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Ed Webb

Rex Tillerson Is Running the State Department Into the Ground - POLITICO Magazine - 0 views

  • over the past few months, I’ve watched as more and more of the brightest, most dedicated up-and-coming officers I know resign from their posts. The U.S. government is quietly losing its next generation of foreign policy leaders—an exodus that could undermine our institutions and interests for decades to come
  • Among the career officers who spoke most passionately in that Nov. 10 meeting about the importance of staying in government were people for whom the rhetoric of the Trump campaign felt personally searing, like some of my Muslim and African-American colleagues. And yet, on the day after the election, I watched those same individuals walk across the street to the U.N. to continue representing our country. It was one of the most patriotic acts I’ve ever seen
  • According to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, of 148 senior positions at the State Department, only 28 officials have been confirmed, and in 80 of those positions, the Trump administration has not even put forward a nominee
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  • Under Haley, senior staff meetings are mostly limited to political appointees, several people who have left the U.S. Mission told me. The same pattern that holds across much of the State Department—when meetings are held at all
  • Experts on complex issues and regions have repeatedly found themselves left out of policy debates and drafting processes, as when Haley gave a speech in early September at the American Enterprise Institute that panned the Iran nuclear deal. Iran experts in the State Department, including those who had helped craft the agreement and knew its inner workings, were never even given a chance to review the speech, which contained multiple inaccuracies and whose arguments—in the words of the libertarian Cato Institute—“carefully skirted around the actual facts.”

  • as more people leave, fewer are coming in. In June 2017, the number of Americans who took the Foreign Service exam fell by 26 percent compared with June 2016, the lowest number in nearly a decade. So not only is the Trump administration losing some of the best diplomats from our current generation, but it is also failing to attract top talent from the next generation
  • it would be a mistake not to recognize their mounting departures for the serious problem it is. What makes our nation’s institutions strong is not just the core principles that have evolved over the course of our history, but the individuals who put those principles into practice, no matter who the president is. Our institutions will be effective in advancing our interests only if they can continue to attract and retain the public servants who represent what is best in us and in our country. That more and more of those individuals do not see a place for themselves in the Trump administration should concern us all
Ed Webb

Diplomats now laughing at Trump over leaked Mexico transcript | McClatchy Washington Bu... - 0 views

  • Seven months into the Trump administration, the world’s diplomatic community has gone from throwing its hands in the air to now leaning back in their chairs and laughing, albeit morosely, at Trump’s cringe-worthy display of diplomacy during the infancy of his presidency.
  • Since Trump took over, diplomats from the two countries have had so many meetings trying to smooth over their leaders differences that other Latin American and European governments are looking to Mexico for advice on dealing with the Trump administration.
  • the reality is that people expect more from the United States and any leader with a “shred of dignity” is not going to allow themselves to be spoken to in that way.
Ed Webb

President Trump's thoroughly confusing Fox Business interview, annotated - The Washingt... - 0 views

  • When you see that, I immediately called General Mattis.

    I said, what can we do?

    And they came back with a number of different alternatives.  And we hit them very hard.

    Now, are we going to get involved with Syria?

    No.  But if I see them using gas and using things that — I mean even some of the worst tyrants in the world didn't use the kind of gases that they used.  And some of the gases are unbelievably potent.

    So when I saw that, I said we have to do something.

  • people just don't see this, the level of brutality, the level of viciousness.
  • I was sitting at the table.  We had finished dinner.  We're now having dessert.  And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

    And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do?

    And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way.  And I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you.  This was during dessert.

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  • So what happens is I said we've just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq and I wanted you to know this. And he was eating his cake. And he was silent.
  • But I think he understood the message and I understood what he was saying to me.
Ed Webb

New Putin Doctrine Says U.S. Pressure 'Undermining' Global Stability - 1 views

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    UK and Netherlands no longer considered important in Russian strategy. Harsher language on US policy as threat to global security.
Ed Webb

Hitting the Reset Button on the International Order | Foreign Policy - 0 views

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    Good, if gloomy, discussion on prospects for the U.S.-led international order under the Trump administration.
Ed Webb

US buys ads on Facebook to fight militants - 0 views

  • the US has found this year that online ads on social media websites like Facebook, rather than posts, are a cost-effective way to fight the propaganda of the Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups
  • Facebook's detailed metrics for advertisers helps the government campaign reach its targets - people who might be groomed online by militants.

    "Using Facebook ads, I can go within Facebook, I can grab an audience. I can pick country X, I need age group 13 to 34, I need people who liked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or any other set, and I can shoot and hit them directly with messages," he said.

    "In some places in the world, it's literally pennies a click to do it," he said.  

  • Facebook, he noted, offers the government access to affordable amassed and collated user data for singling out target groups and individuals for anti-militant ads the US government runs.

    "The best I can do right now is to have access to big data and to use the analytics tools on the social media platforms, the Facebooks and the others,"

Ed Webb

Russia may sell Iran $10 billion worth of tanks and jets in new arms deal - 0 views

  • further cement an alliance between Moscow and Tehran that is likely to prove a major stumbling block for any rapprochement between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, who has vowed to rip up a nuclear agreement with Iran that the Kremlin supports.
  • until 2020 deliveries of conventional weapons must be approved by the United Nations Security Council
  • Sergey Ryabkov, a deputy foreign minister, said on Monday that Russia’s support for the Iran deal “has not changed,” indicating that it would oppose any attempt to re-negotiate it.

    Russia has increased arms sales in recent years as it seeks to earn foreign currency and support potential allies in its confrontation with the West. 

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  • a $2 billion contract to deliver 24 advanced SU-35 jets to China, ending a decade-long unofficial moratorium on sales of hi-tech weaponry to Beijing because of fears over technology piracy.
  • Iran and China announced an agreement to hold joint military drills and cooperate in fighting terrorism
Ed Webb

Europeans agree defense plan after campaign swipes by Trump | Reuters - 0 views

  • The European Union on Monday agreed a defense plan that could see it sending rapid response forces abroad for the first time, as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of allies appeared to galvanize Europe into revamping its strategy.
  • "Europe needs to be able to act for its own security," French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.

    "This will allow Europe to take a step towards its strategic autonomy,"

  • The EU has 17 military and civilian missions underway - many of them out of the classic European theater, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Mediterranean where it is seeking to stem migrant flows from Libya and uphold a U.N. arms embargo.
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  • The election of a Russia-friendly political novice as president in Bulgaria - a member of both the EU and NATO - has given further impetus to French and German efforts to improve common defense operations.
  • "Rather than dreaming of a European army, the best approach to the Trump presidency is for European countries to step up their own defense spending," Fallon told reporters in the margins of the meeting.

    The EU's Mogherini, who chaired the gathering, went out of her way to say there were no plans to form a European army and countries would retain control over their militaries.

  • Some eastern and Baltic EU nations worry stronger European defense coordination could duplicate or undermine NATO, while Ireland, Sweden and Austria are more generally cautious.
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