Korea.

Alexander Mercouris



Immediately following the call by Chinese President Xi Jinping to President Trump on Sunday, during which the Chinese President warned President Trump against any unilateral military action against North Korea, comes news that the White House on Wednesday will be a location for a briefing on North Korea of the entire US Senate.

It is important to say that contrary to a report by the BBC this is not a summons of the Senate to the White House by the President.  Rather it is a decision by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, to hold a Senate briefing in the White House rather than on Capitol Hill.

That this is so was confirmed by Sean Spicer, President Trump’s spokesman, during his regular press briefing on Monday

Also on North Korea, on Wednesday, the White House campus will play host to a briefing for all U.S. — 100 U.S. senators on the subject.  The briefers will be Secretary Tillerson and Mattis, Director Coats and General Dunford.  This is a Senate briefing convened by the Majority Leader, not a White House briefing.  We are just serving as the location.  For further questions, I’d direct you to the Majority Leader’s office and the office of the four briefers.

Holding a Senate briefing in the White House instead of on Capitol Hill is however a most remarkable step, and the Washington Post says staffers in the Senate are perplexed by it.

Though the White House says the meeting was convened by Senator McConnell rather than by the Trump administration itself, it is difficult to believe that it was done without some degree of prompting from the White House.

The Senators are in the process of returning to Capitol Hill after a 2 week recess, and with the President possibly smarting from his failure to press the Chinese into taking stronger action against North Korea, it seems the administration has now decided to raise the stakes by getting Senator McConnell to convene a classified briefing of the whole Senate in the White House.

There has to be concern that this briefing is preparatory to the White House seeking authorisation for military action. The fact that General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be attending the briefing, points strongly to that likelihood, and suggests that military options against North Korea will be discussed during the briefing.

Against that it has to be said that the President hosted a lunch in Washington of the UN Security Council ambassadors on Monday, including obviously those of China and Russia.  During that lunch he made the following comments

The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable, and the Council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not.  North Korea is a big world problem, and it’s a problem we have to finally solve.  People have put blindfolds on for decades, and now it’s time to solve the problem.

That suggests that the President is heeding China’s warning and is still looking for diplomatic action, with his priority being to get the UN Security Council to impose further sanctions against North Korean after these have been agreed by the administration with the Russians and the Chinese.  If so then that suggests that military action has not been decided on yet.

Putting all the known facts together, what is possibly the most likely explanation for this strange move is that after their long slumber some members of the Senate and of the Congress, as they return to Washington after the recess, are finally starting to signal their concern, and the President and his advisers are seeking by briefing them in the White House both to bring them onside and to  send a strong signal to the North Koreans and the Chinese.

However if one thing is now clear about this President, it is that it is impossible to predict his actions with any confidence.

Moreover even if the intention is merely to keep the Senate onside during a period of growing tension in the Korean Peninsula whilst at the same time sending a strong signal to the North Koreans and the Chinese, the mere fact of briefing the full Senate in the White House – and of regaling the Senators with what will undoubtedly be flesh-creeping talk of North Korean nuclear bombs and missiles raining down on the US – risks creating a momentum of its own.  It is bound to heighten talk of war, and of the need for a pre-emptive US strike to prevent what many of the Senators will no doubt see as a ‘clear and present danger’ from North Korea to the US.   That in turn is bound to make the possibility of a military strike more likely.

What that unfortunately means is that we are a further step closer to a US military strike against North Korea, even if that is not what the President intends at the moment.

The next few days will be extremely tense, and the situation is now very dangerous.

Much will depend on whether or not there is a North Korean nuclear test over the next few days.  If there is one, it is difficult to see how the President can draw back without losing face.  It is nonetheless to be sincerely hoped that he does.  However, one way or the other, by holding a Senate briefing in the White House, the President has just made pulling back harder as he closes off his options for retreat.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou



RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.





Via RT…

A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou



The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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