Trump is keeping quite a few Obama foreign-policy holdovers, for some reason

Trump is keeping quite a few Obama foreign-policy holdovers, for some reason
Image: YouTube screen grab via The New York Times

[Ed. – There may be method in this madness, although it’s hard to discern at the moment.  Keeping the boundaries of the swamp where they can be seen, for more efficient draining?]

Trump’s tough-as-nails “America first” foreign policy is starting to look like Obama Lite—the exact same policies, implemented by the exact same people. Increasingly, members of Congress are starting to notice—and they’re getting angry.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis withdrew his pick for a top Pentagon spot, Anne Patterson’s ambassadorship to Egypt. Patterson’s dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood rankled top Republican lawmakers, and made her perhaps the least popular American in all of Egypt—and Mattis was compelled to take her name off the board. …

What’s really bizarre is that the Trump team keeps blaming damaging leaks to the press on Obama holdovers—when the Trump team is hiring Obama holdovers. They may have caught Anne Patterson before she got past the velvet rope, but Obama people staff key positions elsewhere, on Israel, Iran, ISIS, and Syria issues. …

Yael Lempert, a National Security Council staffer from the Obama administration that the Trump team decided to keep on, is in Jerusalem this week with the White House’s special representative for international negotiations, longtime Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt. Lempert, one former Clinton official told me, “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.” …

But Trump is showing the same disregard for his big promises when it comes to people who aren’t Jewish—like the adherents of the Islamic State, which he firmly swore to demolish. To make good on that promise, the Trump team has selected Brett McGurk—the same Brett McGurk who served as the Obama administration’s special envoy to lead the campaign against ISIS. One of the main reasons Obama’s ISIS policy failed was because Sunni actors refused to engage in an intramural civil war whose spoils would go to the Iranians and their Shia allies. McGurk was the point man on this pro-Iran policy, famously arranging for Iran to get $400 million in cash delivered on wooden pallets to the IRGC in exchange for American hostages.

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