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Venezuela wins seat on U.N. rights body despite opposition

18.10.2019 3:21

Philippe Bolopion, of Human Rights Watch, called Venezuela's election "undeserved" and "a slap in the face to the country's countless victims."

From: www.nbcnews.com

Americans want an end to forever wars. But that's not what Trump offers

18.10.2019 2:00


The president’s Syria withdrawal should be a warning to those too easily seduced by his erratic opposition to US foreign involvement‘Trump, of course, did not campaign as a principled anti-interventionist or anti-imperialist but as an amoral dealmaker, willing to pull the US out of entanglements deemed too costly or arrangements with allies deemed ungrateful.’ Photograph: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty ImagesThe American people are tired of war. After 18 years of continuous conflict – so long that fathers and sons have fought in the same war – fatigue and frustration with the exercise of US military force abroad pervade our political culture. This is not new. Nominally anti-war candidates have won the past three presidential elections. Indeed, one of the many perverse features of the 2016 campaign was that the strongest denunciation of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq came not from the Democrat on the debate stage but from Donald Trump. So seemingly indifferent to the painful toll of endless war was Hillary Clinton’s campaign that it could very well have cost her the election.Trump, of course, did not campaign as a principled anti-interventionist or anti-imperialist but as an amoral dealmaker, willing to pull the US out of entanglements deemed too costly or arrangements with allies deemed ungrateful. Yet he has governed, at least for the bulk of his term, much more like a conventional Republican than the flouter of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus he sometimes postured to be. Hawkish generals, neocons and hardcore Islamophobes have largely occupied the key policy-making positions in his administration. Instead of “ending endless wars”, as he has periodically pledged to do, Trump has mostly done the opposite: vetoing in April a resolution that would have ended US military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen; expanding US military presence in Saudi Arabia; and repeatedly risking armed conflict with Iran.It is a sad irony that Trump’s recent catastrophic decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria and approve Turkey’s invasion may be the closest his administration has come to substantially contravening the foreign policy establishment’s dictates and actually reducing US military presence abroad. The withdrawal from Syria is the exact opposite of principled anti-interventionism: incoherent, inconsistent and likely to imperil already vulnerable progressive and democratic forces. As Meredith Tax writes, it is a colossal betrayal of the Kurds, many of whom have fought and died alongside US troops trying to expel the Islamic State from their territory, and a terrible blow to the revolutionary experiment in Rojava, which has offered the international left a glimpse of a new political paradigm in practice.An unstrategic, chaotic move that has already taken innocent people’s lives, Trump’s Syria withdrawal should be a warning to those too easily seduced by the president’s erratic opposition to US foreign involvement – an orientation grounded in the mercenary logic of the protection racket, not respect for international law or a commitment to human rights. It is crucial not to confuse the president’s cruel calculus with a genuine commitment to ending protracted wars, regardless of what he might tweet.> It is crucial not to confuse the president’s cruel calculus with a genuine commitment to ending protracted wars, regardless of what he might tweetTrump’s Syria withdrawal should also serve as a reminder to liberals and leftists of the urgent need to articulate a strong alternative to the policies of imperial maintenance – a swollen defense budget, drone strikes and targeted assassinations – advocated by Democrats and Republicans alike as well as to the cruel, cynical foreign policy of Trump.This is a moral imperative: not only in light of US imperial maintenance’s direct human cost, felt most acutely by those whose countries and societies have been torn apart by US invasion or intervention, but also in light of what could be accomplished domestically by taking the substantial resources currently used to end lives abroad and reallocating them to improve and save lives at home through reinvestments in the country’s fraying social safety net.And, in the midst of a presidential election campaign, it is a political imperative. Trump’s re-election campaign may be mired in scandal and seemingly disorganized, but there is no doubt that Trump and his operatives understand the electoral benefits of an anti-interventionist posture; it worked for them before, and it could work for them again. The Syrian withdrawal should be understood with this in mind, as should Trump’s proposed drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan. After all, the places where it matters that loved ones have returned from active duty are places where the Democratic nominee will need to win if Trump is to be defeated.They will fail to do so if the Democratic foreign policy position is characterized by kneejerk defensiveness about the Obama administration’s foreign policy legacy (eg Joe Biden) or the pabulum of “American leadership” (eg Pete Buttigieg) that, in practice, means sending more US soldiers, and civilians, in countries around the world, to their deaths.Instead, the Democrats must put forward a vision of US foreign policy that pairs a principled opposition to endless wars with a commitment to begin a responsible, comprehensive pullback of US military presence abroad. Fears of a possible backlash to this are probably overstated. In ways not always intelligible as such, a war-weary people demands a respite. * Joshua Leifer is an associate editor at Dissent

White House acknowledges strings attached in Trump withholding Ukraine aid

18.10.2019 0:07

President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim - debunked as a conspiracy theory - about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.

