Foreign Affairs

Corker Praises Trump’s Unpredictability

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said President Trump’s unpredictability “is paying dividends for the United States abroad as his administration tries to reshape the nation’s role in the world,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Corker: “The president and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. On the other hand, I’ve seen where that unpredictability has been helpful in negotiations.”

He added: “He’s has done an incredible job of rallying the animal spirits in our country, there’s no question.”

Trump Finally Makes It to Davos

New York Times: “By any measure, he made a lot of money, the kid from Queens, maybe not as much as he boasted, but a fortune. And yet never accepted, never respected, he remained on the outside pressing his nose against the window of the club of elites he both revered and resented.”

“So when President Trump arrives in this snowy, mountaintop resort where financial titans mingle with heads of state in an annual saturnalia of capitalism, it may feel like a moment of vindication. Never invited when he was merely a businessman, Mr. Trump will arrive on Thursday as leader of the world’s last superpower, commanding attention if not admiration. Whatever else, he cannot be ignored now.”

Tillerson Hangs On – For Now

Politico: “Diplomatic insiders say Tillerson’s staying power may due be to his stubborn personality — along with the sense of pride that comes from being a former corporate CEO. That he hasn’t been fired could also reflect the political reality for Trump that losing his secretary of state so quickly would be an embarrassment — and that replacing Tillerson would be an unwanted headache.”

“Anything is possible in a Trump administration that has seen numerous high-level departures, of course. And critics warn that a shadow hangs over Tillerson that deepens confusion overseas about U.S. foreign policy. Foreign diplomats see Tillerson as a weak figure because his views are often out of sync with Trump’s. He’s also alienated many of the diplomats who work for him and are worried about his ambitious plan to downsize and restructure the State Department.”

Trump Will Invite Macron for State Visit

“President Trump is expected to invite French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington for an official state visit later this year, the first of his presidency,” CNN reports.

“While a date for the visit has not yet been officially set and the White House has not made an announcement, sources say that could come as soon as this week, while Trump attends the World Economic Forum in Davos.”

Trust In U.S. Plummets

The Edelman Trust Barometer found trust in U.S. institutions crashed last year, “posting the steepest, most dramatic general population decline the Trust Barometer has ever measured.”

“Among the informed public, the trust crash is even steeper, with trust declining 23 points, dropping the U.S. from sixth to last place out of the 28 countries surveyed. The informed public trust crash is universal across age, region and gender. As a result, the gap in trust between the informed public and the mass population has been all but eliminated.”

Mike Allen interviewed CEO Richard Edelman: “It’s the first time we’ve seen such a trust drop delinked from either a major event, or economic chaos.”

Trump Says Russia Helping North Korea Skirt Sanctions

President Trump said that Russia is helping North Korea get supplies in violation of international sanctions and that Pyongyang is getting “closer every day” to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States, Reuters reports.

Said Trump: “Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea. What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”

Morale Disintegrates at State Department

McClatchy: “News of John Feeley’s resignation’s Friday sent shock waves through the State Department where the ambassador of Panama was seen as a rising star and a potential future assistant secretary — and more than a dozen State staffers said it caused them to question their own commitment to an administration they feel is undercutting the department’s work and U.S. influence in the world.”

“U.S. officials said dozens of email messages were flying around the State Department about Feeley’s decision to leave. … 60 percent of the State Departments’ top-ranking career diplomats have left.”

Ambassador to Panama Quits Over Trump

U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve President Trump, the Telegraph reports.

Said Feeley: “As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”

Trump Cancels London Trip

President Trump said he has “called off a planned ceremonial visit to Britain because he didn’t want to be associated with what he called a bad real estate deal in which the U.S. Embassy is being relocated from central London to ‘an off location,'” the Washington Post reports.

In a tweet, Trump “implicitly rejected reports that the trip — never announced but widely assumed to be in February — was being scrapped over concerns that the U.S. leader would be met with widespread protests.”

Said Trump: “Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon — NO.”

Trump Signals Openness to North Korea Diplomacy

President Trump “suggested he has developed a positive relationship with North Korea’s leader despite their mutual public insults, signaling a possible new openness to diplomacy after months of escalating tensions over the rogue state’s nuclear program,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Trump: “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un. I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”

Quote of the Day

“I think that Mr. Kim Jong-un has obviously won this round. He has completed his strategic task: he has a nuclear weapon, he has missiles of global reach, up to 13,000 km, which can reach almost any point of the globe.”

— Russian president Vladimir Putin, quoted by Reuters, noting that Kim Jong-un was a “shrewd and mature politician.”

Canada Expects Trump to Pull Out of NAFTA

Canada is increasingly convinced that President Trump will soon announce that the United States intends to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Reuters reports.

“The sources said they expected Trump would make his move at about the same time that negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet in late January for the sixth and penultimate round of talks to modernize the treaty.”