Tag: State Department

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trump’s Disruptive Foreign Policy

 

The following began its brief life as a comment on another recent post, but after reflection I thought maybe it was cogent enough to stand on its own. On the foreign policy front, I suspect I may be the only one here who has served in Embassies, including during the Trump era. This is what I will say about that.

  1. I’m sure I won’t break any news when I say that most of the foreign policy establishment leans left and is distressed when any Republican is elected but was especially so in 2016. This is not only true of our dear State Department friends but across the entire transnational community of foreign policy elites.
  2. Continuing as Captain Obvious, DJT is a norm-breaker, and the foreign policy community seriously loves it some norms–and resents when they are broken.
  3. Of course, some norms badly needed to be broken. In particular, the national and international foreign policy consensus on China urgently needed to move, and this administration succeeded in catalyzing that movement. The 2017 National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy were masterfully done. They met a critical need to generate a global awakening about the failure of the previous consensus on Beijing, probably best summarized by Robert Zoellick’s 2005 “Responsible Stakeholder” speech. Someone had to end the charade, and it’s worth wondering whether a more conventional administration of either party could have overcome the entrenched consensus to have boldly introduced major-power competition as the new normal–so successfully that even the professionals now agree that we can’t go back to the status quo ante on China.
  4. Israel and the Middle East is the other major area where the foreign policy consensus simply had to be sidelined. I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.
  5. Getting our allies to finally invest in their own defense is also a plus.
  6. Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on our side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
  7. Also, the incessantly revolving door of senior officials (especially SecDefs and National Security Advisors) has been extremely disruptive to getting important work done in the international space.
  8. Finally, there’s been a dearth of consistently strong and vocal leadership on our American principles (democracy, rule of law, human rights, etc.), particularly since Nikki Haley stepped down as U.N. Ambassador. Foreign policy requires salesmanship, and ours would benefit from some strength, steadiness, and consistency on these themes.

Bottom line, this administration has served as a corrective to some badly flawed policy. Disruption was absolutely necessary, but at some point should start to give way to stability and focused team-building.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Wile E. Coyote’s Latest: “Whistleblower”

 

The falsely styled “whistleblower,” a possible felon within the intelligence community who is seeking to subvert our Constitution, with the complicity of (fellow) Democrats and their Trump-loathing TruCon lapdogs, is already blowing up in “Wile E. Coyote’s” face.

President Trump had a wonderful time in his sit-down press availability with the Australian Prime Minister. He spoke plain truths: that the “fake news” media represented in the room had just had one of their worst weeks and was now doubling down to discredit themselves even further.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Michael Ledeen on the Potential Collapse of Iran’s Khomeinist Regime

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had historian, Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, former Special Advisor to the Secretary of State and consultant to the National Security Council during the Reagan administration, author of 38 books and most pertinent to today, Iran expert, Michael Ledeen on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The impending collapse of the Khomeinist regime and what the U.S. can do to accelerate it
  • The false narrative about alternatives for Iran being either appeasement or war
  • The history of U.S. intelligence failures in Iran
  • How secular and liberal Iran’s dissidents actually are
  • Whether there is a wedge that can be exploited between Iran and Russia
  • What will become of Hezbollah if the Iranian regime collapses
  • The allegedly political witch hunt against Iran hawk and Israel supporter Larry Franklin as an illustration of historic anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the foreign policy and national security establishment
  • Ledeen’s theory that Gen. Michael Flynn — with whom Ledeen co-authored the book, The Field of Fight — falsely pled guilty, and the real reason why Gen. Flynn was targeted in the first place

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How Would You Rate Rex Tillerson’s Job Performance?

 

Rex Tillerson seems to be criticized by every imaginable group: State Department employees, ex-employees, the media (of course), and now Congress. I thought it would be worthwhile to figure out, on balance, whether the disapproval is justified, and how he and his State Department are performing. Unfortunately, it’s not a pretty picture. And it’s not all Tillerson’s fault.

One of the first complaints is the large number of vacancies in the 75,000-employee State Department. One reason is that Tillerson is trying to re-organize the Department to have it run more efficiently and to free up resources to be used in more effective ways. Unfortunately, while he works on re-organization, lists for candidates provided by the Trump administration are being largely ignored by senior aides of State; most of the people at those levels are from the former Obama administration. One staffer describes the problem this way:

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Refugee Resettlement Reckoning on Obama Administration

 

Refugees come to the United States through several legal channels, and this post will focus on only the Refugee Resettlement Program. The Refugee Resettlement Program has its own issues, and is a high-profile element of our immigration policy. We have discussed this before at Ricochet, and it is time for an update. I am posting here to provide some background on Refugee Resettlement, to specifically discuss refugees from Syria, to comment on the program under the Obama Administration, and to document that @JamesOfEngland owes me a beer the next time we cross paths at a meetup.

The Refugee Resettlement Program brought 572,924 refugees to the United States during the Obama Administration (Feb 2, 2009 through Feb 1, 2017). In recent discussions, religion was an issue, so here are some highlights:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. No One Left Behind – Unless You’re an Iraqi or Afghani Interpreter

 

This past week, The Federalist featured a story reported by Fox News about an Afghan interpreter, Fraidoon Akhtari, who was finally granted a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) after a five-year wait. Akhtari accompanied US troops in 500 combat missions over 13 years.

