8 July 2017   Leave a comment

One of the highly touted “positive” outcomes of the Trump-Putin discussions was a cease-fire in southwest Syria.  Significantly, both Jordan and Israel are “partners” to the cease-fire.  There have been four previously declared “cease-fires” in Syria, and all of them were failures.  It is testimony to the relative impotence of both Russia and the US in the tangled politics of Syria.  There are far too many well-armed actors in the country, all of which have their own agendas.  These actors pay little attention to “great” powers and the great powers actually have too little at stake in peace in Syria.


North Korea has accelerated its missile testing program since the election of US President Trump and Mr. Trump regards the missile program as a serious threat to the US and has threatened severe consequences for North Korea if it continues.  The reasons for Mr. Trump’s concerns are clear: a North Korean ICBM can threaten the US homeland.  The argument sounds plausible, but it ignores the fact that many states can threaten the US homeland with a nuclear attack and the US has learned how to live with those threats.  The question is whether North Korea should be plausibly regarded as different from these other states. Gregory Elich has written a fairly detailed article for Counterpunch that places the North Korean nuclear threat in context and suggests that Mr. Trump’s fears are not justified.

The G-20 has issued its Final Communique and it is consistent with other such communiques: aspirational language with few specific details.  But there is one interesting difference from previous summaries and the difference shows the unmistakable hand of Chancellor Merkel:

“We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs….

“The Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible.”

It is rare for an individual state to be singled out for a smackdown.  It is clear that the leaders of the other 19 countries were not pleased with the US position.

Posted July 8, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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