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Can Trump Handle a Foreign Crisis?
Feb. 7, 2019 | WSJ | By Peggy Noonan.

He’ll face one eventually, and there’s good reason to worry the administration will be unprepared.

Someday this White House will face a sudden, immediate and severe foreign-policy crisis..... past and present officials of this administration are concerned on how the White House would handle a crisis......History resides in both the unexpected and the long-predicted. Russia moves against a U.S. ally, testing Washington’s commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty; a coordinated cyber action by our adversaries takes down the American grid; China, experiencing political unrest within a background of a slowing economy, decides this is a good time to move on Taiwan; someone bombs Iran’s missile sites; Venezuela explodes in violence during a military crackdown; there’s an accidental launch somewhere..... historian Margaret MacMillan said ....“I think we should never underestimate the sheer role of accident.”....Everything depends on personnel, process and planning. The president and his top advisers have to work closely, with trust and confidence, quickly comprehending the shape of the challenge and its implications. There must be people around him with wisdom, judgment, experience. They must know their jobs and be able to execute them under pressure. Clear lines of communication are key between both individuals and agencies.....keep their eyes on the million moving pieces, military and diplomatic, that comprise a strategy.......During the Berlin airlift, thought at the time to be the height of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who’d been Army chief of staff during World War II, was asked how worried he was. “I’ve seen worse,” he replied. He had. ......“No administration is ready for its first crisis,” says Richard Haass, who was a member of George H.W. Bush’s NSC and is author of “A World in Disarray.” “What you learn is that the machinery isn’t adequate, or people aren’t ready.” First crises trigger reforms of procedures so that second ones are better handled. ......There is no way, really, to simulate a crisis, because you don’t know what’s coming, and key people are busy doing their regular jobs. And all administrations, up until the point they’re tested, tend to be overconfident. What can they do to be readier? Think, study, talk and plan.....For a modern example of good process, personnel and management, there is the Cuban missile crisis. .....the stakes couldn’t have been higher.......It might be good to have regular situation-room meetings on what-ifs, and how to handle what-ifs, and to have deep contingency planning with intelligence, military and civilian leaders discussing scenarios. “Put yourself in a position,” says Mr. Haass, “where you’re less unread when a crisis does occur.”.......Margaret MacMillan again: People not only get used to peace and think it’s “the normal state of affairs,” they get used to the idea that any crisis can be weathered, because they have been in the past. But that’s no guarantee of anything, is it?
chance  contingency_planning  crisis  Donald_Trump  U.S.foreign_policy  JFK  Margaret_MacMillan  overconfidence  Richard_Haass  security_&_intelligence  unexpected  White_House  unprepared  accidents  Cuban_Missile_Crisis  luck  Peggy_Noonan  preparation  readiness  George_Marshall  normality  unforeseen 
february 2019 by jerryking
White House prevents Gina Haspel from briefing Senate on Khashoggi murder | World news | The Guardian, Nov 27, 2018
The White House is preventing the CIA director, Gina Haspel, or any other intelligence official from briefing the Senate on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
White_House  CIA  congress  murder  Saudi-Arabia 
november 2018 by elizrael
Globe editorial: Answering the bully in the White House - The Globe and Mail
Since reasoning with the President is off the table, the only options for Canada are to stand firm as long as possible in terms of retaliation, to continue to negotiate with state governors and Congress members whose economic interests align with ours, and to make hay of the fact that the U.S. is a less stable and safe place to invest when it is led by a President who changes the rules every week.
bullying  Canada  Canadian  crossborder  Donald_Trump  editorials  tariffs  White_House  aligned_interests 
june 2018 by jerryking
Trump, Kushner and the businessman fallacy
Simon Kuper MARCH 8, 2018
The “businessman fallacy” — the notion that a rich businessman (never a woman) can run government better than a mere politician — is Donald Trump’s basic promise. That’s why the combustion of his son-in-law, fellow real-estate heir and senior adviser Jared Kushner — whose business dealings in the White House scream conflict of interest — is so telling. Kushner incarnates the businessman fallacy.......The businessman-turned-politician is often blinded by hubris. This usually stems from the “money delusion”: the idea that life is a race to make money, and that rich people (“winners”) therefore possess special wisdom.

