The Pre-President Practices Pre-Diplomacy

[Also see update below.]

Oh, man, the Pre-President and his team weren’t satisfied with tweaking the Chinese dragon. He pulled their teeth by telling them to keep the drone, but it didn’t interfere with the White House or with the military retrieving the drone.

And his Transition Team had people’s hair catching on fire over at the Department of Energy.

Now, it’s gone up to where I’m sure the State Department is experiencing widespread tonsorial spontaneous combustion. Here’s the situation.

Trump, while on the campaign trail, made a strong promise about Israel. He said that the US would continue to veto UN resolutions regarding Israel. He said, why should people who live thousands of miles from the Mideast and have an axe to grind get to have a vote on something they know little to nothing about?

Hard to argue with that …

In any case, it appears that the Obama Administration wanted to make a statement on the way out the door. Egypt sponsored the 9,416th UN resolution saying that Israel was the devil incarnate. The vote was coming up soon. We can debate the merits of the resolution elsewhere. The point right now is this.

There were strong indications that the US was planning, for the very first time, to abstain from the vote instead of vetoing the resolution. Huge change in historical policy. Plus it seems totally wrong to me to do that on the way out the door, and leave Trump with the problem. Reports are that John Kerry had ginned up some impassioned speech on the matter all about principle and the like.

So … what does our new Negotiator-in-Chief do? He’s got his promise hanging out there. He’s not President yet. He knows that John Kerry isn’t taking his advice …

Well, he picks up the Trumpaphone, and he calls whoever the boss of Egypt is this week. He talks to the current Egyptomaximo, and he achieves an amazing outcome.

Egypt withdraws the resolution.

Wow. Pouf, the issue disappears. Nothing to vote on. John Kerry has to put his speech back in his pocket. The Administration is prevented from making a spiteful mistake.

And more than that, here’s the really important part. Trump has kept his campaign promise, both to his supporters, as well to as the Israelis. Since that is so uncommon among politicians, as an action it was hugely symbolic to both groups.

Freakin’ brilliant … he didn’t try to influence the vote like I might have fruitlessly attempted. He cancelled the vote entirely, and rendered Kerry impotent. Like I said, people’s hair at the State Department must be aflame …

john-kerry

Now, you can argue that we should only have one President at a time. And you can argue the other side, that the Donald’s success shows that we don’t have much of a President now. Or you can argue that Trump should take whatever actions he can now, since they will affect him much more than they will affect Obama.

I don’t argue any of those. I just enjoy watching the maestro playing his magical Trumpaphone. Ever since he used his Trumpaphone to materialize a Japanese billionaire who said he’d invest tens of billions in the US, I’ve believed his Trumpaphone to be magical. At least, my telephone sure can’t do that …

In any case, the Donald is not gonna change. New territory, dear friends. Fasten your seat belts.

A lovely sunlit late afternoon. My best wishes to each of you,

w.

As Is My Custom: Let me politely request that everyone QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS THAT YOU ARE DISCUSSING. This lets us all understand just what you are referring to.

UPDATE: Here’s the next day’s news:

“But in a show of mounting frustration, a group of other countries on the 15-member Security Council — all of them relatively powerless temporary members with rotating two-year seats — snatched the resolution away from Egypt and put it up for a vote Friday afternoon.

It passed 14 votes in favor, with the United States abstaining.”

And as predicted, the US cravenly abstained from the vote.

Doesn’t matter for Trump, though, for three reasons. First, he’s kept his word to both his supporters and to Israel. Second, he did everything he could so he can walk away head held high. Third, it shows that this was just a thumb in the eye from Obama to Netanyahu.

Bear in mind that this resolution specifically said that Jews living in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem are declared to be criminals subject to arrest and conviction by the International Criminal Court … for the US to not veto this is a long-lived crime against humanity, and a final blot on Obama’s copybook. Shameful.

