Donald Trump - Page 18

Putin still looking for a deal with Trump despite the Sanctions and Syria Attack


We were all in the thick of things when the US brought sanctions to Russia and when they decided to go ahead with air strikes in Syria. That there nearly brought these two superpowers to an open clash which would be the first big tension between them since Cold War. Thanks to at least one cool head – Putin, tensions might start dialing down.

Russia president Vladimir Putin is the one still willing to give a second chance to Trump and make a deal that will assure they make good on their pledges to improve ties and avoid escalation. To make things even more interesting, we found out that Kremlin ordered their officials to curb any and all anti-US rhetoric. This, of course, explains why they so suddenly pulled the draft of the law that would impose sweeping counter-sanctions on U.S. companies.

According to Igor Bunin of the Center for Political Technologies “Putin is ready to make numerous, deep concessions, but he has to appear like he’s not losing. He understands Russia can’t compete with the West economically and he doesn’t plan to go to war with the West.” On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry official in Moscow stated that Trump administration notified Russia’s embassy in Washington (on Sunday) that there will not be any new sanctions towards them, at least not in the near future.

The reason for this simmering down is hidden behind the fact that Kremlin is still trying to get a grasp on this whole situation, and especially the economic impact that the sanctions bring. If you recall some of the latest news, these sanctions actually damaged one of the country’s most powerful businessmen, billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the most.

His company’s (Rusal) shares dropped down about 70% in Hong Kong, and this is all thanks to the U.S. who basically banned the company from the dollar economy April 6. This sanction immediately erased about $6 billion of value and jeopardized around 100,000 jobs and in worse time possible – just when Russia is starting to crawl out of its longest recession in two decades.

President Trump wanted to try and improve ties between the two superpowers, but Congress and much of his administration are keen to keep the pressure up. What complicates this diplomatic dance, even more, are the often and mixed signals that come from the White House. On Monday Trump decided to put a halt at new Russian sanctions which brought a brief rally in the ruble, but on Tuesday everyone gets a totally different message (that scared Russian markets the most) from economic adviser Larry Kudlow who stated: “additional sanctions are under consideration.”

This diplomatic rollercoaster is putting a lot of strain on Kremlin, but they remain firm. They showed this on Monday when their legislators abandoned a bill that was supposed to limit a broad range of trade with the U.S., from farm products and medications to aviation and space. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin this ban on selling rocket engines “would hurt Russia more than the U.S.” since they are so dependent on American contracts. We have already mentioned that (even before the attack on Syria) Russia told its officials to tone down the retaliatory speech, but somehow Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon didn’t get that memo and thanks to one interview made world headlines. While speaking for the local television, he stated that Russia wouldn’t hesitate to shoot down missiles and attack whatever platforms they were launched from if its forces were threatened. This, of course, put Kremlin in a very tough spot, but thankfully the warning wasn’t repeated.

The tensions between Russia and US have always been high, and the situation was always tight. The long built fragile relationship is nearing its crumble thanks to recent events like the nerve-agent attack on a Russian turncoat spy in the U.K. and this airstrike in Syria. Thankfully, US officials have high hopes that Trump might be able to stop the downward slide. The first big step towards this was Trump’s congratulation to Putin on his re-election in March and the prospect of a White House summit, that is on a long pole, to be honest.

What doesn’t benefit this entire situation between these superpowers is a lot of other tensions like alleged Russian hacking, trolling and other forms of online aggression. In order to prevent these things from happening again, U.S. and U.K. officials, just this week, issued a joint warning of “stepped up Russian probing of corporate and government computer systems in the West.” The alert included advice to companies about how to protect themselves and warned specifically of attacks on routers, the devices that channel data around a network. Ciaran Martin, a chief executive officer of Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, stated that “Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace.” On the other side, Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat (now a foreign-policy analyst in Moscow) tried to defend their case by stating “Cyber-espionage is considered a legitimate activity, it shouldn’t really affect bilateral relations.”


USA’s Foreign Policy under Trump is Wobbling


With Trump as the President of the United States, the country’s foreign policy is far from being clear. Both allies and enemies need to find a way to figure out which announcements are true and which would be debunked and later on denied by the president himself.

The North Korean leader has accepted to meet with America’s officials and talk about denuclearization, and instead of sending a diplomat or secretary of state on a formal trip to Pyongyang, Trump assigned Mike Pompeo, CIA Director, to do this under the veil of secrecy. Note that he couldn’t send the Secretary of State because he doesn’t have one and obviously he believes Pompeo is fit for the job.

