Trump administration: U.S. Foreign Policy July 2019 – November 2020

Written by  //  November 22, 2020  //  Foreign Policy, U.S.  //  Comments Off on Trump administration: U.S. Foreign Policy July 2019 – November 2020

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

Trump administration exits Open Skies treaty
The United States has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Open Skies, a decades-old pact meant to reduce the chances of an accidental war by allowing mutual reconnaissance flights by parties to the 34-nation agreement. The exit comes six months after President Trump first announced his intention to withdraw, saying Russia has been violating the pact.
Russia has denied violating the treaty and earlier this year chided the move as merely the latest abandonment by the Trump administration of major arms-control agreements.
The move risks sowing further divisions between the United States and European allies, some of which called on the administration to stay in the pact despite concerns about Russia.
Trump’s overarching Middle East strategy reaches a disastrous dead end
Opinion by Jackson Diehl, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
Trump accomplished the opposite of what he said he wanted when he ran for president: to extricate the United States from the Middle East and its “endless wars.” Obama had the same goal, and the accord with Iran was integral to it: The idea was to forestall the largest potential threat to the United States and to Israel — an Iranian nuclear arsenal — then promote a equilibrium in the region between Iranian-led Shiites and Saudi-led Sunnis.
(WaPo) The real bottom line of Trump’s policies there was revealed not at the hyped-up White House ceremony in September featuring Israeli, Bahraini and United Arab Emirates leaders, but at an Oval Office meeting 10 days ago, at which the president asked advisers about bombing Iran. His grasp at that straw — which the national security team quickly rejected — showed how the overarching strategy that Trump has pursued for the past four years has led to a disastrous dead end.
In its essence, Trump’s Mideast gambit was to tightly align the United States with Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Arab Sunni states, then join with them in a relentless campaign against Shiite Iran. Trump was intent on repudiating the nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic, because it was President Barack Obama’s signal foreign policy achievement; he was seduced in his first trip abroad by sword-dancing Saudi leaders, who he wrongly supposed would purchase hundreds of billions in U.S. arms; and he was anxious to please U.S. evangelical Christians, for whom Israel is a sacred cause.
The policy has failed in every respect. Despite heavy sanctions and the assassination of its top general, the Iranian regime has neither collapsed nor reduced its aggression across the Middle East. Its militias were still firing rockets at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week. Following Trump’s abrogation of the nuclear accord, Tehran stepped up its production on enriched uranium and now has 12 times more than it did when Trump took office — enough for a couple of warheads. That advance prompted Trump’s feckless and futile inquiry about bombing — which, his advisers told him, could trigger a regional war during his last days in office.

20 November
Trump and Pompeo embrace Israel’s one-state reality
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the capstone this week on the Trump administration’s four-year ideological project in Israel.
Pompeo made an unprecedented visit to settlements located in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, marking the first time a U.S. secretary of state has appeared at such sites, which much of the world views as illegal and, in many instances, a direct obstacle to a viable Palestinian state. At an event alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Pompeo also said the Trump administration would be taking further measures aimed at “countering” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to pressure companies and governments to avoid doing business with Israel until it offers more concessions to Palestinians living under occupation.
But Pompeo’s visit wasn’t just a symbolic swan song. It’s yet another instance where, as Trump officials admit, the outgoing administration is setting fresh fires for the incoming one to have to put out
Trump to appear at virtual G-20 as coronavirus ravages the globe
Last-minute announcement comes as global leaders have struggled to craft effective strategy for health and economic crises
Trump initially wanted to hold this year’s annual Group of Seven summit at Trump National Doral, his Miami-area hotel and golf club, then backtracked amid criticism and rescheduled it for the presidential retreat at Camp David before eventually canceling altogether. Trump also skipped a pair of summits with Asian leaders that were held last weekend via videoconference.
The G-20 now moves into the spotlight with expectations remarkably low, given the stakes. On Saturday and Sunday, the G-20′s annual conclave is expected to finalize a framework for granting poor nations debt relief and little else.

