Foreign Relations of the United States, 2018, Volume XXXXIX, Part ūüćĆ: The Pompeo Cheese Incident

 

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Lonesome Rex to Make Inaugural Trip to Asia Without His Traveling Press?

Posted: 2:37 am ET
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Secretary Tillerson knew when he took this job that he would be the face and the voice of America to the world. That includes talking to the press, and more importantly answering questions from the press corps. We get that he’s new at this but he better get it together fast; he’s now one of our most prominent public servants, and he cannot continue to evade the press and avoid answering questions without running afoul of¬†one of his three core principles.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell¬†¬†has now been escorted twice out of¬†a State Department presser.¬†Reporters were also previously escorted out during the¬†Lavrov-Tillerson meeting in Germany. We betcha when¬†Secretary Tillerson starts talking to the press, reporters would¬†not have to shout their questions during every 30-second photo-op. And now, we’re hearing that Secretary Tillerson is making his inaugural trip to Asia next week. He will be traveling with the new Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the EAP Bureau¬†Susan Thornton who assumed post after¬†Danny Russel’s recent departure. ¬†According to the State Department, Secretary Tillerson will arrive in Tokyo on March 15, continue on to Seoul on March 17, and travel to Beijing on March 18 — ¬†apparently without his traveling press.

Here is the official word on this according to the acting @StateDept spox, Mark Toner:

[W]ith respect to the trip to Asia, we‚Äôre still working out the logistics, so I really can‚Äôt say specifically or speak definitively, I guess, as to whether we will be able to accommodate any press on the Secretary‚Äôs plane. I think we‚Äôre all aware that it is a smaller plane for this particular trip. There will, as you know, going to ‚Äď there will be some U.S. media who will be traveling to the destinations, each destination, and of course, we will do our utmost to support them at those destinations and provide whatever access we can. ¬†And I think going forward, the State Department is doing everything it can to ‚Äď and will do everything it can to accommodate a contingent of traveling media on board the Secretary‚Äôs plane.

Wait, Secretary Tillerson’s minders did not purposely select a smaller plane, did they? ¬†The smaller plane excuse would only really work¬†had¬†Secretary Tillerson traveled with the¬†full press during his trips to Mexico and Germany, then say, hey, can’t this time because we’re forced to use a¬†smaller plane. But in Mexico, Secretary¬†Tillerson reportedly only traveled with press pools,¬†took a small plane and had one writer and one photographer. So this is starting to look like this could be the new normal. ¬†If he can get away with not taking his traveling press this time, are we looking at¬†our top¬†diplomat ditching the press for good in the future? ¬†This is, of course,¬†worrisome coz how are we going to Make America Great Again if we can’t even provide¬†a good size plane for our chief diplomat¬†and his traveling press?

Folks, this doesn’t look good. You need to make this right. And¬†hey,¬†about the milkbox, does he have a favorite color?

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Advice to the Next Secretary of State: Stay Home #Tillerson

Posted: 1:13 am ET
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Back in 2013, when Secretary Kerry was on his first trip overseas,¬†D.B. Des Roches,¬†an associate professor at the Near East South Asia Institute for Strategic Studies published a commentary about Secretary¬†Kerry‚Äôs trip and the current ‚Äėsuccess‚Äô metric.

Most recent secretaries have considered travel to be the measure of their terms. When¬†Hillary Clinton¬†returned to work from hospitalization, her staff gave her a football jersey with ‚Äú112‚ÄĚ on it ‚Äď reflecting the number of countries she had visited. Republicans retorted that¬†Condoleezza Rice¬†still held the record for most miles logged.
[….]
This focus on secretary of state travel as a measure of dedication, efficiency and competence is dysfunctional. We should decide, as Mr. Kerry’s first trip (to Europe and the Middle East) gets underway, to abandon this harmful metric and evaluate diplomacy in a way that acknowledges its complexity.

Read more: Secretary of State Scorecard: Work Done Not Miles Flown, Please.

The writer made some excellent points, of course, and everybody paid attention.

Secretary Kerry has now traveled to 91 countries, logging in 1,395,606 miles, 588 travel days and 2,995.94 hours of total flight time as of this writing. It’s only a matter of time before somebody will have¬†a compare/contrast infographic of the secretaries of state’s travel records from Kissinger to Kerry.

Recently,¬†Gerald M. Fierstein — who was President Obama’s Ambassador to Yemen from 2010 to 2013 and who worked under Secretary¬†Kerry until his retirement in 2016 — penned a similar piece urging the next secretary of state to well, “stay home.” Ambassador Fierstein also points to a most consequential cost¬†when the secretary of state is often on the road. ¬†Excerpt via Reuters:

As President Barack Obama’s tenure draws to a close, Washington is turning its attention to one of its silliest traditions: toting up the travel statistics of the outgoing secretary of state, as if miles traveled correlated to diplomatic achievement.