On Wednesday, Trump confirmed that he would attend the meeting no matter how the conversation went. However, he then said that he would not waste time if the meeting is not going to be productive. So after all, there might not be a summit. In case the meeting takes place, and Trump realizes that nothing good can come out of it he “will respectfully leave the meeting and we’ll continue what we’re doing or whatever it is that we’ll continue, but something will happen.”

Such statements from the President of the world’s most powerful country are shameful. “Something will happen” means that it can range from continuous threats to a nuclear war. Both Trump and Kim Jong-Un need to understand the position of the other side if they want “something (positive) to happen” during the dialogue. There’s a fat chance that this talk will be fruitful.

Speaking of Trump’s wobbling foreign policy, the sanctions against Russia are imposed, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke loudly about it on Sunday. Many agreed with these sanctions. The Russians are the ones who interfered with the American election, plus they sided with Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a man who used chemical weapons to kill his own people. Furthermore, it was Russians who tried to assassinate a former Russian Intelligence officer who lives in England, one of the closest American allies. However, there are no new sanctions. And this is confirmed by no other than Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new chief economic adviser. He said that Haley “got ahead of the curve” and that “there might have been some momentary confusion.” She responded: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Trump didn’t manage to explain what was going on and whether there would be new sanctions or not. But the Russian officials explained that none of that would happen. The Russians proved to be a more reliable source of information than the president of the United States. America has advocated freedom and democracy as well as human rights for decades, but currently, the White House sees diplomatic relations as something that has winners and losers and America must win. Even with that mindset which is wrong, Trump cannot achieve winning conditions, so we are the ones on the losing side.

If you have a hard time believing that, let’s take a moment to remember the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This was a poor move, and China used this to its advantage, strengthening their position and trade in Asia. Trump then wanted to rejoin the TPP, but just recently we could hear from the White House that they will be staying out. Real roller coaster ride.

Last but not least, Trump had success in Syria. The US troops deployed in the region managed to weaken and drive out the Islamic State. Before that and mostly during his campaign he said that America needs to step out of such wars. But now that he got involved he should end things on right note? No. Widespread reports suggest that Trump demands the troops to withdraw from Syria, which may lead to further conflict in the region and the reestablishment of the Islamic State.

As you can see, current president contradicts himself more often than not. He needs to choose a path and follow it in order to stabilize the foreign policy. The consequences are great, and the other countries consider America weaker due to such inconsistencies and contradictions.


Can Mexico and Canada Persuade Trump to sign NAFTA?


Donald Trump had a memorable presidential campaign. It was something we have never seen, and he attacked and trounced his political opponents – every last one of them. Even “Crooked Hillary” didn’t manage to beat Trump despite being the front-runner. But one of the things Trump complained about in the campaign were trade deals and two of them in particular – Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). About the latter, he said that it was “the worst trade deal ever signed.”

When he became president, Mr. Trump immediately removed America from TPP, but it appears that he realized it was a bad move. He expressed his remorse for withdrawing, and he wants to get back into the club. On the other hand, in prolonged talks with Canada, the possibility that America comes to the agreement about the NAFTA deal has been born. But will Trump agree to put his name on “the worst trade deal ever signed?”

According to CNBC, the representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico are meeting on April 20th for the talks which will last for two weeks, as Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative said. Trump managed to irritate both Canada and Mexico with his crazy demands and “America First” policy, but what’s good for him is that America’s neighbors are exempted from the new steel while aluminum tariffs are imposed as well.

This entire process is questionable, and there is still a long way to go for the US to sign the NAFTA. Flavio Volpe, who represents Canadian auto parts makers told Bloomberg that “on balance, we may be close enough . . . to get a deal done.” However, there are many issues which remained unresolved, and some of them include cars and agriculture, to name a few.

According to the Bank of Canada, the NAFTA remains in its initial form, but they warned that “a wide range of outcomes are still possible for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.” Last year when this deal was discussed both Mexico and Canada got a sense that America was the only one that would come out as the winner of the deal and they thought so for a reason. For the NAFTA deal to work, there must be a win-win-win situation. Otherwise, one of the countries will withdraw from the talks. Meanwhile, Lighthizer will have difficulties in Congress due to differences in opinions. Free-trade advocates, such as Kevin Brady, and skeptics such as Bill Pascrell will have to see the benefits of this deal, and it will be difficult for America’s Trade Representative to bridge a gap so wide.