17 November
Trump’s latest summit no-shows are his final insult to America’s Asian allies
(WaPo) When it comes to diplomacy in Asia, showing up is half the battle. But President Trump couldn’t be bothered to attend two key Asia-related summits last weekend, even though they were held virtually. This was the lame-duck president’s latest and hopefully last insult to the United States’ Asian allies — and an unforced error in the greater competition with China.
For the third year in a row, Trump declined to participate in the annual summit of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes a meeting between leaders of the group’s 10 member nations and the United States. The president was also a no-show for the East Asia Summit, which President Barack Obama began attending in 2011. And Trump wasn’t the only one. For the first time in this administration, no Cabinet-level official participated in either event. No travel was required; all they had to do was call in to corresponding video forums.
The high-level snub wasn’t just a missed opportunity to shore up relationships with countries the United States needs to work with on security, trade and public health. The United States’ absence also left a vacuum Beijing was happy to fill, signing a trade pact with 14 other Asian countries the same weekend.
Pompeo in Turkey for fraught visit with no official talks
(Arab News) Pompeo’s seven-nation tour has been complicated by his unabashed support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claim of election fraud – and attempts by US allies to position themselves for Joe Biden’s incoming presidency.
The US diplomat’s two-night stay in Paris included a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron but no press conference that usually follows such talks.
Yet the Turkish leg seemed destined for problems from the start.
Officials said Pompeo wanted to visit Istanbul to see the patriarch and was only ready to meet Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the condition they come to him from the capital Ankara.
Transatlantic Trade: US and Europe – Week of November 9, 2020
(Lexology) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed Washington at the end of the week, for a trip that includes stops in France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, from 13-23 November. In Paris, the Secretary will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and other senior officials “to build on our transatlantic work on economic and security matters, and on counterterrorism and global threats.” He will travel next to Istanbul, Turkey, to meet with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, “to discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world.” The stop in Tbilisi will reinforce U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and urge progress in democratic reforms.

9 November
Pompeo refuses to acknowledge Biden has won election, sparking furor and ‘disgust’ among diplomats
(CNN) After Pompeo’s remarks Tuesday cast doubt on his willingness to acknowledge the election results, diplomats CNN spoke to were shocked, confused and outraged at his failure to recognize Biden’s win.
Repairing the World: The Imperative—and Limits—of a Post-Trump Foreign Policy
(Foreign Affairs) There are areas in which the Trump administration got things right: in calling out China for its trade practices, in supplying lethal arms to Ukraine, in striking an updated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, in brokering normalization between Israel and several Arab states. But there are many more in which the administration got things wrong: in undermining the alliances that had been the bedrock of international stability for 75 years (in turn raising questions about U.S. reliability among friends and foes alike), in withdrawing from international agreements and institutions without putting anything better in their place, in cozying up to authoritarian leaders in China, North Korea, Russia, and Turkey to little or no real end. Trump’s frequent violation of democratic norms and policies such as separating migrant children from their parents and banning travelers from many Muslim-majority countries also did much to undermine America’s appeal around the world.
But to blame his predecessor for all or even most of the international challenges that will await Biden would be to misread history. Many were in play long before Trump and will persist long after he exits the Oval Office: a rising and more assertive China, a Russia willing to use military force and cyber-capabilities to advance its goals, a North Korea with growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, an Iran committed to carrying out an imperial strategy in a turbulent Middle East, advancing climate change, weak and ineffective governments in much of the developing world, an ongoing refugee crisis. Simply reversing what Trump did or did not do, however welcome in many instances, would not solve the problem.
A Biden administration could and should rejoin the World Health Organization (as it is reportedly planning to do soon after inauguration). An empowered WHO is needed to end the pandemic and to prepare for inevitable future outbreaks, as well as to tackle noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (still the greatest cause of illness and death worldwide).
A second priority for repair should be alliances—the great structural advantage of U.S. foreign policy. Setting out immediately to demonstrate a new, more consultative and committed approach to alliances would signal that there is a new and very different sheriff in town, one willing to work with allies on the full range of international issues. It can immediately stop the ill-advised withdrawal of troops from Germany and resolve differences with South Korea over financial support for U.S. troops based there. It should revisit the agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan; future troop drawdowns should be tied to Taliban behavior and capabilities and coupled with long-term commitments of economic and military aid to the government. The new administration can also coordinate with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to forge a new approach to Iran—for example, pledging to rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the condition that Iran roll back anything done beyond the deal’s limits and that U.S. allies work with Washington in the coming months and years to develop a new framework that will last longer than the current deal (some of the nuclear provisions will begin to sunset within the next five years). And in Asia, the Biden administration can immediately begin consultations with South Korea and Japan on the best approach to North Korea, one that predicates any relaxation of sanctions on specified areas of North Korean restraint.

