US foreign policy

theguardian.com
Steve Bannon: 'We're going to war in the South China Sea ... no doubt'
Only months ago Donald Trump’s chief strategist predicted military involvement in east Asia and the Middle East in Breitbart radio shows
By Benjamin Haas

“ … The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East. … Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House. … ”

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This is why Bannon must be Taken Out, Immediately!

Phroyd

theguardian.com
Merkel says EU cannot completely rely on US and Britain any more
German chancellor tells election rally in Munich that Europe must take its fate into its own hands after ‘unsatisfactory’ G7 talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is tired of the UK and USA, deciding to encourage the EU to stand more on their own feet than rely on either the Americans or the British.

bbc.co.uk
Chelsea Manning Released from Prison

US soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from prison after serving seven years for leaking thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks.

A US Army spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that she had left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

Most of what remained of her 35-year sentence was commuted by then-US President Barack Obama in January.

Her lawyer earlier said she was excited but likely “anxious”.

“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” Nancy Hollander told the BBC. The 29-year-old soldier was born Bradley Manning.

A day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, Manning said she had felt female since childhood and wanted to live as a woman called Chelsea.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

bzfd.it
How A High School Reporter Scored An Interview With The US Secretary Of Defense
"Hi Jim"
By Talal Ansari

James Mattis, US Defense Secretary, rarely gives interviews to news outlets — and if he does, they’re not very long.

The retired four-star Marine Corps General pretty much dropped from the national spotlight as the Trump administration battles several investigations about whether aides colluded with Russia during the campaign. One official reportedly said, “He sees no value in having his name in the paper.”

The photo that revealed Mattis’ cell phone number.

So when he gave a student at the Mercer Island High School newspaper a 45-minute interview in late June that resulted in a nearly 6,000 word article — covering topics like ISIS and the differences between the Trump and Obama administrations — the big question was: How?

Teddy Fischer described the process to BuzzFeed News as “miracle after miracle.”

In May, Fischer, who will be a junior at the Seattle-area high school in fall, came across an article from the Washington Post about President’s Trump’s longtime bodyguard. The photo showed Trump’s bodyguard walking with a stack of papers, and on a yellow piece of paper was a Mattis’ cell phone number.

Fischer called the number. No one responded, and Fischer didn’t leave a message.

So he texted Mattis instead, stating who he was, that he was from Mattis’ home state, Washington, and that he was writing an article on US foreign policy. (Fischer wasn’t — at the time.)

Fischer saved the number in his phone as “Jim M.” A week later, while in his journalism class, Fischer looked down at his phone to see “Jim M’ calling.

"I didn’t think this would happen so when he called, I wasn’t ready. It was a little awkward because I think he was ready to do it right on the spot,” Fischer told BuzzFeed News.

Continue reading.

buzzfeed.com
The U.S. isn't providing visas to gay men seeking refuge from Chechen concentration camps
Around 40 survivors of the crackdown in Chechnya are in hiding in other parts of Russia, but can't find a safe country to take them in.
By J. Lester Feder

By now, you have probably heard that gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Russia are being kidnapped, tortured and killed in facilities that reportedly are comparable to concentration camps. Dozens of men are in hiding. 

Here’s part of the story you may not have heard: The Russian LGBT Network, an advocacy group that’s been helping Chechens escape, has been in touch with the U.S. embassy about securing visas for people trying to flee. While the U.S. hasn’t outright denied anyone yet, it has said in as many words that it will not be providing visas to Chechens trying to get out.

“We were informed there was no political will,” said the spokesperson, who asked her name be withheld because of security concerns. “They’re not going to provide visas. They’re going to support us in other ways, but not with visas.” […]

A US State Department spokesperson said on background that all visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and the Chechens are eligible to apply. But US law does not have a visa category that allows someone to come directly to the US because of threats in their home country. Unless their situation fell into an unrelated category — like if they had a job offer in the US or were being reunited with a family member — they would only be eligible for tourist visas that would require them to prove they would return to Russia.

“Nonimmigrant visa classifications and qualifications are set by U.S. law, as passed by Congress,” the spokesperson said. “There is no visa classification designated specifically for humanitarian relief.” […]

The Chechens are not eligible to apply to come to the US as refugees because they are still inside their native country — someone fleeing persecution generally can only be considered a refugee once they’ve left their country of origin. A Russia LGBT Network official said US diplomats recommended Chechens try applying to the US after leaving Russia, but he worried that this could jeopardize their ability to ultimately reach a safe country legally if that route failed. There is also a risk they could be returned to Russia on trumped up charges. Many of the foreign fighters who have joined groups like ISIS have come from Chechnya, leading to concerns about Chechen asylum seekers.

“They need refuge,” he said. “Not once did officials offer any specific solutions.”

Officials say they’re still looking for other ways that Chechens could come to the United States safely:

The Council for Global Equality, which advocates for LGBT rights in US foreign policy, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the organization was still hopeful an avenue could be found for the Chechens to come to the US despite the fact that the “Russian LGBT Network has been discouraged by their interactions with U.S. officials.”

“We believe there are still options available in extreme cases like this and we are in contact with Russian LGBT activists and US government officials to continue to explore those options,” the statement said. “We hope there is political will on the Hill and within the Administration to provide a safe haven in the United States for carefully vetted claims. As advocates, it’s our job to try to make that case here in Washington.”

Is this the “great again” America we were promised, Mr. President? Is this what greatness looks like to you?

theguardian.com
How Trump's foreign policy threatens to make America weak again
The president talks a tough game – but he has alienated allies. And the more he tries to assert US leadership, the less of a leadership role he plays
By Richard Wolffe

Donald Trump does not travel well. At his first major summit, he was too tired to walk through the Sicilian streets with the other G7 leaders, and took to his golf cart. He literally pushed aside the prime minister of a small European country to stand at the head of the pack. He found himself in a minority of one over the Paris climate accord, rejecting arguments that he was ceding world leadership to China.

In that line of thinking, I can’t help but feel “The US is responsible for everything bad” and “The US is a special, exceptional country that has always been a force for good” are two sides of the same coin.

They’re both extremely US-centric views which ascribe agency only to the United States, even though the former ostensibly aims to fight back against US imperialism. But isn’t it ironic both views see the US as the only force with historical agency? Everyone else is supposed to be sitting around waiting to receive US benevolence or malice. American exceptionalism still? No doubt the US is a military juggernaut, but if we really want to understand the various conflicts around the world, we really do have to get out of the mindset that everything is about what the US did or did not do. It needs a critical recognition that there are other countries or non-state actors with their own (sometimes equally unscrupulous) agenda. And US foreign policy interacts with that. 

medium.com
I’m Arab and Many of Us Are Glad That Trump Won
It’s not that we see Trump any differently. Trump is an egotistical racist misogynist who, in a rational world, shouldn’t be in any…
By Omar Kamel

“Throughout the campaign, Clinton supporters have turned a blind eye to her failings. Somehow they were more horrified by what Trump may do than what Clinton already has done.”

theguardian.com
America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama's reign | Medea Benjamin
According to new figures, the US dropped nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Dare we think how Donald Trump will continue this legacy?
By Medea Benjamin

Barack Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these majority-Muslim regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing. 

theguardian.com
Angela Merkel shows how the leader of the free world should act | Suzanne Moore
There’s a statesmanship – a vision, a morality and a core – to her that was thrown into sharp relief by Donald Trump’s shambling visit to Europe
By Suzanne Moore

Increasingly she is in a class of her own and watching her, one thought comes to mind: this is what strong and stable actually looks like.

Suzanne Moore assesses German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s international statesmanship in light of Donald Trump’s recent  trip to Europe.