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The US Presidency 2019

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mariomike

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Brad Sallows said:
Trump is creepy, too. 

False equivalence arguments are often used in journalism and in politics, where the minor flaws of one candidate may be compared to major flaws of another.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence


Jarnhamar said:
I'm not sure if you've heard but he also didn't win the popular vote.

Not to worry, if next time is a repeat of last time,

President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton any Democrat, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.
https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf


 

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Jarnhamar

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I have a hard time feeling any sort of moral outrage about another country dicking with the US elections.


As for the t shirt, what's posting that supposed to ultimately imply?

Are Russians evil and subhuman or something? I'd trust Putin over Trudeau at this point.
 

Blackadder1916

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Jarnhamar said:
. . .  Are Russians evil and subhuman or something? . . .

From a Cold Warrior perspective, a resounding yes, that's what we thought.  They probably had similar less than complimentary opinions of us.  And we didn't need social media to reinforce such stereotypes.  As well as being pervasive in politics, there was Hollywood, who for many years were all too willing to reinforce the view (both on the screen as well as in their professional industry dealings) that "commies" or "dirty reds" or "fellow travellers" were to be exposed and destroyed.

Are they still that way?  The titles may have changed and they have better tailors but the current Ruskies (using the term to refer to those governing their country) are as evil and treacherous today as the worst of the leaders of the Soviet Union.
 

Brad Sallows

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>False equivalence arguments

I didn't think you were attempting to make a false equivalence argument.  I just figured you were doing your usual "someone criticized a Democrat, so here's a list of Trump's flaws" shtick.
 

mariomike

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Brad Sallows said:
I just figured you were doing your usual "someone criticized a Democrat, so here's a list of Trump's flaws" shtick.

I believe he has enough cheerleaders on social media for anything I type to make a difference. But, thanks for your comments.

Blackadder1916 said:
The titles may have changed and they have better tailors but the current Ruskies (using the term to refer to those governing their country) are as evil and treacherous today as the worst of the leaders of the Soviet Union.

:goodpost:

 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=Blackadder1916]
Are they still that way?  The titles may have changed and they have better tailors but the current Ruskies (using the term to refer to those governing their country) are as evil and treacherous today as the worst of the leaders of the Soviet Union.
[/quote]

Great post. Very easy to see the brain washing going on by both super powers.

How would you say the USA government stacks up morally against the Soviet Union and modern day Russian governments?
 

Journeyman

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Returning to the discussion of John Bolton's departure, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute has just posted an interesting look at the position and significance of the National Security Advisor. 
LINK


SUMMARY
As Trump appoints his fifth national security advisor in less than three years, Dr. Lang explores the history of the role and the personalities who have occupied it in the past. Being the “most complex and consequential of government undertakings,” situated at the centre of the executive power, the White House, national security advisors have historically overshadowed Secretary of States by their brilliance, their strong personality, and their influence on foreign and defence policy. Many can name Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice; but only a few can remember the Secretary of States while each have served as advisors. With an average mandate of eight months for national security advisors under President Trump, it seems the role and its importance are eroding, which can have an everlasting impact on the U.S. and its national security.
 

Blackadder1916

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Journeyman said:
Returning to the discussion of John Bolton's departure, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute has just posted an interesting look at the position and significance of the National Security Advisor. 
LINK
. . .  Many can name Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice; but only a few can remember the Secretary of States while each have served as advisors.  . . .

I wasn't able to find the quoted summary at the linked piece but it did compel me to read the article, which I might have dismissed as poorly researched based on the naming of two persons as examples of media prominent national security advisors (out of four), but who never filled that position.  McNamara and Cheney were Secretaries of Defence (and Cheney later Vice President) when they were principal advisors to their respective presidents.  The article, however, doesn't make the same error (not that I found in a quick read).

Presidents (well, maybe not all, but most) have always relied on the best advice available to them.  Maybe not the best available in the country, but what was in the administration at the time the advice was needed.  It is not surprising that the most forceful personalities and the seemingly most intelligent will come to the forefront.  Or at least it did happen that way.  The days when "the best and the brightest" accept the call to government service, or are even called to serve seems to have passed.
 

Journeyman

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Blackadder1916 said:
I wasn't able to find the quoted summary at the linked piece but it did compel me to read the article....
Good catch.  I also just read the article. 

The summary was appended to the email -- I assume that it was provided by a grad student/intern -- but I attached it (in good faith) for those who skim/don't read extensively.
 

Brad Sallows

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"Without being a true confidant to the president – with the two-way loyalty that such a relationship implies – and being seen as such by the other national security principals, the advisor is virtually neutered in performing his/her traditional role."

Worrisome, times three.  The position has weight; it isn't being used as designed and proven; and the appointment is not subject to confirmation, so there's no mechanism for tempering Trump's choices.
 

FJAG

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One shouldn't forget that Secretaries of State have a large and complex bureaucracy that they have to keep managing in the background on a day-to-day basis while National Security Advisers and their much more compact staff have the "luxury" of being able to focus their attention on key issues of the day and with forward strategic planning. The latter job is much more likely to pop to the forefront when the press comes calling on a crisis laden day.

:cheers:
 

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I'm that most people are aware that things down in Washington D.C. and the White House are a little tense right now with the POTUS under the gun because of an alleged phone call to the President of Ukraine. Here, courtesy of Politico is a good roundup of the events leading to the present situation.

‘I’m the real whistleblower’: Giuliani’s quixotic mission to help Trump in Ukraine

The former New York mayor collided with Kiev’s feuding political factions, and the resulting scandal is roiling Washington — and threatening to end a presidency.

By BEN SCHRECKINGER

09/27/2019 05:07 AM EDT

The scandal unfolding this week in Washington can be traced back to November, when a private investigator approached Rudy Giuliani claiming to have information about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, according to an account provided by the former New York mayor.

Giuliani declined to give POLITICO the name of the investigator but said he was an American citizen, the head of “a very, very large investigative agency,” and a former colleague of Giuliani’s at the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. Giuliani said the investigator approached him on behalf of a client who wanted to relay damning allegations he had heard.

Giuliani, a personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, also declined to name the investigator’s client, but said he was also a U.S. citizen, and one he had met before. “I actually know the guy vaguely from years ago,” Giuliani said.

The approach, he said, sent Giuliani on a monthslong hunt for information from Ukraine that would be damaging to the enemies of his client. That effort culminated on Thursday with the release of a whistleblower’s complaint about those efforts, followed by a furious attempt to discredit the complaint.

“I’m the real whistleblower,” declared Giuliani, who claimed to possess more damaging information and insisted that he, too, should be entitled to whistleblower protections. “If I get killed now,” he warned, “You won’t get the rest of the story.”

The rest of the story goes back even further, to a long-running geopolitical saga and a bureaucratic turf war in Kiev. There, a group of Ukrainian prosecutors with grudges against Western-backed anti-corruption efforts found common cause with a network of Trump’s allies with a long history of digging up dirt on Democrats.

Over several months, that volatile combination set off a chain reaction that is now roiling both capitals. It threatens to bring about Trump’s impeachment and inflict collateral damage on the presidential campaign of Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.

Prologue

For years, Ukraine has found itself caught in a tug-of-war between the West, which wants it to embrace the rule of law, liberal democracy and a market economy, and Russia, which wants to reassert dominance over its former imperial possession.

In that contest, the toppling of Russia-aligned President Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014 was a blow to Moscow. It would also create problems for the ousted leader’s American consigliere, Paul Manafort, and for Mykola Zlochevsky, a natural gas baron who had served in his cabinet.

The following month, Moscow responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Zlochevsky, meanwhile, found himself on the outs with the new regime and facing investigations at home and in the West. In April, he responded by putting Hunter Biden, whose father oversaw U.S. policy in Ukraine, on the board of his natural gas company, Burisma Holdings.

In September 2014, Ukraine’s new president, businessman Petro Poroshenko, came to Washington to appeal for help repelling Russian incursions into eastern Ukraine, which had escalated in August. He warned a joint session of Congress that “blankets [and] night vision goggles are also important. But one cannot win a war with blankets … and cannot keep the peace with blankets.”

In October, as it sought to ingratiate itself with the West, Ukraine established the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, pledging to clean up its notoriously dirty political culture.

But while Ukraine’s new leaders were dependent on the West’s military support and eager for access to its rich economies, they did not all share the West’s enthusiasm for rooting out the country’s endemic corruption.

What we know about the Trump-Ukraine scandal

As NABU sought to fulfill its anti-corruption mandate, it found itself clashing with other parts of the bureaucracy, including Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.

By 2016, Western governments and institutions like the World Bank were fed up with Shokin, who they believed was impeding corruption investigations, including those into Zlochevsky and his firm, Burisma.

After a months long pressure campaign, it fell to Vice President Joe Biden to seal Shokin’s removal. In a March 2016 trip to Kiev, he told the country’s leaders that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Shokin got the boot. It worked.

