Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

President Donald Trump has moved to fix or withdraw from ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) Executive Agreement with Iran, cosigned by the leaders of a number of European nations, covering Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Folks can argue that this step has taken too long (and the terms of Obama’s EA have not been fixed, yet, nor have we canceled it; the deadline for that is next May), and I’m among the impatient.  However, the delay isn’t all bad (so far), since discussions of the Agreement, both public and behind the scenes (I assume), over the course of this delay have made the problems with it plainly evident, and the other parties to the deal no longer have excuses—they’ve have plenty of time to make their positions plain.

Northern Korea and Talks

Jonathan Cheng had a piece in the Wall Street Journal that talked about differences in policy held by RoK President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump, especially concerning northern Korea.  He seemed surprised that friends or allies could disagree with each other rather than one simply being a satrap of the other.

Withal, though, I want to comment on one remark he had at the end of his piece.

[Moon suggested that] the end goal of international pressure and sanctions is to “find a way for North Korea to live together in peace with the international community”—a comment that appears at odds with the US goal of denuclearization.

Leadership

Maybe German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is figuring a couple of things out.  Here are a couple of his remarks in an interview with Spiegel Online:

In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the US for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the US pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the US leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving…the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.

Time to Visit

Li Kexin, Minister, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America, says

The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force[.]

Kaohsiung is a major seaport on the southwest coast of the Republic of China.  Since the PRC now is threatening to invade and conquer a sovereign nation that is an ally and friend of ours, it has become imperative that we do a number of things, including:

  • send a USN combatant ship and a hospital ship to Kaohsiung for a friendly visit

Trade Reciprocity

When the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US refused to approve a deal between the People’s Republic of China’s Ant Financial Services Group and MoneyGram International Inc, wherein the former would acquire the latter, Anjani Trivedi in a Wall Street Journal article lamented the demise of “deal making” between American companies and PRC companies.

Beijing has softened its attitude somewhat recently, relaxing its foreign-investment policies to lure more capital into specific sectors, including financial services. With the CFIUS decision on Ant and MoneyGram, it’s clear such moves aren’t going to be met with much reciprocity.

And

A UN Vote

Recall that the UN voted strongly to condemn the Trump administration’s decision to move our Embassy to Israel to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.  In a Letter to the Editor of The Wall Street Journal, one letter writer objected to our response to the vote.

America should support other countries’ right to vote their conscience as the US does, whether or not we agree with them.

America does support other countries’ right to vote their conscience, whether or not we agree with them. It’s a two-way street, however. Others, including our letter-writer, need to support America’s right to act in accordance with our conscience—to object to those votes and their outcome, and to act accordingly.

We Can Help

And we should.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged to step up defense spending to defend the self-ruled island’s sovereignty in the face of China’s growing military assertiveness in the region.

A good start would be to sell missile defense systems to the Republic of China along with modern aircraft—both air defense, like updated F-16s and F-15s, and ground attack, like F-16s and A-10s.

We also should resume sea and air patrols of the Taiwan Strait, something we’ve not done for far too long.

A Caliphate Has Collapsed?

That’s what Renée Rigdon, Tristan Wyatt, and Karen Leigh would have us believe in their recent Wall Street Journal piece.

It’s true enough that the Daesh—that JV team of ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) estimation—ran through the Iraqi “army” a few years ago, exploded through Syrian territory, and wound up controlling a significant fraction of Iraqi and Syrian land.  Their physical expansion was stopped in the immediacy of the situation only by Iraqi Kurds and the confused and fractious condition of Syria.  It’s also true that under President Donald Trump, a US-refurbished Iraqi army allied with those Kurds and local militias, with the support of an unleashed US-led coalition of air forces, recaptured nearly all of Iraqi territory in very short order while that same coalition of air forces supported a US-led coalition of rebels (albeit of at best dubious provenance) have disinfected most of Daesh-held Syria.

Prove They’re Serious

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his satrap, Bashar al Assad, want to hold peace talks in Sochi with a view to ending the fighting in Syria.  At least 40 groups in the al Assad opposition demur and are refusing Putin’s attempt.

“We reject this, and we affirm that Russia is an aggressor that has committed war crimes against Syrians,” the statement signed by 40 rebel groups said. “Russia has not contributed with a single move to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and it has not pressured the regime it claims it guarantees to move an inch toward any real path toward a resolution.”

A Rival Power

President Donald Trump, in his national strategy speech, labeled the People’s Republic of China as a rival power and as a revisionist power.  Which they are, regardless of how heinously politically incorrect the truth is.  After all, this is the nation that only pays public lip service to sanctions levied against northern Korea over the latter’s drive to develop deliverable nuclear weapons.  The PRC wants northern Korea as a stick in our eye and as a wedge with which to drive us apart from our Pacific allies and out of the western Pacific altogether.