FPI Overnight Brief: June 12, 2017

The Must-Reads

  • Thornberry: Trump budget still shortchanges the military
  • Navalny arrested as anti-Putin protests erupt across Russia
  • McKew: The real story is Russia’s war against America
  • Rogin: Trump’s national security team could make a comeback
  • Mullen, Jones: Why foreign aid is critical to US national security
  • US in talks with Moscow over Syria safe zone
  • US cyberweapons are a disappointment against ISIS
  • May struggles to quell revolt over her leadership
  • Diehl: China, Saudi Arabia reduced Trump to being their sweetheart

Middle East/North Africa

Boeing Co. said Saturday it had moved a step closer to completing a contentious jetliner sale to an Iranian airline, though the U.S. government still needs to give the green light before planes could be delivered. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
In a cross-border strike, Iranian intelligence operatives hunted down and killed the “mastermind” of the terrorist attacks on two landmarks in Tehran last week, a top official said. – New York Times
Editorial: Federal prosecutors have charged two U.S. citizens with providing material support to Hezbollah and helping the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group prepare potential attacks in America and Panama. The charges, announced last Thursday after the men were arrested June 1, show that Iran’s terror proxies roam far beyond the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Sohrab Ahmari writes: To get a feel for the dysfunction, consider Radio Farda, the Persian-language component of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With an annual budget of $117 million, RFE/RL is supposed to serve as a surrogate press in 23 countries across Europe and Asia that restrict media freedom. Farda is one of its most important broadcasters, intended to give Iranians a rigorous, fair and morally credible alternative to propaganda from Tehran. But Farda too often fails to deliver. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The Trump administration has been holding secret talks with Russia to try to set up a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria, where Syrian government forces and rebels would be separated in hopes of ending hostilities in the region, officials familiar with the talks said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
American-backed forces have begun an assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s hub in northern Syria, and signs are that they could capture the long-sought target with relative ease. Yet the militant group’s commanders, who have already withdrawn their toughest forces from the city, and most everyone else in Syria’s multifaceted war are looking ahead to an even more decisive battle in the south. – New York Times
Images and reports from witnesses in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa suggest that the United States-led coalition battling the Islamic State there has used munitions loaded with white phosphorus, the use of which in populated areas is prohibited under international law. – New York Times
Russia has been “very helpful” in working to cool tensions between U.S.-led coalition forces and pro-Syrian government fighters a day after the United States shot down a pro-government drone near the southern Syrian town of At Tanf, a Pentagon official said. – The Hill
A U.S.-backed Syrian opposition force said Sunday it has captured a northwestern neighborhood of the Islamic State group's de-facto capital of Raqqa the second district to fall in their hands in days after the group launched a wide offensive to gain control of the extremists' de facto capital. – Associated Press
Militants attacked a number of villages south of Mosul, Iraq, on Saturday before Iraqi security forces mounted a defense of the area. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
America’s fast-growing ranks of secret cyberwarriors have in recent years blown up nuclear centrifuges in Iran and turned to computer code and electronic warfare to sabotage North Korea’s missile launches, with mixed results. But since they began training their arsenal of cyberweapons on a more elusive target, internet use by the Islamic State, the results have been a consistent disappointment, American officials say. – New York Times
The Islamic State group's propaganda machine used to be confident, promising that its self-declared caliphate would be "lasting and expanding." But in recent months, as the group's territory has shrunk, its messages have as well. – Associated Press
North Africa
The events surrounding the capture of Abu Khattala, accused as the mastermind of the lethal attacks in Benghazi that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, are emerging with rare detail in testimony and records in an ongoing federal court case in Washington. – Washington Post
A son and the onetime heir apparent of Libya’s deceased former dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was quietly released on Friday by the militia that had held him captive since the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, which ended his family’s brutal rule. – New York Times
Morocco has arrested scores of people as it grapples with a wave of protests over jobs and marginalisation in the northern Rif region that has triggered the worst unrest in the country since the Arab uprisings six years ago. – Financial Times
Gulf States
Escalating a feud among Persian Gulf monarchs, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Friday listed 59 people and a dozen organizations said to have links to Qatar, including prominent Qatari businessmen, politicians and royalty, as aiding terrorism. – New York Times
Iran has sent hundreds of tons of food to Qatar in recent days, Iranian officials said Sunday, the first significant sign that the Islamic Republic is trying to insert itself into the worst political break in decades between some of the U.S.’s closest Middle Eastern allies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
It’s been a week since several Arab countries — led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt — severed ties and imposed an economic blockade on Qatar after they accused it of supporting terrorism. The mood in this waterside Persian Gulf capital is a mix of fear, uncertainty and resilience as residents struggle to cope with a political and diplomatic crisis few imagined would so dramatically upend their world. – Washington Post
Al Jazeera is one of the main targets of a dramatic Saudi and Emirati-led campaign to rein in Qatar, their tiny, maverick neighbour they accuse of funding Islamist terrorist groups and cosying up to their arch-rival Iran. – Financial Times
Qatar has paid $2.5 million to the law firm of a former attorney general under U.S. President George W. Bush to audit its efforts at stopping terrorism funding, a matter at the heart of the Gulf diplomatic crisis that erupted last week. – Associated Press
Robert Malley and Jon Finer writes: A good general rule in Middle East policy is that if things start to seem clear-cut, you probably are not looking closely enough. The United States must, of course, stand by its allies. But the impression that they have carte blanche to pursue policies that risk empowering our foes is, arguably, not good for them. It definitely is not good for us. – Washington Post
After Wikipedia refused to remove unflattering references to Turkey’s relationship with Syrian militants and state-sponsored terrorists, officials simply banned the whole site. Several weeks into the ban, some Turks are still struggling to remove Wikipedia searches from their muscle memory. – New York Times


