• Is Tillerson Skipping NATO for Russia a Crisis? (No.)

    March 23, 2017

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Trump


    Is Tillerson committing treason skipping a NATO meeting for Russia? A diplomatic crisis? The end of the alliance? A favor to Putin? No. It’s just a scheduling decision.

    Senior government leaders are often called on to be in more than one place at a time. They make choices. Not everyone agrees with those choices. Sometimes deputies go instead. This happens to every country; the more global a nation’s interests, the more it happens. None of this is new.

    Yet a decision to have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attend a meeting between President Trump (Tillerson’s boss) and Chinese President Xi rather than a NATO ministers gathering (i.e., Tillerson’s peers) in early April has been blown up into yet another end-of-the-world scenario. The fact that Tillerson will attend an event in Russia weeks later was somehow thrown into the mix and the resulting cake was pronounced proof that the U.S.-NATO relationship is in tatters.

    It is fully reasonable to debate which event, meeting with Xi or NATO, is the best use of Tillerson. It’s just not a hard debate to resolve.

    “Skipping the NATO meeting and visiting Moscow could risk feeding a perception that Trump may be putting U.S. dealings with big powers first, while leaving waiting those smaller nations that depend on Washington for security,” two former U.S. officials said.

    Bigger stuff over smaller stuff, who could imagine?

    Despite much rhetoric, NATO has been a stable, predictable relationship for the United States over decades. Tillerson, and the U.S., will be represented at the April event by the familiar (he’s worked for State since 1984) and competent Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon. Tillerson may be skipping the event; the United States is not. And FYI, Colin Powell skipped the same meeting once as Secretary of State.

    Meanwhile, Trump is set to attend a NATO summit in Brussels in May. Tillerson met his NATO counterparts at an anti-ISIS conference on March 22. State is proposing other dates for NATO’s foreign ministers to gather. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner stated in the midst of all this “the United States remains 100 percent committed” to the alliance.

    NATO is covered.

    China meanwhile is dead center on action. China will play a significant role in anything to do with North Korea. China and U.S. allies Japan and South Korea face continued friction in the South China Sea, with the U.S. involved as well. China is one of America’s most significant trading partners, and holds considerable U.S. Treasury debt. Weigh all that against sending a signal to NATO about a problem in the alliance that sort of doesn’t even exist outside the self-created media spectacle.

    And the same people criticizing Tillerson for attending the meeting between Trump and Xi have only recently criticized Tillerson for not attending meetings between Trump and other world leaders.

    Problems with Tillerson’s plan to go to Russia weeks after the missed NATO meeting are just conflation. Tillerson will be doing all sorts of things following the NATO meeting and simply throwing Russia into this NATO story is pure sensationalism, a desperate attempt to get the news hook of the moment, Putin, into the headlines and imply more diplomatic naughtiness on the part of Trump.

    Much of the can’t-win-either-way positions taken on Tillerson flow from two interlocking issues.

    The first is the trope that basically anything the Trump administration does is wrong, dangerous, and reckless. Politico comes out with it, saying “Two months and a string of eyebrow-raising decisions later, people in and outside the State Department wonder if there’s any tradition Tillerson thinks is worth keeping.” Suggest negotiations and you’re too soft. Rattle the saber and you’re tempting Armageddon.

    The second is Tillerson’s disdain for the media. The media as a rule is nothing but self-righteous and jealous, ready to wave the flag, wrap themselves in it, then throw themselves writhing to the ground claiming they alone stand between The People (who no longer trust them) and the abyss. Tillerson didn’t take a press pool with him to Asia, and this set of the latest round. Left out of course is that the press could and did travel commercially to Asia longside Tillerson and missed out only on the possibility of some back-of-the-official-plane leaking.

    This will become a self-licking ice cream cone, as 24/7 press criticism of Tillerson makes him even less likely to engage with a press that will seize on his comments to criticize him further.

    It is also deeply amusing to watch the press decry the lack of official State Department briefings that they for years criticized as being content free and little more than propaganda. It reminds of an old joke — Q: How was the food on your vacation? A: Terrible! And such small portions!

     

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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • RICH BAUER said...

      1

      Well, Mr Van Buren, you can forget about those glowing endorsements of your new book! The nerve.

      03/23/17 6:25 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      2

      They are just jealous of you.

      Colbert nailed it: But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know fiction

      03/23/17 6:32 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      3

      Russian hackers,if you are listening, the media would be very grateful if you could find the Tillerson missing climate change emails.

      03/23/17 6:59 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      4

      Princeton researchers discover something you wrote about years before:

      “A decades-long decline in the death rate of middle-aged white Americans has reversed in recent years, according to a surprising new analysis released Monday.”

      Surprising ain’t the word.

      “The cause of the reversal remains unclear. Researchers speculate it might be the result of the bad economy fueling a rise in suicides, plus overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, and alcohol abuse.”

