U.S. Pakistan relations & GOP Presidential candidates’ foreign policy positions.
When you get a $173 billion dollar bailout from American taxpayers you don’t have to worry about making good financial decisions – especially when Congress and the Obama Administration aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing. Ever since AIG got their enormous taxpayer bailout, they have been dragging their feet on paying back the money. In Taiwan, AIG has flailed repeated in what should have been an easy sale of its local insurance unit, called Nan Shan. Most recently, AIG inexplicably chose the low bidder in a deal that Taiwanese regulators may have to reject for the second time. This is no way to run a company, unless you aren’t worried about the bottom line because you are owned and backed by the U.S. government. The American taxpayer owns 92% of AIG but has no say in its decision-making process.
Last year, AIG CEO Robert Benmoche said, “I’m confident you’re going to get your money back plus a profit.” But today, AIG remains one of the largest debtors under the TARP bailout program. The Taiwan example may be the perfect illustration for why they haven’t been able to pay the U.S. taxpayer back. As part of AIG’s original agreement with the U.S. government, it is required to sell off their assets. U.S. regulators assumed that meant they would sell them to the highest bidder. Since AIG is using our money, they have a responsibility to the American taxpayer to take the best price they can get, right? Well, not really. The financial wizards at AIG took the 4th highest price for their Taiwanese unit and left $800 million on the table.
AIG’s incompetence is on prominent display in Asia — and the Obama administration and Congress seem not to care. In its first go-round, which began in May of 2009, AIG tried to sell Nan Shan to a consortium consisting of a battery manufacturer with operations in mainland China and a Hong Kong-based venture capital group. Included in the consortium were people with official positions bestowed by the Chinese Communist Party. Astonishingly, it didn’t occur to AIG that this might be a sensitive issue for Taiwanese regulators. The deal was announced in September of 2009 and rejected the following summer by overseers. But few people outside of AIG’s executive suite were surprised.
Round two does not appear to be going any better for the bailed out company. Just last month, AIG chose a supermarket operator named Ruentex from 4 different bidders who wanted to buy their Taiwan business. You’d think AIG would prefer a finance company be owned by a company with finance experience, right? More stunningly, AIG reportedly left almost $1 billion sitting on the table—money that rightly belongs to U.S. taxpayers – in the deal. They reportedly passed over three would-be buyers, offering up to $3 billion for Nan Shan, in order to take a $2.2 billion offer from a company that sells more wontons than insurance policies. It’s no wonder AIG needed a bailout.
The outcome, which surprised not only onlookers in Taiwan, but Wall Street analysts in New York, continues to defy serious explanation. AIG claims the Ruentex offer was the most credible and best overall. But the deal seems suspect. Obama’s Treasury Department and Congress should be asking some serious questions. But the Obama team hasn’t even instructed our de-facto embassy in Taipei to talk to the Taiwanese government about the U.S. interest the deal. This means, nobody is watching what AIG is doing. But since AIG is gambling with our money, someone in Washington should start asking some tough questions.
At great personal risk to himself and his family, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, pushed the UN Security Council to take up the violence in his home country. Dabbashi said he could no longer support the regime of his boss Moammar Gadhafi and stepped out to condemn what he called “a genocide”. The dramatic event prompted the first UN meeting of the 15 member Security Council on the uprisings sweeping across the region since the beginning of Tunisia’s revolution, Egypt’s violence and the developing protests in Bahrain, Yemen, Palestine and Iran.
The United States was represented by Foreign Service officer and Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo. The Obama Administration’s appointed Ambassador, Susan Rice, skipped the Libya meeting and instead flew to South Africa to attend a UN panel discussion on global sustainability.
Missing the only Security Council meeting on the Middle East revolution was not Rice’s first absence from high profile UN business. Rice was absent when the UN held an emergency Security Council meeting on Israel’s raid of a ship headed to Gaza and when Iran was elected to the UN Women’s Commission. Rice also failed to speak out when Libya was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in May 2010.