An Afghan soldier opened fire on U.S. troops in a restive eastern province of Afghanistan on Saturday, killing three and injuring another, authorities said. – Washington Post
All six of the American soldiers who have died in combat in Afghanistan this year were Special Operations troops involved in the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold in a small eastern area of the country. Five of the six may have been killed by their own side, according to reports from American and Afghan military officials. – New York Times
A roadside bomb hit a convoy of American soldiers in Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, early Monday, according to Afghan officials in the area. – New York Times
In the patriarchal world of Afghanistan, where most women still wear the burqa in public, the prominent placement of females in the photographs caused a stir. But like other politicians in this young democracy, Mohaqeq, a former leader of the anti-Soviet jihad, or resistance, who is now a deputy to the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, has started to realize the importance of appealing to voters who embrace the idea of social liberalization. – Los Angeles Times
President Ashraf Ghani has made tackling Afghanistan's entrenched culture of corruption a top priority as he tries to curb lawlessness and improve his administration’s tarnished image following a wave of deadly attacks that have dented public confidence in the government. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Political tea-leaf reading aside, China is remaining very much in the U.S. military radar for issues in the Western Pacific. Any doubt of U.S. continued concerns over China were dispelled earlier this month – first with comments by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis June 3 during the Shangri-La Dialogue at the International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual Asia security conference in Singapore. – Scout Warrior
U.S. leaders are increasingly worried that China is gaining influence over traditional American allies, as the rising Communist power charts a more aggressive foreign policy course. – Washington Examiner
China’s anti-corruption watchdog has highlighted fake economic data in two more northern provinces, giving a political edge to Beijing’s attempts to solve a widespread problem of questionable statistics. – Financial Times
Chinese netizens have decried a government campaign to shut down many of the nation's top celebrity gossip outlets as Beijing escalates its control over online content. – Financial Times
Korean Peninsula
North Korea says it is "not far away" from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the United States. – The Hill
Japanese are used to drills for earthquakes and tsunamis, but the prime minister’s office issued new “actions to protect yourself” guidelines in April, including instructions on how to respond if a North Korean ballistic missile is heading toward Japan. It marked the first time since the end of World War II that the Japanese government has instructed citizens on what to do if they come under enemy attack. – Washington Post
Shinzo Abe wants as his legacy a revision to the pacifist constitution that has defined Japan since the second world war — but the public’s tepid response to his sudden push for change suggests it could instead become his undoing. – Financial Times
A Japanese defense official said Monday that Japan is seeking to increase its sales of military equipment to Southeast Asian nations amid growing tensions with China and North Korea. – Associated Press
Thirteen Philippine marines were killed and at least 40 others were wounded in a 14-hour clash with militants linked to the Islamic State in the city of Marawi, the military said on Saturday. – New York Times
The Philippine army is making some headway in its fight to defeat groups allied with the Islamic State that have besieged Marawi City, on the southern island of Mindanao. But just as in the extrajudicial war on drugs unleashed last year by president Rodrigo Duterte, in this war it is civilians who are paying the price. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
The United States is supporting the Philippine military with manned and unmanned aircraft in its fight to regain control of a city in the country’s south that has been taken over by militants linked to the Islamic State. – Defense News
The prospect of the Islamic State expanding into Southeast Asia has become a much more distinct possibility in the last few weeks, as Philippine government forces make heavy going of an operation to oust militants who have seized a city in the country’s south. – Defense News
Analysis: A president who has focused on a deadly antidrug campaign that has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos seems to have been caught unprepared for a militant threat that has been festering in the south for years. – New York Times


