Sunday, March 26, 2017
Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post (March 23); posted at.
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We have heard the excuses over and over on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's behalf. He's new at this. He's getting his feet wet. He's not used to press scrutiny. Frankly, neither he nor his defenders are helping his cause at this point.
The latest was his declaration that "I didn't want this job. I didn't seek this job." He made the remark to Erin McPike, the sole journalist allowed to accompany him on his flight to Asia. "My wife told me I'm supposed to do this." He added, according to the report, "I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids." Perhaps he intended this as a humble brag, but the tone came across as self-pitying and crabby. (In effect, he seems to be telling us: How dare you criticize me when I didn't have to serve you people.)
"We didn't see public diplomacy and giving access to reporters as a disadvantage. We saw them as part of the responsibility you have in a democracy to keep the public informed about decisions being made in their name. We saw them as opportunities to explain and advance our agenda. And we saw them as an important example to set for parts of the world where such transparency is unfortunately rare. In other words, we didn't see these things as weaknesses, but as a source of strength."
That sentiment, so self-evidently true to anyone in public office, seems entirely alien to Tillerson. ...
uncaptioned image from article
How Rex Tillerson Is Translating 'America First' Into Foreign Policy
Jon Finer, [Former Secretary of State John] Kerry’s chief of staff ...
“We didn't see public diplomacy and giving access to reporters as a disadvantage. We saw them as part of the responsibility you have in a democracy to keep the public informed about decisions being made in their name,” he said. “We saw them as opportunities to explain and advance our agenda. And we saw them as an important example to set for parts of the world where such transparency is unfortunately rare. In other words, we didn't see these things as weaknesses, but as a source of strength." ...
Tillerson, who will be 65 on Thursday, senses an opportunity to systematize the State Department and rack up some wins, and he seems intent upon removing emotion from the process. There aren’t likely to be goosebump-inducing, soaring speeches. It’s business.
Will he stick around for the whole term?
In a sign he’s picking up on the lingo, he crossed his arms and said just a little wryly, “I serve at the pleasure of the president.” It doesn’t seem like he regrets accepting the job.
Paul Rosenzweig, lawfareblog.com
Rosenzweig image from articleExcerpt:
My GWU [George Washington University] colleague Henry Farrell and his co-author Abraham Newman have speculated, in the Washington Post, that the real reason for the device ban was in retaliation for unfair subsidies provided to the Gulf airlines by their governments. ...
To be clear, the authors have no evidence to support their speculation. And, to be equally clear, in the absence of evidence, I think the speculation is ill-founded. But I also confess to having much the same thoughts myself. And the mere fact that I did, and that serious observers like Farrell can entertain these thoughts, is a true measure of the damage that President Trump has done to public diplomacy. When the President is obsessed with the idea that his predecessor ordered that he be wiretapped, despite all the evidence to the contrary, we begin to doubt the veracity of even his most important pronouncements. And that can't be a good thing. ...
Paul Rosenzweig is the founder of Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security consulting company and a Senior Advisor to The Chertoff Group. ...
Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune
Image from article, with caption: Sri Lanka ambassador to US Prasad Kariyawasam engaged in diplomatic dialogue with US Congressmen (from left) Ed Royce, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ted Yoho, Chairman House Asia Sub-committee, David Price of House Democracy Partnership and Senator Chris Van Hollen
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States Prasad Kariyawasam is treading the most difficult path of diplomacy since January 20 this year when a multi-faceted Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. ...
A majority of professional positions in the Department of State, the public diplomacy-public affairs arm of the Government of the United States, still remain unfilled . ...
Reading the events and talking to some of the state department colleagues who worked with this writer in the latter part of the last millennium who are still in professional business of public diplomacy and public affairs, this writer strongly feels that even a savvy diplomat of the caliber of Prasad Kariyawasam is unable to comprehend what policies the Trump White House and the ‘depleted’ state department will pursue on issues close to Sri Lanka . ...
Eric Pianin, Rob Garver, The Fiscal Times
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The Border Wall. Even more than his vow to repeal Obamacare, Trump campaigned on the promise to erect a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out undocumented immigrants. Now, with that project facing a sticker price that could top $25 billion, Trump is going to have to find a way to shoehorn that appropriation into Congressional spending bills as well.
And while the wall plays very well in some places far from the actual border, it is surprisingly unpopular among many people who actually live near where the proposed barrier would be installed. That price tag is going to look a lot more forbidding when people point out that it could fund other things -- like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts -- for decades. ...
Adam Kredo, freebeacon.com
Image from article, with caption: Iranian intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi
Claims pro-Iran 'lobby' pushing Tehran's agenda in D.C.
[T]he Free Beacon has reported during the past several months that dissident organizations are pushing for a formal investigation into the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has long fought against charges that it lobbies on the regime's behalf.
A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents working to undermine the regime petitioned Congress in February to investigate NIAC's ties to the Iranian regime and determine if it is actively helping to push a pro-mullah agenda.
"We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran's theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran," the dissidents wrote to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress' foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter first reported by the Free Beacon. ...