7 July 2018   Leave a comment

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left North Korea after holding talks that he described as “productive,” conducted “in good faith” and that “a great deal of progress” was made.  He did not, however, meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.  The North Koreans, however, had a different interpretation of the talks.  According to The Voice of America:

“North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were ‘regrettable’ and it accused Washington of attempting to unilaterally force Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear weapons program.

“A statement by an unnamed ministry spokesman was issued a few hours after Pompeo concluded two days of talks with Pyongyang’s senior ruling party official, Kim Yong Chol, and other North Korean officials.

“The statement said the outcome of the talks were ‘very concerning’ because it initiated a ‘dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.'”

The US has softened its position to a small degree.  According to The New York Times:

“For months, Mr. Pompeo has said that he would insist on achieving nothing less than the North’s ‘complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization’ — or C.V.I.D., as it has become known. But in recent days, Mr. Pompeo and Ms. Nauert [the US State Department;s spokesperson] have stopped using that phrase, leading to speculation that the United States has begun to dial back its demands.”

The lack of progress undermines the optimistic rhetoric of the Truman Administration after the Singapore Summit.

 

A former student made me aware of an interesting change in the Mission Statement of the US Department of Defense.  The blog, Task & Purpose, identifies the change:

“For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing ‘the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.’ But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.

“The Pentagon’s official website now defines its mission this way: ‘The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad.’”

The change was made in January of this year, but it was not highlighted by the Pentagon at the time.  The decision to remove the phrase “to deter war” and to replace it with to “sustain American influence abroad” suggests a more assertive role for the military in world affairs.  An interesting shift for an administration that questions the utility of long-standing alliances such as NATO.

 

Protests broke out in Haiti as the government raised fuel prices as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The IMF had demanded that “gasoline prices [be] increased by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent and kerosene by 51 percent” in order to reduce the Haitian government debt.  These increases were impossible for many Haitians and the protests succeeded in forcing the government to reinstate the subsidies.  It remains to be seen, however, whetherthe protests will die out or whether they will continue.  Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and still has yet to recover from the devastating earthquake in 2010.

Protests in Haiti Over Fuel Price Increases

Tires burn at a barricade placed by demonstrators on the streets of the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville on July 7, 2018, to protest against the increase in fuel prices. Haiti's prime minister on Saturday called for patience from residents of the Caribbean nation amid deadly protests over an unpopular fuel price rise. At least one person has died there in the past day. The capital has stood paralyzed since July 6, following the government announcement that gasoline prices would rise by 38 percent, diesel by 47 percent and kerosene by 51 percent starting this weekend.

Posted July 7, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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