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

Macron Uses Toddler Reverse Psychology Trick to Fool Trump Into Supporting NATO
(New York) The French president gave an interview last month decrying the “brain death” of NATO, which he said had failed to account for America’s shrinking commitment under Trump.
Trump himself has called NATO “obsolete,” openly questioned whether the U.S. would come to the defense of allies under attack (the very foundation of the alliance), and privately told aides on several occasions last year he wants to withdraw from the alliance. But the notion that somebody else would question NATO, and blame its demise on Trump, has enraged him.
And now Trump is lashing out at Macron. “NATO serves a great purpose,” he declared today. “And I hear that President Macron said NATO is ‘brain dead.’ I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different forces … When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to 28 — including them — 28 countries.”
In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO
President Trump said a warning from President Emmanuel Macron of France that Europe could no longer assume American support was “a very dangerous statement.” Mr. Macron said he stood by it.

2 December
Robin Wright: Trump Is Running Out of Time for a Meaningful Diplomatic Deal—Anywhere
(The New Yorker) Donald Trump meets with twenty-eight of America’s closest allies this week, for a NATO summit in London, with less leverage than he’s had at any time in his Presidency. Trump is floundering as much globally as he is at home—and they all know it. His foreign policies—from North Korea and the Middle East to Venezuela—have, so far, largely flopped. Even in areas where allies support U.S. goals, many view the President as tactically reckless, rhetorically vulgar, and chronically disorganized in day-to-day diplomacy. …
In the past three months, the President has been rebuffed—conspicuously—by both friend and foe on other pivotal initiatives. On Thanksgiving, North Korea launched its thirteenth missile test of 2019, making it one of the busiest years for testing missiles. So much for Trump’s comments, last summer, that he had a “very special bond” with Kim Jong Un. “We fell in love,” he mused. With every Trump concession, Kim has upped the ante rather than complied. After three summits, there is still no shared definition of what “denuclearization” means, much less how to achieve it. In October, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, spurned repeated appeals from Trump—by phone, in a letter, and during an Oval Office visit—not to invade Syria or install sophisticated Russian missiles that could jeopardize U.S. aircraft and technology. So much for Trump’s praise, in 2017, of the U.S. and Turkey having a “great friendship . . . as close as we’ve ever been.” And, at the U.N. General Assembly, in September, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, refused to take a call to his hotel suite from Trump, instead holing himself up in his bedroom.
The list of failures gets longer by the month—and increasingly dangerous for the President. As the campaign season heats up in January, vitriol is sure to focus on his diplomatic shortfalls. Even his political crisis at home stems from the messy shadow policy run by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in Ukraine.

21 November
While we’re all focused on impeachment, Trump is upending U.S. foreign policy
By Fareed Zakaria
(WaPo) While impeachment has been dominating the headlines, we are missing a set of stories about U.S. foreign policy that might prove equally consequential. The Trump administration has been doubling down on a policy of unilateralism and isolationism — a combination that is furthering the abdication of American leadership and the creation of a much more unstable world.
This week, talks between Washington and Seoul broke down after the Trump administration demanded a 400 percent increase in what South Korea pays for the stationing of U.S. troops in that country. The annual operating cost of the U.S. military presence there is approximately $2 billion. Seoul pays a little less than half that. Trump is asking for $4.7 billion.
Meanwhile, as the American president ruptures the relationship with one of our closest allies, Trump’s bizarre infatuation with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un continues.

1 November
Trump’s Opposition to ‘Endless Wars’ Appeals to Those Who Fought Them
(NYT) Nearly two decades after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, polls show that a majority of all veterans have grown disenchanted with the continuing wars, even if the national security elite in both parties continue to press for an American military presence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The view is in stark contrast to widespread support for the wars across the military and veterans community — and the general population — when President George W. Bush first sent American troops to Afghanistan and then Iraq.
The shifting attitudes of so many who served in the wars help explain why Mr. Trump has support among veterans as he brings troops home and has resisted military action against other nations. There is a slow but steadily increasing alliance of those on the left and the right on Capitol Hill to curb what Mr. Trump calls “endless wars.”

