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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 56)

Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy

President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions.

But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. The officials have accused Iran of orchestrating or even launching a major attack on Saturday against critical Saudi Arabian oil installations, jolting international energy markets and humiliating a key American ally.

But the slap-the-other-cheek tactic is hardly surprising, Iranian scholars say. Tehran, they said, has concluded that its recent aggressions have effectively strengthened its leverage with the West and in the region. And despite his occasional outburst of threats, Mr. Trump is deeply reluctant to risk an open-ended military confrontation in the Middle East that would endanger world oil supplies in the middle of a re-election campaign.

“Iranian hard-liners consider Trump’s inconsistency to be weakness,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. For Iranian hard-liners, he said, “their policy of ‘maximum resistance’ is working.”

Mr. Trump has imposed punishing sanctions that Iranian leaders call “economic warfare,” but he has already demonstrated his aversion to using military force.

American officials concluded that Iranian forces sabotaged a handful of oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in May and June, and shot down an American surveillance drone in June. Mr. Trump initially ordered a wave of American airstrikes in retaliation for the downing of the drone, but he called it off at the last moment.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159492459_a53b4fd9-14a5-4e20-88d0-d4656a0a76bd-articleLarge Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Defense and Military Forces

John Bolton was forced out as President Trump’s national security adviser, reportedly over a disagreement with the president over talks with Tehran.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Then the administration’s leading Iran hawk, John Bolton, was forced out as national security adviser, reportedly over a disagreement with the president over talks with Tehran.

Iran, demanding relief from sanctions, appears to be lashing out, whether directly or through allies. The muted reactions from Washington — including the initial response to Saturday’s attack — appear to have validated that strategy, several analysts said.

Even as Mr. Trump added his voice to the chorus of officials pointing to Iranian responsibility for the attack, he repeated his aversion to armed conflict and hopes for negotiations, saying, “I know they want to make a deal.” He had already said any retaliation over the attack would depend on input from Saudi Arabia, which put off the question by calling for a United Nations inquiry.

Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and an Iranian-backed faction in Yemen, the Houthis, has claimed it. But the strikes demonstrated more clearly than ever that Iranian forces or their regional surrogates can imperil American clients and global oil supplies, even while under punishing sanctions.

“The Saudi air defenses have been proved completely worthless,” said Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They are not going to be ready for Round 2.”

Nor does Iran appear to be suffering any penalty in international diplomacy, said Ellie Geranmayeh, a scholar of Iran at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The European powers, she said, blame Mr. Trump for starting the escalation that led to the attack by withdrawing the United States from the 2015 deal that world powers had signed with Iran to remove sanctions in exchange for limitations on the country’s nuclear program.

Iranian forces near Bandar Abbas, Iran, in July patrolling after the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.CreditHasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After abandoning the accord last year, the Trump administration imposed punishing sanctions on Iranian oil sales in a bid to win a more restrictive nuclear pact. European powers, opposing the American sanctions and hoping to salvage the 2015 deal, have sought to offer relief.

President Emmanuel Macron of France has recently proposed a $15 billion line of credit to encourage Iran to comply with the deal, apparently hoping that the United States will return to it — possibly after the election of a new president. And none of the European powers have indicated that they are pulling back from their diplomatic efforts.

Ms. Geranmayeh argued that the attack on Saudi oil facilities was “a warning shot” that may have been calculated to improve Iran’s leverage in any negotiations with Mr. Trump or the Europeans. Or, if the Iranians were impatient with the pace of European diplomacy, she argued, the attacks might goad the Europeans to hurry.

Iranian hard-liners have long held a cynical view that American decision makers understand only the threat of force, scholars say. But in the first year after Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear accord, Iran continued to abide by it and refrained from any retaliation, a policy it called “strategic patience.”

It got them nothing, analysts say. Initial European efforts to coax Washington back to the deal went nowhere. American allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — all regional rivals to Iran — urged Washington to increase the pressure.

Then the Trump administration began using the global reach of the American financial system to try to block Iranian oil sales anywhere in the world, cutting off the lifeblood of the Iranian economy.

Tehran embarked on a dual strategy to fight back. Publicly, it began taking calibrated steps to exceed the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, citing certain provisions in the agreement as justification for its noncompliance.

Houthi rebel fighters in Sana, Yemen, in August. United Nations experts say Iran has supplied the group with drones and missiles.CreditHani Mohammed/Associated Press

At the same time, Western officials have concluded, Iran began to demonstrate that it can threaten global oil markets, forcing others to share its economic pain. In addition to the attacks on tankers, which American officials say Iranian forces carried out with naval mines, Iran has also seized a few ships, including a British-flagged oil tanker that was taken in an apparent retaliation for the capture of an Iranian tanker by British forces near Gibraltar.

It suffered little penalty. The United States declined to retaliate for the tanker sabotage. With Britain eager to lower the temperature, officials in Gibraltar, a British territory, freed the detained Iranian vessel last month.

The European powers accelerated their efforts to provide sanctions relief and preserve the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Even the United Arab Emirates appeared to step back from conflict. The Emirates declined to publicly blame Iran for the damage done to tankers in its waters. Instead, Emirati officials held talks with Iran about maritime security. And at the same time, the Emirates began to withdraw from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthis.

The Emirates “have awoken to the fact that they are very exposed,” said Sanam Vakil, a scholar of Iran and the Persian Gulf at Chatham House, a policy institute in London.

With the Emirates signaling that it wants to avoid further escalation, she said, Tehran was beginning to succeed in its long-held goal of dividing the anti-Iran alliance in the region.

“They have already been able to split off the U.A.E., so Saudi Arabia is next,” Ms. Vakil said.

Ultimately, Ms. Vakil said, the Iranians appear to have concluded from the recent American actions that confrontation cannot lose, because even a potential American military action would almost certainly be a limited strike designed to avoid a prolonged ground war. Domestically and in the region, surviving such a strike could strengthen the current Iranian government by rallying public opinion.

