Monday, January 23, 2017

TRUMP AGENDA - Warning From UN Ambassador Power

"UN Ambassador Power warns against ‘historical amnesia' in future Russian relations" PBS NewsHour 1/17/2017


SUMMARY:  Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power used her final speech to focus on Russia as a major threat.  Judy Woodruff sits down with Power during her last days in office to discuss troubling actions by Russia and the future of Russian relations under the Trump administration, as well as the Obama administration's complicated decision not to intervene militarily in Syria.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  President-elect Trump's nominee to be U.S.  Ambassador to the U.N., South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, plans to question why the U.S. contributes 22 percent of the U.N.'s budget.

In prepared remarks for her confirmation hearing tomorrow, we also learned that she will criticize the recent vote condemning Israeli settlements.

Earlier today, I sat down with Samantha Power.  She's the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.  We spoke at the State Department.

And I began by asking why, in her final speech, she focused on Russia as a major threat to the U.S.

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations:  There is a fair amount of competition, obviously, with ISIL and the terrorist networks around the world, China also posing a different kind of threat to the rules-based order.

But I thought it was very important before leaving to draw on my eight years, our eight years here in these jobs of privilege that we have had, to take note of the pattern that has developed, particularly in the last few years, starting with the decision by President Putin to go into Ukraine, to lie about it, to take Crimea, to try to annex it, involved with that regime, itself resorting to tactics that were outlawed 100 years ago, and then systematically, in Europe, backing these illiberal parties whose world view is closer to this kind of populist authoritarian, anti-Muslim, anti-diversity kind of line that has been pursued in Moscow.

All of that plus, of course, the most recent and most egregious example that hits close to home for us, which is interfering in our elections through hacking, through fake news, and with an eye to trying to help one candidate win.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And so, when the President-elect speaks, as he has often, about wanting a better relationship with Russia — and, in fact, one of his advisers has just said in the last day or so, he said, the U.S. needs to find a way to get along better with Russia.  He said, we need to focus less on combating communism and more on rejecting radical Islam.

How do you react to that?

SAMANTHA POWER:  Well, let me raise my hand and say at no point have I been fighting the last war and seeking at the U.N. to combat communism.

I think we do have an interest in combating states that try to cross borders and steal parts of other people's country.  We have an interest in combating tactics in war that are abhorrent and that only fuel terrorism because they incite people on the ground.

And we, as Americans, have an interest in ensuring that the only people who get to vote for our elected leaders are our citizens, and not some foreign people who think that they have an interest in skewing our election in one direction or another.

Look, I think the point that we all agree upon is that we have to engage with Russia.  I have spent, you know, as much time with my Russian counterpart as I have probably with anybody else, including close family members, over the course of the last four years.  And we have done really important work together.

At the same time we're at each other on Aleppo, on Ukraine, we're authorizing peacekeeping missions, putting sanctions in place on North Korea for its nuclear tests.  We need to find means for cooperation.

I think the potential difference or the issue that is going to need to be adjudicated is, on what terms?  Are we going to bring historical amnesia and pretend as though history is just starting on January 21, or are we going to take into account egregious violations of the rules of the road that may have — in the first instance have predated the administration, but that are inevitably going to continue if Russia believes that there are no costs to its actions, as if all it has to do is just wait out the United States, and then eventually we will soften our positions and forget about what happened?

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