Strange news week. I feel like there’s a lot going on, but I still had trouble finding this week’s articles. Here’s what I’ve got.
1. The Ambassador of Exxon (Slate)
[T]he idea of giving America’s top foreign-policy post to the chief executive officer of a global corporation isn’t absurd on its face. The typical CEO of a multinational has far more experience dealing with foreign governments than the typical senator. Many large companies effectively have their own foreign policies, since they do business around the world. And none has one moreso than ExxonMobil, a “corporate oil sovereign,” in the words of Steve Coll, who wrote the book on the company.
There are obvious reasons to be skeptical of a Tillerson State Department—and a few glimmers of a silver lining to his nomination. Set aside the obvious mantra that critics will sound: Government is not business. Tillerson, a native Texan who joined Exxon in 1975, hasn’t expressed much interest in subjects outside the oil business. He and his company are concerned with other countries only to the degree they have hydrocarbons on their land or off their shores that can be exploited. (Venezuela, yes; Guatemala, no. Saudi Arabia, yes; Lebanon, no.) That’s a skewed lens through which to view the world. When Tillerson and his colleagues interact directly with a foreign government’s leader, the conversation revolves around resources and money—not human rights, broad-based economic development, regional stability, or international alliances…
But precisely because ExxonMobil has its own foreign policy, it has to respect international norms. Which means Tillerson’s company has taken a set of attitudes and policy oppositions at odds with those of Trump and the Republican Party.
When it became clear last week that Trump was not going to nominate Gen. David Petraeus for State, I began wondering how he would frame his inevitable turn towards the business world. Because Trump is very clearly hiring from exactly two sources right now—the non-partisan military and the (relatively) non-partisan business world. He’s given a few minor posts to political allies and donors, but that’s normal. Most of the big hires are either generals or executives.
I don’t love the idea of outsourcing American foreign policy to Exxon, but it’s far from the worst choice possible. Indeed, I won’t be surprised if Tillerson turns out to be good at getting stuff done. What’s dramatically more alarming is that the emerging Administration has begun turning against its own non-partisan intelligence agencies. That could create real chaos. A guy like Tillerson is only going to “get stuff done” to the extent that the Administration itself knows what it wants. There’s not much sign that this is the case. However, I am starting to suspect that Trump will be the most hands-off President in American history; that he’s only really wants to do the basic hiring and firing. Of course, he may also make the ultimate decisions, in which case his refusal to understand international reality could become a very serious weakness, but…
Well, I’m still trying to be a little optimistic here. However, sheer unbridled chaos remains a distinct possibility, with a land war in Eastern Europe or a serious naval engagement in the South Pacific as would-be consequences. If that doesn’t scare you, you’re an idiot.
2. Russia Didn’t Hack the U.S. Election (Slate)
No one familiar with Russian operations is particularly surprised by this approach. It’s called information warfare, and its goal is to employ disinformation to manipulate a target population into making choices it might not otherwise make. I spent two decades as an information-warfare officer in the United States Navy, and it’s common knowledge in military and intelligence circles that deception, propaganda, and psychological operations are hallmarks of Russian doctrine. So on Sunday when Sen. Claire McCaskill called Russia’s intervention in the election “a form of warfare,” this is exactly what she meant...
Russia set out to intentionally manipulate the information that voters consumed in order to influence the decisions they made on Election Day. The goal wasn’t to change the minds of the entire populace, but seed just enough doubt in the minds of undecided and tentatively committed voters to improve Trump’s chances. Just like the phishing email that appears to be an update on the status of the Christmas gifts you ordered or warning that there’s a problem with your tax return, disinformation only has to deceive a very small percentage of the right people to be successful.
And we aren’t the only targets.
This is not news, nor is Russia the only international actor on the information warfare front. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, had he been required to serve his commitment on active duty, was detailed to the Navy’s Information Warfare branch and would have helped defend the U.S. from foreign InfoWar operations. As it is, he’s stuck on the Ravens’ practice squad, and the taxpayers who sent him to school will need to train a replacement InfoWar officer to take his place in the Navy.
It is also worth noting, perhaps, that the current Administration’s response to all of this has been extremely weak. The President and company are all mad right now, but the time for action was months ago, and it’s obvious that the Russians did not ever respect America’s “tough talk”.
I made the argument in my senior thesis that the relative success of the evacuation at Dunkirk was the most significant factor enabling Churchill’s efforts to keep his people in the war against Nazi Germany in the summer of 1940. I am nevertheless surprised to see someone try to turn that story into a movie, especially since I’ve no idea how you make the ending anything other than the Battle of Britain. The Battle of Britain may well have been Britain’s “finest hour” as Churchill said, but it’s hardly an uplifting story. Claiming that things got better in any significant way before somewhere around December 1942 is sheer revisionist history.
You may have seen this piece. It was excellent. My favorite parts were as follows, but the whole thing is well worth a read.
To head coach Jeff Monken, how woebegone Army football retook this rivalry and returned a program to FBS respectability has nothing to do with play-calling philosophy or personnel or scheme. It’s all recruiting.
“We’ve spent as much time in recruiting as we do on Xs and Os,” he said…
Even during Army-Navy week, recruiting is paramount. Following the regular 8:30 a.m. administrative meeting each day, the entire coaching staff stayed in a conference room for recruiting meetings that go as long as game plan installations. A floor-to-ceiling wall of whiteboards can be rotate, revealing a depth chart of over 200 names, each with an index card.
Across the hall, director of player personnel Bobby Blick oversees another wall with hundreds more names that could climb into the main room, given the circumstance. This pool of players is bigger both in geography and size than any other FBS program. Some are being recruited by Yale, some by UTEP, some by FCS teams.
Army’s last game before Baltimore was a 60-3 win against Morgan State Nov. 19. Navy lost the AAC Championship vs. Temple on Dec. 3, and lost quarterback Will Worth for the year in the process.
The Black Knights planned how you would expect: You’ve got weeks while your very, very familiar opponent has days, so jam as much never-before-seen and rejiggered stuff as possible into the offensive gameplan, and plan to move around like maniacs pre-snap on defense, right before you send pressure from weird places a third string quarterback won’t expect.
I’ve seen a few posts on various websites talking about Navy’s injuries headed into the game. I hope folks realize that these occurred because Navy made a choice. That choice was an inherent part of this game. Navy decided to prioritize the American Conference and their bowl bid ahead of the Army-Navy game, and they paid the price for that decision. This was not an accident or a bizarre twist of fate. It was the natural consequence of a purposeful decision.
I will also note that no one suggested Navy should get an asterik next to last year’s result when Army had to start plebe quarterback Chris Carter in only his second action of the season. Why? Because injuries are part of football. Plus, Carter played well last year. It’s not Army’s fault that Abey did not.WOW...what an entrance by @CoachJeffMonken and his @ArmyWP_Football team for the 117th @ArmyNavyGame! #ArmyNavy #AmericasGame pic.twitter.com/uJy0ANofUH— ESPNUpstate (@ESPNUpstate) December 10, 2016
5. Jeff Fisher fired as Rams coach (ESPN)
The Los Angeles Rams parted ways with embattled coach Jeff Fisher on Monday, a decision Rams COO Kevin Demoff chalked up to "an organizational failure" and one he said was "solely a performance-related issue."
I read yesterday that Belichick, who is the only current NFL coach in the NFL with anything like as much experience as Fisher, could go 0-16 for six seasons in a row and still have a better lifetime record than Jeff Fisher.So... yeah... pic.twitter.com/PFaOk4Rtir— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 4, 2016
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That’s all I’ve got, folks.Go Army! Beat Navy!!!