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May 23, 2015

Posts in "Foreign Policy"

May 21, 2015

Obama to Havana? Would ‘Relish’ Cuba Trip

Alan Gross got a standing ovation during the State of the Union Address. He was freed after 5 years in a Cuban prison. Obama now wants to visit Havana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Alan Gross got a standing ovation during the State of the Union Address. He was freed after 5 years in a Cuban prison. Obama now wants to visit Havana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama’s bucket list for his remaining time in office has at least one sunny destination on it: Havana, Cuba.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a reporter in town from Cuba that the president “would relish the opportunity” to visit Havana in 2016.

Earlier, Earnest welcomed the reporter to the United States and the White House. In response to other questions, he said one area of discussion regarding the president’s plans to reopen diplomatic ties with Cuba involves ensuring access by American diplomats to the Cuban people.

Obama has lifted some travel restrictions. And the president, a former smoker, has also loosened rules on bringing Cuban cigars back from the island.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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May 19, 2015

Despite Ramadi, White House Says ISIL Strategy a Success

Secretary of Defense Carter was set to brief Obama Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Secretary of Defense Carter was set to brief Obama Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite the takeover of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by the Islamic State terror group, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest contended Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has been a success.

Asked repeatedly Tuesday about the loss of the capital of the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province despite months of bombing from U.S. and coalition planes, Earnest instead said the president’s strategy, which relies on local forces on the ground, had succeeded in rolling back ISIS gains in Kobani, Syria, and the Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, Tikrit and in other areas in Iraq.

Earnest said the loss of Ramadi was “an indication that Iraqi security forces need to retool their efforts,” but said “we’re optimistic” that together with American air power ISIS gains will be reversed.

As for the overall strategy, Jon Karl of ABC News asked if the president’s strategy was a success.

“Overall, yes,” Earnest said, although moreso than in recent days, he hinted changes could be coming.

He said Obama is “constantly” testing the strategy and asking his commanders about what can be done to improve the strategy. “Including today,” Earnest said.

Obama is set to meet with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter this afternoon.

Earnest also dismissed criticism from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who said earlier Tuesday that the president should start over with a new strategy and a new proposal for an Authorization to Use Military Force to take on the terror group.

Boehner, Earnest said, as well as other lawmakers in both parties had been “AWOL” on an AUMF against ISIL. He said Boehner has given “excuse after excuse” instead of doing his job and considering the AUMF.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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May 14, 2015

Takeaways From Obama’s Press Conference

Warren and Obama have been trading barbs of late over trade. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Warren and Obama have been trading barbs of late over trade. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama says his fight with “Elizabeth,” as in Warren, has never been “personal.”

He’s happy the Senate is moving forward on his fast-track trade bill but wants to keep reaching out to opponents on the left.

Full story

May 12, 2015

White House Brushes Off Fast-Track Failure As Temporary ‘SNAFU’ (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:32 p.m. | The White House is brushing off what is now expected to be the imminent filibuster of President Barack Obama’s fast-track bill on the Senate floor, with Press Secretary Josh Earnest blaming a “procedural SNAFU” for Democrats planning to vote en masse to block it. Full story

April 14, 2015

Corker: White House ‘Spinning’ on Iran Switcheroo (Audio)

Corker says the White House is “spinning” on his Iran bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the White House’s about-face on his Iran legislation is likely because they were about to lose.

The White House went Tuesday from vowing to veto the Corker-Menendez Iran bill to backing an emerging compromise, with caveats. Full story

April 11, 2015

Obama Torches McCain Over Criticism of Kerry on Iran

Obama responded Saturday after McCain, right, called Kerry's view of the Iran negotiations "delusional." (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Obama responded Saturday after McCain, right, called Kerry’s view of the Iran negotiations “delusional.” (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama lit into Sen. John McCain Saturday over the Arizona Republican’s recent comments about the framework agreement with Iran about its nuclear program.

“When I hear some, like Sen. McCain recently, suggest that our secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, provided exemplary service to this nation is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran, that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries, and we’re seeing this again and again,” Obama told reporters at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama.

Full story

April 6, 2015

White House Selling the Iran ‘Deal’ As Negotiations Continue

Sen. Tom Cotton, right, has been the leading opponent of Obama's Iran deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tom Cotton, right, has been the leading opponent of Obama’s Iran deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House is effectively fighting on two fronts to keep its peace deal with Iran intact — one to sell the framework to a hostile Congress and another to push against that country’s own effort for an immediate, wholesale end to the sanctions.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, acknowledged Monday a difference of opinion with the Iranians on the sequence and timing of sanctions relief. Prior to the agreement, he suggested some sanctions relief would be years away and that no congressional action would be needed in the interim. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:40 p.m.
Iran

March 19, 2015

Obama Calls Netanyahu as White House Eyes U.N. Shift (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:36 p.m. | The United States may no longer be Israel’s protector at the United Nations, Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated Thursday.

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election comments disavowing a two-state solution and decrying Arab voters during the election, the White House is actively re-evaluating its past actions on behalf of Israel at the U.N. and elsewhere, Earnest said. He didn’t go into specifics, such as whether the United States would back a resolution recognizing Palestine as a state. But the implied threat of that kind of action is clear. Full story

March 9, 2015

White House Calls Out GOP on War With Iran (Video)

Congressional Republicans are in “a rush to war” with Iran, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

But after using the phrase “rush to war,” Earnest caught himself.

“The rush to war, or at least the rush to the military option, that many Republicans are advocating is not at all in the best interest of the United States,” Earnest said as he blasted the latest move by Senate Republicans to interject themselves into the critical talks with Iran about its nuclear program by sending an open letter to the regime.

From the White House’s perspective, the Republican Party is effectively taking a war-first approach to foreign policy. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Iran

February 9, 2015

Obama Riffs on Netanyahu, Iran, NSA, Ukraine (Updated)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News)

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News)

Updated 2:04 p.m. | President Barack Obama zinged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday.

The press corps chuckled when Obama suggested Merkel wouldn’t have been a part of trying to get a meeting two weeks before her election, a nod to the timing of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress later this year.

“As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one,” Obama said, getting a smile out of Merkel.

Full story

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