Obama

Trump To Revoke Security Clearances For Former U.S. Officials – Obama And Biden?

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According to Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, President Trump is looking into possibilities to revoke security clearances for people that worked for the government. This would be aimed against those that were criticized him regarding his relationship with Vladimir Putin and his comments about the investigation of Moscow’s involvement in 2016 presidential elections.

Some of the officials that might get their clearances revoked are former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former CIA director John Brennan, former national intelligence director James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.

Source:CNN.com

Here is what Sanders said: “They politicize and in some cases actually monetize their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.” She continued by adding: “making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.”

With security clearances that are given, people can work with companies that are involved in classified defense programs and help private contractors. Another good thing here is the fact that former members of the government can talk to their successors on matters that are important for the country.

John Brennan, CIA director under Obama and a senior official in George W. Bush administration had some quite strong words against Helsinki summit that President Trump had with Putin. He used his Twitter account and commented how POTUS’ performance was “nothing short of treasonous.”

Source:washingtonexaminer.com

James Clapper, the former national intelligence director, stated how his clearance is not influencing his opinion about the president. He also added “And I don’t get the briefings. I don’t have access to classified information.”

On the other hand, Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe stated that his clearance “was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., advised POTUS to revoke some of the clearances as he thinks that there are people who are using those for personal gain. According to Republican consultant Liz Mair, this could be viewed as an attempt of Trump’s administration to punish all critics and anyone that is against some of the moves that were made by the president. Since the current head of the state is already well known for a similar approach, this definitely would not help his reputation in this segment.

Sarah Sanders was also asked if Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden might lose security clearances, she answered: “I’m not aware of any plans for that at this point.”

Source:washingtonexaminer.com

One thing that Trump and his administration need to have in mind is that these moves can be seen as vengeance on some of his critics. If they do manage to represent it that way, POTUS might meet heavy resistance.

Source: usatoday.com

Sparked by Controversial Fox News Article, Trump Attacks Obama

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President Donald Trump used the controversial Fox News article that was published on Tuesday morning in order to lay blame on his predecessor Barack Obama. Namely, and without any evidence, President Obama allowed 2,500 Iranians the US citizenship which is a part of the nuclear deal negotiations.

Of course, Trump took it to Twitter: “Just out that Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians – including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?”

Jeff Prescott, a former senior director on Obama’s National Security Council, denied these allegations, calling them “absurd and entirely false.” Prescott was willing to share with CNN the immigration data taken from the Department of Homeland Security which clearly shows how many Iranians were accepted to the country and when. Over the course of years and during both Bush and Obama administrations, the numbers were fairly consistent and without any fluctuations. Prescott added: “There was no connection between the Iran nuclear deal and immigration policy.”

This article was written by Chris Irvine who is a Fox News senior editor, and in it, Irvine cited an Iranian news agency, which cited an Iranian newspaper that quoted an Iranian cleric. It may seem complicated, but the cleric was the one claiming that Obama and his administration actually provided citizenship to 2,500 unidentified Iranians as a part of the Iran Deal.

Source:money.cnn.com

Interestingly enough, as you scan through the article, near the end, you will find the network’s own commentator and former Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf saying that this is completely made up. According to the story, Fox News wanted to hear from the Department of Homeland Security and State Department, but supposedly they referred from commenting. Later on, they tried to reach former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, but they couldn’t do it.

Before the Fox News article was published, the media gave this “issue” no attention. However, after Fox News, the other outlets followed, including The Daily Mail, The Gateway Pundit and TownHall with similar headlines. The news spread on Twitter as well, and Fox News host Sean Hannity was in charge of it, together with guests David Clarke and Charlie Kirk.

Before Trump noticed the story, it made its way to Fox News’ airwaves on “Fox and Friends First” that airs in the early morning. Furthermore, the story appeared on “America’s Newsroom” later in the morning on Fox News. “It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that this is a case of Donald Trump parroting Fox News, which is peddling the claims of an Iranian hardliner,” Prescott told CNN.

Jake Sullivan, a former Obama official who played a huge part in the talks with Iran regarding the nuclear deal, said that these accusations are “completely false” and that Trump cannot rely on think reports and claims made by Fox News.

