International Roundtable: U.S. And Iran, Kushner And The Middle East, G-20

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(From left) President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton are seen during a bilateral meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
(From left) President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton are seen during a bilateral meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

U.S.-Iran tensions boil over. Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace push. The G-20 readies to meet in Japan. Our global roundtable returns.


Michael Crowley, White House correspondent for The New York Times, where he covers foreign policy. (@michaelcrowley)

Michelle Kosinski, senior diplomatic correspondent for CNN. (@MichLKosinski)

Peter Kenyon, international correspondent for NPR, based in Istanbul, Turkey. (@pkenyonnpr)

From The Reading List

New York Times: "Pompeo, a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran" — "In the days leading up to President Trump’s decision on whether to launch a missile strike against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commanded the stage.

"After warning that Mr. Trump was prepared to use force because of Iran’s suspected role in oil tanker attacks, Mr. Pompeo flew to Florida on Monday to strategize with generals at Central Command. Back in Washington, he briefed the foreign minister of the European Union on intelligence. By Thursday, he was pressing the case in the White House Situation Room for a strike.

"Mr. Pompeo was steering Mr. Trump toward one of the most consequential actions of the administration. Only at the last minute did the president reverse course and cancel the strike.

"The confrontation with Iran has put a spotlight on the extent of Mr. Pompeo’s influence with Mr. Trump. In an administration that churns through cabinet members at a dizzying pace, few have survived as long as Mr. Pompeo — and none have as much stature, a feat he has achieved through an uncanny ability to read the president’s desires and translate them into policy and public messaging. He has also taken advantage of a leadership void at the Defense Department, which has gone nearly six months without a confirmed secretary."

Washington Post: "Trump approved cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems" — "President Trump approved an offensive cyberstrike that disabled Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches, even as he backed away from a conventional military attack in response to its downing Thursday of an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months, according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month.

"The strike against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was coordinated with U.S. Central Command, the military organization with purview of activity throughout the Middle East, these people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the operation remains extremely sensitive.

"Though crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems, the operation did not involve a loss of life or civilian casualties — a contrast to conventional strikes, which the president said he called back Thursday because they would not be 'proportionate.' "

Reuters: "Exclusive: White House's Kushner unveils economic portion of Middle East peace plan" — "The White House on Saturday outlined a $50 billion Middle East economic plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies, and fund a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

"The 'peace to prosperity' plan, set to be presented by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner at an international conference in Bahrain next week, includes 179 infrastructure and business projects, according to details of the plan and interviews with U.S. officials. The approach toward reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process was criticized by the Palestinians on Saturday.

"The ambitious economic revival plan, the product of two years of work by Kushner and other aides, would take place only if a political solution to the region’s long-running problems is reached."

South China Morning Post: "Is the G20 destined to fade into irrelevance in a leaderless world – courtesy of Donald Trump?" — "At the last Group of 20 summit, rivalry between the United States and China hijacked what was supposed to be a forum for international cooperation and multilateral diplomacy. While there was a joint communique at the end of the talks in Buenos Aires, and agreement on the need for WTO reforms, there was little progress on how to deliver as tensions flared.

"But any progress made in Argentina was short-lived, and although a 90-day trade war truce was agreed between Washington and Beijing, soon after it expired US President Donald Trump doubled down on tariffs against Chinese imports and banned Huawei, the crown jewel of China’s tech industry.

"For many, the summit was more symbolic of a divided, increasingly polarised world than any effort to patch up differences over globalisation and the relevance of a post-war international trading system.

"With the 20 leading economic powers meeting again in Osaka, Japan this week, the question now is whether the G20 'premier forum for international economic cooperation' is still relevant in today’s increasingly leaderless world.

"For the second year in a row, the multilateral gathering looks set to be overshadowed by the spiralling tariff war between China and the US and their increasingly acrimonious relations, at a time when the crumbling international economic order desperately needs a reboot."

Brian Hardzinski produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on June 24, 2019.



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