4 November
Climate change: US formally withdraws from Paris agreement
(BBC) After a three-year delay, the US has become the first nation in the world to formally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
President Trump announced the move in June 2017, but UN regulations meant that his decision only takes effect today, the day after the US election.
The US could re-join it in future, should a president choose to do so.

31 October
A Frazzled World Holds Its Breath While the U.S. Chooses Its Leader
President Trump turned American foreign policy inside out, to the benefit of some nations and consternation of others. Now both groups are watching attentively to see which direction the U.S. goes next.
(NYT) Israel’s government has been showered with favors by the Trump administration and backed to the hilt, culminating in normalization deals with three Arab countries that made the Middle East suddenly feel a bit less hostile to the Jewish state. A Trump loss would be a loss for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Germans are obsessing over the contest on newspaper front pages, in countless podcasts and in a string of documentaries with titles like “Crazy Trump and the American Catastrophe.” Australians are working out their worries by gambling on the outcome, with the odds tilting heavily in Mr. Biden’s favor.
No country has watched the American election unfold with greater anger and grievance than China — and few have more at stake. Tensions over trade, technology and the coronavirus have brought relations to their worst level since Washington first recognized the People’s Republic in 1979.
In Russia, which the C.I.A. accuses of mounting a clandestine effort to re-elect Mr. Trump, pro-Kremlin news organizations have played up the possibility of violence and chaos, allowing commentators who depict American democracy as rotten to the core to declare the campaign an I-told-you-so moment.

27 October
The End of American Power
Trump’s Reelection Would Usher in Permanent Decline
By Eliot A. Cohen
(Foreign Affairs) If President Donald Trump manages to win reelection, many things will not change. His narrow worldview will continue to shape U.S. foreign policy. His erratic approach to leadership, his disdain for allies, his fondness for dictators—all will remain throughout a second Trump term.
But beyond the realm of policy, a Trump victory would mark a sea change for the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world. It would signal to others that Washington has given up its aspirations for global leadership and abandoned any notion of moral purpose on the international stage. It would usher in a period of disorder and bristling conflict, as countries heed the law of the jungle and scramble to fend for themselves. And a second Trump term would confirm what many have begun to fear: that the shining city on a hill has grown dim and that American power is but a thing of the past

20 October
Bloomberg: After four years of turbulent foreign policy under Donald Trump, and the erosion of U.S. alliances in Europe and elsewhere, leaders around the globe are pondering what another Trump term might mean for them — and also what a Democratic presidency under Joe Biden might look like.
Harder lines on things like trade, China and global security are inevitable no matter who’s in the White House next year. So a total reversal of Trump’s policies and actions won’t happen.
Even so, there are leaders who stand to lose if he does.
As Marc Champion explains, his presidency has been almost entirely positive for Turkey, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
China, which has grappled with a trade war with the U.S. and pressure on its biggest tech companies, could find itself in an even tougher spot with Biden, who would bring human rights further into the fray. Biden could also seek to repair international alliances to build more of a collective response to China’s strategic and economic assertiveness.
Others set to lose out if Trump is ousted? Here’s looking at you Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Poland’s Andrzej Duda and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.
Hungary’s right-wing prime minister for one has openly endorsed Trump for re-election and warned against the “moral imperialism” of a Democratic administration. That would probably count him out of an early visit to a Biden White House. — Rosalind Mathieson