While Rice was traveling to South Africa, the State Department ordered Embassy family members, non-essential personnel and other Americans out of Libya. The evacuation of roughly 600 Americans is being done via ferry from Libya to the small island of Malta. The urgent evacuation coincided with more violence and bloodshed and emphasized the seriousness of the developing situation. Human Rights Watch reported that at least 230 people have been killed in the fighting while Italy’s government puts the number at 1,000.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the bloodshed “completely unacceptable” and said that the U.S. will take “appropriate steps” to deal with the escalating situation. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-MA, called for strong action by the United Nations Security Council. “While it’s true that America has less influence in Tripoli than elsewhere in the region, we’re not without options, particularly in partnership with the broader international community,” Kerry said. Secretary Clinton also called for the U.S. “to work in concert with the international community.” But the directives from Kerry and Clinton were ignored by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN who failed to attend the meeting and rally the world body.
Rice’s prioritization of the global sustainability meeting over the Libyan crisis sent a terrible signal to American allies at the UN. Rice’s absence was not lost on foreign ambassadors and highlighted the inconsistencies of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Middle East crises. One Arab diplomat told me, “Egypt’s violence could hardly be compared to Tripoli’s but the (administration’s) reaction was much harsher. We aren’t sure what Washington is thinking. Ambassador DiCarlo was very strong but more needs to be done.”
Rice’s interest in South Africa was highlighted in a wiki leak produced cable from November 3, 2009. U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips mentioned Rice’s interest in hosting an event with South Africa during his first courtesy call meeting with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Pretoria. Ambassador Gips noted that “US UN Ambassador Susan Rice would like to host the Minister for an event when she next visits New York.” Now Rice can deliver the message in person. State Department sources tell me she will have a courtesy call with Minister Mashabane while in town for the global sustainability discussion. Rice will also speak to the international Chamber of Commerce before heading home to Washington. Rice’s spokesman said the Ambassador will use her travels as an opportunity to ask South African business and civic leaders to serve as an example by speaking out when they see oppression and brutality. But Rice would be more effective at this time asking South Africa to facilitate such actions back home and staying in New York to push the UN to take the strongest stands possible.
Meantime, the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, where Libya is a member, today struggled to issue a condemnation on the Libya violence. The draft HRC statement is being watered down by Cuba, Russia and China and may not even pass. If Susan Rice felt the need to travel, she should have flown to Geneva to lobby the UN Human Rights Council not to South Africa to speak on a panel discussion about global sustainability.
The escalating violence in Libya and throughout the region has also spiked oil prices for Americans and given the crisis a blatant U.S. economic angle. Daniel O’Connell, vice president of energy at MF Global, said if gas prices continue to accelerate ahead of May, when “driving season” picks up, “it will cripple the economy.” Rice’s absence from the UN meeting neglects not only an events-changing revolution and unspeakable violence, but also an issue that will impact Americans’ pocketbooks. She belongs in New York, not South Africa.
When Barack Obama was campaigning to be president of the United States in 2008, he frequently promised Americans that he would lead the world. In fact, he and his team relentlessly pounded President George W. Bush for “going it alone” and alienating our friends and allies around the globe. His then-campaign foreign policy advisor and current U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice even joked about how, if elected, they would repair the damage and lead the UN in a way that the Bush team couldn’t. But after almost 2 years on the job, Rice and Obama haven’t been able to garner support from the UN to implement U.S. foreign policy priorities as they said they would. In fact, on Iran, North Korea, Sudan and UN reform, Obama and Rice haven’t produced the support Bush garnered. While Rice has touted her performance on one Iran sanctions resolution as unique progress at the UN, her final vote count on that one resolution got more NO votes than did Bush’s five Iran resolutions got in total. Unfortunately, Rice has also been painfully quiet when faced with resistance and hostility from the enemies of democracy and freedom. As President Obama goes back to the UN this week, there are 10 things he should do to more forcefully push for progress on U.S. priorities and more aggressively defend the U.S.:
1. Make clear that the Arizona law the UN attacked was written to stop illegal immigration, not prohibit legal immigration.