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52 thoughts on “The Pre-President Practices Pre-Diplomacy

  1. “and rendered Kerry impotent”….well, perhaps he just ensured that Kerry’s legacy would be that of impotence. Kerry was already impotent…just that the cheerleaders refused to acknowledge the fact. Heck, not even an awkward hug and a James Taylor song could render the old tongue-wagging oaf impotent with the press. I take full responsibility for the gratuitous ad hominem.

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    • Regardless of whether we agree about Clinton, Obama, Trump, etc … the issue of global warming ought to be independent of politics, politicians, and the preferences of prominent personalities. A scum-bucket who is correct in the handling of data and application of statistics deserves respect for those techniques — if nothing else — while a saintly-souled and inspirational orator who however innocently renders received misinformation into motivational rhetoric and poetry and info-graphics still deserves our scorn.

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  2. The amusing and telling thing about Trump doing what any one of us is entitled to and could actually do, that is to call the Egyptian Head of State (or whoever), the important part, is that the Egyptian HoS would answer the call!
    That, to me at least, indicates that to Egypt BHO is no longer POTUS.

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  3. Trump was my last choice for a Republican candidate, and the only reason I voted for him was I thought and still think Hillary is abhorrent.

    Since the election I’ve been amazed at how well he is handling everything. . . including this latest episode.

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  4. is that what happened? You should add a link to a source. If it is, and it seems plausible, what a brilliant solution to the pending provocation. True Art of the Deal.

    And what a distasteful provocation by Obama as he departs. Just like the provocation from his “permanent” withdrawal of offshore leases.

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      • Interesting article. It appears the sequence of events was Israel sought assurances from the current administration that they would veto the resolution. When they didn’t get it, Israel warned they would appeal directly to Trump. And they still didn’t get it. Either the Obama administration thought it would make Trump foolish to try, or had already determined to add one more thing to Obama’s legacy on the way out the door. Regardless, the administration had two opportunities to handle this themselves.

        But Trump did get involved and apparently did make a difference. Net result: Trump looks brilliant instead of foolish and Obama adds to his record of accomplishing nothing by doing nothing. No doubt he will take the opportunity to lecture Trump on what he did wrong.

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      • As a Brit, living in England, and following the Beeb news website, I wasn’t aware of this. In fact, the current Beeb headline is “Israel settlements: Netanyahu orders UN ties review” … and continues “The move comes after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.”
        Winston Smith has been busy un-newsing the previous article (presumably written when they thought that it showed the Trump in a bad light).

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    • In Australia, we have what is called the caretaker period. It starts when the election is called and ends when the new government is sworn in. During the caretaker period, the previous government is not allowed to make any commitments, such as large contracts, treaties, etc without the agreement of the opposition.

      A similar convention should apply in America, starting (for instance) the day both major parties have chosen their candidates and ending when the new president is sworn in. Here is a short Wikipedia article on it:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caretaker_government_of_Australia

      And here are the official instructions maintained by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet:

      https://www.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/guidance-caretaker-conventions-2016_0.pdf

      If you have time, you should read it, it is written in plain language and very good. In particular, clause 2.1, “Governments avoid making major policy decisions during the caretaker period that are likely to commit an incoming government.” Obama has broken this principle multiple times since the election result was clear.

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  5. Thanks for the article and link. I missed it and so far it has not appeared in any of the other blogs I follow. I am enjoying your site very much.

    Like

  6. Pingback: The Pre-President Practices Pre-Diplomacy | Skating on the underside of the ice | Cranky Old Crow

  7. The last three sentences in the BBC report are troubling.

    “However, four other members of the security council warned that if Egypt did not press ahead with its resolution, other member states would do so.

    New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Senegal said they reserved the right to move ahead with the vote.

    None of the four are permanent members of the council, but are serving two-year terms.”

    NZ has a new PM named Bill English. He needs a Trump call. Venezuela is starving its people to death. You’d think the UN would take them to task for that or at least vote them off the council.