In his four years as secretary of state, John Kerry has thus far (he still has six weeks left) traveled over 1.3 million miles and spent 564 days ‚Äď nearly one-third of his time as Secretary ‚Äď on the road.¬† Although this easily surpasses Hillary Clinton‚Äôs 956,733 miles and 401 days, Kerry will not be able to match Mrs. Clinton‚Äôs record of 112 countries visited.¬† Alas, Mr. Kerry will only make it to 90 countries during his tenure.
[…]
If this were simply a matter of the secretary undertaking quixotic missions with little to show for them, it would probably not be an issue worthy of much attention.  But there are costs to U.S. foreign policy interests that are imposed by the secretary’s frequent absences from Washington.

When the secretary is on the road, he is not at the table when the president makes decisions that directly affect foreign policy.  Equally, since other senior diplomats are frequently on the road, the State Department often does not have an equal voice with the other Cabinet departments in the National Security Council meetings. The net result is an imbalance between diplomatic options and military or intelligence community preferences.

Read in full below:

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@JohnKerry Traveling Party Watches Adélie Penguin Mind Its Own Business in Antarctica

Posted: 3:04 am ET
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The¬†Ad√©lie penguin¬†(Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of¬†penguin¬†common along the entire¬†Antarctic¬†coast, their only residence.¬†They are named after¬†Ad√©lie Land, in turn named for¬†Ad√®le Dumont D’Urville, the wife of French explorer¬†Jules Dumont d’Urville¬†who discovered these penguins in 1840. via

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his traveling party look at an Adélie penguin after it approached them in Antarctica on November 11, 2016, as the Secretary conducted a helicopter tour of U.S. research facilities around Ross Island and the Ross Sea, and visited the McMurdo Station in an effort to learn about the effects of climate change on the Continent. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his traveling party look at an Adélie penguin after it approached them in Antarctica on November 11, 2016, as the Secretary conducted a helicopter tour of U.S. research facilities around Ross Island and the Ross Sea, and visited the McMurdo Station in an effort to learn about the effects of climate change on the Continent. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

An Adélie penguin waddles toward U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his traveling party in Antarctica on November 11, 2016, as the Secretary conducted a helicopter tour of U.S. research facilities around Ross Island and the Ross Sea, and visited the McMurdo Station in an effort to learn about the effects of climate change on the Continent. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

An Adélie penguin waddles toward U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his traveling party in Antarctica on November 11, 2016, as the Secretary conducted a helicopter tour of U.S. research facilities around Ross Island and the Ross Sea, and visited the McMurdo Station in an effort to learn about the effects of climate change on the Continent. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

 

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Kerry Examines the Sultan’s Parade Horses in Sokoto, Nigeria

Posted: 3:44 am ET
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Secretary Kerry Examines Some of the Sultan's Parade Horses in Sokoto U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, examines some of the Sultan's parade horses after delivering a speech about countering violent extremism and promoting good governance following a meeting with government officials and religious leaders at the Sultan’s Palace in Sokoto, Nigeria, on August 23, 2016. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary Kerry Examines Some of the Sultan’s Parade Horses in Sokoto
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Sultan Muhammadu Sa‚Äôad Abubakar, examines some of the Sultan’s parade horses after delivering a speech about countering violent extremism and promoting good governance following a meeting with government officials and religious leaders at the Sultan‚Äôs Palace in Sokoto, Nigeria, on August 23, 2016. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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Secretary Kerry Visits Ny-Alesund, Norway — Northernmost Civilian Settlement in the World

Posted: 1:34 am ET
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Secretary Kerry is traveling to the Dominican Republic, Norway, Denmark & Greenland from June 13-17, 2016. On July 16, he¬†was on the¬†research vessel “Teisten,” with¬†Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, on the Kongsfjorden in Ny-Alesund, Norway, the northernmost civilian settlement in the world.

[O]ne of the greatest challenges of our times besides the fight against extremism is to deal with the enormous battle of climate change. That‚Äôs why I‚Äôm going to Greenland tomorrow, because if we were to lose the ice sheet of Greenland, we would see a sea level rise of some 22 feet over the course of this century. Everybody knows that what is happening now is a ‚Äď is a huge transformation in weather patterns, in the melt of glaciers ‚Äď which I saw in Svalbard today, and I will see again tomorrow ‚Äď and we have to make smarter decisions about the kind of energy that we‚Äôre going to provide ourselves with. (Via)

 

The research vessel "Teisten," carrying U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, floats on the Kongsfjorden in Ny-Alesund, Norway, the northernmost civilian settlement in the world, as the two leaders inspect the Blomstrand Glacier to see the effects of global warming on the Arctic environment on June 16, 2016. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