2. Call out the Human Rights Council for yet another disastrous year of Israel bashing and overlooking rights violators.
3. Nominate a U.S. Ambassador level person to tackle UN reform and UN budget waste, fraud, abuse and duplicity.
4. Ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to ascertain how erroneous scientific claims were added to official UN reports.
5. Make clear that the United States will not unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons and will not support restrictions on private firearm ownership.
6. Call for a total review of every UN peace-keeping operation and end those that aren’t making progress.
7. Ask the African Union to pressure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to end the violence and intimidation of southern Sudan and allow international observers for January’s referendum.
8. Condemn any global airline tax that the UN is thinking of implementing to pay for climate change initiatives.
9. Make clear that his Administration will not become a signatory of the International Criminal Court until significant changes are made to satisfy Senate concerns and protect American personnel overseas.
10. Correct the record with the UN press corps that First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t think that being first lady is “hell” but that she is actually very proud to represent the greatest country in the world.
These 10 proposals would go a far way in showing the UN that while the Obama Administration is interested in seeking a kinder, gentler world; it will not allow a further retreat of democracy and human rights just to get along with others.
Obama’s White House is still in campaign mode. And the political appointees they hired to lead federal agencies are in campaign mode. This team isn’t governing America thoughtfully. They make quick and short term decisions based on political calculation and media coverage designed to quickly move public opinion. The Shirley Sherrod incident only highlights the partisan calculation this White House and its allies do on a daily basis.
For example, Robert Gibbs’ has been biting and condescending toward Republicans and all non-Democrats from the moment he stepped on the podium. Rahm Emanuel has been caught pounding the White House’s political opponents in Congress rather than seeking common ground on policy decisions, budget decisions have been designed to maximize the impact to political groups rather than creating jobs or building the economy and multiple weekly parties and celebrations for supporters have supplanted the hard work expected by the American people. This White House is quick to react and quick to throw a party but slow to leave the presidential campaigning behind.
Where was she this time? The United Nations Security Council yesterday held an emergency Security Council meeting on Israel’s raid of a ship headed to Gaza — and the United States was represented by the deputy at the US Mission. Reporters, UN members and activists were mystified as to why Susan Rice, the American Ambassador to the UN, was a no-show to the roughly 12-hour negotiations which left a key ally fending off global criticism without the top American diplomat to help. The emergency meeting included a public meeting and a series of private consultations. The UN Security Council ultimately issued a statement on the situation in the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 1, after starting deliberations on Monday, May 31 – the American Memorial Day holiday.
All 15 members of the Security Council delivered public speeches about the Israeli raid in which at least nine people were killed. While Arab nations called the ship a humanitarian mission for the desperate situation in Gaza, Israel called the ship’s operation an illegal act which defied calls for simple inspections. Israel has a blockade on all deliveries to Gaza, and Egypt, which shares a border with the Gaza Strip, keeps its border crossing closed most of the time.
Arab nations, Europeans and Asian members of the UN jumped to condemn Israel and the attack during the marathon public debate. Turkey’s Foreign Minister said, “This is tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state.” But while UN members were blasting Israel about a developing story with conflicting information as to what had actually happened, the American Ambassador failed to attend the emergency meeting. The U.S. Mission was represented by Ambassador Alex Wolff, the Mission’s deputy. Wolff, a skilled diplomat, defended the U.S. position and fended off the barrage of American critics that showed up for the emergency meeting.
One reporter told me, “I have no idea where she (Rice) was. We were there all day and the U.S. only had Wolff.” Another reporter said, “It’s Memorial Day. Rice doesn’t show up during a normal week, why would she show on a holiday?” Porter Speakman, Jr, NGO activist and director of the film “With God on Our Side,” said: “This is probably one of, if not, the most important meetings our Ambassador to the UN has seen since she arrived. What kind of message does this send to Arabs, the Turks and to Israel when Susan Rice doesn’t show up?”
