In response to Trump Reverses One-China Stance: What Happened? a close friend sent a single-word email reply: Tillerson.

There is considerable merit to my friend’s suggestion.

Please consider the Newsweek article: Tillerson Played Key Role in Trump’s “One China” Shift.

President Donald Trump’s acceptance of Beijing’s demand that he re-commit to a “one China” policy was heavily influenced by his new top diplomat, who argued behind the scenes that relations would remain on hold until Trump cleared up doubts about a longtime bedrock of U.S.-China ties, officials said.

Tillerson joined Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn and others in what one administration official described as a concerted effort to persuade the president that “this is the right way to go, this is right for the relationships and regional stability – and they won the day.”

The successful intervention by Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive with no previous diplomatic experience who was confirmed just nine days ago, suggests that in a White House-dominated administration, the new secretary of state could help drive decisions on some geopolitical issues.

Tillerson’s sway on other Trump priorities, such as fighting Islamic State, countering Iran and improving ties with Russia, remains to be seen.

China had signaled to Washington that there would be no phone call between Trump and Xi and the relationship could not move forward until Trump reaffirmed the “one China” policy, one of the U.S. officials said.

But Trump’s acquiescence on an issue of extreme Chinese nationalist sensitivity also “creates the risk that the Chinese will conclude that Trump is tough in his rhetoric but can be rolled if they apply sufficient pressure,” said Bonnie Glaser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tillerson’s emerging role suggests that he could be a moderating influence with both friends and adversaries who have been unnerved at times by Trump’s rhetoric and unpredictability.

The White House and State Department had no immediate comment.

Cooler Heads Prevailed

Whether or not China threatened to cancel Boeing orders is uncertain.

The certainty is Trump did roll back tough rhetoric with nothing to show for it (other than not having China cancel Boeing orders, a prospect that looked increasingly likely had Trump continued his bravado).

Did Trump Change Anything?

As noted by my friend Steen Jakobsen, Saxo Bank CIO, in Back to the Past, Trump has made big threats and promises but delivered little.

Trump has backed down on the travel ban (thankfully), China (thankfully), Obamacare, and possibly NATO (if so, unfortunately).

Steen commented “The point? Don’t judge or trade on what The Donald says but on what he does! This is critical: Ignore the tweets but look at what is executed done relative to the empty promises.”

Trump Success

Trump certainly has changed policy towards Russia, and that’s a good thing. Tillerson would agree, but Trump-bashers who claim Trump can do no good are as wrong as those who insist he can do no right.

Improving relations between countries is a good thing, so accusing Tillerson over oil is simply misguided.

Snowden Rumors

snowden-russia

Rumors now fly that Russia ‘Considering Handing Edward Snowden to the US as a Gift to Trump’

Vladimir Putin is reportedly considering handing Edward Snowden over to the US in an effort to “curry favor” with Donald Trump – who has branded the NSA leaker a “traitor” and called for his execution.

US intelligence has intercepted evidence of high-level discussions within the Russian government over the potential benefits for Moscow of sending Edward Snowden back to the US to face trial, according to NBC News.

Some advisers around Putin believe that giving Snowden as “a gift” to the US would improve the Kremlin’s standing with the new president and help Russia achieve its foreign policy goals.

Snowden said the report was proof that he was not a Russian spy, a common accusation leveled at him since he sought refuge in Moscow in 2013 after leaking thousands of classified US and British files.

Trump has made no secret of his animosity towards the former NSA contractor. “Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage to the US. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed,” he said in 2014.

If Snowden was brought before a US court, his lawyers would doubtless use Trump’s words to argue that it was impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

Rumor Unfounded?

The NBC article contained this snip:

Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, reacted to the report with dismay.

“There are no reasons to extradite Edward Snowden to the U.S.,” Kucherena said, according to TASS, the state-owned news agency. “This is some kind of speculation coming from so-called US special service sources. I think this topic was and remains on the political plane in the U.S., but it’s American special services that are puppeteering this story with sporadic information plants.”

“There is not the slightest reason to raise or discuss this topic in Russia,” Kucherena said.

Russia, he said, does not sell people. “The Snowden issue cannot be a bargaining chip on any level, neither political nor economic,” he said, according to the news agency.

Mish’s Take vs. Snowden’s Take

My take: Edward Snowden is a US hero. He captured illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional US government actions. Had he reported them through normal channels, he would have been prosecuted for doing do, and the word would never have gotten out.

Snowden’s take: “There are no heroes, only heroic choices”.

Take your pick.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock