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The Case for Not Being Crybabies

Last week I watched a conversation on MSNBC in which the anchor asked a guest whether it wasn't a problem that Buzzfeed had published the Trump 'dossier' because this would now give Trump some credibility in dismissing any reporting he didn't like as "fake news". There are plenty of grounds to criticize Buzzfeed's decision on standard journalistic grounds. But the idea seemed to be that because President-Elect Trump was already accusing prestigious journalism organizations of producing "fake news", Buzzfeed's decision might allow him to do it more.

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Trump's (and Putin's) Plan to Dissolve the EU and NATO.

Most people in this country, certainly most members of the political class and especially its expression in Washington, don't realize what Donald Trump is trying to do in Europe and Russia. Back in December I explained that Trump has a plan to break up the European Union. Trump and his key advisor Steve Bannon (former Breitbart chief) believe they can promise an advantageous trade agreement with the United Kingdom, thus strengthening the UK's position in its negotiations over exiting the EU. With such a deal in place with the UK, they believe they can slice apart the EU by offering the same model deal to individual EU states. Steve Bannon discussed all of this at length with Business Week's Josh Green and Josh and I discussed it in great detail in this episode of my podcast from mid-December.

Now we have a rush of new evidence that Trump is moving ahead with these plans.

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Tell Us What You See

Let us know if you see news coverage of townhall events or community meetings in your congressional district where Obamacare comes up. Even better if you attended yourself.

Things Change

[The following is a guest post from political scientist Barnett Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, who served in the Obama administration.]

On December 16, 2016, President Obama, speaking at his last White House press conference, suggested to Donald Trump that, “Since there's only one president at a time,” the president-elect should wait “before he starts having a lot of interactions with foreign governments other than the usual courtesy calls.”

At that time I was in Beijing discussing ideas for U.S.-China cooperation in Afghanistan. Two days earlier, on December 14, 2016, the spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs office warned of the consequences of trying to reopen the One China” policy, three days after Donald Trump had announced in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he would do just that. If so, the spokesman said, “the healthy, stable development of China-US relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted." In private my Chinese interlocutors parsed that general statement: China could work with the U.S. on areas of common interest such as Afghanistan despite conflicts over the South China Sea, North Korea, or trade, but questioning the unity of China would end such coordination. If Trump carried out such a policy as president, they claimed, China could not rule out taking Taiwan by force.

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Still More

Years ago I was heavily involved in national security reporting. I learned to be almost infinitely skeptical of what I read in the British press. To some extent, this is just an imperfect familiarity with a foreign country, which affects all foreign reporting to some degree. But let's say also that the standards are just different. With that said, here are some choice nuggets from the latest report from The Independent ...

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What Bibi Has Wrought?

There's a new Pew study out which covers a lot of different questions about Americans' views of key foreign policy questions and major countries around the world. One finding that is getting perhaps the most attention is about Democrats' views about Israel - specifically whether Democrats say they are more likely to sympathize with Israel or with the Palestinians. For the first time in the history of the Pew poll, "Democrats are about as likely to say they sympathize more with the Palestinians (31%) than with Israel (33%); 11% say they sympathize with neither, while 8% sympathize with both and 17% do not offer an opinion."

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Hall of Mirrors

The Post's David Ignatius has a column out tonight with a number of observations. But the big news is this ...

According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. Was its spirit violated? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is, at a minimum, highly irregular and inappropriate. We don't know if it is more than that. It would be good to find out.

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