Trump administration: U.S. Foreign Relations July 2019 –

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Trump administration U.S. – Russia relations
Trump administration U.S. – China relations
North Korea
Israel – Palestine/Gaza 2017
Canada-U.S. 2018

Trump Somehow Replaces Unqualified Mideast Envoy With Even Less Qualified One
(New York) One of President Trump’s most absurd personnel moves was appointing his real-estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt as special envoy to the Middle East. Greenblatt had no serious foreign policy experience, a fairly serious drawback when the task involves resolving one of the most famously intractable foreign policy challenges in the world.
Greenblatt has reportedly drawn up his plan. But before it’s unveiled, he is leaving the White House, a sequence of timing that should probably not increase one’s confidence in the plan’s prospects of success. Axios reports most of Greenblatt’s responsibilities will be transferred to Avi Berkowitz. Who is Avi Berkowitz? He’s a 29-year-old Jared Kushner friend who graduated from law school in 2016. … He is the protégé to a young political dilettante who married into the family of a reality-television star who was elected president despite knowing almost nothing about public policy.
Architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan to depart White House
(Axios) White House special envoy for the Middle East peace process Jason Greenblatt will be leaving the Trump administration in the next several weeks to return to the private sector.
Why it matters: Greenblatt is a key member of the White House Middle East “peace team,” which consists of Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Kushner deputy Avi Berkowitz. In June, the White House rolled out the economic component of its peace plan. It has yet to reveal the political component due to upcoming Israeli elections.

30 August
The Trump-sized hole in Warsaw’s wartime commemoration
(Politico Eu)A Trump visit would have sent the signal “that this government is not isolated and has powerful friends,” said Marcin Zaborowski, a lecturer in international relations at Warsaw’s Łazarski University.
Instead, the government will have to make do with Pence. That doesn’t mean that Pence’s presence will be unimportant. He’ll still make the announcements that Warsaw is looking forward to — boosting U.S. troops in the country and promising to end the need for Poles to get visas to visit the States.
Under Trump, Poland has become one of America’s key European allies — and one which poses few political problems for the administration. It’s one of the rare NATO countries that meets its commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense — something Washington has used to berate Germany, which spends much less. … Trump sees the Polish government and Viktor Orbán’s Hungary as kindred spirits who share his skepticism toward immigration and supranational institutions like the EU.

30 August
Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump falters
Trump is expected to make a decision on the path forward on Afghanistan in the coming days as he aims to fulfill a promise of ending America’s “endless wars.” In the meantime, the decision-making process will continue to test his relationship with his national security adviser.
(WaPo) Bolton, who has long advocated an expansive military presence around the world, has become a staunch internal foe of an emerging peace deal aimed at ending America’s longest war, the officials said.
His opposition to the diplomatic effort in Afghanistan has irritated President Trump, these officials said, and led aides to leave the National Security Council out of sensitive discussions about the agreement.
The sidelining of Bolton has raised questions about his influence in an administration that is seeking a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as an ambitious nuclear deal with North Korea and potential engagement with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Bolton, U.S. officials said, stands in opposition to those efforts, but he does so increasingly from the periphery.
Amid the tensions, Bolton has sought to amplify the diplomatic nature of the national security adviser job, with trips this week to Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Despite his differences with Trump, he has found a way to achieve some of his lifelong goals, defunding various United Nations organizations and ripping up international treaties he views as a constraint on American power, such as the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. He has also had a leading role on Russia policy, holding several meetings with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow and elsewhere.
Defenders of Bolton say while his influence may ebb and flow, he still finds moments to impact policy, such as the president’s last-minute decision to walk away from a deal with North Korea in Hanoi. Officials say Bolton opposed the partial denuclearization agreement under discussion.

11 July
Kim Darroch isn’t the undiplomatic one
(WaPo) If there is a breakdown in diplomatic norms here — and yes, there is one — it did not come from the British ambassador. What Darroch said in private about Trump was not unusual. What Trump’s diplomats do in public is what is really shocking.
In Berlin, one U.S. ambassador openly undermines the government; another in Amsterdam became a laughingstock for refusing to answer journalists’ questions, and yet another in Jerusalem openly shows bias in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. From Kenya to New Zealand, the ambassadors appointed by Trump have offended their hosts.
In the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador, told a Dutch reporter that video of him claiming that there were “no-go” areas in the country because of the “Islamic movement” was “fake news.” At his first news conference, journalists hammered him about the remarks and demanded an apology for a bold and easily provable falsehood.
“This is the Netherlands — you have to answer questions,” one reporter said when he refused to respond. “Embarrassing performance from controversial ambassador,” read the online headline in De Telegraaf, one of the country’s largest newspapers. Days later, Hoekstra admitted he had no idea what he was talking about.Meanwhile, David M. Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Trump’s former lawyer, often appears much too cozy with his host government — and only interested in talking to one set of people in the Israeli and Palestinian territories. Friedman has said that West Bank settlements are a part of Israel and was quoted as suggesting that the United States could bypass Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas if he refused to engage with the Trump administration.
Charles Crawford: Darroch and Diplomacy (1) No-one else has analysed all this sensibly, so I must have a shot. In fact several shots in successive posts here, to cover different angles of these messy and sensitive issues. Let’s start with Sir Kim. Who is he anyway?

