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Trump's impulsivity and incompetence

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  I’m very close to Israel . . .  very close. I have a great relationship, very close. Far better than our president has,” he told the jubilant Birch Run audience.

Trump at the 2015 Birch Run, Michigan Lincoln Day Dinner—the 28:44 mark in the video.

“I know Bibi very well. In fact, he asked me if I’d do a commercial for him. In fact, I’m the only so-called celebrity that did a commercial for him.”

Trump on Hugh Hewitt’s daily radio show.

“You don’t become a Manhattan real estate mogul without seeding the Kosher pot.”

~Brother Nathanial Kapner

One would think that being  a real estan developer in NY requires high level of intelligence  and strict self-discipline. Wrong. As Trump proved you can be obnoxious bully and narcissist and still succeed. It is absolutely incredible that such  an uneducated narcissist became the US President but large pat of this fault lies on Hillary Clinton and the US neoliberal establishment. Which pushed Sanders under the bus in2016.

The pieces of the puzzle are all falling into place now  and  we see who Trump really is not who he is pretend to be (Donald Trump, the Impulsive Demagogue in the White House The New Yorker )

... it's hard to recall a President who had such little interest, or expertise, in the details of governing. Wayne Barrett, the legendary Village Voice muckraker who died on Thursday, at the age of seventy-one, had covered Trump for almost as long as anybody. (He published a book about him, in 1992.) “Donald just has no interest in information," Barrett told Jennifer Gonnerman, shortly after the election. "He has no genuine interest in policy. He operates by impulse.”

We now knew Trump was being financed and heavily supported by the Zionists such as Sheldon Adelson who gave Trump a huge campaign donation. His son-in-law and Ivanka are is clearly Zionists.  his major appointment  such  as Bolton  and Pompeo are typical rabid neocons which  would be  perfectly at home in Bush II administration.

Trump’s brazen, shoot-from-the-hip style appealed to many voters fed up with neoliberal Washington. And since his inauguration, Trump has made a show of breaking the rules — shaking up the political establishment with everything from unorthodox decisions to off-the-cuff comments to full-blown international scandals.

Some pundits have questioned the president’s mental state and wondered aloud whether he has a diagnosable mental health condition called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Some ADHD experts, including George Sachs, Psy.D., and Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., posit that Donald Trump might be running the country with undiagnosed ADHD.

Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, cited the President’s short attention span, impulsive tendencies, restless behavior, and daily fix via Twitter.  Nothing in Trump’s public medical records indicate he has ever been diagnosed with ADHD but  his father send him to the New York Military Academy (NYMA), the private boarding school to rain on his behaviour (How young Donald Trump was slapped and punched until he made his bed - New York Daily News)

According to the DSM-V, an individual may qualify for an ADHD diagnosis only if five or more symptoms under one or more of the categories below are present before age 12, are present in more than one setting (i.e. work and home), and “interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.”

Inattention

Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities — Trump is known for making spelling errors in tweets (the confounding “covfefe” is perhaps the most obvious example). He has misspelled “honored” as “honered,” “tap” as “tapp,” and “unprecedented” as “unpresidented” — painting a picture of an impatient typist who doesn’t take the time to proofread the words reaching 34 million followers.

Has difficulty sustaining attentionJack O’Donnell, a former business associate of Trump’s, said in an interview that if he wanted to run something by Donald, he would do it immediately upon seeing him. Otherwise, he added, “If you hit him too late in the conversation, he might say, ‘Let’s talk about it later’ — and he was gone.”  O’Donnell isn’t the only one who’s noticed Trump’s tendency to get bored quickly.  The magazine Foreign Policy, in its article “NATO Frantically Tries to Trump-Proof President’s First Visit,” quoted one anonymous NATO source who said: “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing.”

Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly — Early in his presidency, it was revealed that while Trump appeared to be nodding along to remarks given by Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, he was in fact not wearing a translation device in his ear, and thus could not actually be listening.

Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace — At his transition meeting with former President Barack Obama, Trump “seemed surprised” by the job ahead of him, insider reports said

Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities — After his Electoral College victory, Trump and his team struggled to organize their personnel and materials for the post-Obama transition.

Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort — Trump has asked his staff to keep his daily briefings short, and fill them with “killer graphics” whenever possible. “I like bullets, or I like as little as possible,” Trump said in an interview before his inauguration. “I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page.”

Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli — Trump once paused in the middle of his own speech on infrastructure projects to wave at a passing boat captain. “We’re going to restore America’s industrial might,” he said. “And I look here, and, something, those barges, they’ve been waiting for us to say hello. The captain says please wave. Hello, Captain.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/QNnpri38QoY 

Hyperactivity

Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat — Donald Trump often moves items on tables when he sits down, as late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel realized.

Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor” — Trump is an avid golfer, and former playing partners have reported that he speeds through courses at a breakneck pace. Sportswriter Rick Reilly, who played a round of golf with Trump over a decade ago, wrote that they completed 18 holes in less than three hours — “and that,” Reilly wrote, included “stopping often to harangue the stonemason, the path paver, and the greenskeeper to redo the bricks, or re-trim a tree, or re-pave a path that is not absolutely, immaculately Trumpalicious.”

Talks excessively — The President has been known to give long-winded speeches that stray widely from his prepared remarks, though this is hardly a unique trait among politicians. He’s also a habitual tweeter, often going on late-night “Tweetstorms” regarding whatever’s on his mind (or on TV) that day.

Impulsivity

Blurts out the answers before the questions have been completed — Trump often speaks without clearing it with his team, which has led to some scrambling on the part of the White House. He once told the Associated Press that a tax reform plan would be rolled out in the next five days; his aides, however, were unaware of this and had no such intentions. “The reason your head is spinning on this is that the plan isn’t even written yet,” one senior White House official said shortly after Trump’s remarks.

Speaking off the cuff, he has also contradicted statements made by the White House team, as he did when speaking on camera with NBC News anchor Lester Holt about the firing of FBI director James Comey. After Vice President Mike Pence said the firing came at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump said quite the opposite on camera: “I was going to fire Comey — my decision… I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”

Has difficulty awaiting turn — During a NATO meeting earlier this year, Trump was caught on video shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro in an apparent bid to get to the front of the group of world leaders. On the day of his Inauguration, he was also criticized for leaving behind his wife, Melania Trump, as he eagerly bounded out of their shared limousine.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/T4rWVOeEI7Y 

Interrupts or intrudes on others — During the debates, Trump repeatedly interrupted or spoke over his adversaries. After his first head-to-head match with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, The New York Times counted 39 interruptions from Trump — compared to just 8 by Clinton.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dN6f6K3E5QQ 

What Do These Symptoms Mean?

Do the examples above prove that Donald Trump has ADHD? Absolutely not. Could strategically selected videos and quotes be found to support almost any similar claim against a public figure like Trump? Quite likely.

The fact is: Only a qualified professional with experience evaluating symptoms of ADHD in adults could make that determination following diagnostic interviews, test analysis, and a study of Trump’s family medical history. Without a full medical history and a transparent diagnostic process, we may never know whether Trump has attention deficit or, as others have suggested, BMD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or early signs of dementia.

Still, many experts have criticized the recent trend of “armchair diagnosis,” accusing unqualified pundits of jumping to conclusions without first engaging in a full or accurate evaluation.


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Old News ;-)

[Mar 27, 2020] Trump's about as innocent in the coronavirus fiasco as jack the ripper

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Miss Lacy , Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Mar 24, 2020] Trump owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. that might explain his position on the virus and initial downplaying of the danger

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tor597 , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:30 pm GMT

Actually, Trump was downplaying Corona Virus as late as March 9th.

https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1237027356314869761

One thing I think played a role that is not mentioned is Trumps business that he owns. He owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. Trump wont rule out government assistance for himself.

For Trump to shut down the economy and produce an effective containment, he would have had to do this knowing that his own business would be devastated.

https://mol.im/a/8138335

[Mar 22, 2020] Best Coronavirus Trump Statements Timeline Synopsis Ever Put Together

1 minute 22 second video with Trump statements in chonological order @ https://twitter.com/i/videos/tweet/1240985096838053889
There is a saying the you fight the war with the army you have, not with the army you want.
Notable quotes:
"... Ok. Let me start by stating that I am not a "staunch" Trump supporter. However, I just really despise the constant visceral negative, hatred towards our Country's President. ..."
"... As I am sure you are aware, it is a tremendously difficult job, especially in today's crisis. I would think it would be better serve of your time and efforts to be constructive and optimistic, and hopeful. Rather than pinpointed every single steps and missteps he makes. He is certainly no perfect - but his goal is the same as all of ours: to defeat this virus in the best manner possible with the resources available. ..."
"... For the entire Trump Presidency it was all about the stock market. So, here we are. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | moneymaven.io

Please play this.

Anthony Scaramucci @Scaramucci

I hope this is played everyday everywhere until Nov 8. Unless ⁦ @ realDonaldTrump ⁩ resigns as he should immediately.

https://twitter.com/i/videos/tweet/1240985096838053889

35.6K 8:54 AM - Mar 20, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

23.6K people are talking about this

Mish

20 hours ago Here is a 1 minute 22 second video timeline of Trump's amazing handling of the coronavirus.

Please play this.

It will take less than two minutes of your time.

One missing key quote is a statement Trump made bragging about having natural talent coupled with a proclamation that he could have been a scientist instead of president.

More Questions:

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

njbr 20 hrs

The dumb-asses in DC still don't get it. "Top" leaders crowding around a single microphone in a stage no larger than a public restroom. Working toward a 1 time $1200 check that probably wont be issued/delivered for another couple weeks. What about the weeks after that--are they going to spend the next couple weeks going around about the next check?? Has the production of ventilators actually been accelerated-who could tell from what has been said? Why are nurses and doctors in my area asking the public for donations of PPE at the very beginning of the serious phase? What happens when the doctors and nurses start tipping over? Two partially ready hospital ships may help in one spot each on the coast, but what about everywhere else? Has anyone even checked on the production capacity for the maybe helpful malaria medicine--has anyone been directed to begin proactive super-production of this product? On and on.

DeeDee3 20 hrs

hard to prove deliberate neglect when you eliminate all of the evidence. No testing means "no virus" and sadly supported the hoax theory.

Another doc died in the city today. ER's are unprotected. what conclusion can we draw from all of this?

Zardoz 20 hrs

Thousands will die because of his incompetence... and his followers will blame the Chinese

egilkinc 20 hrs

There should be a tracker of the number of cases [among medical personnle] in the US along with this

Sechel 20 hrs

Oh my g-d. This is excellent! I think Trump has learned some bad lessons from Goebbels. Repeat the lie and repeat it often and people will take your version of events. This really serves to correct the record! Good work!

PecuniaNonOlet 20 hrs

And yet there will be an avalanche of Trump supporters defending the idiot. It is truly beyond me.

michiganmoon 20 hrs

Actually, Trump should resign and give the GOP a chance this November.

Had Trump not downplayed this and had tests ready, he could have played on a loop Biden on January 31st saying travel restrictions from Wuhan were racist and xenophobic.

thesaint0013 20 hrs

Ok. Let me start by stating that I am not a "staunch" Trump supporter. However, I just really despise the constant visceral negative, hatred towards our Country's President.

As I am sure you are aware, it is a tremendously difficult job, especially in today's crisis. I would think it would be better serve of your time and efforts to be constructive and optimistic, and hopeful. Rather than pinpointed every single steps and missteps he makes. He is certainly no perfect - but his goal is the same as all of ours: to defeat this virus in the best manner possible with the resources available.

To criticize previous tweets, interviews, and depict his flaws and errors does not help the common goal. The nature of some of the questions posed to him during the press conferences should be a bit more respectful and again, it doesn't serve any positive outcome to try and "catch" him in a lie, and how he may have said something that was not factual or false.

Again, he's not perfect and neither are anyone of us. However he is our President and we should support his and all of our common goal to defeat this virus.

Russell J 20 hrs

Not making excuses for Trump at all but he/we have people who are specialists and are responsible for being ready at all times for something like this and are responsible for being on the look out for this. Somebody should have came forward, even as a whistleblower. I've been aware for about 2 months now.

Thank you WWW.PEAKPROSPERITY.COM, MISH and WWW.ZEROHEDGE.COM

This was an epic failure of Trump, his administration and America in general.

ghoffa 20 hrs

Hi,
@MishTalk @Mish
I wanted to sincerely thank you MISH from my whole extended family. I have been reading you since 2007 when Ron Paul removed the scales from my eyes on the Fed and govt., Jekyll Island book, the "financial markets" (all modern day money changers). Every picture I see of Fed chairpersons, their eyes look dead black sharks eyes (to quote a famous book which I subscribe, the eyes are the windows to the soul).

In addition our mob style duolopoly govt and for the most part complicit MSM (all with significant influencing billionaire ownership to control the news - easily searched). I've learned so much from this blog and the many commentors in this space ( a personal fav is @Stuki ) . Nothing short of brilliant and reminds me of my fav news source Zerohedge and it's articles and commentors.

A special thanks for pointing us to Chris Martenson (peakprosperity.com) as my wife and I have watched every day his free daily videos since JAN @24th and our extended family is as prepared as we can be. God help us all with what's coming.

For those who haven't watched it, Dr. Martenson has a great 3 min video on exponential growth on YTube. Search his name and exponential. It will help you prepare for what our govt knows is coming in enourmous exponential growth in fatalities. Even knowing, it will be an emotional thing to prepare for. Prepping home supplies is one thing, prepping emotionally is also important per Dr. Martenson. HCWs be damned.

As this impacts people personally, I expect insider leaks to come from many fronts. We're working with neighbors to get prepared as we're all on our own now as the money changers (evil) bail out the money changers (evil) amidst a system that is so debt leveraged it can't likely be bailed out. "everything's a nail and the Fed has a hammer".

Lastly this brings a famous quote to mind as the people rise up against corrupt govt, corp bailouts after stock buy backs, etc. Let alone the monsters upon monsters creating lab viruses (regardless of the source of this virus), and unregulated GMOs changing the fabric of life.....

"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing". Margaret Mead
G

QE2Infinity 20 hrs

Come on! First off, anyone can be made to look bad by taking snippets out of context and stringing them together. That said, Trump does tend towards braggadocio. If that is off putting to you, he can be annoying. I much prefer a transparent fool to the more sly variety that plays the part well while sticking a knife in your back.

But let's be honest here. The president can do very little. The bureaucracy of the government is a jobs program for the less ambitious and politically inclined. It's staffed with incompetent bureaucrats that show up, surf the web and may get around to an hour or two of honest work. Public unions guarantee they can't be fired.

Obama converted the CDC into a PC jobs program for lefties, just like he converted NASA into a Muslim outreach program.

May one ask: why is a self proclaimed libertarian screaming for more government action? Wouldn't it be great if one of the outcomes of this crisis is that local communities became more self reliant and more self sufficient!

Sechel 20 hrs

that's from a website called therecount.com looks interesting.

Greggg 20 hrs

For the entire Trump Presidency it was all about the stock market. So, here we are.

numike 20 hrs

while we all point fingers lets look at a useful guide regarding the mess we are ALL in now https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide Questions about COVID-19 and food safety, answered. www.seriouseats.com

Tengen 20 hrs

The graphic at the end of the video already looks out of date and shows how rapid the spread has been. For March 2020 it shows 5,002 cases in the US (and counting) but right now I'm seeing 24,137 cases.

So much for "in a couple of days the 15 is going to be down close to zero".

njbr 20 hrs

What can the President do?

Force and organize the production of necessary goods.

Mish Editor 19 hrs

May one ask: why is a self proclaimed libertarian screaming for more government action? Wouldn't it be great if one of the outcomes of this crisis is that local communities became more self reliant and more self sufficient!

Mish Editor 19 hrs

Trump did not Drain the Swamp. He IS the swamp

Mish Editor 19 hrs

Anyone who still supports this President's actions is a TDS-inflicted fool.

Jim Bob 19 hrs

I've followed Mish for ~ 12 years online and on the radio for brilliant economic analysis. Lately his work has been undermined by irrational political opinion. Mish has turned into Krugman. I won't be back.

abend237-04 19 hrs

The Donald is obviously afflicted with the same narcissistic megalomania prerequisite for a successful run at any elective office above County Coroner, anywhere in this country.

That said, he can apparently read a graph, and he's right: The two drug combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin are working to treat this damn thing, BUT:

It is, indeed, not a Covid-19 preventative.

If you get it, and you dink around at home too long waiting for improvement, arriving at ICU needing ventilation leaves you with roughly the odds of Russian roulette of surviving, especially if you're older.

Lacking testing, the only remaining means available to knock the transmission rate down quickly is social distancing/lockdown. But, enough of that prevention can leave us wishing we were dead anyway.

Unfortunately, all the college kids jamming the bars and beaches is setting the stage for continued exponential growth by hordes of asymptomatic spreaders.

The march of folly continues.

I like what I'm seeing of Cuomo. He'd be a good guy to have in the room in a serious fight; This qualifies.

DBG8489 19 hrs

As someone who hates all politicians, there is zero love lost between Trump and myself. I had hopes when he was elected that he would make a difference but it was clear based on how he looked after his private meeting with Obama on inauguration day that he was in over his head.

Having said that, I will say this:

From at least the "major" state level up, it would appear that not one single elected official or the top advisors and bureaucrats who work for them have shown anything but complete and utter failure in their handling of this emergency.

You have senators selling off piles of stock while either saying nothing or telling the rest of us that it was bullshit. And trust me - they were not the only ones. If anyone cares to investigate, they will likely find this problem rampant. Elected officials should not even be allowed to trade stocks when they control the entire economy - not even through alleged "blind trusts" - it's bullshit. But that's a conversation for another time.

You have congressional reps and senators blaming each other and/or the other party and passing laws and bailouts without even reading the bills they are passing.

You have the Treasury and the Fed printing money and throwing it at every hole that opens up without the slightest regard for what the unintended consequences of those actions may entail.

You have governments of the "major" states (CA, NY, NJ...etc) who know they can't simply print money being exposed using any extra money they had (along with taxes based on tourism that have now disappeared) to fund God knows what now demanding that everyone else pony up to pay for their failure to plan...

The lack of leadership in the major states and at the Federal level is abysmal ACROSS THE BOARD.

And that includes members of BOTH parties and nearly every single bureaucratic agency involved.

You can single Trump out if you want, but he's not alone. He's just an easy target because 49% of the population hated him before this started.

njbr 18 hrs

....Top health officials first learned of the virus's spread in China on January 3, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday. Throughout January and February, intelligence officials' warnings became more and more urgent, according to the Post -- and by early February, much of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA's intelligence reports were dedicated to warnings about Covid-19.

All the while, Trump downplayed the virus publicly, telling the public the coronavirus "is very well under control in our country," and suggesting warm weather would neutralize the threat the virus poses....

...The administration did begin taking some limited action about a month after Azar says the administration first began receiving warnings, blocking non-citizens who had been to China in the last two weeks from entering the country on February 3 -- a move public experts have argued at best bought the US time to ramp up its testing capabilities, which it did not use, and at worst had no beneficial effects at all.

Trump finally assembled a task force to address the virus, putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the effort on February 26, and declared a national emergency on March 13. And, just this week -- nearly three months after first receiving warnings from his intelligence officials -- the president's public tone about the crisis shifted: "I've always known this is a real -- this is a pandemic," he said Tuesday as he admitted, "[the virus is] not under control for any place in the world."....

Realist 18 hrs

I have been watching political leaders in my own country get on television daily. They have all done a great job of informing the public about the dangers of this virus. They have all relied on the experts to relay information to the public about what the government is doing, and what individuals should be doing. This is true at the national, regional, and local levels.

In addition businesses have been sending out emails, radio announcements and tv messages explaining what they are doing in regard to this pandemic.

In fact, I am amazed at what a good job everyone is doing.

I am also watching what is happening in the US. Every US state governor and city mayor I have seen on tv has done a wonderful job of presenting the facts to the public and provided instructions as to what they are doing and what the public should be doing.

Then there is the gong show that is Trump. I could not imagine that anyone could be as bad as he is; months of lies, denials, suppression of the truth, and a complete and utter lack of preparation for something he was warned about many times. Denying one day that the virus was a pandemic; only to claim the very next day that he had known it was a pandemic for months; and then the very next day say that no one could have seen this coming; and finally saying that his response to the virus rates a 10 out of 10.

Worst President ever. Sadly, many, many Americans are going to suffer and die because America had this moron in charge.

Mish keeps referring to worldometer to get stats from. Their numbers seem to match up with numbers I see in my own country and in the US.

Disturbingly, today, the mortality rate for closed cases ticked up 1% to 12%. 12978 deaths and 94674 recovered. That is not the direction I expected it to go.

daveyp 17 hrs

You get what you vote for. To have such a malignant narcissist of such profoundly limited intellectual honesty and capacity "leading" your nation through this is truly tragic for your country. Even the hideously vile ultimate Washington insider Hilary would have done a better job.

truthseeker 17 hrs

Mish I agree with much of the criticism of Trump, yet had he done everything you and others suggest, there is this implied assumption that everything would have worked out perfectly. You know I am impressed the way the country seems to be uniting to such a great degree, that I think there is at least some hope for our country's future though there are huge challenges that lay ahead absolutely!

abend237-04 17 hrs

I will now proceed, once again, to bitch about the root cause of our current pandemic, which is causing many to experience cosmic scale frustration with The Donald, which I share:

Civilization has now been hit squarely in the head with three killer coronavirus outbreaks in 18 years, yet still has no unified global new viral antigen detection system. We could have if our world "leaders" would make it happen.

Local supercomputers, however massive, will never crack this nut, but the billions of powerful, web-accessible smartphones could if linked and used by a parallelized, intelligent scheduler to raise the alarm when a new antibody/pathogen is discovered in human blood anywhere.

Such a system could have lifted the burden from a lonely doctor struggling to raise the alarm in Wuhan, before Covid-19 killed him, and placed it squarely in front of disease control experts, worldwide. It can be done; We must do it.

Sars cov-3/4/5/6/7/8/9/n could kill us all if we don't.

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - A Tale of Two Foreign Policies The Train-Wreck Abroad Is Bipartisan by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did ..."
"... Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States. ..."
"... Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy. ..."
"... Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Now that the Democratic Party has apparently succeeded in getting rid of the only two voices among its presidential candidates that actually deviated from the establishment consensus, it appears that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump in November. To be sure, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are still hanging on, but the fix was in and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made sure that Sanders would be given the death blow on Super Tuesday while Gabbard would be blocked from participating in any of the late term debates.

It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did. Rumor has it that Klobuchar might well wind up as Biden's vice president. An alternative tale is that it was a much more threatening "offer that couldn't be refused" coming from the Clintons.

... ... ...

Both Trump and Biden might reasonably described as Zionists, Trump by virtue of the made-in-Israel foreign policy positions he has delivered on since his election, and Biden by word and deed during his entire time in politics. When Biden encountered Sarah Palin in 2008 in the vice-presidential debate, he and Palin sought to outdo each other in enthusing over how much they love the Jewish state. Biden has said that "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and also, ridiculously, "Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent one. We will never abandon Israel -- out of our own self-interest. [It] is the best $3 billion investment we make." Biden has been a regular feature speaker at the annual AIPAC summit in Washington.

Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States.

Trump similarly reversed himself on withdrawing from Syria when he ran into criticism of the move and his plan to extricate the United States from Afghanistan, if it develops at all, could easily be subjected to similar revision. Trump is not really the man who as a candidate indicated that he was seriously looking for a way out of America's endless and pointless wars, no matter what his supporters continue to assert.

Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy.

Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president.

And Biden's foreign policy reminiscences are is subject to what appear to be memory losses or inability to articulate, illustrated by a whole series of faux pas during the campaign. He has a number of times told a tale of his heroism in Afghanistan that is complete fiction , similar to Hillary Clinton's lying claims of courage under fire in Bosnia.

So, we have a president in place who takes foreign policy personally in that his first thoughts are "how does it make me look?" and a prospective challenger who appears to be suffering from initial stages of dementia and who has always been relied upon to support the establishment line, whatever it might be. Though Trump is the more dangerous of the two as he is both unpredictable and irrational, the likelihood is that Biden will be guided by the Clintons and Obamas. To put it another way, no matter who is president the likelihood that the United States will change direction to get away from its interventionism and bullying on a global scale is virtually nonexistent. At least until the money runs out. Or to express it as a friend of mine does, "No matter who is elected we Americans wind up getting John McCain." Goodnight America!

Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. A former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. " Source "

[Mar 22, 2020] Liberal NPCs Hate Russia, Conservative NPCs Hate China

Mar 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Mar 21 2020 23:10 utc | 54

Caitlin Johnstone also sees the response being manipulated to focus hate on China: Liberal NPCs Hate Russia, Conservative NPCs Hate China

But she sees this China-bashing as mostly a political reaction:

In reality these people are rallying behind the campaign to blame China for the health crisis they're now facing because they understand that otherwise the blame will land squarely on the shoulders of their president, who's running for re-election this year.
instead of a deliberate Deep-State strategy (which is my view).

We can argue who created the virus (I'm still looking for any rebuttal to the Chinese claim that USA must be the source because it has all five strains of the virus), but the Empire's gaming of the virus outbreak seems very clear to me.

!!

[Mar 21, 2020] To be fair to Trump

Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@Snode

"The Obama-Biden Administration set up the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to prepare for future pandemics like covid-19. Donald Trump eliminated it -- and now we're paying the price."

-- Former vice president Joe Biden, in a tweet, March 19

BUT!!! OBAMA DID, TOO!!! (As did Dubya)

After Barack Obama became president in 2009, he eliminated the White House Health and Security Office, which worked on international health issues. But after grappling with the 2014 Ebola epidemic, Obama in 2016 established a Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the NSC. A directorate has its own staff, and it is headed by someone who generally reports to the national security adviser.

One can see the dueling narratives here, neither entirely incorrect. The office -- as set up by Obama in 2016 -- was folded into another office. Thus, one could claim the office was eliminated. But the staff slots did not disappear and at least initially the key mission of team remained a priority. So one can also claim nothing changed and thus Biden's criticism is overstated.

Source: Washington Post -- Was the White House office for global pandemics eliminated?


Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 4:35pm

What did the GWB and Obama Administrations

@edg
have against the large and presumably highly skilled public health agencies under HHS? If they had flubbed, then they should have been ordered to fix the problem; reorganize and/or replace the incompetents so that such flubs don't happen again. The Asst Secretary for Public Health, a physician, oversees those agencies and reports to the HHS Secretary who in turn reports to the POTUS.

Why set up a WH office overseen by a person with no public health expertise or experience to report to the NSC director?

Steven D on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 8:50am
Yes

One big clusterfuck isn't it.

leveymg on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 8:56am
"Nobody could foresee airliners used as missiles." But, who

remembers that, too?

Bush got away with that excuse. He even got several glorious wars out of it. Why shouldn't Trump?

[Mar 20, 2020] This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:25 utc | 225

A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States' crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare -- in addition to being cruel in itself -- is "feeding the coronavirus epidemic" by hampering nations' capacity to respond.

"This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible," Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.

https://truthout.org/articles/economists-demand-trump-immediately-lift-iran-cuba-venezuela-sanctions/

Mao , Mar 19 2020 23:37 utc | 229

Promising to "smash" Venezuela's government during a "maximum pressure March," Trump has imposed crushing sanctions that force Venezuela to spend three times as much as non-sanctioned countries on coronavirus testing kits.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/17/us-sanctions-venezuelas-health-sector-coronavirus/

[Mar 19, 2020] Comedian Lee Camp: "America's two-party oligarchy can't relate to those in need"

Mar 19, 2020 | www.rt.com

As the US teeters on the edge of abyss amid a Covid-19 pandemic, the crisis has revealed systemic flaws brought by years of two-party plutocracy that go far beyond a single president, says Lee Camp, host of RT's Redacted Tonight. While President Donald Trump bears a good portion of the blame for the sluggish US response to Covid-19, he is only one piece of a larger puzzle. America's structural defects long predate Trump's time in office, the comedian argued.

"The fact that so many millions of Americans don't have paid sick leave, or hardly make minimum wage and therefore can't afford an emergency – that kind of system was set up under a two-party apparatus that basically agreed: 'Let's create an America where people are completely exploited,'" Camp said.

[Mar 19, 2020] Trump has reached peak incompetence with this one. All the gains of his 'legacy' have been wiped out, but he always has his (((trusted advisers))) ready to steer him into the rocks.

Mar 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sick of Orcs , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 9:17 pm GMT

@Poco Globalism is not harmed at all. The machine didn't blow up, it simply shut off. Unfortunately, it supplies life-giving goods and services to billions, regardless of Globohomo using it to spread FOURTH-worlders everywhere in the West (US Southern order remains wide open.)

Trump has reached peak incompetence with this one. All the gains of his 'legacy' have been wiped out, but he always has his (((trusted advisers))) ready to steer him into the rocks. Time to reminisce about record low black unemployment numbers.

[Mar 19, 2020] Trump administration pandemic priorities

Mar 19, 2020 | caitlinjohnstone.com

Pandemic priorities:

Priority #1 – Make sure everyone is aware that this virus indisputably originated in China. China, China, China. Call it the China virus or the Wuhan virus so everyone knows. China is very, very bad and we must say so over and over and over again.

Priority #2 – Deal with virus if we have time.

[Mar 19, 2020] Here s a link to a video of the President saying he is not responsible for the closing of the pandemic office

Mar 19, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

gnt sglovera day ago

You should know by now that repeating the actual words of administration officials, including the President, is clear evidence of irrational partisan bias. The surgeon general chided the press on Saturday for writing stories about the past.

Here's a link to a video of the President saying he is not responsible for the closing of the pandemic office, linked to a video of the press conference in which he explained why he closed the pandemic office:

Play Hide
engineerscotty gnta day ago
Obviously a deep fake. Dear Leader would never say such a thing, and even if he did, if he says he didn't, he didn't. If you bout this, please report to Room 101.
TISO_AX2 gnt14 hours ago • edited
No, the White House Didn't 'Dissolve' Its Pandemic Response Office
gnt TISO_AX29 hours ago
As near as I can interpret the article you reference, the leading experts on global pandemics were fired. The remaining staff responsible for building the response to global pandemics were assigned new duties. The function of dealing with global pandemics was assigned to an existing department that was also assigned other new responsibilities at the same time. In that sense, there is still an office that is responsible for dealing with global pandemics. But that office no longer has the same resources for doing that, and has many other responsibilities.
TISO_AX2 gnt6 hours ago
When I joined the National Security Council staff in 2018, I inherited a
strong and skilled staff in the counterproliferation and biodefense
directorate. This team of national experts together drafted the National Biodefense Strategy of 2018 and an accompanying national security presidential memorandum to implement it; an executive order to modernize influenza vaccines; and coordinated the United States' response to the Ebola epidemic in Congo, which was ultimately defeated in 2020.

Seems pretty open to obvious interpretation. This was post the so-called firing that is being blamed on the president. And if you have evidence that the administration medical team is not today staffed at a level even higher than before 2017, let's see it.

gnt TISO_AX22 hours ago
So the bureaucrat who picked up the extra responsibilities writes an editorial saying that he had the whole thing handled all along. He doesn't have much credibility; he's got no future as a Republican apparatchik if he doesn't say something here. He ran the office with the responsibility, but there's still no evidence of having kept anyone with expertise in pandemics. Expertise still matters.
TISO_AX2 sglover15 hours ago
No, one wouldn't. But public hypocritical comments (like here) is not the remedy. It's just hypocrisy.
sglover TISO_AX211 hours ago
OK, I'm guessing everybody can use a giggle. So please tell me what "the remedy" is. This should be good.
TISO_AX2 sglover11 hours ago • edited
You could start by not trafficking in falsehoods such as your "pandemic team" claim. And then you should stop whining about division while sowing division.
sglover TISO_AX211 hours ago
I don't understand what "claim" you're referring to. Have you got your lines crossed, managing all the Trump apologetics? I know it's a full-time job.

But actually, Trump, via his surrogate Bolton (you know, the guy Trump appointed as part of "draining the swamp") *did* gut that office. Senior staff left, other staff got reassigned, and the whole shop was reduced to something like two people.

See? I knew you'd be good for a laugh!

TISO_AX2 sglover11 hours ago
Asked and answered. You should read the thread..all of it.
sglover TISO_AX210 hours ago
You are objecting to a video in which Trump admits to the very thing that you claim didn't happen. Truly you're living up to your messiah's words: I take no responsibility .

Aren't you embarrassed? Even a little?

TISO_AX2 sglover10 hours ago
Are you embarrassed to contradict yourself? What are you trying to say...did the President admit to the very thing ...or take no responsibility ?
gnt TISO_AX28 hours ago
The problem is that the President tries to have it both ways. When he thought he was just getting rid of excess staff, he was proud to take responsibility for his choice. When it later became clear that there were bad consequences for that same choice, the President denied responsibility for that specific action.

Trump routinely makes statements that contradict each other, leaving it to his supporters to decide which ones they want to hear. Maybe you're comfortable with the changes in direction, but many of us have memories that go back more than a few hours.

TISO_AX2 gnt7 hours ago • edited
Whatever happened at the NSC was planned long ago. Even Obama knew that it was an overbloated bureaucracy. And your assertion that the reorganization resulted in "bad consequences is just that..a claim. You have not established it as a fact or common knowledge. Based on those conclusions your narrative is uncompelling.

https://www.realclearpoliti...

sglover TISO_AX28 hours ago
My God you are beyond parody. Your big score, the point that you believe is going to show me what's what, is -- My Messiah walked back one of his lies, and you don't want to give him credit . Most people hold toddlers to a higher standard -- do you understand that?
TISO_AX2 sglover7 hours ago
If he's anyone's messiah it's yours. You expect him to walk on water, or save you from coronavirus. I don't expect that of him at all. There's your parody.

[Mar 14, 2020] Trump rightly announced a national emergency, marking a sharp shift in his approach to the greatest crisis of his presidency. by Jacob Heilbrunn

Mar 13, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

It was a somber Donald Trump who spoke at the White House today to declare a "national emergency" and that "we're doing a great job." Gone was his language about exaggerated fears and a "hoax" surrounding the coronavirus. His own daughter, Ivanka, stayed home rather than visit the White House because of her exposure to an Australian official who has the coronavirus.

Not only was the shift in tone marked, but Trump also referred constantly to the numerous public health experts and corporate CEOs flanking him as he faced the biggest crisis of his presidency. Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated that the coronavirus may remain virulent for another eight to nine weeks: "I can't give you a number. It depends how successful we are." Trump himself sought to convey confidence by emphasizing that his administration had moved quickly to impede the spread of the coronavirus, including quickly ordering travel bans. How effective will his emergency declaration prove?

The most important thing that the administration can do is work to remove the uncertainty surrounding the extent of the spread of the virus. Until there is more clarity, economic activity will be hobbled as investors and businesses retreat from incurring any additional risk. In this regard, Trump's decision to announce an emergency was a case of better late than never. Failure is not an option. Left unchecked, the worst-case estimates are that the coronavirus could kill up to 1.5 million people and turn America into Italy writ large. Writing in the Washington Post today, the Italian journalist Monica Maggioni underscores just how grim that prospect would be: "I find myself confined in a place where time is suspended. All the shops are closed, except for groceries and pharmacies. All the bars and restaurants are shuttered. Every tiny sign of life has disappeared. The streets are totally empty; it is forbidden even to take a walk unless you carry a document that explains to authorities why you have left your house. The lockdown that began here in Lombardy now extends to the entire country."

Some of the most important pledges Trump made were that he would offer up to $50 billion in federal funding to states to battle the coronavirus. He indicated that hospitals can now "do as they want. They could do as they have to." He added, "I'm urging every state to set up emergency operations centers effective immediately." He indicated, in response to a question after his opening statement, that he himself would undergo a coronavirus test, something that he had previously resisted. Trump also said that up to five million tests would be available by the end of the month-a lofty goal. The danger for Trump is that, as is his wont, he is overpromising. Still, the move to establish drive-thru testing at places like Walgreens and Walmart parking lots makes good sense. Trump's weakest moment by far came when he responded to a question about the lack of testing that until now has badly hampered efforts to stop the virus-"No, I don't take responsibility at all."

To help prop up the economy, he indicated that government purchases for the strategic reserve would be increased. Wall Street responded positively to Trump's remarks as the stock market rose, ending up almost two thousand points on Friday. But Trump also pooh-poohed a multi-billion dollar bill backed by House Democrats to address the coronavirus crisis, remarking that they "are not doing what's right for the country." Among other things, it does not include the payroll tax relief that Trump is supporting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is vowing to vote on the bill.

For now, the measures that Trump announced today will mark a significant shift in his administration's approach to the pandemic. Former Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb tweeted, "Actions by White House today to sharply increase testing capacity and access, declare a national emergency, implement new steps to protect vulnerable Americans, support assistance for those hardest hit by mitigation steps, all very important. Will meaningfully improve readiness."

[Mar 13, 2020] In 2018, Trump fired the entire US pandemic response team.

Notable quotes:
"... The New New Deal ..."
Mar 13, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

deplorado , March 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

From Twitter:

Judd Legum @JuddLegum

WORTH REPEATING: In 2018, Trump fired the entire US pandemic response team.
These were the experts with decades of experience dealing with precisely the kind of situation we are in today.

Trump did not replace them.

He eliminated the positions.

https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1238108656950001666?s=20

allan , March 12, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Another fun fact from Twitter:

Michael Grunwald @MikeGrunwald
I had forgotten my own reporting that @SenatorCollins
stripped $870M for pandemic preparations out of the 2009 stimulus.

[page image from Grunwald's book, The New New Deal ]

11:30 AM · Mar 12, 2020· Twitter for iPhone

There was some discussion here the other day about who's responsible for the sorry state of the CDC
and pandemic preparation in particular. Now, the Dems controlled all the WH, Senate and House in 2009,
so obviously they share some of the blame, but if Collins hadn't demanded this,
it probably wouldn't have happened.

I'm very disappointed with Susan Collins.

Louis Fyne , March 12, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Typical modern, bipartisan American short-termism.

In my opinion, things would not have been not better under a Hillary admin. -- -but at least we'd have a no-fly zone in Syria. USA!

ambrit , March 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Now we have a no fly zone in Continental Europe!

[Mar 13, 2020] Mounting backlush against Trump admnistration handling of the coronavirus epidemic will affect elections

Mar 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Clueless Joe , Mar 13 2020 14:11 utc | 2

Curious to read your thoughts about the impact.

Considering how pretty much all Western governments fucked up big time, I expect a backlash against current governing parties, if not a serious questioning of the ways current "liberal" democracies are working. And they won't be able to blame it on Putin's or Xi's troll army; everyone can see they brought this upon themselves.

This is the time where the Four Stages system from Yes Minister - which is blatantly used by our political leaders - is out in the open, because the consequences won't appear decades in the future but will be obvious before this year is over.

Of couse, globalization of trade, free-trade, free movement of people will have to be reconsidered. And last but not least, if people have to live for months under lockdown or quarantine, it might have an impact on the economic and productive system -- and also on the environment --, because our societies will have to focus on what's truly needed for them to survive as societies, and not on the fanciful bullshit like marketing, spin doctors, traders and countless bureaucratic jobs.

[Mar 13, 2020] In Ancient Greek Thought, Plagues Follow on Bad Leadership

Notable quotes:
"... Myths help their audiences understand the causes of things. As narrative theorists like Mark Turner and specialists in memory like Charles Fernyhough emphasize, people learn how to behave from stories and concepts of cause and effect in childhood. The linear sequence of before, now and after communicates the relationships between things and how we, as human beings, understand our own responsibility in the world. ..."
Mar 13, 2020 | www.truthdig.com
Zeus, the head Greek god, who lamented humans' tendency to bring suffering upon themselves. (Carole Raddato/Flickr, CC BY-SA)
Zeus, the head Greek god, who lamented humans' tendency to bring suffering upon themselves. (Carole Raddato/Flickr, CC BY-SA)
In the fifth century B.C., the playwright Sophocles begins " Oedipus Tyrannos " with the title character struggling to identify the cause of a plague striking his city, Thebes. (Spoiler alert: It's his own bad leadership.)

As someone who writes about early Greek poetry, I spend a lot of time thinking about why its performance was so crucial to ancient life. One answer is that epic and tragedy helped ancient storytellers and audiences try to make sense of human suffering.

From this perspective, plagues functioned as a setup for an even more crucial theme in ancient myth: a leader's intelligence. At the beginning of the "Iliad," for instance, the prophet Calchas – who knows the cause of a nine-day plague – is praised as someone " who knows what is, what will be and what happened before ."