Rice’s absence sends a powerful message to the UN members attending the emergency meeting, unfortunately, the message is that she is either unable to lead or afraid of the consequences that come with taking a controversial stand. The Associated Press said, “…long and difficult negotiations were conducted primarily by the United States with Turkey and Lebanon…” But those difficult negotiations didn’t involve Rice who failed to show throughout the 12 hour ordeal.
Coming on the heels of Rice’s silence and absence from the meeting where Iran was elected to the UN Women’s committee and Rice’s refusal to call out Libya after it was elected to the UN’s Human Rights Council, Rice’s performance is leaving Americans wondering if she really wants to be the American Ambassador to the UN.
Robert Gibbs Thanks Chuck Todd For The Great Coverage
Watching Chuck Todd on The Today Show the morning after President Obama’s first State of the Union speech one would think that we have a divided Congress. If you were linked to Chuck Todd on his Facebook page during the speech then you would have also seen several status updates about watching Republicans sitting down during standing ovations or looking sour during some of the President’s policy announcements. Todd and The Today Show have completely missed the reality of Washington’s power game and have instead proven to be the go-to guy and morning show for this White House. Their consistent voice for Obama’s hope and change tour reached its climax this morning with their report on last night’s State of the Union speech.
Todd’s report, the lead story for The Today Show, focused on the few times in Obama’s speech where he tried to reach out to the Republicans. Todd never mentioned once how Obama started the speech by blaming Bush for our current problems and how he consistently blamed the previous Administration for a banking collapse, large deficits and an economy in the tank. For a President with all of the power in Washington, Obama’s speech was antagonistic and full of excuses. Someone needs to remind Todd that the President’s party overwhelmingly controls Congress and could have passed any piece of change legislation they wanted this past year. Why Todd continues to focus on the minority party is more than disturbing, it’s biased. The President’s first year has been a failure, the worst first year performance by any President, and the blame goes squarely on his own party and his ability to lead them.
While The Today Show cameras kept showing the Democrats standing and clapping for Obama’s speech and the Republicans seated, voters were led to believe that it was the Republicans fault that this past year has been a disaster in Washington.
Not to be outdone by Todd, Meredith Vieira jumped in to pile on too. Speaking with Vice President Joe Biden, Vieira asked “What risk do Republicans run if they remain the party of NO?” Biden, of course, had an answer and stayed on message by emphasizing how when the Obama Administration took office they brought America “back from the abyss”. No one challenged Biden with the facts: larger deficits, unemployment at an all-time high and his own party controlling all of Washington.
Todd and Vieira also pointed out Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s silent frustration with being called-out by the President when he mouthed the words “No, that’s not true” while the NBC cameras went to slow motion to emphasize the point. But the fact that the President of the United States was so partisan throughout his speech, blamed Bush for his problems and publicly attacked the Supreme Court on national television for their most-recent decision while they had to sit there and be silent was never mentioned on-air.
When it was Matt Lauer’s turn to jump in he also stayed on the theme that Republicans are to blame for this President’s disastrous first year and low approval ratings. Lauer emphasized the “political divide in congress right now” without pointing out that if there is a political divide then it’s because the Democrats can’t agree among themselves on what to do or how to do it.
Since Todd, Vieira and Lauer obviously don’t understand that the Democrats have unprecedented influence in Congress, here’s a reminder: there are 255 Democrats and 178 Republicans in the House; and there are 56 Democrats and 41 Republicans in the Senate. Todd should start putting the White House and its party of power under scrutiny and stop force-feeding the American people with the White House’s message that their first year’s failure is anyone’s fault but their own.
Grenell: Obama’s Terrorism Approach ‘Scary’
Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010 03:43 PM Article Font Size
By: Dan Weil
Richard Grenell, former spokesman for the U.S. Representative to the United Nations calls President Obama’s approach to terrorism “scary.”