Biden spoke on behalf of other Western leaders, and Shokin had in fact been accused of improperly helping Burisma’s owner. But the vice president’s role in the firing while Shokin’s office had an open investigation of a firm whose board his son sat on has raised concerns from ethics experts and become fodder for his critics — chief among them Trump, who told Ukraine’s current president in July, according to the White House record of their conversation, “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”

After the Ukrainian Parliament accepted Shokin’s resignation, it installed as its top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who did not have a law degree but did possess a credential that was more relevant in post-revolution Ukraine: He had been imprisoned under the previous regime.

2016 election

Manafort, who had remade Yanukovich into a slick Western-style politician only to watch his client be overthrown by a popular revolt, had been laying low since Ukraine’s regime change. In March 2016, he resurfaced in the U.S. as a top adviser to Trump’s insurgent primary campaign. Soon attention turned to his work advising foreign despots, including in Ukraine.

In August 2016, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau published the “black ledger,” a document that allegedly recorded illegal off-the-books payments made by Yanukovich’s Russia-backed Party of Regions to its cronies, including millions of dollars to Manafort. A lawyer for Manafort denied he had received “any such cash payments,” but within days he resigned as chairman of Trump’s campaign.

Even after Shokin’s firing, the general prosecutor’s office, under Lutsenko, continued to clash with the anti-corruption bureau.

Also in August, employees of Lutsenko’s office allegedly detained two NABU detectives in a basement for several hours and tortured them, seeking information on NABU’s investigations of Ukrainian prosecutors, according to AntAC, an anti-corruption nonprofit in Kiev that receives funding from the liberal American financier George Soros.

In October 2016, NABU indicted a deputy to Lutsenko, Kostiantyn Kulyk, on corruption charges. Instead of getting fired, Kulyk was promoted.

Payback

Trump’s upset presidential win the next month prompted two reactions in Kiev: Consternation over the government’s role in implicating his campaign chairman and hope that a Trump administration would ease pressure on the government to clean up corruption.

But to the chagrin of Poroshenko’s government the U.S. Embassy in Kiev continued to prioritize corruption.

For this, Ukrainian officials blamed Soros, who finances the watchdog AntAC group, and the U.S. ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat appointed to that post by President Barack Obama.

As investigations of suspected Trump campaign collusion with Russia dominated U.S. politics and led to the imprisonment of Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, efforts against Yovanovitch ramped up.

Two Florida businessmen from the former Soviet Union, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were donating big money to Republicans while also gunning for Yovanovitch. Around May 2018, they met with then-Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, telling the Republican congressman that Yovanovitch was disloyal to Trump, according to an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which found that Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging her firing on the same day that Parnas posted photos online of a meeting with Sessions.

Around the same time, according to people familiar with the effort, the Ukrainian prosecutors, including Shokin and Lutsenko, were reaching out to U.S. officials, trying to pass them information that they said instead pointed to Ukrainian meddling on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

But the Ukrainian prosecutors were rebuffed in their attempts to reach current and former Justice Department officials, according to Parnas.

How Trump’s Biden mania led him to the brink of impeachment

“They went through every channel,” Parnas said in an interview. “They were going through official channels. To their frustration they felt like they were getting blocked.”

Kulyk, the Lutsenko deputy, later told The New York Times that Yovanovitch had blocked him from getting a visa to go to the U.S.

In November 2018, Giuliani said, he was approached by the unnamed former colleague who ran an investigative firm. Giuliani began working Fruman and Parnas, and spoke by Skype with Shokin. The former mayor reportedly met with Lutsenko in New York January and in Warsaw in February.

“Giuliani was moving towards these guys because he wanted to be useful for his clients, and they meet in the middle, and they decided to combine efforts, to establish this conspiracy,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, a reform-minded politician and journalist who was instrumental in publicizing the black ledger. “Lutsenko and Kulyk misled Giuliani, and Giuliani was happy to be misled.”

Giuliani, for his part, defended his association with prosecutors accused of corruption, arguing that bribery is widespread in Ukrainian society. “A large number of prosecutors in Ukraine, a lot of them could be considered corrupt,” he said. “I’m not going to tell you that Shokin wasn’t corrupt, that he didn’t take bribes here and there, but he wasn’t good at it.” Giuliani went on to argue that Shokin could not be too corrupt because he is not rich, and said that Shokin has gone into hiding.

    “Lutsenko and Kulyk misled Giuliani, and Giuliani was happy to be misled.”

    - Serhiy Leshchenko, Ukrainian politician and journalist

In early March, Yovanovitch gave a speech that called out corruption, which some observers saw as tacitly condemning Poroshenko and Lutsenko, while signaling support for Poroshenko’s upstart challenger in upcoming elections, a comedian named Volodymyr Zelensky.