This language anticipates a chief criticism of Homer's legendary King Agamemnon: He does not know " the before and the after ."

The epics remind their audiences that leaders need to be able to plan for the future based on what has happened in the past. They need to understand cause and effect. What caused the plague? Could it have been prevented?

People's recklessness

Myths help their audiences understand the causes of things. As narrative theorists like Mark Turner and specialists in memory like Charles Fernyhough emphasize, people learn how to behave from stories and concepts of cause and effect in childhood. The linear sequence of before, now and after communicates the relationships between things and how we, as human beings, understand our own responsibility in the world.

Plague stories provide settings where fate pushes human organization to the limit. Human leaders are almost always crucial to the causal sequence, as Zeus observes in Homer's "Odyssey," saying, as I've translated it, "Humans are always blaming the gods for their suffering / but they experience pain beyond their fate because of their own recklessness."

The problems humans create go beyond just plagues: The poet Hesiod writes that the top Greek god, Zeus, showed his disapproval for bad leaders by burdening them with military failures as well as pandemics . The consequences of human failings are a refrain in the ancient critique of leaders, with or without plagues: The "Iliad," for instance, describes rulers who " ruin their people through recklessness ." The "Odyssey" phrases it as " bad shepherds ruin their flocks ."

Devastating illness

Plagues were common in the ancient world, but not all of them were blamed on leaders. Like other natural disasters, they were frequently blamed on the gods.

But historians, like Polybius in the second century B.C. and Livy in the first century B.C., also frequently recount epidemics striking armies and people in swamps or cities with poor sanitation. Philosophers and physicians also searched for rational approaches – blaming the climate , or pollution .

When the historian Thucydides recounts how a plague with alleged origins in Ethiopia hit Athens in 430 B.C., he vividly describes patients suffering a sudden high fever , shortness of breath and an array of sickly discharges. Those who survived the sickness had endured such delirious fevers that they might have no memory of it all.

Athens as a state was unprepared to meet the challenge of that plague. Thucydides describes the futility of any human response: Appeals to the gods and the work of doctors – who died in droves – were equally useless . The disease wreaked havoc because the Athenians were massed within the city walls to wait out the Spartan armies during the Peloponnesian War.

Yet despite the plague's terrible nature, Thucydides insists that the worst part was the despair people felt from fear and the " horror of human beings dying like sheep ."

Sick people died of neglect, of the lack of proper shelter and of disease spreading from improper burials in an unprepared and overcrowded city, followed by looting and lawlessness.

Athens, set up as a fortress against its enemies, brought ruin upon itself.

Making sense out of human flaws

Left out of plague accounts are the names of the multitudes who died in them. Homer, Sophocles and Thucydides tell us that masses died. But plagues in ancient narratives are usually the beginning, not the end of the story. A plague didn't stop the Trojan War, prevent Oedipus' sons from waging civil war or give the Athenians enough reasons to make peace.

For years after the ravages of the plague, Athens still suffered from in-fighting, toxic politics and selfish leaders. Popular politics led to the disastrous Sicilian Expedition of 415 B.C., killing thousands of Athenians – but still Athens survived.

A decade later, the Athenians again broke into civil factions and eventually prosecuted their own generals after a naval victory in 406 B.C. at Arginusae . In 404 B.C., after a siege, Sparta defeated Athens. But, as we learn from Greek myth, it was – again – really Athens' leaders and people who defeated themselves.

Joel Christensen , Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Brandeis University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

[Mar 13, 2020] Trump's Coronavirus Address, Blooper Reel Included The Daily Show - YouTube

Mar 13, 2020 | www.youtube.com

https://youtu.be/BWO6i8cH8SA


Dan L , 4 hours ago (edited)

"As calming as a firecracker dropped into a bag of cocaine" lmao I lost it there.. Hilariously accurate.

berlineczka , 4 hours ago

Fun fact: the European Union actually has no authority over health issues whatsoever. This is a strict Member State prerogative. The countries can coordinate voluntarily (which is what is currently arranged by the European Commission, but since there is no precedence it takes time) - but there was no way to make any decision about that in Brussels.

KingM , 5 hours ago (edited)

Greetings from Europe. In these hard times I'd like to thank Trump for providing such gold comedy material from just being a moron and reminding us all that it could always be worse.

[Mar 13, 2020] Some freedom with facts: pease note that the current COVID-18 coronavirus was discovered in January 2020 and compare this fact with the White House statement

That might be a different coronavirus ;-)
Mar 13, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Doug Chance engineerscotty 8 hours ago

Oh, they have. This is from the email I got from the White House listserv:

"Some 150,000 illegal immigrants from 72 nations with cases of the coronavirus have been apprehended or deemed inadmissible from entering the United States since November," according to officials. These apprehensions underscore the need for border security and proper vetting. Read more from Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner.

[Mar 12, 2020] Trump's Botched Coronavirus Speech

If comments reflect sentiments of moderate Republicans, Trump has no chances in November.
Notable quotes:
"... What over the last three years - and specifically in the last three weeks made you think Trump was going to come out of this on top? That would require him to actually be on top of things, which he never has been. Ever. And you thinking he's just doing 'poorly' just highlights your delusion that he is capable of being even mildly competent. ..."
"... Trump spent the first years of his presidency doing favors for Wall Street, Israel, and Saudi Arabia instead of focusing on the America First promises that got him elected. The trillions he wasted on advancing foreign interests was badly needed to rebuild American infrastructure, including America's disease testing capacity. ..."
"... Fair enough, we Americans may be stumbling along somewhat unsteadily into unchartered territory, but the important thing is we're now stumbling in the right general direction. We'll make it through this, people - most of us at least. All we can do as we enter into this miasma is our level best as responsible, compassionate humans, keeping a stiff upper lip and a stoic constitution. Amor fati : as precious as life is, death is always and evermore its close companion. ..."
"... All the hallmarks of a Trump operation, offensive, ineffective, poorly thought out and will be retracted in the end. The travel ban against China, did help when China was the only source of the disease, so kudos to Trump. However now the monster is in the castle so pulling up the drawbridge won't help anymore. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

engineerscotty 11 hours ago

Before the speech, I opined on Dreher's blog that Trump still had a chance of coming out of this crisis on top politically--that he might demonstrably use the bully pulpit of his office in a constructive manner, and be able to claim credit for a successful outcome.

After the speech... well, it was widely panned in the more liberal sectors of the media, and FOX News has this bit of tripe as its current headline: https://www.foxnews.com/us/... The speech is mentioned in a sidebar, without commentary. When the friendly media outlets ignore you, it's a good sign you've done poorly.

Matthew Kuhl engineerscotty 10 hours ago
What over the last three years - and specifically in the last three weeks made you think Trump was going to come out of this on top? That would require him to actually be on top of things, which he never has been. Ever. And you thinking he's just doing 'poorly' just highlights your delusion that he is capable of being even mildly competent.
marku52 Matthew Kuhl 10 hours ago
When you base your team selection on political loyalty, you get fawning toadies. Mr Redfield (CDC), a homophobe associated with a group that regards HIV as God's judgement on gay people, was never going to be competent at epidemic control. He doesn't even believe in it.
engineerscotty Matthew Kuhl 9 hours ago
Note, I said "still had a chance". Such an observation should not be interpreted as any sort of praise for Trump, but as an observation that should he manage to string a couple coherent sentences together on the teevee, more than a few talking heads in the newsmejia will offer unto him hosannas about being "presidential".

Lots of people, still, grade him on the curve. And that's including a fair number that aren't die-hard partisans... but would rather have an exciting horse race to write about this November.

But other than that, I agree with you. He's an imbecile, and isn't going to stop being an imbecile over this. But lots of people will offer up the tiniest shreds to argue otherwise.

IanDakar engineerscotty 6 hours ago
Don't feel bad. That's where I was when he declared we were leaving Syria the first time (when nothing happened). I thought "Well if he carries this out he has a chance of doing something good."

By the other time he said we were leaving Syria (when we did....not and decided to let a wast start and steal oil fields) I was done. Now I don't even trust the afgan deal to work out.

The raw mess up speech is a new low. He's normally good at reading a script.

Feral Finster 10 hours ago
Correct me if I am wrong, but we can still travel to South Korea, etc. all we want?

Also, I know that Trump owns numerous properties in the UK, but how does that stack up to Ireland (also, IIRC, not subject to the ban) and the rest of Europe? Does that explain anything, or is it just a way of supporting his fellow imbecile BoJo?

Good thing that the UK doesn't get any foreign travelers.

engineerscotty Feral Finster 10 hours ago
Boris Johnson's government, to his credit, appears to be handling the crisis well, or at least competently. While there is much that BoJo and Trump have in common, there is also much they do not.
KevinS engineerscotty 10 hours ago
Boris can be a bit clownish at times....but he is not a stupid person, unlike you know who....
HenionJD KevinS 8 hours ago
Neither leader is stupid. One is simply unprincipled and the other suffers from a profound personality disorder. One can rise to the crisis when it's in his interest to do so and the other thinks the crisis is a plot to make him look bad.
Per engineerscotty 7 hours ago
i think you should recheck your sources on that topic and widen the search to other sources too. The brit bobs i have spoken with say the response there is a joke.. I will not bet my life on this tho, bc i am in Norway..

The response here have been slow but it seems to get better, no mass testing yet so we dont know the real number of sick at all yet..

JonF311 engineerscotty 6 hours ago
Johnson may be a bombastic boob at times, but he's been in government for a while and knows his way around the place.
Rkramden66 Feral Finster 9 hours ago
No kidding. 1M foreign visitors on any given day in London, I seem to remember. Makes no sense at all, except in crude political terms.
failure 10 hours ago
"The U.S. has the lowest per capita testing of any country."

Trump spent the first years of his presidency doing favors for Wall Street, Israel, and Saudi Arabia instead of focusing on the America First promises that got him elected. The trillions he wasted on advancing foreign interests was badly needed to rebuild American infrastructure, including America's disease testing capacity.

Brasidas 10 hours ago
This is the problem and it has always been the problem with an uncurious President who doesn't read and who works off hunches and believes he's a "stable genius". He can't even be bothered to understand the contours of his own policies. After all, it's just a game show.
Nomuka Brasidas 8 hours ago
In a few short lines, you've captured the situation perfectly. Our president is worse than ineffectual....
John Achterhof 10 hours ago
Fair enough, we Americans may be stumbling along somewhat unsteadily into unchartered territory, but the important thing is we're now stumbling in the right general direction. We'll make it through this, people - most of us at least. All we can do as we enter into this miasma is our level best as responsible, compassionate humans, keeping a stiff upper lip and a stoic constitution. Amor fati : as precious as life is, death is always and evermore its close companion.
IanDakar John Achterhof 7 hours ago • edited
A travel ban when the disease is here [makes no sense]. When infected citizens can travel from and TO infected areas:

Where some countires are exempt so infected foreigners can just go to one of those countries then come here:

Is not the right direction. It would be a half step forward in January. Now it's [like] installing a faulty smoke detector in the middle of a roaring fire. We screwed up. We are still screwing up. Acting like It's ok and we will be fine is not helping.

We don't need motivation posters. We don't need panic. We need the public to realize this is NOT ok and to get these people at the top to realize this is Not Ok behavior.

THEN, we can buckle down and hope for the best with that poster

I Am Sorry 10 hours ago
I voted for him. I still don't know whether HRC would have been worse, but this is really, really bad.
john 9 hours ago
All the hallmarks of a Trump operation, offensive, ineffective, poorly thought out and will be retracted in the end. The travel ban against China, did help when China was the only source of the disease, so kudos to Trump. However now the monster is in the castle so pulling up the drawbridge won't help anymore.
engineerscotty john 9 hours ago
I'm surprised Mexicans haven't been blamed for this yet.
Doug Chance engineerscotty 8 hours ago
Oh, they have. This is from the email I got from the White House listserv:

"Some 150,000 illegal immigrants from 72 nations with cases of the coronavirus have been apprehended or deemed inadmissible from entering the United States since November," according to officials. These apprehensions underscore the need for border security and proper vetting. Read more from Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner.

engineerscotty Doug Chance 7 hours ago
It's one of those carefully-constructed sentences that can be ambiguously parsed.

If you read it as "Some 150,000 illegal immigrants from (72 nations with cases of the coronavirus) have been apprehended", it's likely true but unremarkable. Many nations now have coronovirus cases.

If you read it as "Some 150,000 (illegal immigrants from 72 nations) with cases of the coronavirus have been apprehended", it would be remarkable if true, but is absolutely false based on what we currently know.

And the November reference is particularly cheeky.

FL Transplant john 7 hours ago
But the travel ban wasn't against China--meaning anyone there who could have been exposed--it was against Chinese from anywhere in the country. Americans and others potentially infected were free to enter the US from impacted areas with no restrictions--quarantines, etc.

Just like the current ban against Europe. US citizens/permanent residents are free to travel to/from without restriction. We're only banning nationals from European countries. And there's going to be a massive influx of those eligible returning from Europe in the next couple of days--do you think any of them might, just might, be bring Covid 19 back along with themselves?

Name 9 hours ago
When is the next MAGA Rally?
Chris Chuba Name 7 hours ago
Don't worry, just keep watching FOX and you'll see it broadcasted on prime time.
Old Man Shadow 8 hours ago
Before I watched his speech, I thought that this was a serious situation, but we should avoid panic.

After I watched his speech, my impulse was to run out, start hording, and lock myself and my family in our home for the next six months.

This was not a good speech is what I'm saying.

Donna Saggia 7 hours ago
Health care under uber-capitalism. We seem to have all the money in the world to throw at military toys, but very little for the health of the nation. If Americans keep voting for these priorities, the inevitable consequences will prevail. The US may be just a bad social experiment.
Chris Chuba 7 hours ago
As others have stated, no mention of paid sick leave which would go a long way towards encouraging infected people to self-quarantine rather than go to work and keep spreading the virus.

On an even more dire topic, a U.S. General is blaming Iran for a rocket attack in Iraq that killed two U.S. serviceman. This is Trump's 'red line', if everyone does what they have publicly stated then Trump just gave ISIS the golden key to force us into a war with Iran.

IanDakar Chris Chuba 7 hours ago
The US House has a bill to offer paid leave among other measures. Republicans have said it goes beyond the scope of what's needed. The Senate has said that they aren't reviewing anything until after the week long break they are about to have.

So yeah.

Ken T Feral Finster 2 hours ago
True market insiders easily make just as much money in a downward moving market as in an upward moving market. As long as it is moving , that is all that matters. That means that people are buying and selling, and Wall Street is profiting from every transaction. The people being hurt the most by the market losses are the middle class folks whose 401k's are losing value.
PeerReview 4 hours ago
Trump is much better at doing stuff for Israel and Saudi Arabia. He always has plenty of time, money, and focus for doing what they want him to do. If he spent as much time controlling our borders and defending the lives, health, and economic well-being of Americans as he does on fighting wars for Israel and Saudi Arabia, we'd be better prepared for this virus.

[Mar 09, 2020] The Coronavirus Debacle by Daniel Larison

Right the major fiasco was with CDC testing kits. I do not see any other. Exaggerating the threat would only make hoarding panic that engult the USA worse. Of source Trump desire to protect stock market at any human or other cost was cruel and silly, but Trump is cruel and silly in many other areas as well.
Quarantine for retired persons might really help in areas with high number of infections.
Notable quotes:
"... For the last several weeks, we have seen the president and top administration officials presenting the public with misleading and outright false information in an effort to conceal the magnitude of the problem and the extent of their initial failures. The president has been unwilling to tell the public the truth about the situation because he evidently cares more about the short-term political implications than he does about protecting the public: ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The AP reports on more of the Trump White House's bungling of the coronavirus response:

The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, a federal official told The Associated Press.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but they have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC.

There is no good reason for the White House to prevent this recommendation from being made public. This is another example of how the president and his top officials are trying to keep up the pretense that the outbreak is much less dangerous than it actually is, and in doing so they are helping to make the outbreak worse than it has to be.

For the last several weeks, we have seen the president and top administration officials presenting the public with misleading and outright false information in an effort to conceal the magnitude of the problem and the extent of their initial failures. The president has been unwilling to tell the public the truth about the situation because he evidently cares more about the short-term political implications than he does about protecting the public:

Even as the government's scientists and leading health experts raised the alarm early and pushed for aggressive action, they faced resistance and doubt at the White House -- especially from the president -- about spooking financial markets and inciting panic.

"It's going to all work out," Mr. Trump said as recently as Thursday night. "Everybody has to be calm. It's going to work out."

Justin Fox comments on the president's terrible messaging:

The biggest problem, though, is simply the way that the president talks about the disease. His instinct at every turn is to downplay its danger and significance.

Minimizing the danger and significance of the outbreak ensured that the government's response was less urgent and focused than it could have been. It encouraged people to take it less seriously and thus made it more likely that the virus would spread. Then when the severity of the problem became undeniable, the earlier discredited happy talk makes it easier for people to disbelieve what the government tells them in the future.

The administration had time to prepare a more effective response, but as I said last week the administration frittered away the time they had. They were still preoccupied with keeping the virus out rather than trying to manage its spread once it arrived here, as it was inevitably going to do:

"We have contained this. I won't say airtight but pretty close to airtight," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in a television interview on Feb. 25, echoing Trump's tweeted declaration that the virus was "very much under control" in the United States.

But it wasn't, and the administration's rosy messaging was fundamentally at odds with a growing cacophony of alarm bells inside and outside the U.S. government. Since January, epidemiologists, former U.S. public health officials and experts have been warning, publicly and privately, that the administration's insistence that containment was -- and should remain -- the primary way to confront an emerging infectious disease was a grave mistake.

The initial response and the stubborn refusal to adapt to new developments have meant that the U.S. is in a much worse position in handling this outbreak than many other countries. Max Nisen comments on the lack of testing in the U.S.:

Don't cheer just yet. The lower case count doesn't mean Americans are doing a better job of containing the virus; rather, it reflects the fact that the U.S. is badly behind in its ability to test people. The Centers for Disease Control stopped disclosing how many people it has tested as of Monday, but an analysis by The Atlantic could only confirm 1,895 tests. Switzerland, a country with fewer residents than New Jersey, has tested nearly twice as many people. The U.K., which has far fewer cases, has tested over 20,000. This gap is particularly worrisome given evidence of community spread in a number of different states and a high death count, both of which suggest the number of cases will jump as more tests are conducted.

Capacity is finally ramping up, but only after weeks of delays prompted by unforced errors and botched early test kits from the CDC. The continuing inability to test broadly is leading to missed cases, more infections, and an outbreak that will be bigger than it needed to be.

The administration not only bungled their initial response, but they have also been extremely resistant to admitting error. Trump's appointees are reluctant to contradict the president when he spouts nonsense about the outbreak, and that in turn makes it more difficult for them to communicate clearly and consistently with the public. All of this serves to undermine public trust in the government's response, and it prevents health officials from being able to do their jobs without political interference. The federal government's response has been hampered by a president who wants to make people think that the problem isn't that bad and is already being dealt with successfully:

At the White House, Trump and many of his aides were initially skeptical of just how serious the coronavirus threat was, while the president often seemed uninterested as long as the virus was abroad. At first, when he began to engage, he downplayed the threat -- "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA," he tweeted in late February -- and became a font of misinformation and confusion, further muddling his administration's response.

On Friday, visiting the CDC in Atlanta, the president spewed more falsehoods when he claimed, incorrectly: "Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. They're there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful."

When the president lies about such a serious matter, he is causing unnecessary confusion and he is sending exactly the wrong message that remedying earlier failures is not an urgent priority. Because Trump's primary concern is making himself look good in the short term, he is willing to risk a worse outbreak. During his visit to the CDC, the president went on in an even more bizarre vein to praise the tests by comparing them to his "perfect call" with the Ukrainian president last summer that led to his impeachment:

In an attempt to express confidence in the CDC's coronavirus test (the agency's second attempt after the first one it developed failed), Trump offered an unorthodox comparison from the last enormous crisis to swamp his presidency. The tests are just like his impeachment-causing attempt to pressure a foreign government to help him get reelected. "The tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good," Trump told reporters after falsely stating, again, that anyone who needed a test right now could get one.

This morning the president was back at it this morning with more self-serving misinformation:

We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus. We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2020

The president needs people to think that everything he does is perfect, so he is incapable of acknowledging his failures and prefers to vilify accurate reporting about those failures. He cannot help but mismanage the government response because he cannot put the national interest ahead of his own selfishness. An untold number of Americans will be paying a steep price for the president's unfitness for office in the weeks and months to come.

− +

Englewood12 hours ago

"An untold number of Americans will be paying a steep price for the president's unfitness for office in the weeks and months to come."

We've been paying it for a while. It's just more obvious now. I wish I never voted for him.

SFBay1949 Englewood6 hours ago • edited
I wish you had thought a bit into the future before you voted him. Did you really think things wouldn't turn out EXACTLY the way they have? Honestly, it's to rime tell the truth here.
Englewood SFBay19495 hours ago
It's the Democrats who should have thought a bit into the future. It was the identity and known character and policies of Trump's opponent that tipped my vote to Trump. And no, obviously I didn't think things would turn out "exactly" this way. I thought if I put up with his repulsive manner I'd get maybe a third of his main campaign promises and that the GOP establishment would get the hiding it deserves. Boy, was I wrong.
SFBay1949 Englewood3 hours ago
I take you believe Hillary Clinton was worse than Trump. Fair enough, but do you still think our country would be in the state it is now? In what way could she possibly be worse than what we have now with Trump?
Brandon Falusi SFBay19494 hours ago
It's better for Trumpism to have burst like a zit onto the mirror, no matter how disgusting, because it was all there anyway under Bush and Cheney, it was there alongside "Barack the magic... birth certificate!" You can fairly easily wash off the stain of Bush and Rumsfeld, you can sort of start to forget their sublime horror, the exact same level of lies and utter mismanagement, but you can't wash off a man like Trump, ever. His portrait will be in the White House so future Americans can see what we're capable of, and hopefully be more vigilant about the subtle and polished lies and civilized outrages. We needed this barbaric display to get some clarity.
King George12 hours ago
"The president has been about the situation because he evidently cares more about the
short-term political implications than he does about protecting the public"

It's no different from the first two years of his presidency. He already betrayed those of us who voted for the America First promises on immigration and ending the wars. He spent most of his doing favors for Wall Street, Israel, and Saudi Arabia instead. Now he's going to betray the many vulnerable elders who voted for him, risking their illness and even death by his selfish evasions and lies. He's a con artist. A fake.

[Mar 09, 2020] President Trump's (and by extension, prayerful Vice President Pence's) incompetence and his self-serving, empathy-free approach to the coronavirus

Notable quotes:
"... This article first appeared NewVandal . ..."
Mar 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

As COVID-19 begins its inevitable "community transmission" phase around the United States, the purveyors of the conventional wisdom are largely focused on President Trump's (and by extension, prayerful Vice President Pence's) incompetence and his self-serving, empathy-free approach to the coronavirus. And it is true that, as with all things Trump, it seems that all he really cares about is the stock market and its effect on his reelection bid. But Trump's narcissism obscures something both far more pernicious and far more permanent than his oft-televised obsession with himself and that's the fact that he's been busily making Milton Friedman's "Supply Side/The Bottom Line Is The Only Line" dream an intractable reality.

It was a dream that first took flight when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. The dream was often made manifest by the neoliberal lurch and deregulatory impulses of President Bill Clinton. But it is Trump who's come closest to fully realizing the dream of ending responsive government. It should come as no surprise, though. Trump lifted, among other things , his " Make America Great Again " slogan from the Gipper. He's also taken Reagan's anti-FDR pitch about the dangers of government (see "The Deep State") and, with the help of a motley crew of Tea Partiers, Evangelicals and corporate Republicans, transformed it into, as Steve Bannon calls it, a " War on the Administrative State ."

Since taking office and taking complete control of the news-cycle, Trump has been systematically starving Federal agencies of resources, personnel and attention. He has, through the sycophants and lobbyists he's installed around the Executive Branch, been pushing out career professionals and barely replacing them with also-rans. And he is dismantling every aspect of government he cannot use to reward his corporate clients or punish political apostates.

The idea is to cripple the Federal government from within instead of doing the hard legislative work of changing the laws that legally compel government action. As a result, many of the regulations on the books are becoming functionally irrelevant . Some laws are being rewritten by the lobbyists who used to lobby against 'em, but mostly the Executive Branch is being systematically emaciated by the political equivalent of chronic wasting disease.

It's an approach first pioneered by Reagan devotee Grover Norquist, who advocated " starving the beast " of government down to a manageable size before "drowning it" in a bathtub. It's an idea currently being implemented with wide-ranging effect by Trump, who, like Reagan before him , is accelerating the bankrupting of the already debt-laden treasury with a combo of tax cuts and massive spending on a world-dwarfing defense industry. Eventually, the theory goes, the "safety net," a.k.a. "entitlements," and other "common good" spending will collapse under the weight of the financial limitations generated by profuse borrowing to fund market-distorting tax cuts and to dole out subsidies and tax gifts to cronies and key corporations. All the while, the ever-less regulated chemical, oil, defense, agricultural and (most importantly of all) financial industries will continue to hoard assets through the rinsing and repeating of the supply side boom-and-bust scheme, a.k.a. the business cycle.

Frankly, this all looks like the endgame of a long plan to undo the demand side economy created by the New Deal. Along with the seemingly (but not) contradictory spike in Unitary Executive power (which is about protecting rackets, shielding enforcers from prosecution and about enforcing political compliance), this is a transformation decades in the making and Trump is the perfect salesman for this final episode even better than Reagan or Clinton because his "flood the zone" narcissism is the ultimate, 24/7 distraction for a people addicted to binge watching, inured to scripted reality shows and motivated by belligerent infotainment.

Reagan was the first actor to hit his marks on a stage set for him by the interlocking forces of Big Oil, Big Defense and Wall Street. Not coincidentally, this same Venn Diagram of power has profited mightily from Trump's Presidency. Rather than an actor, though, Trump is the barking emcee of the final season of the American Dream Gameshow a program that was initially cancelled in 1980, but somehow kept running in syndication on one of the two crappy channels a "free" people have been given to chose from. But now, the final credits are closer to rolling that ever before.

As such, Trump is the omega to Reagan's alpha. And any coronavirus-related "incompetence" you see being reported is a feature, not a bug, of this Re-Great'd America. And that's because Trump is not an outlier. He is a culmination.

This article first appeared NewVandal .

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs under the pseudonym " the Newsvandal ".

[Mar 08, 2020] Looks like Trump is opening himself up to defeat.

Mar 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Mar 7 2020 0:07 utc | 54

When Trump was first elected I figured it was a 1 term deal. After all, why does a billionaire want to waste all of his twighlight years as President for any longer. But the Dems failed to run anyone that could relieve him from duty. What to do? Well Covid-19. Knowing how fearful Americans are, not taking a overhyped health care crisis seriously is political suicide. Yet he chooses to do so. If politicians know nothing they know the people demand "to be kept safe". Yet Trump seems oblivious, opening himself up to defeat.

... ... ...

Otherwise I guess people might vote for Biden if they get scared enough, and if they get the chance to vote. Stay tuned though.

[Mar 07, 2020] Donald Trump was always only about himself, even when the Twin Towers fell

Mar 07, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

So it goes. I cannot for the life of me understand why, leaving aside the public health aspects of the president's response, people cannot see what a political disaster he's making for himself and the GOP. He doesn't have to act like the zombie apocalypse is upon us. He only has to behave like Rudy Giuliani did as Mayor of New York City in the fall of 2001. But then, as we know, Donald Trump saw the Twin Towers fall, and thought about himself:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/PcKlPhFIE7w?start=105


Hmmm a day ago

I just watched that 9/11 clip. I'd never seen or heard it and I figured, oh boy, what asinine, self-centered things did he say back then. That's what I've come to expect from him. But -- I don't really see the problem. They asked him about his nearby tower, and his observation that it was the second tallest downtown after the WTC is typical of him. But he didn't dwell on that. And the rest of the interview was just fine, typical platitudes of that day, in response to some typical stupid (and obsequious) questions from the reporters. If he sounded like that more often over the last 3 years, I'd be much happier.
AlfredEN Hmmm a day ago
Despite his many faults, Trump was once a much better, more articulate communicator. There's an old recording of a Larry King interview in which he sounds like an entirely different person from what we see today.
Hmmm AlfredEN 7 hours ago
That's my impression as well. I haven't seen this remarked on much, in all the virtual ink spilled about Trump. Sometimes in old age, one's distinguishing traits and habits become more pronounced (or as my mother says, one becomes "the same but more so"). Not sure if that's the case with Trump. It could also be that his cognitive and verbal abilities have declined, or that he hit on a winning formula and has stuck with it.

If nothing else, this election will give us a lot of opportunity to think about what old men are like.

[Mar 02, 2020] Trump already under fire for Coronarovirus response. More to come

Mar 02, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

bumbershoot 7 hours ago • edited

Trump closed the White House office of pandemic control simply because Obama started it. That fact alone should tell you all you need to know about the competence of Trump and his merry band of bootlickers.
Springfield 6 hours ago
For nearly two months Trump did nothing while it spread.

All that crap about "America First", but after three years there's no wall, immigrants still pouring in, illegals, foreign workers, and foreign students everywhere you look, and we're still dependent on foreign supply chains and manufacturing.

And we wonder how the disease got here and why we are economically vulnerable to it. Making matters worse, while he was doing all those favors for Wall Street and foreign countries and spending trillions on the wars he was elected to end, he was also gutting government departments and programs that do stuff for actual Americans, like protect them from plagues.

Chris Chuba 6 hours ago • edited
"The federal agency shunned the World Health Organization test guidelines used by other countries and set out to create a more complicated test of its own"

I know we are in full information war against China and we already have senators drafting sanctions against them but if we really wanted to treat this as a medical and not a political issue we would copy the Chinese test kits.

ZizaNiam 2 hours ago • edited
People who vote for Trump don't believe in science, logic or mathematics.
fuow ZizaNiam 38 minutes ago
They also don't believe in the US Constitution.
fuow 38 minutes ago • edited
The CDC today deleted essential information on the outbreak's spread from their website.You conservatives are going to be blamed for this. Try, just try telling a grieving parent or child that this is somehow the 'cost of freedom' or 'the Democrats are to blame (Hillary is really at fault).
You did this to our country, don't count on people forgetting about it by November.

[Mar 01, 2020] A Very Stable Genius book excerpt Inside Trump s stunning tirade against generals by Carol D. Leonnig & Philip Rucker

This book "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America, looks like the second volume of Wolff. And probably has the same set of flaws
Jan 17, 2020 | www.washingtonpost.com

This article is adapted from "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America," which will be published on Jan. 21 by Penguin Press.

'You're a bunch of dopes and babies': Inside Trump's stunning tirade against generals

There is no more sacred room for military officers than 2E924 of the Pentagon, a windowless and secure vault where the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet regularly to wrestle with classified matters. Its more common name is "the Tank." The Tank resembles a small corporate boardroom, with a gleaming golden oak table, leather swivel armchairs and other mid-century stylings. Inside its walls, flag officers observe a reverence and decorum for the wrenching decisions that have been made there.

Hanging prominently on one of the walls is The Peacemakers, a painting that depicts an 1865 Civil War strategy session with President Abraham Lincoln and his three service chiefs -- Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter. One hundred fifty-​­two years after Lincoln hatched plans to preserve the Union, President Trump's advisers staged an intervention inside the Tank to try to preserve the world order.

By that point, six months into his administration, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump's knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.

[ New book portrays Trump as erratic, 'at times dangerously uninformed' ]

Trump organized his unorthodox worldview under the simplistic banner of "America First," but Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn feared his proposals were rash, barely considered, and a danger to America's superpower standing. They also felt that many of Trump's impulsive ideas stemmed from his lack of familiarity with U.S. history and, even, where countries were located. To have a useful discussion with him, the trio agreed, they had to create a basic knowledge, a shared language.

So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief's berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump's presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America's traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses.

The episode has been documented numerous times, but subsequent reporting reveals a more complete picture of the moment and the chilling effect Trump's comments and hostility had on the nation's military and national security leadership.

Just before 10 a.m. on a scorching summer Thursday, Trump arrived at the Pentagon. He stepped out of his motorcade, walked along a corridor with portraits honoring former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, and stepped inside the Tank. The uniformed officers greeted their commander in chief. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. sat in the seat of honor midway down the table, because this was his room, and Trump sat at the head of the table facing a projection screen. Mattis and the newly confirmed deputy defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, sat to the president's left, with Vice President Pence and Tillerson to his right. Down the table sat the leaders of the military branches, along with Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon was in the outer ring of chairs with other staff, taking his seat just behind Mattis and directly in Trump's line of sight.

Mattis, Cohn, and Tillerson and their aides decided to use maps, graphics, and charts to tutor the president, figuring they would help keep him from getting bored. Mattis opened with a slide show punctuated by lots of dollar signs. Mattis devised a strategy to use terms the impatient president, schooled in real estate, would appreciate to impress upon him the value of U.S. investments abroad. He sought to explain why U.S. troops were deployed in so many regions and why America's safety hinged on a complex web of trade deals, alliances, and bases across the globe.

An opening line flashed on the screen, setting the tone: "The post-war international rules-based order is the greatest gift of the greatest generation." Mattis then gave a 20-minute briefing on the power of the NATO alliance to stabilize Europe and keep the United States safe. Bannon thought to himself, "Not good. Trump is not going to like that one bit." The internationalist language Mattis was using was a trigger for Trump.

"Oh, baby, this is going to be f---ing wild," Bannon thought. "If you stood up and threatened to shoot [Trump], he couldn't say 'postwar rules-based international order.' It's just not the way he thinks."

For the next 90 minutes, Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn took turns trying to emphasize their points, pointing to their charts and diagrams. They showed where U.S. personnel were positioned, at military bases, CIA stations, and embassies, and how U.S. deployments fended off the threats of terror cells, nuclear blasts, and destabilizing enemies in places including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Korea Peninsula, and Syria. Cohn spoke for about 20 minutes about the value of free trade with America's allies, emphasizing how he saw each trade agreement working together as part of an overall structure to solidify U.S. economic and national security.

Trump appeared peeved by the schoolhouse vibe but also allergic to the dynamic of his advisers talking at him. His ricocheting attention span led him to repeatedly interrupt the lesson. He heard an adviser say a word or phrase and then seized on that to interject with his take. For instance, the word "base" prompted him to launch in to say how "crazy" and "stupid" it was to pay for bases in some countries.

Trump's first complaint was to repeat what he had vented about to his national security adviser months earlier: South Korea should pay for a $10 billion missile defense system that the United States built for it. The system was designed to shoot down any short- and medium-range ballistic missiles from North Korea to protect South Korea and American troops stationed there. But Trump argued that the South Koreans should pay for it, proposing that the administration pull U.S. troops out of the region or bill the South Koreans for their protection.

"We should charge them rent," Trump said of South Korea. "We should make them pay for our soldiers. We should make money off of everything."

Trump proceeded to explain that NATO, too, was worthless. U.S. generals were letting the allied member countries get away with murder, he said, and they owed the United States a lot of money after not living up to their promise of paying their dues.

"They're in arrears," Trump said, reverting to the language of real estate. He lifted both his arms at his sides in frustration. Then he scolded top officials for the untold millions of dollars he believed they had let slip through their fingers by allowing allies to avoid their obligations.

"We are owed money you haven't been collecting!" Trump told them. "You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business."


(Penguin Press)

Mattis wasn't trying to convince the president of anything, only to explain and provide facts. Now things were devolving quickly. The general tried to calmly explain to the president that he was not quite right. The NATO allies didn't owe the United States back rent, he said. The truth was more complicated. NATO had a nonbinding goal that members should pay at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their defenses. Only five of the countries currently met that goal, but it wasn't as if they were shorting the United States on the bill.

More broadly, Mattis argued, the NATO alliance was not serving only to protect western Europe. It protected America, too. "This is what keeps us safe," Mattis said. Cohn tried to explain to Trump that he needed to see the value of the trade deals. "These are commitments that help keep us safe," Cohn said.

Bannon interjected. "Stop, stop, stop," he said. "All you guys talk about all these great things, they're all our partners, I want you to name me now one country and one company that's going to have his back."

Trump then repeated a threat he'd made countless times before. He wanted out of the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama had struck in 2015, which called for Iran to reduce its uranium stockpile and cut its nuclear program.

"It's the worst deal in history!" Trump declared.

"Well, actually . . .," Tillerson interjected.

"I don't want to hear it," Trump said, cutting off the secretary of state before he could explain some of the benefits of the agreement. "They're cheating. They're building. We're getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it."

Before they could debate the Iran deal, Trump erupted to revive another frequent complaint: the war in Afghanistan, which was now America's longest war. He demanded an explanation for why the United States hadn't won in Afghanistan yet, now 16 years after the nation began fighting there in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Trump unleashed his disdain, calling Afghanistan a "loser war." That phrase hung in the air and disgusted not only the military leaders at the table but also the men and women in uniform sitting along the back wall behind their principals. They all were sworn to obey their commander in chief's commands, and here he was calling the war they had been fighting a loser war.

"You're all losers," Trump said. "You don't know how to win anymore."

Trump questioned why the United States couldn't get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. "We spent $7 trillion; they're ripping us off," Trump boomed. "Where is the f---ing oil?"

Trump seemed to be speaking up for the voters who elected him, and several attendees thought they heard Bannon in Trump's words. Bannon had been trying to persuade Trump to withdraw forces by telling him, "The American people are saying we can't spend a trillion dollars a year on this. We just can't. It's going to bankrupt us."

"And not just that, the deplorables don't want their kids in the South China Sea at the 38th parallel or in Syria, in Afghanistan, in perpetuity," Bannon would add, invoking Hillary Clinton's infamous "basket of deplorables" reference to Trump supporters.

Trump mused about removing General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in charge of troops in Afghanistan. "I don't think he knows how to win," the president said, impugning Nicholson, who was not present at the meeting.

Dunford tried to come to Nicholson's defense, but the mild-mannered general struggled to convey his points to the irascible president.

"Mr. President, that's just not . . .," Dunford started. "We've been under different orders."

Dunford sought to explain that he hadn't been charged with annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead following a strategy started by the Obama administration to gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes of training locals to maintain a stable government so that eventually the United States could pull out. Trump shot back in more plain language.

"I want to win," he said. "We don't win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we're not winning anymore."

Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn't taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.

"I wouldn't go to war with you people," Trump told the assembled brass.

Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, "You're a bunch of dopes and babies."

For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called "locker room talk," this was the gravest insult he could have delivered to these people, in this sacred space. The flag officers in the room were shocked. Some staff began looking down at their papers, rearranging folders, almost wishing themselves out of the room. A few considered walking out. They tried not to reveal their revulsion on their faces, but questions raced through their minds. "How does the commander in chief say that?" one thought. "What would our worst adversaries think if they knew he said this?"

This was a president who had been labeled a "draft dodger" for avoiding service in the Vietnam War under questionable circumstances. Trump was a young man born of privilege and in seemingly perfect health: six feet two inches with a muscular build and a flawless medical record. He played several sports, including football. Then, in 1968 at age 22, he obtained a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that exempted him from military service just as the United States was drafting men his age to fulfill massive troop deployments to Vietnam.

Tillerson in particular was stunned by Trump's diatribe and began visibly seething. For too many minutes, others in the room noticed, he had been staring straight, dumbfounded, at Mattis, who was speechless, his head bowed down toward the table. Tillerson thought to himself, "Gosh darn it, Jim, say something. Why aren't you saying something?"

But, as he would later tell close aides, Tillerson realized in that moment that Mattis was genetically a Marine, unable to talk back to his commander in chief, no matter what nonsense came out of his mouth.

The more perplexing silence was from Pence, a leader who should have been able to stand up to Trump. Instead, one attendee thought, "He's sitting there frozen like a statue. Why doesn't he stop the president?" Another recalled the vice president was "a wax museum guy." From the start of the meeting, Pence looked as if he wanted to escape and put an end to the president's torrent. Surely, he disagreed with Trump's characterization of military leaders as "dopes and babies," considering his son, Michael, was a Marine first lieutenant then training for his naval aviator wings. But some surmised Pence feared getting crosswise with Trump. "A total deer in the headlights," recalled a third attendee.

Others at the table noticed Trump's stream of venom had taken an emotional toll. So many people in that room had gone to war and risked their lives for their country, and now they were being dressed down by a president who had not. They felt sick to their stomachs. Tillerson told others he thought he saw a woman in the room silently crying. He was furious and decided he couldn't stand it another minute. His voice broke into Trump's tirade, this one about trying to make money off U.S. troops.

