Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

December 3, 2008

Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama.  But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…

President-elect Barack Obama waits to get on his plane with ... 
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.

The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.”  For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.

Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. ... 
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran

One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”

In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda.  Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.

And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov

Terrorism could be the number one priority.  Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group  Lashkar-e-Taiba  blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.

On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.

Is another 9-11 in America’s future?  And are we ready to defend or respond?

Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority.  Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.

A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.

Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.

Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.

You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.

America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.

Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.

Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.

*****

From Wikipedia:

It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

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Obama’s strong-willed national security team

November 30, 2008
With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2008
Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he’ll get his wish, and then some.

Obama’s new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other — and with the president-elect — on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

Clinton, Gates, Jones

Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP
THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal.

Their collaboration isn’t likely to be as contentious as the first-term Bush administration battles between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Clinton, Gates and Jones have worked smoothly, with the only visible clashes coming between Clinton and Gates’ deputies over Iraq.

But Obama will have some clear choices among their views, which differ in nuance in some cases and more starkly in others. Obama appears to be determined to keep them in line; advisors say he believes the Pentagon has become too strong in the Bush years, and he wants to reassert White House control.

Some American supporters of Israel have already been buzzing over the potential for conflict between Clinton and Jones on Arab-Israeli issues.

Jones, an admired former Marine commandant and supreme allied commander of NATO, was appointed last November as a Bush administration envoy charged with trying to improve the often dysfunctional Palestinian security forces. As part of that assignment, he drafted a report that caused a stir in Israel by criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-security30-2008nov30,0,7160819.story

SKorea receives first Patriot missiles

November 28, 2008

The South Korean air force said Friday it had taken delivery of a first shipment of US-made Patriot missiles, designed to protect against any attack by North Korea.

They were bought second-hand from Germany and will replace the current ageing Nike air defence missiles, the air force said in a statement.

A Patriot missile launcher in Seoul. The South Korean air force ... 
A Patriot missile launcher in Seoul. The South Korean air force said Friday it had taken delivery of a first shipment of US-made Patriot missiles, designed to protect against any attack by North Korea(AFP/File/Jung Yeon-Je)

The first shipment arrived in the country in August but has been undergoing a series of performance tests before Seoul officially took delivery.

The air force plans to spend a total of 1.05 trillion won (710 million dollars) to deploy two battalions of Patriot missiles within two years.

The air force did not say how many Patriots it had taken delivery of. South Korea previously announced plans to buy a total of 48 second-hand PAC-2 Patriots.

The announcement came amid worsening ties between the two Koreas. In protest at what it calls Seoul’s confrontational policy, North Korea has announced strict curbs on cross-border movements from December 1.

The US and its allies regard the North’s missile development as a major threat to regional security, on top of its nuclear ambitions.

–AFP

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081128/wl_asia_afp/skorean
koreausmissiles_081128080159

Bush criticized on Iraq, N.Korea

November 18, 2008

President Bush’s efforts to resolve two major foreign-policy challenges in his waning days in office have prompted double-barreled criticisms, with leaders here and abroad questioning concessions his administration has made to Iraq and North Korea.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton said Monday that he was “deeply troubled” by a pending status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) with Iraq because it could result in American troops being prosecuted in Iraqi courts.

Across the globe, Japan and South Korea have gone public with rare dissent, saying they are worried over an agreement on how to verify North Korean pledges to give up making fuel for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Skelton, the leading House Democrat responsible for the U.S. military, said: “I do not believe it was wise to push off major decisions about the legal protections U.S. troops would have in such cases or the crimes for which they could be charged.”

By Sara A. Carter and Nicholas Kralev 
The Washington Times

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/18/bush-criticized-on-iraq-nkorea/

Japan Slides Into Recession; Obama Presidency Seen as No Help

November 17, 2008

Japan’s economy slid into a recession for the first time since 2001, the government said Monday, as companies sharply cut back on spending in the third quarter amid the unfolding global financial crisis.

The world’s second-largest economy contracted at an annual pace of 0.4 percent in the July-September period after a declining an annualized 3.7 percent in the second quarter. That means Japan, along with the 15-nation euro-zone, is now technically in a recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

The result was worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Kyodo News agency had predicted gross domestic product would gain an annualized 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said following the data’s release that “the economy is in a recessionary phase.”

But the worst may be yet to come, especially with dramatic declines in demand from consumers overseas for Japan’s autos and electronics gadgets. Hurt also by a strengthening yen, a growing number of exporters big and small are slashing their profit, sales and spending projections for the full fiscal year through March.

