Diplomacy and Foreign Judges


June 13, 2018

Diplomacy and Foreign Judges

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http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Diplomacy-and-Foreign-Judges-151200.html

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Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the Hague – based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on November 20, 2017, as the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supported his case forcing the UK to accept the will of the majority and withdraw its candidate Christopher Greenwood for the post.Justice Bhandari is recipient of a Doctorate (h.c) from The University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh in 2018.

Could there be a keener pleasure than to sit around a fire and discuss diplomacy with a diplomat? Of course, there is no fire; just coffee, and that only in plastic cups, which nevertheless provides the fire, inside, instead of outside, but with the same cheering and relaxing power.

It’s after the coffee break at the ‘Education Institute’ and Ambassador Palihakkara has invited questions. “You said we cannot operate in isolation. But we have opposed the intervention of foreign judges in HR issues. As a diplomat how do you view this?” a student asks. Palihakkara makes it clear that he views it with disfavour, and concern and has no doubts that the same degree of disfavour would be forthcoming from every country, were such a thing suggested to them.

“I have probably spent around 20, 25 years at the HR Commission and the UN and Council and I have not seen a single country who wants foreign judges to come. I think the foreign judges are being suggested on the basis that the judiciary of that country is not independent. So if you show that your judiciary is independent, no one can ask foreign judges to come. Personally, I think having foreign judges will create more problems than solutions.”

If we are up to showing that our judiciary is independent, we can take a firm stand that our judiciary meets international standards. So we don’t need foreign Judges

Not everyone feels this way. I have met Sri Lankan patriots who feel differently. “I have always argued; how do we set up a credible mechanism to inquire into this, credible to the Tamils, credible to the rest of the world, and credible to ourselves? I don’t think you can do that exclusively with a local system. You need to bring credibility to the system you are setting up by bringing in an international panel of experts to preside over, but don’t lose control over the process. I think it can be done. Foreign judges are basically judges who will apply the law,” Godfrey Gunatilleke, Chairman Emeritus, Marga Institute said to me in 2015, when I interviewed him for Sunday Island.

Under the influence of that memory, I question Mr. Palihakkara. “I think this whole issue of being against foreign judges goes against the grain because there’s a huge credibility issue in countries like SL, third world countries. Credibility is only achieved when foreign assistance is obtained,” I begin coherently enough but muddy the waters somewhat by mentioning, Scotland Yard assistance, foreign coaches, foreign technical assistance as fait accompli arguments in favour of foreign judges.

“There is a distinction between technical assistance and judges,” Mr. Palihakkara asserts gently. He is all for getting foreign technical assistance for forensic and investigative activity and think it will enhance credibility and efficiency. “Getting foreign judges for judicial verdict is different.” Obviously, the former commissioner of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission feels strongly about this. Perhaps it’s a matter of national pride and honour, though the ambassador never puts it in such emotional terms. “There have been a lot of complaints about the judiciary, I agree with you. But we must rectify it here. We must allow the judges to work independently, not intimidate them. Politicians should stop telephoning them. Those are the things we must do. You can’t ask white gentlemen or ladies to come here and tell the judges that. You know our judges are literate people, educated, if they are allowed to work without telephone calls, intimidation and various other methods, they will work.”

Yes definitely national pride is an issue here. But not the only issue which plagues Mr. Palihakkara’s mind “If you have foreign judges, there will be conflict,” says this foreign service mandarin who became Foreign Secretary, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and retired as Governor of Northern Province. The idea of foreign judges according to Mr. Palihakkara generates too many open questions “Personally, I think having foreign judges will create more problems than solutions. How are the foreign judges going to operate? In conjunction with local judges or sitting in judgement of judgements delivered by local judges. Does our legal framework permit such things? Do we have to enact new legislation or is it possible to get the legislation through parliament? I remember in Cambodia they had foreign tribunals that was a failure. Some people criticized this for being a waste of UN money.”

You know our judges are literate people, educated, if they are allowed to work without telephone calls, intimidation and various other methods, they will work

Again, I have sat around a different fire and heard a different reaction to foreign judges, treating all anticipated problems as so much gristle to be cut away to reach the metaphorical meat- a solution to the credibility issues which would plague a purely domestic judicial process.