"No, that's just wrong," the secretary of state said. "Mr. President, you're totally wrong. None of that is true."

Tillerson's father and uncle had both been combat veterans, and he was deeply proud of their service.

"The men and women who put on a uniform don't do it to become soldiers of fortune," Tillerson said. "That's not why they put on a uniform and go out and die . . . They do it to protect our freedom."

There was silence in the Tank. Several military officers in the room were grateful to the secretary of state for defending them when no one else would. The meeting soon ended and Trump walked out, saying goodbye to a group of servicemen lining the corridor as he made his way to his motorcade waiting outside. Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn were deflated. Standing in the hall with a small cluster of people he trusted, Tillerson finally let down his guard.

"He's a f---ing moron," the secretary of state said of the president.

The plan by Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn to train the president to appreciate the internationalist view had clearly backfired.

"We were starting to get out on the wrong path, and we really needed to have a course correction and needed to educate, to teach, to help him understand the reason and basis for a lot of these things," said one senior official involved in the planning. "We needed to change how he thinks about this, to course correct. Everybody was on board, 100 percent agreed with that sentiment. [But] they were dismayed and in shock when not only did it not have the intended effect, but he dug in his heels and pushed it even further on the spectrum, further solidifying his views."

A few days later, Pence's national security adviser, Andrea Thompson, a retired Army colonel who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq, reached out to thank Tillerson for speaking up on behalf of the military and the public servants who had been in the Tank. By September 2017, she would leave the White House and join Tillerson at Foggy Bottom as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.

The Tank meeting had so thoroughly shocked the conscience of military leaders that they tried to keep it a secret. At the Aspen Security Forum two days later, longtime NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell asked Dunford how Trump had interacted during the Tank meeting. The Joint Chiefs chairman misleadingly described the meeting, skipping over the fireworks.

"He asked a lot of hard questions, and the one thing he does is question some fundamental assumptions that we make as military leaders -- and he will come in and question those," Dunford told Mitchell on July 22. "It's a pretty energetic and an interactive dialogue."

One victim of the Tank meeting was Trump's relationship with Tillerson, which forever after was strained. The secretary of state came to see it as the beginning of the end. It would only worsen when news that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" was first reported in October 2017 by NBC News.

[Feb 29, 2020] Covid-19 is probably 3 times more contagios that a "regular" flu

Feb 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sackerson , Feb 29 2020 19:47 utc | 2

...focus on precautions, preparations and resources for the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions.
https://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.com/2020/02/covid-19-keep-calm-and-make-plan.html

Krollchem , Feb 29 2020 19:57 utc | 4

Tulsi Gabbard on why politics as usual must be discarded in order to prevent a public health crisis:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj_tMTmZn-U&t=95s
Ilya Grushevskiy , Feb 29 2020 20:33 utc | 17
@14

The risk is limited - this kills the old and infirm.

MOA was accurate in all the panic - China controlled its initial outbreak (although a re-entry is not unlikely imo). That the rest of the world didn't react fast enough, is expected though, but saying that before it was a thing would have been unnecessarily scare-mongering I'd say.

Jackrabbit , Feb 29 2020 22:26 utc | 42
Normal flu has R0 of about 1.3

Los Alamos Labs calculates Covid-19 R0 at between 4.7 to 6.6.

Bottomline: Covid-19 is much easier to spread / quick to spread.

!!

CJ , Feb 29 2020 22:15 utc | 38
Hi B,
looks like the guys at New England Biolabs have a very rapid assay for COVID-19 --- Rapid Molecular Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus RNA Using Colorimetric LAMP

Yinhua Zhang, Nelson Odiwuor, Jin Xiong, Luo Sun, Raphael Ohuru Nyaruaba, Hongping Wei, Nathan A Tanner

Its a preprint -- but this is the way to go an isothermal loop mediated amplification (LAMP) assay. You ought to be able to get a result in about 30 minutes -- faster once they really automate it. Should cost virtually nothing a few cents.

Other versions of it might be adapted so you can use them in the field so a general practitioner or even a soldier will be able to make the diagnosis at the bed side-- its a simple color change in a tube. All you need is a pipette the assay tube a hot block and a timer. True positive rate 99.99% false positive about 1% or less. This what the CDC needs. Problem is that they have to mass produce the assay tubes -- we need 100 million like yesterday. The other thing is that we might need martial law to quarantine people and we need to train people to use the kits and fast.

All the best
CJ

Venom , Feb 29 2020 22:16 utc | 39
All of a sudden, "freedom isn't free" axiom acquires a really macabre meaning. The inevitable devastation in countries with laissez-faire approach to this emergency will eventually prove "totalitarian" Chinese measures as being vastly superior.
The US will undoubtedly - if grudgingly - adopt Beijing MO, but only after hundreds of thousands of people die needlessly, and America's healthcare system falls apart under the pressure of millions of patients unable to pay exorbitant bills.
oldhippie , Feb 29 2020 22:26 utc | 43
The American mind does not know what "public health" is.

"Public health" is not a thinkable thought. b's paragraph beginning with "Tests must be freely available..." is a sequence of events that cannot exist even in fiction in America. Only someone who has never lived here could write that paragraph. None of b's suggestions are happening. And because these simple measures cannot happen, a price will be paid.

Spike , Feb 29 2020 22:54 utc | 46
The overreaction to this will cause much, much more damage than the virus would have if it were responded to in a conventional, sensible way. Those in positions of responsibility are terrified of underreacting, and it's easy to rationalize that it's better to be safe than sorry.

If measures taken cause unnecessary disruption, if they increase the level of stress, the levels of disease and the amount of death will rise rather than fall. There is more to disease than just microbes.

This is not to say that we should be laissez-faire. Our response to the yearly outbreak of the flu is, in my opinion, insufficient. Schools are an unprecedented institution of prolonged propinquity. Children go to school, are with their classmates in enclosed rooms all day, and bring the disease home. Children survive, but grandma and grandpa might not. Schools can be shuttered during outbreaks, and the technology exists, at least for the relatively fortunate, to continue the instruction online. People should also be encouraged to avoid stressful prolonged propinquity situations such as travel on planes, trains, and interstate buses.

It's occurred to me that the death rate statistics might be misleading. Since China closed their schools, one can assume that the disease rate among children fell substantially. However, elderly people who live in care facilities, which is a high density living situation, would not enjoy the falling infection rate, and they are exactly the population most susceptible to a fatal outcome. This alone, perhaps, might make the death rate higher for COVID19 than for the flu.

Here, I think, is a very good take.


jadan , Feb 29 2020 22:56 utc | 47
The US healthcare system, the privatized system of exploitation of the sick for greater investor profits, is not capable of dealing with a pandemic. Trump and his gang of thieves, charlatans, and unapologetically incompetent followers of Ayn Rand and graduates of the Koch Brothers University, will prevent the socialization of medicine if they possibly can. Will a future cover of Time Magazine show them all hanging from lamp posts?

Whether this pandemic provokes the rapture of Pence & his 144,000 elect and the much anticipated End Times, or whether it fizzles out, I do heartily wish for one outcome: the disenfranchisement of Donald J Trump, his heirs & assigns, and all those who seem unable to smell the stink of his bullshit.

Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Pft , Feb 29 2020 21:53 utc | 33
Jackrabbit@30

CDC estimates 30 million flu cases each year with 30,000 deaths and 500,000 hospitalizations. I think we are a long way from any real concern. The US is nowhere near as polluted or densely populated as China. Also, I don't think we know how the disease spreads among non Asians. They are keeping that under wraps. Aside from those captives on the cruise ship there really has not been much spread from those who returned from China (visitors or citizens).

Mark2 , Feb 29 2020 21:12 utc | 26
Let s see America pass the 'Build a 2000 bed hospital in ten day test.
... ... ...
Krollchem , Feb 29 2020 21:12 utc | 24
Russ@ 12

Agreed that the US leadership is clueless and their thrashing around in order to protect corporate capitalism is xenophobic and dangerous to the world. Came across this research on a plant bioflavonoid that you might find useful in the treatment of SARS COV-1 (aka COVID-19).

Michel Chretien is setting up trials for combatting COVID-19 using a derivative of quercetin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory plant component.
https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/a-made-in-canada-solution-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

In depth interview of this research in Canadian French:
https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1538011/quercetine-coronavirus-michel-chretien-ircm-montreal-patrice-roy

Dr. Michel Chretien's background and research:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6H0VJZG2Pjk

Quercetin and the mixture of isoquercitrin have already been found to suppress the arthropod-borne Mayaro virus (MAYV) occurring in forested areas in tropical South America:
https://parasitesandvectors.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-3305-7-130

Numerous other research articles on plant bioflavonoids such as Quercetin are readily available in the medical literature.

stephen laudig , Feb 29 2020 20:47 utc | 20
It's always Groundhog Day in the USA.
It's always late August 2005.
It's always New Orleans.
It's always Hurricane Katrina [or something else] on the horizon.
It's always a Republican Administration in power.
Who needs external enemies when we have such internal incompetents available to do the work of sabotage?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)
Russ , Feb 29 2020 20:21 utc | 12
Neither Reps nor Dems are psychologically capable even of conceiving the kinds of measures the post calls for. Trump's stooge already proclaimed that profit is the one and only goal of any response ("the market must decide"), while the Dem leadership as well can speak and think only in terms of making care "affordable", IOW the main purpose of the whole process still has to be corporate control and profit, even if a few stray Dems do want government to subsidize some victims. The purpose still is money changing hands, profit, commerce. Until the Big One levels the karma of this place that will never change.

It seems almost like fate is teeing up one practice play each time, just to show the US how hollowed out it is, before the real play begins. First was the Iranian reprisal strike which could have been so much more devastating. And now, although it's too early to tell how severe this pest ultimately will be, it looks so far like it won't completely cleanse the place. But if so that won't be for the lack of the US economic and cultural system giving it every opportunity it can use.

I have no doubt the US learns zero from either test case. By now the US is too berserk and stupid to deduce anything from its very survival than confirmation of the excellence of its policy and encouragement to further escalate and accelerate.

Trailer Trash , Feb 29 2020 19:59 utc | 6
The idea that Uncle Sam will do something useful and timely is simply laughable. I have been mostly housebound due to severe illness for the past five years. Imagine a five year quarantine! In all that time I have had zero social support besides receiving a disability pension. I hire a personal shopper every two weeks to bring groceries; everything else comes via UPS or FedEx. I frequently go two weeks at a time and never see anyone except maybe a delivery driver.

There is no system to take care of housebound people. For me there is no medical personal to make housecalls, no social support, no personal care workers, nothing. And this at a time when nationwide there are only small numbers of people like myself. Multiply this non-system by 100 or 1000 and people will die at home and no one will even notice.

Uncle Sam's Day of Reckoning may be fast approaching. And we will have well-earned every bit of suffering headed our way.

Ilya G Poimandres , Feb 29 2020 19:59 utc | 5
Funny thing, b was right - China (and online deliveries as well really) managed to snuff the spread out well, and it seems that the rest of the world and their 'representative bureaucracies' will show all how limited they are when a fast acting 'unknown unknown' (Rummy, how you made sense here!) does its thing.

[Feb 28, 2020] Conversational Points about Coronavirus and the White House's Panic

If "Trump recession" materialize, he and Melania can start packing. As as he will most probably repeat Bush II blunders in handling the epidemics, his chances are already lower that they were before.
Feb 28, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

"Trump is highly concerned about the market and has encouraged aides not to give predictions that might cause further tremors .In a Twitter post, he misspelled the word 'coronavirus' as 'caronavirus' and wrote that two cable news stations "are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!"

As far as the markets, I would be concerned with the China supply chain to the US. At most there is 5-weeks, three on the ocean and a week on each side getting board ship, unloading, and customs. Perhaps companies will have 2 -4 weeks in stock already. We are two-3 weeks into this. China plants are more than likely closed or are half-staffed. Ships woill not call on Chinese ports till the crisis is over or is pronounced safe.

  1. EMichael , February 28, 2020 9:31 am

    So Trump keeps trying to reassure investors about the market when there is not a single person in the world that would pay attention to his comments on the market.

[Feb 28, 2020] The impact of coronavirus on Trump reelection chances

Highly recommended!
Feb 28, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 27, 2020 10:57 pm

There is a silver lining in any dark cloud.

Trump might not survive the Coronavirus, literally (he is over 70 and has a high range of contacts; the mortality to this age group is close to 10%), or figuratively as voters might not forgive him inadequate and/or incompetent response (which is given) .

Unfortunately, Bernie is at even higher risk as mortality for 80+ is over 15%, and pre-existing cardiovascular disease is a serious negative factor.

One can wonder if this will be " Straw that broke the camel's back " for Trump. With 10% drop of S&P500 (aka "correction") it is difficult to talk about booming economy on rallies ( 20% decline marker defines a recession and some stocks -- like oil sector are already in this territory ). High yield bonds are also going down, although more slowly. Now suddenly, Trump has nothing to talk about on his rallies, and he knows it.

A part of rich retirees who are overexposed to stocks constitutes a sizable part of remaining avid "Trumpers" voter block (kind of double stupidity, if you wish :-) , and some of them might not forgive Trump the liberty of depriving them honestly earned in 2019 ~10% of their 401K accounts.

IMHO troubles for Trump just started. Being incompetent DJT and his merry band of grifters will almost definitely botch the response.

They already made three blunders.

1. When asked if, and when, a vaccine is produced, would the vaccine be affordable to everyone? They replied; We'll let the "market" decide that. And some part of electorate probably noted that.

2. The last December, they cut the budget for the CDC (center for disease control).

3. They exposed government workers to the virus without any need to do that, only due to bureaucratic incompetence: https://science.slashdot.org/story/20/02/27/2353236/us-health-workers-responding-to-coronavirus-lacked-training-and-protective-gear-whistle-blower-says

In this sense appointing Pence as the head of the coronavirus response may be a smart move by Trump. When and if the pandemic hits big time, exposing the mass incompetence and unpreparedness of the US government, in combination with the tanking of the stock market, Trump can, of course, blame Christian Zionist neoconservative Israeli apartheid supporter Pence for his troubles :-)

But, unfortunately, that will not do him any good.

[Feb 14, 2020] More Lies on Iran The White House Just Can t Help Itself as New Facts Emerge by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It soon emerged that the Iranian was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved. If that is so, events as they unfolded suggest that the US government might have encouraged Soleimani to make his trip so he could be set up and killed. Donald Trump later dismissed the lack of any corroboration of the tale of "imminent threat" being peddled by Pompeo, stating that it didn't really matter as Soleimani was a terrorist who deserved to die. ..."
"... It now appears that the original death of the American contractor that sparked the tit-for-tat conflict was not carried out by Kata'ib Hezbollah at all. An Iraqi Army investigative team has gathered convincing evidence that it was an attack staged by Islamic State. In fact, the Iraqi government has demonstrated that Kata'ib Hezbollah has had no presence in Kirkuk province, where the attack took place, since 2014. It is a heavily Sunni area where Shi'a are not welcome and is instead relatively hospitable to all-Sunni IS. It was, in fact, one of the original breeding grounds for what was to become ISIS. ..."
Feb 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Admittedly the news cycle in the United States seldom runs longer than twenty-four hours, but that should not serve as an excuse when a major story that contradicts what the Trump Administration has been claiming appears and suddenly dies. The public that actually follows the news might recall a little more than one month ago the United States assassinated a senior Iranian official named Qassem Soleimani. Openly killing someone in the government of a country with which one is not at war is, to say the least, unusual, particularly when the crime is carried out in yet another country with which both the perpetrator and the victim have friendly relations. The justification provided by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking for the administration, was that Soleimani was in Iraq planning an "imminent" mass killing of Americans, for which no additional evidence was provided at that time or since.

It soon emerged that the Iranian was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved. If that is so, events as they unfolded suggest that the US government might have encouraged Soleimani to make his trip so he could be set up and killed. Donald Trump later dismissed the lack of any corroboration of the tale of "imminent threat" being peddled by Pompeo, stating that it didn't really matter as Soleimani was a terrorist who deserved to die.

The incident that started the killing cycle that eventually included Soleimani consisted of a December 27th attack on a US base in Iraq in which four American soldiers and two Iraqis were wounded while one US contractor, an Iraqi-born translator, was killed. The United States immediately blamed Iran, claiming that it had been carried out by an Iranian supported Shi'ite militia called Kata'ib Hezbollah. It provided no evidence for that claim and retaliated by striking a Kata'ib base, killing 25 Iraqis who were in the field fighting the remnants of Islamic State (IS). The militiamen had been incorporated into the Iraqi Army and this disproportionate response led to riots outside the US Embassy in Baghdad, which were also blamed on Iran by the US There then followed the assassinations of Soleimani and nine senior Iraqi militia officers. Iran retaliated when it fired missiles at American forces , injuring more than one hundred soldiers, and then mistakenly shot down a passenger jet , killing an additional 176 people. As a consequence due to the killing by the US of 34 Iraqis in the two incidents, the Iraqi Parliament also voted to expel all American troops.

It now appears that the original death of the American contractor that sparked the tit-for-tat conflict was not carried out by Kata'ib Hezbollah at all. An Iraqi Army investigative team has gathered convincing evidence that it was an attack staged by Islamic State. In fact, the Iraqi government has demonstrated that Kata'ib Hezbollah has had no presence in Kirkuk province, where the attack took place, since 2014. It is a heavily Sunni area where Shi'a are not welcome and is instead relatively hospitable to all-Sunni IS. It was, in fact, one of the original breeding grounds for what was to become ISIS.

This new development was reported in the New York Times in an article that was headlined "Was US Wrong About Attack That Nearly Started a War With Iran? Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets that started a dangerous spiral of events." In spite of the sensational nature of the report it generally was ignored in television news and in other mainstream media outlets, letting the Trump administration get away with yet another big lie, one that could easily have led to a war with Iran.

Iraqi investigators found and identified the abandoned white Kia pickup with an improvised Katyusha rocket launcher in the vehicle's bed that was used to stage the attack. It was discovered down a desert road within range of the K-1 joint Iraqi-American base that was hit by at least ten missiles in December, most of which struck the American area.

There is no direct evidence tying the attack to any particular party and the improvised KIA truck is used by all sides in the regional fighting, but the Iraqi officials point to the undisputed fact that it was the Islamic State that had carried out three separate attacks near the base over the 10 days preceding December 27th. And there are reports that IS has been increasingly active in Kirkuk Province during the past year, carrying out near daily attacks with improvised roadside bombs and ambushes using small arms. There had, in fact, been reports from Iraqi intelligence that were shared with the American command warning that there might be an IS attack on K-1 itself, which is an Iraqi air base in that is shared with US forces.

The intelligence on the attack has been shared with American investigators, who have also examined the pick-up truck. The Times reports that the US command in Iraq continue to insist that the attack was carried out by Kata'ib based on information, including claimed communications intercepts, that it refuses to make public. The US forces may not have shared the intelligence they have with the Iraqis due to concerns that it would be leaked to Iran, but senior Iraqi military officers are nevertheless perplexed by the reticence to confide in an ally.

If the Iraqi investigation of the facts around the December attack on K-1 is reliable, the Donald Trump administration's reckless actions in Iraq in late December and early January cannot be justified. Worse still, it would appear that the White House was looking for an excuse to attack and kill a senior Iranian official to send some kind of message, a provocation that could easily have resulted in a war that would benefit no one. To be sure, the Trump administration has lied about developments in the Middle East so many times that it can no longer be trusted. Unfortunately, demanding any accountability from the Trump team would require a Congress that is willing to shoulder its responsibility for truth in government backed up by a media that is willing to take on an administration that regularly punishes anyone or any entity that dares to challenge it

That is the unfortunate reality in America today.



AnonStarter , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 12:25 am GMT

Well, the 9/11 Commission lied about Israeli involvement, Israeli neocons lied America into Iraq, and Netanyahu lied about Iranian nukes, so this latest news is just par for the course.
KA , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 12:59 am GMT
@04398436986 lets stay focused.

Pompeo had evidence of immediate catastrophic attack. That turned out to be a lie and plain BS.
Why should we believe Pompeo or White House or intelligence about the situation developing around 27-29 Dec ? Is it because it's USA who is saying so?

anonymous [307] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:12 am GMT
[it would appear that the White House was looking for an excuse to attack and kill a senior Iranian official to send some kind of message, a provocation that could easily have resulted in a war that would benefit no one.]

The Jewish mafia stooge and fifth column, Trump, is a war criminal and an ASSASSIN.

... ... ...

melpol , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:13 am GMT
War with Iran is off the table. Carpet bombing Iran would lead to the destruction of Israel and its nuclear facility...
Sean , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 2:23 am GMT

Worse still, it would appear that the White House was looking for an excuse to attack and kill a senior Iranian official to send some kind of message, a provocation that could easily have resulted in a war that would benefit no one.

Soleimani was a soldier involved in covert operations, Iran's most celebrated hero, and had been featured in the Iraq media as the target of multiple Western assassination attempts. He did not have diplomatic status.

As it happens Iran did not declare war on America and America did not declare war on Iran. If Americans soldiers killed in Iraq should not have been there in the first place, then the same goes for an Iranian soldier killed there too.

KA , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 2:30 am GMT
@04398436986 There is western assertion and western assertion only that Iran influences Iraqi administration and intelligence . It can be a projection from a failing America . It can be also a valid possibility .

But lying is America's alter ego . It comes easily and as default explanation even when admitting truth would do a better job .

Now let's focus on ISIS 's claims . Why is Ametica not taking it ( claim of ISIS) as truth and fact when USA has for last 19 years has jailed , bombed, attacked mentally retarded , caves and countries because somebody has pledged allegiance to Al Quida or to ISIS!!!

It seems neither truth nor lies , but what suits a particular psychopath at a particular time – that becomes USA's report ( kind of unassigned sex – neither truth nor lies – take your pick and find the toilet to flush it down memory hole) – so Pompeo lies to nation hoping no one in administration will ask . When administrative staff gets interested to know the truth , Pompeo tells them to suck it up , move on and get ready to explain the next batch of reality manufactured by a regime and well trained by philosopher Karl Rove

AnonStarter , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 4:06 am GMT
@04398436986 conspiracy mongers

To what "conspiracy" are you referring? It's a well established fact that your ilk was, at the very least, aware that the 9/11 attacks would occur and celebrated them in broad daylight. No conspiracy theory needed. Mossad ordnance experts were living practically next door to the hijackers. Well established fact.

It's also undeniable that the 9/11 Commission airbrushed Israeli involvement from their report. No conspiracy theory there, either.

Same goes for Israeli neocons and their media mandarins using "faulty intel" to get their war in Iraq. "Clean Break"? "Rebuilding America's Defenses"? Openly written and published. Judith Miller's lies? Also no conspiracy.

And Israel's own intelligence directors were undermining Netanyahu's lies on Iran. Not a conspiracy in sight.

contemplating the outcome of normal everyday competition, influenced by good & bad luck, is just too much truth for some psychological makeups

That's one of the lamest attempts at deflection I've seen thus far, and I've seen quite a few here.

Those who deny the official version of 9/11 are in the majority now:

https://www.livescience.com/56479-americans-believe-conspiracy-theories.html

We've reached critical mass. Clearly, that's just too much truth for your psychological makeup. Were we really that worthy of ignoring, your people wouldn't be working 24/7/365 to peddle your malarkey in fora of this variety.

JUSA , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 5:23 am GMT
I have thought that Trump's true impeachable crime was the illegal assassination of a foreign general who was not in combat. Pence should also be impeached for the botched coup in Venezuela. That was true embarrassment bringing that "El Presidente" that no one recognizes to the SOTU.

USA is basically JU-S-A now, Jews own and run this country from top to bottom, side to side, and because of it, pretty much run the world. China-Russia-Iran form their new "Axis of Evil" to be brought in line. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Covid-19 is a bioweapon, except not one created by China. Israel has been working on an ethnic based bioweapon for years. US sent 172 military "athletes" to the Military World Games in Wuhan in October, 2019, two weeks before the first case of coronavirus appeared. Almost too coincidental.

animalogic , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 6:20 am GMT
@Sean He wasn't there as a soldier -- he was there in a diplomatic role. (regardless of his official "status"). It also appears he was lured there with intent to assaninate.
Your last para is not only terrible logic but ignores the point of the article. Iran likely was not responsible for the US deaths. Even had it been responsible it would still not legitimate such a baldly criminal action.
Sean , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 6:29 am GMT
@JUSA

[I]illegal assassination of a foreign general who was not in combat

Lawful combat according to the Geneva Convention in which war is openly declared and fought between two countries each of which have regular uniformed forces that do all the actual fighting is an extremely rare thing. It is all proxy forces, deniability and asymmetric warfare in which one side (the stronger) is attacked by phantom combatants.

The Israeli PM publically alluded to the fact that Soleimani had almost been killed in the Mossad operation to kill Imad Mughniyeh a decade ago. The Iranian public knew that Soleimani had narrowly escaped death from Israeli drones, because Soleimani appeared on Iranian TV in October and told the story. A plot kill him by at a memorial service in Iran was supposedly foiled. He came from Lebanon by way of Syria into Iraq as if none of this had happened. Trump had sacked Bolton and failed to react to the drone attack on Saudi oil.

Iran seems to have thought that refusal to actually fight in the type of war that the international conventions were designed to regulate is a licence to exert pressure by launch attacks without being targeted oneself. Now do they understand.

Ace , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 8:41 am GMT
@Sean American troops invaded Iraq under false pretenses, killed thousands, and caused great destruction. Chaos and vengeful Sunnis spilled over into Syria where the US proceeded to grovel before the terrorists we fret about. Soleimani was effective in organizing resistance in Iraq and Syria and was in both countries with the blessing of their governments.

How you get Soleimani shouldn't be there out of that I have no idea.

Zen , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 12:04 pm GMT
@04398436986 Yet you ignore that the Neocons have lied about virtually every cause if war ever. Lied about Iraq, North Korea and Iran nuclear info actions, about chem weapons in Syria, lied about Kosovo, lied about Libya, lied about Benghazi, lied about Venezuela. So Whom I gonna believe, no government, but a Neocon led one least of all
Vojkan , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:05 pm GMT
@Sean American soldiers went there uninvited. Soleimani went there because he was invited. That makes a hell of a difference.
Robjil , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:05 pm GMT
It is common knowledge that ISIS is a US/Israeli creation. ISIS is the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service. Thus, the US/Israel staged the attack on the US base on 12.27.2019.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-is-a-us-israeli-creation-top-ten-indications/5518627

ISIS is a US-Israeli Creation: Indication #2: ISIS Never Attacks Israel

It is more than highly strange and suspicious that ISIS never attacks Israel – it is another indication that ISIS is controlled by Israel. If ISIS were a genuine and independent uprising that was not covertly orchestrated by the US and Israel, why would they not try to attack the Zionist regime, which has attacked almost of all of its Muslim neighbors ever since its inception in 1948? Israel has attacked Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and of course has decimated Palestine. It has systemically tried to divide and conquer its Arab neighbors. It continually complains of Islamic terrorism. Yet, when ISIS comes on the scene as the bloody and barbaric king of Islamic terrorism, it finds no fault with Israel and sees no reason to target a regime which has perpetrated massive injustice against Muslims? This stretches credibility to a snapping point.

ISIS and Israel don't attack each other – they help each other. Israel was treating ISIS soldiers and other anti-Assad rebels in its hospitals! Mortal enemies or best of friends?

Coward Corps , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:07 pm GMT
The MQ-9 pilot and sensor operator will be looking over their shoulders for a long time. They're as famous as Soleimani. Their command chain is well known too, hide though they might far away.

And who briefed the president that terror Tuesday? The murder program isn't Air Force.

Eek , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:25 pm GMT
Hey now, you learn to put the best gloss on things when your troops are pathetic little timmies scared of rocks and 12-year olds. Bunch of pussies.

https://southfront.org/dumbfucks-russian-troops-react-to-us-forces-using-firearms-against-syrian-villagers/

The IRGC is going to make mincemeat of these chumps.

Moi , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:36 pm GMT
@anonymous The kind of crap Trump pulled in the assassination of Soleimani is what he should be impeached about–not the piss-ant stuff about Hunter Biden's job in the Ukaranian gas company and his pappy's role in it.
Sick of Orcs , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm GMT
We're really benefitting, carrying water for (((our greatest ally.)))
Really No Shit , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm GMT
Iraq an ally of the United States! Is it some kind of a joke? How can a master and slave be equal? We, the big dog want their oil and the tail that wags us, Israel, want all Muslims pacified and the Congress, which is us wether we like or not, compliant out of financial fears. Unless we curb our own greedy appetite for fossil fuels and at the same time tell an ally, which Israel is by being equal in a sense that it can get away with murder and not a pip is raised, to limit its ambition, nothing is going to be done to improve the situation. Until then it's an exercise in futility, at best!
anonymous [307] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm GMT
@Ozymandias You are so ignorant.

Iran has NO choice but to defend itself from the savages. It has not been Iran that invaded US, but US with a plan that design years before 9/11 invaded many countries. Remember: seven countries in five years. Soleimani was a wise man working towards peace by creating options for Iran to defend itself. Iran is not the aggressor, but US -Israel-UK are the aggressor for centuries now. Is this so difficult to understand. 9/11 was staged by US/Israel killing 3000 Christians to implement their criminal plan.

Soleimani, was on a peace mission, where was assassinated by Trump, an Israeli firster and a fifth column and the baby killer Netanyahu. Is this difficult to understand by the Trump worshiper, a traitor.

Now, Khamenie is saying the same thing: "Iran should be strong in military warfare and sciences to prevent war and maintain PEACE.

Only ignorant, arrogant, and racists don't understand this fact and refuse to understand how the victims have been pushed to defend themselves.

The Assassin at the black house should receive the same fate in order to bring the peace.

anonymous [307] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 2:48 pm GMT
@Moi I totally agree with you. Both parties are a fifth column and criminals.
Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist , says: Website Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 2:57 pm GMT
When does Amerikastan *not* lie about anything? If an Amerikastani tells you the sun rises in the east, you're probably on Venus, where it rises in the west.
DaveE , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 3:05 pm GMT
I think this article is getting close to the truth, that this whole operation was and is an ISIS (meaning Israeli Secret Intelligence Service) affair designed to pit America against the zionists' most formidable enemy thus far, Iran.

I'm of the opinion that Trump did not order the hit on Soleimani, but was forced to take credit for it, if he didn't want to forfeit any chance of being reelected this year. The same ISIS (Israeli) forces that did the hit also orchestrated the "retaliation" that Mr. Giraldi so heroically documents in this piece.

As usual, this is looking more and more like a zionist /jewish false flag attack on the Muslim world, with the real dirty-work to be done by the American military.

Ahoy , says: Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 3:17 pm GMT
The dealer in the M.E. poker game is Putin. This is what drives the very elite crazy. How could this have happened? We had conquered Russia in 1917.

Well, you must have made a small mistake along the way. Trumpstein can't save you. Soon the dollar won't have any value. There is nothing behind it.

The new policeman in the M.E. will be Iran. The legacy of Lawrence of Arabia has died long time ago.

Greg Bacon , says: Website Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm GMT

It soon emerged that the Iranian was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved.

It's now obvious that the slumlord son-in-law Jared Kushner is really running the USA's ME policy.
Kushner is not only a dear friend of at-large war criminal Bibi Nuttyahoo, he also belongs to the Judaic religious cult of Chabad Lubavitcher, whom make the war-loving Christian Evangelicals almost look sane. Chabad also prays for some kind of Armageddon to bring forth their Messiah, just like the Evangelicals.

One can tell by Kushner's nasty comments he makes about Arabs/Persians and Palestinians in particular, that he loathes and despises those people and has an idiotic ear to cry into in the malignant form of Zion Don, AKA President Trump.

It's been said that Kushner is also a Mossad agent or asset, which is a good guess, since that agency has been placing their agents into the WH since at least the days of Clinton, who had Rahm Emmanuel to whisper hate into his ear.

That the Iranian General Soleimani was lured into Iraq so the WH could murder the man probably most responsible for halting the terrorist activities of the heart-eating, head-chopping US/Israel/KSA creation ISIS brings to mind the motto of the Israeli version of the CIA, the Mossad.

"By way of deception thou shalt make war."

Between Trump's incompetence, his vanity–and yes, his stupidity– and his appointing Swamp creatures into his cabinet and allowing Jared to run the ME show, Trump is showing himself to be a worse choice than Hillary.
If that maniac gets another 4 years, humanity is doomed. Or at least the USA for sure will perish.

[Feb 14, 2020] Between Trump's incompetence, his vanity and yes, his stupidity and his appointing Swamp creatures into his cabinet and allowing Jared to run the ME show, Trump is showing himself to be a worse choice than Hillary.

Feb 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Greg Bacon , says: Website Show Comment February 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm GMT

It soon emerged that the Iranian was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved.

It's now obvious that the slumlord son-in-law Jared Kushner is really running the USA's ME policy.
Kushner is not only a dear friend of at-large war criminal Bibi Nuttyahoo, he also belongs to the Judaic religious cult of Chabad Lubavitcher, whom make the war-loving Christian Evangelicals almost look sane. Chabad also prays for some kind of Armageddon to bring forth their Messiah, just like the Evangelicals.

One can tell by Kushner's nasty comments he makes about Arabs/Persians and Palestinians in particular, that he loathes and despises those people and has an idiotic ear to cry into in the malignant form of Zion Don, AKA President Trump.

It's been said that Kushner is also a Mossad agent or asset, which is a good guess, since that agency has been placing their agents into the WH since at least the days of Clinton, who had Rahm Emmanuel to whisper hate into his ear.

That the Iranian General Soleimani was lured into Iraq so the WH could murder the man probably most responsible for halting the terrorist activities of the heart-eating, head-chopping US/Israel/KSA creation ISIS brings to mind the motto of the Israeli version of the CIA, the Mossad.

"By way of deception thou shalt make war."

Between Trump's incompetence, his vanity–and yes, his stupidity– and his appointing Swamp creatures into his cabinet and allowing Jared to run the ME show, Trump is showing himself to be a worse choice than Hillary.
If that maniac gets another 4 years, humanity is doomed. Or at least the USA for sure will perish.

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[Feb 08, 2020] Age is starting to catch up to Trump. He appears to be tiring and his rhetoric is becoming repetitive.

Feb 08, 2020 | www.unz.com

melpol , says: Show Comment February 7, 2020 at 2:02 am GMT

Age is starting to catch up to Trump. He appears to be tiring and his rhetoric is becoming repetitive. He might have to resort to energy boosting drugs which is illegal in sporting contests but his opponents might demand a doping test. Bloomberg and Sanders are also old men but they might cause Trump to become confused and disoriented. If that happens Trump will quit the debates and go into the elections based on his low black unemployment achievements.

[Feb 07, 2020] Just one subjective opinion ;-)

Feb 07, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Rusty Trombone , 43 minutes ago link

Trump is in many ways a narcissistic scumbag...but given the alternative of any of these degenerate limp wristed faggots and gun grabbing communists who want to pay reparations for slavery to people who were never slaves, transgender 7 year olds and have their mental illness rammed down our throats, open borders, and whatever assorted lunacy is in vogue with their purple haired minions ?

Yeah, go **** yourself.

Trump, it's not even close.

Gaius Petronius , 13 minutes ago link

Instant classic. Love it.

[Feb 05, 2020] Trump as a middle level gangster

There is a real danger for gangstrism mode of forign policy -- policimakers live in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs...
Feb 05, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Diplomacy, accommodation, compromise, mutuality, the perspectives of others: It is already clear these are among the defining features of 21 st century statecraft. Jealous of its dissipating preeminence, the U.S. proves indifferent to all such considerations. There is no longer even the pretense of deriving authority by way of example, so radical is Washington's preference for coercive might alone. The paradox is not difficult to grasp: In displays of unadorned power we also find the limits of power. The Trump administration's conduct of foreign policy -- primarily but not only in the Mideast -- makes failure and an American comeuppance inevitable.

... ... ...

Many years ago, during the first term of George W. Bush, Karl Rove gave an interview in which he asserted that the U.S. was no longer bound by "discernible reality," as the White House aide put it. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," Rove explained. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

Rove Warning Overlooked

This singularly arrogant remark was much noted at the time but was thought to reflect only the kookier extremes of the Bush II administration. What a misinterpretation that has proven to be. Rove was effectively warning us that the U.S. had already begun its fundamental shift toward sheer power as the instrument of its foreign policies. This is plain in hindsight.

... These policies share two features. They rest on power alone -- in this they are Karl Rove's dream made flesh -- and they are bound to fail, if they are not already failing.

It is evident now that the European allies will defy U.S. efforts to sabotage NordStream 2 and keep Huawei out of 5–G. London announced last week that it will allow Huawei to participate in its 5–G development program. Germany made a similar decision last autumn.

In the Middle East, it is equally clear that Iran has no intention of buckling under U.S. sanctions and military threats. U.S. influence in the region has already begun to decline since the drone assassination of a top Iranian general on Iraqi soil early last month. The Pentagon now faces popular Iraqi demands to withdraw its troops.

And now the Mideast -- Israel and Palestine. The Trump administration sacrificed all claim to "honest broker" status when it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 -- a unilateral move that prompted the Palestinians to stop talking to the U.S. about the plan Jared Kushner was by then developing. Of all that is wrong with the new Trump–Kushner plan, the absence of Palestinian input more or less assures that it will prove dead on arrival.

Power alone is power blind. Power blind is certain to fail, for it cannot see its way.

[Feb 05, 2020] Stumbling Into Catastrophe by Daniel McAdams

Feb 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Daniel McAdams via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

There is a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs. Needless to say it's even worse when they believe they can create their own reality and invent outcomes out of whole cloth.

Things seldom go as planned in these circumstances.

President Trump was sold a bill of goods on the assassination of Iran's revered military leader, Qassim Soleimani, likely by a cabal around Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the long-discredited neocon David Wurmser. A former Netanyahu advisor and Iraq war propagandist, Wurmser reportedly sent memos to his mentor, John Bolton, while Bolton was Trump's National Security Advisor (now, of course, he's the hero of the #resistance for having turned on his former boss) promising that killing Soleimani would be a cost-free operation that would catalyze the Iranian people against their government and bring about the long-awaited regime change in that country. The murder of Soleimani – the architect of the defeat of ISIS – would "rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the [Iranian] regime depends for stability and survival," wrote Wurmser.

As is most often the case with neocons, he was dead wrong.

The operation was not cost-free. On the contrary. Assassinating Soleimani on Iraqi soil resulted in the Iraqi parliament – itself the product of our "bringing democracy" to the country – voting to expel US forces even as the vote by the people's representatives was roundly rejected by the people who brought the people the people's representatives. In a manner of speaking.

Trump's move had an effect opposite to the one promised by neocons. It did not bring Iranians out to the street to overthrow their government – it catalyzed opposition across Iraq's various political and religious factions to the continued US military presence and further tightened Iraq's relationship with Iran. And short of what would be a catastrophic war initiated by the US (with little or no support from allies), there is not a thing Trump can do about it.

Iran's retaliatory attack on two US bases in Iraq was initially sold by President Trump as merely a pin-prick. No harm, no foul, no injuries. This despite the fact that he must have known about US personnel injured in the attack. The reason for the lie was that Trump likely understands how devastating it would be to his presidency to escalate with Iran. So the truth began to trickle out slowly – 11 US military members were injured, but it was just "like a headache." Now we know that 50 US troops were treated for traumatic brain injury after the attack. This may not be the last of it – but don't count on the mainstream media to do any reporting.

The Iranian FARS news agency reported at the time of the attack that US personnel had been injured and the response by the US government was to completely take that media outlet off the Internet by order of the US Treasury !

Last week the US House voted to cancel the 2002 authorization for war on Iraq and to prohibit the use of funds for war on Iran without Congressional authorization. It is a significant, if largely symbolic, move to rein in the oft-used excuse of the Iraq war authorization for blatantly unrelated actions like the assassination of Soleimani and Obama's thousands of airstrikes on Syria and Iraq .

President Trump has argued that prohibiting funds for military action against Iran actually makes war more likely, as he would be restricted from the kinds of military-strikes-short-of-war like his attack on Syria after the alleged chemical attack in Douma in 2018 (claims which have recently fallen apart ). The logic is faulty and reflects again the danger of believing one's own propaganda. As we have seen from the Iranian military response to the Soleimani assassination, Trump's military-strikes-short-of-war are having a ratchet-like effect rather than a pressure-release or deterrent effect.

