On July 27, Secretary Pompeo held a ceremony for Ambassador Mull. The secretary of state’s schedule only indicated that he was hosting the flag ceremony for Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, at the Department of State at 10:30 a.m. and that the event was “closed press coverage”.
After 36 years in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Mull concluded his diplomatic career this past week with what appears to be a nice official send off from the secretary of state. This is a change from the most recent redesigned practice of pushing senior career diplomats out the airlock of Starship Foggy Bottom.
Secretary Michael R. Pompeo poses with Ambassador Stephen D. Mull and his wife during the flag ceremony, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 2018. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Warm thanks and deep respect to @SecPompeo for his extraordinary leadership of @StateDept and for giving me the opportunity to serve our great nation. I will miss the Foreign Service, but know it is in great hands with so many thousands of talented colleagues! #KeepGoinghttps://t.co/5agZ7VQwqR
So grateful to @JohnKerry for the extraordinary opportunity to serve America on his team in protecting and advancing U.S. interests across the globe. It was the honor of a lifetime to serve! https://t.co/HQ0NiJJnjF
Ambasador @SteveMullUSA kończy swoją służbę w Departamencie Stanu. Odegrał ogromną rolę w budowaniu sojuszniczych relacji polsko-amerykańskich, szczególnie w obliczu wojny na Ukrainie. Miałem zaszczyt z nim ramię w ramię współpracować. Steve, Przyjacielu, powodzenia w nowej roli! https://t.co/mEZVEK5qXQ
Thank you Ambassador @SteveMullUSA for your contribution to strenghtening 🇵🇱🇺🇸 relations and for being a true friend of #Poland. We wish you success in your future endeavors! Gratulujemy i życzymy wszystkiego najlepszego! https://t.co/sCYJexhloI
See July 19 update below via VOA with Secretary Pompeo saying “It’s not going to happen,” then added that “”President Trump was very clear – we’re not gonna force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians.”
BREAKING: Senate unanimously PASSES (98-0) a resolution expressing opposition to allowing Russia to interview US diplomats and agents, a proposal offered by Putin on Monday and rejected just this afternoon by the White House.
The White House cannot let another day pass without unequivocally rejecting Russia’s absurd request to interrogate @McFaul and other officials. Merely entertaining this idea betrays our diplomats, undermines our interests, and hands Putin yet another propaganda victory.
The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn't be under consideration, period. Full stop. Not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous. https://t.co/5smobXDnkc
For the third consecutive day, another walk back from the White House@PressSec now says @realDonaldTrump disagrees with Putin's proposal to have Russians interview the 12 indicted Russians. The president had called it "an incredible offer" Here's the statement just released pic.twitter.com/ifCSoB65a4
The notion that this proposal was made in “sincerity” by President Putin, and that President Trump disagreed with it is actually laughable. Were that true, the Press Secretary could have said immediately that the president pushed back hard against that proposal. This White House must really think we’re all dumb as rocks.
This was a no brainer. Ambassador McFaul, and the other officials that Russia wanted to question may not have been employees of this president, but they were employees and representatives of the United States of America, not of the Democratic Party (despite what this president might think or believe). The fact that this was even offered as a proposal tells us just what Putin think of this President. And the fact this President Trump did not push back and even appeared to consider it is horrifying.
So instead, the Press Secretary announced from the podium that the president “would work with his team” — excuse me, to do what exactly? And now the Press Secretary is saying that while President Trump disagreed with Putin’s proposal, “hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.” That proposal was supposedly in exchange for the questioning of USG individuals. And now all they have left is “hoping” that Putin will go ahead with the proposal anyway?
Holy caramba! No wonder Putin is laughing his head off; he’s playing chess against our White House playing find the shortest toothpick.
“If the U.S. would make a former diplomat avail for questioning by a foreign government without evidence of wrongdoing, then that would be quite horrifying” —former ambassador to Afghanistan and current president of the American Academy of Diplomacy https://t.co/IUW2Vvi7Oe
For those keeping score at home, this means Putin asked the President to let him get his hands on a former US ambassador to Russia, @McFaul, and man who successfully lobbied for one of the primary sanctions against Russia. And the WH can’t say how POTUS responded. Remarkable. https://t.co/Ly3vPuP2vS
I am not an "associate" of Bill Browder. I am the former US ambassador to Russia. Putin is seeking to arrest a former Ambassador. Please understand how outrageous this act is, discussed no less between our two presidents https://t.co/A1pPQZr9dJ
The one-on-one summit meeting between President Trump and Russian President Putin finally happened today in Helsinki with no American officials in attendance as observers or notetakers, only interpreters. The interpreter for the USG side is Marina Gross.