In all this, Trump remains the biggest problem. Although he bragged that he could strike much better deals, he keeps struggling with the trade agreements. Furthermore, let’s not forget that he boasted about lying to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As if that isn’t enough already, he is constantly posting on Twitter statements which are false, and he cannot differentiate between a trade deficit and a surplus. Not only is he tweeting inaccurate things about the relationship with Canada, but he also does so with the relationship between the US and China or the US and Mexico. Trump will have to realize that deals such as NAFTA are important for this country, but with him involved in the process, the American neighbors will have to pray that he has one of the “good days.”

The whole “America First” philosophy can cost this country a great deal in the future. Trade agreements are slowly collapsing, and we will see the true value of such deals once they are gone.


Trump’s decisions increase Foreign Policy Tensions


The United States President Donald Trump has met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss important matters. This meeting is shadowed by the world drama that the U.S. president has created in the past few weeks.

First of all, Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow and the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley quarreled over the reveal of the sanctions which were imposed on Russia. Kudlow said that Haley “got ahead of the curve” and that “there might have been some momentary confusion about that.” Haley answered: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” and Kudlow apologized. After that Larry Kudlow told the NY Times: “I was wrong to say that — totally wrong. As it turns out, she was following what she thought was policy. The policy was changed, and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”

The UN ambassador definitely smelled something fishy and Trump was agitated when he saw Haley talking about sanctions imposed on Russia, according to the Times. They reported: “President Trump was watching television on Sunday when he saw Nikki R. Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, announced that he would impose fresh sanctions on Russia. The president grew angry, according to an official informed about the moment. As far as he was concerned, he had decided no such thing.”

The drama continued with one of Trump’s tweets. He confirmed that Mike Pompeo, possible future secretary of state met with Kim Jong-Un, North Korean leader. Trump tweeted: “Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly, and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”

Read also: Kim Jong-Un and Mike Pompeo Meeting, Donald Trump Confirms

The problem with this was not the meeting itself. Mike Pompeo may not get enough Senate votes to become the new Secretary of State. Perhaps with this tweet, Trump wanted to show the Senate that he wanted Pompeo at one of the most important positions in the country? And we are not sure what Shinzo Abe would think of such dialogue.


The Influence That Trump Brought Upon Latin America’s Right


Since President Trump came to White House, there were a lot of talks that basically revolved around “Latin Americanization” of the U.S. politics, as well as referring President Trump as a “the U.S.’s first Latin American president.” The reason for this comes thanks to Trump’s nationalist demagoguery and his “usage” of the prototype from the Latin American strongman – Caudillo. But, if you really think about this, far less has been said about the reverse phenomenon which is basically an increase of “Trumpism” in political practice in Latin America.

Latin America just recently left the political wilderness and thanks to that we see (at least, these two past years) right-wing candidates who became presidents in countries like Brazil, Argentina, and recently Chile. After years we now have conservative governments in Latin America’s leading economies. To set one thing straight here, these politicians have a thing or two that sets them apart from Trump – they are not impulsive, protectionist, or anti-establishment. But they also have something in common, Trump influence is seen through something like this recent nativism that borders on xenophobia and the sudden turn to evangelicals instead of Christians.

The similarities of these politicians with Trump extends to one more thing – both Argentina and Chile presidents Mauricio Macri and Sebastián Piñera are basically rich business people turned politicians who are applying their knowledge learned while dealing with their own business to the job of governing. Macri is the son of business tycoon Francisco Macri who earned his wealth in finance, construction, and sports, while Piñera (previously ruled Chile from 2010 to 2014) is one of the world’s wealthiest politicians, and he is worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes.

The nativism that we mentioned earlier is pretty much similar to the Trump’s “America First,” and so far thanks to it we see a lot of loud anti-immigrant sentiments in Latin America’s ascendant right. To prove this, we point out to Rio de Janeiro Congressman Jair Bolsonaro (called the Brazilian Trump) who, very strongly, advocates that Haitian refugees in Brazil are “bringing diseases to the country.” If you recall, this is a lot similar to Trump’s reported claims that Haitians immigrating to the United States “all have AIDS.”