7 October
Foreign Affairs
On the Ballot
For better or worse, President Donald Trump has altered the course of U.S. foreign policy. How has his administration fared against the challenges the United States faces abroad? And what would four more years mean for American engagement with the world?
Barry R. Posen characterizes Trump’s strategy as illiberal hegemony—and warns that it may be no more sustainable than its liberal counterpart. Nadia Schadlow applauds Trump for dispelling illusions about liberal internationalism and recognizing the primacy of great-power competition.
Richard Haass argues, meanwhile, that Trump broke the system without offering a better alternative; as a result, the country’s foreign policy problems have gotten worse. Kori Schake laments that Trump’s “America first” approach risks scrapping what is best about U.S. foreign policy.
Daniel W. Drezner warns that the damage this administration has done will be nearly impossible for its successor to repair. But hope is not lost, Jake Sullivan argues. The international order is resilient and it can be saved, as long as the United States does not continue to turn its back on the world.
The False Promise of Regime Change
Why Washington Keeps Failing in the Middle East
In every case, American policymakers overstated the threat faced by the United States, underestimated the challenges of ousting a regime, and embraced the optimistic assurances of exiles or local actors with little power. In every case but that of Syria (where the regime held on to power), the United States prematurely declared victory, failed to anticipate the chaos that would inevitably ensue after regime collapse, and ultimately found itself bearing massive human and financial costs for decades to come.
In 2011, as senior officials debated whether the United States should use military force against the Libyan ruler Muammar al-Qaddafi, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—the most experienced member of President Barack Obama’s national security team—reminded his colleagues that “when you start a war you never know how it will go.” Gates’s warning was an understatement: in every single case, however carefully prepared, regime change in the Middle East has had unanticipated and unwelcome consequences. Perhaps the most powerful example of this phenomenon was the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, when Washington ended Saddam Hussein’s rule but also inadvertently empowered Iran, fueled jihadism, demonstrated to dictators around the world the potential value of possessing nuclear weapons (to deter such invasions), increased doubts all over the world about the benevolence of U.S. power, and soured the American public on military intervention for decades to come.

20 September
NYT Editorial board: Trump Needs a Tutorial on How International Agreements Work
The administration is arguing that it is still a party to the Iran deal that it left with great fanfare in 2018.
Two years ago, the Trump administration withdrew from an international agreement that had lifted most sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Trump called the accord, which had been painstakingly negotiated by the Obama administration and America’s closest European allies, the “worst deal ever.” He has been trying to kill it ever since. He reimposed economic sanctions and threatened secondary sanctions on European allies that do any business with Iran. The repudiation was so head-spinning that other countries now wonder if American international commitments can be trusted to last beyond the next election.
In a stunning display of chutzpah, the Trump administration is now arguing that the United States is still part of the Iran deal after all. That’s because it wants to use a provision in the deal to “snap back” global sanctions on Iran to prevent the expiration of an arms embargo. Only a party to the agreement can trigger a resumption of global sanctions.

20 August
Bloomberg: Secretary of State Michael Pompeo notified the United Nations of the U.S. demand to reinstate global sanctions against Iran and accused European allies who oppose the move of appeasing Tehran. France, Germany and the U.K. said they remained committed to the 2015 nuclear deal, while diplomats from several nations indicated they saw no need for further steps because the U.S. action was void of meaning.

6 June
Polarized Politics Has Infected American Diplomacy
Foreigners aren’t laughing at us. They pity and discount us.
William J. Burns, President of the Carnegie Endowment
(The Atlantic) The style and substance of our polarized politics have infected American diplomacy. Policies lurch between parties, commitments expire at the end of each administration, institutions are politicized, and disagreements are tribal. The inability to compromise at home is becoming the modus operandi overseas. In the past, a sense of common domestic purpose gave ballast to U.S. diplomacy; now its absence enfeebles it.
President Donald Trump…has scrapped one agreement after another, with disruptive glee and no regard for Plan B. The Iran nuclear deal (“an embarrassment”), the Paris climate accord (“very unfair”), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“a rape of our country”), all negotiated by the administration of his Democratic predecessor, wound up on the trash heap. New START, following the president’s exit from the Open Skies Treaty, may be next.
If Representative Mike Pompeo’s Benghazi hearings showed the power of weaponizing foreign policy for domestic purposes (where polarization is the end, not the means), Secretary of State Pompeo’s tenure has been marked by the weaponization of domestic politics on the world stage.
Partisan divides are stark today over a number of foreign-policy issues, such as climate change and immigration. But on some foundational policy questions, public opinion is far less fractured than it is in Washington. Despite President Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, a growing majority of Americans support an active, disciplined role for the United States on the world stage; strong alliances; and open trading arrangements. More important, there is an increasing appreciation for the need to root foreign policy more firmly in the needs and aspirations of the American middle class.
A foreign policy more representative of the American public’s concerns than those of an inbred foreign-policy elite is a good start toward depolarization, but it’s not enough. American leaders will also have to deliver results—with far greater discipline abroad, and the kind of political skill at home that goes beyond just playing to the predispositions and passions of a partisan base.
That will require working with new constituencies—including mayors and governors, who have a decidedly more practical approach to foreign affairs—and renovating institutions charged with advancing our interests. Leaders will need to reinvent a foreign-policy consensus that reflects new global realities and domestic priorities, and avoid the temptation to solve foreign-policy polarization by shoehorning all our concerns into one unifying global crusade—even as central a challenge as our rivalry with China.
Trump orders large withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany
President stuns NATO allies, including Germany, with unilateral move seen as benefit to Russia.
(Politico) News that the White House was pushing forward with the withdrawal comes as transatlantic relations are as badly strained as at any point during Trump’s tumultuous tenure in office, and just days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed an invitation from Trump to attend a G7 leaders’ summit in Washington later this month. … Trump’s withdrawal plan appeared to be less a form of direct retribution for Merkel’s G7 decision, but rather a follow-through on previous threats to reduce the U.S. military presence in Germany, which were conveyed by the U.S. ambassador, Ric Grenell, as part of the overall White House criticism of Berlin’s military spending as too meager.