Toyota Motor Corp., for example, has cut net profit full-year profit forecast to 550 billion yen ($5.5 billion) — about a third of last year’s earnings. And Sony Corp., whose July-September profit plunged 72 percent, expects to make 59 percent less this fiscal year than last year.

“What we’re starting to see is the extent of deterioration in external demand start to weigh more heavily on the Japanese economy,” said Glen Maguire, chief Asia economist at Societe Generale. “And I think looking forward, there’s every indication that dynamic is going to continue.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_bi_ge/as_jap
an_economy;_ylt=ApHIyzOiyEFeB_wFtelfrris0NUE

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For Japan, Obama Signals A Shift Closer to China, Away From “Traditional” Asian Allies
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The Japanese do not share the jubilation seen almost everywhere following the election of Barack Obama. 

Economically, Japan sees an Obama White House funding the American Big Three Automakers: GM, Chrysler and Ford.  And that’s bad for Japan’s automakers.

Japan, for one nation, prefers to allow the “system” to work without more government intervention.

On the foreign policy level, Japan fears North Korea’s erratic behavior and nuclear capability.  It also fears China as a tradition enemy of immense wealth, population and size which can easily overwhelm the economy of Japan.

Japan fears the presidency of Barack Obama.  “So far, no good,” one senior diplomat told Peace and Freedom.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapal, Virginia

Related:
Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan

Condoleezza Rice On What Obama Faces

November 16, 2008

On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will inherit a world very different from the one his predecessor found in January 2001. Over the past eight years, the Bush administration has faced great challenges and nurtured grand ambitions; it has tried hard to remake the world. Condoleezza Rice has been a central player in that effort since becoming the candidate Bush’s chief foreign-policy adviser in 2000, so we arranged to interview her at the State Department late last month. The interview turned into a wide-ranging discussion of where this government has taken the United States and what sort of world it will leave for the next president. The editors have culled the highlights of her remarks in the text that follows. We also spoke with other administration foreign-policy makers — Christopher Hill and Daniel Fried of the State Department and Gen. James L. Jones, former supreme allied commander, Europe — whose remarks supplement and illuminate those of Rice.

By HELENE COOPER and SCOTT L. MALCOMSON
The New York Times (Sunday Magazine)

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/magazine/16rice-
t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin

Gates fends off questions on Pentagon future

November 14, 2008

With a smile and a no comment, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates fended off speculation Wednesday that president-elect Barack Obama may ask him to stay at the Pentagon.

It was the first question put to Gates at a media availability after he met here with Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip: had he had any discussions with Obama or his representatives about the defense chief’s job?

AFP

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in October 2008 at ...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. 
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Logan Mock-Bunting)

Gates smiled mischievously and said: “I have nothing new to say on the subject.”

His future has been a subject of intense speculation since a top Obama foreign policy adviser, Richard Danzig, told reporters October 2 that Gates had been a good defense secretary and “would be a better one in an Obama administration.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing two unnamed advisers to the president-elect, said Tuesday that Obama was leaning toward asking Gates to stay on at the Pentagon for a least a year.

That would help smooth the transition at a time when the country is embroiled in two wars and faces potential challenges from Iran, North Korea and Russia.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081112/pl_afp/uspolitics
obamagates_081112165952

Testing of Obama Begins

November 10, 2008

It seems we at Peace and Freedom wrote this same article a few days ago!  See:
“Testing” of Obama Has Already Begun

Now, finally, a big-time columnist takes it on….

By Linda Chavez
The Washington Times

If Barack Obama were elected president, he would be tested by a major international crisis soon after taking office. Mr. Biden was wrong about one thing: The test has come even before President-elect Obama is sworn in.

Within hours of Mr. Obama’s impressive victory, another new leader, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, warned that Russia would deploy short-range missiles capable of hitting NATO territory if the new American president goes ahead to build a missile defense system to protect Europe.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy ... 
President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU’s doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington’s allies in central Europe.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

It’s unclear where a President Obama will come down on this issue. He’s been on both sides during the campaign.

The idea of an anti-missile defense system, of course, is not new. The United States has been working on an anti-missile system to protect our territory since the Reagan administration. The Strategic Defense Initiative – often derisively dismissed as “Star Wars” by its critics – fundamentally changed the way the U.S. approached the idea of nuclear war.

Through much of the Cold War, the United States based its defense almost entirely on a good offense: mutually assured destruction (MAD). We would have so many weapons that the Soviets would realize that an attack on us would be suicidal. If they launched a surprise nuclear attack on us, enough of our missiles would survive to retaliate against them, and annihilation would be the fate of both sides.

But Reagan changed the equation. Essentially abandoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which allowed the Soviets and the U.S. to set up anti-missile systems to protect only their two capitals, Reagan announced he would explore building a defense shield to protect the entire country.