Days later, Lutsenko struck back, telling conservative journalist John Solomon that she had given him a “do not prosecute” list to shield politically sensitive targets for a piece in the Hill. Other pieces followed in the Hill reporting allegations that NABU intervened to help Democrats in 2016 and that Biden’s firing of Shokin was corrupt.

The State Department called the claim an “ outright fabrication,” and a month later, Lutsenko changed his story. But in May, Yovanovitch was recalled from her post.

Giuliani, by this time, had set his sights on the Bidens. In a late April interview with POLITICO, he turned unprompted to the subject of Burisma. “Biden does have a lot of baggage, and I’m not talking about smelling women’s hair,” he said. “I’m talking about Ukraine. And Hunter Biden pulling down millions, on the board of a crooked company, a Russian-oriented crooked company.”

Zelensky became president in May, and Giuliani and Trump made it a priority to ensure Zelensky’s new administration would pursue “corruption,” understood by Ukrainian officials, according to news accounts, to mean investigations of the black ledger and the Bidens.

In May, the Times reported that Giuliani planned to travel to Kiev to push those matters as Zelensky formed his government. The trip was canceled amid the resulting uproar.

But inside the Trump administration, consternation was growing among U.S. officials over Giuliani’s efforts, which the former mayor maintains were encouraged by the State Department. The anonymous whistleblower was beginning to hear from colleagues who were alarmed by what they saw as a bizarre and troubling departure from normal diplomacy.

In July, Trump ordered that roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine be withheld. Later that month, he spoke with Zelensky by phone, pushing him to investigate alleged Ukrainian election interference and the Bidens. That July 25 phone call — in which Trump said, “do us a favor” and asked for scrutiny of the Bidens and alleged Ukrainian election interference — became a key basis for the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general.

About a week later, Giuliani met with a Zelensky aide, Andry Yermak in Madrid, where they reportedly discussed the desired investigations and the possibility of a summit with Trump for Yermak’s boss.

    "Any sign that the U.S. is pulling back from Ukraine sends a signal that can be disproportionate.”

    - Michele Flournoy, under secretary of defense for policy under President Barack Obama

Michele Flournoy, who served as the undersecretary of defense for policy under Obama, said that withdrawing assistance would provide serious leverage over Ukraine.

“They’re counting on the U.S. to continue to support them in all kinds of ways — sanctions, diplomacy, military assistance, training and advising, putting pressure on Putin,” she said. “So any sign that the U.S. is pulling back from Ukraine sends a signal that can be disproportionate.”

For months, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been pushing for the release of the funds intended for Ukraine. He raised the issue personally with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, he said on Monday, as well as with Pompeo. Meanwhile, his staff was pressing senior officials at the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House for answers on why the money was on hold.

In late August, as Democrats on Capitol Hill and officials inside the Pentagon began speaking out, POLITICO reported that the military aid was being withheld. At the time, the reason for the president’s unusually personal interest in financial assistance to Ukraine was not yet known. But for lawmakers backing the aid package, the matter was urgent: The appropriation was due to expire by the end of September, the close of the fiscal year.

By early September, an administration official told POLITICO, Pompeo had ordered his staff to ignore the White House directive and send the money. The State Department told Congress it would do just that around Sept. 11, near the same time the White House decided to drop its objections.

Fallout

Meanwhile, word emerged of a mysterious whistleblower complaint that was meant to reach Congress after Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a sharply worded letter on Sept. 10 to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, demanding the release of the disclosure.

Washington buzzed with speculation about Schiff’s arresting, but obliquely worded rocket. News accounts, notably in The Washington Post and New York Times, soon revealed that the subject of the complaint was none other than the president of the United States. Democrats erupted in fury; some Republicans expressed concern.

As more details emerged about the alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine’s government, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to act: After months of arguing publicly and privately that impeachment would be politically unwise, she announced her support for an inquiry intended to drive Trump from office. Democrats also set a deadline for the administration to cough up all the documents connected to the whistleblower’s complaint, and demanded that Maguire come to Capitol Hill to explain himself in person.

Pelosi’s change of heart pressured Trump, convinced that the record of his call with Zelensky would show that he had done nothing wrong, into releasing a memorandum documenting their conversation. It proved to be more explosive than he expected, lending support to Democrats’ allegations that the president had threatened to withhold foreign aid in exchange for political dirt on Biden. On Thursday, the White House subsequently released the whistleblower’s complaint and other related documents — and Democrats swiftly escalated their demands for more information, while redoubling their impeachment push.

