Tag: State Department

Frank Fannon, who also served as the first assistant secretary of state for energy resources, joined “Plugged In” host and former FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee to explain the opportunities and pitfalls associated with upcoming sanctions on Russian energy, announced Tuesday by the Biden administration.

Fannon dives deeper into the energy industry and the government’s lack of confidence when it comes to domestic production. Using Iran as an example, he argues that only with a slow transition can the U.S. and other allies successfully move away from Russian oil and gas.

Join Jim and Greg as they analyze a tense exchange between the AP’s Matt Lee and State Department spokesman Ned Price over the UN’s approach to Russia. They also review a new poll that shows Americans are ready to move on from COVID-19. And they cheer for West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin as he pronounces the Build Back Better Bill dead again.

Join Jim and Greg as they react to NBC’S Chuck Todd predicting a “shellacking” if poll numbers for Democrats continue to sink. They cover an admission by the U.S. State Department that it is unable to evacuate most Americans ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And they roll their eyes at Jen Psaki’s recommendations for stress relief after a frustrating week for Democrats.

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As we’ve seen with the Biden Administration, Departments never let an Observance Day go to waste.  The most recent round of Sanctions announced by the State Department has epitomized this. If you ever had a hard time thinking about how best to observe International Human Rights Day (or International Anti-Corruption Day), don’t worry, the State […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they welcome news that congressional Democrats are still far apart on a framework for their massive spending bill. They also explain the absurdity of the “billionaire tax” and how it would soon impact a lot of people who are not billionaires. And they roll their eyes as the State Department drops the ball on countless problems but celebrates the launch of the gender neutral passport.


Join Jim and Greg as they applaud conservative and mainstream media for calling out Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over his lie that all Americans who wanted to get out of Afghanistan are now out. In a double-fisted bad martini, they hammer the State Department for greatly hindering the efforts of private groups to get Americans and our Afghan allies out of the country.  They also revisit the Obama administration’s terrible swap of five high-value Taliban figures for American deserter Bowe Bergdahl – and the impact it is having right now. And they marvel at the large number of online leftists who honestly think they can get Brett Kavanaugh removed from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Join Jim and Greg as they shred President Biden’s speech on several points after Biden offers up nothing more than straw men arguments, false statements, blame shifting, and empty promises. They also cheer veteran Matt Zeller for ripping the speech to MSNBC’s Brian Williams who praising Biden for “owning” his actions.  And they laugh as the United Nations and the U.S. State Department expect the Taliban to create an inclusive government in Afghanistan that affords political opportunities to women.

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.

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.

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.

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:

Foggy Bottom is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda…. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.

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:

  • 196,900 were Christians (34%)
  • 160,622 were Muslims (28%)
  • 47,679 were Hindu (8.3%)
  • 38,781 were Buddhist (6.8%)
  • 8,381 were categorized as “no religion” (1.5%)
  • 249 were Atheist

The Refugee Resettlement Program is operated by the State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. They provide an on-line database, which is the source of the numbers above. Links are in the comments.

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.

These stories are not news; the topic has been written about numerous times, but Iraqi and Afghani lives are still in danger because the wheels have been turning so slowly.

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.

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).

In my experience, small business owners tend to be more conservative than executives of large corporations. Why? 1) Small businesses lack the heft to influence the government; and 2) they lack the manpower/income to comply with costly regulations. Large companies are better positioned to lobby the government for favorable treatment, including policies that will harm their competitors (which often includes the small businesses), and they have the staff to fill out stupid, useless government forms.

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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.

Significantly, the report also reveals that Clinton and her top aides at State — Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and possibly others — refused to cooperate with the IG’s investigation despite the IG’s requests that they submit to interviews.

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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 […]

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