“They are challenging American supremacy and forcing the international community to come to terms with a new relationship with the Islamic Republic,” she said. “They come out ahead no matter what happens.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward

DETROIT — A decade ago, when General Motors was on the brink of collapse and was ushered into bankruptcy by the federal government, the company’s unionized workers bore a significant portion of the pain to bring the automaker back to financial health.

The United Auto Workers agreed to allow General Motors to hire significant numbers of new workers at roughly half the hourly wage of those already on the payroll and with reduced retirement benefits. In the following years, G.M. was also able to bring in temporary workers with even slimmer wage-and-benefit packages and little job security.

The bitter medicine helped reinvigorate the automaker, and for the last several years it has been reaping record profits. Along the way, it has pared its United States payrolls, closed several plants and moved more work to Mexico.

Now nearly 50,000 workers have walked off the job at more than 50 G.M. plants and other locations across the Midwest and South, striking to get what they see as their fair share of the company’s hefty returns and block further erosion of their ranks.

“We have given away so many concessions over the last eight-plus years, and this company has been ridiculously profitable over that time,” said Chaz Akers, 24, an assembler at G.M.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is set to close in January unless the labor talks can win a reprieve. “That’s why we’re here. We’re fighting to get everything that we lost back.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16gmexplainer2-articleLarge For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

Chaz Akers, 24, walking the picket line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He said General Motors workers needed to recoup past concessions.CreditSteve Koss for The New York Times

The strike, the first by the U.A.W. since 2007, began at midnight Sunday, a day after the G.M. contract expired. Industry analysts said the walkout could cost the company tens of millions of dollars a day.

The company had no comment on the talks on Monday but said on Sunday, “We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways, and it is disappointing that the U.A.W. leadership has chosen to strike.”

In negotiations that lasted most of the day Monday and were to resume at midmorning Tuesday, the company has offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants and add 5,400 jobs. It has also said it is willing to increase pay and benefits, without offering details.

That’s not enough for Wiley Turnage, president of U.A.W. Local 22, who represents the 700 workers at the Hamtramck plant. “I don’t like where we’re at,” he said at the plant’s main gate Monday, a picket sign reading “U.A.W. on Strike” propped on his shoulder. “We need job security. Our plant doesn’t have production beyond January. We have a lot of young, growing families and we need work for them.”

[Watch “The Weekly,” our TV show, where autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, say G.M. owes them more than it does it’s stock holders.]

Focusing on a single company is standard practice in the talks between the U.A.W. and the Detroit automakers every four years. And although G.M. has a smaller domestic work force than its American rivals, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, it presented an inviting target.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 15UAW2-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Reward Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

The United Automobile Workers union members organized a strike against General Motors in an effort to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs and narrow the pay difference between new hires and veteran workers.CreditCreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

The automaker has earned solid profits — it made $35 billion in North America over the last three years — while closing plants in the United States. Ford, in contrast, canceled plans to build a plant in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler has announced plans for a new factory in Detroit.

“The U.A.W. is making a significant move here and sending a strong signal that what G.M. has been offering is not acceptable,” said Peter Berg, a labor-relations professor at Michigan State University.

Among autoworkers, there is a strong sense that G.M. is not only making enough profit to increase wages but should be obligated to do so because the federal government rescued the company in 2009.

“We literally gave up a lot during the bankruptcy and the American taxpayer gave up a lot,” said Ashley Scales, 32, a G.M. worker walking the picket line outside the Hamtramck plant’s main gate. “We gave up twice because we pay taxes and we gave up in the contractual agreement. And now the corporation is making more profit than ever and they still want to play games.”

It also does not sit well with workers that G.M. has chosen to make certain vehicles in Mexico rather than in American plants. For example, the new Chevrolet Blazer, a sport utility vehicle that years ago was made in the United States, was assigned to a Mexican plant when it was reintroduced last year.

President Trump, who even before taking office castigated G.M. for shifting production to Mexico, returned to the theme on Monday in comments at the White House. While he said he was “sad to see the strike” and hoped it would be short, he emphasized his relationship with autoworkers, and added: “I don’t want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country. You know they built many plants in China and Mexico, and I don’t like that at all.”

Under the contract just ended, workers have gotten a share of G.M.’s profits averaging $11,000 a year over the last three years. But some contend that the U.A.W. failed to push hard enough as G.M. and the other automakers bounced back over the last decade, including the union’s efforts in the last contract talks four years ago.

“The leadership is feeling some pressure from below to deliver something better than what we got in 2015,” Martha Grevatt, a U.A.W. member who retired from a Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan earlier this year, said in an interview in August.

[See what the strike looked like outside the Flint, Mich., plant.]

After making G.M. its target, the U.A.W. extended its contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The G.M. outcome is meant to set a pattern for the other companies.

But G.M. is looking to cut costs, or at least avoid cost increases, in a difficult business environment. Auto sales are slowing in the United States and China, the world’s largest and most lucrative markets, and the company is spending billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It still has room to get leaner. At the end of last year, G.M. had the capacity to make one million more vehicles that it was selling, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

To trim capacity, it has closed a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and components plants in Baltimore and Warren, Mich. The Hamtramck plant makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, two slow-selling sedans that would need to be retained or replaced to keep the factory running.

Linda Crooks picketing at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Monday. She has worked for General Motors for 35 years, and her father, her brother and her father-in-law were all autoworkers.CreditEmily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

Aside from keeping the Hamtramck plant open, the biggest issue for strikers is the tiered wage system, which leaves some workers making significantly less than others for comparable work.

Workers hired before 2007 make about $31 an hour, and can retire with a lifelong pension. Those hired after them (now more than a third of the work force) start at about $17 an hour and can work their way up to about $29 an hour over eight years. They also have to rely on 401(k) retirement accounts instead of pensions.

In addition, G.M. uses temporary workers (about 7 percent of the staff) who earn about $15 an hour, and do not have vision or dental benefits. The system has helped G.M. compete with Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers operating nonunion plants in Southern states where hourly wages tend to range from $15 to $18 an hour.