 “Hybrid as given in the OHCHR report suggests something in which foreign judges will be nominated by them like in Cambodia and Lebanon. We won’t have that. We won’t have UNHRC nominating our judges. The choice is ours. It won’t be hybrid in that sense. It will be hybrid in the sense that we will be bringing in international expertise to give credibility to this mechanism. I am with it,” Godfrey Gunatilleke had said sitting around our interview fire.

We won’t have UNHRC nominating our Judges. The choice is ours. It won’t be hybrid in that sense. It will be hybrid in the sense that we will be bringing in international expertise to give credibility to this mechanism

As I sit around this current fire and listen to Mr. Palihakkara, I am conflicted. How to break the deadlock between these two stances? What’s the clinching argument? What’s so wrong with foreign judges? If they will help bridge the trust deficit why not have them? What harm can they do, what danger do they inherently carry that no country will have them voluntarily? Can the trust deficit be addressed without incurring this sort of danger?

Yes, according to Mr. Palihakkara, if we are up to showing that our judiciary is independent, “we can take a firm stand that our judiciary meets international standards. So we don’t need foreign judges” If we don’t take this sort of firm stand, the ambassador cautions, “our local human rights problems get internationalised. Foreign judges mean you are internationalizing it.”

Yet resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 co-sponsored and presumably containing text pre-negotiated and agreed upon by Sri Lanka, “Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;”

 According to Mr. Palihakkara however, this resolution does not render us optionless by “mandating” foreign judges. “It’s not obligatory. It says having foreign assistance and judges would be important. So the option is left here”

The resolution being co-sponsored, doesn’t it mean that Sri Lanka too has affirmed the importance of the participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism of foreign judges? It would appear not, to judge by the curt repudiation of the idea by the President of Sri Lanka in his  January 21, 2016 interview with BBC Sinhala service, just months after Resolution 30/1. Displaying decisive body language and barely concealed impatience with even the suggestion of international participation or foreign judges in investigating HR violation allegations, the President stated that of the proposed measures by the UN HR Commission, they have to consider which would be in the government’s power to adopt and which they wouldn’t be able to implement. Admitting the government’s clear acceptance of investigations into allegations of HR violations, the SL Head of State was categorical that ensuring fairness in such investigations should be done within a domestic judicial process, in accordance with SL constitution and without the participation of foreign judges, because they had no intention of importing foreign judges to ensure fairness. He will never agree to such a thing. He has faith in the Sri Lankan judiciary and the investigating bodies and officers within the terms of the constitution and a domestic mechanism. Even seeming to reject foreign investigative and forensic assistance, the President denied the need to import anyone from anywhere else.

There are three things to remember about Resolution 30/1. It resulted from a collaborative approach; its text was worked out between USA, new government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, from a first draft by USA; and it was co-sponsored by SL.

SL seems to say, we are within our rights to reject those few recommendations that we were unhappy about at the time of the collaboration. As a resolution is not a treaty, we didn’t feel it was necessary to make a ‘delete-or else’ fuss about every point in the collaborated text

The SL interpretation of ‘collaboration and co-sponsoring’ seems to be that there is no need for a collaborator to endorse and take responsibility for every point in the final collaborative/co-authored text. As long as the majority of the points are endorsed and complied with by the co-sponsoring, collaborating party, a collaborator’s/co-sponsor’s obligations can be considered fulfilled. As all collaborated texts are essentially compromises, SL seems to say, we are within our rights to reject those few recommendations that we were unhappy about at the time of the collaboration. As a resolution is not a treaty, we didn’t feel it was necessary to make a ‘delete-or else’ fuss about every point in the collaborated text. What we meant by affirming our collaboration as a co-sponsor is simply that overall, on the whole, for the most part, we are with Resolution 30/1, while retaining the right to disassociate ourselves from the unacceptable bits.

Evidently, countries have their ways of working within the UN system. Palihakkara tells us about Cuba, “USA was trying to harass Cuba on the human rights count but they fought successfully against the UN resolutions because they put in place in their own country, very efficient judicial and law enforcement measures. And eventually the USA had to withdraw those resolutions from the Human Rights Council.”