“Here’s a guy who clearly wants to be the most popular guy in the room,” Grenell, who served President George W. Bush, told Newsmax.TV’s Kathleen Walter. “He doesn’t want to make tough decisions that anger people.”
The former diplomat criticized Obama for treating accused terrorists as civilians.
“Scott Brown, the winner of the Massachusetts senate race said it best when he said, I don’t want to give them a bunch of lawyers. I want to give these terrorists a fight. I think that’s how most Americans view this situation.”
Grenell is particularly upset that the Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was read his rights after being taken from the plane.
“Someone said to this guy who just tried to blow up a plane, ‘You have the right to remain silent,’” Grenell noted.
“I would have said you don’t have the right to remain silent. I want to go over here, and I want to knock you around mentally until you start spilling some information.”
“It’s important to find out who sent and financed Abdulmutallab, so that we can stop future threats, Grenell points out.
Discussing the situation in Haiti, he stresses that the United States must stay involved for the long term.
“We can do anything we want when we set our minds to it,” Grenell said. “We are clearly focused on Haiti right now. I think the Haitian people will benefit from that.”
The U.N. will be of no help, having failed miserably in its 17 years there, he says.
“Right now we’re just dealing in Haiti on an emergency basis. We’re going to have to quickly switch into development and operational issues.” Our government will have to weather criticism that we’re too involved with another country, Grenell says.
“If we want to change that country for the better, we’re going to have to look for some economic development. It’s a long, expensive, messy road. But in the end I think Americans will want that to happen in Haiti.”
See Video: Click on link at the top of this entry.
New Study Suggests U.S. Ambassador Rice Isn’t Engaging the UN
We actually heard from Susan Rice more during the presidential campaign when she was a foreign policy adviser to then-candidate Barack Obama than we have over the last year, when she has been representing us at the UN. It has been just over one year since Rice was confirmed by the United States Senate to be the Permanent Representative to the UN and she so far has been wildly inattentive in New York. While Rice has been active in the social scene of Washington and The White House, a new study released by the uber-serious Security Council Report suggests that this past year has been the most inactive Security Council since 1991. For an Administration that promised to utilize the UN and improve our reputation around the world, its dinner-party circuit strategy isn’t making America more secure.
Much of the blame for that belongs to Rice and her habitual silence. Rice has not conducted the hard negotiations nor done the sometimes unpopular work of engaging the UN on the United States’ priority issues. When Rice does attend UN negotiations, she is all too willing to avoid confrontation. She has instead opted to spend time networking in Washington and making nice with her colleagues in New York. While other foreign Ambassadors speak fondly of Rice and her easy ways, she has been a weak negotiator for the American people.
This lack of American leadership has resulted in the general Security Council inactivity spotlighted in the new study by the Columbia University-affiliated Security Council Report.
The Report says:
“In 2009 the total number of Council decisions (resolutions and presidential statements) decreased by 26 percent from 2008. The number dropped from 113 to 83, the lowest level since 1991.
Resolutions dropped from 65 to 48 and presidential statements from 48 to 35.
This significant trend is also mirrored in a matching reduction in formal Council activity. The number of formal Council meetings decreased by 20 percent, from 243 to 194.
The number of press statements, which is one indicator of Council decision making at the informal level, also decreased by 23 percent, from 47 to 36.”
Rice has been spending several days a week in Washington with her larger than normal DC-based staff and spending less time with the 200-plus employees who work for her in New York. While Rice launched her tenure with a glamour spread in Vogue Magazine by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz showing her kicking back in an empty Security Council Chamber, she seems to not enjoy the Chamber when it’s full of diplomats. During the recent Haiti crisis, Rice was not only absent from the Security Council vote to expand the UN’s peacekeeping operation but she also failed to call an emergency meeting in the immediate aftermath to request more help. In fact, 7 days after the Haiti earthquake left tens of thousands of people in the streets without food or shelter, it was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that came to the Security Council to request more troops – the American Ambassador hadn’t bothered.
