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  • Minister: Turkish-US command room for northeast Syria active

    Turkey's official Anadolu news agency is quoting the country's defense minister as saying that a joint operation room with the United States has begun its activities as part of a deal for a safe zone in northeastern Syria. Hulusi Akar said Saturday two generals from Turkey and the U.S. were in charge of the center in the province of Sanliurfa and the first joint helicopter flights were to begin. Turkey wants to push U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish militias — which it considers terrorists linked to an insurgency at home — away from its borders.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 11:33:57 -0400
  • Corruption trial for Sudan's ex-president adjourns news

    The trial of Sudan's autocratic former president Omar al-Bashir on corruption and money laundering charges was adjourned for one week following testimony from several witnesses Saturday. Al-Bashir, who appeared in court in a cage, was ousted by the military in April after months of mass protests against his three-decade authoritarian rule. Sudan's new joint military-civilian council — formed earlier this week — has given no indication it will change the decision to keep al-Bashir in the capital, Khartoum, where he's been in custody.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 11:16:38 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson to tell Trump to de-escalate trade tensions

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he would tell President Donald Trump at this weekend's G7 summit to pull back from a trade war that is already destabilising economic growth around the world. Johnson and Trump are due to meet on Sunday morning for what are expected to be positive talks on their countries' future bilateral trade relations and Brexit, as well as covering international topics where the two sides do not see eye to eye, like Russia, the Iran nuclear deal and trade policy on China. Asked if he would be telling Trump he should not escalate the trade war with China, Johnson said "you bet".

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 11:04:02 -0400
  • Johnson Takes a Shot at Macron Over Mercosur Threat: G-7 Update news

    (Bloomberg) -- Group of Seven leaders are arriving in Biarritz, France, Saturday for two days of talks with tempers flaring on a range of issues from trade to climate.Must read:U.S. Thinks Macron Twisting G-7 to Hurt Trump, Win Favor at HomeBoris Johnson’s Long Journey From Trump Hater to Best FriendKey Developments:France thrusts climate at the top of agenda, and gets pushbackMacron isolated over threat to block Mercosur trade dealTrump and Macron have lunch but all is not well between themJohnson says he’ll have a word with Trump about his trade tariffsTrump tweets to a parody Macron account (5:15 p.m.)That twitter handle leads to a parody account. The mistake was spotted and fixed within a few minutes.Macron’s Idea: Europe should be cutting taxes (3:40 p.m.)Macron said European countries may use tax cuts to revive their growth. “We need need some new tools to relaunch our economies,” the French leader said in Biarritz in his opening remarks to Trump.Economy is on the first item on the menu for the G-7 on Sunday morning.Behind the Scenes, the U.S. Is Angry With Macron (3:10 p.m.)It may have all looked very nice and cordial over lunch but when Trump said that sometimes he and Macron “go at it” he might have been hinting at tensions bubbling in the background.U.S. officials are not at all happy with how France has conducted the organization of the summit -- they believe designed to embarrass the president on issues such as climate. They accuse the French of being difficult to deal with and that the original summit schedule said little of nothing on trade and the global economy.A French official responded that economy is the first item on the agenda and that ignoring climate change -- a topic Trump is allergic to -- would be like putting one’s head in the sand. Not an option. And as for the economy, another French official said it was in indeed in the first version of the schedule.At dinner tonight, Macron will be leading his introduction on the Amazon fires and calling for action. Trump’s facial expressions might be the most revealing sign of where those talks will go and indeed how explosive this summit will be.Johnson Takes a Pop a Macron’s Trade Threat (4:14 p.m.)U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined attacks on Macron for his threat to block the EU’s trade deal with the Mercosur nations of South America.“There are all sorts of people who will take any excuse at all to interfere with trade and to frustrate trade deals and I don’t want to see that,” Johnson told reporters as he arrived in Biarritz.Macron on Friday said he won’t ratify the trade accord sealed in June because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro can’t be trusted to honor his commitments on climate.Johnson Worries About Trade Dispute Hurting U.K. (3 p.m.)Boris Johnson has landed, and in comments made to reporters on the plane expressed concern that the U.K. could get sucked into a spiraling trade dispute, one that many Europeans blame Trump for escalating.“Those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy, irrespective of whether or not that is true,” Johnson said in carefully chosen words that point to his predicament of walking the line between nurturing his relationship with Trump, but being clear that he thinks tariffs are damaging.The U.K. is ” at risk” of being affected, he told reporters.Trump Calls his Relationship with Macron Special (1:40 p.m.)Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron -- at odds on issues from climate, to tech giants and wine -- struck a cordial tone over a surprise lunch meeting.Across from each other at an outside table -- with a bouquet of pink and red roses in the middle -- the two presidents gave brief remarks. Macron ran through some problem spots such as Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and Iran. “This discussion will be very important between allies, friends,” Macron said.Trump acknowledged the two had been at odds lately on some issues, but said he has a “special relationship” with Macron. “Every so often we go at it a little bit, not very much,” he said. “I think we’ll accomplish a lot this weekend, and I look forward to it.”The cameras gone, the two settled down for a long lunch.Macron Sits with Trump for Lunch, Speaks to Nation (1 p.m.)At the hotel, overlooking the bay, Macron and Trump will sit down from lunch. They will be giving a joint news conference at the end of the summit too, according to two U.S. officials.As Trump was getting ready to land, the French president addressed the nation.Standing with the pristine view of the chic town of Biarritz and the Ocean in his back, Macron promised his fellow citizens to make this a “useful” G7 in an address to the nation, aired on all the country’s televisions. “I promise you to do all I can in your name, to get my colleagues to agree” on Iran, trade, economic stimulus, inequalities, climate and other hot topics. “We probably won’t succeed on everything, don’t bear me a grudge if we fail sometimes, France must do all it can but can’t do everything.”Without ever mentioning the U.S. by name in his 10-minute address, he vowed to convince partners to address areas of disagreement,“especially trade tensions are bad for everyone.”Don’t Be Mr. No-Deal Brexit, Tusk Tells Johnson (1:50 p.m.)European Council President Donald Tusk urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to become “Mr. No Deal” as he warned that Ireland would have to back any changes to the Brexit agreement the British government proposed.Speaking ahead of talks with Johnson in the margins of the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France on Sunday, Tusk said he was willing to work with the U.K. leader to try to make the Brexit deal more acceptable to the British Parliament. The House of Commons rejected the original agreement three times and Johnson has said that if the “backstop” mechanism to prevent a hard Irish border isn’t removed, the U.K. will leave without the safety net of a deal.“One thing I will not cooperate on is no deal and I still hope that Prime minister Johnson would not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal,” Tusk said.Europe’s G-7 Stance Shaped by Trump (1:04 p.m.)European Council President Donald Tusk set out the EU’s stall for the summit, making it clear that the bloc opposed many of the positions put forward by U.S. President Donald Trump. In a news conference before the start of the summit, Tusk warned the American president that Europe didn’t share his views on issues ranging from Iran to trade to Russia.“Trade wars will lead to recessions” and “trade wars among G-7 members will lead to an eroding of the already weakened trust among us,” Tusk said.He said Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal with Iran “hasn’t brought about any positive results” and the move played into the hands of the Iranian regime as well as Russia and China. The EU will push once again for consensus on the Iran agreement, Tusk added.Russia won’t be invited back in the G-7 fold, Tusk said, in a direct rebuff to Trump. He recalled the U.S. leader’s suggestion that Russia snatching Crimea from Ukraine was acceptable. “Under no condition can we agree on this logic,” Tusk said, adding provocatively that he’d like to see Ukraine invited to a G-7 summit rather than Russia. Next year’s meeting will be hosted by Trump in the U.S.EU Will Retaliate If Trump Targets French Wine (12:35 p.m.)The EU will “respond in kind” if Trump announces tariffs on French wine, Tusk said at his press conference ahead of the talks which begin Saturday evening.Trump has threatened tariffs on wine in retaliation for a French digital tax that affects U.S. internet giants, casting the French as the aggressors. But Tusk suggested the EU will see tax and tariffs as separate issues.“France can count on our loyalty,” Tusk said.Trump mused at a recent fundraiser about a 100% tariff on French wine, though it’s not clear how serious he was.Earlier:Macron Rips Up Agenda for His G-7 in a Fit of Climate FuryMacron Riles Bolsonaro, Setting Up G-7 Fight Over Amazon FiresDonald Trump Is Coming for Europe’s Most Important Alliance\--With assistance from Helene Fouquet and Arne Delfs.To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Biarritz at;Ian Wishart in Biarritz, France at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 10:59:57 -0400
  • Boris Johnson's Long Journey From Trump Hater to Best Friend

    (Bloomberg) -- In December 2015, Boris Johnson joked that he wouldn’t go to some parts of New York because of the risk of meeting Donald Trump, a man of "stupefying ignorance."How times change.Johnson was London’s popular mayor, Trump a presidential outsider attacking the U.K. capital on the campaign trail. But two months later, Johnson threw his considerable charisma behind Brexit, setting in motion a chain of events that would bring the two together as allies at the Group of Seven summit.They’ve spoken at least five times in the month since Johnson became U.K. prime minister, sealing a rapprochement that was already evident at the United Nations in 2017. Johnson, then foreign secretary, approached Trump with a warm handshake and a matching look of black suit, red tie and similar blonde hair. It was classic Johnson: animated chatter, arms gesturing wildly. The British premier knows how to turn on the charm.And he will be taking it up a notch for their first meeting as fellow leaders over breakfast in Biarritz on Sunday.Balancing ActWith Johnson seeking support for Brexit and the EU anxious about being blindsided by Trump, their tete-a-tete is the most-anticipated of the summit.But fanfare aside, Johnson is in a precarious position.The gargantuan task of leaving the EU cost his two predecessors their jobs and Johnson, the public face of Brexit, has to make it happen somehow. Amid forecasts of economic catastrophe if he leaves without an exit deal, he is clinging to the prospect of a free-trade agreement with the world’s largest economy to show it was all worth it.Trump has been open in his support for Brexit -- in fact he often says how he predicted the outcome the day before from his golf course in Scotland. And for him, the prospect of the U.K. leaving without a deal, and the greater divisions it will sow in Europe, is an opportunity to exploit.Photo OpPeeling the U.K. away from France and Germany would play into Trump’s strategy and victory for Johnson offers legitimacy of sorts to Trump’s style of politics.Both men came to power with populist messages and idiosyncratic use of language: Trump favors short words and pithy phrases such as “sad” and “fake news,” Johnson likes arcane phrases peppered with Latin and classical references.And then there are visuals. Photographers will be snapping maniacally when Trump’s carefully sprayed hairdo meets Johnson’s studiously untidy thatch.“Imagine Donald Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson said in a leaked audio obtained by BuzzFeed News last year. “He’d go in bloody hard. There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere.”Toxic ReputationIt’s a balancing act for both men though.Trump is toxic in the U.K. -- his two visits to Britain drew mass protests -- so Johnson also needs to be careful not to appear to be too cozy with the U.S. leader. He has an election to fight before too long if he’s to turn the fragile majority he inherited into a more stable platform for governing.So the president won’t be pushing Johnson this weekend on the issues like Iran or Huawei where he needs help in his efforts to strong arm the other EU powers. But there may eventually be a quid pro quo for the "fantastic” trade deal Trump has dangled.Trump’s trade talks rarely prove speedy. He remains locked in a trade war with China and a revised accord with Canada and Mexico dragged on for over a year and is stalled in Congress. An agreement with the U.K. could be years in the making and Trump drives a hard bargain -- whether he likes you or not.Trump Likes WinnersThere are also important differences in their world view.Johnson favors immigration, Trump famously doesn’t. The U.K. is signed up to the Paris climate agreement whereas Trump pulled out. And while the U.K. shares Trump’s concerns about access to Chinese markets, Johnson believes they should be addressed by giving the World Trade Organization more teeth. Trump is more concerned at blunting the WTO’s teeth.On landing in Biarritz, Johnson went out of his way to find the correct turn of phrase to draw attention to the damage Trump’s tariff policy was unleashing without blaming him overtly: ”Those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy, irrespective of whether or not that is true."Trump likes winners. And for now, he considers it’s in his interest to prop up his British friend. “He’s tough and he’s smart," he said back in July. "They call him ‘Britain Trump.’"This weekend the two men are likely to form an important alliance -- Johnson walking a fine line. The challenge for the British premier is to keep it that way.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at;Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 09:52:21 -0400
  • Brazil Sends Army to Fight Amazon Fires; Trump Tweets Support

    (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said he’s sending troops to battle fires roaring through vast expanses of the Amazon as President Donald Trump offered U.S. support to combat the disaster.Under growing domestic and international pressure, Bolsonaro on Friday promised “zero tolerance” for environmental crimes and pledged “strong action” to control fires -- many of them set by loggers emboldened by his government’s disdain for environmental oversight.“Forest fires exist everywhere in the world and that can’t be used as pretext for possible international sanctions,” he said in a rare televised speech that marked a departure from the dismissive tone of his previous statements. He added the flames have been spreading faster this year because of high temperatures, an extremely dry season, and strong winds. As he spoke, people protested by banging pots and pans in many Brazilian cities.Trump tweeted on Friday evening that that he had spoken with Bolsonaro about the fires and trade between the two countries. His tweet appeared hours after French President Emmanuel Macron -- who’s about to host the Group of Seven summit -- accused Bolsonaro of lying about his country’s commitments to fight climate change and threatened to block the European Union’s trade deal with the Mercosur countries of South America.“Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before,” Trump said in the tweet. “I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!”Brazil is home to one third of the world’s rainforests, and a decade-long trend of improving forest protections has gone into reverse. Critics blame Brazil’s relapse on the rollback of environmental protections and enforcement in the Amazon in recent years.While fires break out every year, one analysis showed that more than 75,000 have swept across the country since January, an 84% annual increase. Bolsonaro had previously relished criticism of his attitude toward the Amazon -- jokingly referring to himself as “Captain Chainsaw” -- while saying without presenting evidence that NGOs were setting the blazes to discredit his government.“This government’s actions and speech encouraged those rampant fires,” Marina Silva, a former environment minister and presidential candidate, said in an interview. “Nobody should stimulate illegality, particularly those who have institutional responsibility.”G-7 SummitMacron vowed to make the burning of the Amazon jungle a priority at the summit, but the reactions of not only Trump, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel, suggested that the leaders about to gather in the French seaside resort of Biarritz were not in harmony on the crisis.Merkel publicly disagreed with Macron. Her spokesman said she didn’t think upending the trade deal would achieve Macron’s aim of slowing deforestation in Brazil. Merkel’s spokesman, however, did back Macron’s decision to involve the international community, siding with him against Bolsonaro.Bolsonaro also faces outrage at home, with protesters marching against him in Brazil’s main cities on Friday.His decision to deploy the Brazilian Army to the Amazon came after a week in which the public outcry only grew louder -- with images of the flames and giant clouds of smoke appearing on screens around the world. The president’s decree ordered the armed forces to carry out “preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes” and to combat fires in the region, including indigenous territories.Earlier Friday, the French president’s office said that it had become clear that Bolsonaro wasn’t serious about his pledges to address climate change when he spoke to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka earlier this year.“The president can only conclude that President Bolsonaro lied to him in Osaka,” the statement said. “Under these conditions, France is opposed to the Mercosur deal.”The French president’s remarks provoked an angry response from Bolsonaro, who accused him of acting like a colonialist. Issues relating to Brazil should not be discussed without the country at the table, Bolsonaro added.“The news is really worrisome, but we need to lower the temperature, there are fires in Brazil every year,” Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias told reporters in Brasilia. “There were fires in Portugal, in Siberia, there were fires all over the world and Brazil wasn’t questioning them.”(Adds interview with former Environment Minister Marina Silva in eigth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Helene Fouquet, Simone Iglesias and Flavia Said.To contact the reporters on this story: Austin Weinstein in New York at;Walter Brandimarte in Brasilia at wbrandimarte@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at, John Harney, Shamim AdamFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 09:44:31 -0400
  • Released Iranian Oil Tanker Switches Direction, Heads for Turkey

