Turf War before Trade War

GDPR

1
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
217,782
Note, borrowed the title from one of the articles inspiring this thread.

One old adage is that personnel means policy and undoubtedly for the Trump administration this will hold true to a certain extent as it always does. However, it would seem that Trump is putting together an administration that is organizationally rather complex, if not downright confused. This could bear ill omens for the efficiency and the functioning of the US government come the Trump administration and could bring into question Trump's management skills.

The incoming administration has announced plans to reinstate the Homeland Security Council (HSC). Previously, the Obama administration had folded the HSC into the National Security Council (NSC) as it felt that a rationalization and streamlining of White House entities was necessary. Furthermore, it has announced the creation of the National Trade Council (NTC) which will deal with the same responsibilities as the National Economic Council (NEC) and the US Trade Representative (USTR). Added to this is the announcement of appointing a "special representative for international negotiations" who is supposed to oversee, well, US international negotiations.

Organizationally this means that there are now four inter agency organizations in the White House (HSC, NSC, NTC and the NEC) and five entities who feel empowered to take the lead on U.S. international trade policy: the NEC, the NTC, the new special representative for international negotiations, USTR, and the Commerce Department. There's overlap between the NSC (which, for example, might handle a terrorist threat where it originated) and the HSC (which might handle a threat where it manifested itself).

Added to the above are the conflicts that are already present in the US government: The struggle between State and Defense over the lead in national security policy, the overlap in responsibility between the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence.

To me it would seem like the incoming administration is exacerbating an existing organizational mess within the US government that might well impede the ability of the government to function properly. It raises the question as to whom will be the most powerful man in Washington - as Trump is reportedly not a hands-on manager. Will it be Pence, Priebus (whose qualifications for the position he holds can be seen as lacking) or perhaps a third person? How will Capitol Hill figure into this apparent mess? How will foreign countries deal with the organizational trouble when it comes to US trade policy and negotiations? How effective will the administration be from an organizational perspective? What does it say about Trump's managerial skills? These, to me, are open questions but given the organizational structure that is emerging, I'm not optimistic.

Who Will Really Be the Next President of the United States? | Foreign Policy
Turf War Before Trade War | Foreign Policy
 


Dame_Enda

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Messages
53,672
Might be about rewarding Trump supporters with jobs
 

GDPR

1
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
217,782
As a minor addendum I recall listening to FP's the Editor's Roundtable and I think it was Tom Ricks who predicted two things: 1) Secretary-to-be Mattis and general Dunford would team up against general Flynn to minimize his influence and 2) Flynn would be the first of the WH appointees to leave office because he's not particularly fit for his role (also the Mattis/Dunford combination might play into it).
 

GDPR

1
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
217,782
It would seem that there is already a turf war ongoing within the Trump transition between SecDef-to-be Mattis and the Trump transition team in general. Apparently Mattis became furious after learning from the media who would be secretary of the Army and it's not gotten much better since.

Might be an omen of fights to come between the Pentagon and the White House.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/01/06/mattis-clashing-with-trump-transition-team-over-pentagon-staffing/?tid=pm_opinions_pop&utm_term=.9645c5f0aba0
 

GDPR

1
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
217,782
Resurrecting this thread a bit as it is essentially about the organization and processes of government and the new administration's handling of said organization and processes.

Trump's executive orders, while flashy and an easy creation of, at the very least, the illusion of campaign promises to be fulfilled seem to show again that the organization and processes of government are not this administration's strong suit.

The White House didn’t ask State Department experts to review Trump’s memorandum on the Keystone XL pipeline, even though the company that wants to build the pipeline is suing the U.S. for $15 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo were “blindsided” by a draft order that would require agencies to reconsider using interrogation techniques that are currently banned as torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking.

Just a small circle of officials at the Department of Health and Human Services knew about the executive action starting to unwind Obamacare, and they got a heads-up only the night before it was released. Key members of Congress weren’t consulted either, according to several members. And at a conference in Philadelphia, GOP legislators say they had no idea whether some of the executive orders would contrast with existing laws — because they hadn't reviewed them.

(...)

For example, there are legal questions on how the country can force companies building pipelines to use materials manufactured domestically, which might not be available or which could violate trade treaty obligations. There’s also the question of whether the federal government can take billions from cities who don’t comply with immigration enforcement actions: Legal experts said it was unclear.

(...)

“If you don’t run these kinds of initiatives through the affected agencies, you’re going to get something wrong,” Vladeck said. “A government by edict is not a sustainable idea.”

(...)

The State Department exhaustively reviewed the Keystone XL pipeline over many years before Obama rejected it, but Trump didn’t call upon agency officials’ expertise, even though reviving the project could prove complicated. It isn’t clear how Trump’s memo, which invites TransCanada to reapply for a permit, might bear on the company’s $15 billion claim against the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The notion you would do something like this on an issue impacting a claim against the U.S. government for $15 billion without getting a full briefing from people involved — that’s more than unusual, that’s reckless,” said Keith Benes, a former State Department lawyer who handled Keystone.

There’s also the issue of Trump’s sweeping orders on immigration Wednesday that came with big promises but little clarity on who will ultimately foot the bill. For example, building a wall along the Mexico border is likely to cost at least $20 billion, and tripling border enforcement agents will likely cost billions more.

Trump has promised that Mexico will reimburse the United States for the cost of constructing the wall, and the executive order included vague language about the financing of the additional agents.

“He needs money to do it,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration policy for the Bipartisan Policy Center. “You can’t shuffle money around even within a department. You have to go back to Congress.”
What emerges from the above quoted is that these executive orders might well run into trouble precisely because they're being rushed. There's a lack of review within agencies, cabinet level officials are blindsided by supposed draft executive orders, chaos reigns in the White House with regards to which orders are being signed, experts were not even consulted on the potential impact on a pending lawsuit of the executive order on Keystone XL nor is the legality of some of these orders clear.

That could all come back to haunt Trump and the United States. It would be very bad for his position if there emerged the appearance that his executive order on Keystone XL helped cost the US 15 billion USD or thereabout.

Another example, less important but nonetheless telling, is the whole clampdown on social media usage by federal agencies and some organizations, notably the Parks Service, apparently 'going rogue' as some describe it:

Some experts blame the mess — including some agencies’ sweeping social media bans — on Trump’s transition team, especially its slow progress in getting to know the many offices and entities the new administration is inheriting. That includes a federal workforce that the Obama administration had largely empowered to tweet freely.

“A blanket freeze is absurd, and it’s a result of the Trump administration not doing the advance work of staffing their agencies,” said Tracy Russo, who was the director of new media at the Justice Department from 2009 to 2013.
Some even believe that these problems will extend to the foreign policy and national security arena. Consequently making the United States less secure and the administration less capable of advancing the American interest on the world stage:

First, foreign and defense policies are going to be a train wreck, because they don’t have enough good people in place, the people they have appointed don’t agree on some pretty big issues (e.g., NATO), the foreign-policy “blob” will undercut them at every turn, and Trump himself lacks the discipline or strategic vision to manage this process and may not care to try.
Trump's actions are flashy, they give the sense that progress is being made on his campaign promises, but the less flashy aspects - dare I say the downright boring aspects - give reason to believe that this administration is going to be having a harder time actually seeing its orders actually affecting facts on the ground in a meaningful and positive way.

Sources:

Trump’s flashy executive actions could run aground - POLITICO
America
Federal workers' Twitter brushfire burns Trump - POLITICO
Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA 'black sites' report - POLITICO
 


New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top