Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Zack Beauchamp / Vox – 2017-10-01 19:34:00
Trump Undercuts North Korea Diplomacy, Threatens War
Says Tillerson ‘Wasting His Time’ Trying to Talk
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 1, 2017) â€“ President Trump is so bellicose toward North Korea lately that the isolated nation, quite reasonably, isn’t totally clear if he’s declaring war or not. They even have made overtures to Republican groups to try to get them to translate Trump’s Tweets into actual, real American policy.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been trying to keep the lines of communication with North Korea at least a little open. Over the weekend, visiting China, he told reporters that he was hoping for direct talks with North Korea.
But President Trump is still a thing, and even though he spent the weekend at a New Jersey golf course, he caught wind of Tillerson’s diplomatic overtures. Trump was quick to declare that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate,” even though that’s literally the job of a Secretary of State.
Trump [wasn’t] finished there, either. Underscoring that he learned nothing from last week’s “declaration of war” fiasco, Trump followed the first comments up with a second Tweet saying ” . . . Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
There’s been no response from North Korea yet, but given last week’s talk of them not being around much longer led to concerns about war, the vow to “do what has to be done,” which Trump has repeatedly suggested is total destruction, is likely to fuel similar comments from North Korea, who could reasonably see these as overt threats of war.
But perhaps even more importantly, because the president can’t go more than a few days without overt threats of war, is what this portends for his relationship with Rex Tillerson. This is the latest in a long line of moves Trump has made to undercut diplomatic efforts by his own Secretary of State.
That Tillerson is overseas trying to soothe tensions only to get spurned by a Tweet from a golf course is particularly embarrassing, and makes the Secretary of State appear totally powerless to effect any diplomacy at all.
Trump: ‘Iran Is Violating the Nuclear Deal.’
Top US General: ‘No, it isn’t’
Zack Beauchamp / Vox
(September 27, 2017) — President Donald Trump has been attacking the Iran nuclear deal basically since it was signed, even suggesting that his administration would formally declare that Iran was in violation of the pact by a key October deadline. “They are not in compliance with the agreement and they certainly are not in the spirit of the agreement in compliance,” Trump said at an August presser.
But yesterday, Trump’s criticism of the deal was contradicted by one of the most important officials imaginable: Marine Gen. James Dunford, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dunford’s comments came in a written Q&A submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee in advance of a Tuesday hearing on threats to the US. When asked by the committee whether Iran was complying with the Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, America’s top general unequivocally said yes.
“The briefings I have received indicate that Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations,” he says.
In the next question, Dunford goes even further. Asked if the deal is working as intended — making it harder for Iran to get nuclear weapons — he says that it has. “The JCPOA has delayed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons,” Dunford writes.
Dunford’s comments echo those from another high-ranking officer, Air Force Gen. John Hyten. At a panel hosted by the conservative Hudson Institute last week, General Hyten — who leads US Strategic Command, responsible for (among other things) missile defense — said “the facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements that we signed up for under the JCPOA.”
Inconveniently for Trump, generals have facts on their side. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of monitoring the deal, has repeatedly certified that Tehran is complying with the limits on its nuclear program imposed by the deal.
The Trump administration has not produced any evidence to the contrary; in fact, Trump’s own national security cabinet officials have pushed him to stay in the deal behind the scenes.
But top generals do not typically contradict their commander in chief on strategic issues like this in public. The fact that not one, but two, of America’s leading military officers has done so in recent days suggests that the military brass strongly believes that adhering to the Iran deal is in America’s best interest — and that the alternative could mean a war none of them want.
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