    (Bloomberg) -- The Iranian oil tanker that the U.S. sought to seize in Gibraltar has changed its heading to southern Turkey, raising concern that its cargo will end up in Syria.The Iranian-flagged Adrian Darya 1 switched its destination to the Turkish port city of Mersin, located just 150 kilometers from the border with Syria, on Friday evening, according to Bloomberg vessel-tracking data. The ship had previously stated its destination as being Kalamata in Greece, a port that is too small to accommodate a ship of that size.The tanker, which previously flew the flag of Panama and went under the name Grace 1, is estimated to arrive in Mersin at noon on Aug. 31. It was impounded off Gibraltar in July and released last Sunday after local authorities rejected a legal attempt by the U.S. to detain it. Adrian Darya is currently sailing along the southern coast of Sicily.Iran has given assurances to the government of Gibraltar that the ship will not sail to Syria. The ship’s Automatic Identification System shows that the draft of the ship -- how deep it sits in the water -- is 22.1 meters, indicating that Adrian Darya still has its full cargo of 2 million barrels of crude oil on board. The draft is manually entered into the AIS by the ship’s captain, so it could be misleading, though there is no evidence that the cargo has been discharged.Turkey accepting the ship risks further fueling tensions with the U.S., at a time when relations have been strained over Turkey’s decision to buy a missile defense system from Russia.Turkey’s government declined to comment on whether they would allow the ship to dock at Mersin. Officials at the Foreign Ministry in Iran did not immediately respond to calls from Bloomberg to comment on the the tanker’s route.The ship could discharge its cargo onto smaller vessels in a process called a ship-to-ship transfer. The smaller tankers would then deliver the crude oil to its final destination. Adrian Darya could switch off its transponder before starting the ship-to-ship transfer in an attempt to conceal what was happening. However, that might not be enough to hide a ship that is being so closely monitored.\--With assistance from Selcan Hacaoglu and Arsalan Shahla.To contact the reporters on this story: Will Hadfield in London at;Catherine Traywick in Denver at ctraywick@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at, Nick Rigillo, Andrew DavisFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 09:30:48 -0400
  • UPDATE 2-Who would be Brexit's Mr No-Deal? Johnson and Tusk trade barbs

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council head Donald Tusk sparred on Saturday over who would be to blame should Britain leave the EU on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal in place. Tusk told reporters in Biarritz he would be willing to hear ideas from Johnson on how to avoid a no-deal Brexit when the two men meet on Sunday on the sidelines of a G7 summit in the French seaside resort. Johnson later retorted that it would be Tusk himself who would carry the mantle if Britain could not secure a new withdrawal agreement.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:56:19 -0400
  • Yemen officials: Government forces take separatist army camp

    Yemeni military officials say forces loyal to the country's internationally recognized government have wrested control of a military camp from a separatist militia backed by the United Arab Emirates just outside a key southern city. The camp's takeover came a day after government forces pushed the Elite Force out of Ataq. The UAE-trained militia is part of the Southern Transitional Council, which launched an offensive earlier this month to take strategic southern areas from government forces, including the city of Aden and nearby Abyan province.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:54:25 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson says Tusk will be known as 'Mr No Deal' if agreement not changed

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned European Council President Donald Tusk that unless he agrees to change the Brexit divorce deal, Tusk will be known as "Mr No Deal". Johnson was responding to Tusk's earlier comments that he would not cooperate in preparing for on a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister wants the EU to drop the so-called Irish backstop, which is an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between the Irish Republic and the British province of Northern Ireland.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:49:43 -0400
  • Explosion in Iraq near Shiite mosque kills 3, wounds dozens news

    A motorcycle rigged with explosives went off near a Shiite mosque south of the capital Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 34, Iraqi security officials said Saturday.. The officials said the blast happened the previous evening on a commercial street in the village of Mussayyib. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted "gatherings of Shiites" near a Shiite mosque.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:45:08 -0400
  • Drama in Biarritz, Biden’s Weak Spot, Dead Bees: Weekend Reads news

    (Bloomberg) -- Group of Seven leaders are just beginning to gather in the French resort town of Biarritz, and their host – French President Emmanuel Macron – has already gone off script. The European G-7 contingent is supposed to be holding the line over Brexit, pushing for tougher action on climate change and addressing the trade tensions threatening global growth without provoking U.S. President Donald Trump. Now they are going to be distracted by a rift between Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel over how to tackle the environmental threat facing Brazil.Trump has weighed in, days after a rift with another NATO ally prompted him to cancel a planned trip to Denmark. Follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook throughout the weekend for all the latest from France. And catch up on some of Bloomberg’s other longer political reads from the past week below.  Biden’s Lead Is Wider Than Ever, But It Won’t Necessarily LastFormer U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has a commanding lead over the rest of the Democratic field. But as Joshua Green reports, he’s got an Achilles heel: If the perception about his electability changes or voters hone in on policy issues, his advantage can evaporate. Trump's Ties to Carmakers Get Testy Again, This Time on MileageTensions between Trump and major automakers erupted this week over a plan to gut Obama-era fuel standards. Ryan Beene explains how Trump’s latest dust-up with big producers shows some companies are getting comfortable opposing him. China, Vietnam Spar on High Seas Over $2.5 Trillion in EnergyWhen a Chinese state-owned survey vessel sailed into waters off Vietnam’s coast in early July, it unleashed a high-seas standoff with trillions of dollars at stake that risks drawing in Russia and the U.S. Philip J. Heijmans takes a closer look. Hong Kong’s Hopeless Generation Has a Long List of Grievances“Citizens are willing to sacrifice the economy to fight,” says Billy Tung, a 28-year-old accountant in Hong Kong. As Kari Soo Lindberg, Shawna Kwan and Enda Curran report, his generation’s economic struggles are helping fuel protests in the financial hub. When the Sun Sets in Libya, Two U.S. Allies Get Down to WarThe worst-kept secret of Libya’s civil war: Opponents face a stalemate on the ground, as their backers in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are engaged in a proxy war. Samer Khalil Al-Atrush takes a closer look. Bees Are Dropping Dead in Brazil and Sending a Message to HumansAround half a billion bees died in four of Brazil’s southern states earlier this year. Bruce Douglas and Tatiana Freitas write that it’s raising questions about whether an ocean of pesticides is washing through to Brazil’s human food supply.Russian Nuclear Blast Theories Hint at No-Holds-Barred Arms RaceThe deadly blast that caused a radiation spike at a Russian military site made one thing clear: The new arms race is going full speed. Jake Rudnitsky and Ilya Arkhipov report about the growing rivalry between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Jonathan Tirone explains how the shroud of mystery surrounding the accident will become increasingly difficult to maintain once the data starts to roll in.Disbelief, Joy and Resistance as Saudi Women Get First PassportsFor decades, Saudi women have needed a man’s permission to get a passport or leave the country. Read this account from Vivian Nereim and Sarah Algethami as one of the first women obtains a passport after the kingdom eased its so-called guardianship system.And finally … As India’s economic climate becomes more complicated, so have the messages from monetary policy makers. Anirban Nag reports how economists were left scrambling for their dictionaries and Google searches after central bankers began peppering speeches and comments with words including “floccinaucinihilipilification” and “Panglossian” in giving guidance on the economy. To contact the author of this story: Michael Winfrey in Prague at mwinfrey@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:00:06 -0400
  • Bolsonaro’s Amazon Flame Throwing Unsettles Farming Support Base news

    (Bloomberg) -- As Europeans threaten to block access to Brazilian exports over President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, some of the agribusiness players loyal to the former Army captain are starting to fret about the consequences of his rhetoric.French President Emmanuel Macron issued the most explicit ultimatum yet to Brazilian commercial interests on Friday, stating that France would oppose the trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur, the South American customs union, in retaliation to Bolsonaro’s hostility to tackling climate change. While ratification of the deal is still a long way away -- and German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not share Macron’s position -- Brazilian exporters are uneasy.“You’re starting to see an expression, a movement of people who represent the sector, and it doesn’t seem like just a hypothetical threat,” Rubens Ricupero, former finance minister and former secretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said. “These are people who have a sensitivity to exports, not a sensitivity for the environment.”Unswerving defense of farmers in Brazil’s heartland along with a pledge to slash environmental regulations to unlock the Amazon’s productive potential helped lift Bolsonaro to the presidency. With the world’s largest rainforest ablaze, prominent representatives of the sector are sounding the alarm, saying farmers’ hard-won reputation for sustainability is in jeopardy and, in turn, their exports to conscientious consumers. Among lower-house lawmakers from the farm caucus surveyed by Ibope this month, 80% think illegal deforestation is already hurting Brazil’s image and business.Finland, which currently holds the presidency of the EU, even raised the idea of banning Brazilian meat imports on Friday in response to Bolsonaro’s lax stewardship of the Amazon.The European Union ranks second only to China as the final destination of Brazil’s agriculture exports, and accounted for 16% of the shipments in 2018. Brazil exported $13.6 billion in agricultural products to the region last year.Speaking OutRoberto Brant, the agriculture confederation’s president and a former lawmaker, called on producers to loudly counter Bolsonaro’s damaging statements. And Senator Katia Abreu, a former agriculture minister, said she’s very afraid Brazil will lose European markets. “Farmers are being deceived,” she told Estado de S. Paulo. “They may be happy today, and they will be crying tomorrow.”Soybean traders signed the Brazilian Soy Moratorium in 2006, pledging not to buy soybeans from deforested areas. But some exporters believe Bolsonaro’s decision to blame NGOs for the fires in the rainforest may lead importers to require certifications to import Brazil’s soy products if the situation over the Amazon deteriorates, according to an industry representative speaking on condition of anonymity. Some buyers may prefer purchasing soy-meal from rivals Argentina and U.S, the person added.On Thursday night, the soybean processors group Abiove said in a statement it’s “cautiously following” recent statements on preserving the Amazon. It also reiterated its commitment to the environmental agenda, adding that its companies don’t acquire or finance soy from farms where deforestation has been detected.One meat executive said in an interview that, while agribusiness may be disappointed by Bolsonaro’s attacks on Macron and joking demands that Merkel should “reforest Germany”, producers are happy with his policies and the European Union doesn’t need deforestation as an excuse if it wants to cut imports.Other producers mimic Bolsonaro’s defiance in the face of foreign consternation, as well as his disdain for environmental NGOs.“Bolsonaro’s comments are only controversial for people who don’t know Brazil,” Bartolomeu Braz Pereira, head of soybean farmers group Aprosoja, said in an interview. “Bolsonaro is pulling back the curtains and presenting Brazil how it really is. We had international NGOs imposing the rules, and that isn’t right. After deforesting their lands, they want to tell us how we should protect ours?”Fire StartersSmall-scale producers are feeling emboldened to set fires to recover their fields, less because of Bolsonaro’s bluster than because regulators were completely debilitated in recent years during Brazil’s fiscal crisis, according to Moises Fernandes, an agronomist and environmental consultant in the Amazon state of Rondonia. The fact Bolsonaro keeps speaking out, however, means blame is fully ascribed to him.“As he’s head of state, logically when he talks any country that already wants to apply commercial sanctions to Brazil can cite that as a factor,” said Fernandes, who voted for Bolsonaro. “The truth is he talks too much: saying you can save the environment by pooping every other day, ordering Angela Merkel to plant trees. Why? Why is he wearing himself out?”\--With assistance from Simone Iglesias.To contact the reporters on this story: David Biller in Rio de Janeiro at;Tatiana Freitas in São Paulo at;Fabiana Batista in Sao Paulo at fbatista6@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at, Bruce Douglas, James AttwoodFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Russia Has No Chance of Become an Aircraft Carrier Superpower. None. news