From: feeds.reuters.com

Johnson Sells Brexit Deal to Parliament Before Knife-Edge Vote

18.10.2019 0:00


(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson is battling to sell his new Brexit deal to skeptical members of the U.K. Parliament ahead of a crucial vote on Saturday.The U.K. prime minister has no majority in the House of Commons but he needs to convince his own Conservatives, as well as opposition politicians to back the divorce accord he struck with the EU on Thursday. If he fails, the country will be on course to leave the bloc without a deal on Oct. 31, or to delay exit day for a third time.“This is our chance in the U.K. as democrats to get Brexit done,” Johnson told a press conference in Brussels on Thursday. “People want to move this thing on, it’s been going on for a long time.”He wouldn’t be drawn on what he would he do if he loses the vote.Defeat could unleash a political crisis unparalleled in modern times: despite EU leaders leaving open the possibility they could allow Britain more time to leave, Johnson has steadfastly refused to delay Brexit beyond Oct. 31. With any attempt to leave without a deal likely to face legal challenge, he may have to allow his plans to be put to voters in a general election, or even a second referendum.If he is to win Saturday’s vote, Johnson needs to secure the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which has categorically opposed the agreement he reached with the European Union on Wednesday. He is also seeking to woo reluctant members of his own side, and persuade opposition Labour politicians to back him, if he is to prevail.The parliamentary arithmetic is very tight, all the more so since the DUP said it is unable to support the accord. The loyalist party is opposed to Northern Ireland being treated any differently to the rest of the U.K.Under Johnson’s plans, the region would still be subject to some of the EU’s single market rules to mitigate the need for customs checks on the border with Ireland. That would, in effect, put a customs border in the Irish Sea.Will U.K. Parliament Back Boris Johnson’s Brexit? We Do the MathJohnson needs to pick up roughly 61 votes from a pool of about 75 Members of Parliament who might be persuaded to join him -- that will involve persuading hold-outs in his own party to come over to his side regardless of what the 10 DUP lawmakers decide.There are signs that some Tories who voted down his predecessor Theresa May’s deal -- among them Steve Baker, leader of the self-described “Spartan” group of hard-core Brexiters -- are falling into line.Johnson, too, is trying to win the support of a significant minority of MPs from the opposition Labour Party who believe the 2016 referendum result must be honored. To woo them, he is preparing to a package of measures, including protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards after Brexit.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a second referendum, saying in Brussels that Johnson’s deal -- which he described as a “sell-out” -- was worse than that put forward by May. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said her Scottish Nationalist Party will vote against the deal as well, complaining that it creates too great a separation from the EU.As attention swung toward the vote at Westminster, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker offered support to Johnson.“If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation -- that’s not only the British view, that’s my view too,” Juncker said. “He and myself we don’t think that it’s possible to give another prolongation.”Even if the decision over whether to grant an extension may not be his, by playing down the chances of another extension, Juncker is framing the vote in the House of Commons as a straight choice between Johnson’s deal or no deal -- just as the British leader has tried to do himself.That increases the pressure on undecided lawmakers in Westminster to back the government -- but it also raises the cost of failure dramatically.--With assistance from Ian Wishart, Jonathan Stearns, Viktoria Dendrinou, Nikos Chrysoloras, Helene Fouquet, Patrick Donahue, Dara Doyle, John Follain, Katharina Rosskopf, Tiago Ramos Alfaro, Milda Seputyte and Jan Bratanic.To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at [email protected];Kitty Donaldson in London at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at [email protected], Edward Evans, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Trump says he has a lot of confidence in acting chief of staff Mulvaney

17.10.2019 23:10

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he has a lot of confidence in his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after Mulvaney told reporters that Ukraine's investigation into the 2016 election was one of the reasons Washington had delayed aid to Kiev, before denying the White House had done that.

From: feeds.reuters.com

White House official denies Ukraine investigation into 2016 election was a condition for aid

17.10.2019 23:10

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said on Thursday that the White House had never required Ukraine to investigate the 2016 U.S. election in exchange for military aid, reversing comments he made earlier that day.

From: feeds.reuters.com

10/17/19: Red and Blue

17.10.2019 21:15

Mulvaney: Probing 2016 election was a factor in withholding Ukraine aid; Canada to hold federal election on Monday

From: feeds.cbsnews.com

Mulvaney: Probing 2016 election was a factor in withholding Ukraine aid

17.10.2019 20:55

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney undercut President Trump's claim that there was no quid pro quo in the decision to withhold aid from Ukraine. Jeff Mason, a White House correspondent for Reuters, Amber Phillips, who covers Congress for the Washington Post, and Christina Ruffini, a CBS News foreign affairs reporter, spoke to CBSN's "Red & Blue" about Mulvaney's comments, as well as the deal struck with Turkey on a ceasefire in Syria.

Mulvaney: Probing 2016 election was a factor in withholding Ukraine aid

17.10.2019 20:53

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney undercut President Trump's claim that there was no quid pro quo in the decision to withhold aid from Ukraine. Jeff Mason, a White House correspondent for Reuters, Amber Phillips, who covers Congress for the Washington Post, and Christina Ruffini, a CBS News foreign affairs reporter, spoke to CBSN's "Red & Blue" about Mulvaney's comments, as well as the deal struck with Turkey on a ceasefire in Syria.

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