    Malaysia is a centre for Islamic banking. Senegal claims a secular constitution, but has troops in Yemen. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-saudi-senegal-idUSKBN0NP1N920150504

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  8. Amazing…never saw/heard that happen. Don’t think the BBC thought it warranted TV or Radio broadcast. They likely had to ask the NYT first. I notice that from time to time with the BBC funded Channel 4 News in UK. Yesterday we had the thoughts/guesses of the NYT about the German security system regarding the Berlin attack. It was much more than an opinion and very long…from the open plan offices of NYT!

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  9. I don’t argue any of those. I just enjoy watching the maestro playing his magical Trumpaphone. Ever since he used his Trumpaphone to materialize a Japanese billionaire who said he’d invest tens of billions in the US, I’ve believed his Trumpaphone to be magical.

    When Obama was not getting what he wanted from Congress he said “I have a pen and a phone”. Well Trump has as you say a Trumpaphone, and it appears a lot more people are willing to take his calls.

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  10. While I was a reluctant Trump supporter, I have been quite amazed by his skill in influencing both international and domestic issues before he even takes office. The latest is the possible threat of imposing an across-the-board 10% import tariff on China. While the talking heads are freaking out about this, I have to say it’s not a bad opening move to future trade negotiations. Telling your opponent just exactly what you’ll settle for up front is a sure way to lose your shirt in a negotiation, as we have discovered with our current President’s administration.

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    • You forget what a brilliant negotiator Obama is. Surely you recall the clever way he backed Paul Ryan into a corner by saying, “Don’t call my bluff, Paul.”

      What I would give to get this fool to a poker table.

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  11. I generally support the State of Israel having worked there and I am aware that they are expected to comply with standards no other Middle Eastern country would ever come near to matching.
    However, and this is a big however, I cannot support or condone the theft of land from Palestinian farmers on the West Bank. or the destruction of ancient olive groves, or the blocking of emergency cases trying to access hospital care.
    What Trump did, and what the Egyptians colluded with is shameful. The resolution was related to West bank settlement, not the State of Israel. How can we in all honesty condemn the Russians for vetoing a resolution which attempts to protect civilians being bombed in Aleppo, when the presumed leader of Western democracies act in this manner?
    It gives the Islamic fundamentalists huge material to use as a recruiting weapon. Our opposition to inhumanity should be judged by the nature of the crime, not by who is committing it.
    Behaviour like this by any western politician returns to haunt us time and time again. We just never learn.

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    • Gareth, let me invite you again to do what I invited you to do in the head post, viz:

      We can debate the merits of the resolution elsewhere.

      This is not the place for that debate. This is a look at the underlying diplomacy.

      Thanks,

      w.

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      • “We can debate the merits of the resolution elsewhere.

        This is not the place for that debate. This is a look at the underlying diplomacy”

        I’m not sure we can separate the two Willis.
        If a resolution was a good idea, but was undermined for political reasons, is the person undermining it still acting in a positive manner?

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  12. There is also this to consider.
    “”Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799 ) is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S. It was intended to prevent the undermining of the government’s position.”

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    • Three thoughts. A president elect is not any old unauthorized citizen; he is sort of a pre-authorized PrePresident, the DOTUS. I doubt it was a negotiation; it was a ‘pullit or poof’ ultimatum. And it directly concerned the UN, which when last I checked is very foreign but not a government.

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  13. Latest news:

    “But in a show of mounting frustration, a group of other countries on the 15-member Security Council — all of them relatively powerless temporary members with rotating two-year seats — snatched the resolution away from Egypt and put it up for a vote Friday afternoon.

    It passed 14 votes in favor, with the United States abstaining.”

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    • Correct. Another Obama departing gift cementing his legacy as one of the worst Presidents ever. An Obummer.
      But the point here is Trump called el-Sisi, and Egypt in fact pulled the resolution it had been sponsoring. One club: last year US foreign aid to Egypt was $1.5 billion, so Trump says something like ‘pullit or poof’. The message even fits in a tweet.

