Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Quinta Jurecic
Monday, May 1, 2017, 2:50 PM

President Donald Trump is open to meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, saying that he would be “honored” to sit down with Kim “under the right circumstances,” Bloomberg reports. The announcement follows a weekend of back-and-forth on the looming North Korean crisis: on Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for increased sanctions on the isolated nation and the administration indicated that it would potentially be willing to sit down with North Korea for talks to end the country’s nuclear weapons program, the Washington Post writes. But Trump also refused to rule out military action against Pyongyang if the Kim continues to develop nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Mike Pompeo has traveled to South Korea for a visit to Seoul as tensions remain high in the region following yet another failed missile test by North Korea this Saturday, the AP writes. The BBC tells us that Japan has deployed its largest warship to escort a U.S. supply vessel headed to refuel the USS Carl Vinson, along with other U.S. ships in the region.

Following comments by President Trump indicating his intention to have South Korea pay for the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, national security advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster clarified that the United States would continue paying for THAAD. Trump’s statement last week generated alarm in Seoul, CNN reports.

This weekend, Trump invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the White House, generating widespread criticism over his perceived outreach to a leader who has presided over a violent antidrug campaign that has so far led to the death of thousands of people. According to officials, Trump issued the invitation without first consulting with the State Department or National Security Council. Now, however, Duterte says that he may be too busy to visit Washington after all. The New York Times has more.

The Post examines the new and surprising alliance between Russia and the American right. While the Kremlin was preparing to launch an influence campaign to affect the 2016 election, it was also reaching out to far-right groups in Europe and American conservatives who had previously viewed Russia as an enemy.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have conducted several more chemical attacks using nerve agents in addition to the widely publicized incident on April 4 that led to the U.S. bombing of a Syrian airfield, the Post writes. Human Rights Watch alleges that the Syrian regime has conducted at least four chemical attacks since December 2016, indicating that the government has held onto a stockpile of chemical weapons in violation of the 2013 disarmament deal brokered by Russia.

Turkey may conduct further airstrikes against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq following a set of strikes on Kurdish fighters last week, the AP reports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG “must come to an end.” CNN writes that U.S. troops, mainly consisting of special operations forces, have been patrolling with Kurdish forces in Syria in an effort to deter attacks by Turkey.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have successfully captured the old city of Taqba, Syria from ISIS fighters, moving closer to regaining control of the country’s largest dam from the militant group. Reuters has more.

The battle to take control of Mosul from ISIS may be completed by May, according to an Iraqi commander speaking in state-run media. A U.S. soldier was killed in a bombing outside the city on Saturday, the Post writes.

The Atlantic profiles Jaelyn Young and Muhammad Dakhlalla, two young Mississippi students who were arrested by FBI agents when attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. Their story offers a case study of the process of radicalization and the FBI’s efforts to prevent young people from falling under the influence of ISIS.

President Trump cut an interview short after his interlocutor, CBS’s John Dickerson, pressed him to clarify his accusation that President Obama had ordered politically motivated surveillance against him, a months-old claim for which Trump has provided no evidence. “I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions,” Trump said, after declaring that his relationship with the former president had deteriorated following “what happened with surveillance.” The Times examines the tense interaction.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Emma Kohse concluded the week’s coverage of pretrial hearings in the military commission convened to try Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi.

Quinta Jurecic posted the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a discussion between Benjamin Wittes, Russell Miller, and Ralf Poscher on relations between the United States and Europe post-Snowden.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, J. Dana Stuster reviewed three recent books that address the state of sovereignty in the modern world.

Quinta noted that during his rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump engaged in exactly the behavior for which he’s currently being sued in federal court over an incident that took place on the campaign trail: apparently exhorting the audience to remove a disruptive protester.

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