Continuance of this are Trumps claims that Mexico is sending “rapists” and “criminals” into the US, and this has traveled to Latin America where we now have presidents of Argentina and Chile advocating for curbing immigration. At a press conference where Macri announced a 2017 immigration order intended to stop immigrants coming into Argentina from Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay he stated: “We cannot continue to allow criminals to keep choosing Argentina as a place to commit offenses.” His colleague Piñera also stood out with something similar. During Chile’s 2017 presidential campaign, after a big wave of immigrants from Haiti and Venezuela, Piñera basically criticized Chilean immigration laws and accused them of “importing problems like delinquency, drug trafficking, and organized crime.”

Argentine legislator Alfredo Olmedo, in February, basically copied Trump and made all the headlines when he delivered a proposal for a wall to be built to keep people from poorer Latin American nations from entering Argentina. Thanks to an article from Guardian we have Olmedo’s statement here – “I am 100 percent with Trump. I know that border very well and a wall is the solution. We have to build a wall.” Just like in the US this proposal was received with divided opinions. Some received it with opened hands, while others criticised it. One of the critics was Bolivian President Evo Morales who took his opinion to Twitter where he wrote: “We can’t be following the example of the north and its policies, building walls to divide us.”

Besides all of this, we also mentioned the fact that Latin American right is embracing social conservatism now more than ever and it is best seen in Brazil where we have a very rapid growing evangelical population despite the fact that Brazil is the world’s largest Catholic nation. Around 30% Brazilians now claim an evangelical identity which is a huge spike from around 10% who were there last three decades. If you are asking yourself just how mighty evangelical leaders can be, just remember that they were behind the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, on corruption charges in 2016, just after they grew tired of her party’s social liberalism, support for abortion, LGBT rights, and s*x education. The same evangelicals stand behind the administration of Michel Temer, Rousseff’s right-wing successor. If you recall the scandal in 2016, then you know that Temer was accused of being a Satanist. Evangelical leaders rushed to his aid and released a video message over social media to the world that he is not a Satanist. To repay for their support, Temer named several evangelical leaders to his Cabinet.

The right-wing populism turn that hit Latin America is basically everywhere, and its wave is making its way through the United States and Western Europe. It has its roots buried deep, and it is everywhere where we have discontent with globalization, open borders, the “establishment,” and multilateral organizations like European Union. What is a bit “strange” is that we have this movement appear Latin America, where the right all but disappeared from many Latin American countries mainly to their association with military dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s. Thanks to that fact all of this is a bit of a homegrown phenomenon, and it will be interesting to see where it will lead to?

Since Brazil, Chile, and Argentina were ruled by the left-wing for years until now, it is not a surprise that this movement got hit with a bit of fatigue and pretty much got swept by the right-wing populism. The fatigue that the left-wing experienced got intensified by the economic slowdown created by the end of a China-fuelled commodities boom and all of those corruption scandals that boomed during their reign. One thing we are certain about is that Latin America’s newly elected right-wing governments do not have to pull hard to the right when it comes to economics at least. The reason is that the left already implemented a lot of the traditional economic playbook of the right – mainly privatizations and austerity measures. Plus, there are pressures that both Macri and Piñera face from the opposition in Congress by left-wing parties that will not give them a lot of liberty.

All in all, the left is surely down, but they are not out for good. They still reign in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela and in the next presidential cycle they may appear in Mexico as well. This could be seen as a temporary rest until the time for the left-wingers comes again. We will have to wait and see.


Trump’s Policy Wreaks Havoc in the Middle East?


Many people are concerned that President Donald Trump is assembling a “war cabinet” with the addition of the new hawkish politicians to the team. With the airstrikes on Syria, Trump showed the poor Foreign Policy strategy. This kind of strategy can be defined as passive-aggressive. The United States is not doing anything concrete to solve the problems in Syria, yet the actions are aggressive enough to wreak havoc in the region.

The things which Trump and his administration are doing are not logical at all. Their goal is to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, defeat the Islamic State in Syria and prevent the Syrian government from using the chemical weapons again. However, as a country, America didn’t do anything to challenge Iran in the region, and once the Islamic State is dealt with, Trump intends to withdraw?! Furthermore, the airstrikes are launched onto Syria, but there is no clear strategy behind it. Most of the rockets were destroyed while in the sky, but as the country burns, Trump said that the mission was accomplished.