Defense Budget
It’s Jim Mattis week on Capitol Hill. In an odd scheduling quirk, the secretary of defense will appear before before congressional committees four consecutive days this week. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to accompany him for each event, including an unusual 7 p.m. hearing Monday before the House Armed Services Committee, which has prompted jokes of “prime time Mattis” among Hill staffers. – Military Times
Instead of expecting a return to the Reagan administration buildup of the 1980s, Lockheed and other Defense Department contractors are taking a much more conservative view and betting a general upward trajectory in U.S. defense spending over the past few years or so will continue, one way or another, according to analysts. – Washington Examiner
The Marine Corps is making a new push for experimentation and rapid acquisition funding in its 2018 budget request, with the recently completed Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) under the Ship to Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation (S2ME2) effort serving as an example of how the Marines would hope to spend this flexible funding line. – USNI News
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) writes: President Trump has committed to rebuilding America’s military, but his first budget proposal does not follow through on that promise. Admittedly, very few of his Pentagon appointees were in place to help write the budget. Still, the proposal he sent to Congress for next year adds to defense spending a mere 3% above President Obama’s last budget. Although it may stop the bleeding, it won’t do much to help the military get well. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Three squadrons of A-10 Warthogs will go out of service unless the Air Force comes up with funding to pay for new wings, the head of Air Combat Command confirmed in an exclusive interview with Defense News. – Defense News
The Air Force is now in the middle of a massive overhaul of how it finds young Americans to be the next generation of airmen, convinces them to sign up, and brings them on board. – Military Times
U.S. Marines based out of Norway, another Marine expeditionary unit operating from Sicily. U.S. submarines forward-deployed to Scotland, littoral combat ships in the Mediterranean. Supply ships, fleet oilers and amphibious ships armed with cruise missiles. A third aviation-centered assault ship. More networked connectivity. Those are just some of the changes and enhancements proposed by the new iNavy concept – i for Improved Navy -- a set of force enhancements that, according to its proponents, can be implemented over the next five years to make the existing fleet more lethal and effective. – Defense News
The Army has a mandate to get to 1,018,000 soldiers — 476,000 of those active duty — by the end of September…But unlike previous build-ups, the service isn’t dropping enlistment standards or making exceptions to keep unqualified soldiers on the rolls. This has translated into big bucks and major incentives, as well as a fast-track to active duty, for some soldiers. – Military Times
Missile Defense
When the Sea-Based X-Band radar is dry docked for an overhaul in roughly the 2020 time frame, it won’t affect the U.S. capability to detect any missile threats in the Pacific, according to the Missile Defense Agency. – Defense News
Production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad -- the U.S. missile interceptor that’s spawned an international dispute with its deployment in South Korea -- was quietly halted for about four months last year because of a quality problem with a part. - Bloomberg
America’s military has operated far too long without a truly integrated air and missile defense system and the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) is the best answer we’ve got. Congress needs to support the Army’s budget request for IBCS and AMD funding. For its part, the Army needs to re-evaluate its management approach. – Breaking Defense
The War
The Trump administration needs to significantly rebuild and expand law enforcement agencies' ability to target and take down terrorist financing networks after President Obama systematically disbanded the work in an attempt to ease relations with Iran for the nuclear deal, according to former senior U.S. officials with decades of experience in the field. – Washington Free Beacon


