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A couple of items concerning Trump and his Secretaries of State have appeared. They shine some light on DC’s swamp. David Goldman in Pajamas Media is first.
… The whole preposterous allegation that Trump somehow colluded with Russia is designed to sabotage diplomacy between Washington and Moscow.
To reiterate my own longstanding view: Russia is a nasty place and Vladimir Putin is a nasty man, of the ilk that always has ruled Russia, a country where nobody talks about Ivan the Reasonable. On my Ogre-ometer, Putin barely registers a 1.9 against Stalin’s 9.8. Russia is NOT our friend and NOT a prospective ally. But we have two choices. One is to attempt to bring Putin down and bring in a government we like, and the other is to strike a deal with Putin that we can live with. The first is delusional, but pervasive in a foreign policy establishment that still believes that we can reshape the world in America’s image. If you don’t believe that the foreign policy establishment is that crazy, please read my review of Condoleezza Rice’s new book, Democracy, in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Rice foisted Rex Tillerson on an unsuspecting Trump as a “Texas oilman” rather than as a cut-out for the George W. Bush wing of the Republican Party.
The utopian wing of the Republican Party (George W. Bush, Condi Rice, McCain&Graham, Mitt Romney) have an objective: Isolate, weaken and destabilize Russia with the ultimate goal of regime change. That will simply push Russia closer to China, Russia’s biggest customer for oil and gas, and cement a Eurasian alliance hostile to the United States. It will also encourage Russia to act as a spoiler in the Middle East.
The alternative is to reach some sort of agreement with Russia (and China) which serves our basic interests and gives our competitors something in return. I sketched the parameters of a prospective agreement in a Dec. 17, 2016 essay for Asia Times, “How the US Should Engage Russia and China.” That is what President Trump wants to do, according to numerous media reports, but the foreign policy establishment is doing everything in its power to prevent him from doing so. …
… Without knowing the details of the national security meetings at the White House during the past several months, I can’t judge the details, but it seems clear that President Trump personally overruled his advisers and decided on his own not to impose new sanctions on Russia. His instincts are exactly right. Whether he has a team willing to act on his instincts is another matter.
Ultimately American power depends on technological dominance. President Trump is the first American president ever to recognize the strategic threat posed by China. But his Administration has done little to restore American supremacy in technology, as I argued in a recent address to Hillsdale College.
Matthew Continetti writes on the Dem refusal to confirm Pompeo as Secretary.
What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s seventieth secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a license to obstruct this solid nominee for one of the most important cabinet offices. The Democratic rationales for opposition are neither consistent nor compelling. But the party is heedlessly and recklessly trying to capsize the nomination anyway, without giving second thought to the potential consequences of its actions. If this doesn’t count as a symptom of Trump derangement syndrome, I don’t know what does.
In the coming months, President Trump will have to deal with the fallout from his strike on Syria, the growing conflict between Israel and Iran, the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, Chinese belligerence toward Taiwan, the planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and whatever unexpected international crises that erupt. Even if you accept the critique of Trump as someone who has no fixed worldview, little in the way of principle, and is dangerously enamored of the “madman” theory of strategic ambiguity, you would therefore want him, it seems to me, to be surrounded by personnel who are experienced, knowledgeable, capable, and steadfast—individuals who can serve as ballast, who can tether the president to geopolitical reality.
The slightest glance at Pompeo’s official biography is enough to confirm that he is such a man. How many senators, Republican or Democrat, graduated at the top of their class at West Point, served as a cavalry officer, graduated from Harvard Law School and edited the Harvard Law Review, then went on to become a successful businessman? These are precisely the qualities that led the Senate in January 2017 to confirm Pompeo as CIA director in a bipartisan 66-32 vote. …
… More likely, Trump, as he has done in other areas of the bureaucracy for the last 16 months, won’t nominate anyone at all. He will leave the office of secretary of state unfilled while he and Pompeo manage diplomacy from the Oval Office and Langley, respectively. What this scenario achieves for the Democrats or the country, I do not know.
Perhaps the Democratic game plan is to make it impossible for Trump to govern in any capacity until the Democrats control Congress in January 2019. But that strategy assumes an awful lot, as well. Say the Democrats win the House but not the Senate, where the opposition faces tougher odds. With McConnell in control, Trump could recess appoint a secretary of state until the end of his term. Maybe it would be Pompeo. Or maybe it would be someone who offends progressive sensibilities even more.
“Secretary of State John Bolton” sure has a ring to it.