Trump’s Turkey problem

Although Trump is bound by law to sanction Turkey over its purchase of a Russian anti-air missile system, it seems that he is trying to avoid doing so. Trump is also lamenting his decision to deny Turkey F-35 jets.

Post Opinions: Darroch was right about Trump

“We don’t know if Mr. Darroch tried to explain that aberrant behavior in one of his cables. But he did write that the Trump administration was unlikely “to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.” To which we can only say: Right you are, Mr. Ambassador.”

Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher & Orni Petruschka: Trump’s peace plan is immoral, impractical—and could blow up the Middle East

“As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yet it is not clear whether Trump’s intentions are good or merely seek to do Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political favor. Presenting Abbas with an impossible choice will allow Netanyahu to win another round of the blame game and accuse the Palestinians of backing away from a good deal, playing into Netanyahu’s electoral base that rejects a two-state solution. But the result may be more death and an escalation that would delay constructive talks—and a Mideast anti-Iran coalition—for years.”

Kushner faces battle selling his peace plan

White House adviser Jared Kushner’s plan for Middle East peace—one of the most elusive of all foreign policy goals—is meeting with skepticism in the region it is supposed to benefit. While the plan would funnel billions of dollars into the ailing Palestinian economy, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said it is biased toward Israel and neglects Palestinian political aspirations. For his part, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu took National Security Adviser John Bolton on a tour of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where he insists that maintaining an Israeli presence should be part of any peace agreement.

Jennifer Rubin: It’s time to stop taking the Trump admin’s word for it on Iran

“The fundamental problem remains: Without allies and without a credible use of force, ‘maximum pressure’ is a dead end. The regime in Tehran is not going to collapse and beg for negotiations, especially since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid down 12 preconditions for talks that amount to regime change. Some foreign policy watchers, while critical of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — better known as the Iran nuclear deal — opposed pulling out precisely because the alternatives were unattractive and created problems of their own (such as a rift with allies). Not surprisingly, Trump has been shown to be a paper tiger, our allies view his conduct as provocative and Iran actually is learning the wrong lesson, namely that it can escape real consequences for its actions.”

Hans Binnendijk: Trump’s war?

“Trump’s negotiating style has dug a deep hole for him that he will have trouble climbing out of. Trump tears up agreements he does not like and seeks new ones. He threatens and bullies to strengthen his negotiating position. He then tries to reconcile and diffuse the crisis he has created by engaging in high-wire negotiations. Finally, he hypes whatever modest deal emerges as his own stellar victory. This may work on occasion in real estate deals, and it might even have succeeded with Mexico. It is not working well with China or North Korea. And it certainly is not working so far with Iran.”

Trump imposes tough new Iran sanctions

President Trump has signed off on new sanctions on Iran, stepping up a policy of pressuring the nation’s leaders and further squeezing the Iranian economy in retaliation for recent aggressive acts by Tehran. The new sanctions are in addition to those imposed this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports. The new sanctions are aimed at preventing some top Iranian officials from using the international banking system or any financial vehicles set up by European nations or other countries.

Trump admin considers restricting Indian visas

The U.S. has told India that it is considering restricting H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally. The plan to restrict the temporary visas, of which India is the largest recipient, comes just days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled visit to New Delhi. India has upset the U.S. government and companies like Mastercard with its stringent new data storage rules.

House votes to repeal AUMF

Possibly throwing Donald Trump’s Iran plans into disarray, House Democrats voted to pass a $1 trillion appropriations bill, which includes a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force — Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against AUMF in 2001, added the repeal last month. However, no Republicans voted for the bill and it appears unlikely it will get past the Senate.

A D Miller & R Sokolsky: War with Iran? Bad idea

“At best, should the U.S. go to war against Iran, it will be able to muster the diplomatic and perhaps military support of four countries: the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Otherwise, the rest of the world has been completely put off by the Trump administration’s unilateralism, belligerent nationalism, its decision to leave the nuclear agreement without a compelling cause, and actions that are clearly aimed at provoking a military confrontation with Iran. A war with Iran without significant international support, and perceived to be America’s fault, would leave the U.S. isolated and bearing full responsibility. More than likely, this kind of unilateralism would hand Russia and China—and Iran—an enormous propaganda advantage and weaken U.S. leverage in the days after.”

How to influence US Iran policy…without actually existing

Heshmat Alavi, an Iranian commentator, has been portrayed as a courageous dissident with a broad constituency and rare insight into the inner workings of the Iranian theocracy. His columns have been printed in Forbes, The Diplomat, The Federalist, Voice of America, The Daily Caller, and The Hill. And his analysis, such as his assertion that former President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran pumped money into the mullahs’ military budget, has been cited by the White House to justify leaving the agreement. But what if…he doesn’t actually exist?

Thomas Friedman: Trump’s only FP goal? One-up Obama

“This is what you get, folks, when you have a president who acts from the gut, not with well-thought-out plans, who is enamored with strongmen dictators more than our democratic allies, who is backed by a party and a TV network that simply parrot everything he says and never call him out, who thinks the enemy has no vote, and who doesn’t understand the first rule of Middle East politics.”