Under the guise of a journalist, the assassin, Artur Denisultanov-Kurmakayev, tried to murder Ms. Okuyeva and her husband, Adam Osmayev, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. – New York Times
The Ukrainian parliament has voted to restore NATO membership as the country’s strategic foreign policy objective. – Defense News
A wave of antigovernment demonstrations rolled across Russia on Monday as people gathered in scores of cities to protest against corruption and political stagnation despite vigorous attempts by the authorities to thwart or ban the rallies. – New York Times
Many of the participants on March 26 were, like Vyboch, young adults between 18 and 22, a new demographic of activism that sent shock waves through the Kremlin. The youth turnout showed the Kremlin that its controlled messaging on state-owned and controlled television and news outlets had missed a new generation of Russians, who see YouTube and social media networks as their main source of news and entertainment, Orekhanov said. – Los Angeles Times
Countries across Europe, including Germany and Lithuania, have begun opening their doors to gay Chechen refugees on the grounds that they have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation. – New York Times
Guggenberger is one of 1.6 million Muscovites who could be affected by a city plan to demolish their Soviet-era apartment buildings and replace them with modern high-rises…But to thousands of residents like Guggenberger, the plan amounts to a violation of their rights to own property and to choose where to live. With the mayor’s office, city and federal legislatures, and the courts all in the hands of Putin loyalists, opponents feel powerless to stop the demolition of their homes. – Washington Post
In recent years, intelligence experts say, Russia has dramatically increased its “active measures” — a form of political warfare that includes disinformation, propaganda and compromising leaders with bribes and blackmail — against the United States….But a review of the available evidence and the accounts of Kremlin-watchers make clear that the Russian government is using the same playbook against other pillars of American society, foremost among them the military. - Politico
Molly McKew writes: The war is in the shadows. And, right now, Russia is winning. There is only one question that we should be asking: What are we going to do to protect the American people from Russian acts of war — and why doesn’t the president want to talk about it? - Politico
U.K. Election
Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, trying to pacify her Conservative Party after a major setback in the country’s election on Thursday, on Saturday let go her top two aides, who had earned reputations for secrecy and arrogance. – New York Times
Prime Minister Theresa May reshuffled her cabinet a bit Sunday and mostly kept out of the public eye as she worked to strike a deal with a small party of hard-right unionists in Northern Ireland to prop up her government, which lacks a majority in Parliament. – Washington Post
Prime Minister Theresa May received a key nod of support from a potential political rival Monday as she tried to beat back a leadership rebellion within her own party following last week’s election humiliation. – Washington Post
European Union and British officials are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the timeline of Brexit talks amid skepticism in the EU capital that a swift deal can be reached given political uncertainty in London. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
In a little more than two years, Britain has had two general elections and a nationwide referendum. Each time, the politicians, pollsters, betting markets, political scientists and commentators have gotten it wrong. Once considered one of the most politically stable countries in the world, regularly turning out majority governments, Britain is increasingly confusing and unpredictable, to both its allies and itself. – New York Times
British Prime Minister Theresa May emerged from national elections damaged and without the mandate she sought. Her efforts to align with Trump may have hurt her, and she now has less leeway to cooperate with a leader that a majority of Britons recently labeled a threat to international security. – Washington Post
President Trump is considering scrapping or postponing a planned visit to Britain this year amid a billowing backlash over comments he made after the recent terrorist attack in London, two administration officials said. – New York Times
In those short seven weeks, the Conservative Party and its candidate made multiple mistakes — from a botched rollout of their party platform to its decision to focus on unwinnable seats and overlook marginal constituencies they assumed, wrongly, were well in hand. Toward the end, they denied the scale of the Labour surge. This failure of political intelligence and polling was compounded by an insistence on putting a candidate who was ill at ease on the trail and with the media front and center throughout the campaign. - Politico
The Conservative government’s general election effort June 8 may have ended in failure. But for the immediate future, the Ministry of Defence will continue to be pinched. There, officials continue to focus on trying to bring the budget under control irrespective of the wider political situation, say analysts and others. – Defense News
Editorial: Mr. Corbyn’s policy solutions are wrong, but he did realize better than Mrs. May that voters are worried about the economic squeeze created by 3% inflation (caused in part by the falling British pound), slow wage growth and failing public services. With Mr. Corbyn’s political influence growing, the Tories urgently need an economic strategy that can attract voters who otherwise might choose socialism by default. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Editorial: One outcome of the election may make British politics slightly more stable: The far-right U.K. Independence Party was nearly extinguished, while the Scottish National Party, which had begun agitating for a new referendum on independence, lost a third of its seats. In all, though, the vote left Britain badly divided and its government virtually dysfunctional. In that respect, Britain and the United States now share an unfortunate resemblance. – Washington Post
Will Inboden writes: May’s desperate political maneuvering may have captured British public attention, but the more serious issues of the EU’s own democracy deficit and internal dysfunction, let alone the very future of the European project, are being neglected. The political crises in Washington and London should not distract us from the deeper issue afflicting our nations: crises of leadership. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
James P Rubin writes: In all probability, there will never be a Corbyn government; more likely, the Tories will muddle along. But as an American living here, it is troubling to think how close he came. - Politico
Anne Applebaum writes: The influence of the U.S. president was not a major factor in the British vote. But he didn’t help the ruling party, and nobody else wants him to come to Britain either. If European leaders facing electorates keep their distance from Trump in the future, don’t be surprised. – Washington Post
U.K Attacks
U.K. and other Western security agencies were seeking to nail down international connections of the attackers in London’s weekend rampage, as it emerged that one of them had tried to go to Syria from Italy. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
From a publicity standpoint, the attacks in Britain and Iran are a lift to the Islamic State as it loses ground steadily in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Some analysts have interpreted the strikes as a bid by the group to demonstrate its resilience, even as its territory-holding caliphate slowly disappears. But a review of court records and statements by officials suggests that the violence in London and Tehran was more than just a message. It reflected persistent efforts by the Islamic State since its rise in 2014 to hit targets once thought unassailable — especially in Britain. – New York Times
The police in London have released images of the weapons used by three men who unleashed a terrorist attack on London Bridge and near Borough Market on the night of June 3 in the heart of the English capital: Pink 12-inch ceramic knives and fake suicide bomb vests to inspire “maximum fear,” along with the rented van they used to mow down people on the bridge. – New York Times
French voters resoundingly embraced the still untested party of the newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, in Sunday’s first round of parliamentary elections, dealing another humiliating blow to France’s traditional parties. – New York Times
For the third time since Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, voters elected a new Parliament on Sunday, likely giving power to a former rebel leader who was twice acquitted of war crimes by an international tribunal. – New York Times
Interview: The leader of Montenegro acknowledges in an exclusive new interview for The Global Politico, when President Donald Trump pushed him out of the way at the recent NATO meeting in Brussels, steamrollering past him and then proudly adjusting his jacket with nary a thought for the guy he’d just barreled past, it was not merely another Trumpian viral-video moment. – Politico
President Trump on Friday reaffirmed the longstanding United States commitment to come to the defense of any NATO members that are attacked, more than two weeks after his refusal to do so during a trip to Europe stirred resentment among America’s traditional allies. – New York Times
Macedonia will consider fresh proposals on its provisional name in an effort to unlock Greek opposition to its Nato membership, the country’s foreign minister has said. – Financial Times


