Monday, April 15, 2019

Today's links

"We aren't anywhere near grasping what a baseless, moronic, & politically catastrophic decision it was to try to challenge Trump -- of all the issues he could be challenged on -- on the notion that he conspired with Russia. I am hopeful the Mueller report will help that process." aaron mate





1--Kim Jong Un calls for south to act in Korea's interests, not America's

In their third summit last September, Moon and Kim agreed to reconnect the Koreas’ railways and roads, normalize operations at a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restart South Korean tours to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects.

But Moon’s call for partial sanctions relief to create space for the inter-Korean projects and induce nuclear disarmament steps by North Korea has led to a disagreement with Washington, which sees economic pressure as its main leverage with Pyongyang.

On South Korea, Kim said Seoul “should not act as an ‘overstepping mediator’ or a ‘facilitator’ and should rather get its mind straight as a member of the (Korean) nation and boldly speak up for the interest of the nation.”

2--Why Isn’t Assange Charged with ‘Collusion with Russia’?

Why hasn’t Assange been indicted for criminal collusion with the Kremlin — the same hacking conspiracy for which Mueller indicted the Russian operatives with whom Mueller says Assange collaborated? The same conspiracy for which the president of the United States, though not guilty, was under the FBI’s microscope for nearly three years?

The Assange Indictment: Weak and Potentially Time-Barred

The most striking thing about the Assange indictment that the Justice Department did file is how thin it is, and how tenuous. Leaping years backwards, ignoring “collusion with Russia,” prosecutors allege a single cyber-theft count: a conspiracy between Assange and then–Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning to steal U.S. defense secrets. This lone charge is punishable by as little as no jail time and a maximum sentence of just five years’ imprisonment (considerably less than the seven years Assange spent holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid prosecution).

This is very peculiar. Manning, Assange’s co-conspirator, has already been convicted of multiple felony violations of the espionage act — serious crimes that the Assange indictment says WikiLeaks helped Manning commit . . . but which the Justice Department has not charged against Assange....

As I pointed out on Thursday, the 2010 Assange-Manning cyber-theft conspiracy charged by prosecutors is outside the standard five-year statute of limitations for federal crimes: The limitations period was already exhausted when the indictment was filed in 2018. To breathe life into the case, the Justice Department will have to convince both British and American judges that this comparatively minor conspiracy charge is actually a “federal crime of terrorism,” triggering a three-year statute-of-limitations extension...

Despite a dearth of evidence that he was complicit in Moscow’s hacking, President Trump was forced by the Justice Department and the FBI, urged on by congressional Democrats, to endure a two-year investigation and to govern under a cloud of suspicion that he was an agent of the Kremlin. Now we have Assange, as to whom there is indisputable evidence of complicity in the hacking conspiracy, but the Justice Department declines to charge him with it — instead, positing the dubious Manning conspiracy that may very well be time-barred.
What is going on here?

3--North Korea’s Kim could make first ever visit to Russia next week, report says


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could make his first ever visit to Russia next week, Yonhap news agency said Monday.
Citing sources in Moscow, Yonhap said, "Chances that Kim Jong Un's trip to the Russian Federation will take place by the end of April are quite high."

The summit is likely to take place in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok, near the borders with China and North Korea.

On April 26-27, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to participate in the "One Belt, One Road" forum in China. The agency's source believes that his meeting with the North Korean leader will take place a day or two before or immediately after the event.

4---The crisis of the European Union

The EU's failure in dealing with various crises on its doorstep successfully has a lot to do with its overdependence on the United States in the realm of security

The European Union is by far the most successful example of international polities transcending traditional interstate relations by putting the formation of collective identities and supranational institutions at the center of its integration process. What seems to set the EU apart from other polities is that the postmodern logic underpinning its integration process has facilitated both the formation of a security community among its members and the prioritization of normative power instruments in its relations with external actors.

The hope of its founding fathers was that the EU's values of cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, secular universalism, multiple interdependencies and soft power would gradually help weaken modern practices of the balance of power politics, realpolitik security strategies, self versus other distinctions and hard power instruments in interstate relations first inside the EU and then beyond its borders.
However, lately, the European Union has been facing various modern challenges concerning the postmodern logic of its integration process and international identity....

recent years have increasingly witnessed the rise of anti-integrationist, anti-immigrant and anti-globalist populist parties across the European continent. The European Union now suffers from a legitimacy crisis in the eyes of its people. There is now a democracy deficit problem inside EU. Investing too much power in postmodern institutions based in Brussels appears to have caused a revolt on the part of ordinary Europeans against the bureaucratic and political elites in European capitals.

The existential crisis
The European Union is now on the verge of an existential crisis, the worst in its life span since its birth in the late 1950s. EU members do not now live in a postmodern heaven. The idea that the EU model represents the highest stage of human development and outside actors would gradually adopt this European mentality on their own no longer holds true.

5--Syria safe zone may be 'safe zone' for Turkey-US relations


Previously, the U.S. administration showed unwillingness to establish a working relationship with Turkey to form a no fly zone/safe zone in northern Syria, before the operations in Raqqa and supporting the opposition in multiple instances. President Trump's announcement after a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan about a safe zone idea made many in Turkey think that finally the two countries can work out a plan in Syria together....


Since then, first the timeline of withdrawal changed and following that the U.S. administration decided to leave some forces in Syria. And for the last three months, negotiations on the idea of a safe zone have been ongoing. For Turkey and Turkish foreign policy makers' perception of cooperation with the U.S. following problems implementing the Manbij road map agreement, whose negotiations between the militaries of the two countries were completed in Stuttgart 10 months ago on June 14, 2018, negotiations of the zone have become more critical....

 Now in the midst of resolutions from the U.S. Congress against Turkey and the S-400 disagreement, the fate of the safe zone negotiations gained further importance. The outcome of the negotiations will not only determine the implementation plan of the safe zone decision by the two leaders, it will also play an important role in determining the future of Turkish-American relations.

If an agreement is reached that will fully respond to the national security concerns of Turkey, such an agreement will show that there can still be a working relationship between the two countries on one of the most divisive issues in their foreign policies. It will show that despite all divergence of policies, accumulated lack of trust and broken promises of the U.S. administration, the two sides can form a plan to work in northern Syria that may remind everyone of the enduring presence of the potential to resolve disagreements through negotiations. In fact an agreement on a safe zone may create a "safe zone" in Turkey-U.S. relations in this critical juncture of relations




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