After a whole morning trapped in the vomitorium, we finally surfaced for air and some coffee. That joint press conference frankly was more bonkers than the SBC show we watched last night. After picking up our jaw from the floor, we saw that the Department of Justice this morning also unsealed a criminal complaint in the District of Columbia charging Maria Butina, a Russian national residing in Washington, D.C. with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States.
I’m still sick to my stomach. We’ll remember this Helsinki moment in the future.
Trump and Putin entered their one-on-one meeting two hours ago. It was scheduled to last 1.5 hours but is still ongoing,a Finnish official says. There are no other advisers or note-takers in the room, other than two interpreters. pic.twitter.com/ur9YIqKg6A
Reporter to @POTUS: Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you sir is, who do you believe? https://t.co/ayZoKGvWxkpic.twitter.com/b5ad79963g
"I think it's a good start. A very, very good start for everybody," said Pres Trump of his one-on-one with Pres Putin. US delegation includes @SecPompeo, WH Chief of Staff John Kelly, US Amb to Russia Jon Huntsman, NSC Dir of Russian Affairs Fiona Hill, interpretor Marina Gross. pic.twitter.com/oFqhEaxIjM
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns doesn't mince his words on the Trump/Putin summit: "I think that press conference was the single most embarrassing performance by an American president on the world stage that I've ever seen." https://t.co/tQzciloNCn
"Never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people," writes @JamesFallows: https://t.co/3yVghW9q9K
Brushback pitch from DNI Dan Coats saying IC had “been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election & their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy & we will continue to provide unvarnished & objective intel in support of our national sec.” pic.twitter.com/F5JaLnlpD6
As part of the "low expectations" that Pres Trump says he has for the Putin summit, US officials are admonishing reporters not to call it a "summit." US Amb to Russia Jon Huntsman told @MeetThePress "it isn't a summit. It's a meeting."
Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia…
VIDEO: More than 2,000 people protest in Helsinki denouncing attacks on human rights, press freedom and dissent as the city prepares to host an historic US-Russia summit where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are to meet pic.twitter.com/3TpqCIOKjO
Pres. Trump and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin will meet Monday at Finnish presidential palace in Helsinki that overlooks the Baltic Sea — the same venue where two of their predecessors met in 1990. https://t.co/TqBvEuLSGnpic.twitter.com/D871SFX9ia
Ahead of the Trump-Putin meeting here, Finland’s largest newspaper has put up ads around Helsinki which are less than complimentary about the visiting leaders. The sign in Russian says: “Putin is trying again to bring the media to heel.” pic.twitter.com/Oy89XnP2WJ
President Trump left Washington for the seventh foreign trip of his presidency with stops in Brussels; London; Glasgow (Scotland); and Helsinki. Secretary Pompeo was on a visit to six countries in eight days with Brussels as the last leg of his trip where he joined President Trump in a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The Secretary’s swagger update continues telling his State Department employees that they “put a lot of mileage on the plane in a tight window of time. But our teams on the road, at posts, and at home delivered on the mission no matter where we were or what we were doing.”
He also informed employees that our new ambassadors to the Kingdom of Belgium, Ronald Gidwitz, and the European Union, Gordon Sondland “are off to a great start leading their respective missions” and that both are “working closely with our NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison.”
Apparently USNATO mission is now in the new NATO headquarters and there was a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by the Secretary, Ambassador Hutchison, and Secretary of Defense Mattis. The Secretary told employees that “In many ways, this building symbolizes a new era for the most successful Alliance in history. Our goal is to strengthen NATO by increasing shared contributions and adapting it to better confront both conventional and unconventional threats.”
After President Trump’s confrontation at NATO which left the Alliance according to the NYT “intact but distracted and shaken”, the Secretary of State apparently chaired a meeting of the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, along with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and that he “encouraged greater stabilization assistance to support areas of Syria liberated from ISIS in Coalition-supported operations.”
