Posts tagged with "International affairs"

Going nowhere fast? Trump and Bolton tell different stories on Syria

January 8, 2019

On Monday morning, January 7, President Donald Trump clapped back against reports that National Security Adviser John Bolton had contradicted him the day before during an interview from Israel. While Bolton said that American troops would be withdrawn from Syria at “a proper pace,” and that “objectives” must be achieved before that happens, the president continued to insist that the United States would pull out of the war-torn country immediately.

Referring to a story in The New York Times in which Bolton “told reporters that American forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of the Islamic State were defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the United States,” Trump shot off a tweet, saying:

The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!…..”

The “original statements”—about which Trump refused to backpeddle—were made in December. At that time the president emerged from a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and abruptly announced that he was pulling U.S. troops out of Syria—without consulting with the Defense Department, the U.S. Congress, or America’s longtime allies.

The move prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as strong rebukes from several Republican lawmakers.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the president actually has backed off on his original intent: While officials said Trump had initially ordered a 30-day departure, the White House later agreed to an exit within 120 days, which would permit troops more time to break down bases and safely remove equipment and personnel.

In another twist, Bolton also suggested that the United States might not withdraw all American forces after all, and instead could leave some at a garrison in southeast Syria, the Post said.

Research contact: @SangerNYT

How tweet it is: Trump accuses China of sabotaging diplomacy with North Korea

August 31, 2018

President Donald Trump is playing the blame game again—and this time his target is Beijing. According to a report by The New York Times, on August 29, the POTUS tried to make China the scapegoat for his stalled diplomacy with North Korea—accusing the People’s Republic of undermining the U.S.-led pressure campaign against Pyongyang because of an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

In a series of late-afternoon tweets on @realDonald Trump—sent out under the headline, “Statement from the White House”— the president referred to himself in the third person, claiming, “President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government…

“At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities. This is not helpful,” he said.

He continued to tweet, “Nonetheless, the President believes that his relationship with {North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amount of money on joint U.S.-SouthKorea war games. Besides, the president can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea and Japan, if  he so chooses.”

He added a threat: “If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before. As for the U.S.-China trade disputes, and other differences, they will be resolved in time by President Trump and China’s great President Xi Jinping. Their relationship and bond remain very strong.”

The news outlet noted that, even as he was criticizing China, Trump reaffirmed his decision in June to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, saying they were costly and unnecessary, given his warm relationship with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

“While it was difficult to decipher the strategy behind the tweets,” the Times said, “the president appeared in part to be trying to dial back remarks made by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who opened the door [on August 29] to resuming the exercises.”

A Defense Department official told the Times that news reports that interpreted Mattis’s remarks as contradictory to the president’s had angered the White House.

Research contact: @MarkLandler