10 July
Exclusive: Iran’s release of Lebanese prisoner was failed overture to U.S.
(Reuters) – Iran’s release last month of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese businessman with U.S. permanent residency, after four years in prison was meant as an opening for U.S.-Iranian talks, according to three Western sources familiar with the issue. … In the month since the release, already tense U.S.-Iranian relations have taken several turns for the worse, including Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, U.S. economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, and the capture last week of an Iranian supertanker by British forces.
Kim Darroch: effectively sacked by Johnson on the orders of Trump
There is now contempt at the Foreign Office towards not just the leaker but also the probable next PM
Sir Kim Darroch: UK ambassador to US resigns in Trump leaks row
President Trump could well wake up this morning thinking he has the power to veto who the UK has as its ambassador.
It wasn’t his more colourful remarks on Twitter that really ended Sir Kim’s time, but Mr Trump’s public announcement that he would no longer work with him.
The effects of that were felt immediately. There was a banquet that Sir Kim was immediately dis-invited from. Next, he couldn’t attend an event with minister Liam Fox.
It was clear he was being frozen out and for an ambassador access is everything. Without it, it’s impossible to do the job.
More broadly, it’s like this… There’s never been parity in the special relationship between the UK and US – it’s never been a relationship of equals but right now it seems particularly lopsided.
The US knows that Britain is fairly isolated right now internationally and needs the US more than ever. Donald Trump has wielded that power mercilessly in this row.
Richard Wolffe: Trump’s spat with the UK reveals the bottomless depths of his insecurities
Inept and dysfunctional are two of the more diplomatic words you could choose to describe the Trump administration.
Colossally moronic and self-defeating might be more accurate, but would surely count as a tad unvarnished.
So it is more than a little ironic that the British ambassador to Planet Trump should have turned into the diplomatic equivalent of the walking dead for saying what the entire world (outside the Oval Office) knows to be true about the 45th president of the United States.
If there were lifetime Oscars for stating the blindingly obvious, Sir Kim Darroch would surely need to prepare his acceptance speech for reporting that Donald Trump was “radiating insecurity.”
Donald Trump: we will no longer deal with the British ambassador
In latest tweets on Kim Darroch, US president also attacks Theresa May for making a mess of Brexit

1 July
French say oops on viral Ivanka moment
(Politico Eu) ‘We didn’t anticipate the reaction,’ a official says after a video released by French government fuels concern about role of US president’s daughter in foreign policy.
The video caught Ivanka Trump in a discussion with world leaders during her father President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the G20 summit. And it has fueled concern that the president’s daughter is having undue influence on U.S. foreign policy.  … Ivanka Trump’s omnipresence fueled speculation about her future political plans — her father has suggested in the past that he’d be willing to nominate her for top diplomatic posts. It also spawned intense criticism about whether she has the proper background for the role she was playing.
How Much Did Ivanka Embarrass Herself at the G20 Summit?
(New York) The rumor that Ivanka Trump somehow thinks she has what it takes to one day be president has become even more believable, as she spent her weekend attempting to rub elbows with world leaders at the annual G20 summit in Osaka. It … didn’t go over so well.
In a now-viral video of the event, released by the French government, French president Emmanuel Macron, British prime minister Theresa May, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde — real world leaders — are shown having an indecipherable conversation. And there, hovering outside the circle, is Ivanka, who awkwardly attempts to butt into the conversation, uttering a line about something being “male-dominated.” One thing is clear: She certainly wasn’t a welcome participant. As the video started to go viral, Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Eric Swalwell, raised the alarm over Ivanka’s presence at the G20 summit in the first place, and what that message sends to other world leaders.
Trump nepotism attacked after ‘out-of-her-depth’ Ivanka given key summit role
Experts say first daughter’s presence reflects gravely on US
Opinion: Laugh at Ivanka – to take her seriously is frightening

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