He ended his report with the following inspiring words: “You showed your swagger on every leg of this trip. Keep working hard, keep delivering on mission, and keep proudly representing the United States of America.”
He forgot to add that you should not forget to keep a brown paper bag handy in case you need to hide from the moon and the sun.
America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.
Trump, in Orwellian spin, brands EU a foe. Our largest trade partner, largest investor in our economy, our ally in climate, human rights+protecting democracy. Most of its members our NATO allies. Trump dividing us from our true friends. https://t.co/w4ZQdlXaBt
And then this — reports that the Pentagon embarked on “damage-control” after President Trump’s departure, and then the Secretary of Defense called that report fiction saying, “That was fascinating. I love reading fiction.”
Hours after Pres. Trump departed NATO HQ Thursday, U.S. military leaders embarked on a full-scale “damage control” operation with calls to their counterparts across Europe to reassure them that America will abide by its defense commitments in the region. https://t.co/8pQOaStgef
The State Department updated its Travel Advisory for Nicaragua on July 6, 2018 to Level 3 urging that U.S. travelers reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest, and limited healthcare availability. The update also includes the announcement that the U.S. government has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel in the country and that while the U.S. Embassy remains open, it can only provide emergency services for U.S. citizens.
According to the Miami Herald, the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Human Rights Commission puts the number of dead since April 18 at 264, while Nicaragua’s Pro-Human Rights Association puts the figure at 309 people and thousands of wounded.
1/6 El gobierno de EEUU sancionó hoy, bajo la ley Global Magnitsky a 3 personas de Nicaragua que han estado involucradas en graves abusos contra los DDHH o actos de corrupción. https://t.co/cuVEK7Mo1y
Confirming the US government requested the #Nicaragua police return, or pay for, donated vehicles which violated the terms of agreement when used to violently suppress the voice of Nicaraguans peacefully protesting and the police complied. https://t.co/n92ZZhTgNWhttps://t.co/5ERZXPLhzS
We condemn ongoing #Nicaragua gov’t para-police attacks vs UNAN students in Managua, the residents of Masaya, & detention of campesino leader Medardo Mairena. This violence to intimidate and repress the people must cease immediately.
Horrific scene in Nicaragua, as government forces fired at students, priests, journalists and others trapped inside a church. WaPo’s @partlowj was inside, and is now out and safe. See Josh’s Twitter feed for his reports during the mayhem. https://t.co/0kGT4otyQM
But even before Trump’s belligerent foreign policy positions, America had been gradually losing its dominant role in world affairs.
A power shift among the nations of the world began at the end of the Cold War and has been accelerating this century.
It is not as simple as saying “America is in decline,” since America remains a powerful country. But American global power has been eroding for some time, as I argue in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2018” volume. The power of other countries has grown, giving them both the ability and the desire to effect global affairs independently of U.S. desires.
I am a foreign policy scholar and practitioner who has studied U.S. foreign policy through many administrations. I believe this global trend spells the end of the “exceptional nation” Americans imagined they were since the nation was founded and the end of the American era of global domination that began 70 years ago. We are no longer the “indispensable” nation celebrated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the end of the last century.
American diplomacy has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security and arms control. Americans could and did claim to be at the center of a “rules-based international order.”
Those days are gone.
Not only do China and Russia contest America’s global role, a growing number of other countries are asserting an independent and increasingly influential role in regional economic and security developments.
Neither American political party has come to grips with this sea change. Until they do, U.S. global actions are likely to be less effective, even counterproductive.
Who’s on top?
The power shifts are increasingly visible. In the Middle East, the U.S. hoped for decades to isolate Iran as a pariah and weaken the regime until it fell.
Today, that goal is unimaginable, though national security adviser John Bolton continues to imagine it.
Turkey, a rising regional power, acts increasingly independent of the preferences of the U.S., its NATO ally, playing its own hand in the regional power game.
The U.S. helped unleash these trends with the strategically fatal invasion of Iraq in 2003 – fatal, because it permanently removed a regional leader who balanced the power of Iran. The failure to create a stable Iraq stimulated regional religious and political conflicts and rendered ineffective subsequent U.S. efforts to influence current trends in the region, as the continually ineffective policies in Syria show.