As the financial and current events analysis site ZeroHedge put it recently:

[S]ince last summer's "tanker wars", Trump has painted himself into a corner on Iran, jumping from escalation to escalation (to this latest "point of no return big one" in the form of the ordered Soleimani assassination) -- yet all the while hoping to avoid a major direct war. The situation reached a climax where there were "no outs" (Trump was left with two 'bad options' of either back down or go to war).

The Iranians have little to lose at this point and America's European allies are, even if impotent, fed up with the US obsession with Saudi Arabia and Israel as a basis for its Middle East policy.

So why open this essay with a photo of Trump celebrating his dead-on-arrival "Deal of The Century" for Israel and Palestine? Because this is once again a gullible and weak President Trump being led by the nose into the coming Middle East conflagration. Left without even a semblance of US sympathy for their plight, the Palestinians after the roll-out of this "peace" plan will again see that they have no friends outside Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. As Israel continues to flirt with the idea of simply annexing large parts of the West Bank, it is clear that the brakes are off of any Israeli reticence to push for maximum control over Palestinian territory. So what is there to lose?

Trump believes he's advancing peace in the Middle East, while the excellent Mondoweiss website rightly observes that a main architect of the "peace plan," Trump's own son-in-law Jared Kushner, "taunts Palestinians because he wants them to reject his 'peace plan.'" Rejection of the plan is a green light to a war of annihilation on the Palestinians.

It appears that the center may not hold, that the self-referential echo chamber that passes for Beltway "expert" analysis will again be caught off guard in the consequence-free profession that is neocon foreign policy analysis. "Gosh we didn't see that coming!" But the next day they are back on the teevee stations as great experts.

Clouds gathering...


Minamoto , 23 minutes ago link

It is hard to believe that Trump has any confidence in Jared Kushner. Yet, he does enough to go public with a one-sided plan developed without Palestinian input.

francis scott falseflag , 41 minutes ago link

a real danger for foreign policy advisors and analysts – and especially those they serve – when they are in a bubble, an echo chamber, and all of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

The same is true of the economists and financial analysts who live in the bubble of the NSYE and the echo chamber of Manhattan. All of their conclusions are based on faulty inputs.

Ruler , 1 hour ago link

The problem all incompetent leaders have, is seeing how their opponents see them.

Bokkenrijder , 1 hour ago link

If Trump continues to be 'dumb' enough to consistently hire these people and consistently listen to them, and if his supporters continue to be dumb enough to consistently believe all the lies and excuses, then Trump and his supporters are 100% involved in the neoCON.

RafterManFMJ , 1 hour ago link

Dude, it's 666D chess!

The Real John Bolton

[Jan 31, 2020] Tucker John Bolton has always been a snake

Bolton was appointed by Adelson.
Jan 27, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bolton's tell-all book leaks during Senate trial. #FoxNews


Yamaha Venture , 3 days ago

Mitt Romney is a joke.

Michael Harvey , 2 days ago

John Bolton wants war everywhere to line his pockets with money.

Stephen C , 1 day ago

The "right" gets the left, but doesn't agree with them. The "left" doesn't understand the "right".

Citizen Se7en , 2 days ago

"Bolton's resignation was one of the highlights of the president's first term." Truer words have never been spoken.

Jack Albright , 2 days ago

This story is also called "the scorpion and the frog".

Ragnar Lothbrok , 3 days ago

John Bolton should be given a helmet and a gun and sent to the next war. Let's see how he likes it.

Stratchona , 1 day ago

Trump.." I don't know John Bolton,never met him,don't know what he does."

Jaret Glenn , 2 days ago

Time to investigate Romney's son working for the oil company in the Ukraine.

Regan Orr , 2 days ago

Romney's Holy Underwear is Cutting off the Blood Supply to his Deep St Brain!

Marjo , 2 days ago (edited)

I never liked Bolton. I sensed he was out for himself, at anyone's expense. War monger too. He had many people fooled.

Shara Kirkby , 3 days ago

Bolton wants war anywhere and forever!

David Dorrell , 1 day ago (edited)

Frickin' Globalist peckerwoods. John Bolton and his pal, Mitt Romney.

Olivier Bolton , 2 days ago

Bolton wanted war so he got the boot...the fact he brings out his book now just looks like vengean$$

Max Liftoff , 2 days ago

2:30 Because Bolton never served in the military he truly passionately loved war :)) LMAO Tucker nailed it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ , 1 day ago

The left's championing of John Bolton is further proof that TDS has made their minds turn to sludge.

j abe , 3 days ago

Can someone expaine to me how mit romney is still geting votes from ppl

Mark Whitley , 2 days ago

Bolton is a war mongering narcissist that wanted his war, didn't get it, & is now acting like a spoilt child that didn't get his way & is laying on the floor kicking & screaming!

Tim Fronimos , 2 days ago

Regarding John Bolton's book, is this the first book that he's colored. just curious

newuserandhiscrew 22 , 2 days ago

Everyone: Bolton: "take me in oh tender woman, take me in for heaven's sake"

Brittany Ward , 1 day ago

I can't fathom that people actually believe everything the media says!

[Jan 31, 2020] Trump excoriates Bolton in tweets this morning

Highly recommended!
Trump is lying. Bolton was appointed by Adelson and Trump can't refuse Adelson protégé.
Jan 31, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Trump excoriates Bolton in tweets this morning:
"For a guy who couldn't get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn't get approved for anything since, 'begged' me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying 'Don't do it, sir,' takes the job, mistakenly says 'Libyan Model' on T.V., and ... many more mistakes of judgement [sic], gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?"

IMO, Trump is a fantastic POTUS for this day and age, but he wasn't on his A game when he brought Bolton onboard. He should have known better and, was, apparently, warned. Maybe Trump thought he could control him and use him as a threatening pit bull. Mistake. Bolton is greedy as well as vindictive.

Posted by: Eric Newhill | 29 January 2020 at 09:30 AM

[Jan 28, 2020] Pompeo's Petty Despotism

Pompeo proved to be impulsive bully. Like Bolton, he is yet another "wise" Trump choice that disqualifies Trump for running in 2020 elections.
Jan 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Nomuka 15 hours ago • edited
Well, it looks like I'll need to start contributing to NPR again. They are a little too woke for my tastes, but Pompeo is a liar, and frankly beyond the pale. A perfect representative of the current administration by the way. Kudos to NPR for standing up to him.
TomG 10 hours ago
One correction--instead of "by acting as if he is a petty despot" it should read "evermore blatantly showing the world the petty despot he is."
bumbershoot 10 hours ago
The Secretary of State has all of the vanity and arrogance of a diva, but none of the talent.

Hmm, that seems to remind me of someone else in this administration...

FL_Cottonmouth 9 hours ago
Much like U.S. foreign policy, it seems that Mike Pompeo is going to ignore the facts and keep recklessly escalating the conflict. Surely he's aware that The Washington Post published the email correspondence between Ms. Kelley and press aide. This just makes him look like a coward.
ZizaNiam 9 hours ago
From the Trump voter perspective, this journalist should feel lucky that she wasn't sent to Guantanamo Bay. All Trump voters think this way, there is no exception.
Taras77 6 hours ago
Absolutely no longer any surprises about this pathetic individual!

[Jan 27, 2020] Guess Who Was In Charge Of Reviewing Bolton's Leaked Book At The NSC

Bolton is pretty dangerous neocon scum... Now he tried to backstab Trump, so Trump gets what he deserves as only complete idiot or a fully controlled puppet would appoint Bolton to his Administration.
Notable quotes:
"... Breitbart News ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Breitbart News , which would include the recently leaked manuscript of former National Security adviser John Bolton.

The report describes the reviews as a "standard process that allows the NSC to review book manuscripts, op-eds, or any other material for any classified material to be eliminated before publication."

The New York Times reported Sunday evening that Bolton's draft book manuscript, which had been submitted to the NSC for prepublication review on Dec. 30, alleged that President Trump told Bolton in August 2019 that he wanted to withhold security assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, among others.

It was not clear if the Times had seen the Bolton manuscript; its sources were "multiple people" who "described Mr. Bolton's account of the Ukraine affair."

Bolton's lawyer, Chuck Cooper, issued a statement in which he said: "It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted ." He did not confirm or deny the Times ' reporting on the content of the manuscript. - Breitbart News

What a coincidence! While Alexander Vindman at the NSC testifies against Trump at the House impeachment, the other brother (Yevgeny) appears to be in charge of clearing John Bolton's book for publication.

If you believe in coincidences. https://t.co/qtpoqeGpaj

-- Emerald Robinson ✝️ (@EmeraldRobinson) January 27, 2020

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman famously testified against President Trump during House impeachment hearings in November, where he admitted to violating the chain of command when he reported his concerns over a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.

Nunes: Did you know that financial records show a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma, routed more than $ 3 million to American accounts tied to Hunter Biden?

Vindman, whose job is to handle Ukraine policy: "I'm not aware of this fact." pic.twitter.com/6yFbWkufmH

-- Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) November 19, 2019

Breitbart notes that the Vindman brothers have offices across from each other at the NSC , and that the Wall Street Journal describes Vindman as "an NSC lawyer handling ethics issues." Alexander Vindman, meanwhile, has said that his brother was the " lead ethics official " at the agency.

Meanwhile, looks like people are already distancing themselves from Bolton's claims that President Trump explicitly linked Ukraine aid with an investigation into the Bidens.

And now contradicted by Mick Mulvaney. https://t.co/1dhuCQ8UHZ

-- Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 27, 2020

hooligan2009 , 39 seconds ago link

remember seth rich!

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/01/breaking-exclusive-christopher-wrays-fbi-caught-in-another-lie-and-cover-up-fbi-emails-on-seth-rich-uncovered/

"Today, January 27, 2020, we have a stunning update ==>>

After previously claiming no FBI records could be found related to Seth Rich, emails have been uncovered. These emails weren't just from anybody. These emails were between FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two most corrupt individuals involved in the Russia Collusion Hoax.

In a set of emails released by Judicial Watch on January 22, 2020, provided by a FOIA request on Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two pages on emails refer to Seth Rich:"

https://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/JW-v-DOJ-Strzok-Page-Prod-16-00154.pdf

Moneycircus , 1 minute ago link

The Vindman brothers are being "handled" by someone.

I wager they have political "groomers", just like Obama did.

A Jewish photographer has been capturing Alexander Vindman and his twin for nearly 4 decades
https://www.jta.org/2019/11/06/culture/a-jewish-photographer-has-been-capturing-alexander-vindman-and-his-twin-for-nearly-4-decades

They were also featured in a 1985 Ken Burns documentary about immigrants.

Crush the cube , 7 minutes ago link

These guys are Ukrainian mob moles, sent here by their Ukie Jewish oligarchs when their positions of privilege went into decline with the collapse of communism. Because its typical for three first generation schmucks fresh off the immigrant boat to end up with two as officers both working in the white house, and the third brother back in Ukie Euro land controlling a major bank hip deep in all the scandal.

Think any investigative agency will touch it, don't **** with the mossad.

Attitude_Check , 7 minutes ago link

The rats are starting to tear into each other - good.

Moneycircus , 13 minutes ago link

Retired Army Officer Remembers Lt. Col. Vindman as Partisan Democrat Who Ridiculed America

https://tennesseestar.com/2019/11/05/retired-army-officer-remembers-lt-col-vindman-as-partisan-democrat-who-ridiculed-america/

Nov 5, 2019In an eye-opening thread on Twitter last week, retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Jim Hickman said that he "verbally reprimanded " Vindman after he heard some of his derisive remarks for himself. " Do not let the uniform fool you," Hickman wrote. "He is a political activist in uniform."

Harley Vet , 14 minutes ago link

Donald Trump is the most unqualified person ever to be elected president.

Southern_Boy , 19 minutes ago link

So why isn't Vindman doing contracts in North Alaska or deputy attache in Namibia tonight until he gets passed over 3 times for promotion and forced to retire unless Durham can find evidence of his guilt?

Obake158 , 26 minutes ago link

Speaking of Vindman, an Obama holdover, White House HR head, has prohibited Vindman's removal from the NSC. He even gets a $30k raise and is permitted to serve out his term until June. You can't make this **** up:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AV9-7R5or6w

Deep Snorkeler , 30 minutes ago link

John Bolton Trump's Sidekick

  1. manifestly guilty of the planning, preparation, initiation and execution of the crime of aggression against Iraq
  2. promoted the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal
  3. setting the stage for an unlawful US military intervention in Venezuela - plotting a coup against a foreign government
  4. hates the United Nations and international law
  5. protected Israel by vetoing all UN resolutions targeting Israel and supported Jerusalem as Israel's capital
  6. against the International Criminal Court

[Jan 27, 2020] The end of Trump? Trump betrayed all major promises of his 2016 election campaign. Trump needs to go...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years. ..."
"... besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course. ..."
"... So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions. ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

EveryoneIsBiased , 26 January 2020 at 04:40 PM

Thank you Colonel; I have been waiting for your take on this. And thank you for opening the comments again. If there is a problem with my post, please point them out to me.

And i agree. This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years.

Still, immigration is another important issue, but besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course.

So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions.

And China? He may have changed some small to medium problems for the better, but nothing is changed in the overall trend of the US continuing to loose while China emerges as the next global superpower.

It may have been slowed for some years; It may even have been accelerated, now that China has been waken up to the extend of the threat posed by the US.

North Korea? They surely will never denuclearize. Even less after how Trump showed the world how he treats international law and even allies.

With Trump its all photo ops and showmanship. And while he senses what issues are important, it is worth a damn if he butchers the execution, or values photo ops more than substantial progress.

Not that i would see a democratic alternative. No. But at least now everyone who wants to know can see, that he is neither one.

4 years ago, democracy was corrupted, but at least there was someone who presented himself as an alternative to that rotten establishment.
Now, even that small ray of light is as dark as it gets.
And that is the saddest thing. What worth is democracy, when one does not even have a true alternative, besides Tulsi on endless wars, and Bernie for the socialist ;) ?

I just have watched again the Ken Burns documentary of the civil war. I know it is not perfect (Though i love Shelby Foote's parts), but the sense of the divided 2 Americas there, is still the same today. Today, America seems to break apart culturally, socially and economically on the fault lines that have sucked it into the civil war over 150 years ago.

And just like with seeing no real way out politically, i sadly can see no way to heal and unite this country, as it never was truly united after the civil war, if not ever before. As you Colonel said some weeks ago, the US were never a nation.

And looking at other countries, only a major national crisis may change this.
A most sad realization. But this hold true also for other western countries, including my own.

An even worse decade seems to be ahead.

[Jan 27, 2020] Trump, yes Trump, screamed at the top of his lungs and I believe took out a full page ad in the newspapers that we should close the borders to all travelers from Africa. On the advise of the CDC, Obama refused to do this. The people, sensing that Obama was not interested in their welfare, elected a Republican Congress in a landslide. Trump basically was saying that Obama was soft on his birthplace, Africa.

Jan 27, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Stephanie , 26 January 2020 at 07:39 PM

One other thing. Coronavirus. He could emerge the Hero of Wuhan, like a modern Flashman, but there are many forces at play. Or I should say, there is *a* force at play going against his ability to do that.

A little history. I believe it was the first midterms of Obama's Presidency, the Ebola scare hit right before the election. Trump, yes Trump, screamed at the top of his lungs and I believe took out a full page ad in the newspapers that we should close the borders to all travelers from Africa. On the advise of the CDC, Obama refused to do this. The people, sensing that Obama was not interested in their welfare, elected a Republican Congress in a landslide. Trump basically was saying that Obama was soft on his birthplace, Africa.

Well, the shoe is on the other foot now. The force that is now in play, that was definitely not in play with Ebola, is money. The economic consequences of a serious epidemic, a bit or maybe a lot more intense than SARS, because that is what they're talking about, will wreak havoc on the world economy. Just start with China. However severe the disease is, the Chinese are going completely nuts about it. The second largest economy on earth.

Trump's tweets thus far do not mention coronavirus. Schiff exists, but the coronavirus doesn't. Eventually, he will have to say something, and it will be very hard for him to say anything except that health professionals are doing an incredibly good job... without going into the details of what that might mean. Sort of like saying we have the best military on earth and brushing off traumatic brain injuries to 34 service men and women as headaches. Because if he says anything that isn't happy talk, the markets, the rentiers, are not going to like it. Essentially, he can close the borders to illegal Latin Americans, but he can't tamper with China.

Viruses are spread by touching something with living virus on it and then touching your nose. We touch are noses countless times a day. Handwashing is the absolute key. True droplet spread--someone across the room sneezes and you inhale the droplets--is exceedingly rare.

Artemesia -> Stephanie... , 27 January 2020 at 09:09 AM
Iran Lawmaker Warns About Spread Of Coronavirus By Chinese Tourists
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-lawmaker-warns-about-spread-of-coronavirus-by-chinese-tourists/30397701.html

Significant part is that the legislator for a province where an annual festival is to take place, that attracts many Chinese tourists, is seeking to ban Chinese participation this year.

Gutsy move, to forego tourist revenue to protect the locals.

[Jan 27, 2020] The ME may yet destroy Trump

Trump outlived his shelf life. Money quote: "This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years."
Notable quotes:
"... Some combination of the disasters that may emerge from these ME factors might well turn Trump's base against him and this result would be entirely of his own making ..."
"... This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years. ..."
"... besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course. ..."
"... So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions. ..."
"... Trump stands no chance if things get hot with Iran. He didn't win by enough to sacrifice the antiwar vote. ..."
"... Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo have got themselves in a no-win situation. NATO cannot occupy both Syria and Iraq, illegally. There are way too few troops. The bases in these nations are sitting ducks for the next precision ballistic missile attack. Any buildup would be contested. Ground travel curtailed. A Peace Treaty and Withdrawal is the only safe way out. ..."
"... Donald Trump is blessed with his opponents. Democrats who restarted the Cold War with Russia in 2014 are now using it to justify his Impeachment. If leaders cannot see reality clearly, they will keep making incredibly stupid mistakes. If Joe Biden is his opponent, I can't vote for either. Both spread chaos. ..."
"... President Trump controls part of the White House -- definitely not the NSC ..."
"... His hold elsewhere in the DC bureaucracy may be 5 - 15%. When the President decided to pull US troops out of Syria, his NSC Director flew to Egypt and Turkey to countermand the order. Facing the opposition of a united DC SWAMP, the President caved, and thereby delayed his formal impeachment by a year. ..."
"... Going out on a limb, President Trump continues to play a very weak hand and may survive to fight another day. Fortunately for the US, his tax and regulatory policies, as well as his economic negotiations with China, Japan, Korea and Mexico seem to be on target and successful. ..."
Jan 26, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

President Trump will easily be acquitted in the senate trial. This may occur this week and there will probably be no witnesses called. That will be an additional victory for him and will add to the effect of his trade deal victories and the general state of the US economy. These factors should point to a solid victory in November for him and the GOP in Congress.

Ah! Not so fast the cognoscenti may cry out. Not so fast. The Middle East is a graveyard of dreams:

1. Iraq. Street demonstrations in Iraq against a US alliance are growing more intense. There may well have been a million people in Muqtada al-Sadr's extravaganza. Shia fury over the death of Soleimani is quite real. Trump's belief that in a contest of the will he will prevail over the Iraqi Shia is a delusion, a delusion born of his narcissistic personality and his unwillingness to listen to people who do not share his delusions. A hostile Iraqi government and street mobs would make life unbearable for US forces there.

2. Syria. The handful of American troops east and north of the Euphrates "guarding" Syrian oil from the Syrian government are in a precarious position with the Shia Iraqis at their backs across the border and a hostile array of SAA, Turks, jihadis and potentially Russians to their front and on their flanks.

3. Palestine. The "Deal of the Century" is approaching announcement. From what is known of its contours, the deal will kill any remaining prospects for Palestinian statehood and will relegate all Palestinians (both Israeli citizens and the merely occupied) to the status of helots forever . Look it up. In return the deal will offer the helotry substantial bribes in economic aid money. Trump evidently continues to believe that Palestinians are untermenschen . He believe they will sell their freedom. The Palestinian Authority has already rejected this deal. IMO their reaction to the imposition of this regime is likely to be another intifada.

Some combination of the disasters that may emerge from these ME factors might well turn Trump's base against him and this result would be entirely of his own making . pl


Elora Danan , 26 January 2020 at 11:24 AM

...and his unwillingness to listen to people who do not share his delusions...

That precisely is the problem, apart from explosive shouting Pompeo, it seems he has recruited this extravanza of woman as adviser into the WH...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w0kSkvusjI&feature=emb_title

Could it be true? If that is the case, it´s more scary than Elora thought when that of Soleimani happened....This starts to look as a frenopatic...isn´t it?

HK Leo Strauss , 26 January 2020 at 01:12 PM
With Iran and her allies holding the figurative Trump Card on escalation, will they ramp up the pressure to topple him? They could end up with a Dem who couldn't afford to "lose" Syria or Iraq.
JamesT , 26 January 2020 at 04:14 PM
I submit to you, Colonel, that the biggest threat to Trump is a Bernie/Tulsi ticket. Bernie is leading in the Iowa and NH polls, and the recent spat with Warren (in my opinion) leaves Bernie with no viable choice for VP other than Tulsi.
Barbara Ann said in reply to JamesT ... , 26 January 2020 at 05:32 PM
JamesT

Judging by what just happened at the embassy in Baghdad, the intentions of the Iraqi electorate would seem to be a more pressing concern.

EveryoneIsBiased , 26 January 2020 at 04:40 PM
Thank you Colonel; I have been waiting for your take on this. And thank you for opening the comments again. If there is a problem with my post, please point them out to me.

And i agree. This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years.

Still, immigration is another important issue, but besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course.

So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions.

And China? He may have changed some small to medium problems for the better, but nothing is changed in the overall trend of the US continuing to loose while China emerges as the next global superpower.

It may have been slowed for some years; It may even have been accelerated, now that China has been waken up to the extend of the threat posed by the US.

North Korea? They surely will never denuclearize. Even less after how Trump showed the world how he treats international law and even allies.

With Trump its all photo ops and showmanship. And while he senses what issues are important, it is worth a damn if he butchers the execution, or values photo ops more than substantial progress.

Not that i would see a democratic alternative. No. But at least now everyone who wants to know can see, that he is neither one.

4 years ago, democracy was corrupted, but at least there was someone who presented himself as an alternative to that rotten establishment.
Now, even that small ray of light is as dark as it gets.
And that is the saddest thing. What worth is democracy, when one does not even have a true alternative, besides Tulsi on endless wars, and Bernie for the socialist ;) ?

I just have watched again the Ken Burns documentary of the civil war. I know it is not perfect (Though i love Shelby Foote's parts), but the sense of the divided 2 Americas there, is still the same today. Today, America seems to break apart culturally, socially and economically on the fault lines that have sucked it into the civil war over 150 years ago.

And just like with seeing no real way out politically, i sadly can see no way to heal and unite this country, as it never was truly united after the civil war, if not ever before. As you Colonel said some weeks ago, the US were never a nation.

And looking at other countries, only a major national crisis may change this.
A most sad realization. But this hold true also for other western countries, including my own.

An even worse decade seems to be ahead.

turcopolier , 26 January 2020 at 05:15 PM
everyoneisbiased

The economy is actually quite good and he is NOT "a dictator." Dictators are not put on trial by the legislature. He is extremely ignorant and suffers from a life in which only money mattered.

emboil , 26 January 2020 at 05:27 PM
Once Bernie wins the nomination, it's going to be escalation time. Trump stands no chance if things get hot with Iran. He didn't win by enough to sacrifice the antiwar vote.
walrus , 26 January 2020 at 06:14 PM
I'm starting to think that Trumps weakness is believing that everyone and everything has a monetary price. I think perhaps his dealings with China may reinforce his perception, as, also, his alleged success in bullying the Europeans over Iran -- with the threat of tariffs on European car imports. His almost weekly references to Iraqi and Syrian oil, allies "not paying their way", financial threats to the Iraq Government, all suggest a fixation on finance that has served him well in business.

The trouble is that one day President Trump is going to discover there is something money can't buy, to the detriment of America.

VietnamVet , 26 January 2020 at 07:28 PM
Colonel,

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo have got themselves in a no-win situation. NATO cannot occupy both Syria and Iraq, illegally. There are way too few troops. The bases in these nations are sitting ducks for the next precision ballistic missile attack. Any buildup would be contested. Ground travel curtailed. A Peace Treaty and Withdrawal is the only safe way out.

Donald Trump is blessed with his opponents. Democrats who restarted the Cold War with Russia in 2014 are now using it to justify his Impeachment. If leaders cannot see reality clearly, they will keep making incredibly stupid mistakes. If Joe Biden is his opponent, I can't vote for either. Both spread chaos.

My subconscious is again acting out. The mini-WWIII with Iran could shut off Middle Eastern oil at any time. The Fed is back to injecting digital money into the market. China has quarantined 44 million people. Global trade is fragile. Today there are four cases of Wuhan Coronavirus in the USA.

If confirmed that the virus is contagious without symptoms and an infected person transmits the virus to 2 to 3 people and with a 3% mortality rate and a higher 15% rate for the infirmed, the resupply trip to Safeway this summer could be both futile and dangerous.

Haralambos , 26 January 2020 at 07:48 PM
Two Greek words: "hubris" and "nemesis" come to mind.
Patrick Armstrong , 26 January 2020 at 08:19 PM
It's an old story. Mr X is elected POTUS; going to do this and that; something happens in the MENA. That's all anyone remembers. Maybe time to kiss Israel goodbye, tell SA to sell in whatever currency it wants, and realise that oil producers have to sell the stuff -- it's no good to them in the ground...
Petrel , 26 January 2020 at 08:31 PM
President Trump controls part of the White House -- definitely not the NSC -- and much of the Department of Commerce & Treasury. His hold elsewhere in the DC bureaucracy may be 5 - 15%. When the President decided to pull US troops out of Syria, his NSC Director flew to Egypt and Turkey to countermand the order. Facing the opposition of a united DC SWAMP, the President caved, and thereby delayed his formal impeachment by a year.

Going out on a limb, President Trump continues to play a very weak hand and may survive to fight another day. Fortunately for the US, his tax and regulatory policies, as well as his economic negotiations with China, Japan, Korea and Mexico seem to be on target and successful.

Godfree Roberts , 26 January 2020 at 09:19 PM
As Richard Nixon told a young Donald Rumsfeld when he asked about specializing in Latin America, "Nobody gives a shit about Latin America."

Nobody gives a shit about the Middle East.

Johnb , 26 January 2020 at 11:27 PM
We may yet see John McCains Revenge in the Senate Colonel, it only requires 4 Republican votes to move into Witnesses.
EEngineer , 26 January 2020 at 11:27 PM
Carthage must be destroyed! I don't know if Trump is going to war with Iran willingly or with a Neocon gun to his head, but if he's impeached I expect Pence to go on a holy crusade.

[Jan 27, 2020] Trump's Faith Advisor Paula White: To say no to president Trump would be saying no to God

From comments: "The Christian Taliban." George Carlin: "GOD NEEDS MORR MONNEEYYY"
Nov 05, 2019 | www.youtube.com

'When I walk on White House grounds, God walks on White House grounds.' -- Meet Paula White, spiritual adviser to President Trump and the latest addition to the White House staff.
" Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe

Hansel Ontaneda , 2 months ago

"To say no to president Trump would be saying no to God" this s**t is just mind blowing

[Jan 23, 2020] Guinness record in Presidential twits: Trump broke his previous Twitter record

Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

On Wednesday, Jan 22 Donald Trump wrote his name in the Guinness records books setting Presidential record in Twits. According @FactbaseFeed, an account which tracks Trump's Twitter habits, Trump sent 142 tweets and retweets on Wednesday -- eclipsing his previous single-day presidential record of 123.

pretzelattack , Jan 23 2020 16:06 utc | 8

According to the US diplomat, President Trump has made it very "clear that any attack on Americans or American interests will be met with a decisive response, which the president demonstrated on January 2".

And American interests are defined very flexibly, sometimes in conflicting tweets.

[Jan 22, 2020] Trump is Right Afghanistan is a 'Loser War'

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America ..."
"... But it was and is true. Indeed, when I visited Afghanistan back when U.S. troop levels were near their highest, "off camera," so to speak, military folks were quite skeptical of the war. So were Afghans, who had little good to say about their Washington-created and -supported government unless they were collecting a paycheck from it. An incoming president could be forgiven for suspecting that his predecessor had poured more troops into the conflict only to put off its failure until after he'd left office. ..."
"... Accounts like that from Rucker and Leonnig are beloved by the Blob. America's role is to dominate the globe, irrespective of cost. Those officials pursuing this objective, no matter how poorly, are lauded. Any politician challenging Washington's global mission is derided. ..."
"... President Trump has done much wrong. However, he deserves credit for challenging a failed foreign policy that's been paid for by so many while benefiting so few. It is "crazy" and "stupid," as he reportedly said. Why should Americans keep dying for causes that their leaders cannot adequately explain, let alone justify? Let us hope that one day Americans elect a president who will act and not just talk. ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

fter three years of the Trump presidency, the Washington Post is breathlessly reporting that Donald Trump is a boor who insults everyone, including generals used to respect and even veneration. He's had the impertinence to ask critical questions of his military briefers. For shame!

President Trump's limitations have been long evident. The Post 's discussion, adapted by Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker from their upcoming book, A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America , adds color, not substance, to this concern. It seems that in the summer of 2017, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and others were concerned about the president's international ignorance and organized a briefing at the Pentagon to enlighten him.

Was that a worthwhile mission? Sure. Everyone in the policy world marvels at the president's lack of curiosity, absent knowledge, bizarre assumptions, and perverse conclusions. He doesn't get trade, bizarrely celebrates dictatorship, fixates on Iran, doesn't understand agreements, acts on impulse, and exudes absolute certainty. Yet he also captures the essence of issues and shares a set of inchoate beliefs held by millions of Americans, especially those who feel ignored, insulted, disparaged, and dismissed. Most important, he was elected with a mandate to move policy away from the bipartisan globalist conventional wisdom.

The latter was evidently the main concern of these briefers. The presentation as described by the article exuded condescension. That attitude very likely was evident to Trump. The briefing was intended to inform, but even more so to establish his aides' control over him. While they bridled at Trump's manners, they were even more opposed to his substantive opinions. And that made the briefing sound like a carefully choreographed attack on his worldview.

For instance, Mattis used charts with lots of dollar signs "to impress upon [the president] the value of U.S. investments abroad. [Mattis] sought to explain why U.S. troops were deployed in so many regions and why America's safety hinged on a complex web of trade deals, alliances, and bases across the globe." Notably, Mattis "then gave a 20-minute briefing on the power of the NATO alliance to stabilize Europe and keep the United States safe."

No doubt Secretary Mattis sincerely believed all that. However, it was an argument more appropriately made in 1950 or 1960. The world has since changed dramatically.

Of course, this is also the position of the Blob, Ben Rhodes' wonderful label for the Washington foreign policymaking community. What has ever been must ever be, is the Blob's informal mantra. America's lot in life, no matter how many average folks must die, is to litter the globe with bases, ships, planes, and troops to fight endless wars, some big, some small, to make the world safe for democracy, sometimes, and autocracy, otherwise. If America ever stops fulfilling what seems to be the modern equivalent of Rudyard Kipling's infamous "white man's burden," order will collapse, authoritarianism will advance, trade will disappear, conflict will multiply, countries will be conquered, friends will become enemies, allies will defect, terrorists will strike, liberal values will be discarded, all that is good and wonderful will disappear, and a new dark age will envelope the earth.

Trump is remarkably ignorant of the facts, but he does possess a commonsensical skepticism of the utter nonsense that gets promoted as unchallengeable conventional wisdom. As a result, he understood that this weltanschauung, a word he would never use, was an absolute fantasy. And he showed it by the questions he asked.

For instance, he challenged the defense guarantee for South Korea. "We should charge them rent," he blurted out. "We should make them pay for our soldiers." Although treating American military personnel like mercenaries is the wrong approach, he is right that there is no need to protect the Republic of Korea. The Korean War ended 67 years ago. The South has twice the population and, by the latest estimate, 54 times the economy of the North. Why is Seoul still dependent on America?

If the Blob has its way, the U.S. will pay to defend the ROK forever. Analysts speak of the need for Americans to stick around even after reunification. It seems there is no circumstance under which they imagine Washington not garrisoning the peninsula. Why is America, born of revolution, now acting like an imperial power that must impose its military might everywhere?

Even more forcefully, it appeared, did Trump express his hostile views of Europe and NATO. Sure, he appeared to mistakenly believe that there was an alliance budget that European governments had failed to fund. But World War II ended 70 years ago. The Europeans recovered, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Eastern Europeans joined NATO. Why is Washington expected to subsidize a continent with a larger population than, and economy equivalent to, America's, and far larger than Russia's? Mattis apparently offered the standard bromides, such as "This is what keeps us safe."

How? Does he imagine that without Washington's European presence, Russia would roll its tanks and march to the Atlantic Ocean? And from there launch a global pincer movement to invade North America? How does adding such behemoths as Montenegro keep the U.S. "safe"? What does initiating a military confrontation with Moscow over Ukraine, historically part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, have to do with keeping Americans "safe"? The argument is self-evidently not just false but ridiculous.

Justifying endless wars is even tougher. Rucker and Leonnig do not report what the president said about Syria, which apparently was part of Mattis's brief. However, Trump's skepticism is evident from his later policy gyrations. Why would any sane Washington policymaker insist that America intervene militarily in a multi-sided civil war in a country of no significant security interest to the U.S. on the side of jihadists and affiliates of al-Qaeda? And stick around illegally as the conflict wound down? To call this policy stupid is too polite.

Even more explosive was the question of Afghanistan, to which the president did speak, apparently quite dismissively. Unsurprisingly, he asked why the U.S. had not won after 16 years -- which is longer than the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War combined. He also termed Afghanistan a "loser war." By Rucker's and Leonnig's telling, this did not go over well: "That phrase hung in the air and disgusted not only the military men and women in uniform sitting along the back wall behind their principals. They all were sworn to obey their commander in chief's commands, and here he was calling the way they had been fighting a loser war."

But it was and is true. Indeed, when I visited Afghanistan back when U.S. troop levels were near their highest, "off camera," so to speak, military folks were quite skeptical of the war. So were Afghans, who had little good to say about their Washington-created and -supported government unless they were collecting a paycheck from it. An incoming president could be forgiven for suspecting that his predecessor had poured more troops into the conflict only to put off its failure until after he'd left office.

The fault does not belong to combat personnel, but to political leaders and complicit generals, who have misled if not lied in presenting a fairy tale perspective on the conflict's progress and prognosis. And for what? Central Asia is not and never will be a vital issue of American security. Afghanistan has nothing to do with terrorism other than its having hosting al-Qaeda two decades ago. Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. In recent years, it's Yemen that's hosted the most dangerous national affiliate of al-Qaeda. So why are U.S. troops still in Afghanistan?

Accounts like that from Rucker and Leonnig are beloved by the Blob. America's role is to dominate the globe, irrespective of cost. Those officials pursuing this objective, no matter how poorly, are lauded. Any politician challenging Washington's global mission is derided.

President Trump has done much wrong. However, he deserves credit for challenging a failed foreign policy that's been paid for by so many while benefiting so few. It is "crazy" and "stupid," as he reportedly said. Why should Americans keep dying for causes that their leaders cannot adequately explain, let alone justify? Let us hope that one day Americans elect a president who will act and not just talk.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jan 21, 2020] Maybe we should put sanctions on Pompeo

Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Old and grumpy , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 3:48 pm GMT

Maybe we should put sanctions on Pompeo. He could use the diet. Maybe raiding his pantry would feed Iraqi for a couple months. He is truly perfect spokesman American empire. Sadistic, bloated, and corrupt.
Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 4:20 pm GMT
@Old and grumpy Trump also needs to have food sanctions placed on him. His body is being oppressed and is crying out for (diet) regime change.

[Jan 21, 2020] Trump probably has very little actual control over foreign policy.

Jan 21, 2020 | off-guardian.org

paul

The idea that Trump's recent actions in the Middle East were part of some incredibly cunning plan to avoid war with Iran, strikes me as somewhat implausible, to put it (very) charitably.

Even Hitler didn't want war. He wanted to achieve his objectives without fighting. When that didn't work, war was Plan B. Trump probably has very little actual control over foreign policy. He is surrounded by people who have been plotting and scheming against him from long before he was elected. He heads a chaotic and dysfunctional administration of billionaires, chancers, grifters, conmen, superannuated generals, religious nut jobs, swamp creatures, halfwits and outright criminals, lurching from one crisis and one fiasco to the next. Some of these people like Bolton were foisted upon him by Adelson and various other backers and wire pullers, but that is not to absolve Trump of personal responsibility.

Competing agencies which are a law unto themselves have been free to pursue their own turf wars at the expense of anything remotely resembling a rational and coherent strategy. So have quite low level bureaucrats, formulating and implementing their own policies with little regard for the White House. In Syria, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department went their own way, each supporting competing and mutually antagonistic factions and terrorist groups. Agreements that were reached with Russia over Syria, for example, were deliberately sabotaged by Ashton Carter in 24 hours. Likewise, Bolton did everything he could to wreck Trump's delicate negotiations with N. Korea.

paul ,

Seen in this light, US policy (or the absence of any coherent policy) is more understandable. What passes for US leadership is the worst in its history, even given a very low bar. Arrogant, venal, corrupt, delusional, irredeemably ignorant, and ideologically driven. The only positive thing that can be said is that the alternative (Clinton) would probably have been even worse, if that is possible.

That may also be the key to understanding the current situation. For all his pandering to Israel, Trump is more of a self serving unprincipled opportunist than a true Neocon/ Zionist believer in the mould of Pence, Bolton and Pompeo. For that reason he is not trusted by the Zionist Power Elite. He is too much of a loose cannon. They will take all his Gives, like Jerusalem and the JCPOA, but without any gratitude.

It has taken them a century of plotting, scheming and manoeuvring to achieve their political, financial, and media stranglehold over the US. but America is a wasting asset and they are under time pressure. It is visibly declining and losing its influence. And the parasite will find it difficult to find a similar host. Who else is going to give Israel billions a year in tribute, unlimited free weaponry and diplomatic cover? Russia? Are Chinese troops "happy to die for Israel" asUS ones are (according to their general)?

paul ,

And they are way behind schedule. Assad was supposed to be dead by now, and Syria another defenceless failed state, broken up into feuding little cantons, with Israel expanding into the south of the country. The main event, the war with Iran, should have started lond ago.

That is the reason for the impeachment circus. This is not intended to be resolved one way or the other. It is intended to drag on indefinitely, for months and years, to distract and weaken Trump and make it possible to extract what they want. One of the reasons Trump agreed to the murder of Soleimani and his Iraqi opposite number was to appease some Republican senators like Graham whose support is essential to survive impeachment. They were the ones who wanted it, along with Bolton and Netanyahu.

[Jan 21, 2020] Trump is "dangerous" because he's a "misinformed idiot," and as such is extremely malleable.

Jan 21, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Charlotte Russe

Bush, Obama, and Clinton are despicable. In fact, they're particularly disgusting, inasmuch, as they were much more "cognizant" than Trump of how their actions would lead to very specific insidious consequences. In addition, they were more able to cleverly conceal their malevolent deeds from the public. And that's why Trump is now sitting in the Oval Office–he won because of public disgust for lying politicians.

However, Trump is "dangerous" because he's a "misinformed idiot," and as such is extremely malleable. Of course, ignorance is no excuse when the future of humanity is on the line

In any event, Trump is often not aware of the outcome of his actions. And when you're surrounded and misinformed by warmongering neoconservative nutcases, especially ones who donated to your campaign chances are you'll do stupid things. And that's what they're counting on

[Jan 20, 2020] Trump bragged about Soleimani killing to a crowd at a big fundraising dinner.

Jan 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

John Chuckman , says: Website Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm GMT

Yes, but we also have this

It is reported this morning (CNN) that Trump bragged about the killing to a crowd at a big fundraising dinner.

Just sick, official state murder for campaign donations.

That's what America is reduced to.