But Hamtramck workers said the disparity in compensation under one roof created tension and resentment on the assembly line. “It’s a matter of fairness if someone next to you is making double for the same work,” said Stephanie Brown, 35, a Head Start teacher for 10 years until she took a temp position at G.M. three months ago.

Mr. Akers said he was paid $18 an hour for installing passenger-side headlights, while the driver’s-side headlights were installed by a temporary worker making $3 less.

“That guy has been a temp for two-and-a-half years,” Mr. Akers said. “Is that temporary to you?”

Depending on its length, the strike could have far-reaching effects, potentially hurting some of the thousands of companies that supply G.M. with parts like seats, motors and brake systems, as well as the components that go into those parts.

Other parts of the labor movement may be an asset to the U.A.W. Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman, said that his union represented about 1,000 drivers who transport G.M. vehicles to dealerships and that their contracts allowed them to avoid crossing a picket line.

Mr. Caldwell said he expected almost all of the car haulers to be idle throughout the strike. “That’ll be a big impact holding up any remaining inventory G.M. has, anything they try to bring in from out of the country,” he said. “It’s the main area of support we’re able to show.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-military1-facebookJumbo U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks Yemen Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts and military investigators are examining a missile guidance mechanism recovered in Saudi Arabia that may provide clues as to the missile’s origins and flight path, as they continue gathering information to make the administration’s case that Iran was responsible for last weekend’s attack against Saudi oil facilities.

Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials.

And, perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites, including at least one mostly intact cruise missile recovered from the area, officials said.

American military investigators are in Saudi Arabia working with counterparts to examine the guidance mechanism in the cruise missile that was recovered. Investigators are hoping they can trace the missile’s flight path, using data in the guidance system, back to its origin — possibly to precise geographic coordinates.

Within the administration, there is much discussion over what retaliatory action to take, if any, and whether such a response would appear to be just doing the Saudis’ bidding.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have presented President Trump with an array of military options — presumably both bombing targets such as the missile-launching sites and storage areas and covert cyber operations that could disable or disrupt Iran’s oil infrastructure.

A big concern is to ensure that any strikes be proportional and not escalate the conflict, particularly with world leaders gathering in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. Officials also voiced worry about the cost of doing nothing, at least openly, in response to attacks that have cut in half the oil production of one of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East.

American officials say they have no doubt that the drones and missiles used in the attacks were Iranian technology and components. But they have not yet released information on whether the strikes were planned and directed by Iran, and launched by Iran’s proxies in the region — or whether they actually were launched from Iranian territory.

Intelligence officials have ruled out Yemen as the origin of the attacks and do not believe they emanated from Iraq, either. That leaves Iran or possibly some vessel in the northern Persian Gulf as the staging ground.

Several American military and intelligence officials said they believed they would ultimately conclude that the attacks were launched from Iran. Officials have said Iran is almost certainly behind the strike, given the scope, scale and precision of the attacks.

Michael Morell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., said in remarks at a speech in Northern Virginia on Monday night that if Iran was found responsible for directing or carrying out the attacks, that would amount to an act of war and the United States would “need to respond.”

Mr. Morell, who said he had no inside information, said he favored some kind of proportional military strike, perhaps against Iranian missile sites and storage areas but not against Iranian oil infrastructure. He also said it would be important to have allies such as Britain and France join any retaliation so it was not just the United States going it alone.

France has no evidence showing where drones that attacked the Saudi oil facilities came from, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“Up to now France doesn’t have evidence to say that these drones came from one place or another, and I don’t know if anyone has evidence,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Cairo.

Several top administration and military officials said they remained keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s reluctance to carry out military strikes that could pull the United States into a larger, longer conflict in the Middle East.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Payback

DETROIT — A decade ago, when General Motors was on the brink of collapse and was ushered into bankruptcy by the federal government, the company’s unionized workers bore a significant portion of the pain to bring the automaker back to financial health.

The United Auto Workers agreed to allow General Motors to hire significant numbers of new workers at roughly half the hourly wage of those already on the payroll and with reduced retirement benefits. In the following years, G.M. was also able to bring in temporary workers with even slimmer wage-and-benefit packages and little job security.

The bitter medicine helped reinvigorate the automaker, and for the last several years it has been reaping record profits. Along the way, it has pared its United States payrolls, closed several plants and moved more work to Mexico.

Now nearly 50,000 workers have walked off the job at more than 50 G.M. plants and other locations across the Midwest and South, striking to get what they see as their fair share of the company’s hefty returns and block further erosion of their ranks.

“We have given away so many concessions over the last eight-plus years, and this company has been ridiculously profitable over that time,” said Chaz Akers, 24, an assembler at G.M.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is set to close in January unless the labor talks can win a reprieve. “That’s why we’re here. We’re fighting to get everything that we lost back.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16gmexplainer2-articleLarge For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Payback Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

Chaz Akers, 24, walking the picket line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He said General Motors workers needed to recoup past concessions.CreditSteve Koss for The New York Times

The strike, the first by the U.A.W. since 2007, began at midnight Sunday, a day after the G.M. contract expired. Industry analysts said the walkout could cost the company tens of millions of dollars a day.

The company had no comment on the talks on Monday but said on Sunday, “We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways, and it is disappointing that the U.A.W. leadership has chosen to strike.”

In negotiations that lasted most of the day Monday and were to resume at midmorning Tuesday, the company has offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants and add 5,400 jobs. It has also said it is willing to increase pay and benefits, without offering details.

That’s not enough for Wiley Turnage, president of U.A.W. Local 22, who represents the 700 workers at the Hamtramck plant. “I don’t like where we’re at,” he said at the plant’s main gate Monday, a picket sign reading “U.A.W. on Strike” propped on his shoulder. “We need job security. Our plant doesn’t have production beyond January. We have a lot of young, growing families and we need work for them.”

[Watch “The Weekly,” our TV show, where autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, say G.M. owes them more than it does it’s stock holders.]