United States of America
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had agreed to testify this week before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees about the Justice Department budget, wrote the chairmen of the committees Saturday and said he was sending his deputy to testify instead. – Washington Post
One of the federal government’s top criminal law specialists is joining the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III centered on possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials. – Washington Post
Republican Sen. John McCain believes the global order was more stable and established under President Obama than it is under President Trump. – Washington Examiner
Admiral Michael Mullen, USN (Ret.) and General James Jones, USMC (Ret.) write: Cutting the International Affairs budget will hurt our country’s ability to stop new conflicts from forming, and will place our interests, values, and the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk. Congress should reject the administration’s proposed cuts and instead fully fund the international affairs budget. Our military is counting on it. - Politico
President Donald Trump on Sunday slammed former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to leak details of their conversations to the media, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed to testify before the Senate intelligence panel, keeping the spotlight on a probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Comey has conceded to Congress that he told a friend to give a reporter information about his recollection of the president’s request that he shut down the bureau’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. But that does not make Comey a criminal, legal analysts said. – Washington Post
Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are asking the White House to produce any tapes that might exist of President Donald Trump's conversations with ousted FBI director James Comey. - Politico
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that President Trump came out "pretty good" from former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, but he's worried Trump will derail his own presidency. – Washington Examiner
Peter Wallison writes: Mr. Mueller could still say the president’s testimony would change nothing and need not be taken, since Mr. Comey’s statements and memorandums simply do not make out a case of obstruction. Mr. Mueller would face merciless media and Democratic criticism for cutting this circus short. But if he is the man of integrity everyone has averred, he will follow this course for the good of the country. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be modernized but should not be discarded as President Trump urged as a candidate last year, seven Canadian premiers said this week, traveling to Washington to highlight the importance of access to American markets. – Washington Times
Latin America
President Trump is expected to roll back parts of the historic Obama-era opening with Cuba, siding with hawks who oppose detente and rejecting demands from U.S. businesses for whom the island is a ripe potential market. – Los Angeles Times
Brazil’s top electoral court cleared President Michel Temer on Friday night of claims that he violated campaign finance laws, lifting a critical burden on the deeply unpopular leader as he resists calls to resign over a simmering graft scandal. – New York Times
Editorial: Things have come to quite a point when the only way to save a free trade agreement is by enforcing less-free trade. But that is what is happening: Mexico’s sugar exporters are being forced to accept a version of the country-by-country quota system they thought they had negotiated their way out of, fair and square, back when everyone signed NAFTA a quarter-century ago. Yet managed trade of that sort appears to be what President Trump means by “fair trade,” though we don’t understand what’s fair about determining market share through haggling among bureaucrats rather than supply and demand. – Washington Post