Many businessmen imagine they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps in a free market, something that more people could do if only there was “less government in business”. This self-image usually omits context: the fact, say, that the businessman’s father built the company (before being jailed on a ridiculous technicality) or that government enforced his contracts and schooled his employees.....Rich Americans tend to feel contempt for politicians because they have learnt to treat them as lowly service providers who will sit up and beg for donations.
self-imagery  Simon_Kuper  Donald_Trump  Jared_Kushner  nepotism  White_House  conflicts_of_interest  oversimplification  privately_held_companies  family-owned_businesses  hubris  generalists  businessman_fallacy  heirs 
march 2018 by jerryking
Syrian opposition iced out of White House - Al-Monitor
The Syrian delegation over the past week has been able to secure meetings with Michael Ratney, the State Department’s top Syria official, as well as with congressional leaders. But while that “will move the ball down the field for them,” said a US source knowledgeable about the delegation’s meetings, “until they [get] to the White House they can’t get past midfield.” 
Mar15  White_House  State_Department  FSA  lobby 
january 2018 by elizrael
Trump had for months been determined to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - The Washington Post
Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, had supported the move from early in Trump’s candidacy, and Pence, who is to visit Israel this month, told Trump that his base would love the decision, something the president liked to hear.
Trump  TrumpAdministration  Israel  Palestine  Jerusalem  decision_making  White_House 
december 2017 by elizrael
Iran hawks, Bannon loyalists booted in White House purge - Al-Monitor, Aug 3, 2017
A faction of Iran hawks in the Donald Trump administration appears to have been dealt a blow in recent days. Several officials allied with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have been removed from the National Security Council (NSC).
White_House  NSC  TrumpAdministration  Iran  Bannon 
august 2017 by elizrael
[Report] | Legalize It All, by Dan Baum | Harper's Magazine
REPORT — From the April 2016 issue
Legalize It All
How to win the war on drugs
By Dan Baum
Richard_Nixon  White_House  '70s 
august 2017 by jerryking
Sage Advice From the ‘Gold Standard’ of White House Chiefs of Staff
JULY 30, 2017 | The New York Times | By PETER BAKER.

When a new White House chief of staff takes over, the smart ones check in with James A. Baker III, the only man to have occupied the office two different times for two different presidents and who is widely considered to be the gold standard.

Mr. Baker has plenty of advice from running the White House during Ronald Reagan’s first term and again at the end of George Bush’s presidency, but it usually boils down to this: “You can focus on the ‘chief,’ or you can focus on the ‘of staff.’ Those who have focused on the ‘of staff’ have done pretty well.”.....Mr. Kelly’s experience is in national security. “That’s a very different matter than someone who has to navigate all the crosscurrents of dealing with domestic politics, dealing with Capitol Hill and dealing with a president who just can’t throw his phone away and stop tweeting,”......Mr. Reagan’s selection of Mr. Baker may have been most surprising. No loyalist coming in, Mr. Baker had managed the campaigns of not one but two Republicans who had run against Mr. Reagan — Mr. Ford in 1976 and Mr. Bush in 1980. But Mr. Reagan believed he needed someone like Mr. Baker, a dealmaking pragmatist who could work both sides of the aisle, manage difficult personalities and assert his dominance among the staff while channeling the president.
White_House  politics  appointments  chief_of_staff  James_A._Baker_III 
july 2017 by jerryking
With Scaramucci, Trump is going to war – with the media, with the truth, with America - The Globe and Mail
SCOTT REID
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Jul. 22, 2017Donald Trump is going to the mattresses.

The hiring of the immodest, inexperienced and uncompromising Wall Street money man Anthony Scaramucci as White House director of communications means one thing, and one thing only: Donald Trump is going to war.

He’s going to war against special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.
Donald_Trump  firings  White_House  Robert_Mueller  Anthony_Scaramucci  Communicating_&_Connecting  public_relations 
july 2017 by jerryking
Tillerson and Mattis Cleaning Up Kushner’s Middle East Mess | The American Conservative. June 27, 2017
When the burgeoning split between the Saudis and Qataris was mentioned, Tillerson described it as no more than one of “a growing list or irritants in the region” that would not impair “the unified fight against terrorism …”

But while Tillerson’s answer was meant to soothe concerns over the crisis, behind the scenes he and Mattis were scrambling to undo the damage caused by Saudi action. The two huddled in Sydney and decided that Tillerson would take the lead in trying to resolve the falling out. Which is why, three days after the Sydney press conference, Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ease their anti-Qatar blockade and announced that the U.S. supported a Kuwaiti-led mediation effort. The problem for Tillerson was that his statement was contradicted by Donald Trump who, during a Rose Garden appearance on the same day, castigated Qatar, saying the emirate “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

A close associate of the secretary of state says that Tillerson was not only “blind-sided by the Trump statement,” but “absolutely enraged that the White House and State Department weren’t on the same page.” Tillerson’s aides, I was told, were convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement was U.A.E. ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, a close friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. “Rex put two-and-two together,” his close associate says, “and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump. What a mess.” The Trump statement was nearly the last straw for Tillerson, this close associate explains: “Rex is just exhausted. He can’t get any of his appointments approved and is running around the world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is a 36-year-old amateur.”

Worse yet, at least from Tillerson’s point of view, a White House official explained the difference between the two statements by telling the press to ignore the secretary of state. “Tillerson may initially have had a view,” a White House official told the Washington Post, “then the president has his view, and obviously the president’s view prevails.”
TrumpAdministration  decision_making  Kushner  RexTillerson  Saudi-Arabia  UAE  Qatar  foreign_policy  White_House  internal_struggle  State_Department 
july 2017 by elizrael

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