4 June
McConnell sets vote for Trump VOA pick, who has ties to Steve Bannon
Michael Pack is also under active investigation by D.C. attorney general for alleged self-dealing, self-enrichment
(Roll Call) Pack, whose nomination has been pending for several years, was tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The agency has an annual budget of roughly $1 billion and includes U.S. taxpayer-funded news outlets Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a May party-line 12-10 vote, advanced Pack’s nomination after a heated exchange between the panel’s Republicans and Democrats about breaking committee tradition by considering a nominee who is under an active criminal investigation.
If confirmed Thursday afternoon, Pack will serve a three year term as CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Pack has experience working at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Voice of America. He worked with Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, on multiple film projects.

26 May
Thomas L. Friedman: Mike Pompeo Is the Worst Secretary of State Ever
Where’s the Republican uproar over what’s gone on under his watch?
If you thought the volume on the Trump-Twitter-Fox noise distraction machine was turned up extra loud in the past few weeks, it was not only to deflect attention from the nearly 100,000 Americans who’ve died from Covid-19, but also from the confirmation that on President Trump’s watch our country suffered the first deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 that was planned abroad.
Last week, Attorney General William Barr and the F.B.I. said that data from cellphones of a Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three U.S. sailors and wounded eight others at a Navy air base in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6 confirmed that it was an act of foreign-planned “terrorism.”
Pompeo’s two most notable accomplishments as secretary of state are, metaphorically speaking, shooting two of his senior State Department officials in the back.
One was the distinguished U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Pompeo removed on the orders of Trump and Trump’s nut-job lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The other was the department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, whom Pompeo got Trump to fire, reportedly because he was investigating — wait for it now — Pompeo’s own efforts to evade a congressional ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and for improperly asking a State Department employee to run errands for him and his wife.

25 May
Foreign Affairs: There’s a strong consensus that the United States has devoted too much time and too many resources to “endless wars” in the Middle East—but substantial disagreement about how to craft a better approach.
“Trump is not the first president to promise a lighter touch in the Middle East only to be drawn in, reluctantly but deeply,” Daniel Benaim and Jake Sullivan write in a new essay. “The United States has repeatedly tried using military means to produce unachievable outcomes in the Middle East. Now it’s time to try using aggressive diplomacy to produce more sustainable results.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlines the thinking behind the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Iran. Michael S. Doran argues that, to its credit, the administration has shattered the illusions many still hold about power dynamics in the Middle East.