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    • Chris Schoneveld December 23, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Latest news:

      “But in a show of mounting frustration, a group of other countries on the 15-member Security Council — all of them relatively powerless temporary members with rotating two-year seats — snatched the resolution away from Egypt and put it up for a vote Friday afternoon.

      It passed 14 votes in favor, with the United States abstaining.”

      True … but now it doesn’t matter for a couple of reasons. First, it’s been exposed for what it was, a final Obama thumb in the eye for Netanyahu.

      Next, Donald has been true to his word. He did what he could, he can walk away with his head held high.

      Amazing. I’ll put an update in the head post.

      w.

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    • Bonny Prince Charley has been an Islam apologist for a very long time. I really doubt that he’s changing his stripes with this statement.

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  14. Gareth Phillips December 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    While there are celebrations of populist parties and movements, it’s worth listening to HRH Charles, Prince of Wales …

    Oh, please. It’s the Artist Currently Known As Prince, the man who has never held a job, giving us the usual Pollyanna saccharine plea for love and understanding, coupled with warnings that legitimate fear of Muslims is a terrible thing that will lead to fascism … me, I think that ignoring the Muslim threat and saying that legitimate fear is “Islamophobia” will lead to Muslim fascism.

    w..

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    • I think we do have a problem from radical Islam Willis, but we need to keep it in proportion. An over-reaction leading to the oppression of all people in a particular group is a sad prospect. The figures speak for themselves, toddlers have shot and killed more people in the US than Islamic fundamentalists, however a ban on Toddlers and guns would be unlikely!
      About 3400 US citizens have died in the US and abroad as a result of terrorism since 2001. ( Not all involving Islamic Fundamentalists) In contrast we are approaching half a million gun related deaths for the same period. Yet any form of gun control is seen as an anathema for many in the Conservative movement.
      I know Wiilis that you challenge catastrophisation and exaggeration when dealing with climate change which is laudable. Should we not apply the same rules to all risks or perceived threats?

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      • Terror is not death. Comparing death from politically motivated violence to the aggregate of deaths by suicide, homicide, accident, and crime is statistical malpractice of the sort I expect from the “Jerry Sandusky of Climate Science”.

        Terror is fear of death, and fear of injury, and fear for the deaths and injury of those around you, and fear for your habits and customs and way of life. Terror is being reluctant to speak freely. Terror is being unwilling to go to the town square for the traditional celebration of your community holy days. Terror is handing cops and lawyers more power in the hope, thereby, of accomplishing some increased safety — even in the knowledge that such trades always turn out badly in the long run. Terror is putting up with long lines and check points at borders and transport hubs — adding costs and transit time to all shipments and personal trips. Terror the goal of terrorists, to make “normal” life in the successful communities more like the “typical” misery of life in failing cultures. This is intentional — “immiserization”, it is called. Just because THIS culture builds sewers and roads and hospitals and schools while THAT culture only builds bombs and the bank-accounts of tyrants, equality of misery is a political goal many would pursue via “Terrorism”.

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        • And can you put your hand on your heart and say all those things are currently occurring in Western Countries Pouncer? It’s a bit like all these people saying we’re all going to die in the near future from climate change, or the world will end, the reality is very different. Sometime you have to take a deep breath and look around you and remember, panic sells newspapers and politicians.

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          • You know what? It’s immaterial whether or not the events occur. Terrorists intend terror, while gun-owners, in general, intend to hunt, or defend themselves and their families, or even to protect their turf and avenge personal insults. To compare the (intended) events resulting from terrorism to the (collection of) events, (intended and otherwise) associated with US individual gun ownership is statistically invalid rhetoric.

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      • Gareth Phillips December 24, 2016 at 12:19 am

        I think we do have a problem from radical Islam Willis, but we need to keep it in proportion. An over-reaction leading to the oppression of all people in a particular group is a sad prospect. The figures speak for themselves, toddlers have shot and killed more people in the US than Islamic fundamentalists, however a ban on Toddlers and guns would be unlikely!

