Skip to main content

Early setback for Mr. Trump (Hindu.)

President Donald Trump suffered a big political blow on Monday, barely a month into office, when his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned over his Russia contacts. Mr. Flynn, a close aide of Mr. Trump, admitted that he had “inadvertently” briefed Vice-President Mike Pence with “incomplete information” about his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. The allegation is that Mr. Flynn discussed American sanctions on Russia with Mr. Kislyak in the waning days of the Obama presidency and told him that Russia should wait till Mr. Trump’s inauguration. He later denied speaking of the sanctions, and based on his brief, Mr. Pence publicly defended him. But after the media reported that they had sources vouching that Mr. Flynn had discussed the sanctions with the envoy, it became impossible for the White House to defend him. Technically, Mr. Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador before he became part of the government are a breach of an 18th century law, the Logan Act, that makes it illegal for private individuals to conduct foreign policy. The context is grave for the Trump administration. There are already allegations that Moscow interfered in the presidential elections in favour of Mr. Trump and that the Russians have some compromising personal information about Mr. Trump.

The resignation, however, is unlikely to contain the scandal. It raises even more questions about administration officials’ dealings with Russia and the way the government functions. Mr. Flynn, for example, already faces allegations that he acted with the knowledge of others in Mr. Trump’s transition team, and his past Russian links are being probed. If the scandal widens, it could derail Mr. Trump’s Russia reset plans. He could have avoided this early embarrassment had he paid more heed to those who questioned his picks for top jobs in the administration. Mr. Flynn, who was fired by President Barack Obama in 2014 as head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, was particularly unpopular in Washington. Mr. Trump’s other picks, be it Attorney General Jeff Sessions who faces allegations of racism, or Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who needed the Vice-President to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate for confirmation, are other cases in point. Such decisions cannot be unmade now. But Mr. Trump could learn some lessons from the Flynn episode. He could use better judgment when he chooses his next NSA. He should set his house in order and formulate a cohesive approach towards domestic and foreign policy issues, including stating clearly what his Russia policy is. If not, his administration could well be trapped in crisis mode.


Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…