Sri Lanka’s difference I think to myself, seems to be that we don’t fight against the USA led UN resolutions. We collaborate with them and co-sponsor them so that when and if, we, like Cuba, put in place in our own country, very efficient judicial and law enforcement measures, USA can feel a warm glow that it was a partner, a stakeholder in that positive transformation. But then, didn’t USA feel a warm glow when Cuba was doing that, that it was USA resolutions that were driving positive change in Cuba? Apparently not. They would just have felt defeated with every resolution they had to withdraw.

Ambassador Palihakkara tells us that when he left New York in 2009, there was a USA sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly, proposing an embargo against Cuba that only four out of the 193 UN member states supported. Cuba achieved this according to Mr. Palihakkara through the stance: “In our country, we may be poor but we don’t have torture, people don’t disappear. You can come and see.”

If we are ever able to take up such a stance, we won’t have defeated Resolution 30/1, we wouldn’t have defeated USA. But what will such ‘no defeating’ entail? The simplest way to make USA feel a warm glow could be to just do as it wishes. Is asserting our sovereignty within a collaborative approach harder than in a confrontational approach, where SL like Cuba would seek to defeat a UN resolution by proving positive things? These are things I don’t ask Mr. Palihakkara because it’s time to go home.

Malaysian Politics in 2018: Getting the Harapan House in order


January 7, 2018

Malaysian Politics 2018– Getting the Harapan House in order

by Nathaniel Tan @www.malaysiakini.com

The year 2017 closed out with debates about Pakatan Harapan’s candidate for Prime Minister.

This discussion touches at the very heart of the state of the opposition today, and what its prospects for GE14 are. The question is, of course, not a small one. Over the years, a great deal of power has come to be invested in the office of the Prime Minister. Ironically, a lot of this was achieved during the tenure of Dr Mahathir Mohamed, in the decades that he governed as Prime Minister.

Since as things stand, the Prime Minister has the power to make most of the important decisions in the country – almost all by himself – it seems reasonable to expect a clear answer with regards to who a coalition would like to put forward as Prime Minister, should they win the elections.

In this, we must sadly admit a great advantage lies with BN.From day one, there has been absolutely no doubt whatsoever that BN’s candidate for Prime Minister is the incumbent, Najib Abdul Razak (photo).

Especially since the removal of his former deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, every echelon of the UMNO and BN hierarchy has been of one voice on this matter.

Love him, or hate him, there is no question in anyone’s mind that Najib Razak will become Prime Minister should BN win the elections.

While they got off to a decent enough start, the Perak government was soon wrested in 2009, and the Kajang Move (thanks to Rafizi Ramli) threw the Selangor government into disarray – breaking the back of Pakatan Rakyat, and causing a split whose reverberations continue to be felt today.

Former Menteri Besar of Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim

These conflicts speak to the very heart of governance and stability. A certain amount of growing pains can be tolerated, but when this degenerates into full-on squabbling over the highest position of power – as evidenced in the Selangor crisis – then any illusion of stability is shattered.

In politics, there aren’t many opportunities to create a first impression. Had the Selangor crisis been about clear-cut corruption, or some other type of scandal backed up by irrefutable evidence, the story could have been different.

As it is, bad excuses were made to cover up what one couldn’t help but assume was a simple power grab and a mud-fight over resources. Extrapolating from this to federal power can conjure up scary images of chaos and destructive instability.

Where UMNO -BN is strong

Even as we seek to topple UMNO and BN, it would be foolhardy not to acknowledge their strengths. Failure to do so will condemn any attempt to defeat them.

It must be noted that while not every UMNO Deputy President has become president – a fact Muhyiddin, Anwar Ibrahim and others are all too familiar with – there has not been a single individual who has become UMNO President, and thus Prime Minister, without being the Party Deputy president first.

UMNO, for all its racism, bigotry, and corruption, can point to this as a history of relative stability – not forgetting, of course, the many deputies that didn’t make it, and the harm created when they rebelled.

The opposition should perhaps look to establish a similar history of internal stability, instead of grasping clumsily at every general election.

