WASHINGTON â? Even in the period of cell phones, email, social media as well as other high-tech forms of instant, long-distance conversation, presidential travel abroad plays a crucial role in U. S. international policy. Ahead of President Trumpâs Nov trip to Japan, South Korea, China and taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines in Nov, Yahoo News spoke to Dorrie Atkiss, a veteran of the George Watts. Bush administration, on the hidden difficulties, opportunities and pitfalls of getting a presidentâs overseas voyage.
In a job interview with Yahoo News on SiriusXMâs POTUS Channel 124, Atkiss referred to some of the unwritten rules and logistical challenges that come with accepting the invite of a foreign president, prime ressortchef (umgangssprachlich), prince or potentate.
At the particular outset, he said, senior authorities from the relevant embassy and the Nationwide Security Council look at the policy information the president wants to send, and âstart fleshing out kind of basic ideas for what will be included in a visit.â
âThe usual options are out there â the formal speech, the bilateral meetings, you know, dinners and lunches, addresses to parliament, the cultural things to show American interest and cultural sensitivity,â Atkiss said.
âReally, a month in advance is where the rubber meets the road, where a team of individuals from various organizations â White House staff, the White House Military Office, the Secret Service, and always accompanied with diplomats from our local embassy â arrive in-country and engage in bilateral discussions to start working out exactly what the host country proposes that the president do while heâs there,â this individual said. âAnd then a back and forth ensues at that point about you know how much time we can commit to what types of things we are and are not interested in.â
Overseas trips are not exclusions to the adage that a White Houseâs most valuable commodity is the presidentâ? t time.
When it comes to foreign government authorities, âusually with a US president they want more time than we can give,â said Atkiss. âAnd so itâs always a matter of, âOK they want us to spend three nights, so that they can have these three dinners, and weâre only willing to spend one night, and so whatâs the one dinner you really want to do?ââ
The result is a (usually diplomatic) back and forth.
âNormally, theyâre coming with a wish list of a lot of things they want the president to accomplish, and then weâre working to kind of pare that back,â said Atkiss.
One challenge is balancing the needs of a foreign trip with the presidentâs regular obligations.
âHeâs still got to be the commander in chief, and heâs still got to be receiving his daily intel brief, and heâs still got to be handling other issues that are completely unrelated to the reason that heâs in-country visiting,â Atkiss mentioned.
So âitâs a matter of, you know, how much can we fit into a day, and what are the things that we want to do vs the things that they want to do,â he added. âAnd ultimately we always work those things out and you know have a schedule that everybodyâs happy with.â
In addition to logistical challenges like having the presidential motorcade vehicles overseas plus planning where Air Force will certainly land, there are unwritten rules that will shape foreign travel.
Those suggestions are handed down from presidency in order to presidency by âthe foreign policy establishmentâ that provides a type of diplomatic institutional memory, explained Atkiss. âAnd certainly theyâre perpetuated by the governments that benefit from that, but thereâs also just good reason for many of them.â
âFor example, the president is going to the APEC summit in Vietnam, well while youâre over there doesnât it makes sense, isnât it an efficient use of his time â and of money for that matter -while heâs there to go to China? You canât go to Asia and not to China. You canât go to Asia and not go to Japan. You canât go to Asia and not go to South Korea,â he said.
One continuing challenge emerges from the presidentâs travelling press corps â? known as the vacation pool, or protective pool â? that follows him. Itâs a good arrangement largely unknown outside the United states of america, born of principles rooted within the First Amendment. The pool helps you to chronicle the unfolding events, huge and small, of a presidency, with all the belief that writing history shouldnât be left only to loyal staffers and government officials. It attempts to keep the public informed â? in which the president is, where the president goes, what the president is doing and stating, how the president is doing, with who the president is meeting. Plus itâs designed to tell Americans, as well as the world, about the presidentâs whereabouts plus well-being in the event of a crisis, and how the particular president is responding. At the grimmest, itâs sometimes called the âbody watch,â the bleak legacy from the assassination of JFK and the tried murder of Ronald Reagan.
Accommodating the vacation pool is âjust simply something that we build into our discussions about the arrangements for the visit,â said Atkiss.
Some countries âdefinitely react with surprise that we have a protective pool that travels on Air Force One, that accompanies the president in all of his motorcade movements, that by and large is in the same building, or on the same property that heâs on at all times,â whether they view the president or not, he added.
But ultimately, Atkiss said, âitâs something thatâs a requirement for the president when he travels.â
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