The U.S. cannot slow Chinese economic growth nor contain its power. China is changing the rules, whether the U.S. likes it or not.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan moves toward a renewed nationalism and has removed restrictions on its defense spending and the deployment of its military in the face of growing Chinese power.
North Korea behaves more and more like a regional power, winning a direct meeting with the U.S. president while making only a general commitment to denuclearize. The prospect of a unified Korea would bring into being another major regional power center in the Northern Pacific.
President Vladimir Putin asserts Russia’s interests and role in the world, like any other great power. Russia is consciously and actively rebalancing the power of the United States, with some success.
Military power, the American global trump card, is not as useful a tool as it once was.
While the U.S. continues to have the world’s only global military capability, able to deploy anywhere, it is no longer evident that this capability effectively sustains U.S. leadership. Clear military victories are few – the Gulf War in 1991 being an exception. The endless U.S. deployment in Afghanistan carries the whiff of Vietnam in its inability to resolve that country’s civil war.
Meanwhile, the militaries of other countries, acting independently of the U.S., are proving effective, as both Turkish and Iranian operations in Syria suggest.
Abroad at home
The transition to this new era is proving difficult for American policy-makers.
The Trump “America First” foreign policy is based on the view that the U.S. needs to defend its interests by acting alone, eschewing or withdrawing from multilateral arrangements for trade, economics, diplomacy or security.
Liberals and many Democrats criticize Trump for alienating traditional allies like Canada, France and Germany while befriending dictators. Policy-makers once critical of confrontational policies now condemn Trump for failing to confront Russia and China.
A different president in Washington, D.C., will not restore the “rules-based” international order. The underlying changes in global power relations have already undermined that order.
A neo-conservative foreign policy, featuring unilateral American military intervention, as favored by John Bolton, will only accelerate the global shift. Liberal internationalists like Hillary Clinton would fail as well, because the rest of the world rejects the assumption that the U.S. is “indispensable” and “exceptional.” Barack Obama appeared to recognize the changing reality, but continued to argue that only the U.S. could lead the international system.
America will need to learn new rules and play differently in the new balance-of-power world, where others have assets and policies the U.S. does not and cannot control.
On June 7, the community editor of Malnutrition Deeply’s Amruta Byatnal reported about the attempt of the United Staes Government to derail a nonbinding resolution on breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
Last week, I wrote about the politics of policy-making at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. The United States attempted to derail a resolution on breastfeeding from being passed, thus favoring private sector interests over health: https://t.co/pVXjINdodN#breastfeeding#WHA71
What should have been a non-controversial discussion on breastfeeding turned rancorous at the recent World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.Advocates at the event have accused the U.S. delegation of trying to stop a resolution on infant and young child feeding from being introduced. The U.S. representatives later pushed for diluted text that removes references to regulating aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes.
The first draft was originally supported by Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Nepal, and contained several references to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which outlines what levels of marketing are acceptable while seeking to protect the health of infants and young children.
This opposition made its way to the WHA, where the U.S. delegation allegedly threatened countries with trade retaliation if they introduced the resolution, according to civil society advocates. Ecuador, which had led the drafting of the resolution, actually pulled out from introducing it.
The United States also attempted to stall this passage, advocates say, by suggesting an alternative text that omitted any reference to the WHO code or any of the text relating to specific guidance around inappropriate marketing of infants foods.
Reports say that the U.S. delegation was led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who reportedly declined requests to provide on-the-record comments to news deeply. Remember this is the same guy who told Congress that he could find separated kids with basic keystrokes.
“There is no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located,” said Azar during a Senate hearing Tuesday. “I sat on the ORR portal, with just basic key strokes and within seconds could find any child in our care for any parent available.”
Juliette, I'm young enough to remember when HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified that he could find the children "within seconds." https://t.co/iM2nhIsZAu
On July 8, NYT also reported the threats against Ecuador:
The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.
An anonymous HHS spox (not a blogger) provided a statement to the NYT:
“The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children,” an H.H.S. spokesman said in an email. “We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.” The spokesman asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.
So, it looks like there’s a growing list of cabinet secretaries and others who go on national TV, or speak from the podium to eternal, historical embarrassment … pray tell, who taped them to those lying microphones?