Talking to North Korea

Donald Trump has said, a couple of times now, that he would sit down and negotiate with Kim Jong Un. But he has also said that North Korea must unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons before that will happen. Some of his advisors have said similar things. North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons in order to talk to the United States; working toward a freeze in its development of nuclear and missile technology would be a reasonable first goal for the United States, with nuclear disarmament a far future vision. Read More

Halloween Links

On Donald Trump and Russia: One of the better timelines I’ve seen derived from the Manafort/Gates indictments and the Papadopoulos plea. Profiles of people you will be hearing more about:

More than 90 American nuclear scientists say that we need to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place. An Iranian analyst says that Donald Trump requested a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations meeting in September, but Rouhani turned him down. This has not been confirmed, but it’s something to watch for. Update (11/1/17): Confirmed by the State DepartmentRegime change probably wouldn’t end Iran’s nuclear program. Read More

Opposition Research From The Top

The New York Times has knowledge of some very interesting documents and conversations. The sources in this article are as noteworthy as the news.

The news is that the opposition research that Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to a June 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials including Donald Jr. was coordinated with the Russian prosecutor general Yuriy Chaika. The allegations in that opposition research have now been endorsed at the highest Russian levels.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia repeated her charges at length last week at an annual conference of Western academics. A state-run television network recently made them the subject of two special reports, featuring interviews with Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Chaika.

The allegations are that that Ziff Brothers Investments, an American firm, evaded tens of millions of dollars of Russian taxes in an illegal Russian investment. Investors behind the company are major donors to Democratic candidates including Clinton. Ziff Brothers also invested in funds managed by William F. Browder, whom Russia has just accused of murder and sent a warrant for his arrest to Interpol, who rejected the warrant.

Browder was the driving force behind the Magnitsky act, named for a lawyer who worked for him and who died in a Moscow jail after exposing a Russian fraud scheme. The Magnitsky Act freezes the Western bank accounts of sanctioned Russian officials.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official, points out that Devin Nunes and Fox are also currently pushing these allegations. He also points out the question of sources.

The key paragraph on sources is this one:

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

Which interviews and records are these? From a grand jury? From the Mueller investigation? From a Russian source? The last brings up the question of whether that source might be one of the sources for the Steele dossier.

If it is the last, that would be one more reason for the Trump camp to have mounted this week’s attack on the Steele dossier. And the uproar about the Uranium One sale, to cover this news.

 

Photo: Natalia Veselnitskaya, Getty Images, from the Times article

 

Cross-posted at Balloon Juice.

The Nuclear Chain of Command

Donald Trump has been musing about nuclear war since the 1980s, and now he’s bringing our fears to life with his tweets against North Korea. Also, playing the role of a decisive and serious executive, he told the military back in July that he wanted to increase the US’s arsenal of nuclear weapons back to the maximum we had during the Cold War. That seems to have been the trigger for Rex Tillerson to call him a moron. Tillerson wasn’t wrong.

As always with Trump, it’s a good idea to have the facts before us. So here are some.

A president launches nuclear missiles via an electronic briefcase (“the football”) that is always at his side, carried by a service member at the O4-O5 level. That’s a major – lieutenant colonel or lieutenant commander – commander. The services rotate, and both male and female service members have been in this role. One of them made the news back in the spring of this year when he allowed Mar-a-Lago patrons to take selfies with him. Their role is to be unobtrusive and to follow orders. Read More

Links – September 21, 2017

Kori Schake was an official in George W. Bush’s Department of Defense. Here’s her analysis of Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations. Another good analysis by Mira Rapp-Hooper. And by Thomas Wright.  The transcript of Trump’s speech.

Rex Tillerson’s “Redesign Overview” slides for the State Department.  “He took the job and made it smaller”: how Rex Tillerson failed the State Department.

The history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea.

One of North Korea’s key diplomats, someone for the US to engage. Top photo: North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2016.

Excellent defense of the Iran nuclear deal from two people who helped negotiate it. There are many articles on the Iran nuclear deal and why we should stay in it. This one is among the best.

 

 

Links – September 7, 2017

Apologies for the lack of substantive posts lately. There are so many things going on in news I might write about, it’s hard to keep up, much less write something. I prefer to write about what we know, rather than speculating. The North Korean nuclear test is still being figured out by the people with the seismographs, but I hope to write a post on that soon. Nikki Haley delivered a speech based on a great many wrong ideas about the nuclear agreement with Iran. And then there are the human rights issues, which are beyond the scope of this blog, but hard to ignore. I can’t figure out why the Trumpies want two more wars while causing major domestic upset.

Here are links to what other people are writing. Read More

Links – August 21, 2017

Russian propaganda is an issue in the questions about the 2016 election. Sputnik News is an organ of the Russian government. If you’ve been thinking that it just provides another viewpoint, read this.

20 Questions That Should Be Answered by the Russia Investigations

Nice summary of what Trump’s threats against North Korea have done.

Backgrounder on Guam. Map of Guam at top from University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. Read More