The best front the opposition was able to put up was probably in 2013, when the opposition had what seemed to be a viable coalition representing a wide and representative cross-section of Malaysian society, with a clear and (publicly) undisputed candidate for PM.

We didn’t win, but we did do better than ever before. Instead of staying the course though, short-sightedness brought everything crashing down prematurely.

Falling between chairs

As a result, Harapan finds itself in quite an awkward position, falling perhaps, between multiple chairs. They do not have a clear, obvious choice for candidate for PM. If they did, we wouldn’t be having the controversy we have now.

Going into GE14, they’ll have to make the best of what they have, and the Mahathir-Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail combination is as good as any I suppose (although it is unclear why they would thereafter want to move Wan Azizah out of Permatang Pauh).

Observers have been right to point out that an “interim PM” arrangement is both far from ideal and fraught with potential risk. That said, the best Harapan can do, all things considered, is simply to decide on a plan, and stick to it.

In this case and at this stage, better an early commitment to an imperfect plan, than ongoing waffling over trying to find a perfect plan – one which, if not obvious by now, likely doesn’t exist. Said waffling is itself probably doing more damage to Harapan’s prospects than anything BN can do at this point.

Getting fit for future

At the end of the day, and at the beginning of a new year, we find ourselves with the cards we’ve been dealt, and we’ll have to play them the best we can for GE14, regardless.

As we look beyond the next election though, and onwards to the next generation – as aspiring statespersons should – we should perhaps be more conscious of whether we are putting the cart before the horse.

My uncles used to say that you don’t play squash to get fit, you get fit to play squash.

Perhaps the key to defeating BN some day is not to keep flinging things randomly until we find something that sticks, but to establish an alternative institution on strong principles, and to focus on strengthening that institution and its principles before obsessing about winning elections.

NATHANIEL TAN would like to wish everybody love, positivity, courage, and all the very best for 2018.

The Worldview from Cambodia


October 3, 2015

The worldview from Cambodia

by Chheang Vannarith

http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5083558/the-worldview-from-cambodia/

The Cambodian government, under the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), is striving to adjust its foreign policy and adapt itself to the fast-changing global geopolitics and geo-economics.

Addressing the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn underlined two key terms: multipolar world and complex interdependence.

“Today, our multipolar world has gained its prominence in global affairs, causing chaos and turbulence as competition between the major powers is becoming more confrontational,” Mr Sokhonn said.

“We are more interdependent, but more unequal; we are more prosperous, and yet millions are inflicted with poverty,” he added.

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In terms of the global economic system, there are more than two growth poles. A growth pole refers to an economy that significantly drives global growth, mainly through international trade and investment, capital flows and the spillover effects of innovation, technology and knowledge.

Emerging economies, especially BRICS economies including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are transforming the global economy. The Asia Pacific region has become the centre of gravity of the world economy.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the new engine of an emerging new global economic order. The BRI will also significantly affect the global geopolitical landscape. The question is time. How long will it take China to realise this grand strategy to project its global power?

Global power shifts or transitions, as historical facts have shown, usually lead to conflicts or wars. According to the “Thucydides Trap” theory, it is forecast that China, the rising power, and the US, the status-quo power, will inevitably clash.

How can the “Thucydides Trap” be avoided? China has proposed “a new type of major power relations”, but it failed to convince the US. Trust deficit is the main stumbling block in China-US bilateral ties.

The West is relatively declining. The two black swan events, the Brexit vote in the UK in June 2016 and the election of Donald Trump to the White House in the US in November 2016, have damaged the global role and image of the West.

The Western values of liberal democracy are adversely affected as well. President Trump has attacked the freedom of the press by calling them “fake news” and alleged some journalists as “truly dishonest people”.

Rising protectionism and inward-looking political leadership puts the future of the West in an uncertain and dangerous path. Widening socio-economic inequality is partially due to the implementation of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, in which corporate governance is focusing on shareholders, not stakeholders.

Amidst global power shifts, Cambodia is softly going with China, while slightly hedging through a strategic and economic diversification strategy. The good Cambodia-Japan partnership is a case in point explaining Cambodia’s hedging strategy.

