Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ash Carter Warns Russia Against Interfering in ‘Democratic Process’ - WSJ

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Ash Carter Warns Russia Against Interfering in 'Democratic Process'

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OXFORD, England—Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the U.S. and its partners wouldn't ignore Russia's “efforts to interfere with our ...
Ash Carter: US Does Not Seek War With Russia, But 'We Will ...
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Ash Carter Warns Russia Against Interfering in ‘Democratic Process’

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OXFORD, England—Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the U.S. and its partners wouldn’t ignore Russia’s “efforts to interfere with our democratic processes,” issuing an oblique warning to the Kremlin amid accusations of Russia-sponsored hacks on U.S. political institutions during the presidential election.
Mr. Carter, who made the comments on a trip to the U.K., didn’t directly address allegations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and prominent members of the Democratic Party as part of an effort to interfere with the November election in the U.S.
But the secretary of defense did make an implicit reference to the matter in a broader speech on Russia, in which he hit out at the Kremlin for undermining the U.S., its allies and the international order. He said Russia wants to be recognized as the great power it is, but accused the Kremlin of pursuing that goal by undercutting the international community and acting out of misplaced fears.
“We don’t seek an enemy in Russia,” Mr. Carter said in a speech Wednesday to students at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. “But make no mistake: We will defend our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords all of us. We will counter attempts to undermine our collective security. And we will not ignore attempts to interfere with our democratic processes.”
The U.S. defense chief’s comments come days after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton suggested Russia was using cyberattacks to try to tilt the race in the direction of her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has said he would pursue talks and closer ties with President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has denied any involvement in the recent hacks, including an attack on the Democratic National Committee. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) stepped down as chair of the DNC in July after WikiLeaks released a slew of internal committee emails on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
The Pentagon has been working to shore up its defenses against Russia ever since the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014 and subsequent support for separatist rebels in east Ukraine. The Russian military’s intervention in the Syrian conflict on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad last year also complicated U.S. efforts to counter Islamic State and encourage a political transition in Damascus.
For weeks, the U.S. and Russia have been holding talks on a proposed cease-fire in Syria, which President Barack Obama and Mr. Putin discussed on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in China on Monday.
The U.S. has proposed coordinating attacks against the Syria Conquest Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front and linked to al Qaeda, in exchange for a pledge by the Syrian military to ground its air force. Mr. Obama has expressed skepticism that the U.S. and Russia can reach a deal or that a cease-fire will hold long enough for any cooperation to go ahead.
Mr. Carter echoed that skepticism in his speech in the U.K. on Wednesday. He said U.S. diplomats were testing whether Russia would prove willing and able to push the Syrian government toward a political transition to end the country’s civil war.
But he said developments so far are “not encouraging,” adding: “The choice is Russia’s to make, and the consequences will be its responsibility.”
Mr. Carter painted a picture of a Russia that is eroding the international order, sowing instability, interfering with its neighbors and conducting itself unprofessionally in the air, in space and in cyber space, all as part of a single-minded pursuit of global power.
Russia, meanwhile, has accused the U.S. of pursuing regime change in the Middle East, North Africa and former Soviet republics in the name of democracy while causing chaos in the process. Russian leaders have long said the U.S. has threatened Russia by encroaching on its borders and expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Write to Paul Sonne at
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Sure, the U.S. and Russia often meddle in foreign elections. Does it matter? - The Washington Post

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Rodrigo Duterte Throws a Grenade in Washington’s China Strategy