For his part, Giuliani rejects any focus on the story behind the allegations he was pushing, defending the means by which he has gone about investigating his client’s adversaries. “The process is clean,” Giuliani said. But, he added, “Even if the process were dirty, and the facts were clean ... we uncovered a crime of vast magnitude.”

As Washington sorts through the mess, figures on both sides insist that there is more to the story, and that the efforts of their antagonists are being coordinated by a hidden hand.

“All these prosecutors played their role in this scenario, but the actual scenario was developed and planned by someone else,” said Daria Kaleniuk, of AntAC, who suggested a Ukrainian oligarch could be financing the effort to discredit NABU and the Bidens.

For his part, Giuliani said the real story was anti-Trump election interference and pointed the finger at AntAC’s funder. “Everybody,” he said, “thinks Soros is at the bottom of it.”

Asked on Wednesday about Giuliani’s project, a spokeswoman for Soros’ philanthropy, the Open Society Foundation, responded with laughter.

Nahal Toosi, Bryan Bender and Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.

Article Link
 

SeaKingTacco

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What a mess.  If even half these allegations are true, both the Republicans and Democrats are rotten to the core.

Interesting how Soros pops up again.
 

mariomike

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SeaKingTacco said:
If even half these allegations are true, both the Republicans and Democrats are rotten to the core.

Oscar Levant used to say, "The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too."  :)

Interesting how Soros pops up again.

Newsweek

9/27/19

Hannity Guests Claim George Soros' 'Dirty Money' Backed Ukraine Whistleblower Report: 'This Was a Set-Up'
https://www.newsweek.com/hannity-guests-claim-george-soros-dirty-money-backed-ukraine-whistleblower-report-this-was-1461715
The Jewish philanthropist has long been a favored bogeyman and target of anti-Semitism for the hard right.



 

Journeyman

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mariomike said:
Hannity Guests Claim....
Well, I'm glad we got to the bottom of this.  Of all the people investigating, it's a good thing Hannity managed to find this married couple who ID'd a Soros conspiracy.  :Tin-Foil-Hat:

Otherwise, what would be left to believe.... that Trump used the office for personal benefit, and then lied about it?  :pop:
 

Journeyman

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Some thoughts on the impeachment proceedings are in the current edition of The Economist.  Some highlights:
Collateral damage
Diplomacy in the crossfire of Donald Trump’s impeachment battle
The fall-out from the Ukraine debacle goes beyond the peril to the president himself

- Most obviously, the scandal is unsettling for Ukraine. Its dealings with America will now be viewed through the prism of the leaked conversation between the presidents, and of Mr Zelensky’s unfortunate sycophancy. (“You are a great teacher for us”, gushes Mr Zelensky, a former comedian. “Yes you are absolutely right. Not only 100% but actually 1,000%”.)

- America’s own relationship with Germany has already taken a battering under Mr Trump. Now it has suffered a fresh blow. In his call with Mr Zelensky, Mr Trump bad-mouths Mrs Merkel and Europeans more broadly: “Germany does almost nothing for you,” Mr Trump says. “When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way.”

- More countries could get caught up in the affair.  The American president has in the past aroused suspicion by apparently going out of his way to conceal details of his discussions with Mr Putin from his own senior officials, even reportedly removing the notes taken by his interpreter. CNN has reported that the White House also went to unusual lengths to limit access to the transcript of a call with Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman. What began with Ukraine could quickly drag in some of America’s most sensitive relationships.

- For leaders and diplomats everywhere, the drama is a reminder, yet again, of the heightened risk in the digital age that what they assume to be private communications will end up becoming public. William Hague, a former British foreign secretary, [however] commented that if diplomats were removed from their posts whenever their communications became public, “you would never have any honest report from any ambassador in the world.”
 

brihard

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Journeyman said:
Some thoughts on the impeachment proceedings are in the current edition of The Economist.  Some highlights:

Stable diplomatic relations are founded on reliability, credibility, and trustworthiness. He has shown himself to not be reliable, to not be credible, and to be compulsively dishonest. So yeah, and domestic political process that further highlights these failings is going to have an impact on diplomacy and foreign relations.

As usual, the Economist hits the issues hard, and objectively.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Brihard said:
Stable diplomatic relations are founded on reliability, credibility, and trustworthiness. He has shown himself to not be reliable, to not be credible, and to be compulsively dishonest. So yeah, and domestic political process that further highlights these failings is going to have an impact on diplomacy and foreign relations.

As usual, the Economist hits the issues hard, and objectively.

a la Joe Biden, while VP, threatening to withhold funds unless the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating le fiston Biden was fired?
 
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