      Really? Tell me more.

      “That could be just a volatile mix that could set off something like this,” says Angus Deaton, a professor of economics at Princeton University who conducted the research with his wife, Anne Case, another Princeton economist.”

      Masters of the obvious.

      Deaton was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on poverty.

      03/23/17 8:01 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      5

      It’s not just the lapdog mainstream media. Have you noticed how mean and sarcastic DIPLOPUNDIT has gotten since Tillerson has arrived? Makes you look positively objective in comparison.

      So how does it feel to be a solid citizen again?

      I don’t know. I am gonna miss being disreputable.

      03/23/17 8:12 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      6

      Obama won Nobel Peace Prize!!!

      03/23/17 8:13 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      7

      Chuck,

      We only talk about US citizens on this website,

      03/23/17 8:48 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      8

      Crazy Horse !

      03/23/17 9:20 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      9

      Not THOSE Americans!

      03/23/17 9:33 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      10

      Who is Rex Tillerson?

      Is Rex the cowardly lyin, heartless tin man or brainless scarecrow in the employ of the lying wizard behind the curtain? He is smart enough not to open his mouth to the media and remove all doubt. Some think Rex is on his yellow goldbrick road, hanging around long enough to get the Russian sanctions lifted, collect his big paycheck and fly over the rainbow before Trump gets soaked in golden showers.

      Trump: I ‘m melting.

      Or is Rex just a flying monkey? His boss has as much humanity as the guy who wrote OZ.

      L. Frank Baum was really a KKK Wizard behind the curtain. As editor of the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer he stated: “The whites, by law of conquest, by civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians…We had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up … and wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from the face of the earth.”

      Baum is like Trump. They are both Lyman.

      Release the KKK Flying Monkeys.

      03/23/17 10:03 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      11

      Israeli arrested for threats to U.S. J.C.C, and others.

      03/23/17 10:05 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      12

      Speaking of flying monkeys, Trump said he wanted 90 days to figure out what the hell is going on with those refugees. Doesn’t appear to be in such a hurry. Maybe he has figured out what the the hell is going on, and his time is up.

      03/23/17 10:11 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      13

      Bauer- time to get your own blog. You need to spit on your own dime not PVBs.

      03/23/17 12:21 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      14

      And your blog is….?

      03/23/17 12:30 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      15

      Old man yells, Get off Peter’s lawn.

      03/23/17 12:32 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      16

      Rich…

      Are you quoting Frank Baum….. Or Frank Burns, from MASH????

      M

      03/23/17 1:44 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      17

      Rich.

      If you want people of Peter’s lawn….

      Buy a Daisy BB gun….
      “keeping kids and cats off your lawn for a 100 years “.

      M

      03/23/17 1:47 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      18

      Silent Rex Tillerson should keep his dumbass mouth shut. He finally says something and it is a waste of the visa officer limited resources. He has ordered a “mandatory social media check” for all applicants who have ever been present in territory controlled by the Islamic State, This doesn’t include Pakistan, the country London terrorist Masood visited. It doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, god forbid Rex wants to piss off the royal camel fuckers. And does Silent Rex really think terrorists are going to use their real identities when they chat in the Death to the Great Satan Facebook page? Hell, people don’t use their real names when they post here.

      03/23/17 2:53 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      19

      Bauer- I respond to PVB’s comments you over respond. Is that too difficult to process?

      03/23/17 3:43 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      20

      Russia has been listening to Iphones since 2008,whoops, sorry,CIA. When did Obama get eected? O was a “Tiger in the tank” for the Co.!

      03/23/17 3:53 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      21

      Is Assange free yet? Where is Snowden? Manning to be free soon. Thank you Wikileaks new release today. Thank you PVB.

      03/23/17 3:55 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      22

      Will the MSM cover Wiki dump, or talking points on Kelley Ann Conway being crazy about spying, or Healthcare bs. And now back to our regular program… Rich, take it away!

      03/23/17 4:24 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      23

      See, JP, Chuck still wants me.

      03/23/17 6:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      24

      Rich.

      News flash…..

      In the United States, it is becoming more and more common for employers to check social media accounts.

      Why should the Fed be any different???

      M

      03/23/17 6:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      25

      Rich.

      Ummm… Smart ass sources have to ask…. Exactly how does that shoe taste???

      ” Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week.

      Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.

      The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

      The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.

      The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.

      Some time will be needed to properly assess the materials, with the likely result being that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on the contents of the documents – and their implications – until next week.

      Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes.

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo is also sympathetic to the effort to determine, with documentary evidence, the extent of any alleged Obama administration spying on the Trump team, sources said.

      At a dramatic Wednesday news conference, Nunes claimed to have seen evidence that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including the president-elect, were subjected to “incidental surveillance” collection that Nunes characterized as legal but troubling.

