Beltway Insider: Obama Addresses EU Crisis; Assad, Russia; Drug War; Budget; China Cyber Spying

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President Obama issued a Presidential Determination this week identifying 22 countries as Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries, the designation does not stop foreign aid, address counter-narcotics assistant or identify relationships necessary to U.S. Interests.


According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, remained constant at 45% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased one percentage point to 51%.

Obama Addresses EU Humanitarian Crisis

Germany, Hungary, Austria, the main destination points for the mass exodus of Syrian refugees have once again closed their borders, only one week after welcoming the strangers into their homelands, as the volume has overwhelmed services.

The Syrian refugee crisis, which has escalated over the past month even in the face of extreme tragedy, with multiple seafaring disasters that resulted in countless men, women and children who drowned to wash ashore on Turkish beaches, and the hardship of fleeing in desperation the terror with the expectation of death at any minute. The alternative, remaining in Syria, is worse.

"These are human beings who are in a desperate, even tragic, situation.  They've been forced to flee their homes and their communities because of terrible violence that is taking place there.  And we have seen a response from many European citizens and European governments indicating the generosity of spirt that's required to try to meet some of these basic humanitarian needs of individuals that are in a terribly desperate situation," said Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary.

Border patrol throughout Central Europe are erecting walls as countries feel the extreme of the situation. Nearly 17,000 refugees are now stranded in Croatia, in the Balkans region, as their main destination point has been closed. Croatian officials have moved the stranded refugees to the Austrian border.

World leaders, even those alienated from the United States are recognizing the depth of this crisis and are approaching the situation differently.

At this time it is unclear when the European Borders will reopen. Countries are being asked to increase the Syrian refugee allotment in the hopes of alleviating the strain of the European communities who have accepted so many.

Nearly 9million refugees have left Syria since the beginning of the Arab Spring Civil War. The initial flight pattern remained in the five surrounding countries as the escalation of violence and the disappearance of services from basic everyday needs to more complex medical needs, the Syrians were making difficult and desperate decisions. Fleeing with only what they could carry, hoping not to be killed before reaching safety and finding displacement services that could assist.

"There is a well-established process here in the United States for resettling refugees.  This is something that we talked about a little bit last week, but it bears repeating that for the specific category of refugees as defined by the United Nations, the United States takes in well over half of those refugees that are identified by the United Nations to resettle them.  To put it another way, the United States takes in and resettles more refugees as described by the United Nations than every other country in the world combined. So it is clear that the United States is willing to do our part," Earnest said.

Russian President Opts For Military Intervention

Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite still facing expulsion from the G7 and sectorial sanctions from his efforts to dismantle democratic change in neighboring Ukraine, has proposed his strategy to assist in the global coalition effort to defeat the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, ISIS.ISIL.

Suffering under the global and sectorial sanctions for the violation of Ukraine's territorial sovereignty, the beleaguered leader was instrumental in assisting the United States hammer out the historic Iranian nuclear deal.

Putin has cautiously proceeded to move troops into Damascus, the capital of Syria with unconfirmed reports of building an airstrip and has stated publically his belief that ISIS cannot be defeated without working with the Syrian regime.

Ploy or not, Putin has decided to amass troops within the boundaries of Syria, a country where he is welcome to do so. His loyalty will be sorely tested as Assad remains the enemy of the United States.

"The President has made quite clear that the decision of the Russians to double down on the leadership of Bashar al-Assad is a losing bet.  And the reason for that is that we have seen over the years that because of his failed leadership and because of his willingness to slaughter innocent people using the mechanics of that country's military, he's lost the legitimacy to lead that country.  And we have made clear that the solution -- despite the decision of the Russians to build up their military -- the solution in Syria requires a diplomatic strategy," Earnest said.

The questions remain has the Syrian civil war advanced to the point that al-Assad feels threatened and in need of reinforcements? And is Putin joining the civil war, defending Assad or working toward a global peaceful solution which according to the White House can only be the democratic removal of Assad and the dismantling of ISIS/ISIL.

Federal Government Shut Down Looms

With two weeks remaining, the Federal Government is facing a mandatory shut down as Democrats and Republicans remain solidly divided and ready to withhold any budget negotiations.

"Congress has a basic responsibility to pass a budget on an annual basis to fund the government at appropriate levels.  And that's why the administration has regularly, even daily in the context of these briefings, suggested that Republican leaders in Congress should accept the offer from Democrats in Congress to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement that would both avoid a government shutdown but also make sure that our nation's priorities when it comes to both our economy and our national security are adequately funded," Earnest said.

