Michael Flynn Has IDEAS!

Michael Flynn is known for thinking outside the box, and we need ideas outside the box to solve some of the world’s problems. It’s also great when an action can address more than one problem. But it also helps to know what you’re doing.

Here’s an IDEA: The United States and Russia work together to supply Middle Eastern countries with civilian nuclear power. Several of those countries have been seeking nuclear power. The United States and Russia have companies that can build the plants. That’s the deal Flynn was seeking in October 2015. Read More

Trump and Putin: Some 1980s Background

What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?

The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs. Read More

Reciprocity?

Tonight’s Trump-Russia news dump comes from the Washington Post, presaged earlier in the day by an article in Sputnik tweeted out by the Russian Embassy in the United States.

Last December, in response to Russian hacking of the election and harassment of American diplomats in Moscow, President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats out of the country and demanded that Russia vacate properties in Long Island and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, supposedly for rest and recreation of the Russian diplomatic corps in the United States but suspected of also functioning to gather intelligence.

That was on December 29. The next day Michael Flynn, President-elect Trump’s presumptive National Security Advisor, spent a lot of time on the phone with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. After those phonecalls, Russian President Vladimir Putin magnanimously decided against reciprocating, an unexpected move. Usually expulsion of diplomats is followed by an equal and opposite expulsion of the first country’s diplomats. But it was the Christmas season.

Earlier today, the Russian government Sputnik reminded the United States government of this principle of reciprocity. The Russian Embassy in the United States emphasized it with a tweet.

And a few hours later, Karen DeYoung and Adam Entous tell us that the United States government is indeed thinking of allowing the Russians to reoccupy the properties. Earlier, the United States had linked reoccupation to allowing the United States to build a consulate on a particular piece of land in St. Petersburg that the Russians had been blocking. But then that link was dropped.

Supposedly nothing is decided yet. It looks like Trump is willing to end part of the sanctions against the Russians for their election hacking just because he’s a nice guy. Or because the Russians were nice guys and didn’t reciprocate the expulsion.

 

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice.

What Do We Know About Carter Page?

The story of Donald Trump’s Russia connections has so many players and connections that it’s hard to to follow it in any cogent way, let alone connect all the dots. A great many dots still seem to be missing.

What I find illuminating is to look carefully at details. In my scientific career, I found that the most enlightening path might start with a small piece of information seemingly out of place. I’ve been collecting information about the various players. Putting that information in chronological order seems most helpful to me. Read More

Links – May 23, 2017

Russia has been violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but the United States won’t say exactly what the violation is. The INF Treaty prohibits intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Back in the 1980s, both the US and Russia had such missiles aimed at each other in Europe. The problem with missiles like this is that there is no warning time whatsoever, and thus a heavy motive to strike the other party first. James Action suggests a strategy for getting the treaty back on track. Top photo from here: Soviet inspectors and their American escorts standing among dismantled Pershing II missiles in Colorado as other missile components are destroyed nearby under the INF Treaty, January 1989. Read More

A Small Russian Overture

Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More

Mike Pence Isn’t Kim Jong Un’s Daddy

US leaders have put on their best stern-father faces toward North Korea and China. On his trip to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, Vice President Mike Pence headed outside, against warnings, to stare into the North. “It was important that they […] see our resolve in my face,” he told the US press.

At the White House Easter Egg Roll, President Donald Trump declared North Korea has “got to behave.” He has also tweeted warnings: “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!” “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will!” Read More

Rex Tillerson Meets North Korea

Lots of news about Rex Tillerson’s visit to Asia. That’s partly because people are trying to understand what kind of Secretary of State he will be and partly because North Korea has been ramping up its missile tests and may have a nuclear weapon that will fit on some of those missiles. Read More