ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day

Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
Linked articles in bold purple

 What a Mess: Mike Flynn, National Security Adviser, “resigns”  Obviously, he was forced out. My hunch is that the problem was not talking with the Russians, despite the legal problems that raised and the DOJ’s suggestion, leaked to the WaPo, that it could leave Flynn open to blackmail. Nope, the real problem was lying about it to VP Mike Pence, who (in good faith) repeated the lie. Mike Flynn just learned you cannot do that and survive in this White House.

Now, the Trump White House must right this ship quickly because there is considerable pressure from America’s adversaries and hard policy choices to make–and make soon.

Flynn’s interim replacement is his number two, Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Jr. (age 72). It is unclear if Trump considers him a possible long-term replacement.

Comment: My hunch is that Trump will turn to Mattis, Coats, and Corker, all experienced Washington hands, for advice on this choice. All are reliable, experienced hands in foreign policy who know the potential candidates and the policy issues they will face. James Mattis is Sec. of Defense; Dan Coats, a former Senator, is Director of National Intelligence, and Bob Corker is current head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Normally the Sec. of State would be involved, but Rex Tillerson is new to Washington and not yet familiar with all the candidates. Mattis, Coats, and Corker not only know the players, they know how the National Security Council should run. Trump would also be wise to turn to former Sec. of Defense Bob Gates and former Sec. of State (and NSC Adviser) Condi Rice for guidance.

The first name they will have to decide on is Gen. David Petraeus, the most effective military leader in America’s unconventional wars and then head of the CIA.  The question is whether his enormous expertise offsets his baggage from mishandling of classified documents.  Note that the National Security Adviser does not require Senate approval.

Second CommentThe talking heads will all say, “This is a huge mess this is for the new Trump Administration.” That’s right, and I have already said so myself. But the mess is only half the story. Trump has also shown that he is willing to cut his losses and make hard choices clearly, decisively, and quickly. He did it during the campaign, when he fired two successive campaign leaders who were falling short and finally got the team he wanted. He didn’t let this issue linger, either. That sends a strong message to all his senior appointments: “I hold you accountable. Produce results at the standards I expect or I will fire you.”

 One of the main security challenges for any administration is cyber. David Benson, an expert in the subject, gives a very positive review to Martin Libicki’s new book, Cyberspace in Peace and War  

Cyberspace in Peace and War is a very good book. While the disordered state of cyber-strategy makes it impossible to write the “final” work on the subject, Libicki imposes order upon an incredibly wide ranging topic. –David Benson, writing at “The Bridge”

The book treats both technical and strategic issues, but, as Benson makes clear, its focus is on international strategy.

 Dutch professor Ruud Koopmans gives the EU a deeply troubling report on Muslim views  (Daily Mail)

Koopmans said that of the 1 billion adult Muslims in the world, ‘half of them are attached to an arch-conservative Islam which places little worth on the rights of women, homosexuals, and people of other faiths’. –Ruud Koopmans in the Daily Mail

Koopmans estimates that at least 50 million are “willing to sanction violence” and thinks that is likely an underestimate.

In several Islamic countries, 14 per cent of local Muslims think suicide attacks against innocents are ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ justified to defend Islam, said Koopmans, citing a study by the US-based Pew Research Center. –Daily Mail

Koopmans, from the Netherlands, leads a major university center for migration research in Berlin.

Comment: Western governments have focused, understandably, on the problem of violent immigrants, but Koopmans is highlighting a second grave problem: large numbers of Muslims who seek to live in the West but reject its basic norms and values. The same hostile views are often held by the second and third generation of these migrants.

 True: America’s top fortune cookie writer has “writer’s block” and is stepping down after three decades (Fox News)

For 30 years, Donald Lau has been the “Chief Fortune Writer” at Wonton Foods, a manufacturer that touts itself to be one of the world’s largest producers of fortune cookies.

But now,Lau is leaving his position following a long bout of writer’s block.

According to Good Food, 4.5 million cookies are produced by Wonton Foods each day. –Fox News

Comment: No one saw it coming.

 After senseless delaying tactics by Senate Democrats, the body finally approves Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary  (New York Times)

Comment: Yeah, like the country actually needs a Treasury Secretary.

I am not arguing the merits of Mnuchin’s candidacy here. I am saying that once the Democrats had produced no information to sink the nomination and it was clear he would win Senate confirmation, dragging it out for weeks with delaying tactics is harmful to the country.  Blame Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren.

 

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