Fareed: The Trouble with Trump’s Intelligence Sharing

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

May 16, 2017

Do America’s Spooks Still Trust Trump?

“When officials at one agency of government become convinced that another cannot be trusted to preserve secrets, they slow the flow of information to that agency,” David Frum writes in The Atlantic, following President Trump’s alleged disclosure of highly classified information. But “can they do that when the distrusted agency is the White House; the distrusted person, the president of the United States?”

“If so, they’ll be averting one immediate danger by creating another for the longer term: They will be rerouting the government of the United States around its constitutional head. Unelected staff will decide what the elected president can safely be allowed to know.”

  • The trouble with Trump’s intelligence sharing. Fareed says that he has to believe that Trump’s reported disclosure is “a case of incompetence, because the alternative is so dark.”

“The problem is that the president doesn’t seem to understand nor care about the structures and processes of high government office,” Fareed says. “This is another one of those cases that underscores how running a real estate business in New York does not simply translate into being able to effectively run the United States – including handling the extremely sensitive intelligence that goes with the job.
“Remember, we spend about $70 billion on intelligence. Other countries spend billions and billions of dollars. These are the crown jewels of our government. So to expose something without really seeming to have thought it through seems incredibly careless, and also suggests a lack of respect for your allies.
“But there is also a broader concern that all this raises, and that is how other countries are now handling President Trump. For example, you have Vladimir Putin, who has essentially been running Russia for 15 years. He’s been operating at the highest levels of international politics. He’s running circles around the administration.
“Then you look at Chinese President Xi Jinping. He’s been a seasoned political operator for decades. What does he do with Trump? Trump tries the Taiwan play, and Xi shuts it down completely. Then China rewards the Trump organization, bizarrely, with 35 trademarks they’ve been trying to secure for years. So, these leaders are playing the diplomatic game – and seem to be doing it at a very high level of sophistication.”

In Iran, It’s the Economy, Stupid

If President Hassan Rouhani loses out in his bid for reelection Friday to conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi, it is likely to come down to Iranians’ perception of the economy, writes Djavad Salehi-Isfahani for Project Syndicate.

“By any reasonable standard, he delivered: inflation is in the single digits for the first time in three decades; sanctions have been lifted in accordance with the 2015 nuclear deal; and the exchange rate has been stable for four years. But, unfortunately for Rouhani, many Iranians who had expected their living standards and employment prospects to improve as a result of these successes are now feeling disappointed,” Salehi-Isfahani writes.

“To be sure, the economy has started to grow again, after contracting for two years. But…much of the recent growth has come from a doubling in oil production, it has not increased most household incomes, or created new employment opportunities.”

The Latest Anti-ISIS Weapon? TV Drama

A new drama series set to debut on the Arab world’s most-watched satellite channel aims to “harness the influence of popular television to undermine the narrative that the Islamic State uses to entice recruits,” writes Ben Hubbard in the New York Times.

“It paints a picture of the Islamic State as a brutal criminal organization run by corrupt and hypocritical leaders. But recruits are depicted as victims, and women who challenge the militants’ control are heroes,” Hubbard writes.

“Like the Islamic State’s recruits, the cast comes from across the Arab world, and the show’s plotlines reflect well-known headlines about the group’s atrocities.”

Germany Tests Limits of Free Speech

Germany has taken “the most decisive action of any democracy yet” in its efforts to tackle online hate speech, argues Heidi Tworek in Foreign Affairs.

A new law passed last month “has an aptly German name Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, or Network Enforcement Law,” Tworek writes. “But its main target is U.S. tech giants, which provide the main social media networks in Germany. The clash between U.S. social media companies and the German government is about more than deleting hateful online comments. It is a fight about how much free speech a democracy can take.”

America Needs a Cyber Force: Stavridis

The massive ransomware attack last week underscores the United States’ lack of preparedness for a cyber attack. It’s time for America to consider creating a Cyber Force, writes former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis.

“A hundred years ago, our nation began to appreciate the need for a separate Air Force; in today’s world, we should think about a cyber-equivalent,” he writes in Foreign Policy. “Perhaps a good model would be the U.S. Coast Guard, which, alone among the armed forces, has both law enforcement and war-fighting authorities. A Cyber Force should start small, with some 5,000-10,000 personnel headquartered in Silicon Valley, and fall under the operational command of U.S. Cyber Command.”

Why Sticking with Paris Deal Still Wouldn’t Be a Win

If the Trump administration ultimately decides that the United States should remain a party to the Paris agreement on climate, “it will be interpreted as a victory for the more ‘moderate’ voices in the President’s inner circle, and as a win (albeit it a modest one) for the planet,” argues Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker.

“But would it really do the world any good to have the U.S. remain in the agreement purely for the sake of flouting it?”

Brexit: An Open Goal for Trump

Brexit provides President Trump with a significant diplomatic opportunity, writes William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal. “Trump could shore up a faithful American ally at a time when it could use the help, reverse an arrogant Obama initiative aimed at intimidating the British public, and nudge the European Union in a better direction,” McGurn writes. “Better yet, he could do it all in a way consistent with his assertions that he’s not against trade, just against America being taken advantage of. The key to everything is reaching a free-trade deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May. “Not just any deal, either…Given the considerable ties and trust between Britain and America, it’s hard to imagine another major world economy that offers a better opportunity for a relatively clean and clear agreement that makes trade between the two nations as free and equal as possible.”



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