February 24, 2019

Sunday School 2/24/19

Just one classroom today, CNN's State of the Union, primarily because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on, and I wanted to hear what he had to say about all of the foreign policy stuff going on, including the president's upcoming visit with Kim Jong Un and what's going on in Venezuela. 

That's where the conversation started.

Jake Tapper asked Pompeo what he meant by his statement that
The US will take action against those who oppose peaceful restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
Pompeo said that our policy is clear, that we support the people there and that we'll continue to do so, but as to specific actions, he said that would be addressed by the Lima Group this week, and,
There's more sanctions to be had. There's more humanitarian assistance, I think, that we can provide. I think we will find other ways to make sure that food gets to the people who need it... We will ultimately, I believe and the Venezuelan people will, ultimately, I believe, hold accountable those who have done so much harm to the fundamental basic rights of the people of Venezuela.
Tapper mentioned some of what the skeptics are saying,  including the suggestion that we are using humanitarian aid as a political tool. Pompeo said we where there are the request of the 'legitimate president' of the country, who asked for our help and helping was "our objective yesterday. It's our objective today. It will be our objective tomorrow as well." 

When Tapper said it seemed Maduro was not going anywhere, he was holding on to power and that it seemed the military was holding with him, Pompeo had a personal response to that. 
It always seems that way, until the day it doesn't. I remember when I was a young soldier patrolling the then East German border. No one predicted on that day in 1989 that that wall would come crumbling down. Predictions are difficult... I am confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro's days are numbered. 
Here are some of the other highlights of the interview, starting with North Korea.
  • On what would be considered a measure of success, that would be a 'big step' in the right direction:   "We have got to work to do on the denuclearization pillar. There are many things he could do to demonstrate his commitment to (that)."
  • On whether he believes that North Korea is still a nuclear threat, even though  the president tweeted, that "There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea" after the first summit: "Yes." And he added that the president meant that the risk was lower than it was before and that "It's the mission of the Secretary of State and the president of the United States to keep the American people secure.We're aiming to achieve that."
  • On whether denuclearization is still a condition for sanction relief, as Pompeo had said previously: There's been no change in policy. "...these sanctions cover a broad array of activities. The core economic sanctions, the sanctions that prevent countries from conducting trade, creating wealth for North Korea, those sanctions are definitely going to remain in place."
  • Final note on North Korea: "I have had these conversations. I have been with Chairman Kim, I think, more hours now than anybody, including Dennis Rodman.
Moving to Russia:
  • On Putin's threat to respond by pointing missiles at us if we put any more of our missiles in Europe: "Lots of bluster out of Moscow, for sure. I think that bluster is aimed at covering up the core challenge, right?" - our decision to leave the INF treaty.
  • Pompeo says the Russians violated it, and it made no sense for us to stay in it if they weren't going to abide by it. "His bluster is aimed at trying to convince the world, to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe, when everyone's fully on board. The Europeans were fully supportive of our decision. And we will move forward together in ensuring the security of the United States people."
And Israel:
  • On Prime Minister Netanyahu's outreach to an extreme right-wing Jewish group, which Tapper noted had been condemned by several Jewish American groups, and whether the Trump administration had any concerns: "...the United States' relationship is with Israel. We're not about to get involved in the election, to interfere in an election of a democracy...we will allow the Israeli people to sort this out and I'm confident that, when the election is over, the United States will continue to have a strong, important, very, very deep relationship with Israel that protects the American people and benefits Israel as well."
  • The follow up, whether it was the responsibility of an ally to reach out and say when you think the prime minister is doing something wrong, that "violates the values of that relationship and the values of the Jewish state," Pompeo answered "This administration has been very vocal when we see human rights violations wherever we find them. Friends, foes, adversaries, allies, we have been very consistent... We will certainly continue to do that..."
And finally, both last and least, Tapper let us know that Sean Spicer, the president's former press secretary and Communications Director, is now a correspondent for "Extra."

See you around campus.

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