Focusing on a single company is standard practice in the talks between the U.A.W. and the Detroit automakers every four years. And although G.M. has a smaller domestic work force than its American rivals, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, it presented an inviting target.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 15UAW2-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 For G.M. Workers, U.A.W. Strike Is Chance for Overdue Payback Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Factories and Manufacturing Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

The United Automobile Workers union members organized a strike against General Motors in an effort to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs and narrow the pay difference between new hires and veteran workers.CreditCreditErin Kirkland for The New York Times

The automaker has earned solid profits — it made $35 billion in North America over the last three years — while closing plants in the United States. Ford, in contrast, canceled plans to build a plant in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler has announced plans for a new factory in Detroit.

“The U.A.W. is making a significant move here and sending a strong signal that what G.M. has been offering is not acceptable,” said Peter Berg, a labor-relations professor at Michigan State University.

Among autoworkers, there is a strong sense that G.M. is not only making enough profit to increase wages but should be obligated to do so because the federal government rescued the company in 2009.

“We literally gave up a lot during the bankruptcy and the American taxpayer gave up a lot,” said Ashley Scales, 32, a G.M. worker walking the picket line outside the Hamtramck plant’s main gate. “We gave up twice because we pay taxes and we gave up in the contractual agreement. And now the corporation is making more profit than ever and they still want to play games.”

It also does not sit well with workers that G.M. has chosen to make certain vehicles in Mexico rather than in American plants. For example, the new Chevrolet Blazer, a sport utility vehicle that years ago was made in the United States, was assigned to a Mexican plant when it was reintroduced last year.

President Trump, who even before taking office castigated G.M. for shifting production to Mexico, returned to the theme on Monday in comments at the White House. While he said he was “sad to see the strike” and hoped it would be short, he emphasized his relationship with autoworkers, and added: “I don’t want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country. You know they built many plants in China and Mexico, and I don’t like that at all.”

Under the contract just ended, workers have gotten a share of G.M.’s profits averaging $11,000 a year over the last three years. But some contend that the U.A.W. failed to push hard enough as G.M. and the other automakers bounced back over the last decade, including the union’s efforts in the last contract talks four years ago.

“The leadership is feeling some pressure from below to deliver something better than what we got in 2015,” Martha Grevatt, a U.A.W. member who retired from a Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan earlier this year, said in an interview in August.

[See what the strike looked like outside the Flint, Mich., plant.]

After making G.M. its target, the U.A.W. extended its contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The G.M. outcome is meant to set a pattern for the other companies.

But G.M. is looking to cut costs, or at least avoid cost increases, in a difficult business environment. Auto sales are slowing in the United States and China, the world’s largest and most lucrative markets, and the company is spending billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It still has room to get leaner. At the end of last year, G.M. had the capacity to make one million more vehicles that it was selling, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

To trim capacity, it has closed a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and components plants in Baltimore and Warren, Mich. The Hamtramck plant makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, two slow-selling sedans that would need to be retained or replaced to keep the factory running.

Linda Crooks picketing at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Monday. She has worked for General Motors for 35 years, and her father, her brother and her father-in-law were all autoworkers.CreditEmily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

Aside from keeping the Hamtramck plant open, the biggest issue for strikers is the tiered wage system, which leaves some workers making significantly less than others for comparable work.

Workers hired before 2007 make about $31 an hour, and can retire with a lifelong pension. Those hired after them (now more than a third of the work force) start at about $17 an hour and can work their way up to about $29 an hour over eight years. They also have to rely on 401(k) retirement accounts instead of pensions.

In addition, G.M. uses temporary workers (about 7 percent of the staff) who earn about $15 an hour, and do not have vision or dental benefits. The system has helped G.M. compete with Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers operating nonunion plants in Southern states where hourly wages tend to range from $15 to $18 an hour.

But Hamtramck workers said the disparity in compensation under one roof created tension and resentment on the assembly line. “It’s a matter of fairness if someone next to you is making double for the same work,” said Stephanie Brown, 35, a Head Start teacher for 10 years until she took a temp position at G.M. three months ago.

Mr. Akers said he was paid $18 an hour for installing passenger-side headlights, while the driver’s-side headlights were installed by a temporary worker making $3 less.

“That guy has been a temp for two-and-a-half years,” Mr. Akers said. “Is that temporary to you?”

Depending on its length, the strike could have far-reaching effects, potentially hurting some of the thousands of companies that supply G.M. with parts like seats, motors and brake systems, as well as the components that go into those parts.

Other parts of the labor movement may be an asset to the U.A.W. Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman, said that his union represented about 1,000 drivers who transport G.M. vehicles to dealerships and that their contracts allowed them to avoid crossing a picket line.

Mr. Caldwell said he expected almost all of the car haulers to be idle throughout the strike. “That’ll be a big impact holding up any remaining inventory G.M. has, anything they try to bring in from out of the country,” he said. “It’s the main area of support we’re able to show.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

With Oil Under Attack, Trump’s Deference to Saudis Returns

WASHINGTON — After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

Whether, and how, to commit forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump’s comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision.

The fact that the other country was Saudi Arabia — a difficult ally that came under intense criticism for the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist — reinforced the longstanding criticism that the energy-rich kingdom buys American support.

“What struck me about that tweet was not just that it’s obviously wrong to allow Saudi Arabia to dictate our foreign policy, but that the president doesn’t seem to be aware of how submissive it makes him look to say that,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former assistant secretary of state.

“It is a big deal to attack oil fields,” Mr. Malinowski added. “It does affect more than just Saudi Arabia’s interests. But whatever we do, we have to do what’s best for us and we have to recognize that the Saudis have a profound bias.”

Mr. Trump told reporters on Monday that he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis and that he would “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.” But he expressed caution, suggesting that for all of his bellicose language, he was not rushing toward a military conflict.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, “It is looking that way.” But he stopped short of definitive confirmation. “That is being checked out right now,” he added.

Mr. Trump warned that the United States had fearsome military abilities and was prepared for war if necessary.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160902594_d4b298b2-a01e-4e33-88b7-880ddeb56f9d-articleLarge With Oil Under Attack, Trump’s Deference to Saudis Returns United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Pompeo, Mike Khashoggi, Jamal Iran Human Rights and Human Rights Violations

A satellite image showing damage to oil and gas infrastructure after an attack in Abqaig, Saudi Arabia.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

“But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it,” he added. “I know they would like to make a deal,” he said of the Iranians, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. “At some point, it will work out.”