There are three reasons explaining Cambodia’s view of China. First, China gives a core “back up” to Cambodia’s ruling elites to counterbalance the pressures from the US and its allies relating to democracy and human rights.

The ruling CPP gives priority to output legitimacy, which is defined in terms of peace, political stability and economic growth than input legitimacy, which is defined in terms of free and fair elections and people’s participation.

Hence the ideals of liberal democracy as understood and practiced by the West are deemed not yet appropriate for Cambodia. Power politics, the survival of the fittest, remain the characteristics of Cambodian politics

Second, Cambodia stands to benefit from China’s economic powerhouse, especially in infrastructure development, foreign direct investment, tourism and trade. China is now the top donor and investor in the kingdom.

Third, China offers an effective balancing force against two big neighbours – Thailand and Vietnam – which are perceived as “historic predators”.

Cambodia “views its immediate neighbours, Vietnam and Thailand, as historic predators of Khmer territories, and China as playing a pivotal role in ensuring its own survival”, wrote Edgar Pang, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Similarly, Terrence Chong, from the same institute, argues that “Cambodia’s fear that Vietnam and Thailand’s growing economic superiority will threaten its sovereignty has been a key reason for its embrace of China”.

Cambodia believes that complex interdependence, especially economic interdependence, will prevent major powers from going to war. Economic interest is the most decisive factor in foreign policy formation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in 2015: “Relations between the US and China are extremely important for the Asia-Pacific. Washington and Beijing are conscious of their complex interdependence and have been building mechanisms across their bilateral relationship to help manage their relations.”

Cambodia also stresses the critical role of ASEAN in maintaining regional peace and order by strengthening regional multilateral institutions and cooperation. Maintaining and strengthening the central role of ASEAN in shaping the evolving regional architecture serves regional common interests.

“Cambodia will continue to join hands with all ASEAN member states in the common endeavour to strengthen the community that is highly integrated, resilient, inclusive, people-oriented and people-centered for the sake of peace and prosperity of our region and the world at large,” wrote Mr Sokhonn in August this year.

Cambodia’s worldview can be understood as the following: First, a multipolar world is in the making. Second, the West is declining and the global power balance is shifting in favour of emerging economies, especially China.

Third, complex interdependence is the foundation of peace given it restrains major powers from going to war against each other. Fourth, multilateral institutions, especially Asean, play a crucial role in maintaining peace and promoting prosperity.

Chheang Vannarith is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.


September 21, 2017

Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.

In a bellicose address at the United Nations, Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man,” and baffled veteran American diplomats. Photograph by Spencer Platt / Getty

On Tuesday, Donald Trump made his début on the world stage—on the same elegant green-marble dais, donated by Italy after the Second World War, that he had mocked in a 2012 tweet as ugly. “The 12 inch sq. marble tiles behind speaker at UN always bothered me,” Trump wrote. “I will replace with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me.” Trump’s thoughts about the United Nations were bigger—and badder—this time around.

“Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell,” Trump declared. He vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if it didn’t abandon its nuclear weapons and the intercontinental ballistic missiles that deliver them. He came close to calling for regime change in “reckless” Iran, for policies that “speak openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.” Trump called the nuclear deal—brokered by all the veto-wielding nations of the world body—“an embarrassment” to the United States, implicitly insulting the European allies that initiated the effort and the Security Council, which unanimously endorsed it. He implied a willingness to use military action in Venezuela “to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.” He blasted Cuba and took sharp digs at China and Russia.

The President also delivered a few campaign-style zingers—like his pledge to “crush loser terrorists.” About North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump pronounced, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Trump reportedly insisted, over aides’ objections, that he keep the reference to the Elton John song in his speech. The line is sure to become part of U.N. lore—along with the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s quip, in 1987, “Remember, President Reagan, Rambo only exists in the movies,” and the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s insult, the day after George W. Bush’s 2006 U.N. speech, “The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still.”

For a body more accustomed to nuanced diplomatic speak, and now yearning for leadership in an unsettled world, Trump’s bellicose speech was his America First doctrine on steroids. Indeed, he opened his remarks to leaders from almost two hundred countries with a litany of his achievements since Election Day. “Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been,” he boasted.