      “What I’ve read bothers me,” he told reporters, “and I think it should bother the president himself, and his team because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.”

      Schiff blasted Nunes for not coming first to the Intelligence Committee with the information.

      “If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been,” Schiff said in a Wednesday statement. ” ”

      M

      03/23/17 6:42 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      26

      JP and others, tweet me, like me, text me, etc.. and have a nice day. Off to answer a call on my microwave. 5IIIII’s

      03/23/17 7:01 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      27

      Nice that Assange can use internet access again. WHY, how, did that happen? Obama?! (Sorry to be off topic Rich and PVB or others).

      03/23/17 7:03 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      28

      Mitch,

      If you have nothing to hide, why are you afraid of the government spying on you?

      03/23/17 7:05 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      29

      Funny how Assange”s access stopped before the election. He wanted to email Donna Brazile and couldn’t! Freedom isn’t free. The people are tired of it. It smells. I want the coverage that those in Congress have. Will the news report that, or members across the isle discuss that? Think. Wage Peace and Justice. Time out…PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP’s

      03/23/17 7:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Ben Dover said...

      30

      Just wanted to say hi. How is Charles Blow?

      03/23/17 7:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      31

      Rich.

      Does it ever get old, always being wrong?

      And… Afraid of spying…. No….

      Pissed… Yes….. Little thing you might want to read…. Its called the 4th Amendment….

      Strange…. You always preach Armageddon… All the things Trump is doing … The doom…. With a side of gloom and catsup……

      But…. Your good with this????

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/23/trump-basks-in-nunes-surveillance-news-so-that-means-im-right.html

      M

      03/23/17 7:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Ben Dover said...

      32

      Anyone here wear one of those Pussy Hats? If so did you protest Obomber’s bombing 7 Nations? Trump is really bombing areas, but not many photo’s coming out like the “Shock and Awe” MSM theatre. PPPP’s

      03/23/17 7:55 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      33

      Mitch,

      Santa doesn’t exist either. In the real world- hello- the gov has been collecting it all. Comey is cool with this. If it makes you feel any better, know that mine and every US citizen living abroad gets all their communications swept up. Can’t be too safe. FISA clearly allows back door searches of US person content — which at the FBI doesn’t even require any evidence of wrong-doing.

      It is astounding that the men who supposedly oversee FISA closely have no fucking clue — how it works. Devin Nunes, too, has already expressed confusion on how access to incidentally collected US person content works.

      Does anyone in the House Intelligence Committee understand how FISA works?

      In retrospect, what is so damning about the Flynn leak to them?

      But Rooney and Gowdy and maybe even Nunes seemed worried that their colleagues in the House have seen someone like them — conservative white man — caught up in FISA, which has suddenly made them realize that they too have conversations all the time that likely get caught up in FISA?

      Or are they worried that the public discussion of FISA will expose them for what they are, utterly negligent overseers, who don’t understand how invasive of privacy FISA currently is?

      If it’s the latter, their efforts to assuage concerns should only serve to heighten those concerns. These men know so little about FISA they don’t even understand what questions to ask.

      So the IC doesn’t like to have public meetingsvbecause we’ll see how painfully little most of the so-called overseers have learned in all the private briefings the IC has given them. If these men don’t understand the full implications of incidental collection, two months after details of Flynn’s conversations have been leaked, then it seems likely they are intentionally stupid.

      03/23/17 8:01 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      34

      And if Trump really cared, he would do something. But he won’t.

      03/23/17 8:02 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      35

      BTW. The Republican-controlled Senate voted along party lines Thursday to repeal Internet privacy protections that were approved by the Federal Communications Commission just days before Donald Trump won the election.

      The rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required Internet service providers to get your permission before collecting and sharing your data on everything from web browsing history to geo-location information.

      Providers would also have been required to notify customers about the types of information collected and shared.

      Jeff Flake, the Republican Senator who introduced the resolution to repeal, criticized the rules this month as “unnecessary” and “innovation-stifling regulation.”

      03/23/17 8:05 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      36

      Don’t violate the Five Eyes Agreement. A source told me!

      03/23/17 8:25 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      37

      I am so glad when the Dems had control of the Senate and House they passed Single Payer. Nancy Pelosi is GREAT. Off to puke.

      03/23/17 8:28 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      38

      As I have said before, don’t f with me. Enjoy. Time out again.

      03/23/17 8:29 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      39

      On topic, XON.

      03/23/17 8:30 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      40

      Ben Dover.

      You would be looking for Rich Bauer.

      He’s fun to torment.

      M

      03/23/17 10:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      41

      Rich.

      You did not answer…. How, exactly, does it feel….. To ALWAYS be wrong.

      Try this for your information…. http://www.xvideos.com/….. Rather than facebook.

      M

      03/23/17 10:05 PM | Comment Link

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