Tags: trump | putin | diplomacy

Private Trump-Putin Conversation an Affront to Modern Diplomacy

Private Trump-Putin Conversation an Affront to Modern Diplomacy
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

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Wednesday, 16 January 2019 12:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A U.S. president entertaining private conversations with Vladimir Putin without any government agency or staff participation, except a translator who is ordered to conceal the content of the conversation, has become another in the series of Donald Trump controversies.

Interference with government and Congressional access to what transpired does appear to violate traditional diplomatic protocol. Trying to balance preventing a potential conflict between the president’s personal interests, financial or political, and the national interest with the prerogative of the duly elected commander in chief to conduct diplomacy in a manner he sees fit is a fascinating and challenging task.

What also needs to be thrown into the mix is a further and significant area of concern.

The president of the United States among his many functions is to direct and manage the foreign policy interests of the country including homeland security and advancing the interests of the country outside our borders.

What has to be kept in mind is that what is this most critical and important part of his job is not performed in isolation. He is supported and partnered by and with government departments and agencies that are the very best in the world, or at the least among the very best.

United States foreign policy excellence has been achieved through a history of dedicated civil servants building institutions, especially starting during and after World War II, that are massive not just in size but in the quality of the people and at the cost of literally trillions of taxpayer dollars, even putting aside the cost of strictly military operations.

The president heads this extraordinary team in much the same way as a general heads up an army.

The system operates because the leader, the president, is the leader of a team.

The system does not function as a one man enterprise, however talented, however courageous, however intelligent the top man may be, because it is set up to work as a unit.

The parallel is even more apparent when one considers what would be the effect of the admiral of the 7th fleet, or our best and most courageous fighter pilots, going off alone on missions without flight control, without coordination with drones, satellites, back up radar systems, alternative landing areas, enemy traps and dangers.

The United States therefore sends its president to manage and direct world affairs in a context.

That context reflected in the national security protocol is to associate the full force and strategic competence of the United States foreign policy establishment, including not just government departments but the National Security Agency and White House National Security Council, in the making and carrying out of United States foreign policy.

To believe that there is anything private about making commitments, or even discussions preceding commitments, is to believe that we are still in the Middle Ages.

Aside from confidence, what is at issue today is competence.

No president in today’s world is alone.

Every move, or hint at a move, implicate the strategic thinking that our esteemed institutions contribute to the force, prestige, and efficacy of the United States.

To think otherwise is absurd.

On this there is no space between what Republicans and Democrats believe.

Respect for the role of United States foreign policy establishment, to which men and women contribute life time dedication, requires bipartisan insistence that all players, including the chief, play the game as part of the team, not as a loner.

This consideration, of course, is independent of legitimate concerns of the impropriety in this particular instance, of private, secret, non-recorded and non-witnessed meetings with a leader who has acted against the interests of the United States and who has been accused of helping Trump gain the presidency.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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A U.S. president entertaining private conversations with Vladimir Putin without any government agency or staff participation, except a translator who is ordered to conceal the content of the conversation, has become another in the series of Donald Trump controversies.
trump, putin, diplomacy
700
2019-54-16
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 12:54 PM
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