One of Trump’s most curious and convoluted themes—in an increasingly interconnected and globalizing world—was the need for greater sovereignty. “The nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition,” he said. The subtext was that walls, along every nation’s borders, were the keys to prosperity and international security.

The line baffled veteran American diplomats. “The President kept talking about sovereignty as if it were imperilled,” Richard Haass, the current president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the head of the State Department’s policy-planning staff under the George H. W. Bush Administration, told me. “The last I checked, we still have a veto at the U.N. We set our own limits in the Paris climate pact. No one is forcing us to adhere to trade agreements. It seemed to me it was something of a red herring. U.S. sovereignty is not imperilled. It’s an odd emphasis at the U.N., where our goal is to generate collective effort against common problems. It seemed to me inherently contradictory.”

The tenor throughout Trump’s forty-minute speech was contrary to many of the trends of the twenty-first century. He advocated ideas that other nations either find suspect or shun outright. Trump ignored the fact that he needs the world right now more than the world needs (or wants) him. Saying that the United States is gaining military muscle no longer means that Washington gains more leverage. Power has been redefined and defused, as have the threats of the era.

“The defining challenges of the twenty-first century are global in nature,” Haass said. “That is what was missing—whether proliferation or terror or climate change or hacking or democratic disruption. A pinched approach to sovereignty is inadequate.”

Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, a risk-consulting firm, told me that the long-term fallout from Trump’s speech may be to accelerate the identity politics and anti-globalization sentiments that fuel so many of today’s conflicts. The world, he said, has been headed toward a “geopolitical recession,” a period of instability featuring setbacks to globalization and international coöperation. Weakened global institutions that can’t respond quickly or effectively to challenges increase the prospects for more wars. Trump’s unilateralist rhetoric is “facilitating a faster unwind, and that’s a dangerous thing,” Bremmer said.

Trump’s patronizing language at the U.N. was a stark departure from the policies of America’s two other twenty-first-century Presidents. George W. Bush’s strategy emphasized the promotion of democracy and nation-building, while Barack Obama was big on human rights, global outreach, and resolving old tensions.

“Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world,” Trump said. “We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.”

The question is whether Trump, in his speech, went too far—and scared too many—to generate the kind of collaboration that he needs to achieve the very foreign-policy goals he outlined.

The President’s threat “won’t make Kim Jong Un quiver in his boots and give up his nukes,” Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in Washington, told me. “To the contrary, it will reinforce his determination to have nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deter the U.S.” America’s allies also now have to worry, he added, that Trump’s belligerent words will make Pyongyang even more dangerous.

The same is true of his condemnation of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the clunkily named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the most significant nonproliferation agreement in more than a quarter century. “Nobody in the room, save Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, will have been pleased by Trump’s denunciation of the J.C.P.O.A.,” Fitzpatrick said. The consequences of abandoning the Iran deal, he noted, could also backfire in relation to North Korea. “Denouncing a deal that all other parties are upholding will certainly not make North Korea any more disposed toward striking a deal with the United States over its nuclear program.”

Trump’s speech infuriated the Iranians. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times-not the 21st Century UN -unworthy of a reply. Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one.”

Key players didn’t even show up for Trump’s début. President Xi Jinping, of China, didn’t come to New York to build on the relationship started over dinner at Mar-a-Lago, in April. Trump is dependent on China to deal with North Korea—and Xi is unlikely to make the grand gestures required to force the “Rocket Man” to surrender his deadliest weapons. For all that is at stake between Washington and Moscow, President Vladimir Putin didn’t bother to attend, either. Trump needs Russian help to tighten the squeeze on Pyongyang through U.N. sanctions.

Angela Merkel, now the de-facto champion of the West, also stayed home, occupied by the run-up to a crucial election. The Germans are outspoken about their commitment to the Iran nuclear deal—and have said so, bluntly, to the Trump Administration. Despite closer ties with Saudi Arabia forged during Trump’s first foreign trip, neither the King nor the Crown Prince came to New York. As at Trump’s Inauguration, the crowd at this opening of the United Nations may not have been as large as the President had hoped.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani Latest Speech At UNGA United Nations | 20 Sept 2017–A Rebuttal to Donald Trump

 

Why China won’t push North Korea into a corner of isolation


September 20, 2017

Why China won’t push North Korea into a corner  of isolation–It’s a Question of Trust

by Evan Osnos

http://www.newyorker.com

It is a question of trust–Chinese Leaders trust Trump less than the Rocket Man of North Korea.

