‘Strategic Patience’ and Pinocchios…. * Tennessee Eagle Forum

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 April 17, 2017
Inside this issue
Vice President Pence warns North Korea “era of strategic patience is over”

The visit comes amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula

By Ken Thomas | The Associated Press
April 16, 2017 at 11:01 pm

PANMUNJOM, South Korea – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declared Monday the “era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea, expressing impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Pence told reporters near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea that President Donald Trump is hopeful that China will use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons.

Pence, who has called the North’s failed missile test a day earlier “a provocation,” said the U.S. and its allies will achieve its objectives through “peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary” to protect South Korea and stabilize the region.

Pence visited a military base near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders and to meet with American troops stationed there. The joint U.S.-South Korean military camp is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ. He later stood a few meters from the military demarcation line outside Freedom House, gazing at two North Korean soldiers across the border and then a deforested stretch of North Korea from a lookout post in the hillside.

His visit, full of Cold War symbolism, and his remarks to reporters come amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula. While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential escalated U.S. response trailed Pence as he began a 10-day trip to Asia.

Pointing to the quarter-century since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience followed.

“But the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence said. “President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change. We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”

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Obama in 2015: “Assad Gave Up His Chemical Weapons – Those Have Been Eliminated”
by PATRICK GOODENOUGH April 11, 2017
The Obama administration’s assertions about the surrender and destruction of President Bashar al-Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons are back under the microscope following last week’s toxic gas attack on a town in northwestern Syria.

In 2015, President Obama said he had not gone ahead with promised military action against the regime after a deadly sarin gas attack near Damascus in 2013, “because Assad gave up his chemical weapons.”

“And I don’t think that there are a lot of folks in the region who are disappointed that Assad is no longer in possession of one of the biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons of any country on Earth,” he said. “Those have been eliminated.”

The April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhun, which cost the lives of more than 80 people and may again have involved sarin gas, triggered the first direct U.S. military action ever against the regime that has ruled Syria for 47 years.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday the firing of 59 cruise missiles from two U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean was intended to “show the United States will not passively stand by while [President Bashar] Assad murders innocent people with chemical weapons, which are prohibited by international law and which were declared destroyed.”

His reference to the weapons having been “declared destroyed” relates to a deal brokered by Moscow in 2013 under which Assad agreed to hand over all declared chemical weapons stocks for destruction. That agreement followed an earlier deadly chemical weapons attack, in Ghouta near Damascus, also blamed by the West on the Assad regime.

The process, supervised by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), involved the shipping of the lethal materials on Scandinavian cargo vessels to Italy. From there, some were destroyed on MV Cape Ray, a U.S. container ship modified to neutralize the agents at sea, and others were destroyed at commercial land-based facilities in Britain, the U.S. and Finland.

The OPCW later reported – as it has done in monthly update reports ever since – that all of the chemical weapons “declared” by the regime and removed from the country in 2014 had been destroyed.

A joint OPCW-U.N. investigation team later reported on evidence that the regime used chlorine as a weapon in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group used sulphur mustard gas in 2015.

(Since chlorine has peaceful applications it is not generally listed as a chemical weapon, but according to the OPCW, “a toxic or precursor chemical [such as chlorine or hydrogen cyanide] may be defined as a chemical weapon depending on its intended purpose.”)

Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies insist that “all” the chemical weapons were handed over and destroyed – and therefore that any subsequent use inside Syria must be attributed to anti-Assad rebels.

But some former officials of the Obama administration have also been accused of misleading on the matter.

Former national security advisor Susan Rice was awarded four Pinocchios by the Washington Post’s “Fact checker” column on Monday for saying in an NPR interview in January, “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

As reported earlier, former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes in a tweet Monday referred to “all” of Syria’s chemical weapons having been removed and “destroyed through diplomacy.”

‘Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program’

The Obama administration portrayed the deal struck with Russia as a diplomatic coup, far more effective in dealing with the problem of chemical weapons use in Syria than limited military strikes against the regime would ever have been.

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Ad Feedback McMaster: Administration Working to ‘Develop a Range of Options’ on N. Korea
By Susan Jones | April 17, 2017 | 6:42 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – North Korea’s latest missile test failed over the weekend, but it’s part of a pattern of “provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior” that has the Trump administration considering its options, National Security Adviser H.R.  McMaster told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday:

    I think there’s an international consensus now, including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership — that this is a situation that just can’t continue.

And the president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons. And so we’re working together with our allies and partners, and with the Chinese leadership, to develop a range of options.

And the president has asked the National Security Council to integrate the efforts of the Department of Defense, State, our intelligence agencies, so we can provide options and have them ready for him if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues, and if the North Korea regime refuses to denuclearize, which is the accepted objective of both the United States and Chinese leadership, as well our allies in the region.

A missile fired by North Korea exploded moments after launch in the regime’s latest test on Sunday. The day before, North Koreans marked the birthday of the country’s founder with a large military parade, featuring a new kind of short-range cruise missile, probably for shoreline defenses, the Associated Press reported. And North Korea also showed off canisters resembling those that could be used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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North Korea Displays New Missiles During Military Parade

China, Russia Tailing US Carrier Near Korean Peninsula

Sunday, 16 Apr 2017 07:53 PMChina and Russia have dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is heading toward waters near the Korean Peninsula, multiple sources of the Japanese government revealed to The Yomiuri Shimbun.

It appears that both countries aim to probe the movements of the United States, which is showing a stance of not excluding military action against North Korea. The Self-Defense Forces are strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area, according to the sources.

Vice President Pence is quietly becoming a foreign policy power player

Global Opinions

March 5

The role and influence of the vice president, not enshrined in any law, is determined in any administration by three things: his direct relationship with the president, his building of a personal portfolio of issues, and the effectiveness of his team. When it comes to foreign policy, Vice President Pence is quietly succeeding on all three fronts.

Inside an administration that is characterized by several power centers, Pence must navigate complex internal politics while serving a president who has an unconventional view of foreign policy and the United States’ role in the world. Pence, a traditional hawk influenced heavily by his Christian faith, is carefully and deliberately assuming a stance that fits within the president’s agenda while respecting the prerogatives of other senior White House aides who also want to play large foreign policy roles, according to White House officials, lawmakers and experts.

But Pence’s growing influence on foreign policy is increasingly evident. The vice president was deployed to Europe last month to reassure allies that the United States will stay committed to alliances such as NATO, despite President Trump’s calls for Europeans to pay more for common defense. During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit, Trump announced that Pence and his Japanese counterpart would lead a new dialogue on U.S.-Japan economic cooperation.

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