There is no evidence it will work out soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the notion on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Mr. Trump in New York next week when both are scheduled to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. While Mr. Trump said in June that a meeting could happen without preconditions, and his own aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, repeated it last week, Mr. Trump called that “fake news” over the weekend and falsely blamed the news media for making it up.

The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long, bristling history. Critics complained that Saudi Arabia effectively hired out the American military to protect itself from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and reverse his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The Saudi government even forked over $16 billion to reimburse the United States for about a quarter of the cost of the war that followed in 1991 — along with Kuwait, the most of any country.

The resentment felt over the years by American officials crossed the ideological spectrum, summed up pithily in a leaked 2010 cable by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Saudis, Mr. Gates told the French foreign minister at the time, always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American.”

Among those who seemed to share the sentiment in the past was a New York businessman and television entertainer named Donald J. Trump.

“Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won’t, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!” he tweeted in 2014.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has made Saudi Arabia his closest ally in the Middle East other than Israel, and has strongly supported its multifront struggle with Iran for dominance in the region. He has also left little doubt about the primacy of money in the relationship, openly citing the value of arms contracts in explaining why he would not criticize the Saudi government for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

When two Saudi oil processing centers were hit by an aerial assault over the weekend, Mr. Trump spoke out quickly, much as any president might given the effect on world oil supplies.

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

Mr. Trump meeting with Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, during the Group of 20 summit in June in Osaka, Japan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

The statement was strange for many reasons. Mr. Pompeo had already named the Iranians as the culprits; Mr. Trump did not. But the seeming abdication of fact-finding and decision-making to the Saudis gave Democrats a moment to argue that the president was willing to let the Saudi monarchy make decisions for the United States.

“If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress, not the Saudi royal family, to authorize it,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, wrote on Twitter.

Heather Hurlburt, a national security official under President Bill Clinton who is now at New America, a Washington-based research organization, said it would be perfectly normal for a president to consult an ally before taking action in such a circumstance.

“It’s not remotely normal for a president to talk publicly about that, to use language that sounds as if we aren’t making our own decisions about whether to use force — or trusting our own intelligence,” she said. “And it’s completely unprecedented with a country that is not a treaty ally.”

The White House declined to comment on Monday beyond Mr. Trump’s remarks, but some national security conservatives were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to know for sure what’s going through the president’s mind,” said John P. Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

But he said that his guess was that Mr. Trump “wants the country most affected and threatened by the attack to step up publicly, pin responsibility squarely on Iran and put some real skin into the game by formally requesting that the U.S. and international community come to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the global economy.”

That could help mobilize international opinion and perhaps forge a coalition against Iran, “rather than an excuse to do nothing,” Mr. Hannah added.

In his comments to reporters on Monday, Mr. Trump seemed intent on avoiding the perception that he was taking direction from the Saudis. If there is any response to the strikes on the oil facilities, he said, then the Saudis would play a part themselves — if nothing else, by financing it.

Which, of course, made it sound as if the United States was willing to be, in effect, a mercenary force for the Saudis.

“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something,” he said. “They’ll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

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G.M. Workers Say They Sacrificed, and Now They Want Their Due

DETROIT — A decade ago, when General Motors was on the brink of collapse and was ushered into bankruptcy by the federal government, the company’s unionized workers bore a significant portion of the pain to bring the automaker back to financial health.

The United Auto Workers agreed to allow General Motors to hire significant numbers of new workers at roughly half the hourly wage of those already on the payroll and with reduced retirement benefits. In the following years, G.M. was also able to bring in temporary workers with even slimmer wage-and-benefit packages and little job security.

The bitter medicine helped reinvigorate the automaker, and for the last several years it has been reaping record profits. Along the way, it has pared its United States payrolls, closed several plants and moved more work to Mexico.

Now nearly 50,000 workers have walked off the job at more than 50 G.M. plants and other locations across the Midwest and South, striking to get what they see as their fair share of the company’s hefty returns and block further erosion of their ranks.

“We have given away so many concessions over the last eight-plus years, and this company has been ridiculously profitable over that time,” said Chaz Akers, 24, an assembler at G.M.’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is set to close in January unless the labor talks can win a reprieve. “That’s why we’re here. We’re fighting to get everything that we lost back.”

The across-the-board strike, the first by the U.A.W. since 2007, began at midnight Sunday, a day after the G.M. contract expired. Industry analysts said the walkout could cost the company tens of millions of dollars a day.

In negotiations that resumed Monday morning and continued into the evening, the company has offered to invest $7 billion in United States plants and add 5,400 jobs. It also said it was willing to increase pay and benefits, without offering details.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16gmexplainer2-articleLarge G.M. Workers Say They Sacrificed, and Now They Want Their Due Wages and Salaries United Automobile Workers Trump, Donald J Strikes Organized Labor Labor and Jobs Hamtramck (Mich) General Motors Detroit (Mich) Bankruptcies Automobiles

Chaz Akers, 24, walking the picket line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. He said General Motors workers needed to recoup past concessions.CreditSteve Koss for The New York Times

That’s not enough for Wiley Turnage, president of U.A.W. Local 22, who represents the 700 workers at the Hamtramck plant. “I don’t like where we’re at,” he said at the plant’s main gate Monday, a picket sign reading “U.A.W. on Strike” propped on his shoulder. “We need job security. Our plant doesn’t have production beyond January. We have a lot of young, growing families and we need work for them.”

Focusing on a single company is standard practice in the talks between the U.A.W. and the Detroit automakers every four years. And although G.M. has a smaller domestic work force than its American rivals, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler, it presented an inviting target.

The automaker has earned solid profits — it made $35 billion in North America over the last three years — while closing plants in the United States. Ford, in contrast, canceled plans to build a plant in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler has announced plans for a new factory in Detroit.

“The U.A.W. is making a significant move here and sending a strong signal that what G.M. has been offering is not acceptable,” said Peter Berg, a labor-relations professor at Michigan State University.