US sending 1,000 additional troops to Mideast

The U.S. will send 1,000 additional U.S. forces and more military resources to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran, the Pentagon announced Monday. Shortly before the announcement the Pentagon released a detailed set of photos that it said showed Iranian boats removing a mine from one of two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman on June 13. The U.S. attributes the attack to Iran. Tehran has vigorously denied the charge.

Fred Hiatt: Frittering away foreign policy gains

“Previous presidents were smart enough not to insist on getting their own way every single time. As a result, nations were generally willing to live with norms and structures that kept the United States in the lead; they trusted the United States not to exploit their deference to squeeze them for every last dollar (or euro, or yen). They believed the United States would consider its own national interest but also global stability and not take advantage of others at every possible turn. … Once these norms and structures are changed—and they will change, especially if the Trump era lasts through 2024—there will be no going back.”

The rising influence of Peter Navarro

The recent showdown with Mexico marks a high point in Donald Trump’s economic adviser Peter Navarro’s tumultuous tenure in the White House, as Trump’s increasingly aggressive actions on trade, including toward China, mirror policies that the man he calls “my Peter” has pushed since the beginning of the administration.

‘Trump recession’ on the horizon?

As China and the U.S. engage in an increasingly aggressive trade war, economists are concerned that DonaldTrump’s tariffs may tip the U.S. economy into a recession. “They are taxes, they hurt consumers, they hurt American companies,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the trade organization Consumer Technology Association. Trump’s “weaponization of tariffs” hurts the U.S. economy and “creates uncertainty” with trading partners, said Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Trump goes easy on Kim

Donald Trump on Wednesday hesitated to criticize the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un amid muddied reports that some of the country’s top representatives in nuclear talks with the U.S. had been purged or killed. “They like to blame Kim Jong-un immediately,” he said. “But they said he was killed, and he wasn’t, he was at the theater the other night. So he wasn’t killed. The other four people I know nothing about.”

Trump admin kept Saudi missile program quiet

Despite bipartisan criticism over Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the White House has sought an even closer relationship with the Saudis. Now, lawmakers have learned that the Trump administration did not initially disclose to key members of Congress its knowledge that the Saudis have expanded their missile arsenal with help from China. And they’re not too happy about it.

Sheikh-down at Trump’s DC hotel?

Last July, wealthy Iraqi sheikh Nahro al-Kasnazan wrote to National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging them to forge closer ties with those seeking to overthrow the government of Iran. Four months later, he spent 26 nights in a suite at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The lengthy stay was unusual, but the venue was not. The hotel has become a popular gathering place for Republican politicians and influential foreigners who have an agenda to pursue with the Trump administration.

Trump admin shared nuke info after Khashoggi murder

The Trump administration authorized the sharing of nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October. Sen. Tim Kaine said the first approval—called an 810 authorization, which allows for the transfer of technology or information related to nuclear activity overseas—was granted by the Department of Energy on October 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was killed, and another was given on February 18.

GOP lawmakers discuss vote to block Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico

Congressional Republicans have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block President Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico, potentially igniting a second standoff this year over Trump’s use of executive powers to circumvent Congress. The vote, which would be the GOP’s most dramatic act of defiance since Trump took office, could also have the effect of blocking billions of dollars in border wall funding that the president had announced in February when he declared a national emergency.

Stephen Collinson: Trump challenges the US-UK ‘special relationship’

“Trump waded into the Conservative Party’s contest to find a new prime minister and Britain’s paralyzing debate on leaving the European Union, in a way sure to outrage British critics. Most presidents would go out of their way to avoid such sensitive topics at a moment of extreme political stress. In Trump’s case they may deepen his already intense unpopularity in Britain ahead of his arrival for a three-day stay on Monday but enhance his global reputation as an unpredictable, disruptive influence.”

Asian countries may be forced to choose between US and China

Countries in southeast Asia may like how the U.S. pushes back as China encroaches on the South China sea, but they also like doing business with China. Fear of having to choose one of the countries has caused some stress among the southeast Asian countries. Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong warned of being “forced” to choose between the U.S. and China.

Why all the distrust over Iran?

There are a number of reasons Americans don’t quite know what to believe about Iran—some purely political, others historical. But in any case, it doesn’t help matters that the American public rarely hears from the Pentagon anymore. Spokespeople haven’t given on-camera briefings in a year, and concerns are growing that the U.S. could end up in a military confrontation without the Trump administration ever having to publicly defend it.

Joint Chiefs weigh in on Iran

National Security Adviser John Bolton has said “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” were to blame for the attack on Saudi Arabian oil tankers off the eastern coast of the UAE on May 12 that has caused heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran has fiercely denied the attack, countering that Bolton has always had anti-Iran leanings. Now the Joint Chiefs of Staff have jumped in to bolster Bolton’s claims.