    Russian defense planners often announce projects as a means of gaining resources and prestige, rather than as part of a plan to build anything in particular. At one point, President Dmitri Medvedev suggested that Russia would build and operate six aircraft carriers by 2025; obviously, that’s not going to happen.​Historically a land power, the Soviet Union grappled with the idea of a large naval aviation arm for most of its history, eventually settling on a series of hybrid aircraft carriers. Big plans for additional ships died with the Soviet collapse, but Russia inherited one large aircraft carrier at the end of the Cold War—that remains in service today. Although many of the problems that wracked the naval aviation projects of the Soviet Union remain today, the Russian navy nevertheless sports one of the more active aircraft carriers in the world.Recommended: Air War: Stealth F-22 Raptor vs. F-14 Tomcat (That Iran Still Flies)Recommended: A New Report Reveals Why There Won't Be Any 'New' F-22 RaptorsRecommended: How an ‘Old’ F-15 Might Kill Russia’s New Stealth FighterHistory of Russian Naval AviationThe Soviet Union made several efforts at developing aircraft carriers early in its history, but a lack of resources, combined with a geography that emphasized the importance of land power, made serious investment impossible. During the Cold War, the first naval aviation success were Moskva and Leningrad, a pair of helicopter carriers designed primarily for antisubmarine warfare. These ships, ungainly in appearance, displaced 17,000 tons, could make about thirty knots, and each carried eighteen helicopters. Moskva entered service in 1967, Leningrad in 1969. The Moskvas were succeeded by the Kiev class, much closer to true aircraft carriers. Displacing 45,000 tons, the four Kievs (each built to a slightly different design) could make thirty-two knots and carry a combination of about thirty helicopters and Yak-38 VSTOL fighters.(This first appeared in 2018.)Recommended: The 5 Biggest Nuclear Bomb Tests (From All 6 Nuclear Powers).Recommended: How Israel Takes U.S. Weapons and Makes Them Better.Recommended: North Korea’s Most Lethal Weapon Isn’t Nukes.All of these ships left service at the end of the Cold War; the Moskvas and one of the Kievs were scrapped, two Kievs ended up as museums in China, and one was eventually reconstructed and sold to India as INS Vikramaditya. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union laid down its first two true carriers, although only one was completed before the collapse of the country.Current State of Russia’s Carrier ForceAt the moment, Russia’s only aircraft carrier is the troubled Admiral Kuznetsov. A ski jump carrier, the Kuznetsov displaces some 60,000 tons, can theoretically make thirty knots, and carry a combination of forty-or-so helicopters and jet fighters. Kuzentsov was commissioned in 1990; a sister remained an incomplete hulk for many years until it was purchased by China and eventually finished as Liaoning. In addition to helicopters, Kuznetsov operates MiG-29K and Su-33 fighter bombers. Like previous Russian carriers, Kuznetsov sports a heavier missile armament than most Western ships.Unfortunately, hiccups with Kuznetsov have also made it difficult for Russia’s naval aviators to remain practiced and effective. The ship has suffered multiple breakdowns over its career, including significant issues with its engines and recovering aircraft. Many of these difficulties came as consequence of the dramatic decline of maintenance funding at the end of the Cold War, but some was the inevitable result of inexperience with the platform type. Admiral Kuznetsov has engaged in several prestige cruises, but its most notable service came in 2016 off of Syria. After a much publicized journey to the Mediterranean, Kuznetsov conducted combat operations for two months. The operations had more of a publicity impact than a real military effect, and Kuznetsov lost two aircraft (one MiG-29K and one Su-33) to accidents. The carrier is currently in refit.To support Kuznetsov, Russia attempted to purchase a pair of French assault carriers, but the conquest and annexation of Crimea forced France to cancel the sale. These ships would have served as amphibious platforms with antisubmarine (ASW) capabilities, but also would have given the Russian navy experience with relatively large, technologically advanced vessels. Indeed, part of the deal would have allowed Russia to construct two Mistrals to French specifications in its own yards, which would have provided a major boon to Russian shipbuilding.Strategic RationaleRussia has a unique maritime geography, with four fleets operating from four coasts practically incapable of offering mutual support. During the Soviet period, carriers supported the fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, offering air and ASW protection for the bastions in which these subs patrolled. This mission allowed the carriers to de-emphasize strike capabilities in favor of more defensive weaponry. More recently, the Russian navy has used Admiral Kuznetsov primarily as a vehicle for influence and prestige. Along with the nuclear battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy and a few other ships, Kuznetsov is a visible manifestation of Russian naval power, forcing other nations to take note of Russian interests. As the Syria mission suggests, in the future Russia may focus more on developing strike capabilities in order to project power further.The FutureRussia has cancelled more carriers than most countries have contemplated. In the 1970s the Soviet Union considered the 72,000-ton Orel-class nuclear aircraft carrier, but opted instead for the Kievs and the ships that would eventually become Kuznetsov and Liaoning. The Soviets laid down an 80,000-ton carrier named Ulyanovsk in 1988, but scrapped the incomplete ship when the Cold War ended.Russian defense planners often announce projects as a means of gaining resources and prestige, rather than as part of a plan to build anything in particular. At one point, President Dmitri Medvedev suggested that Russia would build and operate six aircraft carriers by 2025; obviously, that’s not going to happen. But there is an existing plan for the Project 23000E Shtorm carrier, a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered supercarrier employing EMALS catapults and a variety of other modern technologies. The carrier would presumably fly MiG-29K fighters, although the age of that aircraft would suggest the need for a replacement. The ability of Russia to build this ship under current circumstances is in deep question, however.ConclusionThe aviation capability of the Russian navy is dangling by a thread. Kuznetsov is old and in poor condition, and no carrier is even close to be laid down. The Russian surface fleet has not received a great deal of attention in the latest military modernization plans, and the Russian shipbuilding industry has not constructed a warship the size and sophistication of Kuzentsov since… well, Kuznetsov.That said, the Kremlin seems to view aircraft carriers as an important contributor to national prestige. The Russian navy took great pains to get Kuznetsov into position to support operations in Syria, and despite the embarrassment associated with that, has now pushed the carrier into a major refit. If the Kremlin determines that it needs a carrier to keep pace with France, Britain, China and India, it will need to begin seriously considering how to build or acquire such a ship. It is not inconceivable that Moscow may consider ordering a carrier from Chinese yards in the future, however profound a reversal that might seem. Otherwise, Russia needs to start solidifying its construction timelines soon.Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book.Image: Reuters.(This article was originally published earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • Trump Raises Tariffs on China as Frustration Mounts Ahead of G-7

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. President Donald Trump escalated the trade war with China on Friday and moved further away from a deal to resolve frictions, announcing a wave of higher tariffs even as he prepared to set off for a gathering of world leaders.In an announcement, tweeted after major indices on Wall Street sank, Trump said existing 25% tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30% come Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.Planned 10% tariffs on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods will be taxed at 15% instead of 10% starting with the first tranche on Sept. 1. The second batch of goods is due to be hit on Dec. 15. China firmly opposes the U.S. move and urged Washington to stop “wrongful deeds or bear the consequences,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Commerce.The move was foreshadowed in an earlier series of presidential tweets that again roiled U.S. markets concerned about the growing impact of his trade wars on a slowing global and U.S. economy. In those tweets, Trump vowed to respond to Chinese retaliatory tariffs, accused Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell of being a bigger U.S. “enemy” than China’s Xi Jinping and issued a call for American companies to abandon China.Trump was responding to an announcement that Beijing was planning to impose retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports, targeting politically sensitive products from American factories to farms.“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump wrote.The move came shortly before the president departed Washington for a Group of Seven summit in France at which responding to a slowing global economy -- blamed by many on Trump’s trade wars -- sits at the top of the agenda.“The U.S. act is unilateral, bullying trade protectionism, and uses maximum pressure. It violates the consensus reached by the presidents of the two countries, violates the principle of mutual respect, equality and win-win,” China said in the statement. “It severely disrupts the global trading system and normal international trade order, and the U.S. will eat the bitter fruits of its action.” Friday’s procession of angry Trump tweets marked what analysts and people close to the administration said was a clear shift in tone by a president increasingly frustrated by both the lack of progress in his trade assault on China and a slowing economy, for which he’s eager to blame Powell and the Fed.As he left the White House late Friday night, Trump was asked if he wanted Powell to resign. “Let me put it this way,” the president said, “if he did, I wouldn’t stop him.”In his order for U.S. companies to withdraw from China, some close to the administration saw the president embracing the calls for an economic decoupling made by the hawks inside his administration.The evidence of the shift may have been most apparent in a 14-word tweet in which Trump appeared to call Xi an “enemy.”“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” he said in a Tweet posted after Powell gave a speech in Jackson Hole that contained implicit criticism of Trump’s trade policies and their impact on the U.S. and global economies.Trump has worked very hard ever since entering the presidency to portray his relationship with Xi as a friendship. By using the sort of inflammatory language for the Chinese leader that he has avoided in the past, Trump is likely to be noticed in Beijing.Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who sometimes advises Trump, said the president’s move on Friday reflected the fact he had grown increasingly frustrated with China’s response to his escalating tariffs in recent months.That has been driven in part by a change of attitude in Beijing, where officials seem increasingly dismissive of Trump and his chances of re-election and convinced that hawkish aides like Peter Navarro, a senior White House trade adviser, are increasingly directing policy, Pillsbury said.“There’s a growing perceptions gap,” he said. “The China hawks in Washington have successfully encouraged their America hawks in Beijing.”What Bloomberg’s Economists Say“The price tag on the latest tariff escalation is similar to previous rounds from earlier this year and in 2018. However, a new threshold has been breached as the Trump administration moves beyond an upper limit of 25%.There is little reason to believe that 30% is the new upper bound, in our view.”\--Carl Riccadonna and Yelena Shulyatyeva Click here for the full reportTrump’s move on Friday appeared to have been hastily assembled.In an appearance on the Fox Business Network in the morning, Navarro played down the new tariffs announced by China. “Seventy-five billion dollars worth of tariffs in terms of, what, the combined $30 trillion economy is not something for the stock market to worry about and we’re cool here,” he said.But just a few hours later Navarro, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and other aides were in the Oval Office for a midday meeting to figure out the administration’s next step.Not WorkingThe National Retail Federation, whose membership includes Walmart Inc., issued a statement on Friday sounding the alarms about the added tariffs.“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment,” said David French, senior vice president of government affairs for the organization. “The administration’s approach clearly isn’t working, and the answer isn’t more taxes on American businesses and consumers. Where does this end?”The president has little legal authority to ban all American companies from doing business with China. But he has the capacity to make life difficult for them, as he has with his tariffs, and could ban some tech companies from doing business with China were he to invoke special powers and declare a national economic emergency, according to trade lawyers and analysts.Although some White House aides have sought to portray calls in recent weeks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators as making progress, people close to the talks and briefed on them say they have yielded little of immediate substance.Larry Kudlow, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council, said this week that a telephone call between U.S. and Chinese officials on Wednesday had gone well and that the goal remained a resumption of face-to-face talks in Washington in September.Privately, however, others familiar with the discussions say that major questions remain over those talks and how willing China is to return to the substantive negotiations over structural economic reforms that broke down in May.Distant Deal“The U.S. and China can’t even agree on what text to begin the negotiations with again,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute who has advised the administration.The one thing left clear was that Friday’s escalation raised more doubts about Trump’s chosen path with China and made prospects of a deal even more distant, analysts said.Though Trump has insisted he had little choice but to take on the fight with a China that threatens to overtake the U.S. economically and technologically in the years to come, his critics insist he has done so in an ill-conceived and ad-hoc way that has caused more damage than necessary to the U.S. economy.“His approach to these negotiations all along has been, just as you are about to sit down to negotiate, you make things significantly worse for the other side and hope that they are going to give you lot of concessions just to get back to where they were,” said Philip Levy, who served as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush and is now chief economist for Flexport, a logistics company. “The Chinese don’t seem very enthused about playing this game.”(Updates with China response from third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Shawn Donnan in Washington at;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at, Sarah McGregor, Margaret CollinsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 07:41:28 -0400
  • Macron Rips Up Agenda for His G-7 in a Fit of Climate Fury

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Emmanuel Macron has gone off script.It took the French president less than 24 hours to wrong foot his closest partners and toss a curve ball into the buildup to the Group of Seven summit. His fellow leaders hadn’t even landed. And all this when Macron was supposed to be shoring up the European alliance for another confrontation with Donald Trump.When the summit begins Saturday in the French beach resort of Biarritz, the European contingent is supposed to be holding the line over Brexit, pushing for tougher action on climate change and addressing the trade tensions threatening global growth without provoking the U.S. leader. Now they are going to be distracted by a rift between Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel over how to tackle the environmental threat posed by Brazil.For Macron, for the European Union, and for the transatlantic relationship, the consequences could be far-reaching.Preparations for the summit began to unravel on Thursday evening as Biarritz was about to go into lockdown. The strip of sand that will provide the backdrop for the family photo was still crammed with bathers taking their last swim. Even Macron’s close advisers had no idea about the bombshell the president (who is not a regular tweeter like Trump) was about to drop.Alarmed by the record number of fires ravaging the Amazon jungle, Macron announced that the “emergency” would be a central focus of his summit, abandoning months of careful choreography that even involves France’s most celebrated chef preparing meat for Trump and vegetarian fare for special guest Narendra Modi.Problem was he didn’t seem to have let key players in on his decision. Within two hours, his call to arms was met with a furious response from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who accused Macron of colonial posturing. Affairs relating to Brazil should not be discussed without Brazil at the table, Bolsonaro said.Read more: The Amazon Rainforest Is on Fire, and It’s Getting WorseMacron’s critics on social media pointed out that he’d used an outdated picture of an older blaze.Officials in the G-7 clan were waking up to the news along with the rest of the world. Concern about the environment is something shared by many Europeans, and the sense from officials was that they were willing to accept having the burning of the rainforest thrust onto the agenda at the last moment.A slow drip of benign responses began to come in. A spokesman for the U.K.’s Boris Johnson said the British leader would echo his call for action on the Amazon. Merkel’s spokesman backed Macron’s decision to involve the international community, siding with him against Bolsonaro.Trump, meanwhile, exchanged attacks with Beijing over trade. Markets tumbled as the president said he’d “ordered” the U.S. to disengage from China. But rather than seeking to capitalize, the French leader upped the ante.Another ShockerMaybe he took offense at the colonialist jibe, maybe it was headlines from Brazilian officials bringing up forest fires in Portugal and Siberia. Whatever it was, Macron had another shocker up his sleeve.In a terse statement from the Elysee palace, he branded Bolsonaro a liar and vowed to block the EU’s trade deal with South America’s biggest economies unless Brazil takes its environmental obligations seriously.Tearing up a summit agenda is one thing. But this was a whole other order of magnitude.The EU’s trade accord with Mercosur has been 20 years in the making, will ease tariffs on some $90 billion of annual commerce, and was Europe’s biggest riposte to Trump’s assault on the multilateral trading order. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, invited to the summit as Macron’s special guest, is set to be one of the biggest winners from the deal and invested time and political capital to get it over the line just eight weeks ago. Sanchez had no warning the announcement was coming, according to an official.In the OpenThe public slapdown in the end came from Merkel.Her spokesman told Bloomberg that the chancellor doesn’t believe shooting down the trade deal will achieve Macron’s aim of slowing deforestation in Brazil and actually contains binding commitments on climate protection. She doesn’t think threatening to block the accord is an appropriate response to what is happening in Brazil, he added.After Macron’s political maneuvering over talks with Washington, Merkel had already concluded that she couldn’t rely on France when it comes to trade. Now their split is out in the open.EU President Donald Tusk on Saturday backed Merkel’s stance, while seeking to calm the tensions."We, of course, stand by the EU-Mercosur agreement which is also about protecting the climate and environment," he said at a press conference ahead of the talks. All the same, "it is hard to imagine a harmonious process of ratification by the European countries as long as the Brazilian government allows the destruction of the green lungs of our planet, Earth."Merkel is due to land in Biarritz around 3:30 p.m. and will head straight into a bilateral meeting with her French counterpart.Johnson is seeking to divide them over Brexit. Trump is cranking up the pressure on a host of issues from trade to Iran and economic policy. Both are looking for encouragement that there are cracks in the EU’s essential alliance.Macron just handed it to them on a plate.(Updates with comment from Donald Tusk in fourth to last paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Arne Delfs in Biarritz, France at;Helene Fouquet in Biarritz, France at hfouquet1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 07:22:30 -0400
  • F-35s Can't Fix This: No, There Is No American Military Solution to North Korea news

