Oct 14, 2019

News Shapers: National Security

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice on the Axios stage last Friday. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Friday morning, Axios' Politics and White House Editor Margaret Talev hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on the news of the day, focused on topics around national security and international relations.

Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Ambassador to the United States
European Union Ambassador to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis in conversation with Axios' Margaret Talev. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

European Union Ambassador to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis, discussed relations between the EU and the U.S. around tariffs, and the recent decisions made regarding Turkey's offensive in Syria. He discussed how the conflict between Syria and Turkey fundamentally weakens the relationship between the EU and the U.S., and stressed the need for collaboration and strengthening our alliance.

  • On tariffs: “[They’re] bad for the U.S. economy and very bad for the European economy…There are no winners in tariff wars.”
  • On shifts in foreign investment: "You see industrial manufacturing slowing down in the US...with the instability, people outside the US don’t want to take the risk."
  • On China: "Only if we work together can we ensure that China plays by the rules — and where rules need to be amended it can be done with maximum consensus from countries around the world."
Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland
Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland, discussing the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) focused on the ongoing impeachment inquiry and drew from constitutional history in his discussion of the role of the presidency and Congress.

  • On how the Founders designed U.S. government: We’re in a period of rediscovering we’re not co-equal branches...our constitution was written by people who were overthrowing kings and replaced it with a government by the people.
  • On the role of presidency: The President’s main job is to make sure that laws are faithfully executed, and we have the power to impeach the president if he doesn’t do that.
  • On the role of Congress: "Congress is the most important branch of the government. We must return to the original design of the constitution — we have this imperial presidency that is completely off the rails."
  • On Republican colleagues' reaction to the decision on Turkey: "It’s amazing to me that my Republican colleagues are willing to call out the President for his betrayal of the Kurds, but refuse to call out the President for his betrayal of Americans."
Susan Rice, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Susan Rice, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations discussed her recent memoir, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, the crisis in Syria, and the Nobel Peace Prize this past Friday.

  • On Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: “I’m hopeful that the peace will sustain itself and that normalization will continue.”
  • On whether the U.S. has clearly sent a message to Turkey on its position in Syria: "Yes. The position is green light."
  • On the impeachment inquiry: For Democrats, this is so bad it’s beyond political calculation. What they’re saying is: if we don’t stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law, then when?
  • On the current political climate's impact on foreign policy decisions: "We’re losing a sense of what is normal. When we lose that, we lose any compass in how to affect the national interest...We’ve got to remember what normal is and get back to it"

Go deeper: EU ambassador: Turkey and Syria conflict "weakens the alliance we have", Rep. Jamie Raskin: Trump "wants to be a king"

Thank you, Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

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Cornyn defends Trump despite Turkey's intent of ethnic cleansing

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Shortly after President Trump announced Wednesday he will lift sanctions against Turkey, Texas Sen. John Cornyn told reporters that withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria was warranted due to their safety and Turkey's intent on ethnic cleaning of the Kurds, the Dallas Morning News reports.

“If Turkey was planning on coming into northern Syria and trying to ethnically cleanse the Kurds, and U.S. troops were caught in the middle, I am not completely convinced that it was a bad idea to get them out of harm’s way."
Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

EU member states unanimously "condemn" Turkish military operation in Syria

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes European Council President Donald Tusk prior to their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on October 14, 2019. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The leaders of all 28 member states of the European Union endorsed a statement on Monday "condemning" Turkey's military assault on Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, warning that it will seriously undermine the stability of the region, cause extensive civilian suffering and potentially lead to the resurgence of ISIS.

Why it matters: Turkey is a key EU partner and a member of NATO. The European Council is calling on all member states to "immediately halt arms exports" to Turkey — a step that France and Germany have already taken — and will meet later this week to coordinate a further response.

Go deeper: Syria's Assad sends troops to key town near Turkish border

Keep ReadingArrowOct 14, 2019

Iraqi president: Allies are "worried about the dependability of the U.S."

In an interview with Jonathan Swan for "Axios on HBO," Iraqi President Barham Salih said U.S. allies are worried about America's dependability in the era of President Trump.

The big picture: The U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria has called into question Trump's loyalty to allied causes. The removal of U.S. troops in the region caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Kurds after Turkish forces invaded.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019