THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2019 19 Meanwhile, on Sept. 28 Afghans went to the polls in a presidential elec- tion that had been twice postponed. The peace talks have featured promi- nently in the campaign. “Now, the management of the peace process, its planning and implementa- tion is the sole duty of the government of Afghanistan,” President Ashraf Ghani told a campaign rally, with a nod to Trump’s declaration that the Taliban talks were dead. “I will implement that.” As we go to press, with ballot counting ongoing, the two major candidates— incumbent Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah—are both claiming victory. Following the election five years ago, competing claims by the same two men led to months of turmoil. Bolton Out as National Security Adviser, O’Brien In P resident Trump announced by Tweet on Sept. 10 that he had fired National Security Adviser John Bolton, despite Mr. Bolton’s claim that he had offered his resignation the night before. On Sept. 18, Mr. Trump announced that he had hired Robert C. O’Brien, who had been work- ing as the State Department’s top hostage negotiator, as national security adviser. Mr. O’Brien previously served as co-chairman of the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan under both Sec- retaries Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Earlier in his career, he served as senior legal officer for a U.N. Security Council commission that examined claims against Iraq arising from the Persian Gulf War. State Department Offered Millions for Iranian Tanker T he State Department offered sev- eral million dollars to the captain of an Iranian oil tanker in August to get him to sail the ship to a country that would impound it on behalf of Wash- ington, the Financial Times reported Sept. 4; the State Department later confirmed the claims. Brian Hook, serving as Secretary Pompeo’s special representative for Iran, sent emails to about a dozen captains in recent months “in an effort to scare W e saw it at the G-7, the leaders of some of the greatest powers and economies of the world, sitting to talk about one of the greatest challenges in the world, climate change, and there was literally an empty chair where American leadership could have been. The problem is, this is a moment when American leadership is needed more than ever, whether it’s in Hong Kong, where those protesters for democracy need to know that they have a friend in the United States, or anywhere around the world where, increasingly, we see dictators throwing their weight around. The world needs America, but it can’t be just any America. —Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and presidential candidate, from the Democratic Party debate, Sept. 12. ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL mariners into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price,” the FT reported. Limited U.S. Presence at U.N. Climate Summit T he United States submitted no proposals at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23, but President Trump—along with Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo—momentarily listened to speeches by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancel- lor Angela Merkel. More than 60 world leaders spoke at the summit. President Trump and Vice President Pence were at the U.N. to speak at the Global Call to Protect Religious Free- dom event. In June 2017 President Trump vowed to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a 2016 climate pact between most of the world’s countries. Under the terms of the agreement, the earliest the United States could withdraw is Nov. 4, 2020. Meanwhile, Secretary Pompeo, answering questions at the end of a lecture he gave at Kansas State Univer- sity on Sept. 6, claimed that “this State Department—indeed, this administra- tion—has relied on science far more than the previous administration, and I would argue more than any adminis- tration in history.” n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Cameron Woodworth, Dmitry Filipoff, Shawn Dorman and Susan Maitra.