[Jan 19, 2020] The anti-China conservative faction which Trump represents is screwing up the Pax Americana and petrodollar recycling into Treasury Bonds, by destroying the monetary scam they set up to control the world

Notable quotes:
"... The "movement conservatives" leader was Barry Goldwater who Trump's dad was a big supporter of, and Trump was raised in and among AND represents that faction of elite power. ..."
"... The LIEO or Rules Based Order is based on being closely allied with European elites against Russia to contain the Middle East and Central Asia (Iran and Afghanistan) based on Zbigniew Brzezinski's Grand Chessboard theory. ..."
"... The 1950's triangle of power was superseded by the oligarch's counter revolution that led to supranational trade institutions. Democracies were relegated to a secondary status and run by technocrats for the benefit of oligarchs until Donald Trump. He is a nationalist plutocrat; admittedly a lower level one, a NY casino owner who went bankrupt. Mike Bloomberg represents the other side, a globalist billionaire. Elizabeth Warren is a top level technocrat but no politician. ..."
"... The endless wars are fought to make a profit for the plutocracy and destabilize nations to make foreign corporate exploitation possible. That was why Hunter Biden was in Ukraine. The conflicts are not meant to be won. ..."
"... He makes stupid mistakes. Through the barrage of propaganda, reports of shell shocked troops, destroyed buildings and 11 concussion causalities from Iran's missile attack made it into the news. The military must be pissed. The aura of invincibility is gone. ..."
"... Donald Trump should be removed by the 25th amendment before he mistakenly triggers the Apocalypse. Except the 1% politician VP, Mike Pence, believes that the End of Time is God's Will and necessary for his Ascension. ..."
"... The power triangle theory is less in line with the facts than a simple duality: Wall Street & the MIC, you have to advance interests of both or you're out. ..."
"... Second, the 'meeting in the Tank' sounds like complete b.s. designed to sell books ..."
"... And the 'rules-based international order' rings very false as something that would be said with a straight face by real MIC insiders, which those generals are. ..."
"... Not only sick of wars, his mobster approach to foreign policy and allies is an embarrassment to RINO and Independents. ..."
"... Humanity is in a civilization war about public/private finance being fought by proxies and character actors like Trump. Maybe after this war is over, and if we survive, we can all communicate about the social contract directly instead of through proxy fronts. Do you want to live in a sharing/caring world or a selfish/competitive one?....socialism or barbarism? ..."
Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kali , Jan 17 2020 19:26 utc | 7

That Power Elite theory which was written in the 50s by C.W. Mills is incomplete for today because in the 60s there was a split among the power elite between the new "movement conservatives" and the old eastern bank establishment. The conservatives were more focused on the pacific region and containing China, and the liberal establishment were more focused on Europe and containing Russia.

The "movement conservatives" leader was Barry Goldwater who Trump's dad was a big supporter of, and Trump was raised in and among AND represents that faction of elite power. In fact he is the 1st president from that faction of the elites to hold the oval office, many people thought Reagan was, but he was brought under the control of George Bush and the liberal elites after taking office after he was injured by a Bush related person. The different agendas of the the two factions are out in the open today with one being focused on anti-Russia and the other being focused on anti-China. It has been like that since the 1960s.

The anti-China conservative faction which Trump represents (and which unleashed the VietNam War) is screwing up the "rules based order" aka "Liberal International Economic Order" aka Pax Americana which was set up after WWII at Bretton Woods and then altered in the 1970s with the creation of the petrodollar and petrodollar recycling into Treasury Bonds, by destroying the monetary scam they set up to control the world

It needed the cooperation of the elites of Europe and elsewhere, which Trump and his faction doesn't care about -- they only care about short term profits on Wall St.

The LIEO or Rules Based Order is based on being closely allied with European elites against Russia to contain the Middle East and Central Asia (Iran and Afghanistan) based on Zbigniew Brzezinski's Grand Chessboard theory. China trade is important for them, Russia is their main enemy. ( War of the Worlds: The New Class ). Trump and his movement conservative faction is ruining their world order for their own short term gain on Wall St.


VietnamVet , Jan 17 2020 22:34 utc | 44
The 1950's triangle of power was superseded by the oligarch's counter revolution that led to supranational trade institutions. Democracies were relegated to a secondary status and run by technocrats for the benefit of oligarchs until Donald Trump. He is a nationalist plutocrat; admittedly a lower level one, a NY casino owner who went bankrupt. Mike Bloomberg represents the other side, a globalist billionaire. Elizabeth Warren is a top level technocrat but no politician.

The endless wars are fought to make a profit for the plutocracy and destabilize nations to make foreign corporate exploitation possible. That was why Hunter Biden was in Ukraine. The conflicts are not meant to be won.

Donald Trump is way for over his head and getting old. His competent staff are in jail or fired. Apparently no one told him about the thousands of ballistic missiles that can destroy the Gulf States' oil facilities at will and make the buildup for the invasion of Iran impossible. He makes stupid mistakes. Through the barrage of propaganda, reports of shell shocked troops, destroyed buildings and 11 concussion causalities from Iran's missile attack made it into the news. The military must be pissed. The aura of invincibility is gone.

Donald Trump should be removed by the 25th amendment before he mistakenly triggers the Apocalypse. Except the 1% politician VP, Mike Pence, believes that the End of Time is God's Will and necessary for his Ascension.

fairleft , Jan 18 2020 1:21 utc | 81
The power triangle theory is less in line with the facts than a simple duality: Wall Street & the MIC, you have to advance interests of both or you're out.

Second, the 'meeting in the Tank' sounds like complete b.s. designed to sell books, with an obvious sales strategy, as b said, of pleasuring both the pro/anti Trump sides of the book-buying bourgeoisie.

And the 'rules-based international order' rings very false as something that would be said with a straight face by real MIC insiders, which those generals are.

Finally, whether Trump ridiculed the generals or not, that's a sideshow to entertain the rubes. Trump's always been on side with the big picture Neocon approach essential to the MIC. Their global dominance or chaos approach is essential to keeping military budgets gigantic until 'forever'. True that Trump whined about endless wars as a 2016 campaign strategy, but he was either b.s.-ing or at the time didn't get that they are part of the overall Neocon approach he backs.

Passer by , Jan 17 2020 22:04 utc | 35

Not a very good analysis by b because this does not explain why 90 % of US corporate media is hostile to Trump. This does not happen without significant elite support.

That Trump is backed by the military faction is something i have been saying often. But there are forces within the government faction that dislike him, for example the CIA.

As for the corporate faction, it is not true that free money made them supportive of Trump. Rather the faction is divided - between the globalist corporate faction, relying on globalisation, including most tech companies, and US nationalist faction, such as local US businesses, big oil, shale gas, etc.

Another point - jews have large influence within the US, and 80 % voted against Trump regardless of his Israeli support. They again voted 80 % Dem in 2018. Having 80 % of US jews against you means encountering significant resistance.

Demographically speaking, most women, jews, muslims, latinos, asians, afroamericans, lgbt people, young people, etc. are strongly against him so i think that he will lose. Unless for some reason they do not vote.

Even if he somehow wins again, this will lead to civil war like situation and extreme polarisation in the US.

A P , Jan 17 2020 19:33 utc | 9

The US military, the various factions within the Deep State, political and corporate cabals has the attitude of a spoiled 3-year-old: If I can't have it, I'll break it so it is of little use to others.

Unfortunately, breaking other countries is just fine for the MIC... arms sales all around and chaos to impede non-military commerce with other major power centers like Russia or China.

Trump is the product of a dysfunctional family, a "greed is good" trust-fund social circle and a sociopathic US bully/gun culture.

The fact "bone spurs" Trump weaseled out of the draft will also not play well with the generals, let alone the grunts who suffer most from endless POTUS idiocy (not limited to Trump, see Prince Bush/Bandar the 2nd)

All the more proof that most Western "democracies" would be better served with a lottery to choose their Congressional and POTUS chair-warmers. Joe Sixpack could do a better job. A 200-lb sack of flour would do better than any POTUS since Kennedy.

Walter , Jan 17 2020 23:25 utc | 56

@ wagelaborer | Jan 17 2020 19:04 utc | 3

your: "Trump can't start a war without ruling class backing any more than he can end the wars if the rulers veto it."

May be, I think is, true in one sense. But Trump is far from the sole agent capable of starting a war. War, as opposed to simple murder, involve 2 or more parties. Whatever the intentions, the recent murders by drone in Baghdad hav,e it seems, brought Iran to consider war exists now...and they have a nifty MAGA policy. On Press TV today they hosted an expert who called for the execution of several exceptional American leaders...sounds like war to me.

(Make America Go Away)

The system is so screwy and peopled by such uneducated and delusional people that it's quite simple that they would do some stupid that that caused a war. Looks like war to me. I await the horrors.

Decaying empires usually start wars that bring about their rapid ruin. Does it matter how they do this?

............

The thesis of the triangle of elite factions is fascinating.

Walter recalls that JFK got the reports from Vietnam that said we were winning, while at the same time Johnson got the true story. And also what happened then with the "correction" of 1963 (their words) and the immediate change of war policy. Can't help an old guy from remembering old folly. And noting that history repeats as farce.

The Iran affair is liable to coordinate with NATO. Lavrov spoke to the NATO preparations today @ TASS...

Some say Trumpie screwed up the schedule, which goes hot in April as a showdown with the Roooskies. I take that with a grain of salt. But I think the sources I've seen might be right. They say that if Barbarossa had not been delayed, the nazis woulda won in Russia. Screwups can be very important.

I can't see any way the US won't use atomic bangers. But maybe...

Likklemore , Jan 17 2020 21:50 utc | 29

@ wagelaborer 3

Good points. I endorse. However the USD have been weaponized, is being sidelined and will be shunned U.S. dollar: Russia, China, EU are motivated to shift from

@ juiliana 22

I posted an article by Shedlock essentially saying all it will take is 3 states to flip and Trump loses: Trump will be easily defeated in 2020 perhaps by a landslide.

Not only sick of wars, his mobster approach to foreign policy and allies is an embarrassment to RINO and Independents.

psychohistorian , Jan 17 2020 19:52 utc | 11

I agree with wagelaborer in comment #3 and worth a repeat of most of it

"Trump can't start a war without ruling class backing any more than he can end the wars if the rulers veto it.

US foreign policy is not run by White House puppets.

The US trash-talked Saddam Hussein and starved Iraqis for 14 years, but didn't actually invade until he started trading oil in Euros.

The US trash-talked Ghaddafi for decades, and even launched missiles which killed his child in the 80s, but didn't destroy Libya until Ghaddafi decided to sell oil in dinars.

The US has trash-talked and sanctioned Iran for decades, but it was the threat of Iran and Saudi Arabia making peace that pushed them to assassinate General Soleimani, as he arrived at the airport on that diplomatic mission.

If Iran and Saudi Arabia make peace, and the Saudis drop the petro-dollar, the US Empire crumbles. It doesn't matter at all who is in the White House at the time, the Empire will never allow that."

Humanity is in a civilization war about public/private finance being fought by proxies and character actors like Trump. Maybe after this war is over, and if we survive, we can all communicate about the social contract directly instead of through proxy fronts. Do you want to live in a sharing/caring world or a selfish/competitive one?....socialism or barbarism?

[Jan 19, 2020] A new book titled 'A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America ' offers some background and perspective on trump's 3 years in the WH and some titillating quotes. An explanation for why Tillerson called him "a f**king moron" is included

Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bubbles , Jan 17 2020 23:23 utc | 55

A new book titled 'A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America ' offers some background and perspective on trump's 3 years in the WH and some titillating quotes. An explanation for why Tillerson called him "a f**king moron" is included.

At one point the authors depict an angry trump lashing out at his advisors for the trillions spent in Iraq and he demands to know "where's the fu**king oil"? As in, the share of oil the US should have received for?..attacking Iraq and causing it to descend into complete chaos I suppose.

As one leading Private Security Company Chief was quoted some years later, it's like the Wild West. And that was before the rise of ISIS.

But he didn't stop there, no sir, he went on to rant he would never go to war with people like them. According to the book his choice of words were much more colourful. Said claim does seem a bit confusing given trump's war record as a Cadet at some school for rich kids.

But hey, the far right Zionists seem to find him useful.


Walter , Jan 17 2020 23:25 utc | 56

@ wagelaborer | Jan 17 2020 19:04 utc | 3

your: "Trump can't start a war without ruling class backing any more than he can end the wars if the rulers veto it."

May be, I think is, true in one sense. But Trump is far from the sole agent capable of starting a war. War, as opposed to simple murder, involve 2 or more parties. Whatever the intentions, the recent murders by drone in Baghdad hav,e it seems, brought Iran to consider war exists now...and they have a nifty MAGA policy. On Press TV today they hosted an expert who called for the execution of several exceptional American leaders...sounds like war to me.

(Make America Go Away)

The system is so screwy and peopled by such uneducated and delusional people that it's quite simple that they would do some stupid that that caused a war. Looks like war to me. I await the horrors.

Decaying empires usually start wars that bring about their rapid ruin. Does it matter how they do this?

............

The thesis of the triangle of elite factions is fascinating.

Walter recalls that JFK got the reports from Vietnam that said we were winning, while at the same time Johnson got the true story. And also what happened then with the "correction" of 1963 (their words) and the immediate change of war policy. Can't help an old guy from remembering old folly. And noting that history repeats as farce.

The Iran affair is liable to coordinate with NATO..Lavrov spoke to the NATO preparations today @ TASS...

Some say Trumpie screwed up the schedule, which goes hot in April as a showdown with the Roooskies. I take that with a grain of salt. But I think the sources I've seen might be right. They say that if Barbarossa had not been delayed, the nazis woulda won in Russia. Screwups can be very important.

I can't see any way the US won't use atomic bangers. But maybe...

michaelj72 , Jan 17 2020 23:27 utc | 57

"There's an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue . . . mendacity and hubris," John F. Sopko said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


"...What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?... There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity... You can smell it. It smells like death...."
- Big Daddy, in the film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), play by Tennessee Williams

[Jan 18, 2020] I don't know if Trump is in fact overplayed by the Israelis or, worst, being deceived and goaded by them.

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Swedish Family , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 9:13 pm GMT

@Interested Bystander 2020

However, it is hard to miss Trump's style over the past three years, a consistently unconventional approach to problems that often seems illogical and rushed at the first glance, but upon a closer examination, his approaches usually have their own logic and underlying motivation that, on occasions, could be construed as the result of a broader strategic and tactical consideration.

I once believed this, but Michael Wolff's books quickly dispelled that fantasy. Here's what strategy meant during the campaign:

It was during Trump's early intelligence briefings, held soon after he captured the nomination, that alarm signals first went off among his new campaign staff: he seemed to lack the ability to take in third-party information. Or maybe he lacked the interest; whichever, he seemed almost phobic about having formal demands on his attention. He stonewalled every written page and balked at every explanation. "He's a guy who really hated school," said Bannon. "And he's not going to start liking it now."

[ ]

One of the ways to establish what Trump wanted and where he stood and what his underlying policy intentions were -- or at least the intentions that you could convince him were his -- came to involve an improbably close textual analysis of his largely off-the-cuff speeches, random remarks, and reflexive tweets during the campaign.

Bannon doggedly went through the Trump oeuvre highlighting possible insights and policy proscriptions. Part of Bannon's authority in the new White House was as keeper of the Trump promises, meticulously logged onto the white board in his office. Some of these promises Trump enthusiastically remembered making, others he had little memory of, but was happy to accept that he had said it. Bannon acted as disciple and promoted Trump to guru -- or inscrutable God.

Fire and Fury (Michael Wolff, 2018)

And here's Trump readying himself for the notorious Helsinki summit with Putin back in 2018:

On Friday, July 13, three days before the Helsinki summit, the president and his team arrived late in the day at Trump Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, after passing on their way from the airport cow pastures and cheering citizens -- but no protesters.

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton were carrying copious briefing books. This was meant to be a weekend of preparation interspersed with golf. John Kelly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Bill Shine, and several other aides had come along, too.

Saturday was sunny and in the mid-seventies, with nothing on the agenda except golf. But by now a few protesters had made their way to Turnberry. "No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA," shouted a small group of them during the president's afternoon golf game.

Trump, energized by his NATO and UK meetings -- "we roughed them up" -- was in no mood to prepare for his Putin meeting. Even his typical, exceedingly casual level of preparation -- prep masked as gossip -- wasn't happening. Pompeo and Bolton reduced the boxed briefing binders to a one-pager. The president wouldn't focus on it.

He was fine. And why shouldn't he be? He had walked into his meeting with Kim unable to pick out North Korea on a map, but it didn't matter. He was in charge, a strong man making peace.

Don't box me in , he told his advisers. I need to be open , he kept repeating, as though this was a therapeutic process. Pompeo and Bolton urgently pressed him about the basic talking points for the summit, now just hours away -- but nothing doing.

The next morning he played golf, and then it started to rain.

Siege (Michael Wolff, 2019)

[Jan 16, 2020] Trump is a bully and a tyrant and he embodies perfectly what America is and stands for...brute force

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Jan 15 2020 5:59 utc | 130

Trump is a bully and a tyrant and he embodies perfectly what America is and stands for...brute force. For all those who thought he was taking the Empire down; if that were the case, the EU would reply FU to Trump. Instead they're shaking in their boots.

Trump sent over 14,000 more troops to to the ME only since last May! And is he satisfied with that? HELL NO. He wants NATO stationed there too!

And, he has the 2nd in command of Iran murdered and brings everyone to the brink, but he has not an iota of regret and continues thumping his chest and beating the drums of war.

That looks like a bigger footprint to me.

[Jan 16, 2020] Escalation is the easy road to hell. De-escalation and working for peace requires skill and intellegence

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

V , Jan 16 2020 4:55 utc | 208

Piotr Berman | Jan 16 2020 4:04 utc | 206

Indeed. Escalation is the easy road to hell. De-escalation and working for peace requires skill and intellegence.
Very little of either seemingly emanating from the U.S...

U.S. diplomacy (non-existent) only comes from the barrel of a gun or the drone fired missile...

[Jan 15, 2020] Impeachment motto: in our guts, we know Trump is nuts

Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dumbo , says: Show Comment January 3, 2020 at 6:46 pm GMT

Donald Trump rode to victory in 2016 on a promise to end the useless wars in the Middle East, but he has now demonstrated very clearly that he is a liar

He also promised a wall. Maybe he meant the Israeli wall?

[Jan 15, 2020] Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach

Notable quotes:
"... Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days). ..."
"... I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on. ..."
"... For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. ..."
"... They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well. ..."
"... Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors. ..."
"... But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. ..."
"... He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin. ..."
"... The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative ..."
"... oderint, dum metuant ..."
"... Führerprinzip ..."
"... Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top. ..."
"... This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all. ..."
"... Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything ..."
"... The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy. ..."
"... I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him. ..."
"... I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion. ..."
"... The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose. ..."
"... It also helps him do some things quietly in the background ..."
Jan 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Trump and the Mad Negotiator Approach Posted on January 14, 2020 by Yves Smith Trump's numerous character flaws, such as his grandiosity, his lack of interest in the truth, his impulsiveness, his habitual lashing out at critics, have elicited boatloads of disapproving commentary. It's disturbing to see someone so emotional and undisciplined in charge of anything, let alone the United States.

Rather than offer yet more armchair analysis, it might be productive to ask a different question: why hasn't Trump been an abject failure? There are plenty of rich heirs who blow their inheritance or run the family business into the ground pretty quickly and have to knuckle down to a much more modest lifestyle.

Trump's lack of discipline has arguably cost him. The noise regularly made about his business bankruptcies is wildly exaggerated. Most of Trump's bankruptcies were of casinos , and most of those took place in the nasty 1991-1992 recession. He was one of only two major New York City developers not to have to give meaningful equity in some of their properties in that downturn. He even managed to keep Mar-a-Lago and persuaded his lenders to let him keep enough cash to preserve a pretty flashy lifestyle because he was able to persuade them that preserving his brand name was key to the performance of Trump-branded assets.

The idea that Trump couldn't borrow after his early 1990s casino bankruptcies is also false. As Francine McKenna pointed out in 2017 in Donald Trump has had no trouble getting big loans at competitive rates:

The MarketWatch analysis shows a variety of lenders, all big banks or listed specialized finance companies like Ladder Capital, that have provided lots of money to Trump over the years in the forms of short-, medium- and long-term loans and at competitive rates, whether fixed or variable.

"The Treasury yield that matches the term of the loan is the closest starting benchmark for Trump-sized commercial real estate loans," said Robert Thesman, a certified public accountant in Washington state who specializes in real estate tax issues. The 10-year Treasury swap rate is also used and tracks the bonds closely, according to one expert.

Trump's outstanding loans were granted at rates between 2 points over and under the matching Treasury-yield benchmark at inception. That's despite the well-documented record of bankruptcy filings that dot Trump's history of casino investment.

The flip side is that it's not hard to make the case that Trump's self-indulgent style has cost him in monetary terms. His contemporary Steve Ross of The Related Companies who started out in real estate as a tax lawyer putting together Section 8 housing deals, didn't have a big stake like Trump did to start his empire. Ross did have industrialist and philanthropist Max Fisher as his uncle and role model, but there is no evidence that Fisher staked Ross beyond paying for his education . Ross has an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion versus Trump's $3.1 billion.

Despite Trump's heat-seeking-missile affinity for the limelight, we only get snippets of how he has managed his business, like his litigiousness and breaking of labor laws. Yet he's kept his team together and is pretty underleveraged for a real estate owner.

The area where we have a better view of how Trump operates is via his negotiating, where is astonishingly transgressive. He goes out of his way to be inconsistent, unpredictable, and will even trash prior commitments, which is usually toxic, since it telegraphs bad faith. How does this make any sense?

One way to think of it is that Trump is effectively screening for weak negotiating counterparties. Think of his approach as analogous to the Nigerian scam letters and the many variants you get in your inbox. They are so patently fake that one wonders why the fraudsters bother sending them.

But investigators figured that mystery out. From the Atlantic in 2012 :

Everyone knows that Nigerian scam e-mails, with their exaggerated stories of moneys tied up in foreign accounts and collapsed national economies, sound totally absurd, but according to research from Microsoft, that's on purpose .

As a savvy Internet user you probably think you'd never fall for the obvious trickery, but that's the point. Savvy users are not the scammers' target audience, [Cormac] Herley notes. Rather, the creators of these e-mails are targeting people who would believe the sort of tales these scams involve .:

Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Who would want to get in a business relationship with a guy who makes clear early on that he might pull the rug out from under you? Most people would steer clear. So Trump's style, even if he adopted it out of deep-seated emotional needs, has the effect of pre-selecting for weak, desperate counterparties. It can also pull in people who think they can out-smart Trump and shysters who identify with him, as well as those who are prepared to deal with the headaches (for instance, the the business relationship is circumscribed and a decent contract will limit the downside).

Mind you, it is more common than you think for businesses to seek out needy business "partners". For instance, back in the day when General Electric was a significant player in venture capital, it would draw out its investment commitment process. The point was to ascertain if the entrepreneurs had any other prospects; they wouldn't tolerate GE's leisurely process if they did. By the time GE was sure it was the only game in town, it would cram down the principals on price and other terms. There are many variants of this playbook, such as how Walmart treats suppliers.

Trump has become so habituated to this mode of operating that he often launches into negotiations determined to establish that he had the dominant position when that is far from clear, witness the ongoing China trade row. Trump did in theory hold a powerful weapon in his ability to impose tariffs on China. But they are a blunt weapon, with significant blowback to the US. Even though China had a glass jaw in terms of damage to its economy (there were signs of stress, such as companies greatly stretching out when they paid their bills), Trump could not tolerate much of a stock market downdraft, nor could he play a long-term game.

Another aspect of Trump's erraticness is making sudden shifts, or what we have called gaslighting. He'll suddenly and radically change his rhetoric, even praise someone he demonized. That if nothing else again is a power play, to try to maintain his position as driving the pacing and content of the negotiations, which again is meant to position his counterparty as in a weaker position, of having to react to his moves, even if that amounts to identifying them as noise. It is a watered-down form of a cult strategy called love bombing (remember that Trump has been described as often being very charming in first meetings, only to cut down the person he met in a matter of days).

Voters have seen another face of Trump's imperative to find or create weakness: that of his uncanny ability to hit opponents' weak spots in ways that get them off balance, such as the way he was able to rope a dope Warren over her Cherokee ancestry claims.

The foregoing isn't to suggest that Trump's approach is optimal. Far from it. But it does "work" in the sense of achieving certain results that are important to Trump, of having him appear to be in charge of the action, getting his business counterparts on the back foot. That means Trump is implicitly seeing these encounters primarily in win-lose terms, rather than win-win. No wonder he has little appetite for international organizations. You have to give in order to get.


PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 7:08 am

I think this is pretty astute, thanks Yves. One reason I think Trump has been so successful for his limited range of skills is precisely that 'smart' people underestimate him so much. He knows one thing well – how power works. Sometimes that's enough. I've known quite a few intellectually limited people who have built very successful careers based on a very simple set of principles (e.g. 'never disagree with anyone more senior than me').

Anecdotally, I've often had the conversation with people about 'taking Trump seriously', as in, trying to assess what he really wants and how he has been so successful. In my experience, the 'smarter' and more educated the person I'm talking to is, the less willing they are to have that conversation. The random guy in the bar will be happy to talk and have insights. The high paid professional will just mutter about stupid people and racism.

I would also add one more reason for his success – he does appear to be quite good at selecting staff, and knowing who to delegate to.

timotheus , January 14, 2020 at 8:30 am

There is another figure from recent history who displayed similar astuteness about power while manifesting generally low intelligence: Chile's Pinochet. He had near failing grades in school but knew how to consolidate power, dominate the other members of the junta, and weed out the slightest hint of dissidence within the army.

Off The Street , January 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

To the average viewer, Trump's branding extends to the negative brands that he assigns to opponents. Witness Lyin' Ted , Pocahontas and similar sticky names that make their way into coverage. He induces free coverage from Fake News as if they can't resist gawking at a car wreck, even when one of the vehicles is their own. Manipulation has worked quite a lot on people with different world views, especially when they don't conceive of any different approaches.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Scott Adams touted that as one of Trump's hidden persuasionological weapons . . . that ability to craft a fine head-shot nickname for every opponent.

If Sanders were to be nominated, I suppose Trump would keep saying Crazy Bernie. Sanders will just have to respond in his own true-to-himself way. Maybe he could risk saying something like . . .

" so Trashy Trump is Trashy. This isn't new."

If certain key bunches of voters still have fond memories for Crazy Eddie, perhaps Sanders could have some operatives subtly remind people of that.

Some images of Crazy Eddie, for those who wish to stumble up Nostalgia Alley . . .

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0geKYkLVB5emoUAN6RXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNm03Y25mBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDQTA2MTVfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=crazy+eddie&fr=sfp

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:23 am

I would disagree with the "selecting staff" part. I can't really think of any of his appointees to any office while he is president that was a good pick. One worse than the other basically. Maybe in his private dealings he did better, but in public office it's a continuous horror show. Examples like Pence, Haley, "Mad Dog", Bolton, DeVos, his son in law, Pompeo. The list goes on.

Another indication how bad his delegation skills are is how short his picks stay at their job before they are fired again. Is there any POTUS which had higher staff turnover?

NotTimothyGeithner , January 14, 2020 at 9:45 am

Its a horror show because you don't agree with their values. After the last few Presidents, too much movement to the right would catastrophic, so there isn't much to do. His farm bill is a disaster. The new NAFTA is window dressing. He slashed taxes. He's found a way to make our brutal immigration system even more nefarious. His staff seems to be working out despite it not having many members of the Bush crime family.

Even if these people were as beloved by the press as John McCain, they would still be monsters.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:43 am

It's not their values that make them a horror show, it's their plain inaptitude and incompetency. E.g. someone like that Exxon CEO is at least somewhat capable, which is why I didn't mention him. Though he was quite ineffective as long as he lasted and probably quite corrupt. Pompeo in the same office on the other hand is simply a moron elevated way beyond his station. Words fail and the Peter principle cannot explain.

The US can paper over this due to their heavy handed application of power for now, but every day he stays in office, friends are abhorred while trying not to show it, and foes rejoice at the utter stupidity of the US how it helps their schemes.

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy. So while I am sort of happy about the outcome, I don't see the current monsters at the helm worse than the monsters 4 years ago under Obama. In fact I detested them much more since they had the power to drag my governments into their evil schemes.

Evil and clearly despicable is always better than evil and sort of charismatic.

tegnost , January 14, 2020 at 11:29 am

For me as a foreigner who detests the forever wars and most of the US foreign policy, this is a good thing: the more heavy handed, the more brutal, the more cruel, the more stupid the US policy is, the less is the chance for our euro governments to follow the US in today's war or other policy.

Indeed, if you look at the trendline from the '80's to now, trump is, in some ways, the less effective evil.

James O'Keefe , January 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm

They are not inept and incompetent at what they are trying to achieve. The GOP has long sought to privatize government to help the rich get richer and harm anyone who isn't rich by cutting services and making them harder to get. Trumps picks are carrying out that agenda very well.

That he still hasn't filled 170 appointed positions is icing on the cake. See stats at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-administration-appointee-tracker/database/

rosemerry , January 14, 2020 at 4:47 pm

I feel exactly the same. Trump is just a huge crude extension of the usual "exceptional" leaders, much more transparent by not pretending he is any sort of representative of democratic and cooperative values claimed by his predecessors.

PlutoniumKun , January 14, 2020 at 10:05 am

But what I think is noticeable is that his worst high profile staff picks, while horrible people, are generally those who are under his thumb and so he has control of. But in the behind the scenes activities, they've been very effective – as an obvious example, witness how he's put so many conservative Republicans into the judiciary, in contrast with Obamas haplessness.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:51 am

That is not a Trump thing, getting more judges is a 100% rep party thing and only rep party thing. Sure, he is the one putting his rubber stamp on it, but the picking and everything else is a party thing. They stopped the placement for years under Obama before Trump was ever thought about, and now are filling it as fast as they can. Aren't they having complicit democrats helping them or how can they get their picks beyond congress? Or am I getting something wrong and Obama could have picked his judges but didn't?

The people he chooses to run his administration however are all horrible. Not just horrible people but horrible picks as in incompetent buffoons without a clue. Can you show a evil, horrible or not but actually competent pick of his in his administration?

The only one I can think of is maybe the new FAA chief Dickson. Who is a crisis manager, after the FAA is in its worst crisis ever right now. So right now someone competent must have this post. All the others seem to be chickenhawk blowhards with the IQ of a fruitfly but the bluster of a texan.

fajensen , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Some time ago I heard Mulvaney answer the criticism about the Trump budget of the day cutting so much money from EPA that EPA would have to fire half of its relevant scientists. He replied that " this is how we drain the swamp".

Citing "corruption" was misdirection. Trump let his supporters believe that the corruption was The Swamp. What the Trump Group ACTually means by "The Swamp" is all the career scientists and researchers and etc. who take seriously the analyzing and restraining of Upper Class Looter misbehavior.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

I limited the post to his negotiating approach. One would think someone so erratic would have trouble attracting people. However, Wall Street and a lot of private businesses are full of high maintenance prima donnas at the top. Some of those operations live with a lot of churn in the senior ranks. For others, one way to get them to stay is what amounts to a combat pay premium, they get paid more than they would in other jobs to put up with a difficult boss. I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Regarding his time as POTUS, Trump has a lot of things working against him on top of his difficult personality and his inability to pay civil servants a hardship premium:

1. He got elected over the dead bodies of just about everyone who counts in the Republican Party. He pretty much did a hostile takeover of the GOP. So his ability to draw on seasoned hands was nil. And on top of that, he is temperamentally not the type to seek the counsel of perceived wise men in and hanging around the party. The people he has kept around are cronies like Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin.

The one notably competent person he has attracted and retained is Robert Lightizer, the US Trade Representative

2. Another thing that undermines Trump's effectiveness in running a big bureaucracy is his hatred for its structure. He likes very lean organizations with few layers. He can't impose that on his administration. It's trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

cocomaan , January 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I have no idea how much turnover there is in the Trump Organization or how good his key lieutenants are so I can't opine either way on that part.

Is it just me or does nobody know? Does it seem to anyone else like there has been virtually no investigation of his organization or how it was run?

Maybe it's buried in the endless screeds against Trump, but any investigations of his organizations always seem colored by his presidency. I'd love to see one that's strictly historical.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 2:10 pm

I am simply saying that I have not bothered investigating that issue. There was a NY Times Magazine piece on the Trump Organization before his election. That was where I recall the bit about him hating having a lot of people around him, he regards them as leeches. That piece probably had some info on how long his top people had worked for him.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 2:30 am

Congratulations Yves, on another fine piece, one of your best. I might recommend you append this comment to it as an update, or else pen a sequel.

While Trump has more in common stylistically with a Borgia prince out of Machiavelli, or a Roman Emperor ( oderint, dum metuant ) than with a Hitler or a Stalin, your note still puts me in mind of an insightful comment I pulled off a history board a while ago, regarding the reductionist essence of Führerprinzip , mass movement or no mass movement. It's mostly out of Shirer:

Hitler ran the Third Reich by a system of parallel competition among bureaucratic empire builders of all stripes. Anyone who showed servile loyalty and mouthed his yahoo ideology got all the resources they liked, for any purpose they proposed. But the moment he encountered any form of independence or pushback, he changed horses at once. He left the old group in place, but gave all their resources to a burgeoning new bureaucracy that did things his way. If a State body resisted his will, he had a Party body do it instead. He was continually reaching down 2-3 levels in the org charts, to find some ambitious firecracker willing to suck up to him, and leapfrog to the top.

This left behind a complete chaos of rival, duplicated functions, under mainly unfit leaders. And fortunately for the world, how well any of these organizations actually did their jobs was an entirely secondary consideration. Loyalty was all.

Hitler sat at the center of all the resource grabbers and played referee. This made everyone dependent on his nod and ensured his continued power. The message was: there are no superiors in the Reich. There is only der Führer, and his favor trumps everything .

As you note, some of these tools (fortunately) aren't available to Cheeto 45 .

I hope this particular invocation of Godwin's avenger is trenchant, and not OT. Although Godwin himself blessed the #Trump=Hitler comparison some time ago, thereby shark-jumping his own meme.

Tomonthebeach , January 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm

It might be as simple as birds of a feather (blackbirds of course) flocking together. Trump seems to have radar for corrupt cronies as we have seen his swamp draining into the federal prison system. The few over-confident generals he picked, except for Flynn, finally caved when they realized staying was an affront to the honor code they swore to back in OCS or their academy.

lyman alpha blob , January 14, 2020 at 2:16 pm

The crooks in the Reagan administration were getting bounced seemingly every other day. Just found this from Brookings (blecchh) which if accurate says Trump has recently surpassed Reagan – https://www.brookings.edu/research/tracking-turnover-in-the-trump-administration/

I don't know how they selected staff in the Reagan years, but lately the POTUS seems to appoint based on who the plutocrats want. As has been noted Bary O took his marching orders from Citigroup if I remember right. I doubt if Trump had even heard of most of the people he appointed prior to becoming president. So at least some of Trump's turnover is due to him firing recommendations from others who didn't turn out how he'd like. That's one reason I didn't get all that upset over the Bolton hiring – I didn't think he'd last a year before Trump canned him.

My recollection of the Reagan years was that he had a lot of staff who left to "spend more time with their families"; in other words they got caught being crooked and we're told to go lest they besmirch the sterling reputation of St. Ronnie.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

He early-on adopted the concept of "dismantle the Administrative State". Some of his appointees are designed to do that from within. He appoints termites to the Department of Lumber Integrity because he wants to leave the lumber all destroyed after he leaves the White House.

His farm bill is only a disaster to those who support Good Farm Bill Governance. His mission is to destroy as much of the knowledge and programs within the USDA as possible. So his farm bill is designed to achieve the destruction he wants to achieve. If it works, it was a good farm bill from his viewpoint. For example.

Ignacio , January 15, 2020 at 5:38 am

I would say that Trump, not acting in an intelligent way is doing very clever things according to his interests. My opinion is that his actions/negotiations with foreign countries are 100% directed for domestic consumptiom. He does not care at all about international relationships, just his populist "make America great again" and he almost certainly play closest attention to the impact of his actions in US opinion.

He calculates the risks and takes measures that show he is a strong man defending US interests (in a very symplistic and populist way) no matter if someone or many are offended, abused or even killed as we have recently seen. Then if it is appreciated that a limit has been reached, and the limit is not set by international reactions but perceived domestic reactions, he may do a setback showing how sensibly magnanimous can a strongman like him be. In the domestic front, IMO, he does not give a damn on centrists of all kinds. Particularly, smart centrists are strictly following Trumps playbook focusing on actions that by no means debilitate his positioning as strongman in foreign issues and divert attention from the real things that would worry Trump. The impeachment is exactly that. Trump must be 100% confident that he would win any contest with any "smart" centrist. Of course he also loves all the noises he generates with, for instance, the Soleimani killing or Huawei banning that distract from his giveaways to the oligarchs and further debilitation of remaining welfare programs and environmental programs. This measures don't pass totally unnoticed but Hate Inc . and public opinions/debates are not paying the attention his domestic measures deserve. Trump's populism feeds on oligarch support and despair and his policies are designed to keep and increase both. Polls on Democrats distract from the most important polls on public opinion about Trum "surprise" actions.

Trump will go for a third term.

Seamus Padraig , January 14, 2020 at 7:18 am

Trump has the rare gift of being able to drive his enemies insane–just witness what's become of the Democrats, a once proud American political party.

Eureka Springs , January 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

Democrats have long been (what, 50 plus yrs. – Phil Ochs – Love Me I'm A Liberal) exuding false pride of not appearing to be or sounding insane. Their place, being the concern troll of the duopoly. All are mad. If the Obama years didn't prove it, the Dems during Bush Cheney certainly did.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

Yes, 50 years. Nixon played mad to get his Vietnam politics through, Reagan was certifiable
"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever." "We begin bombing in five minutes." live on air.
Etc.

vlade , January 14, 2020 at 7:38 am

I suspect only half of the post was posted? The last para seems to get cut in mid sentence.

I'd add one more thing (which may be in the second half, assuming there's one). Trump's massively insane demands are a good anchoring strategy. Even semi-rational player will not make out-of-this-earth demands – they would be seen as either undermining their rationality, or clearly meant to only anchor so less effective (but surprisingly, even when we know it's only an anchor it apparently works, at least a bit). With irrational Trump, one just doesn't know.

vlade , January 14, 2020 at 7:44 am

Or maybe not (re half posted), now that I re-read it.. More likely it's just me being sleep deprived today :)

GramSci , January 14, 2020 at 7:41 am

Classic predatory behaviors: culling the herd and eating the weak.

David , January 14, 2020 at 8:21 am

I think Trump understands that one of the basic tactics of negotiation (though forgotten by the Left(tm)) is to set out a maximalist position before the negotiation starts, so that you have room to make compromises later. Sometimes this works better than others – I don't know how far you can do it with the Chinese, for example. But then Trump may have inadvertently played, in that case, into the tradition of scripted public utterances combined with behind-the-scenes real negotiation that tends to characterize bargaining in Asia. But in domestic politics, there's no doubt that publicly announcing extreme negotiating positions is a winning tactic. You force the media and other political actors to comment and make counter-proposals, thus dragging the argument more in your direction from the very start. Trump remembers something that his opponents have willfully forgotten: compromise is something you finish with not something you start from . In itself, any given compromise has no particular virtue or value.

Michael Fiorillo , January 14, 2020 at 8:59 am

Yes, Trump does seem to be very good at getting to people to "negotiate against themselves."

chuck roast , January 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

and that is why Trump will eat Biden's lunch.

The Rev Kev , January 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

There is actually two parts to a negotiation I should mention. There is negotiating a deal. And then there is carrying it out. Not only Trump but the US has shown itself incapable of upholding deals but they will break them when they see an advantage or an opportunity. Worse, one part of the government may be fighting another part of the government and will sabotage that deal in sometimes spectacular fashion.
So what is the point of having all these weird and wonderful negotiating strategies if any partners that you have on the international stage have learned that Trump's word is merely a negotiating tactic? And this includes after a deal is signed when he applies some more pressure to change something in an agreement that he just signed off on? If you can't keep a deal, then ultimately negotiating a deal is useless.

curious euro , January 14, 2020 at 9:28 am

The incapability of the US to keep their treaties has been a founding principle of the country. Ask any Indian.

Putin or the russian foreign ministry called the US treaty incapable a few years before Trump, and they were not wrong. Trump didn't help being erratic as he is, but he didn't cancel any treaty on his own: JCPOA, INF, etc. He had pretty broad support for all of these. Only maybe NAFTA was his own idea.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm

I would put it a bit differently. Trump's erraticness is a strong signal he fits to a pattern the Russians have used to depict the US: "not agreement capable". That's what I meant by he selects for weak partners. His negotiating style signals that he is a bad faith actor. Who would put up with that unless you had to, or you could somehow build that into your price?

barnaby33 , January 14, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Considering I doubt the Russians have ever honored a single deal they made, that's maybe not a good example!

