16 December 2018   Leave a comment

The US recently stepped up additional sanctions against individuals in North Korea for human rights abuses.  In response, North Korea indicated that the sanctions have had, and will not have, any beneficial effects on the denuclearization negotiations.  North Korea went further and threatened to return to “exchanges of fire”.  The threat follows a statement by US President Trump that the US is in “no hurry” to pursue denculearization with North Korea.  It appears as if the US is content with the testing pause by North Korea, but, in the absence of some reciprocal action by the US, it is not clear how long North Korea will adhere to the pause.  Meanwhile, the US and South Korea have failed, after ten negotiating sessions, to agree on a cost sharing formula for US defense assistance.  There seems to be little progress on many fronts in the Korean peninsula.



Apparently the US is working on extraditing Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish dissident who has been living in the US for two decades, back to Turkey where he is wanted for organizing a coup against President Erdogan in 2016.  Erdogan has used the coup attempt to justify a sharp crackdown on dissent in Turkey, but the actual roots of the coup remain somewhat obscure.  The US had earlier said that it was not considering Gulen’s extradition in an attempt to deflect accusations that the extradition was being considered in order to lessen Turkish pressure on Saudi Arabia after the death of Jamal Khashoggi.  The indifference to the lives of both Khashoggi and Gulen reflects the power of realpolitik in contemporary US foreign policy.



The UN Conference in Poland on climate change has finally ended and it produced a “rulebook” for gauging commitments to the Paris Accords.  Many delegates had already left the conference by the end and there was dissatisfaction with the energy policies of the host government, Poland, for its heavy emphasis on coal for its primary energy source.  The rulebook determines the specific scientific measures that will be used to gauge progress toward reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.  That result is significant progress since many states had been using different metrics (such as per capita emissions as opposed to absolute totals) that generally overstated the commitment to emission declines.  Now all states will be measured by the same yardsticks.  But the conference did not make any progress on developing carbon credits to spur alternative energies nor did it come up with any stronger goals for enforcing the commitments for 2020.  It is safe to say that the conference fell far short of what was necessary.  Common Dreams quotes one of the scientists criticizing the outcome:

“‘Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere,’ said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. ‘People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable and they must now carry with them the outrage of people and come to the UN Secretary General’s summit in 2019 with higher climate action targets.'”

The conference will meet again next year in Chile.

Posted December 16, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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