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The Trump Administration Gutted the Staff Overseeing $1 Billion in Aid to Iraq. A Watchdog Is Raising Red Flags. — ProPublica, Nov 22, 2019
That “large portfolio,” coupled with the staff reductions, “create uncertainty as to how programs will be overseen remotely,” the report said. “Uncertainty around staffing levels also raises questions about USAID’s continuing ability to effectively oversee its high-priority, high-risk portfolio.”
USAID  Iraq  TrumpAdministration  Christians 
7 days ago by elizrael
How Trump decided to kill Iran's Qasem Soleimani - The Washington Post
Trump was also motivated to act by what he felt was negative coverage after his 2019 decision to call off the airstrike after Iran downed the U.S. surveillance drone, officials said. Trump was also frustrated that the details of his internal deliberations had leaked out and felt he looked weak, the officials said.
Assassination  TrumpAdministration  Trump  decision_making  Quds_Force 
19 days ago by elizrael - Glenn Loury and Laurence Kotlikoff
Kotlikoff makes the case that Trumps tax cut was progressive, NOT regressive. Also on the bad economics of a trade war and the real problems with China.
TrumpTaxCut  tariffs  trade-deficits  China  TrumpAdministration  kotlikoff  loury  bloggingheads 
6 weeks ago by HispanicPundit
(135) "Health Care Policy: An Update and Prescription" - Grace-Marie Turner - YouTube
Illustrating the problems of healthcare, ObamaCares misses, and the right strategies going forward.
ObamaCare  healthcare  Hillsdale  youtube  TrumpAdministration 
7 weeks ago by HispanicPundit
Behind the scenes of Trump's shift on Israeli settlements - Axios
Trump administration officials tell me the new legal position should not be perceived as a “U.S. green light” for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank or to start unrestrained building in the settlements.
TrumpAdministration  settlements  Israel 
9 weeks ago by elizrael
We are staying in Syria, but what comes next? - The Washington Post
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told me he was working with U.S. oil companies to come in and build new oil infrastructure in the area, to allow the Kurds to export their oil and make more money than now.
oil  Mar15  TrumpAdministration  SDF 
9 weeks ago by elizrael
Turkey's Erdogan upends Oval Office meeting with Trump to play anti-Kurd film - Axios
Behind the scenes: A senior administration official said they invited these senators because they have voiced concerns about Turkey's purchase of Russian weapons and invasion of Syria. "It shows Erdoğan that they're serious about sanctions, and Trump doesn't have to be the bad guy," the official said. Another senior official said the president believes "full and frank" engagement with Erdoğan is important.
Mar15  sanctions  PeaceSpring  congress  Turkey  TrumpAdministration  unnamed_official 
10 weeks ago by elizrael
As Assad Gains Ground, New Syria Peace Talks in Geneva Offer Little Hope for a Political Solution
Instead of direct negotiations, the U.S. State Department pushed the Kurds to pressure Assad by partnering with the Turkish-backed opposition (TSO)—the very same groups that attacked the northwestern city of Afrin in 2018 and have terrorized the population of northeastern Syria in recent weeks. Despite the atrocities committed in Afrin, Ahmed agreed to meet with the TSO just weeks before the Oct. 6 phone call between Trump and Erdogan. But the TSO rejected the offer and later supported Erdogan’s invasion.

The senior government official said the State Department “neither discouraged nor encouraged” contact between the SDC and the regime, but “what we consistently did—and had [the right] under U.S. law to do—was to note that the regime was both an international pariah and target of many international and U.S. sanctions.” Therefore, the United States could not work with the Kurds in “any area where they were paired with the regime.”

