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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Real change in US foreign policy?

Greetings from Boston, where I landed yesterday morning. A brief post and then back to work.

The Washington Post is reporting that the entire senior executive level at the State Department has resigned, apparently out of fear of what might happen in a Trump administration. Keeping in mind that most of the senior echelon in the State Department is Arabist, this may be good for Israel, notwithstanding reporter Josh Rogin's obvious discomfort with it.
[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.
Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service.
In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
All I can think of when I hear about the State Department securing diplomats is Benghazi, although that was clearly Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's fault, and not that of the State Department bureaucrats.

More encouraging is the fact that 'Palestinian' chief negotiator bottle washer Saeb Erekat is expressing  'shock' at President Trump's silence on Israeli 'settlement building.'
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced the approval of 2,500 housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, in order to accommodate the housing needs of the residents and to return their daily routine to normal.
The announcement followed the approval earlier this week of 566 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev.
While the United Nations and the European Union were quick to condemn the new construction, White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday declined to express a position on Israeli construction when asked about it in his daily press briefing.
"Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States," Spicer said, when asked about Trump's perspective on the Israeli plan to implement the construction plans.
"He wants to grow closer to Israel to make sure it gets the full respect in the Middle East," he continued. "We'll have a conversation with the prime minister."
Responding on Wednesday to the White House refusing to comments, Erekat told AFP, "We used to hear condemnations, we used to hear American positions saying '(Israel) should stop settlement activities, it's an obstacle to peace.'"
"Not commenting, does that mean that President Trump is encouraging... settlement activities? We need an answer from the American administration," he added.
Life has sure changed for the 'Palestinians,' hasn't it? If they don't get to the table and negotiate (for real) soon without preconditions, there's not likely to be much left to negotiate about. This whiny series of diagrams regarding future Israeli building plans in Jerusalem appeared in Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily (HaAretz). If all of these plans go through, Jerusalem will thankfully be surrounded with Jewish children.

All of this follows on the heels of yesterday's news that the first act of the Trump-Tillerson State Department was to place a hold on the $221 million parting gift that former President Hussein Obama attempted to give the 'Palestinians' and that one of President Trump's first executive orders would suspend aid to the United Nations or any of its agencies if they recognize a 'Palestinian state.'

Much of this is, of course, a reversal of Obama administration policy implemented during the last administration's first days in office. But if it lasts, the world will be a very different place four or eight years from now.

Messiah's times?

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At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Foggy" means murky, impenetrable, gaseous. "Bottom"? Well, it's always appeared to me that, metaphorically, the quip repeats itself.

In reality, I find it hard to believe that “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate....” Apart from tasks and skillsets, the tone of that statement reeks of the self-inflated and self-serving.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Shtrudel said...

Cemeteries around the world are full of people who thought they were irreplaceable!... All these people that resigned had staffs... Including deputies... By pretending that the knowledge is now gone these "journalists" are just being alarmists!...

Furthermore, the whole argument that experience is required undermines the idea behind limiting the office to 2 terms...

Last but not least, back when I was in the navy we had a saying: "CO's come and go but the crew is eternal"... Much of that was just bravado/hubris but the fact remains that unelected top "civil servants" most certainly can influence the administration's policies in a major way...

There were 2 British sitcoms that exemplified this: "Yes Minister" and "Yes Prime Minister"... Change isn't something to be feared even if it theoretically can be a change for the worse...

At 1:24 AM, Blogger Smijj said...

Yes minister is one of the best comedy's I've seen and is still incredibly accurate. It was mandatory viewing for Margret thatcher's cabinet.

The civil 'servants' try to carry out their agendas regardless of who's in power. This is what I think happened with the resolution vote from a U.K. stand point. When it came to Paris, Tre had it better in hand and sent low ranked lackies who'd do as told and not sign, and same again invetoing the adoption of the resolution by the EU (bet the Europeans loved that after Brexit).

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Actually Carl, the State Department functionaries didn't 'resign.'

What happened is that like all appointees, they submitted undated letters of resignation.T^his is standard policy. Trump FIRED them.

The media is saying they quit in an attempt to embarrass Trump.


I have this from other sources as well.

See Carl? I told you The Donald would be good for Eretz Yisrael.


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