Some 20 years later, U.S. technology in this area has advanced to the point that we are capable of deploying a limited system to protect our allies. Last year, the U.S. announced that negotiations were under way with some of our friends in Europe to deploy anti-missile systems on their territory. For some of those allies, the primary threat they fear is a nuclear-armed Iran. Although, Poland, with whom we’ve now signed an agreement, also fears a newly belligerent Russia. But the Bush administration has been at pains to reassure an insecure Russia that any American-deployed system would be purely defensive – a so-called “hit-to-kill” strategy in which a missile’s technology would not even include explosives but would rely on intercepting a nuclear missile before it hit its target.

A launcher of short-range Iskander missile rides in a column ...
A launcher of short-range Iskander missile rides in a column of Russian military vehicles, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in downtown Moscow, in this Tuesday, April 29, 2008 file photo. President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, that Russia will deploy the short-range Iskander missiles to Russia’s Kaliningrad region, which lies between Poland and the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, in response to U.S. missile defense plans. He did not say whether the missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/10/testing-begins/

“Testing” of Obama Has Already Begun

November 6, 2008

Russia, China and the tangled web of a very troubled economy have already conspired to begin the “testing” of president Elect Barack Obama.

During the campaign for the White House, Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “Mark my words.  It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev began the process of testing America’s new President Elect Obama yesterday during his State of the Nation address.

Medvedev did not welcome or congratulate Barack Obama on his election and entry on to the world stage as the elected leader of the United States.  Instead, Medvedev launched a verbal assault on U.S. foreign policy and announced that he would order the deployment of short-range missiles to Kaliningrad, facing Poland and the joint U.S.-Polish missile defense site.

He said Russian missiles would “neutralize” the planned U.S. missile-defense system.

“From what we have seen in recent years — the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of NATO — we have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength,” Medvedev said.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy ... 
President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU’s doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington’s allies in central Europe.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

He signaled Moscow would not give in to Western calls to pull troops from Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or rescind its recognition of their independence following the August war.

“We will not retreat in the Caucasus,” he said, winning one of many rounds of applause during the televised 85-minute address.

“There’s no question that this is designed as a test for the Obama administration,” said Kimberly Marten, a professor of political science who specializes in Russian foreign policy at Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York.

The BBC said of Medvedev, “He could have made the speech on any day in November.  Instead he chose 5 November, the day after the US presidential election.”

“It’s posturing,” she said. “Kaliningrad is already so heavily militarized — there are tactical nuclear weapons from the Russian side there — so these missiles wouldn’t actually have any particular major impact on the defense balance in the region.”

China also scheduled a major military event this week: the huge China airshow.

A model of ARJ21 jet is seen on the opening day of China Airshow ... 
A model of ARJ21 jet is seen on the opening day of China Airshow 2008 in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong province, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. China’s biggest commercial aircraft maker landed its first foreign order Tuesday when General Electric Co. announced its plane-leasing arm would purchase at least five of the company’s new regional jets. The order for the 70-seat ARJ21 jets made by Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China includes an option to purchase as many as 20 more, said GE spokesman Geoff Li.(AP Photo/EyePress)

Add to these major foreign policy challenges Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.

And don’t forget the economy and a host of domestic promises Mr. Obama made about taxes, healthcare and other agenda items.

The testing of the President-Elect is underway….

Related:
Best Analysis of Obama’s Economic Challenges, From The BBC and Peter Morici, Univ of Maryland

Testing of Obama Begins
By Linda Chavez, November 10, 2008

Great expectations: Obama will have to deliver

November 6, 2008

Over and over, Barack Obama told voters if they stuck with him “we will change this country and change the world.” They did, and now their expectations for him to deliver are firmly planted on his shoulders. Many supporters greeted his victory with euphoria.

Sen. Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally at Bicentennial ... 
Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally at Bicentennial Park in Miami, Florida, October 21, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Impatient for a new American era and overcome by a black man’s historic ascension to the White House, they took his achievement for their own — weeping, dancing in the streets, blaring happy horns into Wednesday morning.

But campaign rhetoric soon collides with the gritty duties of governing, and hard realities stand in Obama’s way.

The youthful president-elect appears to know this. His victory speech emphasized humility far more than his fabled confidence, with remarks heavily leavened by references to the difficulties before the nation.

He declared “change has come to America” and closed with his “yes we can” campaign slogan, but not before speaking of the certainty of setbacks. “The road ahead will be long,” Obama warned. “We may not get there in one year or even one term.”

From the Associated Press
By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081106/ap_
on_el_pr/obama_great_expectations;
_ylt=AhcxsnSdV0Xn5Jq4oLHKi72s0NUE