The examples of the contradictory politics are numerous. The US greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he visited Washington, but they wrote him a blank check afterward for continued regional conflict. Just as we thought that the United States had gained an edge, the president finds a way to mess things up. Let’s not continue with the examples.

The upcoming months will be crucial for the US. In May, Trump wants to open a US Embassy in Jerusalem, which is the time when Iraqis hold the national elections. Furthermore, POTUS plans to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, but let’s not forget that this was all before the supposed chemical attack in Syria when Trump was forced to react. With so much going on in the Middle East, Trump announced that he would withdraw the US army from the region. Could these be the biggest errors made by any administration?


With ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, the tensions in the region would grow. Not only that. This deal blocks Iran from making the nuclear weapon in the upcoming years, and this is something the US must not do. While the European Union may stay in the deal together with Russia and China, the Iranians may abandon it. Trump has surrounded himself with hawkish politicians, and the changes in his cabinet are grave. The team consisting of Trump, John Bolton who is the new national security advisor and Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director who replaced Rex Tillerson after he was dismissed doesn’t look promising. Let’s not forget about newly-appointed warmongering National Secretary of State John J. Sullivan. With such a team, USA is bound to fail in diplomacy, and they can only rely on Special Forces, Air Force and the military in general. And that is not a good approach.

Anti-Islamic State

Trump has announced that he would remove the forces from eastern Syria in the future, but at the moment they are staying put. Withdrawing is not an option because this could spur further conflict in the region and let’s not forget that Turkey and Iran are also involved and not just the Syrian government, Russia, and the US. Leaving Syria would mark the beginning of bloodshed. The similar situation is in Iraq. Will the new president rely on the United States, or will he fall under the Iranian influence? The US could help the next president tackle the issues in the region and with the neighbors, but America isn’t showing too much interest. After investing so much money to combat and suppress the Islamic State, is the USA ready to withdraw from the Middle East?

Israel vs. Palestine

The conflict between Israeli and Palestinians lasts for decades. The Trump administration promised a peace plan for the two sides, but nothing has happened so far. President’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem without the consent and any response from Israel may be a huge mistake.

The upcoming month or two would be crucial for the America and its interests in the Middle East. It appears that Trump is adding insult to injury with his decisions and the moves made by his administration while he should be putting out fires. Due to this, the position of America in the region might change significantly by the end of the year.


Egyptian billionaire Sawiris – Trump is better than Obama when it comes to Middle East policy


Thanks to a recent CNBC interview, we heard a rather interesting opinion from one of their guests. An Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris, stated that when it comes to U.S. foreign policy (one towards the Middle East in particular), it is “definitely President Trump” who got it right.

Sawiris, in a CNBC interview, told Hadley Gamble, in Abu Dhabi on Monday, that “I think what we’re seeing today is the product of Obama’s rule.” Basically, he thinks that Russia gaining ground in Syria is a direct result of inaction that was seen with the Obama administration. According to him, that same administration also allowed extremists to thrive in the Middle East. He also stated that “I’m not saying you should police the world, but you can’t let evil strive and say, ‘It’s none of my business.’ So, I believe President Trump is on the right track.”

If you recall, back in 2012, Obama’s administration threatened to retaliate if Syria’s Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in that country’s civil war. After he did and took hundreds of civilian lives in the town of Ghouta with chemical weapons, U.S. stood their ground and did not respond with military action. Trump is also, pretty much always, quick to judge Obama’s administration and blame them for the rise of ISIS, even though we all know that this organization came to rise during the administration of George W. Bush. The ISIS started losing their grip, at least militarily, during Obama’s administration, and it was thanks to their support to Kurds, who were actually the ones fighting this terror group.

Sawiris said a few other things, but among those worth mentioning, he is not opposed to Trump’s decision to order a military strike on Syria, but since there is no obvious end in sight to the war something had to be done. Sawiris (who built a net worth of $4.2 billion mainly in the telecommunications industry) also said that, thanks to the fact that war still wages here (even though ISIS has been long wiped out), as a safe investment he favours gold, and that he would rather invest in democracies, in order to avoid being at the mercy of political rulers.

There is one exception to this, and it happened in North Korea (he invested around $250 million), where his company Orascom Telecom, holds the sole telecommunications license. He defended this by stating “I always think you should punish regimes but not the people of the regime,” and continued with “And from an investment perspective, there’s also a lot of sense in there. When they, North Korea and South Korea, unite or come to an agreement, my assets there would be worth billions.”


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