Rice has gambled this past year that keeping America unengaged at the UN is the best way to keep the Obama Administration and herself popular with other countries. But while the newly released report suggests that the Security Council has been cordial and pleasant in 2009, the number of crisis situations, international conflicts and peacekeeping operations haven’t decreased. No meaningful improvement has been seen to the international issues monitored by the Security Council; in fact, the study suggests that some situations have gotten worse. Without American leadership at the UN, countries just continue to talk and socialize and spend taxpayer dollars. The Security Council Report also highlights the fact that fewer decisions were made by the Security Council in 2009 than in previous years. Tough decisions are never popular to make and even less popular to force upon the UN. But the American people expect their representative to utilize the UN to further America’s priority issues and demand that their money is spent wisely.
For Rice, the UN budget reform efforts started by the Bush Administration have been too controversial to continue. Rice has avoided tough negotiations and public feuds and has made little to no effort to engage her colleagues on reforming the UN budget process. U.S. citizens pay 22% of the UN’s regular budget, 26% of the UN Peacekeeping Budget and give millions more in voluntary contributions to a plethora of other UN programs. They deserve an ambassador who doesn’t duck even a messy public fight with other countries looking to spend American taxpayers’ dollars.
According to several UN veteran reporters and some US Mission staff, Rice has been missing from crucial negotiations on Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium, too. She’s failed to build on Bush Administration progress on sanctioning Iran. While the Russians and Chinese have historically complained publicly about a vote forced upon them, in the end they voted for such resolutions. Despite multiple deadlines missed by the Iranian government, Rice and her team have so far been unsuccessful in getting a single sanctions resolution. The irony that the French are tougher than the Americans on the Iran issue has prompted former Bush Administration officials to say, “thank God for the French”.
Although Obama and Rice campaigned on the promise to restore America’s reputation internationally, they have chosen the easy path of popularity over progress. Ambassadors will always be loved at the UN when they ignore the important debates and discussions that will keep America strong and safe. It is short-sighted and dangerous to choose likability over the safety and security of those who actually pay your salary. And one sure way to weaken the UN is to placate it, neglect it and marginalize it, as Rice has done this past year. The UN and the American people deserve better.
Hillary’s Visa Problem
President Obama came back to work this week after leaving the Presidency for his Hawaiian holiday vacation. Hawaii proved to be a restful retreat for the President, his team and the White House press corps who all took time off from their regular duties to enjoy the Hawaiian sun and ignore their responsibilities.
But after 10 days of tropical silence, this week there is a sudden flurry of security reviews, media statements, ass-covering and more misstatements coming out of Washington from the Obama Administration. But we still don’t know why the State Department didn’t revoke the visa of a man they knew had ties to al-qaeda.
Even the normally workaholic Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was enjoying a silent 10 nights on the matter. Taking her time to get the facts and pack up the Christmas decorations, Hillary finally came out looking like she had just landed in Yugoslavia under sniper fire. Secretary Clinton joined Janet Napolitano in glossing over the facts surrounding the Christmas Day attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253. Not to be outdone that all went well with her agency while the boss was on vacation, Secretary Clinton said that the State Department “fully complied with the requirements set forth in the interagency process” about sharing threat information. What? Fully complied? The State Department not only failed to share the threat information with a variety of agencies but those who had the information didn’t even act upon it themselves. In fact, Several State Department officials in Nigeria and Washington, DC didn’t even do the basic tasks expected of public servants working to protect Americans.
Not only did the State Department not comply with all the requirements Secretary Clinton had said, but the State Department also violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 1735 by not providing the new information they received on an al-qaeda suspect to the UN. We know that State Department officials in Nigeria and Washington had the information because someone wrote a top secret cable dated November 20, 2009 explaining that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had ties to al-qaeda. This means that the State Department had 35 days to revoke Adbulmutallab’s visa and share the information with the UN – it failed to do either.
