Links – February 6, 2017

It’s hard to know how to deal with every day’s tsunami of Trump news. On the one hand, much of it affects US foreign relations and some the nuclear part of that. On the other, the administration lies and backtracks so much that it’s tempting to blow off much of it. The sheer volume of leaks, much of it on gossipy trivia, is tempting as a focus. The leaks themselves, as well as much of their content, indicate that White House operations are chaotic, and the bureaucracy is mostly resisting the crazier demands. Steve Bannon is much too influential, and President Trump isn’t reading what he signs.

There are hundreds of articles that I might link by the standards I’ve used in the past. But I don’t have that kind of time, and neither do you. It’s not a bad idea to check the New York Times or the Washington Post daily; both are doing a good job of covering the chaos. (Yes, I would complain about their campaign coverage too, but there are too many other things to do now.) I’ll try to present articles that help with thinking out how to deal with a presidency gone wrong, and foreign policy news that may be getting lost in the furor. Maybe some fun, too. 

The big lesson of Trump’s first 2 weeks: resistance works.

Trump, the Constitution, and the rule of law. The Niskanen Center is producing some very good articles on domestic policy.

Is this Watergate? Nice history of that Constitutional crisis.

What Trump’s grand strategy may be. I am somewhat agnostic about articles that divine what’s in Trump’s mind. But it’s worth trying to work out some consistency and build models.

Long interview with James Baker III, Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy advisor and organizational guru, on what Trump needs to do.

Trump is not a good negotiator, regardless of what he may think. I’ve said so before, and other people are saying so now. There is some of that in the Baker interview, and here is more from Dani Nedal and Daniel Nexon.

Should government officials be licensed before they can receive intelligence? That isn’t going to happen, obviously, but this article lays out some of what needs to be considered in reading intelligence.


Probably the weirdest report over the weekend (by my lights, anyway) was this:

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump’s friendlier tone on Russia.

Relations between Belarus and Russia have become more tense in the last few weeks. This is the kind of thing the Kremlin would say as an explanation: it’s those nasty Poles and NATO that they have brought so close to our borders. The administration hasn’t commented.


Germany prepares for turbulence in the Trump era.

Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and other members of the administration seem to have it in for Iran. One of the things they’d like to do is split Russia from supporting Iran. That’s not going to happen, even if they were at all competent at such things; Russia has said so too. Is “putting Iran on notice” the same as a red line? 

How might a war with China happen?


Extract from the book Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. If you haven’t seen the movie, do so tonight! Top photo from here: Mathematician Mary Jackson at Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia, 1977. Photograph: Bob Nye/Nasa/Getty Images