28 October
A comprehensive account of U.S. relations with the Kurds in Syria and the ultimate betrayal
As Kurds Tracked ISIS Leader, U.S. Withdrawal Threw Raid Into Turmoil
Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria upended a 5-year alliance and threw the plans against al-Baghdadi into disarray.
Trump minimizes Kurds’ role in Baghdadi raid, adding insult to injury
(WaPo) President Trump has been widely accused of abandoning the Kurds by withdrawing from Syria. And now he appears to be adding insult to injury by downplaying the role they played in Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death.
Trump did credit the Kurds for their contribution to the Islamic State leader’s death on Sunday, but he did so in some strangely muted ways. He even seemed to strain to emphasize what they didn’t do. … Both the tone and substance of Trump’s comments about the Kurds are in question now. The Kurds have suggested they played a much bigger role than Trump indicated, and U.S. officials have acknowledged the instrumentality of the information provided by the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces.
Mazloum and the Kurds certainly have motivation to play up their assistance as much as possible right now, given that the United States is at a crossroads when it comes to the alliance. Trump has spoken dismissively about the Kurds for weeks and suggested the United States doesn’t really have a dog in the fight in their long-running tensions with Turkey (though he has recently decided the United States would stay in Syria to defend oil fields that are important to the SDF’s financial stability).
But Trump’s version of events [are] almost impossible to reconcile with what we’re hearing about what the Kurds did.
At best, Trump seems to be oversensitive to the idea that he has abandoned the Kurds and that his withdrawal was a bad idea. Perhaps he’s downplaying the role the Kurds played here because he knows that hailing their support would only make his alleged abandonment of them look worse.

21 October
Inside Trump’s First Pentagon Briefing
What I saw there that foretold the coming rift between Mattis and the president—and today’s foreign policy crises.
Guy Snodgrass is former chief speechwriter for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is the author of Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon With Secretary Mattis, from which this article is adapted.
(Politico) Long before real planning for it began, and long before the first news stories about it, those of us in the top levels of the Pentagon heard President Donald Trump demand the military parade he would eventually get. The bizarre request was one of the first signs I had of the enormous rift between my boss at the time, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and the president.
The clash came in the middle of Trump’s first Pentagon briefing on America’s military and diplomatic “laydown”—a term of art used to describe all of the locations around the world with U.S. forces and embassies—on July 20, 2017. Mattis, for whom I was working as chief speechwriter, had hoped the briefing would educate Trump on the United States’ longstanding commitment to the rest of the world. That is not at all what happened.

19 October
Trump touts Turkey cease-fire, even as it appears shaky
by AP’s Robert Burns and Zeke Miller
President Donald Trump is pushing back at criticism that his Syria withdrawal is damaging U.S. credibility, betraying Kurdish allies and opening the door for a possible resurgence of the Islamic State. He touted a cease-fire agreement that seemed at risk as Turkey and Kurdish fighters differed over what it required and whether combat had halted.
“‘We’ve had tremendous success I think over the last couple of days,’ Trump declared Friday. He added that ‘we’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East’ — a claim that seemed disconnected from any known development there. He made the assertion twice Friday, but other U.S. officials were unable to explain what he meant.” 18 October
Mitch McConnell: Withdrawing from Syria is a grave mistake
It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place. … we are not in this fight alone. In recent years, the campaigns against the Islamic State and the Taliban, in Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan, have been waged primarily by local forces. The United States has mainly contributed limited, specialized capabilities that enable our local partners to succeed. Ironically, Syria had been a model for this increasingly successful approach.

16 October
Read President Trump’s Bizarre Letter to Turkey’s President
After President Trump gave Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan the green light to invade northern Syria last weekend, thus unleashing chaos in the region, Trump wrote him a very strange letter. The message, obtained by Fox Business’s Trish Regan, carries a straightforward theme: that Erdogan should show military restraint. But the prose style and phrasing, which includes the lines “Don’t be a tough guy. Be smart!” are so surpassingly weird in a high-level diplomatic context that many wondered if the note was authentic. It is.

15 October
House to vote on bipartisan measure opposing Trump’s Syria move
US House politicians introduce measure opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from northeast Syria.
(Al Jazeera) The United States House of Representatives plans to vote Wednesday on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of American troops from northeast Syria.
The measure underscores an overwhelming congressional consensus that Trump’s decision has damaged US interests in the region and helped adversaries, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISI), Russia and Iran.

14 October
Trump’s Worst Betrayal Yet
By turning his back on the Kurds, the president has done irreparable damage to America’s standing in the world. That’s by design.
(Slate) President Donald Trump didn’t make a “mistake” in pulling troops out of northeastern Syria last week, as many have charged. It’s what he has long wanted to do. The mistake was not understanding—and, more to the point, not caring about—the consequences.
Trump’s fateful phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 6, giving him the green light to cross the Syrian border and crush the Kurds without U.S. resistance, did more than any single act has ever done to demolish the post-WWII global order and isolate America from the rest of the world. This, again, has been Trump’s goal since he entered the White House.

5 September
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.
U.S.-U.K.
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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