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Posts in "Foreign Policy"
August 18, 2014
Updated 7:03 p.m. | President Barack Obama, back in Washington for a day of meetings in the midst of his August vacation, on Monday reported “progress” in the expanded campaign of U.S. airstrikes on Iraqi insurgents near Mosul, and again called for calm in the riot-torn streets of Ferguson, Mo.
He announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to talk with local leaders about the riots that have rocked the St. Louis suburb since the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Asked about the militarization of American law enforcement that some have said is exacerbating clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Obama said it may be time to review the use of federal dollars to purchase surplus military vehicles and gear.
“There’s a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement,” he said. “And we don’t want those lines blurred.”
Some civil rights leaders have urged the president to speak out more forcefully on the shooting of Michael Brown, but on Monday, Obama instead called for restraint on the part of both police and protesters. Full story
July 29, 2014
President Barack Obama will make a statement on Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. on Ukraine, the White House said, as the administration said earlier to expect new sanctions against Russia.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this afternoon to expect an announcement on sanctions as soon as today. The announcement will come as European nations are stepping up their own sanctions and as the administration has accused the Russian government of stepping up its support for Ukrainian separatists and with violating a treaty against medium-range cruise missiles. The administration has also said Russia has culpability for creating an environment that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
To date, while sanctions have stung, the administration has avoided broader economic sanctions that could impact the global and the U.S. economy — a concern Obama has repeatedly raised.
July 21, 2014
President Barack Obama called for an “immediate” cease-fire in Gaza Monday, after an invasion and air assault by Israel in response to rocked attacks by Hamas left hundreds dead.
The president noted that Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to the region.
“I’ve instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” he said. “We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed.”
He reaffirmed that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks, and said Israel’s attacks have already damaged “Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza,” but said the United States is concerned about civilian deaths in Gaza, as well as Israeli casualties.
Previous efforts at a cease-fire failed after Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel — nearly 2,000 since the recent hostilities began, according to Israel.
June 17, 2014
President Barack Obama will meet at the White House with the bipartisan Congressional leadership Wednesday to discuss Iraq and other foreign policy issues, according to a White House official.
The meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., comes amid a growing crisis in Iraq. Members of the president’s own party are deeply reluctant to take significant military action, Republicans are pinning blame on the president for withdrawing troops and the American public is wary.
Other foreign policy issues will be discussed as well, the official said.
June 12, 2014
Updated 10:00 p.m. | President Barack Obama has the authority to wage war in Iraq without going to Congress, because the original use of force authorization remains in effect.
Obama said Thursday he’s “not ruling anything out” in Iraq, as rebels have swept through some of that country’s largest cities and are bearing down on Baghdad.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney appeared to walk back Obama’s comment at his briefing.
“We are not contemplating ground troops. I want to be clear about that. The president … was answering a question about airstrikes,” Carney said.
When asked about getting Congress’s permission to take action, Carney was noncommittal.
“We are in active consultation with members of Congress,” he said.
He demurred when asked directly about the 2002 authorization to use military force (AUMF). An administration spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told Yahoo’s Olivier Knox in January “the administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF.”
Hayden emailed CQ Roll Call late Thursday and to reiterate that what she said then remains in effect.
She declined to comment on what authority Obama would have to act if he decided to launch a strike.
“We support it’s repeal for all the same reasons as before, without commenting on decisions the President hasn’t made yet,” she said in an email.
Some Capitol Hill sources believe Obama could still act using other authorities, including the broad war on terror AUMF passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, even if the Iraq AUMF is repealed. Obama has used that authority for drone strikes in a number of countries.
A recent Congressional Research Service report says the AUMF in Iraq had no expiration date and has not been repealed. Therefore it remains current law, “although its continued effectiveness is questionable.
“Arguably, the president could rely on [it] to reintroduce forces into Iraq if he determined that Iraq once again posed a threat to U.S. national security.”