“What is interesting about this is that what happened is a hardline crank in Iran just randomly made this comment, Fox News writes a story on it, and then Trump tweets it,” Sullivan said on “The Situation Room.” He continued: “He had every opportunity to call people in his own Department of Homeland Security and State Department to ask whether or not this was true. And they would have told him it wasn’t. Instead, he relies on Fox News. And the scary thing is that he’s increasingly relying on sources like Fox News to get his intelligence rather than the professionals in his own government.”

Source:independent.co.uk

We are still waiting for a spokesperson for Fox News to respond to a request for comment as well as a White House official. If this is false, it wouldn’t be the first time for the president to tweet the false news. Trump is a controversial figure famous for attacking his political opponents.

Source: money.cnn.com

No Pomp and Ceremony for Trump’s Visit to London

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The carriage procession up the Mall and the official banquet at the Buckingham Palace are two staples of highest-ranking foreign dignitaries visits to the UK, an honor awarded to many of the previous American presidents. However, Mr. Trump will be exempt from this, during his “working visit” to London in July.

The long-awaited visit will finally take place, and President Trump will be welcomed to the Downing Street, where he will discuss matters with the UK Prime Minister Theresa May, but the meeting with the Queen and other members of the royal family is still not set.

President Trump was set to visit the UK and open a new billion-dollar embassy in January last year, but the overwhelming opposition from the British public caused him to cancel the trip. Even MPs joined the fray, declaring that they won’t let Trump address the Parliament. He claimed that he decided not to go in protest over President Obama selling of the old embassy “for peanuts” although the deal was concluded during the term of President Bush.

The visit was arranged during the Davos meeting, where to leaders met. President Trump will come to London after the NATO summit in Brussels, scheduled for mid-July.

Source:flipboard

Faced with looming Brexit, the UK is eager to maintain as close relationship with Washington as possible and conclude a favorable trade deal, and Mrs. May is willing to overlook many of the Trump’s antics in order to achieve that goal. Despite that, he managed to rattle her last year by retweeting far-right organization Britain First’s announcements. Mrs. May reacted quickly and sent a message that such behavior is unacceptable. Two leaders seemed to have mended their relationship since then, as both countries took part in strikes against Syria in early April. It remains to be seen whether they can remain on cordial terms, despite Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and America Frist strategy.

Source: theguardian.com

Trump and Kim Meeting Marks Tipping Point

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un announced that he is putting the nuclear tests to halt ahead of the meeting with US President Donald Trump, thus shocking the entire world. Even Trump’s biggest critics might have to acknowledge that its tactics work. His “speak loudly and wave a big stick” foreign policy is definitely something to be feared off because it is backed by the US military as the Syrian airstrikes confirm.

Can Kim Jong-Un be trusted? He announced the suspension of the nuclear program before, however, he did something which has given us the reason to hope for an agreement. Even though it went largely unnoticed in the media, he withdrew one of his requests, which is to remove the US troops from the Korean peninsula before the discussion takes place. In other words, the US military presence in South Korean may be separated from the denuclearization talks, which is a good thing. This is important for several reasons and the best possible outcome for America is too keep the troops in South Korea and maintain its strategic role in the region while they persuade North Koreans to give up on their nuclear program. But this is easier said than done.

Source:nationalreview.com

The way Trump approaches foreign policy and the way America treats other countries differs widely from his two predecessors – George W. Bush and Barack Obama. These talks could represent a revolution in America’s relations towards the rest of the world. Both Bush and Obama had similar ideas of what the US should do on the world stage. They agreed that America’s role is to lead the world to peace and prosperity through the process of building a coalition in Bush’s case, or via “strategic patience” and “leading from behind” in Obama’s case.

Woodrow Wilson had the idea that America should be the one that will make the world a safer place and introduce the democracy and freedom. Back then, America was combating communism, but after the 9/11 attacks, they have been in constant state of war against terror. Bush and Obama appeared to be the last two presidents who represented such ideas, but everything changes with Trump.

Instead of focusing on the entire world, Trump asked himself “How do I make America strong and influential again?” And this clarified the goal this country has in front of it. Trump is sharp towards its opponents and keeps threatening with military power as we have seen in Syria, which is a revolution itself. Such threats have brought the situation in North Korea to a tipping point, and everything can change at the summit.

