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Ed Webb

The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiar - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • The Trump White House talking about North Korea sounds eerily and increasingly like the George W. Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq War. Officials make similar arguments about the necessity of acting against a gathering storm; proudly claim understanding of the adversary’s motivations; express frustration at countries that should be likewise alarmed at the problem not supporting American policy; and believe the sand is running out in the hourglass before military attacks are required. They admit no alternative interpretation of the facts. They are blithely dismissing enormous damage their policy would incur for regional allies. They seem innocent of understanding the disastrous and isolating consequences for America’s role in the world to choose preventive war rather than the moral heights of restraint in the face of threats.
  • Since administration policy treats North Korean leadership statements as actionable, that same rule ought to apply also to the American side. The administration’s statements strongly prejudice policy toward military action: They have not only drawn a red line, they’ve attached a countdown clock to it. President Trump will either fight a preventive war to disarm North Korea, or will be forced in humiliation fashion to dismantle a scaffold of his own construction, calling into question American security guarantees
  • Neither President Trump nor his Cabinet have done anywhere near the kind of spadework necessary to bring Americans along for a war that will require calling up reserve military forces, kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of South Koreans, reshape how the world views America, and consume all the political energy of the Trump presidency
Ed Webb

America's Forever Wars - The New York Times - 0 views

  • it’s time to take stock of how broadly American forces are already committed to far-flung regions and to begin thinking hard about how much of that investment is necessary, how long it should continue and whether there is a strategy beyond just killing terrorists. Which Congress, lamentably, has not done. If the public is quiet, that is partly because so few families bear so much of this military burden, and partly because America is not involved in anything comparable to the Vietnam War, when huge American casualties produced sustained public protest. It is also because Congress has spent little time considering such issues in a comprehensive way or debating why all these deployments are needed
  • President Trump, like his predecessor, insists that legislation passed in 2001 to authorize the war against Al Qaeda is sufficient. It isn’t. After the Niger tragedy, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee, has agreed to at least hold a hearing on the authorization issue.
  • “a collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.”
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  • 6,785 Afghan security force members died in 2016 and 2,531 died in the first five months this year, according to the United States and Afghan governments. Tens of thousands of civilians also perished at the hands of various combatants, including in 2017, but the figures get little publicity. Most Americans tend not to think about them.
  • Senators who balk at paying for health care and the basic diplomatic missions of the State Department approved a $700 billion defense budget for 2017-18, far more than Mr. Trump even requested.

    Whether this largess will continue is unclear. But the larger question involves the American public and how many new military adventures, if any, it is prepared to tolerate.

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,"

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