25 March
How to Lead in a Time of Pandemic
What U.S. Foreign Policy Should Be Doing—but Isn’t—to Rally the World to Action
(Foreign Affairs) The world has never before confronted a crisis quite like COVID-19, one that has simultaneously tested both the limits of public health systems everywhere and the ability of countries to work together on a shared challenge. But it is in just such moments of crisis that, under all prior U.S. presidents since World War II, the institutions of U.S. foreign policy mobilize for leadership. They call nations to action. They set the agenda for what needs to be done. They chart a path beyond the point of crisis.
Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has spent the last three years demeaning and degrading these very institutions and denigrating the kind of U.S. leadership and global collective action they promote—which is one reason for the world’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic thus far.  The United Nations Security Council is silent. The World Health Organization (WHO) offers a useful global clearinghouse but lacks a global megaphone to lead. European Union nations have defaulted to national solutions and closed borders to their neighbors for the first time in generations. China hid the crisis from the world in its critical early days. … Beyond individual phone calls with world leaders, [Trump] has made just one attempt to organize countries to band together—a single conference call with European, Canadian, and Japanese leaders in the G-7 forum he currently chairs. …
The Trump administration has lost valuable time since December, but it is not too late to assemble an international coalition to begin to limit COVID-19’s ruthlessly efficient global contagion. What might such an effort look like? The administration should join with other global leaders to launch at least three high-level international efforts to tackle the most difficult challenges posed by the pandemic—one made up of top leaders, one made up of economic policymakers, and one made up of U.S. and Chinese officials. …
When the world faced a very different crisis at the start of World War II, it was the confident and united leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill that created the alliance critical to ultimate victory and forged a vision in the Atlantic Charter for what would come in its wake. Leaders and commentators have compared the current struggle to war. What makes this crisis different, though, is that every country and all citizens are now on the same side.
To have a chance of prevailing, we need focused, determined, and effective leadership and genuine collaboration from Trump and other global leaders. They will largely determine whether the world can meet this existential test. In an age of nationalism and “America first,” the truth should be clear for all to see: nothing in human history has so clearly demonstrated how the fate of everyone—all 7.7 billion people—in our highly connected world is now linked.

23 January
Why America Must Lead Again – Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump
By Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
(Foreign Affairs) …the global challenges facing the United States—from climate change and mass migration to technological disruption and infectious diseases—have grown more complex and more urgent, while the rapid advance of authoritarianism, nationalism, and illiberalism has undermined our ability to collectively meet them. Democracies—paralyzed by hyperpartisanship, hobbled by corruption, weighed down by extreme inequality—are having a harder time delivering for their people. Trust in democratic institutions is down. Fear of the Other is up. And the international system that the United States so carefully constructed is coming apart at the seams. Trump and demagogues around the world are leaning into these forces for their own personal and political gain.
The next U.S. president will have to address the world as it is in January 2021, and picking up the pieces will be an enormous task. He or she will have to salvage our reputation, rebuild confidence in our leadership, and mobilize our country and our allies to rapidly meet new challenges. There will be no time to lose.

12 January
A long, detailed, sober account of events leading up to the assassination of Qassim Suleimani and its aftermath
Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War
This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump administration officials, military officers, diplomats, intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.
(NYT) … The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump’s allies something to cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial, but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the shifting justifications for the strike that he and his national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an “imminent” attack and the president has amplified that to say four American embassies were targeted.
But administration officials said they did not actually know when or where such an attack might occur and one State Department official said it was “a mistake” to use the word “imminent.” And some senior military commanders were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.
… The confrontation may have actually begun by accident.
But that did not matter to Mr. Trump and his team. An American was dead and the president who had called off a retaliatory strike with 10 minutes to go in June and otherwise refrained from military action in response to Iranian provocations now faced a choice.
Advisers told him Iran had probably misinterpreted his previous reluctance to use force as a sign of weakness. To reestablish deterrence, he should authorize a tough response. On holiday at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, the president agreed to strikes on five sites in Iraq and Syria two days later, killing at least 25 members of Kataib Hezbollah and injuring at least 50 more.

6 January
Trump’s reckless Middle East policy has brought the US to the brink of war
Editor’s Note: The recent killing of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, further undermines the United States’ already weak position in the Middle East, writes Daniel Byman. This piece originally appeared in Vox.
(Brookings) The U.S. drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the long-time leader of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force of the Islamic Republican Guard Corps, comes when the United States is at a dangerous crossroads in the Middle East. Soleimani was responsible for many of Iran’s most important relationships, including with paramilitary groups in Iraq, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, among many others. In many countries, he and the Quds Force basically controlled Iranian policy.
David A. Graham: It’s 2003 All Over Again
It doesn’t require much squinting to see the ways the Iran crisis resembles the lead-up to the Iraq War.
(The Atlantic) The public still doesn’t have good clarity on how, why, and when the president made the call to kill Soleimani in an air strike on January 3, but a picture is gradually emerging. The Washington Post reports that “Trump’s decision … [came] at the urging of [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and Vice President [Mike] Pence.” Pompeo in particular had been pushing for a more violent response to Iran for months, and was deeply disappointed when Trump abruptly called off a punitive air strike last summer.
the factors that made the Iraq War a disaster are present here: false and dubious claims; hubristic thinking; lack of foresight and planning; civilian-military divides; ideology eclipsing practical strategy. All of this means that while the Iran crisis may not be a disaster on the scale of the Iraq War, it could easily be a disaster.
The Spectator analysis: No. 10’s Iran nerves
Boris Johnson has spent his first day back from holiday in meetings and on calls about the hostilities between Iran and the US, with ‘de-escalation’ remaining the buzzword of the day. No. 10 is having to tread a difficult line between appearing not to criticise Donald Trump, who rarely takes well to such things, and trying to curb the excess of enthusiasm that the US President appears to have for threatening cultural sites in Iran. Trump has said he is prepared to target 52 sites which include ‘Iranian culture’, and today the Prime Minister’s official spokesman issued a reminder that ‘there are international conventions in place which prevent the destruction of cultural heritage’. This is a rather convoluted way of saying that this is a war crime, and we are likely to hear other polite calls from Downing Street in the coming days if the aggressive language continues on both sides. There will be an update to the Commons from the Foreign Office tomorrow when MPs return.