Unrest and violence continued to be a pressing problem in Libya and northern Africa, and newly updated rules governing operations in Somalia made a way for special operations troops to take a more active role in the fight against Al-Shabaab terrorists in the Horn of Africa. – Military.com
Unspecified American military aircraft struck a terrorist nerve center in Somalia on Sunday, an operation believed to have killed eight al-Qaida loyalists who've staged repeated attacks on U.S. allies in the region. – Military Times
Editorial: Kenya’s international donors should press the government to hold a fair vote and opposition parties to abide by the result. All sides know from painful experience that Kenya has much to lose if its leaders fail to act responsibly. The sheen of progress that the country showed off recently could be quickly wiped out. – Washington Post

Trump Administration

President Trump scrambled American diplomacy on two fronts on Friday, delivering a stinging rebuke of Qatar at the very moment his secretary of state was trying to mend fences in the Persian Gulf, while at the same time reaffirming support for NATO two weeks after he had declined to do so. – New York Times
President Donald Trump has set a deadline of July 4 for a shakeup of the White House that could include removing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, according to two administration officials and three outside advisers familiar with the matter. - Politico
Democrat Hillary Clinton encouraged Mitt Romney to take a job as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the former Republican presidential candidate said Friday. – Associated Press
Josh Rogin reports: This week, Trump’s top national security officials will have an opportunity to reassert themselves, in a series of hearings with lawmakers who largely support their efforts. The key issue in these hearings will be whether the officials, especially those who served in uniform, will express support for funding of the non-military tools of U.S. power. – Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes: So far, Asia’s rising superpower and the Middle East’s most reactionary autocracy have gotten everything they’ve wanted from the White House, including unconditional public support from the president. – Washington Post

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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