Among autoworkers, there is a strong sense that G.M. is not only making enough profit to increase wages but should be obligated to do so because the federal government rescued the company in 2009.

“We literally gave up a lot during the bankruptcy and the American taxpayer gave up a lot,” said Ashley Scales, 32, a G.M. worker walking the picket line outside the Hamtramck plant’s main gate. “We gave up twice because we pay taxes and we gave up in the contractual agreement. And now the corporation is making more profit than ever and they still want to play games.”

It also does not sit well with workers that G.M. has chosen to make certain vehicles in Mexico rather than in American plants. For example, the new Chevrolet Blazer, a sport utility vehicle that years ago was made in the United States, was assigned to a Mexican plant when it was reintroduced last year.

President Trump, who even before taking office castigated G.M. for shifting production to Mexico, returned to the theme on Monday in comments at the White House. While he said he was “sad to see the strike” and hoped it would be short, he emphasized his relationship with autoworkers, and added: “I don’t want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country. You know they built many plants in China and Mexico, and I don’t like that at all.”

Under the contract just ended, workers have gotten a share of G.M.’s profits averaging $11,000 a year over the last three years. But some contend that the U.A.W. failed to push hard enough as G.M. and the other automakers bounced back over the last decade, including the union’s efforts in the last contract talks four years ago.

“The leadership is feeling some pressure from below to deliver something better than what we got in 2015,” Martha Grevatt, a U.A.W. member who retired from a Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan earlier this year, said in an interview in August.

After making G.M. its target, the U.A.W. extended its contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The G.M. outcome is meant to set a pattern for the other companies.

But G.M. is looking to cut costs, or at least avoid cost increases, in a difficult business environment. Auto sales are slowing in the United States and China, the world’s largest and most lucrative markets, and the company is spending billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

It still has room to get leaner. At the end of last year, G.M. had the capacity to make one million more vehicles that it was selling, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

To trim capacity, it has closed a small-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and components plants in Baltimore and Warren, Mich. The Hamtramck plant makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, two slow-selling sedans that would need to be retained or replaced to keep the factory running.

Linda Crooks picketing at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Monday. She has worked for General Motors for 35 years, and her father, her brother and her father-in-law were all autoworkers.CreditEmily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways, and it is disappointing that the U.A.W. leadership has chosen to strike,” the company said on Sunday.

Aside from keeping the Hamtramck plant open, the biggest issue for strikers is the tiered wage system, which leaves some workers making significantly less than others for comparable work.

Workers hired before 2007 make about $31 an hour, and can retire with a lifelong pension. Those hired after them (now more than a third of the work force) start at about $17 an hour and can work their way up to about $29 an hour over eight years. They also have to rely on 401(k) retirement accounts instead of pensions.

In addition, G.M. uses temporary workers (about 7 percent of the staff) who earn about $15 an hour, and do not have vision or dental benefits. The system has helped G.M. compete with Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers operating nonunion plants in Southern states where hourly wages tend to range from $15 to $18 an hour.

But Hamtramck workers said the disparity in compensation under one roof created tension and resentment on the assembly line. “It’s a matter of fairness if someone next to you is making double for the same work,” said Stephanie Brown, 35, a Head Start teacher for 10 years until she took a temp position at G.M. three months ago.

Mr. Akers said he was paid $18 an hour for installing passenger-side headlights, while the driver’s-side headlights were installed by a temporary worker making $3 less.

“That guy has been a temp for two-and-a-half years,” Mr. Akers said. “Is that temporary to you?”

Depending on its length, the strike could have far-reaching effects, potentially hurting some of the thousands of companies that supply G.M. with parts like seats, motors and brake systems, as well as the components that go into those parts.

Other parts of the labor movement may be an asset to the U.A.W. Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman, said that his union represented about 1,000 drivers who transport G.M. vehicles to dealerships and that their contracts allowed them to avoid crossing a picket line.

Mr. Caldwell said he expected almost all of the car haulers to be idle throughout the strike. “That’ll be a big impact holding up any remaining inventory G.M. has, anything they try to bring in from out of the country,” he said. “It’s the main area of support we’re able to show.”

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Trump Says U.S. and Japan Have Reached Initial Trade Agreement

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WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Monday that his administration had reached an initial trade agreement with Japan and would announce a deal in the coming weeks.

The trade pact, while limited, is expected to increase access for American agricultural products like beef and chicken to the Japanese market. That would provide some relief to farmers who have been hurt by Mr. Trump’s trade war with China.

Exact details of the deal have not been released. But people briefed on the negotiations said the pact would lower Japanese tariffs on beef and other American farm products in return for cutting American tariffs on industrial goods like machinery. Unlike most trade deals, the pact is expected to be limited to a few industries.

It is not clear how much protection the deal would offer Japan against Mr. Trump’s threats to place tariffs on its cars, a penalty Japan is eager to avoid. And the deal also appeared unlikely to exempt Japan from Mr. Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter notifying Congress of its plans Monday, the administration said it would enter into a trade agreement with Japan regarding tariffs, as well an agreement on the rules governing digital trade.

Mr. Trump teased a breakthrough in trade talks with Japan during the Group of 7 meeting in France last month, saying that the two countries were “very close” to a major deal.

“We’re working on a very big deal with Japan, and we’re very close to getting it,” he told reporters after he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. “It will be one of the biggest deals we’ve ever made with Japan.”

Mr. Abe said the two sides had successfully “reached consensus with regard to the core elements related to agricultural and industrial trade,” but noted that the precise language of the pact was still under discussion.

Speaking to reporters at the event, the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said the deal would open up $7 billion of new access to Japanese markets.

The administration has been racing to conclude the deal before Mr. Trump travels to New York next week, where he will meet again with Mr. Abe at the United Nations General Assembly.

A deal with Japan would give Mr. Trump a big talking point as he heads into his re-election campaign. Within days of assuming the presidency, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — that would have given America greater access to Japan’s market and lower tariffs, along with the markets of countries like Australia, Singapore and Vietnam. The pact was welcomed by farmers but disliked by many Republicans and Democrats, and Mr. Trump said he would use America’s leverage to cement a better trade deal with Japan.