    The implications are clear: if missiles and unimpeded air power are insufficient to destroy enemy armor out in the open after forty-two days, and if men clothed in mere robes can survive on the surface of a mountain against heavy weapons, then the tens of thousands of North Korean artillery pieces, their mobile missile launchers, and hidden nuclear-missile silos would be able to withstand even the most withering and sustained attack.(This first appeared in September 2017.)Last Friday National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster emphatically told reporters that despite what many have said to the contrary, “there is a military option” for North Korea. Tuesday afternoon at the United Nations, President Trump went even further, saying that if he felt certain conditions warranted it, then he would have no choice “but to totally destroy North Korea.” The president and his national security advisor, however, are wrong. Engaging in a “preventive war” with Pyongyang, as McMaster phrased it last month, would turn a tense situation into a catastrophic failure for America. There is no cost-effective military option and claiming there is only puts America’s security at risk.One doesn’t have to be a military expert to see why a so-called preventive military strike would not only fail to resolve the threat to U.S. personnel and U.S. allies, but worsen it. Two anecdotes and a brief assessment of North Korean capability exposes the futility of “preventive” war.I fought alongside McMaster in February 1991 at Desert Storm’s Battle of 73 Easting. Prior to our ground assault, the U.S. Air Force and other coalition planes saturated the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait for an average of once every ten hours for forty-two days. Enemy tanks were the primary target. Iraqi armor had literally nowhere to hide in the open desert; their steel hulls were painfully clear from the skies and defenseless to air attacks.Yet as we discovered when we closed with the enemy, more than 80 percent of the enemy’s tanks and other armored vehicles had survived the air attacks. An enemy that can’t hide or defend itself can still survive sustained bombardment under near-perfect attack conditions, even in open desert.In September 2011, I was at a U.S. Forward Operating Base in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan when the base came under attack by members of the Taliban. They were positioned on the side of a mountain with a commanding view on our base located below. U.S. soldiers returned fire with heavy machineguns and 105 millimeter artillery shells for about thirty minutes, yet they were unable to silence the attackers.Finally, a U.S. fighter jet made a bombing run on the enemy location on the mountain and destroyed the dismounted troops in a massive explosion. The rugged mountains of Afghanistan provided Taliban fighters—with no additional protection—the ability to withstand U.S. heavy weapons and artillery shells. Only when a fighter jet entered the scene were they destroyed.The implications are clear: if missiles and unimpeded air power are insufficient to destroy enemy armor out in the open after forty-two days, and if men clothed in mere robes can survive on the surface of a mountain against heavy weapons, then the tens of thousands of North Korean artillery pieces, their mobile missile launchers, and hidden nuclear-missile silos would be able to withstand even the most withering and sustained attack.North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s likely response to a U.S. attack is not hard to figure out. In 1991 Saddam Hussein made a major strategic mistake by sitting idly by while U.S. missiles and bombs rained down on his helpless troops for over a month. Kim will certainly not make the same mistake. Instead, he will take one of several possible courses.Kim will most likely launch a massive artillery strike of limited duration on the South Korean capital of Seoul, causing enormous damage and killing tens of thousands of South Korean citizens—and then stop his attack and warn that if the United States doesn’t cease its attack, then North Korea will obliterate the rest of Seoul, inflicting casualties in the hundreds of thousands. The most dangerous course of action for Kim would be to detonate a nuclear bomb on Seoul or launch a nuclear missile against Japan, killing millions—and then threatening to fire more if the U.S. does not cease-fire.President Trump would then be faced with an unimaginable decision: continue the attack and see potentially millions more die, or give in to Kim’s demands and stop the attack. The interests of the United States would be gravely harmed no matter what choice Trump makes at that point.In case anyone believes there is even a theoretical possibility that a massive U.S. strike could take out Kim’s ability to attack Seoul, let me put that to rest immediately. For decades, North Korea has known about the destructive power of U.S. planes and has therefore hidden a substantial number of its conventional artillery pieces into the sides of mountains. The artillery pieces can be rolled into firing positions and then returned for reloading.There are likely a large number of missile silos in the mountains that are tucked away in locations that the United States may not be able to locate. I was stationed in South Korea in the mid-1990s and observed firsthand the formidable Korean mountains. I also spent some time in the South’s underground bunkers and know how virtually impregnable they are to external attack.In addition to those unknown silo locations, North Korea also has many mobile launchers that will be hidden in underground storage facilities until it’s time to roll them out to fire. Its instructive to note that thousands of coalition planes were not able to prevent even the hapless Saddam Hussein from firing thirty-nine ballistic missiles from his mobile launchers during Desert Storm.There is no viable preventive-war option for North Korea unless one is willing to absorb civilian casualties in the hundreds of thousands or millions. The Trump administration can and should, however, communicate an unambiguous and certain promise that if North Korea were to attack any U.S. personnel, citizens, or allied nations—or if the administration discovers that North Korea was about to launch such an attack—then Kim’s forces will be met with a powerful and punitive strike out of all proportion to the attack. That is a credible and justifiable use of U.S. military power.The objective must be to prevent war, secure the lives of American and allied citizens, and to keep sustained economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to eventually give up its nuclear weapons. Diplomatic engagement combined with a credible military deterrent has a reasonable chance of accomplishing that outcome. Launching a misnamed “preventive” strike will fail catastrophically.Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.Image: Reuters.(This article was originally published in 2017 and is being republished due to reader interest.)RECOMMENDED: What a War Between NATO and Russia Would Look Like. What a War Between America and China Would Look Like. What a War Between China and Japan Would Look Like.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 07:00:00 -0400
  • India's Modi awarded UAE medal amid Kashmir crackdown news

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the United Arab Emirates' highest civilian honor during a visit Saturday to the oil-rich Gulf nation, reinforcing ties between the countries even as he pursues stripping statehood from the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. The induction of Modi into the Order of Zayed shows the importance the UAE places on India, the world's third-largest consumer of crude oil. India is home to a rapidly growing consumer market and labor pool that the federation of sheikhdoms relies on for its own economy.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 06:13:50 -0400
  • Austria prepares to repatriate IS supporter's children

    Austria is preparing to repatriate two sons of an Austrian Islamic State group supporter believed to have died in Syria after she headed there in 2014. ORF reported that a court last week awarded custody to the grandparents of the boys, who are 1 ½ and 3. It said they have been at the al-Hol camp in Syria, controlled by Kurdish forces, for the past few months.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 05:50:44 -0400
  • Hitler's Crazy Zipper Gun Was One Weapon You Did Not Want to Face news

    In either attack or defense, the German rifleman’s prime responsibility was to support the squad-operated machine gun. When the MG 42 crew moved, the riflemen covered them with fire. When the MG 42 set up, the riflemen dug foxholes for the machine gun crew while watching for the approach of enemy forces. When the MG 42 opened fire, several riflemen were detailed to carry ammunition to the gun.The MG 42, possibly the best machine gun ever created, originated as a replacement for the German Army’s standard machine gun, the MG 34, which first came into service in 1936. Designed by Louis Stange of the Rheinmetall-Borsig AG (referred to simply as Rheinmetall) located at Sommerda, the MG 34, at the start of World War II, was the Third Reich’s preferred general purpose machine gun (GPMG) and was intended to replace the heterogeneous collection of automatic infantry weapons then in service as befitted the new German “one-gun-fits-all” philosophy.The MG 34, using a 7.92mm round, turned out to be a fine GPMG, meeting all the specifications laid down over the previous decade. Crewed by two or three soldiers, the gun weighed 24.3 pounds; its tripod weighed an additional 52 pounds. Air cooled and recoil operated, it had a cyclic rate of fire of 800 rounds per minute, mandating that the barrel be changed after every 250 rounds. By changing its mounting and fire mechanism, the operator could radically transform its function. With its standard bipod it was a light machine gun, ideal for infantry assaults; mounted on its tripod it served as a sustained fire medium machine gun spewing bullets to a range of 3,829 yards. Between 1939 and 1945, Nazi Germany manufactured over 354,000 of this proven and effective weapon.Recommended: How Israel Takes U.S. Weapons and Makes Them Better.Recommended: North Korea’s Most Lethal Weapon Isn’t Nukes. Recommended: 5 Worst Guns Ever Made.For all its qualities as a first-rate GPMC and popularity with its users, the MG 34 did have its problems. In their enthusiasm to make the weapon the finest machine gun possible, the designers had gone over the top by producing a gun that demanded a high-quality finish, the use of scarce raw materials, and higher precision manufacturing than was really needed. Consequently, the manufacturing process was quite time consuming and expensive, so much so that demand due to combat losses and the expansion of the German armed forces could never keep pace with the demands for new production during the war, even after several new manufacturing centers including the main one run by Mauser AG-Werke were established. A simpler, easier to produce GPMG appeared to be the only solution.The MG 42’s Design ImprovementsThe MG 42 fired a 7.92mm round. With a muzzle velocity of 2,480 feet per second the MG 42’s effective range was nearly 1,100 yards. The gun used a 50-round flexible metal belt feed, or, alternatively, a 75-round snail drum magazine. A full 50-round belt of ammo would be depleted in a 21/2-second burst; the 75 round drum in 31/2 seconds. To permit longer fire bursts, MG 42 crews normally linked together several 50 round belts. Ammunition boxes (weighing 22 pounds each) held five separate belts totaling 250 rounds per box. A good crew could shoot 250 rounds in 12½ seconds of continuous fire, or 20-30 seconds by firing quick bursts.As good as the MG 42 was, there were still complaints about its performance. First, unlike the MG 34, it could not fire single shots. Another complaint that arose due to the high rate of fire was that during prolonged firing the gun tended to veer away from the target due to the vibration and even push its operator backward. Once the gun was set on its tripod these problems vanished, and the MG 42 became the perfect sustained fire support weapon.What’s more, the tremendous rate of fire coming from the MG 42 was considered by some to be a waste of ammunition. To counter that argument, others said that since a soldier, in the Germans’ experience, only fired at an enemy he could see and time (only seconds) was fleeting, the more bullets directed at the enemy the greater chance for a kill.During the war a number of companies produced the MG 42, although never in the numbers needed to keep up with the ever increasing demand. These included Gustloff-Werke in Suhl, Mauser AG-Werke in Borsigwald, Steyr in Vienna, Grossfuss in Dobeln, and Maget in Among them, 129 MG 42s were made each day from 1942 through 1945. More than 400,000 units were produced (17,915 in 1942,116,725 in 1943, 211,806 in 1944, and 61,877 in 1945).Machine Gun DoctrineOf course, even the best weapon has to be used appropriately for its battlefield capabilities to be fully realized. Fortunately for the Germans, and unfortunately for their opponents during World War II, the German Army formulated an effective machine gun doctrine and tactics.Unlike their American, British, Commonwealth, and Soviet adversaries, the Germans in World War II employed machine guns as their major infantry support weapons. The Allies used automatic weapons to support rifle-armed infantry. The German Army reversed the process, using infantry to support machine guns in combat. As a result, the standard German Army infantry company of 150 men in 1944 contained 15 MG 42s needing only 30 to 50 men to crew the lot. By contrast, only two light machine guns were assigned to each American foot company.Generally, German machine gun doctrine, both for defense and attack, stressed five basic points: surprise, fire and movement, coordination of firepower,  conservation of ammunition, and alternate positions. In defense, the MG 42 was usually employed with its tripod to act as a heavy machine gun. When German troops were surprised by an enemy attack, the weapon was often removed from the tripod and used as a light machine gun to counterattack the enemy assault.Acting as a heavy automatic weapon, the MG 42 was usually sited in concealed ground and manned by two gunners under the direction of a section leader. Reverse slopes were the preferred covered positions. The guns were only placed in their final fire position at the last moment before combat began. In attack and defense, MG 42s were set up in areas where they could lay down enfilade and crossfire against any advancing enemy.During offensive operations, MG 42s acting as heavy machine guns covered the deployment of friendly infantry from echeloned positions sited on commanding terrain. In preparing for the attack of friendly forces, the MG 42, firing from behind the friendly troops, aimed to smother enemy centers of resistance and deliver fire against opposing counterattacks. As advancing German soldiers moved forward, the supporting machine guns, acting as heavy weapons, followed from position to position in their wake.Attack and DefenseIn either attack or defense, the German rifleman’s prime responsibility was to support the squad-operated machine gun. When the MG 42 crew moved, the riflemen covered them with fire. When the MG 42 set up, the riflemen dug foxholes for the machine gun crew while watching for the approach of enemy forces. When the MG 42 opened fire, several riflemen were detailed to carry ammunition to the gun. Since the MG 42 was light enough to be operated and carried by one man, the bearer could keep pace with advancing comrades. Its ability to be set up and in action in a matter of seconds made the MG 42 invaluable in the attack.On the defensive, MG 42s were shifted back and forth between different positions to confuse the enemy. The Germans called this tactic Stelungswechsel (change of position) and was a vital part of their overall machine gun doctrine. Three firing pits for the gun were usually dug at various places along the front line: one to cover the expected avenue of an enemy advance; another on the left or right flank to support a neighboring squad; and yet another—called the Schweige MG (ambush position)—about 50 yards behind the main German line. These tactics made the Germans, as one American officer during the early stages of the Normandy Campaign stated, “masters at making one man appear to be a whole squad by moving rapidly from one concealed position to another.”The MG 42’s Lasting LegacyIn 1943, the U.S. Army attempted to copy the MG 42. The design, called the T24 machine gun, was hampered by the introduction of provisions for it to fire the U.S. .30-06 cartridge. The gun’s performance was disappointing, and the project was abandoned.Whether called the “linoleum ripper” by Soviet soldiers, the “Spandau” by the British, “Hitler’s zipper” by the Americans, or Hitlersage (“Hitler’s saw”) or “Bonesaw” by its German users, the MG 42 machine gun proved its combat worth on every European battlefield. Its ominous and terrifying “ripping cloth report” announced to all the presence of the best machine gun available.This article originally appeared on Warfare History Network. Image: Wikimedia Commons.(This article originally appeared last year.)

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 05:43:00 -0400
  • Chinese diplomat Zhao Lijian, known for his Twitter outbursts, is given senior foreign ministry post

    China's former No 2 diplomat in Pakistan, known for taking to Twitter to defend his government in bellicose terms, has been handed a senior role in Beijing's foreign ministry.Recently updated records on the foreign ministry's website indicate that Zhao Lijian, who left his position as deputy chief of mission in Islamabad earlier this month, now serves as deputy director general of the ministry's information department.In his new role, Zhao serves directly beneath the department's newly appointed director general, Hua Chunying, and alongside fellow deputies Geng Shuang and Yu Dunhai.Both Hua and Geng regularly host ministry press conferences for domestic and international reporters, suggesting that Zhao may be in line to take on public-facing duties.One of the first Chinese diplomats to open an official account on Twitter, Zhao has used the platform prolifically during his four-year tenure at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, tweeting over 51,000 times to his more than 200,000 followers.He has been joined on Twitter in recent weeks by other official Chinese government accounts, including that of the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai.But while others have generally used the platform as merely an additional channel through which to share official remarks in diplomatic terms, Zhao has made a name for himself for using Twitter to directly confront critics of the Chinese government, in a manner that some have compared to that of US President Donald Trump.After a BBC video documenting limits on public expressions of faith in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in June, Zhao told the broadcaster: "Don't [poke] your nose everywhere. Xinjiang is none of your business. Take care of your Brexit first!"Meanwhile, a group of 22 Western countries that had issued a letter condemning the Chinese government's mass internment of largely Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang were united by "white supremacy", Zhao charged.Zhao has also taken to Twitter to push back against the US administration's treatment of Huawei and deem the British government "shameless" for its calls for restraint from Hong Kong authorities, arguing that many British citizens were "descendants of war criminals".But arguably his most infamous moment came in July when he was branded a "racist disgrace" by a former Obama administration official after he argued that Washington did not have the right to criticise China's policies in Xinjiang because racism existed in the US."If you're in Washington DC, you know the white never go to the SW area, because it's an area for the black & Latin. There's a saying 'black in & white out', which means that as long as a black family enters, white people will quit, & price of the apartment will fall sharply," he wrote in a since-deleted tweet.You are a racist disgrace. And shockingly ignorant too. In normal times, you would be PNGed for this.Ambassador Cui, I expect better of you and your team. Please do the right thing and send him home." Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) July 15, 2019Susan Rice, who served as president Barack Obama's national security adviser, responded via Twitter that Zhao was "a racist disgrace [and] shockingly ignorant too," and suggested that he should be declared persona non grata.Several weeks later, on August 8, Zhao announced on Twitter that his four-year tour had come to an end and that he was leaving Pakistan with a "heavy heart, because Pakistan has stolen my heart."Suggesting that he intended to use Twitter in his new role in Beijing, Zhao said he would be returning to the platform "after I settle down".This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 05:30:00 -0400
  • Amazon fires: Brazilian president sends army to tackle blaze after Emmanuel Macron moves to block EU-South America trade deal news