        Seriously? That’s your best shot? That toddlers have killed more people than Islamists, so we shouldn’t think Islamic terrorism is a problem?

        I fear I have no way to counteract such a foolish assertion. On the one hand we’re talking about deliberate killing of Christians and others, specifically to spread fear.

        And you compare that to accidental shootings by toddlers?

        The thing about terrorism is that the numbers don’t have to be large for your terrorism to be effective. For example, not a lot of people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo massacre … but the effects of the attack resounded around the world and were discussed for weeks.

        So yes, Gareth, we do have to keep Islamic terrorism in proportion. The perspective is that Islam has been trying to destroy the West and western values for fourteen centuries, and a resurgent militant Islam is currently threatening world order … and anyone who ignores that perspective to talk about accidents by infants is missing the point entirely.

        w.

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    • We have great difficulties with those that follow that belief in our UK cities…its very threatening for ordinary people and their children to have to see/hear it. Blocking main roads/high streets and “chanting” aggressively in a different language. Just tells me one thing…the game is on, well and truly! Indians and Carribeans don’t do that…yet. Mr Charles Windsor is powerless and would be better keeping his mouth out of it…the warnings are clear here and in Europe.

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      • We speak “non-english” as a first language, although we don’t chant on the streets, except when we have beaten England at rugby. UK culture is much more varied than people imagine and the dodgy geezers are as likely to be English speaking as any other culture.
        Only the British could colonise half the world and then complain about multiculturalism! 🙂

        ps. I’ve been in situations where I have been told off for speaking Welsh and informed in the UK we speak English. We do indeed, but in Gwynedd we also speak Welsh, which was here before English. I also had a complaint about why road signs were bilingual. It’s very obvious, it’s because English people don’t speak Welsh so would not be able to understand them unless we made them bilingual.

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        • I’m not talking about Britain’s own dialects/languages. Double signing is rather daft I think..there are far more important situations/events. I see and experience what happens in London/Birmingham with Islamic extremists and at last a couple have gained prison time. However, our prisons are more in the business of promoting extremism than what their title should signal.

          If you mask yourself by using a different language knowing full well that the majority around you will not understand it or try to…you simply ask for problems. My wife is Scottish but won’t adopt the “Teuchter” Gaelic style. We have Welsh friends but they I note are not interested in the old language!

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  15. New Zealand have dropped a bollock, as we say in England. Bill English will have to meet President Trump eventually & I’d love to be in the room at that moment. For those other three lightweight nations, there are many covert ways available to a US President, for making his displeasure known. As for Obama, his star has waned & his true colours can now be seen for what they are. Karma will ensure he gets what he deserves.

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  16. Obama is a limp wristed fool. He will be remembered as one of the worst American Presidents. He can talk under wet concrete but has no backbone

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  17. (Late) Update:
    Hi Wilis – you said Bear in mind that this resolution specifically said that Jews living in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem are declared to be criminals subject to arrest and conviction by the International Criminal Court
    Following another thread, I downloaded the resolution (OK, via wikipedia commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_2334.pdf).
    I could not find these words, or anything like them, in it. Please explain.
    (not that I disagree with your general narrative, but it is important to be accurate).

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    • It’s right there in the first two clauses, viz:

      1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

      2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;

      This says a couple things. First, it says that the Wailing Wall and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem belong to the Muslims, not to the Jews.

      Next, it says that anyone living in settlements in the Jewish Quarter, which is called the “Jewish Quarter” for a reason, is committing a “flagrant violation of international law” … in other words they are criminals (violating international law) and thus are subject to arrest under the rules of the ICC.

      The part that is most aggravating is this. The Israelis will never agree that that Wailing Wall is Palestinian territory. Never. It’s like asking the Muslims to declare the Kaaba as Jewish territory. Never happen.

      And that is the part that really angrifies my blood, the US agreeing with the murderous killers that they own the Wailing Wall and that the Jews cannot settle in the Jewish Quarter. That is nothing but slimy.

      w.

      Like

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