Author Archives: jwcham

Anonymous Sources at NYT

The failure of the Mueller report to find clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians makes the New York Times stories about collusion look incorrect and poorly reported.  One of the main problems is the use of anonymous sources.  It looks like NYT reporters have either been making up their stories or their sources have been lying to them.  In any case, the NYT has embarrassed itself and soiled its reputation.  It has proved Trump’s claims of “fake news” to be true.  This is a shame because the NYT in the past has been an excellent newspaper.

The NYT, like the rest of the Democratic, liberal establishment has been unable to accept Hillary Clinton’s loss in the last election.  The Democrats and the NYT took up the cry of “collusion” between Trump and the Russians as a means of removing Trump from office.  As time went on, however, it became less and less likely that they would be able to do so.  Trump became too firmly established in office, and concrete evidence of collusion failed to appear.  The Democrats turned from trying to change the election results to trying to impeach Trump.

The Democrats had a handful of accusations that they touted continuously, such as the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya, and the Steele dossier on Trump’s activities in Russia.  I don’t see that anything illegal happened at the Trump Tower meeting.  If the Russians had claimed that Hillary was spying for them, wouldn’t the Trump campaign have been justified in finding out if there was anything to those claims?  Do the Democrats and the NYT believe that Hillary is above reproach and that and to suspect her any wrongdoing is treason?  The NYT and the Democrats are guilty of such blind devotion to Hillary that they cannot see the world as it is.

The Democrats have betrayed the US by spending all of their time trying to invalidate the last election.  The real problem is that Trump is a bad President, most recently illustrated by his firing of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and naming of Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to the Fed.  He can’t keep competent people in his administration and surrounds himself with ideological idiots.  If they were responsible, the Democrats should be trying to keep the US from running off the rails, rather than just throwing up roadblocks to governing and making ad hominem attacks on Trump.

They need to focus less on ideological purity and more on getting things done.  For example, on the border, they need to focus on what to do about a genuine influx of refugees on the border, rather than on the insensitive handling of a few immigrant children.  A slew of House committee meetings on whether Trump colluded with the Russians will not help govern America.  They will just consume the time of the House and the Administration.  The House and the Senate should try to pass some bipartisan laws reigning in the President.  The huge budget deficit and national debt should be something that some Republicans are interested in, perhaps getting enough Republicans to support a bill passed by the House, hopefully avoiding another government shutdown.  It will be hard, but Sen. McConnell appears to be getting fed up with Trump and may be willing to challenge him on something dear to the Republicans’ hearts, like fiscal responsibility.  They could try to force Trump to name permanent Cabinet secretaries, perhaps by cutting off the salary of any person who has been “acting” in a position that require Congressional approval for more than a year, not the whole agency, just the official, unless perhaps he is granted a Congressional waiver in cases of hardship.

There are lots of things that need to be done.  The Democrats should let Trump have immigration as his issue, and focus on other, more important things, like the deficit, healthcare, or Income inequality.  Forget the Green New Deal for now and focus on smaller, more achievable goals.  In the meantime, try to maintain good relations with our traditional allies, despites Trump’s insulting rhetoric toward them, try to keep the economy on a sound basis, try to prevent the social safety net from being completely destroyed, and just try to keep America running in a reasonable way.  If the Democrats were patriots, they would take on the job of getting the country through this trying time of the Trump Administration in the least damaging way possible.  Instead, every Democratic leader in Congress seems to be grandstanding by running for President.  What about doing the job at hand?

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China and the MTCR

In his book The Hundred Year Marathon, Michael Pillsbury spends several pages discussing China’s role in and attitude toward the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).  I was one of the first people to work on what became the MTCR, because President Jimmy Carter had several people who wanted to create something like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to limit the proliferation of missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.  I was a junior officer working in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research INR), State’s small intelligence operation that works with the other intelligence organizations, such as the CIA and NSA.  I became the main person in INR working on the issue.  When Carter was defeated by Reagan, the Carter people who had been working on the issue left, and when the Reagan people arrived, I was one of the few people who knew anything about the issue.  It took about ten years, but eventually the MTCR came into being as an international agreement.  It is not a treaty that limits missiles, but an export control regime that limits trade in things that problem nations like North Korea and Iran could use to develop their own missiles.

Pillsbury says that when the US offered to increase space cooperation with China in 1998, China refused the offer.  China was more interested in exporting missiles to rogue states that in cooperating with US.  China has agreed to abide by the MTCR standards, but it is not a member.  When the MTCR first offered China membership, China declined to formally join.  Later China offered to join, but the MTCR demurred because it was not sure that China would abide by its rules.

 

1995 Government Shutdown

November 14, 1995, was the day the Federal Government shut down.  I was at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, and was supposed to leave on that day to drive to Rome to take up my new assignment at the American Embassy there.  Everything had been moved out of our house in Poland and shipped to Rome, except for what was packed in the car, which included our two dogs.  Just about half an hour before I was to leave Warsaw, I got a call from Rome, saying, “Don’t leave.”  I had no place to go except to live in the car or check into a hotel, with most of my belongings, including most of my clothes, en route to Rome.

I was furious and called Rome to get them to rescind the order, but they wouldn’t.  Then I found out that the number two officer in Rome, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), was a friend I had served with in Brasilia, Brazil.  I called him, and he agreed to unfurlough me and allow me to travel to Rome.  When I arrived in Rome, I didn’t know anything about my job, such as who my Italian contacts were, but I was the only one in the office who was not furloughed.  I had to carry out the duties of the office while the shutdown continued.

I was doubly angry because it had not been my idea to move from Warsaw to Rome.  The State Department in Washington had asked me to go because the Science Counselor in Rome had reached the end of his temporary assignment to the State Department and had to leave.  Just as he was leaving, Italy was assuming the rotating Presidency of the European Union, which meant an increase in work for the embassy because the Embassy and the Italian Government would have to deal with all EU issues as well as the normal bilateral issues between the US and Italy.

I’m still not sure what happened, but I think that Ambassador Reginald Bartholomew and the State Department had a running feud because the State Department would not approve permanent status for the Ambassador’s friend who had been serving as Science Counselor.  Thus, I arrived apparently imposed on the Ambassador by the State Department in Washington, and he did not want me.  As a result, my wife and I had to stay in temporary housing for months because the embassy could not find a place for us to live permanently.

I think that because the Foreign Service had refused to accept the Ambassador’s friend into its permanent ranks, the Ambassador wanted to prevent the Foreign Service (me) from filling the job.  Thus he identified a civil service employee in Washington whom he wanted to fill the job.  Ironically this man worked in the office that was supposed to support Foreign Service science officers in the field.  He ended up displacing a Foreign Service officer (me) whom he should have been supporting.

In any case, the episode led to my retiring from the Foreign Service, which I felt had stabbed me in the back.  The whole business, the government shutdown and the antagonism from the embassy staff left a bad taste in my mouth, although I had enjoyed most of my career in the Foreign Service.  It was a disappointing way to leave, and the government shutdown played a memorable, nasty role in my retirement.