If the SDC were to “throw their weight into the Assad camp, for example by joining the regime list in the Constitutional Committee, then we’d have to severely limit relations with SDC just like we do other regime backers.”
Mar15  SDF  PYD  constitution  diplomacy  unnamed_official  TrumpAdministration  TFSA 
10 weeks ago by elizrael
Hemingway and Severino: On Kavanaugh Confirmation, Identity Politics, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes  |  Ricochet
On the overwhelmingly unfair treatment Kavanaugh faced during the confirmation process and how this started with the Bork case. Authors of the book, "Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court" Listened to 22 mins only.
SupremeCourt  kavanaugh  Books  media  bias  AmericanMind  Podcasts  TrumpAdministration 
10 weeks ago by HispanicPundit
The Republicanologist  |  Ricochet
How the Trump movement transformed the GOP. Deep discussions on Mike Pence's role, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Guiliani and others.
Campaign2016  TrumpAdministration  Trump  Books  podcasts  Republicans  gingrich  campaign2020 
10 weeks ago by HispanicPundit
Journalists keep saying ‘no evidence of wrongdoing by Bidens,’ but they are wrong
But regardless of whether the activity meets the letter of the FCPA, the lavish compensation of an individual without any evident qualification beyond being the son of the US Vice President responsible for Ukrainian affairs, is certainly analogous to the type of wrongdoing -- labeled corruption -- that is prohibited under US law.  While there may not be evidence of criminality (and I am not familiar with all the laws that may come into play), any media story that claims there is no evidence of wrongdoing in the Biden’s relationship with Burisma and Ukraine is averting its eyes from what is in plain site.
TrumpAdministration  Biden 
11 weeks ago by HispanicPundit
A simple shift in US stance led to Turkey’s assault against Syria’s Kurds - Defense Post
Under U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition Brett McGurk, U.S. officials had communicated to the Turks that American areas in Syria would be defended, according to sources with direct knowledge of the policy. LaCamera appeared unaware that the stance had changed.

Absent written orders and any coherent direction from the White House, Army Lieutenant General James LaCamera, the Coalition commander, turned to the State Department, where a new team led by veteran diplomat James Jeffrey, answerable to the secretary of state, had taken charge of Syria policy.

“My biggest concern now is force protection,” LaCamera said. To do that, he needed to deter Turkey from invading northern Syria, so suggested an option that he thought was in line with U.S. policy: to reinforce three outposts along the Syrian side of the Turkish border as a signal.

The State Department official balked.

“You cannot stop the Turks from coming in by outposts,” the official told LaCamera. “But you can provoke them by outposts.” If the general reinforced the outposts, he said, Turkey “will think that you’re protecting the SDF.”

U.S. forces are authorized to strike non-ISIS forces in self defense, and commanders have used this authorization to protect valuable territory on Syria’s battlefields, including from pro-regime forces near al-Tanf in May 2017 and the Conoco natural gas field from Russian irregular forces near Deir Ezzor in February 2018.

Under McGurk, that stance was leveraged to dissuade Turkey from attacking the SDF, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the diplomatic discussions.

“We said ‘force protection,’ and the Turks never tested it.”

The ostensible plan, according to Nicholas Heras, a fellow at the Center for New American Security, was to lay the groundwork for an eventual tripartite agreement between Russia, Turkey and the U.S., in which Turkish and U.S.-controlled areas of Syria were merged.

“The idea was, if you could work out some sort of synchronized arrangement between the SDF zone and the Turkish zone in Euphrates Shield, using Manbij as a pivot point, you could create one larger NATO zone that can be used to apply pressure and leverage on Assad and Russia,” Heras said.

The policy had been in the works since the spring of 2018, around the time Bolton became National Security Advisor, and was spearheaded by Joel Rayburn, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Syria.

The official seemed confident the Turkish incursion could be controlled through the threat of sanctions. “The Turks have given us general guidelines as to where they want to operate and what their military goals are.”

“As I said, we think they’re all a bad idea. But we have no indication that they – they have not given us any indication that they plan on any escalation further than what they’ve told us.”

To SDC officials, the Americans’ actions felt like a deliberate betrayal. “They never told us that Turkey was not satisfied with the steps,” one senior SDC official said.
Mar15  SDF  State_Department  TrumpAdministration  McGurk  diplomacy  Turkey  PeaceSpring 
11 weeks ago by elizrael

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