May 13, 2018

Sunday School 5/13/18

Trying to get back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks of spring break here.

Today, I checked in on a couple of classrooms, starting with Fox News Sunday, where host Chris Wallace talked with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo, as you know, just returned from his second trip (but first as SecState) to North Korea, and brought with him three former prisoners - NOT hostages, as Wallace called them, repeating the error made by the president and others. 

For clarification, let's see what our friends at Merriam-Webster have to say about these two words, starting with the wrong one.

And, here is the correct term to describe the three folks who were released by North Korea.


Pompeo also spent time doing groundwork on the upcoming one-day summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un on June 12th. There was quite a bit of talk about the summit, relations between Trump and Kim, and related topics - no surprise there.  Wallace noted, that, other than Dennis Rodman, Pompeo had probably spent more time with Kim than any other American; Pompeo noted Rodman has way more rebounds.

They also talked about the Iran nuclear deal, discussions with our European allies, and trying to get something fixed there. Pompeo noted that Trump's withdrawal from the deal was not aimed at the Europeans, and that he had "worked hard over the short time" he's been SecState to fix things, and he will continue doing that.
My mission that I've been given by president Trump is to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect America. That's what we are going to do and I'll be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days.
Similarly, regarding peace in the Middle East, now that we're moving the shell of our embassy to Jerusalem on Monday,
So, the peace process is most decidedly not dead. We're hard at work on it. We hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well.
Perhaps the most noteworthy comments came in response to Wallace asking what the vision for the State Department is under Pompeo. After noting hopes that he hadn't peaked in the first two weeks, he continued (with emphasis added)
But it's pretty clear, we've got to go put the diplomatic team on the playing field. It should be the United States State Department that is at the front of American foreign policy, delivering solutions to solve America's problems without resorting to military force. And so, I'm going to build the team, we're going to get our swagger back, and the State Department will be out front in every corner of the world leading America's diplomatic policy, achieving great outcomes on behalf of president Trump and America.
Is it just me, or did that statement take a whole bunch of air out of the Jared Kushner sails? 

Why no, it's not just me. Here's a headline from

Perhaps the president will be going to Jared less often now? 

Where to next? CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper, who spoke with Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, who also talked about our leaving the Iran nuclear deal. Tapper asked him whether we were going to sanction European companies doing business with Iran. 

Bolton suggested that Europe would come along, while Tapper pointed out that was not consistent with what he was hearing from diplomats; they are planning on staying in the deal, rather than joining us. Here's Bolton's take on that.
And - they may try to do so, in - in part because, I think, despite the complete consistency of president Trump in his opposition to the deal, opposed to is as candidate Trump, opposed to it as president-elect Trump, opposed to it as president Trump, many people, including apparently former Secretary of State John Kerry thought that we would never get out of it.  Now, I don't know how to explain why people could miss what the president was saying. So I think, at the moment, there's some feeling in Europe that they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. 
I think that will sink in. 
On North Korea, Bolton seemed willing to give more details than Pompeo did in the Fox classroom; here are some of his comments.
So, on the denuclearizing side itself, that means all aspects of their nuclear program. Clearly, the ballistic missile program, as with Iran, with the intention of being a delivery system for nuclear weapons, that has got to go. I think we need to look at their chemical and biological weapons programs as well. The president is going to raise other issues, the Japanese abductees, the South Korean citizens who were kidnapped. There are a lot of issues to discuss...
Tapper's next guest was Vermont's Bernie Sanders, to talk about what the Democrats are facing in the midterm elections and 2020. And, since Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, I decided to weed my garden instead of listening to him.

See you around campus.

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