The one good thing to come out of this so far is that British foreign secretary and honorary US deputy-sheriff Boris Johnson has cancelled (or had cancelled by Tillerson) his own long planned and already once-postponed trip to Moscow. Instead, he has gone to the G7 in Italy in order to provide light relief for the serious foreign ministers there assembled while seeking to raise from their ranks a posse against Russia, meanwhile offering entertainment for President Putin with a risible plan for smart sanctions against senior Russian and Syrian military officers should he not submit quietly to diplomatic arrest.
The . diplomat familiar with the SRAP issue said the highest-ranking official at the moment in the bureau is the acting principal deputy assistant secretary, Howard Vanvranken, whose background is more in management than policy. The man who had been serving as the bureau’s acting assistant secretary, William Todd, was transferred earlier this month to help run State’s human resources bureau, which has also seen leadership turnover. The regional bureau’s Web page lists only one serving deputy assistant secretary, and he deals with Central Asian countries.
THE ADMINISTRATION’S INITIAL reading of the crisis in Afghanistan was to blame it on the spectacular failure of President Hamid Karzai’s government, paired with wrongheaded military strategy, inadequate troop numbers for defeating an insurgency, and the Taliban’s ability to find a haven and military and material support in Pakistan. Of these, Karzai’s failings and the need to straighten out the military strategy dominated the discussion. Above all, the Afghanistan conflict was seen in the context of Iraq. The Taliban were viewed as an insurgency similar to the one that the United States had just helped defeat in Iraq. And what had defeated the insurgency in Iraq was a military strategy known as COIN, a boots-on-the-ground-intensive counterinsurgency.