Yves Smith Post author , January 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

I have no idea who your mythical Russians are. I know two people who did business in Russia before things got stupid and they never had problems with getting paid. Did you also miss that "Russians" have bought so much real estate in London that they mainly don't live in that you could drop a neutron bomb in the better parts of Chelsea and South Kensington and not kill anyone? Pray tell, how could they acquire high end property if they are such cheats?

Boomka , January 15, 2020 at 6:38 am

somebody was eating too much US propaganda? how about this for starters:
https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/26-years-on-russia-set-to-repay-all-soviet-unions-foreign-debt

"It is politically important: Russia has paid off the USSR's debt to a country that no longer exists," said Mr Yuri Yudenkov, a professor at the Russian University of Economics and Public Administration. "This is very important in terms of reputation: the ability to repay on time, the responsibility," he told AFP.

It would have been very easy for Russia to say it cannot be held responsible for USSR's debts, especially in this case where debt is to a non-existent entity.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:09 pm

In Syria, the Department of Defense was supporting one group of pet jihadis. The CIA was supporting a different group of pet jihadis.

At times the two groups of pet jihadis were actively fighting eachother. I am not sure how the DoD and CIA felt about their respective pet jihadis fighting eachother. However they felt, they kept right on arming and supporting their respective groups of pet jihadis to keep fighting eachother.

timbers , January 14, 2020 at 9:47 am

I'm just not impressed by Trump in any way.

He owes the fact he's President not to any skill he has, but to Democrats being so bad. Many non establishment types could have beaten Hillary.

And Trump owes the fact that he's not DOA in 2020 re-election again because Democrats are so bad. There are a handful of extremely popular social programs Democrats could champion that would win over millions of voters and doom Trump's re-election. But instead, they double down on issues that energize Trump's base, are not off-limits to there donors while ignoring what the broad non corporate/rich majority support. For example impeaching him for being the first recent President not to start a major new war for profit and killing millions and then saying it's really because something he did in Ukraine that 95% of Americans couldn't care less about and won't even bother to understand even if they could.

That leaves the fact he is rather rich and must have done something to become that. I don't know enough about him to evaluate that. But I would never what to know him or have a friend that acts like him. I've avoided people like that in my life.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Did you read the post as positive? Please read again. Saying that Trump's strategy works only to the extent that he winds up selecting for weak partners is not praise. First, it is clinical, and second, it says his strategy has considerable costs.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm

I agree.

Understanding how it works is the first step in dealing with (or countering) it.

Someone above mentions Pinochet as being similar. I can't, just now, think of anyone* from history working the way he does. Can anyone name some?

*Except Shakespeare's Hamlet, or some Kung Fu masters, like Jackie Chan in his 1978 "Drunken Master," or earlier, the not as well-known 1966 film, Come Drink With Me, which was produced by the legendary Run Run Shaw (who lived to be 107, or maybe it was his brother), starring Cheng Pei Pei. The master becomes the master when, or only when, drunk. It reminds of the saying, 'method to the madness.'

And often what we perceive to be chaotic – in weather, nature, space or human affairs – is only so because we don't truly comprehend it. This is not to say it can not be in fact chaotic.

rd , January 14, 2020 at 6:54 pm

I find it interesting that the primary foreign entity who has played Trump like a violin is Kim in North Korea. He has gotten everything he wanted,except sanctions relief over the past couple of years.

However, Trump's style of negotiating with Iran has made it clear to Kim that North Korea would be idiots to give up their nuclear weapons and missiles. Meanwhile, Iran has watched Trump's attitude towards Kim since Kim blew up his first bomb and Trump is forcing them to develop nuclear weapons to be able to negotiate with Trump and the West.

ObjectiveFunction , January 15, 2020 at 1:36 am

But other than the minor matter of US 8th Army (cadre) sitting in the line of fire, the bulk of any risks posed by Li'l Kim are borne by South Korea, Japan and China. So for Trump, it's still down the list a ways, until the Norks can nuke tip a missile and hit Honolulu. So what coup has Kim achieved at Trump's expense, again?

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Today's Democrats want to destroy those social programs you cite. They have wanted to destroy those social programs ever since President Clinton wanted to conspire with "Prime Minister" Gingrich to privatize Social Security. Luckily Monica Lewinsky saved us from that fate.

A nominee Sanders would run on keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in existence. And he would mean it. A nominee Biden might pretend to say it. But he would conspire with the Republicans to destroy them all.

The ClintoBama Pelosicrats have no standing on which to pretend to support some very popular social programs and hope to be believed any longer. Maybe that is why they feel there is no point in even pretending any more.

Carolinian , January 14, 2020 at 10:08 am

Thanks for the shrewd analysis. The problem is that Trump appears to be morphing from the mad negotiator into someone who really is mad. I think he knows he screwed up with Soleimani and there's no taking it back, only doubling down. You can't talk your way out of some mistakes. Trump is shrewd, but not very smart and like most bullies he's also weak. He gets by being such an obvious bluffer and blowhard but when you start assassinating people and expect to be praised for it it's no longer a game.

False Solace , January 14, 2020 at 1:03 pm

If I were Iran I'd think really hard about scheduling something embarrassing to happen just before the election. Jimmy Carter was seriously damaged by hostages, why not Trump?

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Trump would simply bomb the hostages.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 14, 2020 at 4:52 pm

If you note and believe he tends to start out at the furthest position, the question then becomes, is this his most forceful action.

Is it the general plus collateral damage, and no more/no worse?

Or maybe he doesn't always start out at the far end. Then, people need to respond differently, if the aim is to play the man in this chess game.

Carolinian , January 14, 2020 at 4:59 pm

I'd say the solution is to give Trump the heave ho this November and not play his game of me me me. Indeed the Iranians seem to be biding their time to see what happens.

Trump was always only tolerable as long as he spent his time shooting off his mouth rather than playing the imperial chess master. This reality show has gone on long enough.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm

And to give Trump the heave-ho, we have to know how to play the man. (Then, Iran doesn't have to.)

But if we don't fully know – if he is unpredictable in how he starts out at the beginning – it makes the venture harder (but not impossible).

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:22 pm

Bearing in mind the fact that the DemParty would prefer a Trump re-election over a Sanders election, I don't think anyone will be giving Trump any heave ho. The only potential nominee to even have a chance to defeat Trump would be Sanders. And if Sanders doesn't win on ballot number one, Sanders will not be permitted the nomination by an evil Trumpogenic DemParty elite.

Even if Sanders wins the nomination, the evil Trumpogenic Demparty leadership and the millions of Jonestown Clintobamas in the field will conspire against Sanders every way they feel they can get away with. The Clintobamas would prefer Trump Term Two over Sanders Term One. They know it, and the rest of us need to admit it.

If Sanders is nominated, he will begin the election campaign with a permanent deficit of 10-30 million Clintobama voters who will Never! Ever! vote for Sanders. Sanders will have to attract enough New Voters to drown out and wash away the 10-30 million Never Bernie clintobamas.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , January 14, 2020 at 7:39 pm

Not sure he "screwed up" with Suleimani. He now has something to point to when Adelson and the Israel Firsters ring up. He has red meat for his base ("look what a tough guy I am"). He can tell the Saudis they now owe him one. He added slightly to the fund of hatred for America in the hearts of Sunnis but that fund is already pretty full. If they respond with a terror attack Trump wins because people will rally around the national leader and partisan differences will be put aside. Notice how fast de-escalation happened, certainly feels alot like pre-orchestrated kayfabe.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Mind you, there's no reason to think that this negotiation approach wasn't an adaptation to Trump's emotional volatility, as in finding a way to make what should have been a weakness a plus. And that he's less able to make that adaptation work well as he's over his head, has less control than as a private businessman, and generally under way more pressure.

marym , January 14, 2020 at 10:23 am

If someone doesn't care who/what they harm or destroy; or if the harm or destruction is the actual goal, it gives them freedom and power not available to someone with even a crumb-dropping neoliberal sense (or façade) of obligation toward anyone else or to anything constructive.

With Democrats being unwilling to scrutinize, it's not clear how much Trump and family are winning as far as personal fortune. In his public capacity he has little to show for his winnings that isn't some form of dismantling, destruction, or harm with no constructive replacement and no material benefits outside the donor class.

xkeyscored , January 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Trying to see things from Trump's perspective, while I don't know how his personal fortune is faring, his lifestyle doesn't seem to have suffered too much of a downturn. He still spends much of his time playing golf and hanging out at Mar-a-Lago. In addition, his name is known around the entire world, to a far greater extent than when he was a mere real estate crook or reality TV phenomenon. Which may be of greater importance to him than the precise extent of his wealth, let alone the fate of his country or the planet.

Wondering , January 14, 2020 at 10:48 am

Nice analysis, Yves. A welcome break from the typical centrist hand wringing "What norms has he broken this week?"
Next question: Given that our system allows for bloviating bullies to succeed, is that the kind of system we want to live under?

HH , January 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

I recall reading that Trump's empire would have collapsed during the casino fiasco were it not for lending from his father when credit was not available elsewhere. NYT investigative reporters have turned up evidence of massive financial support from Trump father to son to the tune of hundreds of millions throughout the son's career. So much for the great businessman argument.

carbpow , January 14, 2020 at 11:45 am

Trump is nothing more or less than a reflection of the mind set of the US people.The left wing resorts to the same tactics that Trump uses to gain their ends. Rational thought and reasonable discussion seems to be absent. Everyone is looking for a cause for the country's failing infrastructure, declining life expectancy, and loss of opportunity for their children to have a better life than they were able to achieve They each blame the other side. But there are more than two sides to most folks experience. If ever the USA citizens abolish or just gets fed up with the two party system maybe things will change. In reality most people know there is little difference between the two parties so why even vote?

Thuto , January 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

While it might work in domestic politics, this mad man negotiating tactic erodes trust in international affairs and it will take decades for the US to recover from the harm done by Trump's school yard bully approach. Even the docile Europeans are beginning to tire of this and once they get their balls stitched back on after being castrated for so long, America will have its work cut out crossing the chasm from unreliable and untrustworthy partner to being seen as dependable and worthy of entering into agreements with.

Jeremy Grimm , January 14, 2020 at 12:11 pm

This analysis of Trump reminded me of a story I heard from the founders of a small rural radio station. Both had been in broadcasting for years at a large station in a major market, one as a program director and the other in sales. They competed for a broadcasting license that became available and they won. With the license in-hand they needed to obtain investments to get the station on-air within a year or they would lose the license. Even with their combined savings and as much money as they could obtain from other members of their families and from friends -- they were short what they needed by several hundred thousand dollars. Their collateral was tapped out and banks wouldn't loan on the broadcast license alone without further backing. They had to find private investors. They located and presented to several but their project could find no backers. In many cases prospects told them their project was too small -- needed too little money -- to be of interest. As the deadline for going on-air loomed they were put in touch with a wealthy local farmer.

After a long evening presenting their business case to this farmer in ever greater detail, he sat back and told them he would give them the money they needed to get their station on-air -- but he wanted a larger interest in the business than what they offered him. He wanted a 51% interest -- a controlling interest -- or he would not give them the money, and they both had to agree to work for the new radio station for a year after it went on-air. The two holders of the soon to be lost broadcast license looked at each other and told the farmer he could keep his money and left. The next day the farmer called on the phone and gave them the names and contact information for a few investors, any one of whom should be able and interested in investing the amounts they needed on their terms. He also told them that had they accepted his offer he would have driven them out of the new station before the end of the year it went on-air. He said he wanted to see whether they were 'serious' before putting them in touch with serious investors.

juliania , January 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Sorry, assassination doesn't fit into this scenario. That is a bridge too far. Trump has lost his effectiveness by boasting about this. It isn't just unpredictability. It is dangerous unpredictability.

Yves Smith Post author , January 15, 2020 at 5:52 am

I never once said that Trump was studied in how he operates, in fact, I repeatedly pointed out that he's highly emotional and undisciplined. I'm simply describing some implications.

meadows , January 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

If our corrupt Congress had not ceded their "co-equal" branch of gov't authority over the last 40 years thereby gradually creating the Imperial Presidency that we have now, we might comfortably mitigate much of the mad king antics.

Didn't the Founding Fathers try desperately to escape the terrible wars of Europe brought on by the whims and grievances of inbred kings, generation after generation? Now on a whim w/out so much as a peep to Congress, presidential murder is committed and the CongressCritters bleat fruitlessly for crumbs of info about it.

I see no signs of this top-heavy imperialism diminishing. Every decision will vanish into a black hole marked "classified."

I am profoundly discouraged at 68 who at 18 years old became a conscientious objector, that the same undeclared BS wars and BS lies are used to justify continuous conflct almost nonstop these last 50 years as if engaging in such violence can ever be sucessful in achieving peaceful ends? Unless the maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are the actual desired result.

Trump's negotiating style is chaos-inducing deliberately, then eventually a "Big Daddy" Trump can fix the mess, spin the mess and those of us still in the thrall of big-daddyism can feel assuaged. It's the relief of the famiy abuser who after the emotional violence establishes a temporary calm and family members briefly experience respite, yet remain wary and afraid.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Bingo!

The maintenance of fear, chaos and blowback are exACTLY the desired result. Deliberately and on purpose.

Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intuition wrote a post about that years ago, in a different context. Here it is.

https://rigint.blogspot.com/2006/07/violent-bear-it-away.html

Edward , January 14, 2020 at 2:14 pm

In some ways Trump has a very Japanese style; everything is about saving face even if you are saying complete nonsense. You have to divine what his actual agenda is. However his approach to negotiation actually works in the business world, it is a disaster as diplomacy.

In trying to make sense of his foreign policy, though, there are hidden factors; some how deep state interests are able to maneuver presidents into following the same policies. What is happening behind the scenes? This manipulation may be contaminating his negotiations.

ian , January 14, 2020 at 7:12 pm

I saw an interview with someone (can't remember who) who had a great analogy for the relationship between Trump and the press: think of the press as a herd of puppies and Trump is the guy with the tennis ball. He tosses outrageous things out there, they all chase it. One brings it back, he tosses it again.

Why would he do this? My own take is that he invites chaos – he has a fluid style, changing his mind often, dumping people and the like which thrives in a chaotic environment. He likes to shake things up and look for openings.

It also helps him do some things quietly in the background, along with key allies. While everyone was foaming at the mouth over Russian collusion, he and Mitch McConnell were busy getting appellate judges confirmed.

I think it is a mistake to underestimate him – he is an unusual person, but far from stupid.

xkeyscored , January 15, 2020 at 5:42 am

It also helps him do some things quietly in the background
I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 14, 2020 at 7:29 pm

There is a silver lining to that. If another term of Trump inspires the Europeans to abrogate NATO and put an end to that alliance and create their own NEATO ( North East Atlantic Treaty Organization) withOUT America and withOUT Canada and maybe withOUT some of those no-great-bargain East European countries; then NEATO Europe could reach its own Separate Peace with Russia and lower that tension point.

And America could bring its hundred thousand hostages ( "soldiers") back home from not-NATO-anymore Europe.

KFritz , January 14, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Kim Jong Un uses similar tactics, strategy, perhaps even style. Clinically and intellectually, it's interesting to watch their interaction. Emotionally, given their weaponry, it's terrifying.

Jason , January 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

Great post! The part about selecting for desperate business partners is very insightful, it makes his cozying up to dictators and pariah states much more understandable. He probably thinks/feels that these leaders are so desperate for approval from a country like the US that, when he needs something from them, he will have more leverage and be able to impose what he wants.

[Jan 10, 2020] This reckless act by Trump administion was the last gasp of "Full spectrum dominance" doctime and probably means end of Pompeo career as the Secretary of state and Trump as the President

See also With his imminent attack fake Mike Pompeo Is a Dollar Store Kissinger
Notable quotes:
"... This is not just about how to de-escalate – it's about recognizing that America fundamentally needs to change its disastrous course. Even if de-escalation of the acute tensions is possible, the risks will remain as long as the United States pursues a reckless policy. ..."
Jan 10, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

This crisis was sparked by Donald Trump. Trump withdrew from the deal that had stopped Iran's nuclear weapons program, leading Iran to restart its nuclear program. Trump ramped up economic pressure and sent more US troops to the region, and tensions grew. Then the US killed Gen Qassem Suleimani , signaling a significant escalation, to which Iran responded with an attack on Iraqi bases where US and Iraqi troops are stationed.

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

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America is far worse off today towards Iran and in the Middle East than it was when Trump took office

It is up to Congress and the American people to force Trump to adopt a more pragmatic path. For too long Congress has ceded to the executive branch its authority to determine when America goes to war, and the current crisis with Iran is exactly the kind of moment that requires intense coordination between the legislative and executive branches. The president cannot start a war without congressional authorization, and with the erratic Trump in office, Congress must make that clear by cutting off the use of funds for war with Iran.

This is not just about how to de-escalate – it's about recognizing that America fundamentally needs to change its disastrous course. Even if de-escalation of the acute tensions is possible, the risks will remain as long as the United States pursues a reckless policy. America is far worse off today towards Iran and in the Middle East than it was when Trump took office – even worse off than we were on 1 January 2020. Today, Iran is advancing its nuclear program, America has suspended its anti-Isis campaign, Iraq's parliament has voted to evict US troops from the country, and we are in a dangerous military standoff with Iran.

Digging out of this hole will be difficult and this administration is not capable of it. Over the long run, future administrations will need to reorient America's goals and policies. America needs to re-enter the nuclear deal and begin negotiations to strengthen it; work with partners like Iraq – without a large US troop presence – in countering potential threats like a resurgence of Isis; and adopt a broader regional policy that focuses on protecting US interests and standing up for human rights and democracy rather than picking sides in a regional civil war between dictatorships like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Achieving US goals in the region will not be possible with a mere de-escalation of tensions – we need to find a new path towards Iran and the Middle East.

[Jan 10, 2020] Pompeo evil manipulation of Trump makes Henry Kissinger look like Gandhi by Charles P. Pierce

In short, all the "imminent threat" palaver was pure moonshine
First-in-His-Class Mike Pompeo knows his audience. There's no question that he knows how to get what he wants from a guy who doesn't know anything
Jan 06, 2020 | www.esquire.com
America's top diplomat does not seem to think his job is to prevent war.

The Washington Post dives deeply into what is laughingly called the administration*'s "process" leading up to the decision to kill Qasem Soleimani with fire last week. In short, all the "imminent threat" palaver was pure moonshine. According to the Post, this particular catastrophe was brewed up for a while amid the stalactites in the mind of Mike Pompeo, a Secretary of State who makes Henry Kissinger look like Gandhi.

The secretary also spoke to President Trump multiple times every day last week, culminating in Trump's decision to approve the killing of Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, at the urging of Pompeo and Vice President Pence, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Pompeo had lost a similar high-stakes deliberation last summer when Trump declined to retaliate militarily against Iran after it downed a U.S. surveillance drone, an outcome that left Pompeo "morose," according to one U.S. official. But recent changes to Trump's national security team and the whims of a president anxious about being viewed as hesitant in the face of Iranian aggression created an opening for Pompeo to press for the kind of action he had been advocating.

Poor Mike was morose. So, in an effort to bring himself out of the dumps, Mike decided to keep feeding the rats in the president*'s head.

Trump, too, sought to draw down from the Middle East as he promised from the opening days of his presidential campaign. But that mind-set shifted on Dec. 27 when 30 rockets hit a joint U.S.-Iraqi base outside Kirkuk, killing an American civilian contractor and injuring service members. On Dec. 29, Pompeo, Esper and Milley traveled to the president's private club in Florida, where the two defense officials presented possible responses to Iranian aggression, including the option of killing Soleimani, senior U.S. officials said.

Trump's decision to target Soleimani came as a surprise and a shock to some officials briefed on his decision, given the Pentagon's long-standing concerns about escalation and the president's aversion to using military force against Iran. One significant factor was the "lockstep" coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida.

First-in-His-Class Mike Pompeo knows his audience. There's no question that he knows how to get what he wants from a guy who doesn't know anything about anything, and who may have gone, as George V. Higgins once put it, as soft as church music. This, I guess, is a skill. Of course, Pompeo's job is easier because the president* is still a raving maniac on the electric Twitter machine.

Related Story Trump Dished Some Bullsh*t on Iran

Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here .

Charles P. Pierce Charles P Pierce is the author of four books, most recently Idiot America, and has been a working journalist since 1976.

[Jan 09, 2020] AGAINST THE BLITZ WOLF -- RUSSIAN REINFORCEMENTS FOR IRAN'S DEFENCE

Notable quotes:
"... National Defence, ..."
"... National Defence ..."
Jun 25, 2019 | johnhelmer.net

The Russian General Staff has reinforced the air defences for Russians at the Iranian nuclear reactor complex at Bushehr, on the Persian Gulf, according to sources in Moscow. At the same time, Iran has allowed filming of the movement of several of its mobile S-300 air-defence missile batteries to the south, covering the Iranian coastline of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. More secretly, elements of Russian military intelligence, electronic warfare, and command and control advisers for Iran's air defence systems have been mobilized to support Iran against US and allied attacks.

The range of the new surveillance extends well beyond the S-300 strike distance of 200 kilometres, and covers US drone and aircraft bases on the Arabian peninsula, as well as US warships in (and under) the Persian Gulf and off the Gulf of Oman. Early warning of US air and naval-launched attacks has now been cut below the old 4 to 6-minute Iranian threshold. Counter-firing by the Iranian armed forces has been automated from attack warning and target location.

This means that if the US is detected launching a swarm of missiles aimed at Iran's air-defence sites, uranium mines, reactors, and military operations bunkers, Iran will launch its own swarm of missiles at the US firing platforms, as well as at Saudi and other oil production sites, refineries, and pipelines, as well tankers in ports and under way in the Gulf.

"The armed forces of Iran," said a Russian military source requesting anonymity, "have air defence systems capable of hitting air targets at those heights at which drones of the Global Hawk series can fly; this is about 19,000 to 20,000 metres. Iran's means of air defence are both foreign-purchased systems and systems of Iran's own design; among them, in particular, the old Soviet system S-75 and the new Russian S-300. Recently, Iran transported some S-300's to the south, but that happened after the drone was shot down [June 20]. Russian specialists are working at Bushehr now and this means that the S-300's are also for protection of Bushehr."


Flight distance between Bushehr and Bandar Abbas is about 570 kms. From Bandar Abbas southeast to Kuhmobarak, the site of the Iranian missile firing against the US drone, is another 200 kms.

Last Thursday, June 20, just after midnight, a US Global Hawk drone was tracked by Iran from its launch at an airbase in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), south of Dubai. The take-off and initial flight route appear to have been more than 300 kms from Iranian tracking radars. Four hours later, the aircraft was destroyed by an Iranian missile at a point at sea off Kuhmobarak. Follow the route tracking data published by the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif here .


KEY: blue line=drone flight path; yellow line=Iranian Flight Information Region (FIR); red line=Iranian territorial waters; green line=Iranian internal waters; yellow dots=Iran radio warnings sent; red square=point of impact. Source: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: https://twitter.com/ The US claims the point of impact was outside the red line.

Additional tracking data on the US drone operation have been published in a simulation by the Iranian state news agency, Fars. The news agency claims the successful strike was by the Iran-made Khordad missile, an S-300 copy; the altitude has not been reported (design ceiling for the aircraft is 18,000 metres). The Russian military source says there is now active coordination between Russian and Iranian military staffs. "About coordination, of course there is participation of Russia in intelligence-sharing because of Bushehr and ISIS. We have a long and successful partnership with Iran, especially in terms of fighting against international terrorism." Two days after the drone incident, Russian specialist media published Iranian video footage of the movement of S-300's on trailer trucks. This report claims that although the S-300's are wheeled and motorized for rapid position changes, the use of highway transporters was intended to minimize road fatigue on the weapons.

Iranian military sources have told western reporters they have established "a joint operations room to inform all its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan of every step it is adopting in confronting the US in case of all-out war in the Middle East."

Maps published to date in open Russian military sources show the four main anti-air missile defence groups (PVO) on Iranian territory, and the strike range of their missiles. The 3 rd and 4 th PVOs are now being reinforced to oppose US reinforcements at sea and on Saudi and Emirati territory.


Key: yellow=units of the main air-defence (PVO) groups; split blue circles=military bases; blue diamond=nuclear industry sites; red rings=kill range for missiles; solid red=command-and-control operations centres. Source: Anatoly Gavrilov, "Before the storm", National Defence, April 2019

The weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Iranian defences against US air attack are, naturally, state secrets. The open-source discussion by Russian air-defence expert Anatoly Gavrilov can be followed here . According to Gavrilov writing in March, the expected plan of US attack will be the use of precision missiles and bombs at "primary targets plants for the production and processing of nuclear fuel, uranium mines, production for its enrichment, refineries, other industrial centers. But initially [the objective] will be to suppress (completely destroy) the air defense system. The mass use of cruise missiles for various purposes and guided aircraft bombs will disable the control system of Iran's troops and suppress the system of reconnaissance and anti-aircraft missile fire. In this case, the task of the attacking side will be the destruction in the first two or three days of 70% to 80% of the radar, and after that, up to 90% manned aircraft will begin to bomb only after the complete suppression of the air defense system. The West protects its professional pilots, and it does not matter that the civilian population of Iran will also suffer."

The main Iranian vulnerability facing American attack, reports Gavrilov, is less the range, volume and density of firepower with which the Iranians can respond than the relatively slow time they have shown to date for processing incoming attack data, fixing targets, and directing counter-fire. "In today's conditions of organization and conduct of rapid air combat, a high degree of automation of the processes of collection, processing, transmission and exchange of radar information, development of solutions for repelling strikes, and conducting anti-aircraft missile fire is extremely necessary."

RANGE AND ALTITUDE OF MAIN IRANIAN AIR DEFENCE WEAPONS


CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Horizontal axis, range in kilometres for each identified weapon; vertical axis, altitude of interception. Source: Anatoly Gavrilov, National Defence , April 2019

Gavrilov does not estimate how far the Iranians have been able to solve by themselves, and with Russian help, the problems of automation and coordination of fire. To offset whatever weakness may remain, he recommends specific technical contributions the Russians can make. These include the technology of electronic countermeasures (ECM) to jam or deflect US targeting signals and ordnance guidance systems.

While Gavrilov believes the Iranian military have already achieved high enough density of fire against incoming weapons, he isn't sure the range and altitude of Iranian radars will be good enough to match the attack risks. To neutralize those, he recommends "Russian-made electronic warfare systems. The complex of EW systems is able to significantly reduce the ability of attack aircraft to search for, detect and defeat ground targets; disrupt the onboard equipment of cruise missiles in the GPS satellite navigation system; distort the readings of radio altimeters of attack aircraft, cruise missiles and UAV's [unmanned aerial vehicle, drone] "

In briefings for sympathetic western reporters, Iranian commanders are emphasizing the Armageddon option; that is, however weak or strong their defences may prove to be under prolonged US attack, the Iranian strategy is not to wait. Their plan, they say, is to counter-attack against Arab as well as American targets as soon as a US missile attack commences; that's to say, at launch, not inflight nor at impact.


Left: Kremlin photograph of the Security Council meeting at the Kremlin on the afternoon of June 21. Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/ Right: Major General Mohammad Baqeri, Iran's armed forces chief of staff.

The day following the US attack and Iranian success, President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of his regular Security Council members in Moscow. The military were represented by the Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu. The US attack on Iran was the main issue on the table. "The participants," reported the Kremlin communiqué, "discussed, in particular, the developments in the Persian Gulf. They expressed serious concern over the rising tension and urged the countries involved to show restraint, because unwise actions could have unpredictable consequences in terms of regional and global stability."

Unpredictable consequences in Russian is being translated in Farsi to mean the cessation of the oil trade in the Persian Gulf. "As oil and commodities of other countries are passing through the Strait of Hormuz, ours are also moving through it," Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the Iranian chief of staff, said on April 28. "If our crude is not to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, others' [crude] will not pass either."

[Jan 09, 2020] After killing Soleimani the first thing President Trump could come up with was bragging that it was him who gave the order to murder the popular military leader

Jan 09, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

Iran vs. US: The Murder of General Qassem Suleimani

by Peter Koenig / January 7th, 2020

Interestingly, after the US attack on Iraqi Militia fighters on 31 December 2020, and the assassination of General Qassem Suleimani , on 2 January, the first thing President Trump could come up with was bragging that it was him who gave the order to murder the popular military leader.

[Jan 08, 2020] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Highly recommended!
Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Notable quotes:
"... Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ". ..."
"... Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey). ..."
"... These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper. ..."
"... As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump" ..."
"... I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have? ..."
"... The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking. ..."
"... Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ..."
"... Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. ..."
"... We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,

re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,

as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

[Jan 08, 2020] Donald Trump presidency Chaos and surprises emerge as twin crises - CNNPolitics

Jan 08, 2020 | www.cnn.com

Washington (CNN) The increasingly chaotic aftermath of the US strike against Iran has left President Donald Trump's team scrambling to keep up with his unpredictable decisions and inflammatory pronouncements, and suggests dysfunction at the heart of the nation's critical national security process.

Top Trump aides are making frantic efforts to justify the killing of Qasem Soleimani , one of Iran's top leaders, and are bracing for a possible reprisal attack as the Islamic Republic moves around military hardware . But they are still refusing to publicly offer Americans details of the "imminent" attacks that they said the top general was planning. A farcical episode on Monday when at one point it seemed the military had announced it was pulling back troops from Iraq -- then said it made a mistake -- painted an unflattering picture of the administration's decision-making process. And t op officials have twice had to rule out Trump's warning that he could strike at "cultural" targets in Iran if it tries to avenge Soleimani's killing. Such action could amount to war crimes. The churn in Washington and growing questions over the rationale for an escalation that some fear could lead the US and Iran closer to war is complicating Trump's hopes of presenting a clean narrative that he acted decisively to eliminate a terrorist mastermind and to save the lives of hundreds of Americans.

[Jan 08, 2020] Is Trump that stupid and malleble? Yes, he is. Now MAGA should be read "Make the USA go away"

Notable quotes:
"... It is clear to me after watching that extraordinary video of Trump's ignorance and stupidity that he is the idiot piper leading the West into the abyss. There could be no better epitome of the neoliberal sociopathy that drives our collapsing phase of late-capitalism. Putin's wet dream: a narcissist half-wit driving the western bus. ..."
"... As for trying to put the blame on Pentagon staffers, even if they chose such weird options for Trump to choose, at the end of the day, it's the President himself who chose - as another one said decades ago, "the buck stops here" and the guy in the Oval Office has to bear the full responsibility. ..."
Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

David G , Jan 6 2020 19:57 utc | 19

b writes:
The New York Times reported yesterday that Trump picked the 'wrong' item from a list of possible courses of action that the military had presented him. That sounded like bullshit invented to take blame away from Trump and to put it onto the military.
To me it looks more like the opposite: the Times's Pentagon sources pinning it on loose cannon Trump's going with the extreme option that the military hadn't intended him to. But whatever. The U.S. is facing the same harsh new reality regardless.

Patroklos , Jan 6 2020 20:03 utc | 21

The Times in London ran with a front page "We Will Kill UK Troops, warns Iran" ( here's the Guardian summary ). Despite initial reports that the UK and EU were distancing themselves from the assassination, the MSM have clearly been given their orders to begin banging the drum for war. The scramble for a casus belli reminds me of WMD, so I think a war of some scope is strongly desired and Boris Johnson has been brought on board. France will stay out and Germany will look first at Russia's position.

It is clear to me after watching that extraordinary video of Trump's ignorance and stupidity that he is the idiot piper leading the West into the abyss. There could be no better epitome of the neoliberal sociopathy that drives our collapsing phase of late-capitalism. Putin's wet dream: a narcissist half-wit driving the western bus.

lgfocus , Jan 6 2020 19:40 utc | 11

Moqtada Al-Sadr to Trump
"We are demanders of peace if you surrender and war if you fight. Do you threaten us? How dare you"

read from Elijah Magnier's thread on Al-Sadr's letter.

Zanon , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 7
Trump is probably not stupid enough to launch such a war and certainly not during an election year.

During his campaign Trump said he wanted the U.S. military out of the Middle East. Iran and its allies will help him to keep that promise.

Hasnt Trump proved he is stupid enough by now? How much more evidence is needed to drop him? Trump start wars to get another election win, I think that is obvious? And allies keeping him back? Which allieshave even remotely criticized his threats and murder? People need to realize that there is nothing stopping Trump, he and Israel will keep bombing and unfortunately its not much Iran could do.

Clueless Joe , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 8
Dan: The guy fought the Talibans and ISIS, and has always been opposed to them; that's good enough for me, and that's definitely more than any of the coward and treacherous Western leaders that pussy-foot instead of calling out the US for what tantamounts to a declaration of war on both Iraq and Iran.

As for trying to put the blame on Pentagon staffers, even if they chose such weird options for Trump to choose, at the end of the day, it's the President himself who chose - as another one said decades ago, "the buck stops here" and the guy in the Oval Office has to bear the full responsibility.

Col. Lang is once again warning that Trump trying to keep the troops in Iraq would be a terrible mistake with bad consequences, and that it's just not realistic. He probably prefers not to say it that way when stating it's a long road from Kuwait to Baghdad, but if shit hits the fan and Iraqis decide to go after the US troops, then those who can't evacuate fast enough will end up in a position similar to that of the British in Kabul, in the very first days of 1842.

Phryne's frock , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 9
Aghast at your words, dan. I am an aging homemaker from usa midwest and I have yet to stop weeping for Qassem Soleimani, his poor widow, and the rest of his family. I feel I owe him a personal debt for fighting zionists/terrorists/imperialists, for if they are not defeated once and for all, my captive government will continue in perpetuity to serve their horridmurderousthieving agenda, enslaving my every descendent and robbing humanity of any chance for peace on this pretty garden harbor planet. May justice be done to give peace a chance.
Paul Bogdanich , Jan 6 2020 20:25 utc | 30
What I wonder is who is the genius in the chain of command who brought this "opportunity" to Trump's attention and who vetted the decision? Trump made a large error when he surrounded himself with neocons (Abrahams, Bolton, Pompeo, Haspel, Esper). Anyway it's a tangle and it's pretty clear he (Trump) is in over his head. When he paniks he talks tough and he's making threats. It's also no wonder he has not received any support on his decision to murder Soleimani. From anywhere. Not even Israel is publicly supporting the decision. I think that surprised him. For 350 years there has been an unwritten rule that you don't go after generals or ambassadors or visiting politicians unless they are actively engaged in a combat zone. Remember the outrage when the barbarian Libyans killed a mere station chief? How outraged we were? Well, Trump overtly and with malice of forethought broke the rule. If I were the Iranian's and I could get to any U.S. generals or high ranking officials (working or visiting overseas) that's what I would do. Create animus within his own military and cabinet departments. Get them at the supermarket, speaking engagements, on vacation, at home, wherever. Doesn't matter. Wherever you can get them. Shitty thing to do no doubt but he started it and something the American and other populations would instinctively understand. Blood for blood retribution. No need to explain it to people.
Alpi , Jan 6 2020 20:43 utc | 41
......." Trump is probably not stupid enough to launch such a war and certainly not during an election year."

b,

you are assuming that you are dealing with someone with a full deck of cards. If He was stupid enough to kill a sovereign nation's top general, he will be stupid enough to start a war. In fact that is his biggest wish. Elections be damned. Maybe the military would put on the breaks but not this stupid sick man.

Robert Snefjella , Jan 6 2020 21:49 utc | 75
Few points: (1) Thanks to Trump, Pompeo and Esper every American soldier everywhere now wears a bulls eye;
(2) Any soldier -including Americans - might find a great deal to admire in Soliemani, a guy with a humble background who accomplished an extraordinary track record, a legendary strategist';

(3) Has the US military's 'faith' in the sanity and competence of the civilian authority been stretched near to some breaking point?

Lurk , Jan 6 2020 22:00 utc | 89
Trump and Pence are dumb and dumber.

Pence claimed on twitter that Suleimani assisted the 12 9/11 hijackers, for which he was instantly ridiculed.

Trump wants billions payback for airbases in Iraq that were already fully transferred upon American withdrawal in december 2011.

BTW, the trolls are obvious trolls. Could be from Tel Aviv, but perhaps from London, too (Integrity Initiative) Brits must be banging their heads against the wall over orange utan dropping a monkey wrench into the gears of the imperial machine that they too depend on. You bet that they need to spin this hard.

Antigone , Jan 6 2020 22:02 utc | 91
"We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that's there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it,"
Trump said

Paying us back?

Just ask the Iraqis - here is a reminder of what the bitter reality of economic violence looks like:

The Crimes of Neoliberal Rule in Occupied Iraq

The clearest statement of intent for the future of the Iraqi economy is contained in Order 39, which permitted full foreign ownership of Iraqi state-owned assets and decreed that over 200 state-owned enterprises, including electricity, telecommunications and the pharmaceuticals industry, could be dismantled. Order 39 also permitted 100 per cent foreign ownership of Iraqi banks, mines and factories; and allowed these firms to move their profits out of Iraq. It has been argued already in the British courts that Order 39 constitutes an act of ILLEGAL OCCUPATION under the terms of the Hague and Geneva treaties : The effect of Article 55 is to outlaw privatization of a country's assets whilst it is under occupation by a hostile military power."
The mandate of the CPA was clear: to meet the 'humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people', to meet the costs of 'reconstruction and repair of Iraq's infrastructure', to meet the costs of disarmament and the civil administration of the country and other purposes 'benefiting the people of Iraq'. The terms of UNSCR 1483 are unequivocal in this regard. It was this resolution that established the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI)
• DFI revenue, was available to the CPA immediately, in the form of $100,000 bundles of $100 bills, shrink-wrapped in $1.6 million 'cashpaks'. Pallets of cashpaks were flown into Baghdad direct from the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Some of this cash was held by the CPA in the basement of its premises in Baghdad Republican Palace. It has been reported that Paul Bremer controlled a personal slush fund of $600 million (Harriman 2005). One advantage of the use of cash payments and transfers was that the CPA transactions left no paper trail and therefore they remained relatively invisible
• The disbursal of Iraqi oil revenue by the CPA also has had profound implications for the future structure of the Iraqi economy. ..Spending (in excess of $20 billion, partly based upon projected income) had to be underwritten by US government loans .. (which) has effectively deepened the debt that was originally accumulated during the period of UN-enforced sanctions following the 1991 Gulf War (Alexander 2005).
• The right to self-determination and sovereign decision making over economic, social and cultural development is in international law a principle of jus cogens In this regard, the CPA clearly acted beyond its remit in terms of both the spirit and the letter of the international laws of conflict. It is the anti-democratic and pre-emptive nature of Anglo-American economic restructuring that most clearly demonstrates that the CPA regime was in violation of international law.
• Similar violations arise from the CPA's governance of Iraqi oil wealth. Article 49 of the Hague rules notes that 'money contributions' levied in the occupied territory 'shall only be for the needs of the army or of the administration of the territory in question'.
The political strategy was characteristically neo-liberal (evasion of 'red tape' and any obstacles that might hinder or limit the reallocation of wealth to the growing armies of private enterprises). This strategy was given momentum by the granting of formal LEGAL IMMUNITY to US personnel for activities related to the reconstruction economy. On the same day that the CPA was created by UNSCR 1483, George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13303, 2 The terms of the exemption provide immunity from prosecution for the theft or embezzlement of oil revenue, or incidentally, from any safety or environmental violations that might be committed in the course of producing Iraqi oil. Executive Order 13303 is therefore a guarantee of IMMUNITY from PROSECUTION for white-collar and corporate crimes that involve Iraqi oil. Two months later, in June 2003, Paul Bremer issued CPA Order 17. Bremer's decree guaranteed that members of the coalition military forces, the CPA, foreign missions and contractors -- and their personnel -- would remain immune from the Iraqi legal process. This carte blanche provision of immunity was extended again in June 2004.

What we are beginning to trace out here is a US government policy of suspending the normal rule of law in the US and Iraq (so much for respecting Iraqi sovereigntx...)

https://academic.oup.com/bjc/article/47/2/177/519163
https://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalism-and-the-killing-for-profit-in-iraq/5699525

[Jan 08, 2020] Trump as a destoryer of the US empire: Unless the USA reinvades and reoccupies Iraq, the USA military forces will be gone from Syria, probably just after the election in November so Trump can say he stood up to the Iraqis

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ghost Ship , Jan 6 2020 22:48 utc | 112

The three most important things for doing battle are logistics, logistics and logistics, and as Pat lang explains, the US forces in Syria are essentially fucked:
We have around 5,500 people there now spread across the country in little groups engaged in logistics, intelligence and training missions. They are extremely vulnerable. There are something like 150 marines in the embassy. There are also a small number of US combat forces in Syria east and north of the Euphrates river. These include a battalion of US Army National Guard mechanized troops "guarding" Syria's oil from Syria's own army and whatever devilment the Iranians might be able to arrange.

4. This is an untenable logistical situation. Supply and other functions require a major airfield close to Baghdad. We have Balad airbase and helicopter supply and air support from there into Baghdad is possible from there but may become hazardous. Iraq is a big country. It is a long and lonely drive from Kuwait for re-supply from there or evacuation through there. The same thing is true of the desert route to Jordan.

Unless it reinvades and reoccupies, the United States will be gone from Syria, probably just after the election in November so Trump can say he stood up to the Iraqis.

[Jan 08, 2020] Trump the Intimidator Fails Again by Paul Krugman

Jan 08, 2020 | www.nytimes.com


Trump the Intimidator Fails Again

Because he's just a bully with delusions of grandeur.

International crises often lead, at least initially, to surging support for a country's leadership. And that's clearly happening now. Just weeks ago the nation's leader faced public discontent so intense that his grip on power seemed at risk. Now the assassination of Qassim Suleimani has transformed the situation, generating a wave of patriotism that has greatly bolstered the people in charge.

Unfortunately, this patriotic rallying around the flag is happening not in America, where many are (with good reason) deeply suspicious of Donald Trump's motives, but in Iran .

In other words, Trump's latest attempt to bully another country has backfired -- just like all his previous attempts.

From his first days in office, Trump has acted on the apparent belief that he could easily intimidate foreign governments -- that they would quickly fold and allow themselves to be humiliated. That is, he imagined that he faced a world of Lindsey Grahams, willing to abandon all dignity at the first hint of a challenge.

But this strategy keeps failing; the regimes he threatens are strengthened rather than weakened, and Trump is the one who ends up making humiliating concessions. Paul Krugman's Newsletter Get a better understanding of the economy -- and an even deeper look at what's on Paul's mind. Sign up here.

Remember, for example, when Trump promised " fire and fury " unless North Korea halted its nuclear weapons program? He claimed triumph after a 2018 summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader. But Kim made no real concessions, and North Korea recently announced that it might resume tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Or consider the trade war with China, which was supposed to bring the Chinese to their knees. A deal has supposedly been reached, although details remain scarce; what's clear is that it falls far short of U.S. aims, and that Chinese officials are jubilant about their success in facing Trump down.

Why does Trump's international strategy, which might be described as winning through intimidation, keep failing? And why does he keep pursuing it anyway?

One answer, I suspect, is that like all too many Americans, Trump has a hard time grasping the fact that other countries are real -- that is, that we're not the only country whose citizens would rather pay a heavy price, in money and even in blood, than make what they see as humiliating concessions.

Ask yourself, how would Americans have reacted if a foreign power had assassinated Dick Cheney, claiming that he had the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on his hands? Don't answer that Suleimani was worse. That's beside the point. The point is that we don't accept the right of foreign governments to kill our officials. Why imagine that other countries are different?

Of course, we have many people in the diplomatic corps with a deep knowledge of other nations and their motivations, who understand the limits of intimidation. But anyone with that kind of understanding has been excluded from Trump's inner circle.

Now, it's true that for many years America did have a special leadership position, one that sometimes involved playing a role in reshaping other countries' political systems. But here's where Trump's second error comes in: He has never shown any sign of understanding why America used to be special.

Part of the explanation, of course, was raw economic and military power: America used to be just much bigger than everyone else. That is, however, no longer true. For example, by some key measures China's economy is significantly bigger than that of the United States.

Even more important, however, was the fact that America was something more than a big country throwing its weight around. We always stood for something larger.

That doesn't mean that we were always a force for good; America did many terrible things during its reign as global hegemon. But we clearly stood for global rule of law, for a system that imposed common rules on everyone, ourselves included. The United States may have been the dominant partner in alliances like NATO and bodies like the World Trade Organization, but we always tried to behave as no more than first among equals. Editors' Picks Headless Body in Cave Is Identified as 1916 Ax Murder Suspect Adam Driver Has Put Everything He's Got Onscreen Office Treats Bring Out the Worst of Humanity Advertisement Continue reading the main story

Oh, and because we were committed to enforcing rules, we were also relatively trustworthy; an alliance with America was meaningful, because we weren't the kind of country that would betray an ally for the sake of short-term political convenience.

Trump, however, has turned his back on everything that used to make America great. Under his leadership, we've become nothing more than a big, self-interested bully -- a bully with delusions of grandeur, who isn't nearly as tough as he thinks. We abruptly abandon allies like the Kurds; we honor war criminals ; we slap punitive tariffs on friendly nations like Canada for no good reason. And, of course, after more than 15,000 lies , nothing our leader and his minions say can be trusted.

Trump officials seem taken aback by the uniformly negative consequences of the Suleimani killing: The Iranian regime is empowered, Iraq has turned hostile and nobody has stepped up in our support. But that's what happens when you betray all your friends and squander all your credibility.


Steve LHR 2h ago Times Pick

It's finally abundantly clear that the great deal maker is nothing more than an emperor with no clothes. The real shame is the inability of a large part of America to see this for what it is: a failure of leadership from voter on up. Unfortunately, America has lost its moral ability to lead, and more's the pity as the ascendancy of others, like China, will not be as progressive as America was in the past. You'd think that the great deal maker would understand that leaders are not bullies. Sad.
Robert AJ, AZ 2h ago Times Pick
I have been reading a lot of commentary on very little news. One thing that is not generally mentioned is that while Iran is no match for us by itself, they are not without friends, i.e., Russia (is there a mutual defense treaty still in place?) China and North Korea. On the other hand our allies are ... well maybe Israel. We haven't always been the nice guys. Remember the novel 'The Ugly American' the 1956 novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer?
Lauwenmark Belgium 5h ago Times Pick
Excellent analysis. I note that the streets of Teheran were crowded by hundred of thousands people, because one of their leaders were killed. The US President's decision put his own country in danger of facing another costly war. Why aren't there hundreds of thousands of people crowding the streets of Washington, New-York or Los Angeles, asking for his removal from office? I keep reading that US citizens are patriots, proud of their country, their values, their constitution. Where are those proud guys? Your streets should be full of protesters, strikes to defend endangered democratic values should happen everywhere, artists should occupy the media space to denounce the abuses of a mad man. The passivity of US population shows that there are more, much more Americans supporting Trump and his ideas than votes show. And it also makes more and more probable than you'll see more Trump and Trump-like presidents in the future.
LT Chicago 6h ago
Did the assassination of Suleimani objectively make the United States safer and/or advance its interests now or in the future? The answer is meaningless in understanding Trump's decision because the question is meaningless to Trump. If assassinating Suleimani made Trump feel better in the moment, made him feel "strong" than that is more than reason enough. The future is not Trump's problem, if it turns out badly he'll just lie about it and blame someone else safe in the knowledge that his core supporters also prefer feeling strong in the moment than dealing with a messy reality. And his supporters of convenience? The Lindsey Graham's of the world? They are in too deep to turn back now. Like all bubbles, the belief in Trump requires a suspension of a belief in reality. Likr all bubbles it will eventually burst. And this one is going to leave a mess that will take decades to repair. If we are lucky.
Jeff M CT 6h ago
Suleimani worse than Cheney? Don't think so. A simple body count makes that clear. Plus, it's unclear Suleimani has ever encouraged torture. Any notion that the US was ever a force for good in the world is, well, very strange. Just work your way backwards listing things we've done, I'm not holding my breath until you get to a good one.
Lewis Sinclair Baltimore 6h ago
What's really frightening is this president's completely impulsive behavior. There's no plan, no endgame, just a series of inexplicable tantrums (or inactions). Right now, foreign policy has no more direction than when Gilligan and the Skipper randomly spun the ship's wheel in the opening of "Gilligan's Island."
E Chicago, IL 6h ago
I'd love to see a column on the financial costs of endless war to us here in the USA. We've apparently spent trillions in Afghanistan alone. How much did we spend in Iraq? How does that compare to our overall budget? What could the money have been spent on instead? How much would a war with Iran cost? I realize that all of those numbers are out there, but I haven't seen them packaged together in a way that really drives home how much money we are wasting. Paul, please write this column!
JoeyJ Canada 5h ago
I'll never understand why the USA thinks it has to have it's hand in every countries business (other than controlling all the world's natural resources). If the USA had stayed home and minded it's own business, they'd have excellent healthcare, affordable education and a much improved infrastructure. Apparently the military/industrial complex has no interest in that...
William Minnesota 6h ago
As bad as Trump's foreign affairs blunders have been, this is no time to gloss over earlier American blunders in foreign affairs. In Iran in 1953, the CIA engineered the removal of their prime minister, Mosaddegh, to be replaced by officials more amenable to British and American oil interests, marking the start of tensions between Iran and America. And then there was George W. Bush's Iraq war, an epic blunder shrouded in lies. Overthrowing governments in South America and replacing them by dictators who gave United Fruit and other corporations what they wanted belongs on this long, ignoble list.
Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ 5h ago
Trump's not just a weak bully pretending to be a tough guy, which is bad enough, but he's also the nation's leading Dunning–Kruger citizen, with delusions of his own superiority that comes from his inability to recognize his own lack of ability and lack of intelligence. Without any self-awareness, Dunning-Krugerites like Trump can't recognize their own incompetence or ignorance, and instead remain deluded with their 'superior' sense of themselves even though they're incompetent, unqualified and often clueless. "I'm like a smart person" said Trump to a CIA audience the day after he was inaugurated, using a phrase that no smart person would ever use. The University of Pennsylvania's student newspaper reported that Trump never made the Dean's List. Former classmates described him as a lackluster student. You don't have to get A's in school to be smart, but Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen said this about Trump to the House Oversight Committee : "I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant, but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores." "I don't think you have to put him on the couch to see that someone who has such a consistent need to build himself up and belittle everyone else must have some problems with self-esteem," said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair. "It's a lifelong theme for him." Or as Charles Darwin wrote: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." Sad.
Colin Somewhere 4h ago
Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump is the (top) representative of the US. What happened is fully the doing of the USA as a country, and not that of Mr. Trump as a person. And this is the face of all Americans, including you, for the rest of the world to see. If you don't like what you see in the mirror, seeking to change it might be a better idea than refusing your part of responsibility, however small.
Barry Henson Sydney, Australia 3h ago
The American narrative that we support democracy, human rights, our allies, and freedom, is gone. Trump and his minions have replaced this narrative with 'America first' and accordingly we are a diminished nation with no moral compass. Values mean nothing. Shared history means nothing. Shared sacrifices mean nothing. Today everything is a transaction to win or lose, and we are losing.
M.Downey Helena, MT 6h ago
It seems clear that Suleimani was a "Bad Guy". What's more profoundly disturbing is that it appears that this fact was the extent of the calculation that went into the order for his demise. Perhaps the most shocking part of this story is the absence of any apparent strategy or end game in a decision that amounts to an act of war against a major power in a region of the world as deeply unsettled as the Middle East. There are lots of bad guys out there. Depending upon your point of view, many reside in this country. What happens when leaders around the world apply the "Bad Guy" litmus test as their reasoning to justify an act of war? It means that we will soon find ourselves in the midst of a world war. Since the Senate can't muster the courage necessary to perform its constitutional obligation, let's all pray we can vote the madman out of office before it is too late.
Alan Shapiro Frankfurt 6h ago
Excellent article by Krugman. The entire world is now suffering the cataclysmic consequences of the bizarro worldview of the 46% of American voters who electoral-colleged that world-historic con artist into power in November 2016. It is so interesting and is indeed true that the majority of the Iranian people do not like their regime and are indeed much closer to the values of the West than Saudi Arabia, etc. Iranians I know in both Europe and the US are much more enlightened and secular than people from other Mideast countries. When Trump claimed to be anti-war in October 2016, it was so interesting that he was not able to articulate even one sentence explaining WHY he was anti-war. It was a giveaway that it was fraud. He just said it to get votes. His entire personality and personal culture scream I AM A WARMONGER. No empathy, no respect for human life. It will be interesting to see what the "great" Tulsi Gabbard comes up with now.
Charles Skeen New York, NY 6h ago
@PATRICK . In another sphere, Democrats have been left to clean up the fiscal mess created by irresponsible Republican tax cuts (by Reagan, GW Bush, and Trump). Despite Republican claims that the "tax cuts would pay for themselves", it never happened. In the wake of the tax cuts, the debt always grew faster than the economy; GDP as a percentage of publicly held debt has grown from about 25% when Reagan got started to 78% now -- and it's headed to 95%, according to the CBO.
Mr. Jones Raleigh, NC 4h ago
Dr. Krugman assumes, incorrectly I think, that Trump is a rational actor with an almost unfailing tendency to misjudge the consequences of his actions. No, for Trump, worrying about consequences is for losers. He is in it for the pure chaos, the utter joy of setting a million things in motion at once with no predictable outcome, and skating clear of the vortex. This is textbook pathological narcissisism.
Laurie Raymond Glenwood Springs CO 5h ago
From my training and practice in mediation and conflict resolution, I know one thing for sure: without empathy, without a reasonably accurate "theory of mind," not only can you not successfully engage in negotiation, you cannot even think strategically. Trump has been called many things, though not, as I would suggest, an actual solipsist. He doesn't believe other countries are real because he doesn't believe any one but himself is real.
JoOregon Portland, OR 6h ago
The plot is much thicker. It became obvious when Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement that he was declaring economic war on Iran. He has been pushing, or has been pushed, toward conflict all along. Perhaps the Evangelicals in his administration have been behind this move, as they support every destabilizing move Trump has made in the Middle East. That he is a dupe and proxy for other people's agenda seems apparent by the child-like reasons and responses he twitters. His talking points have been fed to him. Our dear leader. Heaven help us!!
Jerry Engelbach Mexico 6h ago
@David, Iran is not a third-world fleabag banana republic. It's a first world nation with a strong, committed military and millions more eager to enlist. A war with Iran would cost hundreds of thousands of military lives and at least as many civilians. It's the United States that is the aggressor here, not Iran, and feeling in the US is running strongly against more war.
David D. Boston 4h ago
America hasn't been trustworthy in a long time. We lost all moral authority in 1953 when we installed the Shah in Iran at the behest of the same oil companies that have been destroying our planet ever since. Less than a decade after coming to the rescue of a world at war, we began shredding the goodwill we'd earned. Trump is just continuing that fine tradition -- as George W. Bush did after 9-11 with his ill-considered invasions. When will we learn?
Jmduarte Portugal 6h ago
Kudos to you, Mr. Krugman. One of the best, and more to the point, articles I've read about this debacle. Particularly regarding America's legitimacy through adherence to laws and respect for alies and partners. That used to be a great part of what made America a reliable superpower. Not any more. And it's sad to see Europeans and other democracies forced to make concessions to dictatorships like China, because America can't be relied upon anymore. This benefits no one, particularly democracies. However, instead of taking lessons from the universal scorn and silence this action has prompted at home and abroad, Trump will only see it as further evidence that he must keep on bullying others into submission -- with increasingly bad results. At some point, America -- even Republicans -- will have to wake up and smell the coffee of what's really at stake here.
MG Massachusetts 6h ago
I do not think that he really took any serious geo-political considerations into account when he ordered the attack. I believe that to him assassinating the Iran general just looked like an excellent opportunity to distract the nation from the impeachment process, which is getting more and more serious for him, and to regain the upper hand and the center stage. Besides, in an international crisis his position would be reinforced despite the impeachment, because who would undermine the government effectiveness and the authority of the commander in chief in times of national emergency, right? Well, as your column points out, this type of approach is, once again, wrong. Just another outstanding example of incompetence and another immense damage done to the country.
Joe Scientist New York 5h ago
Interesting that in the last paragraph Dr. Krugman states that "Trump officials seem taken aback by the uniformly negative consequences of the Suleimani killing". From what I saw on Fox news, they were portraying the Suleimani killing as the greatest US foreign policy achievement of the last decade. I fear that those who matter in the Trump administration (i.e. mostly Trump, surrounded by his base) may be unaware of negative consequences of anything he does, including this.
stu freeman brooklyn 5h ago
Trump's people are now telling us that the U.S. won't cooperate with the Iraqi government's demand that we pull our troops out of that country. Which makes ours an army of occupation, for the first time since Bush and Cheney sent U.S. forces into Iraq. And, by the way, Suleimani was no worse than Cheney who actually DID have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on his hands (not to mention American servicemen and women).
CS Midwest 3h ago
The years 1945 to 1975 created a distorted image for most Baby Boomers. The United States appeared, and in many ways was, without any viable competitor on the world stage. This image was largely result of the fact that most of the industrialized world had been destroyed by a World War and was still recovering from it. By 1975 that dominance had largely come to an end. Japan, Germany, and other industrialized powers were outpacing the United States in both production and quality. Then OPEC entered the scene and showed how truly vulnerable the United States was. The fall of the Soviet Bloc masked what should have been a harsh realization, but that realization never sunk in. Many, and Trump is a prime example, still believe we live in a world like the 1950s, where U.S. power is undisputed. It is not, and the more we act like it is, only to have it thrown back in our face that it is not, the weaker and less capable we appear. The sooner Trump and his delusional sycophants leave DC, the sooner we can start the years, maybe even generations, that it will take rebuild respect for the United States abroad.
Louis Denver, CO 5h ago
The question is not one of Qassim Suleimani's character--there is no question he was responsible for a number of American casualties and civilian casualties as well--but rather one of whether taking him out was the right move. Taking out a high-level military or government official, no matter what the justification might be, is an act of war and will be regarded as such. You don't undertake an action like this unless you've really thought through the consequences and are prepared for a response. President Trump clearly did not think this through and we're all going to have to suffer the consequences as a result.
O MD 4h ago
@Ronald B. Duke Not everything is tactical. For the Republicans, perhaps, who have long ago shed any vestige of a moral compass and rely solely on tactics - whatever wins, whatever - but for Democrats impeachment wasn't a "gambit", it was a duty that many of them had to be dragged to the table to perform. The fact that they did despite the political risk shows that at least one party still places the welfare of our nation over their personal political fortune. We hardly need sticks to beat up Trump. He does a fine job all by himself. The problem is that he is a human wrecking ball, and he is now that he is pretty much alone in the white house, or anyway surrounded by people deeply unqualified to be there, his wrecking is just getting more dangerous. It would be one thing to "disagree" with US foreign policy - if there was in fact a foreign policy. But there is none left. Trump has wrecked that too. The only thing left for anyone is to vote this president out of office, if only to make the country and world a safer place.
Barry Long Australia 4h ago
The US has always used its economic and military power to get what it wants from other countries (enemies and allies alike). Trump has taken this to another level. And in doing so, he has abandoned the responsibilities that comes with that power. Trump's power has gone to his head. He is using sanctions and military might to do whatever he wants. What's to stop him from using these tools to extract assets, wealth and subservience from countries like Australia, the UK, Europe etc. While I have great fear of China's intentions, I am glad that China can serve somewhat as a counterbalance to Trump's greed and aggression. The rest of the world needs to unite and push back against Trump's overblown and growing sense of entitlement. I now regard America as being as big a threat as China to world peace and prosperity.
friend New England 2h ago
The first and most fundamental rule of strategy and negotiation--something I teach on the first day and most days of my game theory class-- is "Know your enemy." (Or if you prefer a less confrontational and less pithy version, "Know the person you are dealing with.") Trump fails over and over because he doesn't know, doesn't want to know, and won't be told. He has no idea what is important to them or how they view things. So he imagines them all backing down and doing as he wishes and glorifying him, which is what he wants and needs everyone to do. But most of us know that it doesn't work that way.
henri Australia 4h ago
Like the Roman period termed Pax Romana and the later Pax Britannica (1815–1914), Pax Americana being promoted as a time of relative peace and stability is built on too many lies to recount here. What America is doing, under Trump, is no different to the 1840's when the US seized half of Mexico. From that time many people believed that the US had a 'manifest destiny' to occupy and settle all the land bounded by Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That the US is somehow the upholder of universal moral principles is a pill too hard to swallow for anyone who has been or is still under their imperial thumb, or has been 'bombed back to the stone age'. Sometimes the insularity of thinking and learning about the rest of the world astounds me.
Ray Haining Hot Springs, AR 5h ago
Because of the enormous power of the United States military at Trump's disposal and because Trump is virtually a madman, this is an extremely dangerous and frightening situation. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if we stumble into World War III under Trump, it will be the world against the United States with Trump the target everyone will be focused on. And the U.S. cannot win a war against the rest of the world. So out will come the nuclear weapons. And then it will be the end of civilization as we know it. And "there ain't no Jesus gonna come from the sky" to set things right.
cljuniper denver 6h ago
Krugman brilliant as usual. Useful to go back to 1953 and the US-organized coup bringing down an elected Iranian prime minister in collusion with the Shah since he might be too left-wing for US tastes/preferences, and, as US Ambassador Loy Henderson described him, "so lacking in stability and clearly dominated by emotions and prejudices" (hmmm - who does that sound like?) to not be a sufficient "bulwark" against communism (see David Halberstam's book The Fifties). US involvement in regime changes, beginning with Iran, have been disasters, especially in the Middle East including Afghanistan. Yet somehow presidents who say they don't want to be doing that (e.g. W. and Trump) and want to reduce our involvement (Obama - but then supporting the Syrian rebels was a big US mistake destabilizing things) end up worsening our involvement and making a big mess of no-win situations. And as Krugman aptly points out - would we tolerate other nations doing these things to us? Isn't that the basic Christian and other religions' mantra for living a good life? As the 60s peace song goes: "When will they ever learn; when will they, ever learn?"
Matt VT 7h ago
"Why does Trump's international strategy, which might be described as winning through intimidation, keep failing? And why does he keep pursuing it anyway?" It's simple. Soft power strategies are much more effective in the contemporary international system than hard power strategies; hence the failure. Why does he keep pursuing it? When you lose soft power and the ability to form coalitions, the only thing left is hard power.
RjW Chicago 6h ago
"Trump the Intimidator Fails Again" Don't underestimate this guy. A normal person would resign. He will not. The senate refuses to save the country, our destiny must have been thus. Our time upon the stage will end. The American spirit will have expired. It's worth a fight to the bitter end so... Write, vote, advocate... do whatever you can to avert this seemingly unavoidable disaster. On Iran, we should drop the sanctions and apologize.
Notmypresident Los Altos 6h ago
I have always read Dr. Krugman's column with some degree of trust and respect. But this time I must take some exception to what he said. Such as "we weren't the kind of country that would betray an ally for the sake of short-term political convenience". Really? Let's not even talk about the Kurds. Ask the S Koreans after UN authorized the reunification of both N and S Korea. Ask the government of S Vietnam and that is beyond whether or not we had any business being there, not to mention the government (corrupt as it was) of Nationalist China. Also, let the people decide whether or not W's adventure into Iraq ended up being a betrayal - do we really have the right to march in the way we did and left the country in a total wreck? Then Afghanistan - aren't we preparing even as I typed this for yet another betrayal? As to Putin's Donny (certainly not we as Americans) slapping punitive tariffs on friendly nations like Canada for no good reason, maybe there is a good reason after all. Do we really know that is not what Putin wants? Reply 22 Recommend Share
Rafael Gonzalez Sanford, Florida 6h ago
On the surface all this criticism of the maniacal chief executive in charge of the federal government in Washington would appear to be harsh. But no, it's by far too tame. And one fact that always transcends all self-criticism seems to be the critical "but" included when comparing our criminal actions across the globe in order to advance the so-called "national interest" with other nations' doings. Never mind that from its very inception this country has always guided itself by its favorite mantra of "manifest destiny" to physically demolish others in its way toward pursuing openly imperialistic and bloody goals. Enough said already.
Ed Marth St Charles 6h ago
We see what Edmund Burke called unbounded power with undefined purpose. It is policy which is as feeble as it is violent. The experts who offer presidents choices in actions always list least to best, in defining potential success to match policy objectives to most strident with unknown results. Trump chose the most strident with the most unknown result as if he can bully equally strong-minded people who also talk to god as he talks to himself. Equally bad combinations on each side. If, and it is still a big IF, given Trump's long held belief that experts are not to be believed, that taking out the top commander would be a shot to cower the unhappy masses in Iran, it served instead to unify them in the time honored way of starting wars to unify at home. That might have been Trump's real objective here given all the deserved impeachment activity, but it also served to unify the people smart policy would have worked to divide. The plumb line drops straight from the decision to walk away from the nuclear treaty all be cause Obama negotiated it with international expertise and support. Now, the dogs of war are being unleashed all for pet peeves. Reply 22 Recommend Share
Rima Regas Southern California 5h ago
The way to look at what Trump does isn't to measure by what we would deem proper and appropriate but, rather, how it personally benefits him and is perceived by his base. Has his order to assassinate a foreign military leader increased or decreased his popularity with Republicans? Does his base even care that we have an entire intelligence apparatus that is supposed to advise a president and that a functioning NSA would have done all it could to discourage him? The same goes for his generals. They carried out his order. Has anyone quit since the order was carried out? Has James Mattis come out in public and told the public how Trump makes his decisions? No. We need to stop applying our logic and our values to score what Trump does and, instead, analyze what is behind what he does. Who is benefitting the most from Trump's foreign and military policy? Who is benefitting from frayed relations with NATO? In whose hands (seen or unseen) will Syria and Iraq be? If we do end up leaving Iraq, will we do so with matters settled and in order for us and for the people of Iraq whom we've let down? Does Trump care? Trump is repaying his debt to Putin while scoring points for more electoral help and turning our attention away from his impeachment. When's the last time he's tweeted about that. The departments of State and Defense will do as ordered. If Trump thinks there are votes in vaporizing Persepolis, the military will carry out his orders no matter what Esper says. Reply 22 Recommend Share
Peter Vander Arend Pasadena, CA 5h ago
In retrospect, it's truly sad a young Donald Trump didn't get the stuffing beat out of him as kid in elementary school or at the NY Military Academy. And that made me think of all those supporters who relish the behavior of narcissist megalomaniac who has demonstrated absolutely NO capacity to do the most important job in the nation, and world. The thug Donald Trump as a youngster has morphed into the adult monster who is about to create chaos on an international scale. If Republicans refuse to act because they cower from Trump's (empty) threats, it's conceivable the world will unite and act against a delusional Imperial Monarch. The American public doesn't have to wait for either option - imagine the consequences of massive peaceful protests which shutdown Washington DC and major metropolitan areas. If Americans can demonstrate their outrage and anger PLUS demand action by their elected officials in the House and Senate, all of this madness will be over shortly. Truly, "We the People" have had enough. Reply 21 Recommend Share
asian observer Narberth, PA 5h ago
Nothing else needed to be added: "From his first days in office, Trump has acted on the apparent belief that he could easily intimidate foreign governments -- that they would quickly fold and allow themselves to be humiliated. That is, he imagined that he faced a world of LINDSEY GRAHAMS, willing to abandon all dignity at the first hint of a challenge."...Touché
Casual Observer Los Angeles 2h ago
The worst may be yet to come. Countries that consider Iran a a troublemaker and even an adversary who rely upon affordable mid-East oil are unwilling to just watch the flow stop due to conflict. Remember how quiet were the Saudis when their oil processing facilities were attacked by Iranian proxies? Striking back would shut down oil exports for a long time. The big European states are not supporting what we did and are attempting to convince Iran to avoid going to war or setting loose it's proxies. The world is no longer relying upon the U.S. for peace and leadership. Rather the world is trying to find a way to achieve a safe distance from us. The U.S. is becoming the most powerful and wealthy country that nobody trusts, anymore.

[Jan 08, 2020] Impeachment as a way out for the USa for create Trump Soliemani muder deadlock with Iran

Jan 08, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

Hineni47 NYC area 6h ago

"Unlike with North Korea, it's difficult to imagine any photo op or exchange of love letters defusing the crisis the president has created. " The only thing that might defuse this crisis would be the Senate convicting Trump and removing him from office. It would be a good idea if the House passes another article of impeachment accusing the president of committing an act of war without Congressional authorization.
Sirlar Jersey City 3h ago Times Pick
Threatening to destroy cultural sites of a country is the sign of a deranged madman. I can't believe a US president would dare say something like that. It goes against all the principles America stands for. Nothing will motivate the people of Iran to fight the US more than the threat of destruction to their cultural sites. If we go to war with Iran, this is a Republican war. They own it. When are decent Republicans going to stand up and do the right thing? If they don't, this could be very, very, bad.
PatMurphy77 Michigan 5h ago
The Defense department is already walking back Trump's tweet about bombing Iran culture sites. Unfortunately, it's too late because the damage to our reputation as the "shining light on the hill" has already been destroyed. I'm afraid more than now than I have ever been in my life. Who knows when or where the revenge will occur but I'm fairly certain it will happen and we'll be more isolated than ever before. It's taken centuries to build goodwill and our reputation as a beacon of democracy for the world. We gave the keys to the kingdom to a false prophet and we'll pay for his indiscretions for the rest of my lifetime. God help us all.
stan continople brooklyn 3h ago Times Pick
You've sure got it right with "rapture-mad", and the most frightening thing is that the religious zealotry of Pompeo, Pence, Mulvaney and Barr, inoculates them against any criticism, because they believe they are serving a "higher"power and any criticism is a testimony to their faith. In fact, by turning themselves into martyrs, they get to advance in line for the Rapture. It seems particularly ironic that Evangelicals who support Israel do so because they see God's plan unfolding there. The Jews, just happen to be sacrificial lambs in the grand scheme. so they must must be preserved until the time is ripe for their rightful annihilation, heralding the Second Coming. So, the problem of Pompeo, et al, is not Iran destroying Israel, it's just that they've determined the timing is off.
Eric Ashland 4h ago Times Pick
As for the "wag the dog" theory, sure, Trump sees no difference between his personal fortunes and national interests. But worse, the impeachment rests upon evidence that points to a personal criminality on an international scale, which is the landscape where we find ourselves. The president pardons convicts like Gallagher and Arpaio because they are cruel or bloodthirsty. He admires dictators and ignores the law whenever he can, both as a private individual and a president, and has obstructed a legal investigation into his corruption. Now, on the international stage, by bypassing Congress, he is ignoring the sovereignty of the American people, while incoherently threatening war crimes. Trump is fully blossoming into a man like those he admires, an unrestrained, unprincipled, heavy hitting international tyrant. I'm so disgusted with those whose job it is to check this man, and have abdicated their responsibility, because they want to be like him. Reply 230 Recommend Share
Aaron San Francisco 4h ago Times Pick
I was at a friend's house on election night ready to celebrate Clinton's victory. When the networks suddenly announced that Trump had won Florida, a professor of international relations who was with us ominously predicted, "we are going to war with Iran." And here we are.
PT Melbourne, FL 4h ago Times Pick
America has become a living nightmare. A global power perceived mostly as benevolent by the world is now a danger to all, including itself. Already having killed the Paris Agreement, and Iran Nuclear Treaty, not to mention walking away from a nuclear arms treaty with the Russians, Trump is now ready to wreak real havoc on the world - start a war. Boy will they forget about impeachment now!
Jonathan Baron Staunton, Virginia 5h ago
We haven't authorized the assassination of a military leader since the daring mission to kill Japanese Admiral Yamamoto in 1943. Although he'd been the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, and we were at war with Japan, this was a departure so significant that it only proceeded after lengthy deliberation. And now, this. Your article fills in precisely how this was so very much not that. But one party is in so cult-deep into this president now that the lies won't stop. Thousands of Iranian have lost their lives in the past month trying to rid themselves of this regime. Not only were those deaths rendered in vain by the assassination of Suleimani, but the Iranian people are also even more yoked to a government they hate. And wasn't the idea of grassroots-driven change in regime a core strategy behind pulling out of the nuclear deal? And it's not okay because Suleimani is "evil." That's both subjective and never a justification for an assassination of a foreign military leader of a nation we're not at war with. As I noted, it was questionable when it was a military leader of nation we were at war with. But, most important, what did we gain from this? Following yet another disasterous military and foreign policy snap decision it only makes the importance of removing Trump from office more urgent. Come for the Constitutional crime but convict because the defendant is also manifestly unfit for the office. People are dying because of it and more will die if he stays. Reply 186 Recommend Share
Joe Portland, ME 3h ago Times Pick
What, then, for an effective response? Outrage is mere fuel: what is the engine? A full year seems too long. The Senate seems hopeless. What does that leave? Must we take to the streets to stop this disaster of a president? All this time spent wondering how this will end makes me feel like a victim of domestic abuse. What a waste. 1 Reply 180 Recommend Share
AnitaSmith New Jersey 4h ago Times Pick
The near silence of the countries frequently referred to as our allies -- before the age of Trump -- is deafening.

[Jan 08, 2020] The Nightmare Stage of Trump's Rule Is Here by Michelle Goldberg Michelle Goldberg

Jan 08, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

After three harrowing years, we've reached the point many of us feared from the moment Donald Trump was elected. His decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's second most important official, made at Mar-a-Lago with little discernible deliberation , has brought the United States to the brink of a devastating new conflict in the Middle East.

We don't yet know how Iran will retaliate, or whether all-out war will be averted. But already, NATO has suspended its mission training Iraqi forces to fight ISIS . Iraq's Parliament has voted to expel American troops -- a longtime Iranian objective. (On Monday, U.S. forces sent a letter saying they were withdrawing from Iraq in response, only to then claim that it was a draft released in error .) On Sunday, Iran said it will no longer be bound by the remaining restrictions on its nuclear program in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal that Trump abandoned in 2018. Trump has been threatening to commit war crimes by destroying Iran's cultural sites and tried to use Twitter to notify Congress of his intention to respond to any Iranian reprisals with military escalation.

The administration has said that the killing of Suleimani was justified by an imminent threat to American lives, but there is no reason to believe this. One skeptical American official told The New York Times that the new intelligence indicated nothing but "a normal Monday in the Middle East," and Democrats briefed on it were unconvinced by the administration's case. The Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- who last year agreed with a Christian Broadcasting Network interviewer that God might have sent Trump to save Israel from the "Iranian menace" -- has been pushing for a hit on Suleimani for months.

Rather than self-defense, the Suleimani killing seems like the dreadful result of several intersecting dynamics. There's the influence of rapture-mad Iran hawks like Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence. Defense officials who might have stood up to Trump have all left the administration. According to Peter Bergen's book "Trump and His Generals," James Mattis, Trump's former secretary of defense, instructed his subordinates not to provide the president with options for a military showdown with Iran. But with Mattis gone, military officials, The Times reported, presented Trump with the possibility of killing Suleimani as the "most extreme" option on a menu of choices, and were "flabbergasted" when he picked it.

Trump likely had mixed motives. He was reportedly upset over TV images of militia supporters storming the American Embassy in Iraq. According to The Post, he also was frustrated by "negative coverage" of his decision last year to order and then call off strikes on Iran.

Beyond that, Trump, now impeached and facing trial in the Senate, has laid out his rationale over years of tweets. The president is a master of projection, and his accusations against others are a decent guide to how he himself will behave . He told us, over and over again , that he believed Barack Obama would start a war with Iran to "save face" and because his "poll numbers are in a tailspin" and he needed to "get re-elected." To Trump, a wag-the-dog war with Iran evidently seemed like a natural move for a president in trouble.

... ... ...

Even if Iran were to somehow decide not to strike back at the United States, it's still ramping up its nuclear program, and Trump has obliterated the possibility of a return to negotiations. "His maximum pressure policy has failed," Nasr said of Trump. "He has only produced a more dangerous Iran."

... ... ... Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women's rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn

[Jan 08, 2020] Three major Trump accomplishments

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bubbles , Jan 8 2020 16:29 utc | 103

arby @90

Trump has accomplished 3 things in 3 years.

1. Being Santa Claus to Netanyahu, the far right and the very rich (Generous donors)
2. Doing the impossible, making Hillary look like the better of 2 terrible choices
3. Proving 42% of the American public aren't too swift.


[Jan 08, 2020] Trump established Guinness record in US Present lawless, petty, childish, infantile, imbecile behaviour

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bjd , Jan 7 2020 1:28 utc | 153

Zarif is blocked from addressing the UN Security Council .
The level of lawless, petty, childish, infantile, imbecile behaviour is breathtaking.

[Jan 08, 2020] The former reality-TV star has long been ignorant of world history and current events. During a 2015 interview, then-candidate Trump did not even know who Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was.

Jan 08, 2020 | www.msn.com

...The former reality-TV star has long been ignorant of world history and current events. During a 2015 interview , then-candidate Trump did not even know who Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was. After prompting, Trump mistakenly identified the Iranian general as a Kurdish commander. Once Trump's ignorance was revealed, the frustrated candidate weakly attacked the interviewer for "throwing around names of people and where they live."

The danger posed by that ignorance is matched daily by the crises created by Trump's own erraticism. His performance as commander in chief has been shaped by a collection of scattered grievances, emotional impulses and random tweets. As the Financial Times's Philip Stephens has said of Trump's foreign policy, "Looking for a framework is like searching for symmetrical patterns in a bowl of spaghetti."

This is, after all, a president who spent last summer withholding military aid from a besieged democratic ally while pressuring its leaders to investigate a political opponent. Then, stepping in front of a bank of White House cameras , he asked the same of China. Trump also declared himself " The Chosen One " while embracing the title of "King of Israel," ordered American companies to leave China , manipulated U.S. markets by lying about phone calls with leaders of that same country and canceled bilateral meetings with a NATO leader because she refused to sell Greenland.

Trump's increasingly erratic behavior received much attention at the time, with the Associated Press's Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller noting in July that the United States' foreign policy had become unmoored after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and others were driven from the administration. Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of the Atlantic, followed with an article appropriately titled " He's Getting Worse ," in which he glumly noted that "there is no reason to hope that he will reform. His followers reward his radicalism and his handlers are among the most cynical figures in American political history."

We now find ourselves living through a time when those same administration officials are providing reckless counsel to an ignorant and erratic president. Though he shares MacArthur's sense of infallibility, Trump spends most of his waking hours showing the world just how fallible he is. Critics have long warned of a time when this fatally flawed man would be forced to confront an international crisis.

That time has arrived and it is a crisis of Trump's own making.

Soleimani was a malevolent force on the world stage. But so, too, is Kim Jong Un. Will the North Korean dictator be next on the president's kill list? What of Syria's Bashar al-Assad? He is responsible for more deaths than any Arab leader since Saddam Hussein . And what stabilizing impact did the Iraqi tyrant's death have on the region?

Contrary to the vows of candidate Trump, it is likely that the killing of Soleimani will now only deepen U.S. involvement in a region that has already claimed too many American lives. With Russia firmly ensconced in Syria, Iraqi discontent on the rise and Iran's nuclear program restarted, expect more Americans to die across the Middle East in the coming years. With his audacious attack, Trump has further isolated the United States from its allies, provided a lifeline to Iran's terrorist regime and broken yet another of his campaign promises.

Inchon this is not.

joe.washpost@gmail.com

Read more from Joe Scarborough's archive , follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .

[Jan 07, 2020] a popular figure

Notable quotes:
"... Naturally, we learned soon after from the Iraqi PM himself that Soleimani was in Iraq as part of a diplomatic effort to de-escalate tensions. In other words, he was apparently lured to Baghdad under false pretenses so he'd be a sitting duck for a U.S. strike. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. ..."
"... As you'd expect, some of the most ridiculous propaganda came from Mike Pompeo, a man who genuinely loves deception and considers it his craft.. For example: ..."
"... Moving on to the really big question: what does this assassination mean for the future role of the U.S. in the Middle East and American global hegemony generally? A few important things have already occurred. For starters, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for U.S. troops to leave. Even more important are the comments and actions of Muqtada al-Sadr. ..."
"... Unmentioned in the above tweet, but extremely significant, is the fact al-Sadr has been a vocal critic of both the American and Iranian presence in Iraq. He doesn't want either country meddling in the affairs of Iraqis, but the Soleimani assassination clearly pushed him to focus on the U.S. presence. This is a very big deal and ensures Iraq will be far more dangerous for U.S. troops than it already was. ..."
Jan 07, 2020 | twitter.com

Before discussing what happens next and the big picture implications, it's worth pointing out the incredible number of blatant lies and overall clownishness that emerged from U.S. officials in the assassination's aftermath. It started with claims from Trump that Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on Americans and was caught in the act. Mass media did its job and uncritically parroted this line, which was quickly exposed as a complete falsehood.