At the center of the North Korean nuclear crisis is a pivotal question: How much is China really willing to pressure and punish its longtime ally in Pyongyang? Recent conversations in Beijing and Washington suggest that Chinese leaders have decided to increase pressure substantially but are not—and probably never will be—willing to help President Trump strangle North Korea into submission. China doesn’t trust Kim Jong Un—but it trusts Trump even less.

For decades, China backed North Korea in hostilities with the United States. The fellow Communist armies had fought alongside one another in the Korean War, and North Korea still relies on China for as much as ninety per cent of its overseas trade. In Chairman Mao’s analogy, the two nations were as close as “lips and teeth.” But that is no longer true; since taking power, in 2011, Kim Jong Un, who is suspicious of China’s efforts to control North Korea or spur it to follow its model of economic reform, has openly antagonized the government in Beijing, including launching rockets that would embarrass the Chinese leadership. (Earlier this month, Kim fired a rocket just as Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, was opening an annual summit of developing countries in the Chinese city of Xiamen.)

By several measures, Chinese leaders have become more willing to get tough with Kim. Until recently, Chinese intellectuals rarely questioned China’s commitment to North Korea. But, in March, Shen Zhihua, one of China’s best-known experts on the Korean War, said, in a speech, “We must see clearly that China and North Korea are no longer brothers-in-arms, and in the short term there’s no possibility of an improvement in Chinese-North Korean relations.” The speech circulated widely, without much in the way of official censorship—a sign, to many Chinese analysts, that some of the country’s leaders agree.

When I met Shen last month, in Beijing, he told me, “I think more and more leaders share this view. At a minimum, they think that multiple views should exist.” Shen is a calm, silver-haired scholar who works in a research center at East China Normal University, in Shanghai. As a historian, he believes that long-standing tensions between Beijing and Pyongyang are becoming irreparable. “Officially, they tried to paper over the cracks, but the differences were inevitable,” he said.

Image result for The Rocket Man of North Korea is on a suicide mission

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”–President Donald Trump at The United Nations

Shen does not speak for the leadership or advise powerful officials. Rather, his views should be understood as a reflection of the change that is under way in the Chinese establishment. Of North Korea, he said, “I think China doesn’t care who is running the country. Xi and Kim have not met. It used to be a tradition if there is a new leader, to meet him. But not now.” Fundamentally, he said, some have come to believe what was once anathema—that North Korea could one day turn its aggression on China: “Many in China don’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons are, first, threatening to China.”

I wondered if Shen was expressing a minority view. When I met Zhao Tong, who specializes in nuclear issues as a fellow at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, I asked him about Shen’s speech. “I think most people would broadly agree,” Zhao said. “It’s not a warm relationship of ‘brothers.’ ” Given that North Korea has continued to test nuclear weapons in the face of Chinese protests, he said, China would not feel automatically compelled to defend North Korea under their mutual-assistance treaty. “Most Chinese would laugh at the proposal that China should provide security guarantees,” he said.

Zhao ticked off examples of China’s new pressures on Pyongyang: “China has stopped coal imports. That’s a big step. It’s stopped supplying diesel and gas. That’s a big step. It has tightened regulations on companies and financial institutions, and the big ones have stopped doing business with North Korea. It’s the smaller ones that are motivated by narrow interests and are still doing business. China has enhanced inspections of goods at the border. They made efforts to help private-sector companies strengthen their export-control practices.”

But, importantly, Zhao added that it would be a mistake to misread those steps as China signing on, wholesale, to American efforts to force North Korea to the edge of collapse—a tactic, favored in Washington, known as “strategic strangulation.” “No, it’s just balancing Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Zhao said. “The reason China agreed to much tougher sanctions is to calm Trump down.” China has strategic tensions of its own with the U.S., so it is keeping both countries off balance. “It’s basically, ‘Who is the bigger evil?’ For China, the U.S. is always the top geostrategic concern, the top threat.”