America needs to be careful in the talks with North Korea because they have to watch China’s every move as well. China would be delighted if the US troops were to leave the Peninsula because that would give them access to control two Koreas. The US troops have guarded this perimeter since 1950, and it would be unthinkable for them to leave the area. No matter what happens with the deal between the United States and North Korea, the US troops need to remain on the peninsula at all costs. That way, America would be able to control Pyongyang and limit Beijing’s influence in the region.

Source:yournewswire.com

America also needs to install a ballistic-missile-defense shield which includes a system for using drones armed with hyperkinetic interceptor missiles which would facilitate the defense against Korea’s missile launches. Should the negotiations fail, this will be an important measure, and such system is having an increased number of supporters in Capitol Hill and Pentagon. Either way, Trump’s foreign policy revolution is happening. It may not be visible just yet, but the things are changing!

Source: nationalreview.com

Trump – Foreign Policy Before And After

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Donald Trump’s rose to the Presidency on the wings of a single premise: that America is no longer a superpower. According to him, there are many culprits for this downfall. NATO allies are guilty because they don’t contribute to the mutual defense fund and are using US military as a shield. Mexicans are guilty because they steal American jobs. Above all else, President Obama is guilty of failing to prevent all this and now it has fallen to Mr. Trump to make America great again. His voters believed this and President Trump was sworn into Oval Office.

Once there, he discovered that international politics aren’t as simple as he portraited them to be. With Chinese economy on the fast track, constant challenges in the Middle East, Russia flexing its muscles in Ukraine and Eastern Mediterranean, Mr. Trump and his ever-changing team found themselves in the deep end of the pool.

Source:payvand.com

Iran deal, signed between P5+1 group (US, UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany) and Iran, has been one of the favorite Mr. Trump’s targets. The agreement allowed Tehran to return to the international markets, in return for giving up its nuclear program and has left Israel as the sole nuclear power in the region. President Obama, who signed the deal, has stated that it was the best solution at the moment and that the only other option of stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons was another war. In line with his Asia Pivot policy, he wanted to detangle the US from the Middle East, thus recognizing that Iraq war was a strategic failure. When he withdraw US troops from Iraq – a move heavily criticized by American allies in the region, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – the newly-created vacuum was quickly filled by ISIS.

This has opened up an opportunity for Russia to step in and offer Syria its help in “fighting terrorists” by deploying a substantial military force and creating a narrative that it is still a major player in the international arena. Combined with the annexation of Crimean Peninsula and heavy support of the rebels in Eastern Ukraine, (and short and decisive war with Georgia in 2008) it would seem that Vladimir Putin is well on his way of restoring at least some of the international power the Soviet Union wielded in its heyday. His “unholy alliance” with Turkey and Iran has managed to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria, while the US was content with providing support for their Kurdish allies.

Another flashpoint of international politics, North Korea, has managed to obtain nuclear weapons, despite the constant threats by the US and Japan. This has forced America to increase its military presence in the region and seek deeper collaboration with Japan and South Korea.

Source:independent.co.uk

When President Trump took power in January of 2017, one of his first moves was the cancelation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). With the appointment of Jared Kushner as the special envoy for the Arab-Israeli peace process and the recognition of the Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and a steep increase in drone attacks in the region, it seemed that he is abandoning Asia Pivot strategy set by his predecessor and focusing on the Middle East. He also signed a bill introducing sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, a move that caused Kremlin to expel 755 members of the US embassy in Moscow. President Trump threatened on several occasions to withdraw from Iranian deal and has given its European allies till May 12th to fix it.

His first address to the United Nations Assembly was marked by threats to North Korea, in response to Pyongyang ballistic tests. He also ordered the deployment of THAAD missile defense system in South Korea and B1 bombers patrols in the region.

Source:nationalinterest.org

The long-awaited response to the trade deficit with China and theft of intellectual property right (estimated at $300 billion) came in April 2018 in the form of 25% tariffs on 1,333 Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated by imposing similar taxes on US food exports and Washington is currently developing a second round of import fees aimed at Chinese merchandise.

Mr. Trump’s military budget reflects his nationalistic views and his campaign promise of self-reliance. It is the largest ever military budget in history at $700 billion and yet some experts claim that it won’t be enough. His National Security Strategy identifies China, Russia, and Iran as direct threats to the American security and that return to “principled realism” is the only possible answer. Paradoxically, President Trump’s policy of America First will lead to increase interventionism in trade, which will hamper the international commerce system, which is vital for America’s own economic prosperity.

