FROM Peter Feaver
Is US diplomacy under friendly fire? After six months of the Trump Administration, America's professional diplomats are reportedly "desperate" for a foreign policy — or even for something to do. They complain that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has walled himself off from the diplomatic corps and that he's being walled off from the White House. Ambassadorships and other important jobs are going unfilled, and budget cuts may add to the hollowing out of a veteran staff already depleted by resignations. What's at stake for America's interests — and American values — around the world?
The Donald Gets "Presidential," Hillary Spreads the Love After yesterday's sweeping primary victories, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both acting like they're not just front-runners any more. This morning, Trump delivered his first prepared address on foreign policy, telling voters, "America first will be the major and over-riding theme of my administration." And Hillary Clinton is focused on holding the Democratic Party together by reminding voters, "There's much more that unites us than divides us." Bernie Sanders is already talking about influencing the party platform. Ted Cruz and John Kasich still won't concede that the "Never Trump" movement may never happen.
The Last Debate: Foreign Policy, with Just Two Weeks Remaining In last night's final debate , it wasn't the challenger who went on the offensive as much as the incumbent. President Obama called Mitt Romney "wrong and reckless," and tried to associate him with policies of the past. Romney said US influence is "receding" around the world, but blamed the economy. On foreign affairs, he was all about peace, in both style and content, but he did not offer policies much different from those of Obama. Was he intimidated, inexperienced or reassuring voters he would not be a warmonger? Was Obama aggressive out of desperation? Did the world learn much last night about how the US might deal with crucial issues over the next four years?
Is the War in Iraq Really Over? In last night's speech from the Oval Office, President Obama said it's time to "turn the page" from Iraq to Afghanistan…and the economy, but 50,000 American troops remain in Iraq. Sectarian violence could break out again. The President did not say "mission accomplished," so what comes next? After seven years, at a cost of almost a trillion dollars, what has the US achieved? What do Iraqis think, and how does the US look now in the eyes of the rest of the world? Will President Obama be remembered for ending the war in Iraq or for sinking the country deeper into Afghanistan?
The New Geography of Top Secret America The Washington Post has run an investigative series this week on the dramatic growth of the US intelligence community since September 11. The paper reports it is now so massive that "its effectiveness is impossible to determine." Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Post it's a challenge even for the Director of National Intelligence to comprehend it. Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science at Duke University, formerly served on the National Security Council of Presidents Clinton and Bush.
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.