Zhao notes that the U.N. sanctions against North Korea that were passed on August 5th, which China supported, stopped short of seeking to undermine trade and humanitarian activities. “They are trying to draw a line between North Korea’s military program and civilian trade. To put more pressure on North Korea, without undermining it. China has been taking the incremental approach,” he said. In Zhao’s view, even though China has agreed to limit oil exports to North Korea, it is unlikely to cut them off entirely, which the Trump Administration believes is a vital step to change Kim’s behavior. “If China remains the sole supplier, meaning Russia won’t step in, I think China would find it very hard to do that,” Zhao said.

There are hard limits to China’s willingness to advance American interests in Asia, because the two powers have deep disagreements—about trade, contested territory in the South China Sea, and Taiwan. As the North Korea crisis has escalated, China has urged the U.S. to consider offering North Korea a deal known as “freeze for freeze,” in which the North would halt further tests if the U.S. halts or reduces joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan—exercises that China resents as well. “I think some Chinese are secretly hoping the North Korean position can actually help drive the U.S. forces away from the Korean Peninsula,” Zhao said. “It is in China’s interest if, in the mid-to-long term, the North Koreans can have a deal with the United States where the U.S. reduces troops or reduces its exercises.”

In recent years, overly hopeful U.S. politicians and commentators have repeatedly misunderstood China’s views of North Korea and assumed that Beijing was, at last, turning against its irksome ally. In private meetings with President Obama, and later with President Trump, Xi has repeated a bottom-line principle about North Korea: “No war. No chaos. No nukes.” A former U.S. official, who was at several of those meetings, told me, “Every American senior official that I know hears, ‘Blah, blah, blah—no nuclear weapons.’ And thinks, ‘Oh, we agree! Excellent!’ So the Chinese ought to be willing to limbo under this bar for us. But, no, that’s third in the list of three strategic priorities. The first two are avoiding war on the Korean Peninsula, and avoiding chaos and collapse.” In that spirit, China has sought to limit the scope of U.S.-backed sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In the latest round, earlier this month, China succeeded in forcing the U.S. to drop its pursuit of a full oil blockade, which China fears would drive North Korea to collapse.

Nothing worries Chinese officials more than the following scenario: the U.S. uses harsh sanctions and covert action—and possibly military strikes—to drive North Korea close to the point of regime collapse. In turn, Pyongyang lashes out with violence against America or its allies, sparking a full-blown war on China’s border, just as China is trying to maintain delicate economic growth and social stability. Xi, in separate sessions, has offered Obama and Trump the same Chinese adage in reference to North Korea: “When a man is barefoot, he doesn’t fear a man with shoes.” In other words, even if attacking America would be suicide for North Korea, if it sees nothing left to lose, it just might do the unthinkable. For that reason, China, above all, wants the U.S. to avoid backing Kim into a corner from which he has no exit.

Trump is fervently seeking China’s coöperation, but, ironically, his rhetoric and aggression may be putting that further out of reach. On Sunday, Trump mocked Kim as the “Rocket Man.” Members of his Administration have repeated their openness to “military options,” despite projections that air strikes, or other attempts at targeted attacks, could spark a wider war. Chinese intellectuals have taken to joking that “Telangpu”—which is one of the Chinese pronunciations of Trump’s name—sounds like “te meipu,” which means clueless or lacking a plan. In recent months, Trump has alternately praised China and threatened it with a trade war. “I don’t understand Trump,” Shen, the historian, told me. “One day he is saying something good about Xi Jinping and the next he is criticizing him. Trump is becoming more and more of a problem. China is becoming more and more stable.”

President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly


September 19, 2017

President Donald Trump Addresses The United Nations General Assembly

Trump: “We are calling for a great reawakening of nations”

Trump concluded his UN speech by urging for a “great reawakening of nations” and a “revival of their spirits.”

“Now, we are calling for a great reawakening of nations. For the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people an their patriotism,” the President said. “History is asking us if we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve and a rebirth of devotion.”

Listen to The President of The United States of America at The United Nations. He said leaders must serve their people and let me know what you think. –Din Merican