Oct 1, 2017

Trump v. Trump admin on foreign policy

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

President Trump's public order to Secretary of State Tillerson to stop seeking dialogue with North Korea — just a day after Tillerson confirmed talks were taking place — follows a pattern noted by Tony Blinken, a top State Dept. official under Barack Obama, in a NY Times op-ed one month ago.

The bottom line: A series of highly significant foreign policy pronouncements have been almost instantaneously undermined as Trump and his top officials contradict one another.

Blinken writes...

  • "Mr. Trump threatens to make South Korea pay for missile defense and seems to invite Seoul and Tokyo to build their own nuclear arsenals; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis jumps in to say never mind.
  • "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seeks to calm the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Mr. Trump's tweets embolden the Saudis to double down in the feud.
  • "Mr. Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Mr. Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., advocate preserving the nuclear agreement with Iran; Mr. Trump scolds, 'If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.'
  • "Mr. Trump calls for banning transgender people from the military; an array of senior Pentagon officials, including General Dunford, say the policy remains unchanged. When Mr. Trump finally issues a formal order weeks later, Mr. Mattis says it will require further study to implement.
  • "Mr. Pence, in the Baltics, praises tough new congressionally mandated sanctions; Mr. Trump tweets that the sanctions will send United States-Russia relations to 'an all-time & very dangerous low.'
  • "Thomas Bossert, the president's chief counterterrorism adviser, and other senior national security advisers back the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia sought to influence the election in Mr. Trump's favor. Mr. Trump equivocates: 'Well I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people and other countries.'

Blinken's conclusion: "Some read into these disconnects an elaborate good-cop, bad-cop routine. But the evidence suggests that Mr. Trump is actually a rogue cop, ignoring or remaining ignorant of his administration's policies. "

Our thought bubble: Trump's tweets were extraordinary for more than just their tone ("save your energy Rex") — allies and adversaries alike will soon have no idea who or what to believe.

Go Deeper: For an idea of how such comments will play in Pyongyang, check out Evan Osnos' excellent dispatch in the New Yorker.

Go deeper

The year of the protest meets the year of the lockdown

Hong Kong demonstrators protest a government ban on face masks in October. Photo by Laurel Chor/Getty Images

The year of the mass uprising has collided with the year of the coronavirus lockdown, leaving protest movements around the world stalled. 

The big picture: The enduring images of 2019 are of protest — from Hong Kong to Khartoum, across the Middle East and through much of Latin America. Seemingly overnight, though, social distancing has made such mass demonstrations almost unthinkable.

Go deeperArrow56 mins ago - World

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health