Had the State Department shared the cable with other U.S. agencies or given the information to the UN, as required under the Chapter 7 Resolution, all Nations would have been obligated to deny entry and freeze the assets of anyone officially on the UN’s Terrorist List.
The smoking gun is the November 20 State Department cable that wasn’t acted upon. No one shared it with the Embassy visa section, other U.S. agencies or the UN. How could a top secret cable be written but not acted upon by the same Embassy that wrote it? Questions remain as to who approved the cable, where was it sent and why wasn’t a visa revoked because of the cable?
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Sanders and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson need to answer some questions about what they did with the November 20, 2009 top secret cable containing crucial national security information. Did they ignore the fact that their Embassy identified an al-qaeda operative? Did they not check to see if a visa was already granted to this al-qaeda operative? Who all approved the visa? Who read the cable? At the very minimum, Ambassador Robin Sanders needs to tell the American people why she didn’t revoke the visa of Abdulmutallab after her team originally approved it.
What we’ve learned since Janet Napolitano and Hillary Clinton thought everything went as bureaucratically expected on Christmas Day is that President Obama takes surf board accidents on his vacation very seriously but is willing to delegate the safety of the American public to subordinates.
The Obama Team is Taking Credit for a Bush Policy
The White House this week leaked intelligence information to the New York Times to suggest that their North Korea policy is working. And although David Sanger from the Times was all too quick to buy the Administration’s line, an honest assessment of the Obama team’s claims shows that the successful policy they highlight was designed and first implemented in the Bush Administration.
Over the weekend, an airplane leaving North Korea with a cargo of illegal weapons was seized by Thailand. The Thai intelligence authorities worked with American officials to determine that the 5 member crew from a cargo company in the Republic of Georgia was carrying roughly 30 tons of illegal military equipment.
The Obama team points to the recently passed United Nations Security Council Resolution on North Korea, Resolution 1874, as evidence that they can design a strategy to contain North Korea from gaining weapons and materials to make or launch a nuclear weapon like seizing the Georgian plane. UN Security Council Resolution 1874, however, authorizes countries to board sea vessels and ships, not airplanes. The New York Times highlighted story in Thailand was an airplane and therefore technically didn’t fall under the Obama team’s UN resolution – it was a Bush Administration resolution that gave the authority to seize the plane.
Additionally, the White House and the New York Times missed the fact that the UN Security Council has had sanctions on the DPRK for years. In rushing to trumpet the Obama team’s erroneous claims, the New York Times failed to understand that it is already illegal to carry arms in or out of North Korea. The Bush Administration passed the UN Security Council resolution that made it illegal to transfer illegal weapons by sea or air – or any means. Thailand has been authorized, albeit expected, to seize ships and planes suspected of carrying illegal cargo since 2006. Resolution 1695, passed July 15, 2006, reads in operative paragraphs 3 and 4:
3. Requires all Member States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology being transferred to DPRK’s missile or WMD programmes;
4. Requires all Member States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent the procurement of missiles or missile related-items, materials, goods and technology from the DPRK, and the transfer of any financial
resources in relation to DPRK’s missile or WMD programmes;
And Resolution 1718, passed October 14, 2006, says in operative paragraphs 7 and 8:
7. Decides also that the DPRK shall abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner;
8. Decides that:
(a) All Member States shall prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories…
Further, early in the Bush Administration John Bolton conceived of and implemented a successful program called The Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI. PSI acted as a coalition of the willing searchers. Several countries in and around North Korea have been working together for quite some time to patrol the water, land and air for possible illegal shipments going in and coming out of North Korea. The Japanese, in particular, have been very concerned and have aggressively been watching North Korean exports and imports. Countries interested in intercepting cargo going in and out of North Korea have been stopping and boarding suspicious vessels for many years. Once Bolton was at the United Nations as our American Ambassador, he was able to draft similar language used from the successful PSI program into UN Security Council mandated resolutions thereby compelling countries to work to ensure no illegal weapons entered or left North Korea with a UN mandated appeal.