The Republican effectively maneuvered a government shut down in 2013 which closed all non-essential positions for two and one-half weeks.

The motivations behinds these types of tense tactics include allowing for bi-partisan compromise which could translate into the Iranian Nuclear Deal or other important legislation waiting for vote.

Obama Names 22 Countries in Presidential Determination

President Obama signed pursuant to federal law a Presidential Determination that identifies countries who are major drug export and major illicit drugs producing countries.

Naming as major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries:  Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

President Obama stated for each country the reasons why they ended up with this dubious distinction.

  • Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements
  • Illegal poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is among the most difficult international drug-control problems.  For 15 of the last 16 years, Afghanistan has been the world's largest producer of opium poppy.
  • The seven Central American and four Caribbean nations are included in this year's determination as major drug transit countries that impact illegal drug activities and consumption in the United States.  According to seizure data of cocaine destined for U.S. markets, an estimated 86 percent transited through the Central American corridor and the remaining 14 percent traveled via the Caribbean in 2014.
  • Within South America, Colombia and Peru demonstrate highly effective leadership in countering illegal drug trafficking and transnational crime.  While Peru remains the top cocaine producer in the world, the Peruvian government has a comprehensive 5-year counter narcotics strategy to aggressively eradicate illicit coca, 
  • Haiti's maritime interdiction capabilities, which is a fundamental tool given the large percentage of drugs smuggled via its surrounding waterways. From President Obama Presidential Determination

The inclusion on this determination does not measure the counter-narcotic efforts, which have greatly increased across all countries or the United States continued involvement with any of these nations.

The determination highlights areas, which are the largest determent to the countries continued economic growth across the board.

The President has been quick to add Columbia and other countries are strong partners with the United States on anti-corruption and counter-narcotics.

A Presidential Determination is a document issued by the White House stating a determination resulting in an official policy or position of the executive branch of the United States government.*

China Cyber Spying

President Obama has indicated he would not address the Chinese Cyber spying issues before the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jin-Ping this week.

The two leaders have set an agenda although it has not been released to the media. Topping the list are the Carbon Pollutants that both China and the United States produce the largest amounts of Carbon Pollutants and both nations have agreed to cap the limits.

"Last year that five Chinese military officials were indicted by the United States Department of Justice for their actions in cyberspace.  So I think it's quite clear to the public that this is an issue that the United States and the Obama administration take seriously, and it's quite clear to the Chinese government that this is an issue that we take seriously, as evidenced by the decision of the Chinese President to send Secretary Meng to the United States to meet with a range of U.S. officials in advance of his visit," said Earnest.

Cyber spying has very serious implications along with financial sanctions and possible terrorism charges.

2016 Politics - GOP Update

Republican Presidential Candidates held a second nationally televised debate that included eleven of the GOP hopefuls, including New York Real Estate Developer Donald Trump and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, the only female to successfully make the cut.

The GOP participants were determined based on poll numbers. Ms. Fiorina successfully powered her way into the mix through an effective campaign strategy since the last debate.

The debate took a tone of seriousness as time is of the essence and with Trump leading in the polls, the career politicians are determining strategies. Fiorina saw the biggest post-debate jump placing her into second place behind Trump.

The possibility of the strong anti-career politician may just be the wrath of the people who form this democracy as they effectively through support and vote voice what is the right of every citizen: petition the government for change if they don't listen vote them out.

As the 2016 Presidential Race may have started the primaries don't begin until February with Iowa Caucuses.

On the Democratic Side

Vice President Joseph Biden has yet to enter the 2016 Presidential Race as the Democratic Challenger.

Ms. Clinton, in actuality, is the most qualified female candidate with a lifetime of government service. Having been on the campaign trail many times as a Governor's wife, twice in the Presidential race she is well aware the importance of body language as she presents her positions.

Using gestures that women automatically identify with may be alienating with men and as passionate people often do, she raises her tone as she presents. These two miniscule, nitpicking, criticisms may account for the point drops.

Hillary Clinton, the presumed 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee, has experienced the roller coaster of the early challengers. The numbers, in reality are indifferent to a race that doesn't begin until February, 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister to Visit White House

President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an official white house visit November 9. The President has indicated he plans to introduce a comprehensive Plan of Action to peacefully and verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Additionally the agenda calls for continued talks on the Gaza Strip and West Bank and the need for, according to the White House, advancement to a two state solution. 

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the United States is a deep demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, as well as our unprecedented cooperation to further enhance Israel's security," Earnest said.

For more information on President Barack Obama:

Sources:, (*)

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