1 January
A Bigger Foreign-Policy Mess Than Anyone Predicted
In the 2010s, global affairs turned out far worse than the most pessimistic scenario foretold by U.S. intelligence experts.
By Thomas Wright, Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
(The Atlantic) The 2010s were far more disruptive than the National Intelligence Council’s worst-case scenario envisioned. It was a horrid decade for those who aspire to a more cooperative and freer world. Today, every region, with the possible exception of Africa, and almost all major countries are in a worse state than 10 years ago.
The scale of repression in China and the rise of Xi Jinping’s dictatorship; Donald Trump’s election as president and the return of “America first” rhetoric; the weakening of the European Union; the erosion of democracy in Poland, Brazil, India, the Philippines, and Hungary; the failure of the Arab Spring and the rise of a new generation of dictators in the Middle East; the devastation of the Syrian civil war; Vladimir Putin’s official return to Russia’s presidency and subsequent aggression against other countries; the collapse of diplomatic achievements such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord; the weaponization of social media; and the beginning of deglobalization—all of these trends would have seemed alarmist to even the most pessimistic of observers at the end of 2009.


16 December
America Is Making the World More Unstable
The country is now a known unknown, increasing the risk of crises from the Middle East to East Asia to Central America, a new survey suggests.
For years, the Council on Foreign Relations has asked hundreds of U.S. government officials and foreign-policy experts to rate the potential security crises that could most threaten the United States in the coming year. Typically the respondents have focused on the world’s hot spots. More top of mind this year, it seems, was the destabilizing force at home.
“In the early months of [Trump’s] administration, there was some hope —call it wishful thinking— that he would become more appreciative of the U.S. role in the world, its contributions to international stability and peace and so on, and would essentially then follow the long-standing playbook of U.S. foreign policy,” said Stares, an expert on conflict prevention. “But that hasn’t been true. So we now are more prepared [for the] unexpected, or more cautious about how we project future U.S. policy.”
Preparing for the Next Foreign Policy Crisis
What the United States Should Do
(CFR) Managing foreign policy crises has become a recurring challenge for U.S. presidents. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been one hundred twenty occasions in which a threatening development overseas triggered a period of intense, high-level deliberation about what the United States should do in response (see the list of U.S. foreign policy crises from 1989 to 2019). This equates to an average of fifteen crises for each four-year presidential term. Although the stakes varied from crisis to crisis, each required the president to decide––usually in pressured circumstances and with considerable uncertainty about the risks involved––whether the situation warranted sending military forces in harm’s way to protect U.S. interests.

9 December
U.S. lawmakers reach deal on massive defense bill, eye Russia, Turkey, China
(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers announced an agreement on Monday on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, including new measures for competing with Russia and China, family leave for federal workers and the creation of President Donald Trump’s long-desired Space Force.
It also calls for sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system, and a tough response to North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Because it is one of the few pieces of major legislation Congress passes every year, the NDAA becomes a vehicle for a range of policy measures as well as setting everything from military pay levels to which ships or aircraft will be modernized, purchased or discontinued.
It includes a 3.1% pay hike for the troops, the largest in a decade and, for the first time, 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers, something Democrats strongly sought.
Among other things, the proposed fiscal 2020 NDAA imposes sanctions related to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines and bars military-to-military cooperation with Russia

3 December
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.
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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