However, The New York Times’ David Sanger yesterday wrote, “The Obama administration is trying to show that it will choke off the North’s illicit exports even while attempting to reopen nuclear talks. In interviews in recent weeks, several officials said they believed that the Bush administration, which came to office seeking to topple the North Korean government of Kim Jong-il, mistakenly eased pressure on him while pursuing disarmament accords, almost all of them since renounced by the North.”
While Resolution 1874 is an additional constraint on North Korea, it is redundant and not as thorough as Resolutions 1695 and 1718. Resolutions 1695 and 1718, more important resolutions passed during the Bush Administration, established wide-ranging sanctions on DPRK back in 2006.
The simple fact is that during the Bush Administration the pressure was greatly increased on the North Koreans, not decreased as the White House and the Times says. I have written to David Sanger asking him and the New York Times to correct the record but so far I haven’t heard back.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
GRENELL: Not another sore loser
Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. Even though I was one of the 57 million people who voted for John McCain, I am an American first and I will give my support to President-elect Barack Obama. John McCain showed us he isn’t a sore loser and so his supporters shouldn’t be either.
In fact, Hillary Clinton led the way in showing us why America’s political process is the best in the world, as did Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee when they lost their party’s nomination.
After working as the Spokesman for the United States at the United Nations for eight years, I learned that America is not Zimbabwe and when we have hard-fought elections we don’t show our disappointment with the outcome by rioting or starting a war.
I want to give the newly elected Democratic president my support because I know what it is like to win an election and have the other side try and undercut you every step of the way immediately after the oath of office is administered. I know what it is like to feel the pain of friends who say that my guy is “ruining America” or “making the economy tank” or that I “hate black people” because of whom I voted for.
I know what it is like to see sore losers work to ensure defeat. I know what it is like when people complain and gossip instead of work to make our Union better. We are all Americans and regardless of who wins the White House, he is everyone’s president.
Of course we will face challenges ahead, but if only 52 percent of us work on solving those problems then we won’t accomplish much.
One of the reasons I voted for Mr. McCain is that I didn’t recognize Barack Obama’s America. Mr. Obama seems to see an America full of people dying in the streets with no place to go – where no one owns homes and everyone is bankrupt because the government is out to get them. His America is not the one I live in or see today.
I see an America where a black man has every opportunity to be president of the United States on Nov. 3, 2008, not just on Nov. 4, 2008. America did not go from terrible to great in one day of voting. I see an America that is and will always be the greatest place to live and work in the world. I am not just an optimist when I win elections.
Mr. Obama spoke of hope but described nonstop despair; he spoke of Red and Blue States as one, but worked to divide us economically; he says he will be everyone’s president but relentlessly ridiculed the current president.
I won’t act the way the partisan Democrats did toward President Bush. The way the liberals treated the 43rd president of the United States was sickening. The ugly comments, ridiculous innuendos and rumors that President Bush had to deal with during his two terms in office may have scored political points but it tore America apart. The all-accepting “liberal” party showed us they weren’t really all accepting and tolerant after all.
The last eight years were incredibly tough for this country: Sept. 11, 2001, two wars, natural disasters and a stock market crash. But there was President Bush in front of the White House after the election to welcome Barack Obama and promise a smooth transition.
As the current President stood in front of the cameras and committed to do everything he can to prepare Mr. Obama’s team, I wondered if Mr. Obama regretted spending $100 million in television commercials to ridicule and second-guess the current commander in chief. And I wonder how Rahm Emmanuel would react if the current White House staff stole the “o’s” from the computer keyboards the way his team stole the “w’s” from ours in 2000.
As we decide to not be sore losers, I hope the 65 million people who voted for Mr. Obama will not be sore winners.
Richard Grenell has just left the Bush administration after serving eight years as the spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.