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro authorized the deployment of armed forces to help fight fires raging in the Amazon and crack down on criminal activities in the region on Friday. The decree applies to indigenous territories, conservation areas as well as other regions in the Brazilian states spanning the world's largest rainforest. He hit back at such criticism in his Friday night address, claiming the spreading of “disinformation” – inside or outside Brazil – would do nothing to solve the Amazon crisis. “Forest fires exist in the whole world and this cannot serve as a pretext for possible international sanctions,” Mr Bolsonaro said in his brief, scripted address. It came after Donald Trump offered to help Brazil as it grapples with thousands of wildfires burning in the Amazon. The US president said he had spoken with Mr Bolsonaro and stated that the countries' prospects for trade are "perhaps stronger than ever." "I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!" Mr Trump tweeted. U.S. President Donald Trump, left, waves while standing with Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president, at the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Credit:  Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg Earlier on Friday, Emmanuel Macron spearheaded a European charge against Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro as a war of words intensified over raging fires in the Amazon basin ahead of this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz. France joined forces with Ireland in threatening to block a trade deal with South America unless Brazil takes action to stop vast tracts of the Amazonian rainforest from burning. The threat followed a clash between Mr Bolsonaro, a far-Right climate sceptic, and Mr Macron, whom the Brailian leader accused of having a “colonialist mentality” for dubbing the fires an “international crisis” and requesting the Amazon be added to the G7 agenda. ”Our house is burning. Literally,” tweeted the French leader. Mr Macron, said Mr Bolsonaro, was bent on sensationalism and seeking "personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries". Upping the ante, the French premier on Friday accused his Brazilian counterpart of having “lied” about his environmental commitments at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan in June. "The decisions and statements from Brazil these recent weeks show clearly that President Bolsonaro has decided to not respect his commitments on the climate, nor to involve himself on the issue of biodiversity," read a presidential statement. Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019 As a consequence, France now opposes an EU trade deal "in its current state" with the Mercosur bloc of South American nations that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Two decades in the making, the treaty is yet to be ratified. Brazil contains about 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest, seen as the world’s “lungs” and a crucial carbon sink. Environmental experts say the fires are linked to accelerating deforestation in the Amazon region, which in July quadrupled compared to the same month in 2018, according to data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research. Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State Credit: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo Mr Bolsonaro has denied his policies are to blame, pointing the finger at drought and even environmental groups and NGOs - a baseless claim Ireland’s taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, branded “Orwellian”. Earlier, Mr Varadkar said the Irish government would also oppose the treaty. "There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments," he said in a statement. Ireland and France would need other EU states to help form a blocking minority if they want to sink the deal reached late June. Angela Merkel called the fires “shocking and threatening” for the “whole world”. Along with Norway, Germany has blocked donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon fund. But a government spokesperson signalled on Friday that it would not be joining in the push against the trade pact, saying that was "not the right response". This Aug 20 satellite image provided by Nasa shows the fires Credit: AP British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I passionately share the view of Emmanuel Macron, and one of the things I am going to be raising at the G7 is the horrific loss of habitats and species around the world.” French officials said talks were underway to take “concrete initiatives on the Amazon as part of the G7”. However, all eyes will be on Donald Trump, with whom Mr Macron claims to have a close working relationship but who he has to date failed to sway on a range of issues from Iran and trade to the climate. A staunch climate sceptic himself having pulled out of the Paris accords, the US president views Mr Bolsonaro as a valuable regional ally who he may choose to defend against European attacks on Brazilian “sovereignty”. Where there's smoke: the city of Porto Velho, state capital of Rondonia, in the upper Amazon River basin, on Aug 16 Credit: Rex Even so, pressure was piling up on the Brazilian president on the domestic front as demonstrations were held in dozens of cities around his country. Others were also staged in Paris and London. Brazil's agribusiness lobby, which wields significant influence within Congress, also expressed concerns over a drop in exports due to a potential boycott of Brazilian products. In an apparent bid to reduce tensions, Mr Bolsonaro mooted the idea of deploying the army to help fight the fires, some 700 of which were ignited between Wednesday and Thursday alone, according to the National Institute for Space Research.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 04:44:46 -0400
  • UPDATE 3-Global disputes set to jolt G7 summit in French resort

    U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in France on Saturday for what promises to be a fraught meeting of major industrialised nations, with friction over trade, climate change and Iran likely to snarl the talks. The three-day Group of Seven meeting in the Atlantic seaside resort of Biarritz takes place amid sharp differences over a clutch of global issues that risk further dividing a group of countries already struggling to speak with one voice.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 04:31:52 -0400
  • Israeli Super Tough F-35 Stealth Fighters Are Shaking Up the Middle East news

    As so often in the Middle East, especially in the shadow war between Israel and Iran, it’s hard to know exactly what happened. The tale changes with whoever tells it, and why they’re telling it. Still, we can make some educated guesses.Israel’s F-35 stealth fighters are positively supernatural: here, there and everywhere. In 2018, the Israeli Air Force claimed its new F-35s had attacked Iranian targets in Syria. Also in 2018, Arab press made dubious claims that IAF F-35s had flown over Iran.Now comes reports that Israeli F-35s have attacked Iranian targets in Iraq, according to Arab media.Western diplomatic sources allegedly the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that on July 19, “Tel Aviv carried out an airstrike earlier this month against an Iranian rockets depot northeast of Baghdad.”El Arabiya television reported that the strike hit Iranian ballistic missiles being transported in refrigerated food trucks. Several Hezbollah and Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members were reportedly killed,A second strike targeted another Iranian base, according to Asharq Al-Awsat. “The Ashraf base in Iraq, a former base used by the Iranian opposition People's Mujahedin of Iran, was targeted by an air raid,” according to the newspaper. “The base lies 80 kilometers from the border with Iran and 40 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. The sources revealed that the strikes targeted Iranian ‘advisors’ and a ballistic missile shipment that had recently arrived from Iran to Iraq.”Compounding the mystery were initial reports that unidentified drones conducted the attacks.Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, told U.S. publication Breaking Defense that Israel probably did attack Iranian targets in Iraq. “Apparently, Israel is really operating in Iraq,” he said. “It is sensible that Israel will not claim responsibility for such an attack as it may complicate things for the U.S. Without referring to the specific attack I can say that the F-35 is the ideal aircraft for such an attack.”As so often in the Middle East, especially in the shadow war between Israel and Iran, it’s hard to know exactly what happened. The tale changes with whoever tells it, and why they’re telling it. Still, we can make some educated guesses.First and foremost is the fact that Israel has refused to accept being surrounded by Iranian missile bases on its borders. The Israeli Air Force has turned Syria into a shooting gallery, with hundred of strikes hitting Iranian convoys crossing Syria to supply arms to Hezbollah into Lebanon, as well as Iranian and Hezbollah bases in Syria itself.“We can – and we intend to – make it as difficult as possible and inflict a price tag that the Iranians aren’t willing to pay,” an Israeli military official told me during an interview in Jerusalem last February. Which suggests that Israel would shy away from striking Iranian facilities in Iraq, especially now that the U.S. doesn’t have a major military presence there anymore.An Israeli strike in Iran would be risky even with F-35s, given distance to the target – about a thousand miles from Tel Aviv to Tehran -- Iranian air defenses (including Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles) and potential Iranian retaliation. But Tel Aviv to Baghdad is less than 600 miles. Israeli aircraft could fly over Syria or even Jordan (as they did in their 1981 attack that destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor).Weakened by years of warfare and a dysfunctional government and military, Iraqi defenses wouldn’t pose much of a threat. Iraq would be a fairly safe test as the Israeli Air Force absorbs its F-35Is.None of which is conclusive proof that Israeli F-35s struck Iraq. But as in any murder mystery, the prime suspect has motive, opportunity and capability.Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.Image: Reuters.(This article was originally published earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 04:22:00 -0400
  • This Dual Purpose Navy Ship is More Than Just an Aircraft Carrier news

    But if the Navy wants to, it could instead cram up to twenty fighters on the LHDs, turning them effectively into light aircraft carriers—a class of ship the Navy hasn’t built since World War II. Were the USS America to cruise alongside the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the average Joe might struggle to distinguish their purposes. Both flat-tops measure longer than two-and-half football fields in length and carry jet fighters and helicopters.But the America and her sistership Tripoli are technically “Landing Helicopter Assault” vessels numbered LHA-6 and LHA-7 respectively: super-sized members of the “gator navy” of amphibious assault ships designed to deploy the expeditionary units of the U.S. Marine Corps onto hostile shores. In addition to the Navy crew of 1,000-1,200 sailors and officers, each LHA can carry nearly 1,700 Marines.Unlike the catapult-launched Rafale-M jet fighters on the Charles de Gaulle, the America and Tripoli can only deploy short-takeoff and vertical-lift capable jump jets from their decks. You can see a video of an F-35B hovering down for a landing on the America here.Rather than using nuclear reactors to achieve brisk speeds of 30 knots, 45,000-ton LHAs use an innovative hybrid electric/gas-turbine propulsion system pioneered in the final Wasp-class LHD, USS Makin Island. The electric propulsion is used for slower cruising speeds while the gas-turbine becomes more efficient near the more modest maximum speed of twenty knots.However, unlike the Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) they were based upon, America and Tripoli lack floodable “well deck” which can carry landing craft to ferry troops ashore. (This video shows how the Wasp’s cavernous well deck works.) All that space has instead gone to dramatically expanded aviation facilities and fuel stores. The ship’s medical facilities were also reduced by two-thirds.Instead of watercraft, the LHAs rely on squadrons of MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors, sophisticated hybrid aircraft combining the vertical lift ability of a helicopter and the speed and range of an airplane—to insert troops by air.Officially, a “typical” air wing on the America would include a dozen Ospreys, six Harrier or F-35B jump jets, seven AH-1Z “Viper” attack and four CH-53K heavy transport helicopters to support troops ashore, and two MH-60S choppers for anti-submarine and search-and-rescue duties.But if the Navy wants to, it could instead cram up to twenty fighters on the LHDs, turning them effectively into light aircraft carriers—a class of ship the Navy hasn’t built since World War II. Like the lower-end escort carrier, the concept was that there were many missions like aircraft delivery and convoy escort that would benefit from air support, but didn’t require the massive firepower of a full carrier air wing with seventy to a hundred warplanes.Indeed, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the Navy used the LHDs Bataan and Bonhomme Richard as pocket carriers primarily to launch Harrier airstrikes in Iraq.However, the subsonic Harrier, though a versatile support platform, was substantially inferior in performance to equivalent land-based or catapult-launched fighters.The new supersonic-capable F-35B Lightning II stealth jets entering service with the Marine Corps are far more capable of taking on fourth- and fifth-generation fighters and launching longer-range strikes. Combined with the F-35’s surveillance capabilities, this means future air wings on LHDs and LHAs will be far more versatile.As the Pentagon’s chief strategic contingency is preparing for the possibility of conflict with China, the Marine Corps sees the Pacific Ocean as its most important likely battleground. A U.S.-China conflict might play out over small islands in the South China Sea in which the Chinese military has installed airfields, missile batteries and naval bases. And it may prove inefficient or risky to delegate a full-sized supercarrier to operations targeting these islands, or defend islands to which Marine and Army forces have deployed their own missile batteries.Indeed, the LHD USS Wasp deployed in April 2019 with ten F-35Bs onboard and buzzed Chinese troops deployed at Scarborough Shoal, an occupied by Chinese troops but claimed by the Philippines.Light carriers might also be appropriate in scale for protecting vital convoys traversing the vastness of the Pacific against sporadic air and submarine attacks using their onboard fighters and helicopters respectively.The cost of the America-class LHAs reflects the efficiency argument well: the three ships ordered together were developed and built for $10 billion. That’s less than a single $13 billion Gerald Ford-class supercarrier.Bringing Back the Well DeckNonetheless, Marines have understandable objections to the removal of the ability to deploy landing craft from a nominally “amphibious” ship.Afterall, air-cushion landing craft (LCAC) can carry up to 180 soldiers, 60-75 tons of supplies on each load, and vehicles as large as an Abrams main battle tank. Meanwhile, an Osprey can only carry 10-15 tons or thirty-two personnel. The only vehicle the MV-22B is certified to carry internally is a Growler jeep.The Marine Corps, however, is increasingly convinced that D-Day style amphibious landings on defended beachheads are less and less likely to be viable in modern warfare. It’s not merely that they fear a bloodbath on the beaches of the sort depicted in Saving Private Ryan or Letters from Iwo Jima. Strategists worry that long-range shore-launched anti-ship missiles will make it unlikely that landing craft, and even the larger LHDs and LHA carrying those landing craft, will be able to approach close enough to even deposit their troops in the first place. Surely, giant amphibious ships stuffed full with over a thousand Marines would be particularly tempting targets. America-class LHAs can at least thin out threats up to thirty miles away with their two Evolved Sea Sparrow missile launchers before having to rely on Phalanx gatling cannons and Rolling Airframe Missile launchers and Nulka decoys for point defense. But none of these systems can even hope to stop anti-ship ballistic missiles entering service in Iran and China.Thus, the Marine Corps recently abandoned its former objective of maintaining thirty-eight amphibious assault ships in service (it currently has thirty-two) which can deployed two full brigades into battle between them, in favor of dispersing troops amongst more numerous, though less capable, auxiliary and even robotic ships.That may explain why the Navy prioritized the ability to launch additional troop-carrying Ospreys from over a hundred miles away which can land behind enemy lines rather than exposed beachheads.But that doesn’t change the issue of logistical throughput: if you need to rapidly reinforce a beachhead with heavy weapons, vehicles and supplies, landing craft are preferable—especially once nearby enemy defenses are suppressed.The Ospreys themselves, while highly flexible, are also expensive to maintain and operate per flight hour. Furthermore, exhaust from both the Osprey and, especially, the F-35Bs inflict heat damage to the flight deck over time, limiting the advisability and increasing the cost of surging high-intensity flight operations over prolonged periods. The Navy has been continuously adapting the ships to prevent heat damage for years.Therefore, in a bid to restore flexibility, the third America-class ship, Bouganville (LHA-8) which was laid down in March 2019 in Mississippi, will see the well-deck restored with a capacity for two LCACS. The island is trimmed down to allow more flight deck parking spot in compensation for lost hangar space. Armament and sensors are re-situated onto the vessel’s “island” superstructure, including a brand-new EASR radar also destined to equip future Gerald Ford-class carriers.The new configuration inevitably requires tradeoffs. According to a chart at Navy Recognition, Bougainville falls squarely in between the Wasp-class LHD and the first two America-class boats with 38,000 square feet of deck space dedicated to aviation, but has less than half the aviation fuel capacity of her sister ships and more limited vehicle stowage. Despite these downsides, the restoration of the ability to carry landing craft should improve the America class’s flexibility. Still, naval planners will hopefully bear in mind the carrier’s secondary potential to serve as economy-size aircraft carriers for missions that don’t require $13 billion supercarriers.Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.Image: Reuters.(This article was originally published earlier this month and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 02:30:00 -0400
  • Why John Bolton Is Pushing Hard For Britain to Leave the European Union news