In another story, an Afghani translator, Mohammed Janis Shinwari spent five years waiting for an SIV. It took US Army Captain Matt Zeller, who harassed the media, contacted Congressional members, and set up an online petition to rescue the man who had saved his life.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Breaking: Senate Confirms Tillerson (Update: News on Sessions and DeVos)

 

The US Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Exxon/Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the new Secretary of State. All Republican Senators supported him, along with three Senate Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Warner (VA). The final tally was 56 to 43. Sen. Angus King (ME), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also voted to confirm the nominee.

In other nomination news Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sen. Jeff Sessions’s nomination to become Attorney General on a contentious party-line vote. Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have announced that they will not support Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Barring unlikely Democratic support, or other GOP dissent, this leaves the school choice advocate with an expected 50-50 vote in the Senate, requiring Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Questions for Mr. Tillerson

 

Rex TillersonThe American appetite for businessmen in government is a hardy perennial. Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 on the strength of his “get under the hood” appeal. The Republican Party nominated Wendell Willkie in 1940 (though he’d been a Democrat until 1939) because he was perceived as a businessman “with a heart.” Now, the president-elect has chosen ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. Is a businessman – a great dealmaker – according to the Trump camp, what we need as Secretary of State?

Progressives tend to respond in Pavlovian fashion to corporate CEOs, especially oil company executives. “Corporate America” is their bête noire – which just demonstrates their tunnel vision. In fact, the leaders of big corporations in the US tend to bend with fashion in political matters. Recall that a number of large companies denounced Indiana when it passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and some even withdrew from the state. Among those bringing pressure to amend or repeal the law were Apple Corporation, Angie’s List, Subaru, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and Gen Con. Some of the nation’s largest companies are very generous to progressive causes, and when they start foundations, it’s Katie-bar-the-door (yes, that means you Ford Foundation).

Member Post

 

It is time for an update on the worldwide jihad of Muslim attacks on Christians. If you have been relying on mass media to keep you informed, then there is a lot that you just don’t know. This is an ongoing story that our Leftist mass media have shown no interest in conveying to Americans, […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

It is my impression that lower level gov’t employees in the State Dep’t and elsewhere were prosecuted, and many given jail sentences, for less egregious violations of the rules of handling classified documents. Is that accurate? And if so, on what legal basis does FBI Director Comey refuse to prosecute her? I’d like to hear […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

FBI Director Comey will address the media at 1100 Eastern Time. Anybody care to venture a guess the topic? Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. IG Report Finds That Hillary Violated Government Records Act

 

hillary_orange1The email scandal grows:

Politico reports that the State Department inspector general has concluded that Hillary Clinton violated State’s recordkeeping protocols. The finding is contained in a much anticipated report provided to Congress today.

Member Post

 

I’m surprised no one here has written about Ben Rhodes, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” and his startling profile in the New York Times Magazine. (By “startling,” I mean, “Sadly, not the least bit surprising.”) I’d love to write a searing piece about he, Jonathan “stupidity of the American people” Gruber, and the […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

A hallmark of the Obama presidency has its singular combination of busybodying and incompetence. Micromanaging the private health insurance market, prescribing healthy diets for our children, making pizza shops list calorie counts — all while veterans die waiting for government healthcare. The Secret Service creates ever-larger protective zones, causing untold problems for the public — […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

John Kerry appeared today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requesting money for the State Department. Issues discussed pertained mostly to ISIS, Russia and Syria, where he sparred with Republicans and warmed in the glow of Democrats. Then it turned to the Hillary email scandal. Kerry stated: “We have more than 50 … simultaneous investigations going […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Sean Penn: Hero

 

penn-ostreicherEver since a young Sean Penn starred in Taps and Fast Times at Ridgemont High he has evolved into a world class actor and director. I would consider myself a fan of his work.

His politics, however, not so much; I vehemently disagreed with his wartime attacks on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, his coziness with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Iraqi Minister Tariq Aziz (at the height of the Iraq War), his attacks on Britain’s involvement in the Falklands, his pro-Palestinian sentiments, and of course, the dust-up with his ex, Madonna… well okay, that I might understand.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Clinton’s Private Email Server Saga — What’s Next?

 
Hillary Clinton
JStone / Shutterstock.com

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has faltered over her use of a private e-mail server and account for professional and personal matters while Secretary of State.

Last December, Clinton turned over to the State Department more than 30,000 e-mails she sent and received during her tenure as secretary, and a judge has ordered the department to release the e-mails on a rolling basis, completing the process by January. Clinton has said that she did not send or receive any information marked classified, and that what she did was allowed by the State Department.

Member Post

 

Is there a way to crowd source the complete inspection, analysis and review of Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails? (the ones that haven’t been deleted.) Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Ghosts of America’s Allies

 

070326_r16050b_p465There are people in this world who, though they are not American, believe in the justice of America’s cause. It sometimes happens that they commit their lives to an unkind fate by becoming America’s allies. This has happened in Iraq. Those who most loved America face the cruelest fate. Americans are represented by politicians who are the artisans of this fate.

Like avant-garde art, American foreign policy sometimes is designed to shock decent people. The spectacle of slaughter; the fear for one’s wife or child; the sure humiliation of being foolish about America; petty things and terrible things come together to form a whole; there is nothing to be done but to say what one sees or fears; there is nothing then left but to see those fears come alive.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Obama Deploys New Logo to Defeat ISIS

 

Chafing under criticism that they aren’t taking the threat from ISIS seriously, the State Department has launched an initiative to bring the barbarian terrorists to heel. Foregoing crude tactics like the threat of force or aggressive diplomacy, the Obama Administration has returned to what it knows best. They have created a logo:

2015_0220_cve_graphic