Therefore, it is far more likely that the US, in future, will rely more on both NATO and strategic partnership with India, Japan, and Australia in order to curb Chinese expansion in Asia, despite his campaign promises.

Source: eurasiareview.com

America and Iran poised for battle in Syria

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One of the hallmarks of President Trump’s foreign policy has been a fierce critic of Iran and the deal made by President Obama, which allowed for the Iranian sanctions to be lifted in exchange for Teheran’s giving up its nuclear program. Apart from the Persian Gulf, a traditional battleground between the two countries, US and Iranian forces are also in close proximity in Syria, where members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been instrumental in recent victories of the Syrian Army, with Russian air force providing ample air support. On the other hand, US forces have maintained a presence in Kurdish-occupied parts of Syria, from where they have been coordinating air strikes against regime’s forces.

Despite heavy fighting, there haven’t been any clashes between the two sides so far, much to the dismay of Israel, which has been advocating for a tougher stance on Iran, especially in Syria and has conducted numerous strikes against both Iranian forces and local militias backed by Teheran. This was all done in an effort of preventing Iran from gaining a stronger foothold in the country that shares a border with Israel.

In March, President Trump fired H. R. McMaster from the position of the national security advisor and appointed John Bolton as his replacement. Bolton, a Bush-era hawk and a strong supporter of Iraq war, is known for his aggressive stance and has advocated for preemptive strikes against both North Korea and Iran, a stance that has earned him a wide-spread criticism in international circles. Many have seen this move as a preparation for a more hostile posture towards Iran and its involvement in Syria.

Source:timesofisrael.com

The fears of conflict escalation have also been fueled by the statement made by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saying that “we want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area. They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.” The looming deadline imposed by President Trump on its European allies to fix the Iranian deal, set for May 12th, is fast approaching and if the US withdraws, it would only further destabilize the already fragile situation.

Some experts say that the cost of direct confrontation would be too steep for both countries. Professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham Scott Lucas said that “There’s no appetite on either side to deliberately look for a wider conflict because then your costs outweigh your benefits,” he told Al Jazeera. “You have to put in so many resources and have the problem of not knowing how far this will go.”

Iran has just starting to recover from decades of international sanctions and an open conflict with the world’s most powerful military is something they are desperate to avoid. On the other hand, the US is faced with a dramatic decrease of domestic support for any military adventure in the Middle East and is trying to limit its forces in the region.

Source:csis.org

While an outright conflict between the US and Iran’s forces may be far-fetched, both countries possess capable forces in Syria that can do the fighting for them. Iran has numerous militias which it has trained and supplied for years, and the US have Syrian Democratic Army, a heavily Kurdish-dominated force opposing Assad’s regime. These are fully able to maintain a low-intensity conflict for a long time, supported by their allies in Washington and Teheran.

Source: aljazeera.com

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

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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.”

Source:ft.com

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.

Source:cnbc.com

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.”

Source: cnbc.com

The United States and South Korea—A Legacy of Foreign Assistance Success

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President Obama’s visit to South Korea in April 2014, was considered particularly important for two reasons. First of all, it was to highlight the importance of the alliance between the two countries, and second of all, it was to emphasize its success as one of the greatest achievements in American history when it comes to foreign aid. To be more precise, the fact that South Korea became a global partner with an 11-percent increase in foreign assistance budget says a lot about their success, which, again, implies that the US foreign assistance can contribute to security, as well as economic prosperity.

Source:theguardian.com

The Korean War had a detrimental impact on South Korea, especially on its population, along with economic and military capacity. So, the United States invested about $35 billion in economic foreign assistance with the aim of getting the country back on the road to its recovery, but also to protect it from North Korean aggression that could possibly come in the future. And, of course, the job was done successfully, as the economy of South Korea flourished soon afterward, while Seoul became a major bulwark of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific.

Not only did South Korea’s transformation prove to be a diplomatic triumph for the US, but it was also a smart investment for American businesses. How is that possible? It’s quite simple – those $35 billion they provided, in fact, “amount to less than what the United States exports to South Korea annually.” All in all, as a result of such an economic miracle, South Korea became the tenth largest export market for US goods. Furthermore, Seoul implemented the US-South Korean free trade agreement (which was reached two years earlier, in 2012) only helped the country develop even more and import even more goods from the US.