    National security adviser John Bolton made an extraordinary promise while on a visit to London Monday, pledging that the United Kingdom would jump to the “front of the queue” for trade with the United States if it went ahead and left the European Union.Already, some are concerned that the promise of such trade favoritism might prompt an inevitable no-deal Brexit, the kind U.K. officials have long hoped to avoid.“If that’s the decision of the British government we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey. We’re with you, we’re with you,” Bolton told reporters on the first day of his two-day visit.He emphasized that the United States didn’t want to pressure the U.K. to leave the EU (in an arrangement dubbed “Brexit”), but to support it in doing so. The U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the EU, but has thus far failed to get a deal passed in Parliament.Bolton’s gesture was not met with smiles on all fronts — an op-ed in The Guardian pointed out on Tuesday that the offer was actually a move to colonize the U.K., and another in The Independent called the national security adviser “a snake.”Prime Minister Theresa May tried and failed, repeatedly, to get a deal passed, and now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has until October 31 to reach a deal. If he fails to do so, then the U.K. will find itself in a “no-deal” Brexit, which will throw things further into chaos, notably trade at the border of Northern Ireland (which is in the U.K.) and the Republic of Ireland (which is in the EU.)Johnson would like the EU to renegotiate elements of the deal, but Brussels so far has refused to do so — as it did when May repeatedly made the same request. It is now up to the U.K. to figure out how to make Brexit work within its own laws and regulations.President Donald Trump, who is not a fan of multilateral agreements, has been a Brexiteer from the jump. He also openly chastised May for her failure to pass a deal in Parliament.In saying that the United States would support the U.K.’s departure from the EU but not a decision to remain, Bolton is stating a policy. For a national security adviser to make trade policy promises on the premise that a country make a major policy change, is remarkable.The United States, meanwhile, remains embroiled in a trade war with China, with tariffs and counter-tariffs flying, and almost nothing happening in the way of negotiations.Trump’s landmark trade deal is also at a standstill. The USMCA, which was to replace NAFTA — the longstanding agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada — has yet to be ratified, and as of now, is dying on the vine.Per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.K. is the seventh largest trade partner with the United States and the fourth largest export destination for American goods. It accounts for 15% of foreign investment in the United States.There is, of course, room for improvement, even in an already strong relationship between the United States and U.K. But there’s also healthy skepticism about what the Trump administration may want in return.“This is a highly transactional administration,” said Jack Straw, former foreign secretary under Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an interview with the BBC’s Radio 4 on Tuesday.He added, “You don’t get something for nothing.”Indeed, the Trump administration might have already tipped its hand on this one.In February, the administration published its objectives for trade with the U.K. moving forward. Those objectives speak to a weak post-Brexit U.K. that would have to bring itself in line with U.S. regulations — something that won’t be in the interests of a U.K. that will still want to trade with the EU.The Trump administration would also like to deregulate the health service in the U.K. by preventing the “the undermining of market access for U.S. products through the improper use of the UK’s system for protecting or recognizing geographical indications” and providing “full market access for U.S. products.”This article originally appeared on ThinkProgress on August 13, 2019.D. Parvaz covers foreign policy for ThinkProgress.Image: Reuters.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 01:45:00 -0400
  • What Boris Johnson Fears More Than a No-Deal Brexit news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems rather glib about the idea of his country crashing out of the European Union without a deal – an outcome that myriad authoritative bodies have predicted will be highly costly for the U.K. economy -- it is most likely because there is something he fears more than that.Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is far from a real opposition party. It doesn’t not have a single member of parliament. It may even have peaked in the polls since Johnson took the Conservative Party reins. But it could easily pose a threat to the Conservatives winning an electoral majority. Johnson’s hell-for-leather lurch toward a no-deal Brexit isn’t really about getting Brussels to offer concessions so much as keeping Farage at bay.In talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the G-7 summit, Johnson repeated his desire to see Britain and the EU reach an agreement that allows the U.K. to leave the EU on Oct. 31 with a deal. But the U.K. prime minister offered no willingness to compromise, only an insistence that the EU should.Had his predecessor, Theresa May, managed to win a compromise from Brussels that put a time limit on the disputed Irish backstop – the insurance policy built into the deal that maintains an open Irish border by keeping the U.K. in the EU’s customs union – Johnson would have been delighted. Now Johnson wants the backstop scrapped entirely, a much tougher position that emerged relatively late in his party leadership campaign.That stance was initially seen by many as merely a negotiating gambit; a signal to the EU that his no-deal threats were serious. Rather, it was more likely an acknowledgement that it would be hard to exorcise the Faragist threat to Conservatives unless he too worshipped at the altar of a “clean break” Brexit, as the no-deal variant is sometimes called.The Brexit Party, which will launch its own election plans on Tuesday, is keeping up the pressure. After Johnson’s letter to the EU confirming he could not accept the backstop but holding out the hope of some kind of compromise, Farage pounced. He warned Johnson that even scrapping the backstop but accepting the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement would betray the 2016 “leave” vote. David Davis, a hardline Brexiter who served as Brexit Secretary under May, also warned that just getting rid of the backstop wouldn’t be enough to make the deal acceptable.In other words, Brexiters – who wouldn’t have dreamed of promoting a no-deal exit back in 2016 -- have moved the goal posts again. Now, it’s hard to see any compromise that won’t be cast as a sell-out.For Johnson, this presents a longer term problem. In the wake of a deal over the backstop that got through parliament, Britain would have its transition period and, pretty soon, a new U.K. trade delegation would schlepp off to Brussels to negotiate the future trade relationship. You can imagine how that would play out back in Britain. Michel Barnier (or his replacement) and his team -- far more experienced negotiators holding better cards -- would run circles around the U.K. side. Every concession would become another cause of national hand-wringing over the drip-drip from the glacier of British sovereignty melting into an ocean of EU rules.In other words, what is the real reward for doing a Brexit deal now from Johnson’s perspective? Nigel Farage would become the Greta Thunberg of the sovereigntist cause. Britain will be in a constant and never-ending state of sovereignty emergency. Government will be under attack from within. The betrayal narrative started with the opposition to May’s deal and has been growing ever since; Johnson may have decided (along with his top advisor and focus-group guru Dominic Cummings) that only a no-deal Brexit can quash it.A no-deal Brexit, of course, doesn’t settle matters. Far from it; the U.K. will have to re-enter negotiations with the EU very soon just to keep from sinking into a prolonged recession. There are serious risks, from the much-feared shortages of food and medicine and transport disruptions to lost investment and business closures.  And yet by the time the two sides sit down again, Johnson will have hoped to have won an election and banished Farage to the wilderness again. And having proved he was willing to walk away, he’ll have answered those who accused him of insincerity. But Johnson is gambling that he can win an election in the chaotic aftermath of no-deal Brexit -- by no means a sure thing. If he loses, he risks destroying what’s left of the Conservative Party’s reputation for competence.The EU also has a high hurdle to clear to reach a compromise. Breaching its own red lines – particularly in upholding the single market – could cause other EU countries to make demands of their own, which would be worse than no deal because it would be seen as posing an existential threat to the Union. Much would depend on the stance taken by Ireland, which has the most to lose from a no-deal Brexit and which is party to the Good Friday Agreement that has been the reason for the backstop arrangement.Still, of the two sides, Johnson has further to travel. Hardline Brexiters now see no-deal as the ultimate test of faith and will fight the next election on that ground if they can. If he is to agree on any deal, it must be one that doesn’t oxygenate Farage’s side. None of this is to say that Johnson would prefer to leave with no deal if there were an acceptable compromise on offer. It’s just that, at the moment, a no-deal Brexit might look politically more attractive than the risks he would have to run for the sake of an agreement.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at stebaker@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 01:00:06 -0400
  • N. Korea test-fires missiles again after joint drills end news

    North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday in the seventh weapons launch in a month, South Korea's military said, a day after it vowed to remain America's biggest threat in protest of U.S.-led sanctions on the country. President Donald Trump downplayed the latest launch. "Kim Jong Un has been, you know, pretty straight with me.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 00:41:17 -0400
  • UN envoy challenges Malaysia's claim to near zero poverty news

    A U.N. special rapporteur challenged Malaysia's claim to have nearly ended poverty, saying an estimated one in six people in the Southeast Asian country are still considered poor. Malaysia's official poverty rate fell from 49% in 1970 to just 0.4% in 2016. Philip Alston, the U.N. rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said Friday the rate was "extremely artificial," doesn't reflect the cost of living and excluded vulnerable populations.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 00:34:50 -0400
  • Why Is Saudi Arabia Buying a Billion-Dollar Ship The Navy Doesn't Even Want? news

    The kingdom’s enthusiasm for the Littoral Combat Ship may seem curious given that the U.S. Navy has infamously struggled with the vessels’ reliability, cost overruns, lack of firepower, and inability to conveniently slot in different “mission modules” as had originally been advertised. These flaws led the Navy to cut its order for LCS down from fifty-five to thirty-two vessels, though Congress insisted the Navy buy three additional ships.On July 29, members of the U.S. Senate voted forty-five to forty to block new sales of laser-guided bombs and aircraft maintenance services to Saudi Arabia—falling short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto by the Trump administration blocking the ban from taking effect. Despite deteriorating public support for Riyadh due to its implication in an exceptional number of civilian deaths in Yemen and the murder of one of its own citizens in the Turkish embassy, the flow of U.S. arms is set to continue.Earlier in May, the Trump administration argued the new sales could be authorized on an emergency basis, bypassing congressional review, due to escalating tensions with Iran in the Persian Gulf.However, one of the arms sales most pertinent to Saudi Arabia’s ability to police the increasingly tense waterways is already well underway, having been years in the making.Since 2008, the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy has planned to invest $20 billion in its SNEP II naval expansion project. It currently operates seven frigates, four thousand-ton Badr-class corvettes and nine 500-ton patrol boats. All but three of its frigates date back to the 1980s.The sale of four modified Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), a corvette-type vessel, was initially proposed under the Obama administration in 2015 and authorized under Trump as part of a larger $110 billion package in May 2017. The U.S. government awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin in 2018, and vessels are currently under construction in Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin and set for delivery between 2019–2021.The kingdom’s enthusiasm for the Littoral Combat Ship may seem curious given that the U.S. Navy has infamously struggled with the vessels’ reliability, cost overruns, lack of firepower, and inability to conveniently slot in different “mission modules” as had originally been advertised. These flaws led the Navy to cut its order for LCS down from fifty-five to thirty-two vessels, though Congress insisted the Navy buy three additional ships.So why is Riyadh ready to spring the dough for the over-engineered and under-gunned corvettes?First of all, the Saudi Arabian Navy is primarily dedicated to operations in littoral waters of the Persian Gulf, where shipping of ultra-valuable oil tankers faces harassment from Iran’s unconventional naval forces, and the Gulfs of Oman and Aden, where Saudi ships seeks to interdict arms and agents smuggled by Iran into Yemen.Littoral combat ships, as their name suggests, were built for speed, maneuverability and stealth in coastal waters: they are agile and have shallow drafts ideal for “knife-fighting” small ships close to shore. Even their light armament—inadequate versus conventional warships of equivalent size—is optimized for sparring with smaller fast boats within visual range.Saudi LCSs will also serve as a useful platform to deploy some of the ten advanced MH-60R Seahawk helicopters purchased by Riyadh in a $1.9 billion deal, the first of which was delivered in September 2018. The multi-mission choppers can help locate ships using their infrared sensors and multi-mode radars, perform search-and-rescue duties, detect submarines with their ALFS dipping sonar and attack them with Mark 54 torpedoes, and even blast surface targets with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided APKWS 70-millimeter rockets.Second, the Saudi LCSs are of an enlarged 4,000-ton model called the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant which ditches the (unsuccessful) mission module concept for more powerful fixed sensors and weapons, and a crew expanded by fifty percent to between 110-130 personnel. Lockheed Martin was paid $450 million for the design and long-lead materials for the new variant. You can see photos of an MMSC model here.The MMSC is nine feet longer and now includes eight Mark 41 vertical-launch cells, each of which can be packed with four medium-range Evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missiles, for a total of 32. These also possess a secondary anti-ship capability. A new TRS4D Active Electronically Scanned Array radar linked to a COMBATSS21 combat system based on the Aegis air-defense system on U.S. cruisers and destroyers allows sensors and fire control to be networked with friendly ships. This will give the Saudi LCS a shot at protecting nearby ships and thinning out incoming cruise missile salvoes from up to thirty miles away, instead of only being able to defend itself with short-range Rolling Airframe Missiles and close defense guns.The Mark 41 cells could also be used to launch other types of missiles like the longer-range SM-2 surface-to-air missile or Tomahawk cruise missile, should the Saudi Navy elect to acquire them.The Saudi LCS also adds in two four-shot launchers loaded with Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles with a range of eighty-one miles, allowing it to engage enemy warships over the horizon. Without such weapons, littoral combat ships are badly outranged even by Iran’s own modest fleet of missile-armed surface combatants.The MMSC retains the Freedom-class’s rapid-firing 57-millimeter dual-purpose gun, but trades the surface-warfare variant’s secondary 30-millimeter guns for smaller 20-millimeter remote-control Nexter Narwhal cannons.The Saudi MMSC is also slower with a maximum speed over 30 knots, not the 40 knots LCSs are renowned for, but has its range increased by more than 40 percent to over 5,700 miles. The four relatively small warships are costing Riyadh a stiff $6 billion, though the contract includes training services, spare parts and over 750 missiles. In fact, the initially proposed deal would have cost $11.25 billion and the vessels would have been even more heavily armed with sixteen Mark 41 cells, a 76-millimeter gun and torpedo tubes. But this price proved too much to swallow even for the Saudis.At the same time as the LCSs are delivered through 2021, Riyadh is set to receive five smaller Avante 2200 corvettes displacing 2,500 tons from Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. These are similarly armed to the MMSC, but slower and require a larger crew—and will cost far less at $2.5 billion for the total package.The modifications to Saudi Arabia’s littoral combat ships make them far more capable of defending themselves and friendly vessels from air and surface threats. However, the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy will still need to keep its fingers crossed that the revised design will not suffer from the serious reliability issues afflicting LCSs in the U.S. Navy, which has yet to deploy a single LCS to the Persian Gulf theater it was designed for. Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.Image: Reuters.(This article was originally published earlier this month and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0400
  • U.S., Japan Reach Agreement on Trade Deal Framework, Reports Say