Since Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the T.P.P., Japan and the pact’s 10 other remaining members have proceeded with ratifying the deal, and Japan has entered into a major trade agreement with the European Union.

While Japan initially resisted a bilateral trade deal with the United States and instead insisted that it rejoin the T.P.P., Mr. Abe ultimately agreed to one-on-one trade talks.

The Trump administration’s deal is likely to address a much narrower range of issues than the T.P.P. would have. American and Japanese officials have been eager to announce an “early harvest” deal that would buoy their partnership, as well as Mr. Trump’s chances at re-election, and then continue on to further negotiations on other industries.

The agreements on agriculture are unlikely to go beyond those Japan would have given to the United States under the terms of the T.P.P. Tokyo agreed to lower tariffs on a wide range of agricultural goods, including those from the United States, when it joined the T.P.P., and it has consistently said it would not offer the United States terms better than those enjoyed by the group’s member countries.

The new deal will not touch on many other areas of trade addressed in that agreement. Instead, negotiators envision tackling issues such as pharmaceuticals, energy and services in future talks.

“We have other issues that we’re concerned about and we’d like to see addressed,” said Christopher LaFleur, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The current deal is “fine for the moment, fine in terms of seeing some early results,” he said, adding, “We very much hope though that the negotiators will stick with it.”

At the G7 in France, Mr. Trump also said Mr. Abe had agreed to buy hundreds of million dollars of surplus corn that would have been sold to China, but has instead piled up in American silos as a result of the trade war with Beijing.

In Japan, ranchers and farmers have greeted the announcement with puzzlement. The country is already a major buyer of American feed corn and has sufficient stocks of the grain.

“Even if we import it, there’s no path for using it,” said Akio Shibata of Japan’s National Resource Research Institute.

For Mr. Abe, the deal is a sort of quid quo pro, according to a person familiar with the leader’s thinking, who asked for anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue. In the spring, Mr. Trump agreed to delay trade negotiations with Japan while Mr. Abe campaigned for a critical parliamentary election in July. The announcement on corn, the person said, was seen as returning the favor by giving Mr. Trump a political lift among voters in farm states, such as Iowa.

“If Mr. Trump doesn’t have farmers’ votes, he can’t win,” said Kazuhito Yamashita, an expert on trade at Japan’s Canon Institute for Global Studies. “That’s why they made this agreement.”

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Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve

WASHINGTON — After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was “locked and loaded,” a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him “under what terms we would proceed.”

His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.

It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind.

Whether, and how, to commit American forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump’s comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision. The fact that the other country was Saudi Arabia — a difficult ally that came under intense criticism for the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist — reinforced the longstanding criticism that the energy-rich kingdom buys American support.

“What struck me about that tweet was not just that it’s obviously wrong to allow Saudi Arabia to dictate our foreign policy, but that the president doesn’t seem to be aware of how submissive it makes him look to say that,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a former assistant secretary of state.

“It is a big deal to attack oil fields,” Mr. Malinowski added. “It does affect more than just Saudi Arabia’s interests. But whatever we do, we have to do what’s best for us and we have to recognize that the Saudis have a profound bias.”

Mr. Trump told reporters on Monday that he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis and that he would “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.” But he expressed caution, suggesting that for all of his bellicose language, he was not rushing toward a military conflict.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, “It is looking that way.” But he stopped short of definitive confirmation. “That is being checked out right now,” he added.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160902594_d4b298b2-a01e-4e33-88b7-880ddeb56f9d-articleLarge Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Pompeo, Mike Khashoggi, Jamal Iran Human Rights and Human Rights Violations

A satellite image showing damage to oil and gas infrastructure after an attack in Abqaig, Saudi Arabia.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Trump warned that the United States had fearsome military abilities and was prepared for war if necessary. “But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it,” he added. “I know they would like to make a deal,” he said of the Iranians, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. “At some point, it will work out.”

There is no evidence it will work out soon. The Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the notion on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Mr. Trump in New York next week when both are scheduled to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. While Mr. Trump’s aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said last week that a meeting could happen with no preconditions, Mr. Trump called that term “fake news” over the weekend — though he blamed the news media for making it up, not his cabinet secretaries.

The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long and bristling history. Critics complained that Saudi Arabia effectively hired out the American military to protect itself from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and reverse his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Saudi government even forked over $16 billion to reimburse the United States for about a quarter of the cost of the war that followed in 1991 — along with Kuwait, the most of any country.

The resentment felt over the years by American officials crossed the ideological spectrum, summed up pithily in a leaked 2010 cable by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Saudis, Mr. Gates told the French foreign minister at the time, always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American.”

Among those who seemed to share the sentiment in the past was a New York businessman and television entertainer named Donald J. Trump. “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won’t, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!” he tweeted in 2014.

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has made Saudi Arabia his closest ally in the Middle East other than Israel, and has strongly supported its multifront struggle with Iran for dominance in the region. He has also left little doubt about the primacy of money in the relationship, openly citing the value of arms contracts in explaining why he would not criticize the Saudi government for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

When two Saudi oil processing centers were hit by an aerial assault over the weekend, Mr. Trump spoke out quickly, much as any president might given the effect on world oil supplies.

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

The statement was strange for many reasons. Mr. Pompeo had already named the Iranians as the culprits; Mr. Trump did not. But the seeming abdication of fact-finding and decision-making to the Saudis gave Democrats a moment to argue that the president was willing to let the Saudi monarchy make decisions for the United States.

Mr. Trump meeting with Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, during the Group of 20 summit in June in Osaka, Japan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress – not the Saudi royal family – to authorize it,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, wrote on Twitter.

Heather Hurlburt, a national security official under President Bill Clinton who is now at New America, a Washington-based research organization, said it would be perfectly normal for a president to consult an ally before taking action in such a circumstance.

