New START and the Helsinki Summit

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Jon Wolfsthal makes the case that the Helsinki summit is the right time to begin talks with Russia on extending New START:

The July 16 summit in Helsinki between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin presents a unique opportunity to reverse the dangerous nuclear competition between the United States and Russia and should be welcomed, despite its inherent risks. The opportunity to stabilize U.S.-Russian nuclear relations by extending New START, a key nuclear treaty that is set to expire in 2021, is paramount and worth the issues that come with any meeting between Trump and Putin.

Extending New START is in the best interests of both countries. The treaty is a continuation of the first strategic arms reduction treaty negotiated between the U.S. and USSR, and it was ratified in late 2010. It places important limits on the arsenals the world’s two largest nuclear weapons states, and its verification measures ensure a degree of stability and certainty in our relationship with Moscow. Allowing the treaty to lapse without a replacement would be a major error that could lead to a new arms race and further deterioration in U.S.-Russian relations. Extending the treaty is particularly important now that relations with Russia have reached one of their lowest points in decades. There is no good reason to let the treaty expire. As Wolfsthal notes, both the U.S. and Russia are in compliance with the treaty’s requirements. The treaty has done exactly what it was designed to do. It is in the national security interests of both states to make sure that the treaty remains in force.

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‘America Is the Whole Thing’: US Complicity in the Destruction of Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

PBS NewsHour aired the second of Jane Ferguson’s three reports on the war on Yemen earlier this week. Her first report can be found here. The second report focuses on U.S. support for the Saudi coalition:

One quote from the report stands out and sums up how many Yemenis see US involvement in the war. Ferguson quotes Dr. Ali Al Motaa:

The missiles that kill us, American-made. The planes that kill us, American-made. The tanks, Abrams, American-made. You are saying to me, where is America? America is the whole thing.

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Another Saudi Coalition Wedding Massacre in Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Saudi coalition slaughtered more Yemeni wedding-goers in another massacre today:

This is just the latest wedding massacre carried out by Saudi coalition forces. The coalition has illegally treated all of Saada as a military target for three years, and it has routinely struck civilian targets ever since. U.S. military assistance to the coalition enables attacks like this one, and it has not made coalition attacks any less likely to hit civilian targets. On the contrary, by providing the coalition with unconditional backing for its campaign and refusing to criticize them for their war crimes the U.S. makes attacks on civilians a certainty. There is no excuse for providing weapons and fuel to governments that slaughter people in their homes, schools, markets, and during their wedding celebrations. That support must end, and it is long past time that Congress voted to end it.

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The War on Yemen and Pompeo’s Pathetic Propaganda

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Trump administration keeps desperately trying to shift the blame for the catastrophe in Yemen away from the Saudi coalition and the U.S.:

The administration has consistently focused on the small Iranian role in Yemen and exaggerated its importance while doing everything possible to cover for the Saudis and Emiratis at the same time that the U.S. has aided and abetted their bombing campaign and the many war crimes they have committed. Even now that the coalition is launching an offensive on the major port of Hodeidah that serves the vast majority of the population, the U.S. is not calling them out for their destabilizing and destructive activities. Instead of condemning the coalition for putting millions of Yemeni lives in jeopardy, the U.S. helps them to attack their impoverished neighbor. Instead of using its influence with these governments to rein in their abuses and alleviate the civilian population’s suffering, the U.S. gives them carte blanche, never criticizes them even when they massacre wedding-goers and refugees, and goes out of its way to fault one of the few governments in the region that isn’t attacking Yemen for the country’s miserable state.

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A ‘Peace Plan’ That Has Nothing to Do With Peace

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Philip Gordon and Prem Kumar explain why Kushner’s worthless “peace plan” has no chance of winning Palestinian support:

His administration has offered unconstrained support for settlements, with an ambassador who has fought against use of the word “occupation” and refers to “Judea and Samaria,” as favored by Israeli settlers, instead of traditional U.S. references to the West Bank. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Palestinians stopped talking to the administration. It is hard to see how the United States under Trump will ever be seen as an honest broker, or be able to go around Abbas, when two-thirds of Palestinians oppose the resumption of contacts with U.S. negotiators and 88 percent view the United States as biased in favor of Israel [bold mine-DL].

Reviving negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians would be difficult at the best of times, but it certainly isn’t going to succeed when an openly pro-settler, hard-line American administration is the one behind the effort. The Trump administration’s approach to this conflict is typical of the president’s warped view of diplomacy. He thinks that diplomacy amounts to issuing ultimatums and making threats, and he expects that the other side can be forced into yielding everything if enough pressure is applied. The president has no capacity for empathy with the other side’s position, and it probably wouldn’t matter if he did. Because he doesn’t think it is possible to have a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more parties, he assumes that others have to lose in order for him to get a “good” deal.

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A Worthless ‘Peace Plan’ for Israel and Palestine

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The Trump administration is pressing ahead with its worthless “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine:

Asked by the newspaper’s editor, Walid Abu-Zalaf, about an Abbas spokesman’s dismissal of Mr. Kushner’s trip as a “waste of time” that was “bound to fail,” Mr. Kushner said he believed Palestinian leaders were “saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it.”

There is no chance that Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza will like anything the Trump administration has to offer. That shouldn’t have to be said, but I suppose it has to be when the press is talking about this farce of a “peace plan” as if it were a serious proposal. The U.S. has never been an “honest broker” between the Israelis and Palestinians, and Trump has made a point of emphasizing that this administration is extremely biased against the latter. From moving the US embassy to Jerusalem over Palestinian objections to covering for Israeli crimes against protesters in Gaza, the Trump administration has been very clear that it couldn’t care less what any Palestinians think about anything.

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