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SHANGHAI—In the Philippines, popular views of America veer between affection and pained resentment, rooted in a brutal colonial past; American conquering forces pioneered waterboarding in the country more than a hundred years ago.
Something of this history is captured in an epithet used by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which cost him a meeting with Mr. Obama at a meeting of Asian leaders in Laos this week: putang ina in Tagalog -- “son of a bitch,” or more literally “son of a whore.” He was furious at suggestions that Mr. Obama would bring up his war on drugs, in which hundreds of dealers and users have been slain by police and vigilantes, as a human rights violation.
This kind of language is par for the course for Mr. Duterte, who’s famous at home—even loved—for his expletive-laden bluntness. He tossed the same insult at the pope.
Only the timing came as a surprise. It might seem foolhardy to offend your No. 1 protector and arms supplier when, as an archipelagic nation with a barely credible navy, Chinese armadas are pressing in.
This isn’t the first time that America has found itself exasperated with a populist politician at the helm of a close Asian ally. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, created enormous headaches for Mr. Obama early in his tenure by visiting the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo, where Class A war criminals are honored, enraging China.
But whereas Mr. Obama’s challenge was to restrain Mr. Abe from going overboard in his provocations against China, with Mr. Duterte it’s the opposite: keeping him from getting too cozy.
Mr. Duterte is pushing a more independent foreign policy line that balances alliance commitments to the U.S. with a desire to restore ties with China that went into a deep freeze after his predecessor,Benigno Aquino III, launched a legal case in The Hague against China’s sweeping territorial claims to the South China Sea.
Mr. Duterte inherited a stunning legal win soon after taking office this year, but he seems unsure what to do with it.
He could insist that he will only negotiate with Beijing on the basis of the verdict of the arbitration panel at The Hague, which excoriated Beijing for building artificial islands in The Philippines exclusive economic zone. Or he could use the verdict as leverage in talks over sharing resources—fisheries and energy—off the Philippines coast. Or he could cave completely and set the verdict aside in hopes that this will unlock a wave of Chinese investment, particularly in his home region of Mindanao.
It’s hard to predict how Mr. Duterte, who later expressed regret for his rant, will proceed; China would love to snatch victory from defeat with a deal that makes the verdict virtually go away, though its hard-line diplomacy could turn Mr. Duterte into just as much of an adversary as Mr. Aquino.
As the longtime mayor of Davao City, say aides, Mr. Duterte never dealt with China but harbored deep anti-U.S. feelings dating from a mysterious bomb explosion in a local hotel in 2002. An American citizen was charged in that case but fled the country. Mr. Duterte smelled a CIA conspiracy.
In his outburst that scuppered his meeting with Mr. Obama, Mr. Duterte railed against America. The Philippines is not a “vassal state” or a “lap dog,” he said. “We have long ceased to be a colony.”
When America was building its alliance system in Asia during the Cold War, human rights weren’t much of a concern. Washington supported a procession of strongmen from Park Chung-hee in Korea to Chiang Ching-kuo in Taiwan and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.
But human rights are likely to be an acute and persistent irritant in U.S.-Philippine relations under Mr. Duterte. His war on drugs was his political signature in Davao, where he roared around the streets on a motorbike cradling a rifle. It is a wellspring of his national popularity today, and a deep source of legitimacy for a foul-mouthed leader who finds himself out of place among the Manila elites.
The U.S. is watching him warily. The Philippines is a key part of the U.S. “pivot” to Asia, aimed at pushing back against China’s building power: as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton launched the pivot on the deck of an American warship in Manila Bay. American forces, having been kicked out of Subic Bay naval base in 1992, a year after losing nearby Clark Air Force Base to a volcano, are now back in smaller numbers on a rotational basis.
Usefully for Washington, Mr. Duterte has a soft spot for Japan; Japanese businesses have poured investment into Davao. In Laos, Messrs. Abe and Duterte on Wednesday reached a deal for Japan to give the Philippines two patrol ships and lend it up to five surveillance planes. Some analysts see Japan playing a bridging role between Washington and Manila.
China will be watching the Abe-Duterte chemistry with consternation. For Washington, the best short-term hope may be a middle way between Mr. Abe’s tendencies to rile Beijing and Mr. Duterte’s to appease it.
Write to Andrew Browne at
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Navy unveils robot spy speedboat 

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EU Parliament Committee OKs Georgia Visa Deal, Kosovo Deal In Limbo

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The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted on September 5 for visa liberalization for Georgia to the EU's Schengen zone.

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