“It’s not remotely normal for a president to talk publicly about that, to use language that sounds as if we aren’t making our own decisions about whether to use force — or trusting our own intelligence,” she said. “And it’s completely unprecedented with a country that is not a treaty ally.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, but some national security conservatives were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to know for sure what’s going through the president’s mind,” said John P. Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

But he said his guess was that Mr. Trump “wants the country most affected and threatened by the attack to step up publicly, pin responsibility squarely on Iran and put some real skin into the game by formally requesting that the U.S. and international community come to the defense of Saudi Arabia and global economy.”

That could help mobilize international opinion and perhaps forge a coalition against Iran, “rather than an excuse to do nothing,” Mr. Hannah added.

In his comments to reporters on Monday, Mr. Trump seemed intent on avoiding the perception that he was taking direction from the Saudis. If there is any response to the strikes on the oil facilities, he said, then the Saudis would play a part themselves — if nothing else, by financing it. Which, of course, made it sound like the United States was willing to be, in effect, a mercenary force for the Saudis.

“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something,” he said. “They’ll be very much involved. And that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

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Iran Rules Out Meeting Between Trump and Rouhani

Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, Iran’s state-run news media reported.

“Neither is such a plan on our agenda nor will such a thing happen,” Seyed Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference on Monday, according to Fars, a state-run outlet. “This meeting will not be held.”

Mr. Mousavi added that if the United States “stops economic terrorism and returns to the nuclear deal, then they may sit at a corner and be present within the framework of the nuclear deal member states.”

His comments come after an attack on two major oil installations in Saudi Arabia on Saturday further escalated tensions between Iran and the United States. The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who receive support from Iran, claimed responsibility for the strikes, but the Trump administration has accused Tehran of being behind the attack.

On Sunday, American officials cited intelligence assessments to support the accusation, and Mr. Trump warned that he was prepared to take military action.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160685772_b7fa2feb-52d6-4166-87a9-409b28c60fd0-articleLarge Iran Rules Out Meeting Between Trump and Rouhani United States United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Iran General Assembly (UN)

President Trump has refrained so far from directly accusing Iran of the Saturday attacks on Saudi oil facilities, but other administration officials have not.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Earlier, the White House had said that it was not ruling out the possibility of a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations summit. But the events of the weekend have jeopardized any potential for discussion.

The relationship between the two nations has devolved since last year, when Mr. Trump abruptly withdrew the United States from the 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed punishing economic sanctions.

Last week, Mr. Trump said that he was open to the idea of meeting with Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations summit.

But on Sunday, he walked back those statements, saying on Twitter that reports that he was willing to meet with Iran with no conditions were “incorrect.”

Mr. Trump has refrained so far from directly accusing Iran of the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, but other administration officials have not.

Shortly after the attacks on Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind what he called “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” and asserted that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” He did not, however, specify an alternative launch site.

Iran has forcefully rejected Mr. Pompeo’s accusation, with the foreign minister dismissing it as “max deceit.”

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Schumer and Pelosi, Talking to Trump on Guns, Try to Sweeten the Deal

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WASHINGTON — The top two Democrats in Congress, seeking to ramp up pressure on Republicans to pass legislation extending background checks to all gun buyers, told President Trump on Sunday that they would join him at the White House for a “historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden” if he agreed to the measure.

The offer, made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, during an 11-minute phone conversation with Mr. Trump, comes as the president is considering a package of measures to respond to the mass shootings that have terrorized the nation in recent months. The three spoke only about gun legislation, according to aides.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement that the conversation was cordial but that Mr. Trump “made no commitments” on a House-passed background checks bill that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer are urging him to support.

Mr. Trump “instead indicated his interest in working to find a bipartisan legislative solution on appropriate responses to the issue of mass gun violence,” Mr. Deere said.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer want Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, to take up the bill, but the senator has refused to do so without knowing whether the president would sign it.

The Democratic leaders’ offer to the president was a bit of public posturing; they know that it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will embrace the House bill, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobbying group and a major backer of the president. Polls show that roughly 90 percent of Americans favor extending background checks, and Democrats believe gun safety is a winning issue for them with voters, but Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on the issue.

“This morning, we made it clear to the president that any proposal he endorses that does not include the House-passed universal background checks legislation will not get the job done, as dangerous loopholes will still exist and people who shouldn’t have guns will still have access,” their statement said, adding, “We know that to save as many lives as possible, the Senate must pass this bill and the president must sign it.”

Their pressure continued a campaign on an issue that has dominated the political debate in Washington and on the Democratic presidential campaign trail since a string of mass shootings over the summer.

At last week’s Democratic presidential debate, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who has proposed a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons, declared, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

The comment quickly went viral, playing into the hands of Republicans who fight gun bills by warning that Democrats will violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights. It also turned into a headache for Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are trying to propose what they often describe as “reasonable” gun legislation and are single-mindedly focused on forcing Republicans to take up the background checks bill, having decided to drop a push for an assault weapons ban.

“We know background checks work,” Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of leadership, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “The American people are demanding that we do something. It is no longer safe to be in synagogues and churches and shopping malls and schools.”

After back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Tex., in early August, the White House initiated bipartisan talks with senators to determine what, if any, gun bills they might work on together. Aides to Mr. Trump presented the president with his options last week, but the White House has not said precisely what Mr. Trump is considering.

The talks have included discussion of the so-called Manchin-Toomey bill, a bipartisan Senate measure named for its chief sponsors, Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. That bill is not as far-reaching as the House measure; it would extend background checks only for commercial sales, not for private sales, and includes some exemptions for friends and family members.

A White House official, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations, said on Sunday that the president had instructed his advisers to continue to work to find a range of policies that would go after illegal gun sales while protecting the Second Amendment, and expand the role of mental health professionals.

Senators participating in the talks say they also have included consideration of “red flag” legislation, which would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns from people deemed dangerous by a judge. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is working on such a bill in the Senate.

In arguing for the background checks bill, Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said people subject to such orders might still be able to purchase firearms if the background checks system is not expanded. They vowed in their statement to “accelerate a relentless drumbeat of action to force Senator McConnell to pass our background checks bills.”

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