Saturday, November 4, 2017

Oil's Well That Ends Well For US Diplomacy

Donald Trump keeps isolating the US from international agreements and diplomatic cooperation on a number of area, and no executive agency has taken damage quite like the State Department.  We're now a year into his term and Trump continues to refuse to appoint diplomatic staff to key positions.  It's gone way past the fact he doesn't care, as far as American diplomacy still exists, it's now "you deal with Trump, and you do what he wants." 

President Trump pushed back Thursday on concerns about a lack of nominees for key positions at the State Department, arguing it wouldn't affect his agenda.

"Let me tell you, the one that matters is me, I'm the only one that matters because when it comes to it that's what the policy is going to be," Trump said on Fox News when pressed about vacancies by Laura Ingraham.

"We don't need all the people that they want," Trump continued. "Don't forget, I'm a business person and I tell my people, well you don't need to fill slots, don't fill them."

A number of top positions remain unfilled at the State Department, among other agencies, including officials overseeing Southeast Asia and arms control.

Trump has fallen behind his four predecessors in the number of appointments confirmed by the Senate by this time, while he also has fewer nominations sent compared to the four previous administrations, according to an appointee tracker from The Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service.

The president blamed Senate Democrats for more nominees not being approved, though acknowledged that he has focused on nominating fewer people.

"We're filling up roles. And, don't forget, Schumer and the Democrats are just obstructing. You can't get anything through. We have almost about half the number of people coming through as Obama had. They are obstructing," Trump said.

And when it comes to anything involving transparancy and international cooperation to rein in corruption, the US is now freely abandoning its leadership role instead.

The United States has withdrawn from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international effort to fight corruption in managing revenues from oil, gas and mineral extraction.

There had been doubts about continued U.S. participation in the EITI since earlier this year when Congress killed the so-called resource extraction rule, which required companies like Exxon Mobil Corp to disclose taxes and other fees paid to foreign governments, such as Russia.

In a letter to the EITI board on Thursday, the director of the U.S. Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Gregory J. Gould, wrote that “effective immediately” the United States was withdrawing as an EITI implementing country.

He wrote that while the U.S. remains committed to fighting corruption “it is clear that domestic implementation of EITI does not fully account for the U.S. legal framework.”

The EITI, which was founded in 2003, and which the United States joined in 2014, sets a global standard for governments to disclose their revenues from oil, gas, and mining assets, and for companies to report payments made to obtain access to publicly owned resources, as well as other donations.

“It put more information in the hands of the public,” said Michael Ross, executive director of the Project on Resources Governance and Development at the University of California Los Angeles.

“It involved the U.S. government disclosing all the money it was getting from oil, gas and mining companies and getting these companies to publicly disclose the payments they were making.”

There are 52 countries in the EITI, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

In just one year Trump has reduced the US to corrupt proto-fascist regime and international pariah status, bordering on dangerous rogue nation that the rest of the world may have to take action against.  The danger of a major global war has never been higher, and the instigator will be us when it happens.

We're the bad guys in 2017, and nobody's worse than Trump.

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