Foreign Affairs

The Evisceration of American Diplomacy

Ronan Farrow: “After Tillerson’s brief and chaotic ride as America’s top diplomat, Pompeo will face a Department with an uncertain future, in which the evisceration of American diplomacy well under way, if not complete. Should he be confirmed, he will face decisions with profound implications, potentially for generations of American foreign policy.”

Said former Secretary of State John Kerry: “In a couple years, if we get a Presidency of either party that values diplomacy, you can fix a budget, you can invest again in the State Department. But it takes years to undo what’s happening, because it takes years to build up expertise and capacity.”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell offered a similarly blunt assessment saying the Trump Administration has been “ripping the guts out of the organization.”

A must-read from Farrow: War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence.

Trump ‘Great Man’ Play on North Korea

Jonathan Swan: “He came into office thinking he could be the historic deal maker to bring peace to the Middle East. He’s stopped talking about that. There’s very little point. The peace deal looks dead and cremated. But Trump wants to sign his name even larger into the history books, and he views North Korea as his moment.”

“Sources close to him say he genuinely believes he — and he alone — can overcome the seemingly intractable disaster on the Korean Peninsula.”

Said a source who has discussed North Korea with Trump: “He thinks, ‘Just get me in the room with the guy and I’ll figure it out.'”

Top Senate Democrat Will Vote ‘No’ on Pompeo

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he will oppose President Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, “making it unlikely he will have the committee’s backing before the full Senate votes,” Reuters reports.

“Pompeo, currently director of the Central Intelligence Agency, can still be confirmed by the full Senate without the committee’s support. However, he would be the first secretary of state nominee, at least since such votes were made public in 1925, not to win the panel’s backing.”

Related for members: Why the Pompeo Secret Mission Leaked

Pompeo Secretly Met with Kim Jong Un

CIA Director Mike Pompeo “made a top-secret visit to North Korea over Easter weekend as an envoy for President Trump to meet with that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un,” the Washington Post reports.

“The extraordinary meeting between one of Trump’s most trusted emissaries and the authoritarian head of a rogue state was part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because of the highly classified nature of the talks.”

White House Says Haley Was ‘Confused’ About Sanctions

The White House put further daylight between President Trump and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley as chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said she had gotten “ahead of the curve” in announcing new sanctions against Russia, the New York Times reports.

Said Kudlow: “She got ahead of the curve. She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Bloomberg reports that Haley fired back at the criticism: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Trump Says Kim Summit Could Happen ‘Soon’ or Never

President Trump “set wildly opposite expectations in one sentence for his possible summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including that it could never happen,” Roll Call reports.

He first said his one-on-one meeting with Kim could happen “very soon,” before saying he expects negotiations will allow an “early June” summit to take place. But the president then moved up the possible date to “before that” before backpedaling.

Said Trump: “It’s possible things won’t go well and we won’t have the meetings and we’ll just continue to go on this very strong path we have taken.”

GOP Will Push Forward on Pompeo Nomination

“Senate Republican leaders are pressing ahead with plans for a floor vote on CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination as secretary of state as soon as next week, despite the prospect of his getting an unfavorable recommendation in committee,” Politico reports.

“After a confirmation hearing marked by contentious exchanges with Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) — one of 15 members of the minority who backed Pompeo to lead the CIA — became the fifth Democrat on the panel to announce he would vote no. Coupled with opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), unified resistance to Pompeo from the committee’s 10 Democrats would deal him an unfavorable recommendation, but top Republicans are still vowing to ensure his confirmation.”

Trump Halts New Russian Sanctions, Reversing Haley

President Trump “put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as ‘international economic raiding,'” the Washington Post reports.

“The Trump team decided to publicly characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement.”

Trump Keeps Battling His Aides on Russia

The Washington Post has an incredible anecdote that captures President Trump’s reluctance to punish Russian president Vladimir Putin, noting that the president “erupted” after learning the United States had ousted 60 Russians in response to the poisoning of a former spy, while France and Germany each expelled only five diplomats.

“The president, who seemed to believe that other individual countries would largely equal the United States, was furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia. His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. number.”

Screamed Trump: “I don’t care about the total!”

Macron Says He Changed Trump’s Mind on Syria

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he “convinced” President Trump to stay in Syria before the United States, United Kingdom and France launched strikes against targets at three sites Friday night, CNN reports.

Said Macron: “Ten days ago, President Trump said the USA’s will is to disengage from Syria. We convinced him that it was necessary to stay.”

U.S. Declares Syria Strikes a Success

“Defense Department officials said on Saturday that American-led strikes against Syria had taken out the ‘heart’ of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program, but acknowledged that the Syrian government most likely retained some ability to again attack its own people with chemical agents,” the New York Times reports.

“Warplanes and ships from the United States, Britain and France launched more than 100 missiles at three chemical weapons storage and research facilities near Damascus and Homs, the officials told reporters, in an operation that President Trump and Pentagon leaders hailed as a success.”

President Trump tweeted: “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”