U.S. Policy Update for Monday, 25 April 2016

An iceberg on Ammassalik Island in eastern Greenland. Arctic ice data shows rapid melting. (AP Images)

Today’s topics:     Obama-Cameron press conference / Paris Climate Change Agreement / State Dept news / South Sudan peace process / DoD News


President Obama in London

President Obama and UK Prime Minister Cameron brief the press:
President Obama and UK Prime Minister Cameron brief the press, 22 April 2016

22 April 2016 Remarks by the President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron in Joint Press Conference:

We are so bound together that nothing is going to impact the emotional and cultural and intellectual affinities between our two countries. So I don’t come here, suggesting in any way that that is impacted by a decision that the people of the United Kingdom may make around whether or not they’re members of the European Union. That is there. That’s solid. And that will continue, hopefully, eternally. And the cooperation in all sorts of ways — through NATO, through G7, G20 — all those things will continue.

But, as David said, if one of our best friends is in an organization that enhances their influence and enhances their power and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in it. Or at least I want to be able to tell them, you know, I think this makes you guys bigger players. I think this helps your economy. I think this helps to create jobs.

And so, ultimately, it’s your decision. But precisely because we’re bound at the hip, I want you to know that before you make your decision.

21 April 2016  President Obama landed in the UK the evening of Thursday, 21 April. Read his op-ed in the Telegraph coinciding with his visit:

“This kind of cooperation – from intelligence sharing and counterterrorism to forging agreements to create jobs and economic growth – will be far more effective if it extends across Europe. Now is a time for friends and allies to stick together.”


Paris Climate Change Agreement

Secretary Kerry Sits With U.S. Special Envoy Pershing Before a Meeting to Discuss Compliance With the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on Earth Day in New York
Secretary Kerry Sits With U.S. Special Envoy Pershing Before a Meeting to Discuss Compliance With the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on Earth Day in New York

22 April 2016 Signing the Paris agreement is a big step toward tackling climate change   “We are in a race against time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the world leaders assembled to sign the historic Paris agreement on climate change in New York on Earth Day, April 22. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.”

The Paris agreement, a consensus of 196 parties to the U.N. Framework on Climate Change, was negotiated in December 2015, to limit the damaging impacts of climate change.

More than 170 countries signed. Fifteen of them took the next step of joining the agreement, a process of formal approval that differs from country to country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of signing — and joining — the agreement, saying its power is “the message that it sends to the marketplace” and calling it an “unmistakable signal that innovation, entrepreneurial activity, the allocation of capital, the decisions that governments make” will all support a new energy future.

22 April 2016 Secretary Kerry’s Remarks at the Informal High-Level Event on Promoting the Early Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

“I understand that as of this afternoon, countries representing nearly 50 percent of global emissions are prepared to announce they will join this year, and I’m pleased to say the United States absolutely intends to join this year. There’s no question about it. In addition to that – (applause) – I’ll just say very quickly, Mr. Prime Minister, as I said earlier today, we have to do so much more than the Paris has actually asked us to do, and I think everybody understands that.”


Department of Defense (DoD)

24 April 2016 DoD Must Change to Confront Changing Face of War, Dunford Says Today’s presence of cyber, space and ballistic-intercontinental missile capabilities have changed the character of war, and the U.S. military must adapt to confront these challenges, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

During a flight from Cairo to here yesterday, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford discussed the need to make changes in the department in order to improve the military’s command and control system.    In the current system, the defense secretary is the person responsible for joint integration, said Dunford, noting the secretary holds the authorities to integrate the combatant commands.

The chairman said there are certain areas where a delegation of responsibility — even if not authority — should come to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chairman can then do on the secretary’s behalf “some things that integrate our forces today in a way that we didn’t need to 10 or 15 years ago,” Dunford said.

Nighttime view of a C17 transport cockpit with crew at the controls
Air Force Capt. Mike Elliott, aircraft commander, and Air Force Capt. Addison Schenk, copilot, monitor the controls of a C-17 transporting Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from Iraq’s Kurdistan region, 22 April 2016.

23 April 2016 Dunford: Iraqi Forces Must Maintain Pressure on ISIL   Now is not the time to stop and regroup in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Marine Corps General Joe Dunford said after leaving Baghdad.

“The momentum has swung and … my experience tells me once you’ve got somebody in a headlock, you don’t let them go,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today in an interview on his way to Cairo, Egypt’s capital city.

In the counter-ISIL campaign in Iraq, Iraqi forces have retaken Beiji, Ramadi and Hit and are pushing up the Tigris River Valley to Makhmur toward the eventual battle to retake Mosul, Dunford said.

ISIL is losing resources, leaders and heart as the Iraqis keep achieving battlefield successes, he said.



State Department Announcements

22 April 2016 Updates to the List of Eligible Imports Produced by Independent Cuban Entrepreneurs

22 April 2016 Joint Statement by U.S.A, UK and Norway on South Sudan Peace Process

The members of the Troika (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) are deeply disappointed by Riek Machar’s continued failure to return to South Sudan’s capital Juba to form the Transitional Government of National Unity. This represents a willful decision by him not to abide by his commitments to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  We congratulate the government for demonstrating maximum flexibility for the sake of peace by agreeing to the compromise proposal on the return of security forces proposed by regional and international partners and mediated by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission.

22 April 2016 Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel Remarks at “China’s Growing Pains” Conference :

We have consistently welcomed China at the table of global rulemaking, but have tried to make clear China’s commensurate responsibility to cooperate in maintaining the global order. We have tried to make clear its obligation to accept that the rules apply to us all.

The global system will be stronger, the global economy will grow faster, and global challenges will be easier to address if China is pulling its weight and working with us.

China faces many internal challenges – slowing economic growth, overcapacity, local government debt, capital market instability, necessary but disruptive economic reform, a rapidly aging population, pollution, urbanization… And frankly, despite positive messages at the beginning of President Xi’s term, many reform seems to have stalled.

We know this is hard, and complicated. We have our own issues. But the viability of the Chinese economy and the stability of Chinese society is dependent on making hard decisions… good decisions.

As President Obama has said, the United States benefits from a stable, prospering China. We have a stake in their success; we have more to fear from a weak China than from a strong one.