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Japan agreed on a broad framework for a trade deal that will keep U.S. tariffs on Japanese automobiles in place for now, while removing barriers to beef and pork exports to Japan, Japanese media reported.Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Japan Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reached an agreement in Washington on Friday, the Nikkei and Kyodo News reported, without citing sources. The U.S. currently has a 2.5% import tax on Japanese cars and a 25% levy on trucks from the nation. Japan will lower tariffs on U.S. beef and pork to the same levels as those proposed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they said.The report raises the likelihood that U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a trade announcement during the Group of Seven summit in France this weekend. Japan is seeking to stay in Trump’s good graces to avoid costly tariffs and retain positive relations with an ally that ensures its security against China and North Korea. Japan is also counting on U.S. support as its diplomatic spat with South Korea intensifies.A draft agreement could be signed by the end of September, the Nikkei reported. Trump, who threatened to raise tariffs on the approximately $50 billion worth of cars and auto parts Japan exports to the U.S. annually, had hinted that there might be a deal in August.A deal with Japan would give Trump a victory in his trade wars. The U.S. President is escalating his trade war with China, announcing that an existing 25% tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30% come Oct. 1. He also told U.S. companies to withdraw from China.The latest actions are a sign of Trump’s growing frustration with the lack of progress in his trade assault on China and a slowing economy, according to analysts and people close to the administration.“Trump will likely have to end the trade war if he wants to avoid a US recession and get re-elected next year,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital. “At this stage there is still no end in sight and so share markets likely have to fall further to pressure Trump to solve the issue and de-escalate.”Agricultural goods, automobiles and car parts were the focus of talks between the trading partners. The agreed framework calls for Japan’s tariffs on imported beef to be lowered gradually to 9% from 38.5%, the Nikkei said. Japanese automakers have expressed concern over Trump’s actions in the market.Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in May he was “dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the U.S. are not welcomed.”(Updates with economist comment. A previous version of this story was corrected to show Japan seeking removal of tariffs.)\--With assistance from Matthew Burgess.To contact the reporters on this story: Shoko Oda in Tokyo at;Gareth Allan in Tokyo at gallan11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at, Reed Stevenson, Finbarr FlynnFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 23:13:08 -0400
  • North Korea launches short-range missiles complicating US attempts for talks news

    North Korea fired what appears to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Saturday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks. A US official said the two missiles North Korea had fired appeared to be similar to launches in recent weeks. Saturday's launch, the seventh by North Korea since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the inter-Korean border in June, have complicated attempts to restart talks between US and North Korean negotiators over the future of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. The two leaders agreed to restart working-level negotiations in June, but since then the United States has so far been unsuccessful in attempts to get talks going. US envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun was in Seoul this week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track. "We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea," Mr Biegun said on Wednesday. But in recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly criticised US and South Korean largely computer-simulated joint military drills, South Korea's import of high-tech weapons such as F-35 stealth jets, and US testing of its intermediate-range cruise missile as threatening and hindrances to dialogue. North Korean missile ranges On Friday, North Korea's top diplomat called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a "diehard toxin," saying: "We are ready for both dialogue and standoff." South Korea's National Security Council (NSC) expressed "strong concern" over North Korea's continued launches despite the fact that the South Korea-US joint military exercises denounced by North Korea had ended. It called for North Korea to stop escalating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The NSC agreed to make diplomatic efforts to bring North Korea to the negotiating table with the United States as soon as possible for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's presidential office said in a statement. A senior US administration official said: "We are aware of reports of a missile launch from North Korea, and continue to monitor the situation. We are consulting closely with our Japanese and South Korean allies." Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said that North Korea's missile launches were a clear violation of UN resolutions and cannot be ignored. He confirmed that missiles fell outside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, and posed no immediate threat to Japan's security. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) said North Korea fired what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles on Saturday at around 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m. KST respectively from around Sondok, South Hamgyong Province. Sondok is the site of a North Korean military airfield. They flew about 236 miles and reached a height of 60 miles, JSC said. Japan's Coast Guard warned shipping not to approach any fallen debris. South Korea officially informed Japan on Friday of its decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing agreement, which Japanese Minister of Defence Takeshi Iwaya said was regrettable and showed that Seoul failed to appreciate the growing security threat posed by North Korea.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 21:55:28 -0400
  • North Korea Launches Two More Missiles in Latest Provocation

    (Bloomberg) -- North Korea launched more missiles on Saturday, the latest in the most prolific series of tests since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.South Korea’s Defense Ministry said two ballistic missiles were launched from south Hamgyong, traveling about 380 kilometers (236 miles) and reaching a maximum altitude of 97 kilometers. They landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japan’s Coast Guard said in a statement.The U.S. assessed that two short-range missiles were fired in the direction of the Sea of Japan, about 15 minutes apart, officials told CNN. South Korea said the tests took place at 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m. local time, and that it will analyze the information with the U.S.Kim Jong Un’s regime has conducted a series of short-range ballistic missile tests in recent weeks as he seeks a more favorable negotiating framework in nuclear talks with Trump. The U.S. leader has said the tests shouldn’t disrupt talks, so long as Kim doesn’t launch longer-range missiles that could strike America.South Korea’s presidential office expressed deep concern over North Korea’s continued missile launches, despite the fact that joint drills between the U.S. and South Korea had finished, according to a text message. It urged North Korea to halt action that raises military tension in the peninsula. Japan’s defense ministry said it was aware of the launches and would update with more information when available.North Korea has issued several statements in recent days saying that military moves by the U.S. and South Korea are making it more difficult for the country to participate in talks. On Friday, North Korea’s top diplomat accused Secretary of State Michael Pompeo of undermining negotiations, even as Trump’s nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, was in Seoul.Related story: North Korea Testing Missiles Faster Than Days of ‘Fire and Fury’South Korea said it will provide Japan with information on the missile launch upon request as an intelligence-sharing pact between the two is still in force. On Thursday, South Korea notified Japan of plans to withdraw from a three-year-old framework for exchanging classified military information as their feud over trade measures and historical grievances extended into security cooperation.(Updates with text message statement from South Korea’s presidential office.)To contact the reporters on this story: Gearoid Reidy in Tokyo at;Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gearoid Reidy at, ;Shamim Adam at, Gareth Allan, Reed StevensonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 21:23:34 -0400
  • U.S. aware of reports of North Korea missile launch, consulting with allies -official

    The United States is aware of reports of a North Korean missile launch and is consulting with Japan and South Korea, a senior administration official said on Friday. "We are aware of reports of a missile launch from North Korea, and continue to monitor the situation.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:14:08 -0400
  • UN expert: No peace in Myanmar if no military prosecutions

    There will be no long-term peace in Myanamar and no return of Rohingya refugees unless there is accountability for the "brutality" of the Asian country's military forces, a member of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said Friday. Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan lawyer who is one of the mission's three international experts, told an informal Security Council meeting on accountability in Myanmar that the commission believes a domestic judicial process is not possible at this time. "There's danger to the victims and witnesses, as they have been threatened, and we feel that the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Myanmar government may face the same challenge," she said.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 19:20:59 -0400
  • Global disputes likely to thwart unity at G7 summit in France

    Leaders of the G7 nations arrive in France on Saturday for a summit as a brewing U.S.-China confrontation over protectionism highlighted President Emmanuel Macron's tough task in delivering meaningful results on trade, Iran and climate change. The three-day meeting in the Atlantic seaside resort of Biarritz takes place amid sharp differences over a clutch of global issues that risk further dividing a group of countries already struggling to pull together. Summit host Macron wants the leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to focus on the defence of democracy, gender equality, education and climate change, and has invited leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America to join them for a global push on these issues.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 19:00:00 -0400
  • Sajid Javid prepares ground for no-deal emergency budget - The Times

    British finance minister Sajid Javid is preparing ground for a no-deal emergency budget in the fortnight before Britain leaves the European Union, The Times reported. Javid, who took office last month, will ask the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to begin work on forecasts for a no-deal Brexit within days, the newspaper reported. Javid will postpone the final decision on whether to push ahead with the budget until after the European Council meets on Oct. 17, the report added.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:51:22 -0400
  • Imperial Japan Wanted Battleships with Insane 20-Inch Guns. Here's Why It Never Set Sail news

    Had the war not come, Japan would have bankrupted itself spending on these massive ships. Japan lacked the industrial capacity to compete with the United States; indeed, even if it had managed to seize and keep wide swaths of East Asia, it could not have matched U.S. industrial production for decades. The United States would have responded to Japanese construction with even larger, more deadly ships, and of course eventually with submarines, aircraft and guided missiles.In January 1936 Japan announced its intention to withdraw from the London Naval Treaty, accusing both the United States and the United Kingdom of negotiating in bad faith. The Japanese sought formal equality in naval construction limits, something that the Western powers would not give. In the wake of this withdrawal, Japanese battleship architects threw themselves into the design of new vessels. The first class to emerge were the 18.1-inch-gun-carrying Yamatos, the largest battleships ever constructed. However, the Yamatos were by no means the end of Japanese ambitions. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) planned to build another, larger class of super battleships, and had vague plans for even larger ships to succeed that class. War interceded, but had Japan carried out its plans it might have deployed monster battleships nearly as large as supercarriers into the Pacific.(This first appeared in 2016.)“Super” YamatosThe A-150 class would have superseded the Yamatos, building on experience with that class to produce a more formidable, flexible fighting unit. Along with the Yamatos, these ships were expected to provide the IJN with an unbeatable battle line to protect its Pacific possessions, along with newly acquired territories in Southeast Asia and China.Recommended: Could the Battleship Make a Comeback? ​The A-150s would theoretically have carried six 510-millimeter (twenty-inch) guns in three twin turrets, although if problems had developed in the construction of that gun they could have carried the same main armament as the Yamatos. The 510-millimeter guns would have wreaked havoc on any existing (or planned) American or British battleships, but would also have caused substantial blast issues for the more delicate parts of the ship. The A-150s would have carried heavier armor than their smaller cousins, more than sufficient to protect from the heaviest weapons in the American or British arsenals. The secondary armament would have included a substantial number of 3.9-inch dual-purpose guns, a relatively small caliber suggesting that the A-150s may have relied on support vessels to protect them from enemy cruisers and destroyers.Recommended: America's Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Design compromises limited the effectiveness of the Yamatos by reducing their speed and range; they could not keep up with the fastest IJN carriers, and burned too much fuel for economic employment in campaigns such as Guadalcanal. The A-150s would likely have been somewhat faster (thirty knots) than the Yamatos, with a longer range more suitable for missions deep into the Pacific.Recommended: How the U.S. Navy Wanted to Merge Aircraft Carriers and BattleshipsThe construction of the Yamatos challenged the capacity of the Japanese steel and shipbuilding industries, and the A-150s would have strained them even more. For example, producing the armor plate necessary to protect a battleship against twenty-inch guns was simply beyond Japan’s industrial capacity, and would have required serious compromises. Moreover, the IJN would have struggled to surround the A150s with support units. While the USN committed to building an enormous number of heavy cruisers, light cruisers and aircraft carriers in addition to the battleship fleet, Japan completed only a small handful of these ships during the war.Little is known about the successors to the A-150 class, which would have been larger, faster and more heavily armed. Potentially displacing a hundred thousand tons, and carrying eight twenty-inch guns in four twin turrets, even the contemplation of such ships would have required a serious revision of economic realities in East Asia. In any case, the changes in naval technology that rendered the battleship obsolete likely would have become obvious before any of these monsters had entered service.Strategic and Economic FollyJapan ordered two A-150 battleships in the 1942 construction program. The first would have succeeded HIJMS Shinano on the dock; the second, the never named fourth sister of the Yamato class. However, wartime demands for smaller ships (and eventually for aircraft carriers) meant that neither ship was ever laid down.But the war only exposed underlying economic realities; it did not forge them. Japan barely had the industrial capacity to build the initial Yamatos, along with all of the support ships that the battlefleet would require. This is the dirty little secret of the entire Washington Naval Treaty system; the United Kingdom could outpace Japanese construction by a wide margin, and the United States could outpace both combined, if it decided to do so. The treaty system prevented an arms race that Japan could not possibly have won, whether in 1921 or in 1937. Japan’s GDP at the beginning of World War II was a bit over half that of Britain’s, and less than a quarter that of the United States.Japan’s naval success at the beginning of the Pacific War happened because of the treaties, not despite them. The IJN played a poor hand very well, but in any kind of extended naval competition against the United States, the UK, or a combination of the two, it could not win. Upon discovering the existence of these ships, the United States would have begun to construct even larger battleships, as well as other means of sinking large battleships. Indeed, in 1952 the United States laid down USS Forrestal, the first of a class of four aircraft carriers substantially larger than the A-150 class battleships.ConclusionHad the war not come, Japan would have bankrupted itself spending on these massive ships. Japan lacked the industrial capacity to compete with the United States; indeed, even if it had managed to seize and keep wide swaths of East Asia, it could not have matched U.S. industrial production for decades. The United States would have responded to Japanese construction with even larger, more deadly ships, and of course eventually with submarines, aircraft and guided missiles.Warships are (imperfect) reflections of existing economic realities. Timing, technology and grand strategy matter, but in raw competition involving mature technologies, superior economic strength will eventually prevail. The Japanese economy would eventually become competitive with that of the UK, and even the United States, but this would only happen in context of an open trading system with access to the European and American markets. No battleship could carry guns large enough to bring that outcome about.Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security, and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money and Information Dissemination and The Diplomat.Image: Wikimedia Commons.(This article originally appeared in 2018.)

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:00:00 -0400
  • China Says U.S. Is Using Fentanyl Feud as Political Weapon

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is politicizing the issue of illicit Chinese exports of fentanyl and using it as a weapon against China, said the country’s narcotics regulator on Friday.Liu Yuejin, deputy head of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, rebutted accusations from the U.S. that China is not doing enough to curb the flow of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid painkiller, beyond its borders. Some American politicians “are up-ending the facts for their own political necessities,” Liu said in an interview in Beijing on Friday.The comments come just weeks after President Donald Trump lashed out at his Chinese counterpart in a tweet, saying Xi Jinping hadn’t stopped the flow of Chinese-made fentanyl as promised, and citing this failure as one reason that another 10% tariff would be levied on $300 billion of Chinese exports on Sept. 1.In a series of new tweets on Friday, Trump said that he would order U.S. shipping companies to search for and reject any packages containing fentanyl, from China or any other country.FedEx Corp. already has extensive security measures to prevent the use of its network for illegal purposes, the company said in a statement. United Parcel Service Inc. said it works closely with authorities to monitor for prohibited substances, and takes a “multi-layered” approach to prevent such shipments. Inc. didn’t respond to a request for comment.The U.S. Postal Service said it’s “aggressively working” to implement provisions of an existing law to keep illicit drugs from entering the U.S.As an example of facts being twisted by the U.S., Liu cited three Chinese nationals whom the U.S. issued economic sanctions against earlier this week for allegedly producing and trafficking fentanyl. Liu said Chinese authorities have been closely cooperating with their American counterparts on the issue of the three men, but that the individuals’ actions occurred before China’s tightening of its laws regulating the drug in April.“It was hard to prosecute them with the law at that time and U.S. enforcement knows this very clearly,” he said. “Some U.S. politicians refuse to face the reality, upend the facts, turn black into white and muddy clear water. And they mislead Americans who may not know the truth.“Fentanyl has played a role in the opioid epidemic that’s been blamed for thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. and been declared a public health emergency. It’s also been an issue in trade war negotiations. Last year, China’s move to tighten supervision and revise rules around fentanyl production after the two presidents met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina was talked up by Trump as a major concession.But earlier this month, he tweeted that “my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!”The three Chinese nationals, Zheng Fujing, Zheng Guanghua and Yan Xiaobing, were added to the U.S. Treasury’s “Specially Designated Nationals List” earlier this week for running what the agency said was “an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses and death in the U.S.” The move allows the government to freeze their U.S.-based financial assets.“These actions by the U.S. are not constructive and will hurt the good relationship between the two countries’ law enforcement organs,” said Liu. He added that China is still open to working with the U.S. on the fentanyl problem.China has repeatedly pushed back against the U.S. claim that it is responsible for the fentanyl problem, arguing that the epidemic is due to the U.S.’s own lax regulation over the prescription of addictive opioids to patients. Liu pointed out that China doesn’t have a domestic opioid abuse issue because of its strict regulation over the use of painkillers.(Updates with company comments beginning in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from John Liu and Ben Brody.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at;Tom Mackenzie in Beijing at tmackenzie5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at, Jeff Sutherland, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:59:22 -0400
  • Britain wants U.S. trade deal quickly, but terms have to be right - UK spokeswoman

