American prestige

The State of the Department (Quack)

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

With apologies: Altered detail from cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 17 April 2018.

“guess how many people are working on Iranian nuclear proliferation at the State Department? as of today....zero”

Anne Applebaum

We should be clear that by today, the columnist means Friday last, when she posted the tweet, which refers, in turn, to a report from Foreign Policy:

One of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation resigned this week after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in what officials and analysts say is part of a worrying brain drain from public service generally over the past 18 months.

Richard Johnson, a career civil servant who served as acting assistant coordinator in State’s Office of Iran Nuclear Implementation, had been involved in talks with countries that sought to salvage the deal in recent weeks, including Britain, France, and Germany — an effort that ultimately failed.

Johnson’s departure leaves a growing void in the State Department’s stable of experts on Iran’s nuclear program and highlights a broader problem of high-level departures from government.

Officials say the trend is particularly evident at the State Department, where Trump sidelined career diplomats and morale plummeted under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The office Johnson led has gone from seven full-time staffers to none since Trump’s inauguration.

Today is Tuesday, and elsewhere in the commentariat Steve Benen notes, “The article didn’t explicitly say that Johnson resigned in protest, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a mystery about what happened here.”

(more…)

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Rather Quite Obvious (Priorities)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico City on 22 February 2017. The visit is the second foreign trip of Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

The lede from Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip an April 5-6 meeting of NATO foreign ministers for a U.S. visit by the Chinese president and will travel to Russia later in the month, U.S. officials said on Monday, a step allies may see as putting Moscow’s concerns ahead of theirs.

And a bit of the detail:

State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting or visit Russia. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on April 12.

“It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia,” said one former U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You don’t want to do your early business with the world’s great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies,” he added.

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The Donald Trump Show (Denial)

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of undated photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

A note from last month:

Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, of social-media analytics company Little Bird, took a look at the 21 people the Donald has blessed with his fantastic, luxurious retweets this week, and discovered that six of them follow major white-nationalist accounts, and 13 of them follow multiple accounts that have used the #whitegenocide hashtag.

Conclusion? “It turns out that Donald Trump mostly retweets white supremacists saying nice things about him.”

(Hathaway)

This is not surprising.

Unfortunately, that point comes with something of a sickening explanation.

(more…)

Some Manner of Confidence

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and iconic closet homosexual Vladimir Putin (background).

The White House seems to be enjoying itself:

President Obama’s top spokesman took repeated jabs at Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday, suggesting he is “desperate” to sit down with the president, and even criticizing his posture.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed Putin’s repeated requests for a meeting with Obama are a sign he is hungry to use it as a way to enhance his stature on the world stage.

“I think some might conclude that that means the Russians are … more desperate,” Earnest told reporters.

“They are quite interested in having a conversation with President Obama,” he added. “After some careful consideration on our end, the president did make a decision that it was worth it at this point to engage with President Putin in a face-to-face-meeting to see if the United States’ interests could be advanced.”

(Fabian)

That’s our Puti-Toots.

And something goes here about the “‘twilight’ of a presidency”.

Yeah, they’re having fun.

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Fabian, Jordan. “White House calls Putin ‘desperate,’ criticizes his posture”. The Hill. 24 September 2015.

Robinson, Eugene. “Obama has plenty of reasons to smile”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.