The research vessel “Teisten,” carrying U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, floats on the Kongsfjorden in Ny-Alesund, Norway, the northernmost civilian settlement in the world, as the two leaders inspect the Blomstrand Glacier to see the effects of global warming on the Arctic environment on June 16, 2016. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

A glacier appears outside the window of a transport plane on June 16, 2016, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies from the Svalbard Airport in Svalbard, Norway, to an Arctic research station in Ny-Alesund, Norway, and tour the nearby Blomstrand Glacier. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

A glacier appears outside the window of a transport plane on June 16, 2016, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flies from the Svalbard Airport in Svalbard, Norway, to an Arctic research station in Ny-Alesund, Norway, and tour the nearby Blomstrand Glacier. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Two reindeer graze against a glacial backdrop on June 16, 2016, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende visit an Arctic research station in Ny-Alesund, Norway, the northernmost civilian settlement in the world, and before tour the nearby Blomstrand Glacier. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Two reindeer graze against a glacial backdrop on June 16, 2016, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende visit an Arctic research station in Ny-Alesund, Norway, the northernmost civilian settlement in the world, and before tour the nearby Blomstrand Glacier. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

 

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Secretary Kerry’s Travels: A Trip Every Month Since 2013; 165,808 Miles So Far in 2016

Posted: 1:16 am ET
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The State Department says that the Secretary of State” travels to¬†all corners of the world to do¬†his job. His duties as Secretary include acting as the President’s representative at all international forums, negotiating treaties and other international agreements, and conducting everyday, face-to-face diplomacy.” ¬†The latest update from state.gov says that Secretary Kerry has now visited 81 countries, has racked up 1,135,417¬†miles, spent¬†495 travel days and has a total flight time of¬†¬†2,465.53 hours¬†/102.7¬†days. ¬†It looks like JK is sticking true to form of¬†traveling every month of the year for the last three¬†years since he became SecState in 2013.

From June 2-8, Secretary Kerry is¬†traveling to Paris, France; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Beijing, China. He was in Mongolia on June 5 where he meet with senior government officials, hosted a town hall with young leaders and attended a traditional Mongolian cultural festival,¬†a mini-Naadam according to the US Embassy Mongolia. It is “the three games of men” which includes¬†¬†Mongolian wrestling,¬†horse racing, and¬†archery, ¬†He tried his hand at archery but skipped the other two.

 

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Obama in Vietnam: Arms Embargo, Human Rights, Peace Corps, and Anthony Bourdain

Posted: 4:53 pm ET
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Meanwhile, Secretary Kerry made an unannounced visit in downtown Hanoi .

 

Secretary Kerry Makes Historic Visit to #Hiroshima Memorial 70 Years After A-Bomb

Posted: 9:36 pm PT
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Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Manama, Bahrain, Baghdad, Iraq, Kabul, Afghanistan and Hiroshima, Japan from April 6-10, 2016. Below is a photo taken during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan.  Secretary Kerry is the first secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum & Park. More photos here.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Leads Secretary Kerry on a Walking Tour of the walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida leads U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and other officials on April 10, 2016, during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan, following the first round of discussions in the G7 Ministerial Meetings. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Leads Secretary Kerry on a Walking Tour of the walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida leads U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and other officials on April 10, 2016, during a walking tour of the Itsukishima Shrine off Hiroshima, Japan, following the first round of discussions in the G7 Ministerial Meetings. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

We’d like to note that¬†a mid-level Foreign Service officer Joel Ehrendreich, then an FS-1 political officer in Singapore submitted on five consecutive years a dissent to the policy of non-attendance at¬†the annual ceremony in Hiroshima. ¬†While serving in Tokyo in 2005 he was asked on behalf of the embassy to decline an invitation from the mayor of Hiroshima to attend the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony.¬† He recommended changing the policy and accepting the invitation.¬† It took five years, with Mr.¬†Ehrendreich resubmitting his dissent each year, to change this policy. ¬†In 2010 Ambassador John V. Roos attended the ceremony, a gesture that helped strengthen bilateral relations. ¬†In 2o11, Mr.¬†Ehrendreich was awarded the¬†William R. Rivkin Award¬†for constructive dissent by a mid-level¬†officer.

 

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Riding with HRC and what’s this about tolerable ambos?

Posted: 7:08 pm EDT
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Uh-oh! What’s this about”tolerable” ambassadors? HRC was Secretary of State from¬†January 21, 2009¬†‚Äď February 1, 2013. ¬†The email below was sent early morning on a Sunday, July 15, 2012. ¬†According to history.state.gov, HRC was on travel from¬†July 14-‚Äč16, 2012 in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt where she met with President Mohammed Morsi, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, and Christian leaders. She also dedicated the Consulate General at Alexandria.

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