26 February 2019   Leave a comment

Indian jets crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir and attacked a training site for Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot, Pakistan. The attack was in response to the JeM attack on Pulwama which killed about 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers. The pressure on the Indian government to respond to the attack on Pulwama was intense, made more so because of likely national elections coming up in May. There were celebrations in India after the attack was announced. One hopes that the response is perceived as sufficient and calibrated by both sides so that there are no further pressures for escalation. But the attack was on Pakistani soil, not in Kashmir, so the pressure on the Pakistani government will also be very intense. Pakistan has announced that it will respond to the attack “at the time and place of its choosing”. 

Susan Rice was President Obama’s second term National Security Adviser and she has written an op-ed for the New York Times about the summit meeting between North Korean leader Kim and US President Trump. The summit comes at a very awkward time for President Trump: there are indications that the US Congress might disallow President Trump’s national emergency declaration and Trump’s former lawyer is scheduled to testify about possible criminal behavior in the Trump Administration. These vulnerabilities might make President Trump think about scoring a diplomatic victory in Hanoi (unfortunately, no matter what happens, Mr. Trump will claim victory–after the first summit in Singapore Mr Trump prematurely claimed that there was no longer an nuclear threat from North Korea). Rice argues that Mr. Trump may make “further concessions to the North Korean dictator, like a peace declaration, partial sanctions relief, or continued limitations on United States military exercises or troop presence without receiving tangible, irreversible concessions in return….[h]istory suggests that Mr. Trump will be content with another colorful photo opportunity and more diplomatic shadow boxing that perpetuates the illusion of success, while running down the clock on a nearly intractable challenge.”

It is always dangerous for a politician experiencing weakness at home to look to international diplomacy as a way of shoring up a political base. In this particular case, Mr. Trump may make decisions that will not serve the US national interest.

Posted February 26, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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