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Monday Memo, 22 January 2018
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Rex visits Stanford, talks Syria goals

Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke at the Hoover Institute and sat down for a Q&A with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a conversation on US policy on Syria. You can watch video of the hour-long event here and read the full transcript here.

Tillerson made clear this administration's intention to maintain an open-ended presence in Syria:
In his Stanford speech, Tillerson laid out five US goals in Syria: the defeat of Isis and al-Qaida, a UN-brokered resolution for Syria that involved Bashar al-Assad’s departure, a curb on Iran, conditions for the safe return of refugees, and the complete elimination of remaining chemical weapons.
(The Guardian)

Hoover's Kori Schake reviewed the speech as "both sensible and fanciful":
It was sensible in that it gave a history of Syria’s grisly war, stated clearly America’s interest in continued involvement even as ISIS is defeated, and outlined policies consistent with those interests. It was fanciful in that the policies outlined would require a much greater measure of American involvement than has been in evidence by this administration—or were committed in [Tillerson's] speech—to succeed...The resources the administration is willing to commit to this problem are at yawning variance with achieving those ambitious goals. It is unlikely the Trump administration will actually implement the Syria policy outlined by Tillerson...Perhaps the speech will turn out to be useful in the way American refusal to acknowledge Soviet conquest of the Baltic states, or America’s speaking publicly about dissidents jailed in other repressive countries, was useful: by giving heart to suffering people that we see their struggle and hope for their success. It is unlikely to result in much more than that.
(The Atlantic)

The main topic was Syria, but Tillerson also spoke of how he works with Trump's often off-the-cuff Twitter foreign policy: 
"I don't even have a Twitter account so I can follow his tweeting — so my staff has to print his tweets out,” Tillerson said. He added that the system works well for him because by the time he finds out about the tweet, he’s already learned about some of the reactions to the tweet and can figure out how to respond to both.
(POLITICO)

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The Stanford Review and David Palumbo-Liu

Last week, John Rice-Cameron and Anna Mitchell published a story in the Stanford Review titled, "Antifa Thugs Find a Champion and Leader in Stanford Professor." The piece describes comparative literature professor David Palumbo-Liu as an "antifa ring-leader" for cofounding the Campus Anti-Fascist Network, and it calls for Palumbo-Liu's resignation.

Palumbo-Liu responded in a sharply-worded op-ed in the Stanford Daily. He described the Review's piece as "right-wing propaganda" and "classic yellow journalism," but his op-ed is not only valuable for its critique of the Review's brand of journalism but also for its commentary on the state of discourse at Stanford and in the nation more broadly.

In yet another piece, the Stanford Review editorial board responded to Palumbo-Liu's response to explain their definition of fascism and to defend their conflation of antifascist sentiment with "antifa" terrorism. They also adamantly deny that they are "representatives of the alt-right."

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