15 February 2017

US Defense SecretaryUS President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu held a joint news conference today in which President Trump announced a significant change in US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  Since 2001, the US official position under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations has been that it favored what has been termed the two-state solution:  Israel and a Palestinian state.  In the press conference, President Trump said:

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.

“I can live with either one. I thought for a while it looked like the two-state, looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

It is not clear whether this announcement had been examined by the State Department or the Defense Department, nor is it clear that this announcement was the result of a carefully formulated strategy.  Left unclear was what a one-state solution would entail.

US Defense Secretary Mattis warned NATO that the US expected all members to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense spending.  Mattis said that:

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values…..Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.”

The statement will surely rankle certain members of NATO, but there is widespread agreement among government officials in Europe that defense spending needs to be increased.  It is difficult, however, to see how spending can increase given the other pressures on European societies right now.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria on 19 January to receive medical treatments in Great Britain. He asked lawmakers for a medical leave and left his Vice-President in charge.  But he has not been heard from publicly since that time and there are concerns that he is seriously ill. Nigerians have experienced this type of hiatus before.  In 2009, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua went to Saudi Arabia for a heart condition and the government was in limbo for over three months.  Nigeria can ill afford a serious political crisis right now:  it is in a recession, inflation is very high, and the stock market is dropping.

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Posted February 15, 2017 by vferraro1971

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