    Britain wants to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States quickly, but the terms have to work for both sides, a British spokeswoman said on Friday ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Trump. Johnson, only a month into his leadership, will travel to the French seaside resort of Biarritz on Saturday for a G7 summit where his every move will be scrutinised for clues on how he will position Britain between the European Union and the United States after leaving the EU on Oct. 31.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:30:01 -0400
  • Osborne’s IMF Candidacy Not Priority for Johnson at G-7 Summit

    (Bloomberg) -- George Osborne’s candidacy to head up the International Monetary Fund isn’t a priority for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.While the U.K. sees the former Chancellor of the Exchequer as a credible candidate for the post, Johnson has already raised the issue with the man whose support he wants the most, U.S. President Donald Trump.It may come up at their bilateral meeting on Sunday morning, though more pressing issues include the prospects for a future trade deal after Britain has left the European Union, and curbing Iran’s nuclear capacity.Osborne’s candidacy is a topic that could also arise in bilateral meetings in the French Atlantic resort town with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau. But there’s no sense in seeking the support of the leaders of France, Germany and Italy for Osborne’s candidacy, because the EU has already nominated Kristalina Georgieva, the World Bank’s chief executive, for the role, after a process that the U.K. objected to.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:30:00 -0400
  • Johnson’s Brexit Optimism Dented as He Heads Into Key G-7 Summit

    (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped his trademark optimism over his ability to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the European Union, warning people not to “hold their breath” over the prospect of a quick breakthrough.“I want to caution everybody, OK? Because this is not going to be a cinch, this is not going to be easy. We will have to work very hard to get this thing done,” Johnson said in televised comments in Devon, southwest England on Friday.The clear shift in tone follows meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week. Both expressed skepticism a breakthrough could be found, with Johnson calling for the EU to reopen the Brexit deal negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, which took 19 months to agree but was rejected three times by Parliament.Johnson is already looking to the U.K.’s post-Brexit future -- he and U.S. President Donald Trump are due to discuss a free-trade deal over breakfast at the Group of Seven summit on Sunday. He has promised to leave the EU “do or die” on Oct. 31 and without a deal unless the bloc agrees to change it.ImpasseThe sticking point remains the same as it was for so many months between May and the EU: what to do about the Irish border, which will become the U.K.’s new land frontier with the bloc after it leaves.Johnson is demanding the EU scrap the so-called backstop, a fallback mechanism designed to keep the Irish border free of checks. That’s seen as crucial for ensuring that the peace process in Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., is not jeopardized. But the provision is hated by Brexiteers because it would keep the U.K. tied to many of the EU’s customs and trading rules.The problem for Johnson is the EU doesn’t believe his technology-based solutions to avoid customs and border checks offer a realistic alternative to the backstop. And while Merkel and Macron were both polite and offered Johnson some encouraging words, they were also clear they were not prepared to change the fundamentals of the Brexit deal.On Friday, the U.K. leader repeated his view that there were “lots of ways” to achieve a frictionless border. “But to persuade our EU friends and partners, who are very, very, very hard over against it, will take some time,” he said.No-Deal RiskThe EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said in a tweet Friday the bloc was ready to analyze U.K. proposals “that are realistic, operational & compatible with our principles.”Officials on both sides have said that unless the impasse is broken, a no-deal Brexit -- without a transition period to shield the economy and businesses from the potential turmoil that could follow -- is the most likely scenario.Johnson said he was “very confident” the U.K. “will be OK” in the event of a no-deal Brexit because of the preparations the government is making. Even so, he said he’s not giving up on negotiations, calling the “mood music” during his European trip “very good,” and reiterated his expectation that any compromise would be last-minute, or “on the steps of the court.”“They could see that we want a deal, they can see the problems with the backstop,” he said.Johnson will have another chance to persuade both Macron and Merkel at the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France, which starts Saturday. He’ll also meet European Council President Donald Tusk.Split FocusBut the British prime minister’s focus will be divided in France. Though he needs a revised Brexit agreement from European leaders, he’ll also try to demonstrate to the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Japan that his post-Brexit vision is an outward-looking U.K. eager to strike new trade deals.The government holds a U.S. free-trade agreement in particular as one of the great prizes of Brexit. It won’t be straightforward; the U.K. is protective of British standards on things like animal welfare and hygiene, and doesn’t want to open up the National Health Service to U.S. companies -- a likely demand.Both Johnson and Trump are committed “to starting negotiations as soon as possible,” the prime minister’s office said Friday. “Of course, we want to move quickly, but we want to get the right deal that works for both sides.”At the summit, Johnson’s core message will be to show that despite his resolve to take the U.K. out of the union with its closest trading partners, the U.K. won’t become inward-looking, according to his office.“We will be an energetic partner on the world stage,” Johnson said ahead of his trip to France.To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Shankleman in London at;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Stuart Biggs, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:30:00 -0400
  • Macron spearheads pressure on Bolsonaro over Amazon fires news

    France's Emmanuel Macron led a growing wave of international pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest Friday, telling him Paris would block efforts to seal a major trade deal. The issue will be high on the agenda when global leaders meet for the G7 summit Saturday in the French resort of Biarritz, where they are also set to tackle global trade wars and the Iran nuclear standoff. Just days before hosting the summit, Macron called for urgent talks on the "international crisis" in the world's largest rainforest, saying leaders would hammer out "concrete measures" to tackle it.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:04:04 -0400
  • How an Old Iranian F-5 Could Kill An F-35 Stealth Fighter In Battle news

    Amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States, in part resulting from U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision unilaterally to withdraw the United States from the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. armed forces have deployed a wide array of ships, planes and other weapons to the Middle East.The American arsenal in the region includes F-35 stealth fighters. If tensions turn into warfare, the factory-fresh F-35s could face an Iranian air force operating some of the oldest active fighters in the world.The Iranians with their four-decade-old F-4s, F-5s and F-14s might not seem to have a chance against the Americans flying arguably the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. But history, and recent testing show how Iranian pilots flying old planes could defeat Americans flying brand-new ones.For one, the F-35, while new, isn’t necessarily a stellar aerial performer. In 2015 someone associated with the F-35 test effort leaked an official report explaining the stealth fighter’s limitations in air-to-air maneuvers with an F-16.“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” an unnamed F-35 test pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief. “Insufficient pitch rate,” he added. “Energy deficit to the bandit would increase over time.”The complaints continued. “The flying qualities in the blended region (20 to 26 degrees [angle of attack]) were not intuitive or favorable,” the pilot wrote, adding that there’s no point for an F-35 pilot to get into a sustained, close turning battle with an enemy pilot. “There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.”The pilot’s revelations underscore what many observers long have suspected about the F-35. While its radar-evading qualities and high-end sensors might allow it to gain a favorable position for long-range missile shots, in a close fight the F-35 hardly excels.If an Iranian pilot can survive a merge with an F-35 and engage the stealth fighter in a turning dogfight, the Iranian might just bag himself a stealth fighter. It’s worth noting that the Iranian air force flies scores of fighters that excel precisely in that regime.American-made F-5 Tigers, for instance. Former U.S. Navy pilot Francesco Chierici who flew F-5s in the adversary role, sang the plane’s praise in a 2019 article for The War Zone. “The Tiger was clean, just an AIM-9 and a telemetry pod on the wingtips, and occasionally a centerline fuel tank,” Chierici wrote. “She slipped through the ‘number’ (Mach 1) easily. … The F-5 was a pair of engines and wings. It was so simple …”> Aerodynamically, the F-5 will always be what we call a category-three fighter, where the F-35 and F-22 are now category-five fighters. Compared to modern jets, it is underpowered, slow and bleeds airspeed badly in a sustained turn, not to mention it has no stealth other than its tiny size.> > But with just a few modifications, the F-5 is being turned into a threat plane with a legitimate sting. The newest upgrades include an [electronically-scanned] radar, good [radar-warning] gear, chaff and flares, a jamming pod and a helmet-mounted cueing system for a high off-boresight IR (infrared-guided) missiles. > > A Tiger so outfitted can provide Super Hornets and F-35s a legitimate threat, especially in the training environment.Iran indeed has been upgrading its F-5 fleet, although the modifications likely will not include the latest sensors and helmet sights.Still, all things being equal the F-5 despite its age might still possesses the agility to gain the advantage over an F-35. Again, provided the F-5 pilot survives the merge to a close-in fight.That’s a big assumption. F-35 pilots understand the limitations of their aircraft and certainly would do their best to avoid a dogfight. The Iranians might have to ambush the Americans in order to force the fight to close range. It’s unclear how the Iranians might do so, given the Americans’ huge advantage in sensors and situational awareness.David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:00:00 -0400
  • UN threatens sanctions over C.Africa peace pact violations news

    The United Nations special envoy for the Central African Republic on Friday threatened sanctions for violations of a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel groups to end a war that has ravaged the country since 2013. The CAR is experiencing relative calm since the accord was signed in February between the government and 14 military groups -- the eighth deal since the conflict erupted -- but clashes are still regular in the landlocked country.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:47:03 -0400
  • US-China Business Council urges talks to end damaging trade tensions

    The US-China Business Council on Friday said millions of U.S. citizens will be harmed by the increased trade tensions between the United States and China, the world's largest economies, following the latest salvos in the U.S.-China trade war. The group, which represents American companies doing business in China, urged President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to end the downward cycle of tit-for-tat tariffs and focus on resolving their trade differences. "A trade deal that addresses the legitimate concerns articulated by the (U.S. Trade Representative's office) in its Section 301 Report would be in the mutual interest of both China and the United States.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:10:20 -0400
  • Here are the reasons for Trump's economic war with China news

    On Friday the US president ‘hereby ordered’ companies to halt business with China, among other attacks – how did we get here? Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on 29 June. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/ReutersEven by Donald Trump’s standards his Twitter rant attacking China on Friday was extraordinary. In a series of outbursts Trump “hereby ordered” US companies to stop doing business with China, accused the country of killing 100,000 Americans a year with imported fentanyl and stealing hundred of billions in intellectual property.The attack marked a new low in Sino-US relations and looks certain to escalate a trade war already worrying investors, manufacturers and economists who are concerned that the dispute between the two economic superpowers could trigger a recession.Not so long ago Trump called China’s president, Xi Jinping, “a good friend”. Now he is an “enemy”. How did we get here? China, China, ChinaOn the campaign trail Trump railed against China accusing it of pulling off “one of the greatest thefts in the history of the world” and “raping” the US economy.Trump repeated the word China so often it spawned a viral video of him saying it over and over again. The attacks were a hit with voters and helped get him elected. He has continued lambasting China – to cheers – at rallies ever since.His main beef? The trade deficit. Trade deficitThe US imported a record $539.5bn in goods from China in 2018 and sold the Chinese $120.3bn in return. The difference between those two numbers – $419.2bn – is the trade deficit.That deficit has been growing for years as manufacturing has shifted to low-cost China and, according to Trump, it explains the hollowing out of US manufacturing.For Trump, and especially for his adviser Peter Navarro, who once described China as “the planet’s most efficient assassin”, trade deficits represent an existential threat to US jobs and national security. China makes up the largest part of the US trade deficit but those fears are also behind his disputes with the EU, Canada and Mexico.His detractors argue these deficit worries are hyperbole and a result of the US’s stronger economy, which allows consumers to buy goods at cheaper prices.The truth is probably somewhere in between.While it’s true that unemployment is at record lows and consumers continue to prop up the economy, manufacturing jobs have been lost (automation is also to blame for this) and with them wage growth (although the hollowing out of unions plays a part here).But it is not just deficits that concerns Trump. ThievesChina has a deserved reputation for intellectual property theft. On Friday, Trump estimated China robs the US of “hundreds of billions” a year in ideas.In March, a CNBC poll found one in five US corporations had intellectual property stolen from them within the last year by China.According to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, the theft costs $600bn a year. Beijing bucksLike Tesla, Nio, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) company, is suffering as subsidies for EVs are phased out. Unlike Tesla, Nio has Xi. China is pumping $1.5bn into the company to keep it on the road, the latest in a series of handouts that the Trump administration believes are unfair.Cheap steel and aluminium, subsidized by the Chinese government, are the origins of this trade dispute. According to the White House, last year alone China dumped and unfairly subsidized goods including steel wheels, tool chests and cabinets and rubber bands on to the US market.To be fair the US too is more than willing to bail out its industries (see: the banks or the automakers) at the taxpayers’ expense. But at this point “fair” is not up for discussion. Currency manipulatorEarlier this month the US officially accused China of manipulating its currency “to gain unfair competitive advantage in international trade”.It was the first time since 1994 that such a complaint has been made official and comes as the dollar has strengthened against world currencies. The dispute adds another layer of tension to a complex situation.China disputed the charge accusing the US of “deliberately destroying international order” with “unilateralism and protectionism”.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) appears to be on China’s side, arguing the devaluation of the yuan is largely in line with worsening economic conditions in China. What happens next?The US has now slapped billions of dollars on tariffs on Chinese goods. China retaliated, again, on Friday with more levies on US goods. China’s economic growth has slowed to levels unseen since 1992; US economic forecasts have also been cut.American farmers were the first to feel the result, as China has canceled orders, and manufacturers are increasingly gloomy. So far US consumers have not felt the pinch but JP Morgan estimates the average US household will end up paying an extra $1,000 a year for goods if the latest set of tariffs go through.The unanswerable question is whether any of this will sway Trump. If his supporters continue to see a trade war with China – and the pain it will cause – as the necessary price to Make America Great Again, then the answer is probably no.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:10:16 -0400
  • Putin orders Russia to respond after US missile test news

    President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military on Friday to work out a quid pro quo response after the test of a new U.S. missile banned under a now-defunct arms treaty. In Sunday's test, a modified ground-launched version of a U.S. Navy Tomahawk cruise missile accurately struck its target more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. The test came after Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:53:06 -0400
  • With no-deal Brexit on the horizon, US farmers are sensing a lucrative opportunity news

    With the UK facing an uncertain future as Boris Johnson marches the country towards a no-deal Brexit, American farmers can’t help but see something of a golden opportunity to bring their goods into a new market.While many US farmers have historically been turned away from trading with the United Kingdom over fears for the implications of practices like washing chickens in chlorine, or the use of genetically modified crops, Britain’s impending exit from the EU has left some dreaming of a change to that situation.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:52:19 -0400
  • N. Korea says it will remain 'threat' to US, slams Pompeo news

    North Korea on Friday launched a scathing attack on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling him a "diehard toxin" and saying it was "sceptical" whether it can negotiate with him. Pyongyang also vowed to remain the United States's "biggest 'threat'" and said annual US-South Korea joint military drills had "complicated" nuclear talks between the two countries. "We are ready for both dialogue and stand-off," North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said in a statement.

    Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:22:31 -0400
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