CNN anchor uncritically repeating government lies.
This is what mass media does to get wars going. https://t.co/QK1JET7TIj

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 6, 2020

It's incredibly telling that CNN would swallow this fact-free claim with total credulity within weeks of discovering the extent of the lies told about Syrian chemical attacks and the Afghanistan war . Meanwhile, when a reporter asked a state department official for some clarification on what sorts of attacks were imminent, this is what transpired.

When asked by a reporter for details about what kinds of imminent attacks Soleimani was planning, the State Dept. responds with:

"Jesus, do we have to explain why we do these things?"

Totally normal. pic.twitter.com/FDWtpfItEp

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 6, 2020

Naturally, we learned soon after from the Iraqi PM himself that Soleimani was in Iraq as part of a diplomatic effort to de-escalate tensions. In other words, he was apparently lured to Baghdad under false pretenses so he'd be a sitting duck for a U.S. strike. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Iraqi Prime Minister AbdulMahdi accuses Trump of deceiving him in order to assassinate Suleimani. Trump, according to P.M. lied about wanting a diplomatic solution in order to get Suleimani on a plane to Baghdad in the open, where he was summarily executed. https://t.co/HKjyQqXNqP

-- Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) January 5, 2020

As you'd expect, some of the most ridiculous propaganda came from Mike Pompeo, a man who genuinely loves deception and considers it his craft.. For example:

Pompeo on CNN says US has "every expectation" that people "in Iran will view the American action last night as giving them freedom."

-- Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) January 3, 2020

Then there's what actually happened.

Absolutely massive crowds on the streets of Mashhad awaiting the arrival of Qassem Suleimani.

"We are ready for war." pic.twitter.com/ZK4O8KQB17

-- Sam (@sonofnariman) January 5, 2020

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani's daughter Zeinab were among the hundreds of thousands mourning Soleimani in Tehran today. Iranian state TV put the crowd size at 'millions,' though that number could not be verified. https://t.co/R6EbKh6Gow

-- CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) January 6, 2020

Moving on to the really big question: what does this assassination mean for the future role of the U.S. in the Middle East and American global hegemony generally? A few important things have already occurred. For starters, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for U.S. troops to leave. Even more important are the comments and actions of Muqtada al-Sadr.

WOW,

Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr orders the return of "Mahdi Army" in response the American strike that killed Suleimani.

Mahdi Army fought against the US troops during the invasion in 2003. Sadr disbanded the group in 2008.

-- Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) January 3, 2020

Unmentioned in the above tweet, but extremely significant, is the fact al-Sadr has been a vocal critic of both the American and Iranian presence in Iraq. He doesn't want either country meddling in the affairs of Iraqis, but the Soleimani assassination clearly pushed him to focus on the U.S. presence. This is a very big deal and ensures Iraq will be far more dangerous for U.S. troops than it already was.

Going forward, Iran's response will be influenced to a great degree by what's already transpired. There are three things worth noting. First, although many Trump supporters are cheering the assassination, Americans are certainly nowhere near united on this , with many including myself viewing it as a gigantic strategic blunder. Second, it ratcheted up anti-American sentiment in Iraq to a huge degree without Iran having to do anything, as highlighted above. Third, hardliners within Iran have been given an enormous gift. With one drone strike, the situation went from grumblings and protests on the ground to a scene where any sort of dissent in the air has been extinguished for the time being.

Exactly right, which is why Iran will go more hardline if anything and more united.
If China admitted to taking out Trump even Maddow wouldn't cheer. https://t.co/zqaEDIoWH1

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) January 6, 2020

Iranian leadership will see these developments as important victories in their own right and will likely craft a response taking stock of this much improved position. This means a total focus on making the experience of American troops in the region untenable, which will be far easier to achieve now.

If that's right, you can expect less shock and awe in the near-term, and more consolidation of the various parties that were on the fence but have since shifted to a more anti-American stance following Soleimani's death. Iran will start with the easy pickings, which consists of consolidating its stronger position in Iraq and making dissidents feel shameful at home. That said, Iran will have to publicly respond with some sort of a counterattack, but that event will be carefully considered with Iran's primary objective in mind -- getting U.S. troops out of the region.

This means no attacks on U.S. or European soil, and no attacks targeting civilians either. Such a move would be as strategically counterproductive as Assad gassing Syrian cities after he was winning the war (which is why many of us doubted the narrative) since it would merely inflame American public opinion and give an excuse to attack Iran in Iran. There is no way Iranian leadership is that stupid, so any such attack must be treated with the utmost skepticism.

[Jan 07, 2020] The neocon foreign policy brings only bankruptcy moral and financial by Ron Paul

Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told us the US had to assassinate Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani last week because he was planning "Imminent attacks" on US citizens. I don't believe them.

Why not? Because Trump and the neocons – like Pompeo – have been lying about Iran for the past three years in an effort to whip up enough support for a US attack. From the phony justification to get out of the Iran nuclear deal, to blaming Yemen on Iran, to blaming Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities, the US Administration has fed us a steady stream of lies for three years because they are obsessed with Iran.

And before Trump's obsession with attacking Iran, the past four US Administrations lied ceaselessly to bring about wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Serbia, Somalia, and the list goes on.

At some point, when we've been lied to constantly and consistently for decades about a "threat" that we must "take out" with a military attack, there comes a time where we must assume they are lying until they provide rock solid, irrefutable proof. Thus far they have provided nothing. So I don't believe them.

President Trump has warned that his administration has already targeted 52 sites important to Iran and Iranian culture and the US will attack them if Iran retaliates for the assassination of Gen. Soleimani. Because Iran has no capacity to attack the United States, Iran's retaliation if it comes will likely come against US troops or US government officials stationed or visiting the Middle East. I have a very easy solution for President Trump that will save the lives of American servicemembers and other US officials: just come home. There is absolutely no reason for US troops to be stationed throughout the Middle East to face increased risk of death for nothing.

In our Ron Paul Liberty Report program last week we observed that the US attack on a senior Iranian military officer on Iraqi soil – over the objection of the Iraq government – would serve to finally unite the Iraqi factions against the United States. And so it has: on Sunday the Iraqi parliament voted to expel US troops from Iraqi soil. It may have been a non-binding resolution, but there is no mistaking the sentiment. US troops are not wanted and they are increasingly in danger. So why not listen to the Iraqi parliament?

Bring our troops home, close the US Embassy in Baghdad – a symbol of our aggression – and let the people of the Middle East solve their own problems. Maintain a strong defense to protect the United States, but end this neocon pipe-dream of ruling the world from the barrel of a gun. It does not work. It makes us poorer and more vulnerable to attack. It makes the elites of Washington rich while leaving working and middle class America with the bill. It engenders hatred and a desire for revenge among those who have fallen victim to US interventionist foreign policy. And it results in millions of innocents being killed overseas.

There is no benefit to the United States to trying to run the world. Such a foreign policy brings only bankruptcy – moral and financial. Tell Congress and the Administration that for America's sake we demand the return of US troops from the Middle East! (Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)

[Jan 07, 2020] Impeachment as a way out for the USa for create Trump Soliemani muder deadlock with Iran

Jan 07, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

Hineni47 NYC area 6h ago

"Unlike with North Korea, it's difficult to imagine any photo op or exchange of love letters defusing the crisis the president has created. " The only thing that might defuse this crisis would be the Senate convicting Trump and removing him from office. It would be a good idea if the House passes another article of impeachment accusing the president of committing an act of war without Congressional authorization.
Sirlar Jersey City 3h ago Times Pick
Threatening to destroy cultural sites of a country is the sign of a deranged madman. I can't believe a US president would dare say something like that. It goes against all the principles America stands for. Nothing will motivate the people of Iran to fight the US more than the threat of destruction to their cultural sites. If we go to war with Iran, this is a Republican war. They own it. When are decent Republicans going to stand up and do the right thing? If they don't, this could be very, very, bad.
PatMurphy77 Michigan 5h ago
The Defense department is already walking back Trump's tweet about bombing Iran culture sites. Unfortunately, it's too late because the damage to our reputation as the "shining light on the hill" has already been destroyed. I'm afraid more than now than I have ever been in my life. Who knows when or where the revenge will occur but I'm fairly certain it will happen and we'll be more isolated than ever before. It's taken centuries to build goodwill and our reputation as a beacon of democracy for the world. We gave the keys to the kingdom to a false prophet and we'll pay for his indiscretions for the rest of my lifetime. God help us all.

[Jan 07, 2020] The Nightmare Stage of Trump's Rule Is Here by Michelle Goldberg Michelle Goldberg

Jan 07, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

After three harrowing years, we've reached the point many of us feared from the moment Donald Trump was elected. His decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's second most important official, made at Mar-a-Lago with little discernible deliberation , has brought the United States to the brink of a devastating new conflict in the Middle East.

We don't yet know how Iran will retaliate, or whether all-out war will be averted. But already, NATO has suspended its mission training Iraqi forces to fight ISIS . Iraq's Parliament has voted to expel American troops -- a longtime Iranian objective. (On Monday, U.S. forces sent a letter saying they were withdrawing from Iraq in response, only to then claim that it was a draft released in error .) On Sunday, Iran said it will no longer be bound by the remaining restrictions on its nuclear program in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal that Trump abandoned in 2018. Trump has been threatening to commit war crimes by destroying Iran's cultural sites and tried to use Twitter to notify Congress of his intention to respond to any Iranian reprisals with military escalation.

The administration has said that the killing of Suleimani was justified by an imminent threat to American lives, but there is no reason to believe this. One skeptical American official told The New York Times that the new intelligence indicated nothing but "a normal Monday in the Middle East," and Democrats briefed on it were unconvinced by the administration's case. The Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- who last year agreed with a Christian Broadcasting Network interviewer that God might have sent Trump to save Israel from the "Iranian menace" -- has been pushing for a hit on Suleimani for months.

[Jan 07, 2020] Trump the Intimidator Fails Again by Paul Krugman

Jan 07, 2020 | www.nytimes.com


Trump the Intimidator Fails Again

Because he's just a bully with delusions of grandeur.

International crises often lead, at least initially, to surging support for a country's leadership. And that's clearly happening now. Just weeks ago the nation's leader faced public discontent so intense that his grip on power seemed at risk. Now the assassination of Qassim Suleimani has transformed the situation, generating a wave of patriotism that has greatly bolstered the people in charge.

Unfortunately, this patriotic rallying around the flag is happening not in America, where many are (with good reason) deeply suspicious of Donald Trump's motives, but in Iran .

In other words, Trump's latest attempt to bully another country has backfired -- just like all his previous attempts.

From his first days in office, Trump has acted on the apparent belief that he could easily intimidate foreign governments -- that they would quickly fold and allow themselves to be humiliated. That is, he imagined that he faced a world of Lindsey Grahams, willing to abandon all dignity at the first hint of a challenge.

But this strategy keeps failing; the regimes he threatens are strengthened rather than weakened, and Trump is the one who ends up making humiliating concessions. Paul Krugman's Newsletter Get a better understanding of the economy -- and an even deeper look at what's on Paul's mind. Sign up here.

Remember, for example, when Trump promised " fire and fury " unless North Korea halted its nuclear weapons program? He claimed triumph after a 2018 summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader. But Kim made no real concessions, and North Korea recently announced that it might resume tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Or consider the trade war with China, which was supposed to bring the Chinese to their knees. A deal has supposedly been reached, although details remain scarce; what's clear is that it falls far short of U.S. aims, and that Chinese officials are jubilant about their success in facing Trump down.

Why does Trump's international strategy, which might be described as winning through intimidation, keep failing? And why does he keep pursuing it anyway?

One answer, I suspect, is that like all too many Americans, Trump has a hard time grasping the fact that other countries are real -- that is, that we're not the only country whose citizens would rather pay a heavy price, in money and even in blood, than make what they see as humiliating concessions.

Ask yourself, how would Americans have reacted if a foreign power had assassinated Dick Cheney, claiming that he had the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on his hands? Don't answer that Suleimani was worse. That's beside the point. The point is that we don't accept the right of foreign governments to kill our officials. Why imagine that other countries are different?

Of course, we have many people in the diplomatic corps with a deep knowledge of other nations and their motivations, who understand the limits of intimidation. But anyone with that kind of understanding has been excluded from Trump's inner circle.

Now, it's true that for many years America did have a special leadership position, one that sometimes involved playing a role in reshaping other countries' political systems. But here's where Trump's second error comes in: He has never shown any sign of understanding why America used to be special.

Part of the explanation, of course, was raw economic and military power: America used to be just much bigger than everyone else. That is, however, no longer true. For example, by some key measures China's economy is significantly bigger than that of the United States.

Even more important, however, was the fact that America was something more than a big country throwing its weight around. We always stood for something larger.

That doesn't mean that we were always a force for good; America did many terrible things during its reign as global hegemon. But we clearly stood for global rule of law, for a system that imposed common rules on everyone, ourselves included. The United States may have been the dominant partner in alliances like NATO and bodies like the World Trade Organization, but we always tried to behave as no more than first among equals. Editors' Picks Headless Body in Cave Is Identified as 1916 Ax Murder Suspect Adam Driver Has Put Everything He's Got Onscreen Office Treats Bring Out the Worst of Humanity Advertisement Continue reading the main story

Oh, and because we were committed to enforcing rules, we were also relatively trustworthy; an alliance with America was meaningful, because we weren't the kind of country that would betray an ally for the sake of short-term political convenience.

Trump, however, has turned his back on everything that used to make America great. Under his leadership, we've become nothing more than a big, self-interested bully -- a bully with delusions of grandeur, who isn't nearly as tough as he thinks. We abruptly abandon allies like the Kurds; we honor war criminals ; we slap punitive tariffs on friendly nations like Canada for no good reason. And, of course, after more than 15,000 lies , nothing our leader and his minions say can be trusted.

Trump officials seem taken aback by the uniformly negative consequences of the Suleimani killing: The Iranian regime is empowered, Iraq has turned hostile and nobody has stepped up in our support. But that's what happens when you betray all your friends and squander all your credibility.

[Jan 07, 2020] Trump is the kind of child leader that will throw temper tantrums in front of the world. Id impulses are running the world here and when id impulses run the world from the White House we are certain that whatever manifests will be destructive beyond imagination for most adults in the world.

Jan 07, 2020 | off-guardian.org

MASTER OF UNIVE American corporations will start falling into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Q1 if the USA MIC cannot find new contracts to profit from via kinetic war. The USA's last war was Iraq post-911 and the USA MIC made good money & profit from that war. Without forever wars the USA Ponzi Corporatocracy will deflate. If the USA Ponzi Corporatocracy deflates due to recession it means the end of USA Imperialism.
If the hawks can generate forever wars the MIC suppliers may have a chance to stay in business, but if they don't get new contracts for new forever wars they all know implicitly that that is a Zero Sum game for the entire USA population.

BIG Chief Trump little penis has only one chance to stay in power at this juncture. He has ordered troupes to Iraq and approximately 2000 marines are on the way right now. In brief, 2000 marines were not ordered to Iraq to escort the base troupes out of Iraq safely. They were sent on a mission.

Impeachment, DOW Share Price, and no Trade Deal with China will put Trump on the defensive and he will start threatening everyone in the world if he does not get his way.

Trump is the kind of child leader that will throw temper tantrums in front of the world. Temper tantrums worked with his parents, and the Real Estate community in New York shitty.

Trump is a child of roughly 6 or 7 mentally & socially. Id impulses are running the world here and when id impulses run the world from the White House we are certain that whatever manifests will be destructive beyond imagination for most adults in the world.

Children with anger management issues & rage issues will understand Trump best.

[Jan 06, 2020] Trump as a destoryer of the US empire: Unless the USA reinvades and reoccupies Iraq, the USA military forces will be gone from Syria, probably just after the election in November so Trump can say he stood up to the Iraqis

Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ghost Ship , Jan 6 2020 22:48 utc | 112

The three most important things for doing battle are logistics, logistics and logistics, and as Pat lang explains, the US forces in Syria are essentially fucked:
We have around 5,500 people there now spread across the country in little groups engaged in logistics, intelligence and training missions. They are extremely vulnerable. There are something like 150 marines in the embassy. There are also a small number of US combat forces in Syria east and north of the Euphrates river. These include a battalion of US Army National Guard mechanized troops "guarding" Syria's oil from Syria's own army and whatever devilment the Iranians might be able to arrange.

4. This is an untenable logistical situation. Supply and other functions require a major airfield close to Baghdad. We have Balad airbase and helicopter supply and air support from there into Baghdad is possible from there but may become hazardous. Iraq is a big country. It is a long and lonely drive from Kuwait for re-supply from there or evacuation through there. The same thing is true of the desert route to Jordan.

Unless it reinvades and reoccupies, the United States will be gone from Syria, probably just after the election in November so Trump can say he stood up to the Iraqis.

[Jan 06, 2020] Is Trump that stupid and malleble?

Jan 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

lgfocus , Jan 6 2020 19:40 utc | 11

Moqtada Al-Sadr to Trump
"We are demanders of peace if you surrender and war if you fight. Do you threaten us? How dare you"

read from Elijah Magnier's thread on Al-Sadr's letter.


Zanon , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 7

Trump is probably not stupid enough to launch such a war and certainly not during an election year.

During his campaign Trump said he wanted the U.S. military out of the Middle East. Iran and its allies will help him to keep that promise.

Hasnt Trump proved he is stupid enough by now? How much more evidence is needed to drop him? Trump start wars to get another election win, I think that is obvious? And allies keeping him back? Which allieshave even remotely criticized his threats and murder? People need to realize that there is nothing stopping Trump, he and Israel will keep bombing and unfortunately its not much Iran could do.

Clueless Joe , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 8
Dan: The guy fought the Talibans and ISIS, and has always been opposed to them; that's good enough for me, and that's definitely more than any of the coward and treacherous Western leaders that pussy-foot instead of calling out the US for what tantamounts to a declaration of war on both Iraq and Iran.

As for trying to put the blame on Pentagon staffers, even if they chose such weird options for Trump to choose, at the end of the day, it's the President himself who chose - as another one said decades ago, "the buck stops here" and the guy in the Oval Office has to bear the full responsibility.

Col. Lang is once again warning that Trump trying to keep the troops in Iraq would be a terrible mistake with bad consequences, and that it's just not realistic. He probably prefers not to say it that way when stating it's a long road from Kuwait to Baghdad, but if shit hits the fan and Iraqis decide to go after the US troops, then those who can't evacuate fast enough will end up in a position similar to that of the British in Kabul, in the very first days of 1842.

Phryne's frock , Jan 6 2020 19:37 utc | 9
Aghast at your words, dan. I am an aging homemaker from usa midwest and I have yet to stop weeping for Qassem Soleimani, his poor widow, and the rest of his family. I feel I owe him a personal debt for fighting zionists/terrorists/imperialists, for if they are not defeated once and for all, my captive government will continue in perpetuity to serve their horridmurderousthieving agenda, enslaving my every descendent and robbing humanity of any chance for peace on this pretty garden harbor planet. May justice be done to give peace a chance.

[Jan 06, 2020] Pompeo's Petty Decision to Bar Zarif

Jan 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Pompeo's Petty Decision to Bar Zarif European External Action Service/Flickr

January 6, 2020

|

8:43 pm

Daniel Larison Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report on the Trump administration's decision to refuse a visa to Iran's foreign minister. Barring Zarif from the U.S. is a blatant violation of U.S. obligations as the host of U.N. headquarters:

"Any foreign minister is entitled to address the Security Council at any time and the United States is obligated to provide access to the U.N. headquarters district," said Larry Johnson, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general. Under the terms of the U.S. agreement with the United Nations, "they are absolutely obligated to let him in."

Johnson, who currently serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School, noted that the U.S. Congress, however, passed legislation in August 1947, the so-called Public Law 80-357, that granted the U.S. government the authority to bar foreign individuals invited by the United Nations to attend meetings at its New York City headquarters if they are deemed to pose a threat to U.S. national security. But Johnson said the U.S. law would require the individual be "expected to commit some act against the U.S. national security interest while here in the United States."

Refusing to admit Zarif is another foolish mistake on the administration's part. Preventing him from coming to the U.N. not only breaches our government's agreement with the U.N., but it also closes off a possible channel of communication and demonstrates to the world that the U.S. has no interest in a diplomatic resolution of the current crisis. Far from conveying the "toughness" that Pompeo imagines he is showing, keeping Zarif out reeks of weakness and insecurity. Zarif is a capable diplomat, but is the Trump administration really so afraid of what he would say while he is here that they would ignore U.S. obligations to block him?

By barring Zarif, the Trump administration has given him and his government another opportunity to score an easy propaganda win. They have squandered an opportunity to reduce tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. needs to find an off-ramp to avoid further conflict following the president's assassination order, but thanks to Pompeo's decision that off-ramp won't be found in New York.

[Jan 04, 2020] Trump is a bully and a tool, Isreal lobby tool. He has no vision for the future other than Eretz Yisrael , the failed free market, deregulation, and small government Koch Brothers claptrap preached by the extreme right since Calvin Coolidge.

Jan 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jadan , Jan 4 2020 23:48 utc | 112

@ Hal Duell 23
"But can we please stop underestimating him? He has straddled the world for four years now. His only peers are Putin and Xi."

"Straddled the world", you say? Beshitting the world with toxic narcissism is the truth. Trump is using US power to advance his own brand, his cult of personality and pursuit of emoluments. World leaders cringe when he is among them. He has intensified conflict with Iran by refusing to honor a hard won treaty that promised to stabilize relations in the region, just as he has rebuked nuclear arms agreements with Russia, and created unnecessary conflict with China. This unilateral scofflaw approach to international relations is extremely dangerous. Trump is a bully and a fool. When he claims the fat North Korean dictator "likes him", he broadcasts what a dope he really is. He has no vision for the future other than the failed free market, small government Koch Brothers claptrap preached by the extreme right since Calvin Coolidge.

And you admire this man and think he measures up to a Xi or Putin? Trump is a coward and a bully and his supporters confuse his mindless aggression with strength as they pretend he's playing 3 or 4 dimensional chess when what he's really doing is playing them for the chumps they are. It won't be long now before you seriously regret any positive opinion to have had of this "world straddling" horse's ass.

[Dec 24, 2019] Having grown up watching professional wrestling President Trump's campaign rallies are exactly like a wrestling show

Notable quotes:
"... This character development and ad-libbing/a b testing is then always in use when dealing with the media and when tweeting. Since the President is a caricature his followers aren't bothered by his incorrect statements and when the Democrats/media point out his mis-statements it doesn't register because everyone knows wrestling is fake. A rhetorical analysis of Trump's letter shows that he will be a formidable opponent in 2020, and that he's crazy like a fox. Make America Great Again. Trump trademarked that saying 1 week after the 2012 election. He isn't crazy he's sly like a fox. ..."
"... I hear you, Chuck. I'm of the same generation and vaguely remember Ike. I recall, in particular, the U2 incident. Didn't Eisenhower himself deny to the world that the US did spy flights, even while the Soviets were displaying wreckage and parading Capt. F. G. Powers? It was a major embarrassment. ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

TroyIA , December 23, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Lambert describes President Trump's style as schtick but another way is to consider it as a wrestling character named "President Trump." Remember President Trump was involved with the WWE and had the owners wife Linda McMahon in his cabinet and she is now running a pro-Trump super PAC.

Having grown up watching professional wrestling President Trump's campaign rallies are exactly like a wrestling show. He is playing a character and has to be quick thinking and able to ad-lib to manipulate the crowd's emotions. The crowd also has to become part of the show as well and overreact to signal to the performer (in this case who happens to be the President) they are engaged with the show. The baby face (Trump) is cheered loudly and the heels (Democrats/media) are booed in an exaggerated manner.

This character development and ad-libbing/a b testing is then always in use when dealing with the media and when tweeting. Since the President is a caricature his followers aren't bothered by his incorrect statements and when the Democrats/media point out his mis-statements it doesn't register because everyone knows wrestling is fake.

A rhetorical analysis of Trump's letter shows that he will be a formidable opponent in 2020, and that he's crazy like a fox.

Make America Great Again. Trump trademarked that saying 1 week after the 2012 election. He isn't crazy he's sly like a fox.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-patent-maga-2012/

chuck roast , December 23, 2019 at 9:30 pm

I've been around for a while and my attitude is that all of these "prexies", with the exception maybe of Ike, have been lying sacks of shit. Now while they all facilitated mass thievery by their friends and associates (as the mob would say), they could have at least had the good form to be funny. But no! They were all so earnest and sanctimonious. Kind of like my parish priest handing out the wafers.

I probably spent way too many hours warming various bar-stools next to a variety of knuckleheads, so I'm going to give Trump his due, OK? The guy has given me more chuckles, laughs, guffaws and all around hilarity than six decades worth of well dressed socio-paths. And as a bonus, a big bonus, he has greatly discomforted all of the smartest grifters in the room. Whenever I see the guy, Im in the Catskills.

Robert Gray , December 24, 2019 at 12:28 am

> all of these "prexies", with the exception maybe of Ike, have been lying sacks of shit.

I hear you, Chuck. I'm of the same generation and vaguely remember Ike. I recall, in particular, the U2 incident. Didn't Eisenhower himself deny to the world that the US did spy flights, even while the Soviets were displaying wreckage and parading Capt. F. G. Powers? It was a major embarrassment.

[Dec 20, 2019] The Tragedy of Donald Trump His Presidency Is Marred with Failure by Doug Bandow

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's performance record as president is comprised of an unbroken string of broken promises, opportunities squandered, principles violated, and intentions abandoned. ..."
"... despite another supposedly positive personal relationship, the Trump administration has applied more sanctions on Moscow, provided more anti-Russian aid to Ukraine, further increased funds and troops to NATO Europe, and sent home more Russian diplomats than the Obama administration. ..."
"... Worse, Washington has made no serious effort to resolve the standoff over Ukraine. No one imagines Moscow returning Crimea to Ukraine or giving in on any other issue without meaningful concessions regarding Kiev. Instead of moderating and minimizing bilateral frictions, the administration has made Russia more likely today than before to cooperate with China against Washington and contest American objectives in the Middle East, Africa, and even Latin America. ..."
"... Although Trump promised to stop America's endless wars, as many - if not more - U.S. military personnel are abroad today as when he took office. He increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and is now seeking to negotiate an exit that would force Washington to remain to enforce the agreement. This war has been burning for more than eighteen years. ..."
"... The administration has maintained Washington's illegal deployment in Syria, shifting one contingent away from the Turkish-Kurdish battle while inserting new forces to confiscate Syrian oil fields-a move that lacks domestic authority and violates international law. A few hundred Americans cannot achieve their many other supposed objectives, such as eliminating Russian, Iranian, and other malign influences and forcing Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to resign or inaugurate democracy. However, their presence will ensure America's continued entanglement in a conflict of great complexity but minimal security interest. ..."
"... This is an extraordinarily bad record after almost three years in office. Something good still might happen between now and November 3, 2020. However, more issues are likely to get worse. Imagine North Korean missile and nuclear tests, renewed Russian attempts to influence Western elections, a bloody Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong, increased U.S.-European trade friction, more U.S. pressure on Iran matched by asymmetric responses, and more. At the moment, there is no reason to believe any of the resulting confrontations would turn out well. ..."
Dec 18, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Trump's performance record as president is comprised of an unbroken string of broken promises, opportunities squandered, principles violated, and intentions abandoned.

North Korea may have been the one issue on which President Donald Trump apparently listened to his predecessor, Barack Obama, when he warned about the serious challenge facing the incoming occupant of the Oval Office. Nevertheless, Trump initially drove tensions between the two countries to a fever pitch, raising fears of war in the midst of proclamations of "fire and fury." Then he played statesman and turned toward diplomacy, meeting North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore.

Today that effort looks kaput. The North has declared denuclearization to be off the table. Actually, few people other than the president apparently believed that Kim was prepared to turn over his nuclear weapons to a government predisposed toward intervention and regime change.

Now that this Trump policy is formally dead, and there is no Plan B in sight, Pyongyang has begun deploying choice terms from its fabled thesaurus of insults. Democrats are sure to denounce the administration for incompetent naivete. And the bipartisan war party soon will be beating the drums for more sanctions, more florid rhetoric, additional military deployments, new plans for war. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) already has dismissed the risks since any conflict would be "over there," on the distant Korean Peninsula. At which point Trump's heroic summitry, which offered a dramatic opportunity to break decades of deadly stalemate, will be judged a failure.

If the president had racked up several successes-wars ended, peace achieved, disputes settled, relations strengthened-then one disappointment wouldn't matter much. However, his record is an unbroken string of broken promises, opportunities squandered, principles violated, and intentions abandoned.

There is no relationship more important than that between the United States and the People's Republic of China. Despite Trump's supposed friendship with China's Xi Jinping, the trade war rages to the detriment of both countries. Americans have suffered from both the president's tariffs and China's retaliation, with no end in sight. Despite hopes for a resolution, Beijing is hanging tough and obviously doubts the president's toughness, given the rapidly approaching election.

Beyond economics, the relationship is deteriorating sharply. Disagreements and confrontations over everything from geopolitics to human rights have driven the two countries apart, with the administration lacking any effective strategy to positively influence China's behavior. The president's myopic focus on trade has left him without a coherent strategy elsewhere.

Perhaps the president's most pronounced and controversial promise of the 2016 campaign was to improve relations with Russia. However, despite another supposedly positive personal relationship, the Trump administration has applied more sanctions on Moscow, provided more anti-Russian aid to Ukraine, further increased funds and troops to NATO Europe, and sent home more Russian diplomats than the Obama administration.

Worse, Washington has made no serious effort to resolve the standoff over Ukraine. No one imagines Moscow returning Crimea to Ukraine or giving in on any other issue without meaningful concessions regarding Kiev. Instead of moderating and minimizing bilateral frictions, the administration has made Russia more likely today than before to cooperate with China against Washington and contest American objectives in the Middle East, Africa, and even Latin America.

Although Trump promised to stop America's endless wars, as many - if not more - U.S. military personnel are abroad today as when he took office. He increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and is now seeking to negotiate an exit that would force Washington to remain to enforce the agreement. This war has been burning for more than eighteen years.

The administration has maintained Washington's illegal deployment in Syria, shifting one contingent away from the Turkish-Kurdish battle while inserting new forces to confiscate Syrian oil fields-a move that lacks domestic authority and violates international law. A few hundred Americans cannot achieve their many other supposed objectives, such as eliminating Russian, Iranian, and other malign influences and forcing Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to resign or inaugurate democracy. However, their presence will ensure America's continued entanglement in a conflict of great complexity but minimal security interest.

The Saudi government remains corrupt, incompetent, repressive, reckless and dependent on the United States. Only Washington's refusal to retaliate against Iran for its presumed attack on Saudi oil facilities caused Riyadh to turn to diplomacy toward Tehran, yet the president then increased U.S. military deployments, turning American military personnel into bodyguards for the Saudi royals. The recent terrorist attack by the pilot-in-training-presumably to join his colleagues in slaughtering Yemeni civilians-added to the already high cost of the bilateral relationship.

The administration's policy of "maximum pressure" has proved to be a complete bust around the world. As noted earlier, North Korea proved unwilling to disarm despite the increased financial pressure caused by U.S. sanctions. North Koreans are hurting, but their government, like Washington, places security first.

Russia, too, is no more willing to yield Crimea, which was once part of Russia and is the Black Sea naval base of Sebastopol. Several European governments also disagree with the United States, having pressed to lighten or eliminate current sanctions. The West will have to offer more than the status quo to roll back Moscow's military advances.

Before Trump became president, Iran was well contained, despite its malign regional activities. The Islamic regime was hemmed in by Israel and the Gulf States, backed by nations as diverse as Egypt and America. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, sharply curtailed Iran's nuclear activities and placed the country under an intensive oversight regime. Now Tehran has reactivated its nuclear program, expanded its regional interventions, interfered with Gulf shipping, and demonstrated its ability to devastate Saudi oil production. To America's consternation, its Persian Gulf allies now are more willing to deal with Iran than before.

Additionally, the Trump administration has largely destroyed hope for reform in Cuba by reversing the Obama administration's progress toward normalizing relations and discouraging visits by-and trade with-Americans. The entrepreneurs I spoke to when I visited Cuba two years ago made large investments in anticipation of a steadily increasing number of U.S. visitors but were devastated when Washington shut off the flow. What had been a steadily expanding private sector was knocked back and the regime, with Raoul Castro still dominant behind the scenes, again can blame America for its own failings. There is no evidence that extending the original embargo and additional sanctions, which began in 1960, will free anyone.

For a time, Venezuela appeared to be an administration priority. As usual, Trump applied economic sanctions, this time on a people whose economy essentially had collapsed. Washington threatened more sanctions and military invasion but to no avail. Then the president and his top aides breathed fire and fury, insisting that both China and Russia stay out, again without success. Eventually, the president appeared to simply lose interest and drop any mention of the once urgent crisis. The corrupt, repressive Maduro regime remains in power.

So far, the president's criticisms of America's alliances have gone for naught. Until now, his appointees, all well-disposed toward maintaining generous subsidies for America's international fan club, have implemented his policies. More recently, the administration demanded substantial increases in "host nation" support, but in almost every negotiation so far the president has given way, accepting minor, symbolic gains. He is likely to end up like his predecessor, whining a lot but gaining very little from America's security dependents.

Beyond that, there is little positive to say. Trump and India's Narendra Modi are much alike, which is no compliment to either, but institutional relations have changed little. Turkey's incipient dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, receives a free pass from the president for the former's abuses and crimes. But even so Congress is thoroughly arrayed against Ankara for sins both domestic and foreign.

The president's aversion to genuine free trade and the curious belief that buying inexpensive, quality products from abroad is a negative has created problems with many close allies, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and multiple European states. Perhaps only with Israel are Washington's relations substantially improved, and that reflects the president's abandonment of any serious attempt to promote a fair and realistic peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

This is an extraordinarily bad record after almost three years in office. Something good still might happen between now and November 3, 2020. However, more issues are likely to get worse. Imagine North Korean missile and nuclear tests, renewed Russian attempts to influence Western elections, a bloody Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong, increased U.S.-European trade friction, more U.S. pressure on Iran matched by asymmetric responses, and more. At the moment, there is no reason to believe any of the resulting confrontations would turn out well.

Most Americans vote on the economy, and the president is currently riding a wave of job creation. If that ends before the November vote, then international issues might matter more. If so, then the president may regret that he failed to follow through on his criticism of endless war and irresponsible allies. Despite his very different persona, his results don't look all that different from those achieved by Barack Obama and other leading Democrats.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire.

rshimizu12 • 15 hours ago
Personally I think Trumps foreign policy has had mix results. Part of the problem is that Trump has adopted a ad hoc foreign policy tactics. The US has had limited success with North Korea. While we have not seen any reductions of nuclear weapons. He probably has stopped flight testing of ICBM's. The daily back and forth threats of destroying each other countries have stopped. We should have been making more progress with N Korea, but Trump has not been firm enough. Russia on the other hand is a much tougher country to deal with. As for China we will have to keep up the pressure in trade negotiations.

[Dec 19, 2019] America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people. - strife delivery

Dec 19, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

All pretense of our country being a representative democracy @snoopydawg
is gone. Our two party uniparty government has completely turned its back on serving the needs of the vast majority of the people of this country, and of the wider world. Profit sits at the head of our government. The monikers "Fascist" and "Totalitarian" are apt descriptors of the direction of our current trajectory. A dystopian future surely awaits us on this beautiful, fragile and life sustaining planet that we are trashing with such abandon.

Other than that, things are going quite nicely. Nancy is wearing her power pants and fools are applauding.

[Dec 19, 2019] "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Dec 19, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

It still amazes me... that people actually think impeachment accomplishes anything other than diverting attention from the Dems giving Trump everything he wants.

Kayfabe.

Impeachment without conviction means next to nothing.

The Senate will not convict. Trumps chances of being re-elected are continuing to improve as Democratic Party insiders work overtime to see to it that Bernie Sanders has to fight the Republican Party, a MSM that either dismisses or ignores his candidacy, AND the Democratic Party which has, once again, stacked the deck against him.

[Dec 19, 2019] The truth is never as interesting as wild speculation

Dec 19, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

WoodsDweller on Wed, 12/18/2019 - 9:30pm

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/12/trump-has-joined-the-losers-of-presiden...

... Never-Trump conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin released a scorching assessment ... "Even Trump knows he will be lumped in with the 'losers' in the presidential history rankings such as Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson," wrote Rubin. "Impeachment will define his presidency, dwarfing any other foreign or domestic action. No wonder he rages against a speaker he is powerless to stop. His worst nightmare is to be humiliated, and if not now, history certainly will regard him as a pitiful, damaged man utterly unfit for the role he won through a series of improbable events ... Just as Watergate figures ... were lionized as defenders of the Constitution, so too will Pelosi and House Democrats ... be among those admired for their lucidity, intellect and character. ... For every clownish, contemptible, screeching and dishonest House Republican, there is a sober, admirable, restrained and honest Democrat.
"No letter, no tweet, no Fox News spin can repair the reputations of Trump enablers," Rubin wrote. The right-wing media that cheered them on will, like outlets that rooted for Jim Crow and demonized Freedom Riders, be shunned by decent, freedom-loving people who reaffirm objective reality. The Republican Party will be known not as the Party of Lincoln but the Party of Trump, a quisling party that lost its bearings and its soul to defend an unhinged narcissist.

[Dec 19, 2019] The Day after Brexit (repost from 2016)

Dec 19, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.19.19 at 6:19 am (no link)

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Donald 12.15.19 at 2:58 am @15

" Neocons for some strange reason also hate Trump, although it is not clear why -- he

Not going to comment on British politics much since I'm an ignorant American, but I have wondered about the neocon hatred of Trump myself and I think it boils down to the fact that he is not trustworthy.

Yes, I would agree that "the fact that he is not trustworthy" can well be an important factor. But the USA foreign policy establishment was viewed as untrustworthy for some time now, so nothing changed for foreign countries in this sense. Or only the degree changed.

But there are more important factors in play, I think.

The main factor probably is that the USA foreign policy establishment are hard core neocons and preach "Full Spectum Dominance" doctrine. Heretics are burned at the stake.

That includes Trump's impeachment, persistent attempts to derail Sanders (using Biden to push the selection of the candidate from into the state where the support of superdelegates can be decisive), weaken Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard excommunication.

Trump's limited prevarications on Russia threaten the strategy to expand NATO to Ukraine which is a part of the plan of a long term strategy of encircling Russia and maintaining US dominance over Europe.

As Trump pushes great power rivalry as the name of the game, his policies threatens to weaken the US control of EU, which Trump wants to label as an economic competitor.

Here the strategic difference between Trump and the Deep State approaches become apparent: Trump is pushing mercantilist strategy against potential competitors,while the Deep State pursues the strategy of maintaining the global neoliberal empire led by the USA at all costs.

The latter presuppose imposing neoliberal globalization, forceful opening other countries economies to multinationals (much like in Trotskyism "Permanent War" doctrine), and the maintenance of USA primacy by dominating regional alliances like NATO. But it presupposes sharing of loot. Which Trump rejects.

Impeachment, besides its more petty purposes (distraction from real social problems; forestalling and derailing Sanders by propelling Biden as No.1 opponent of Thump and his policies ), is the culmination of the whole series of attempts of neoliberal oligarchy's to stage a color revolution against the President who, even though he agrees with this cabal on all policy matters, is considered too unreliable, too undisciplined, and too damn honest about the real goals of the US-led neoliberal empire. The latter factor is especially worrisome ;-)

If they can take him down, they think they can restore the business-as-usual status quo ("kick the can down the road" for a decade or more). The latter might well be an illusion. Trump and Brexit radically changed the situation and you can't step into the same river twice.

Trump's impeachment in this sense is yet another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism as it negatively affects the perception of the USA, reveals to the whole world the dirty USA internal politic kitchen, and complicates the USA foreign policy, especially "democracy promotion" part of it, China's Global Times was quite measured yet pointed:

"To many Chinese, it seems that US-style democracy has already become a negative concept, which has brought ceaseless chaos and produced absurd farces.

[Dec 19, 2019] Impeachment should be viewed is the context of a larger effort to initiate the new McCarthyism.

Dec 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Dec 18 2019 21:58 utc | 16

b:
Trump's letter notes that talk about impeachment started as soon as he stepped into office:

IMO the Deep State wanted to initiate a new McCarthyism.

Russiagate was the means to do so and that means that Impeachment was always a possibility (though likely a red-herring, as I explain below).

IMO After the Mueller investigation progressives pressed for Impeachment but establishment Democratics (led by Pelosi and Hillary) wouldn't allow it. People were (rightfully) asking why establishment Democrats were protecting Trump.

With this in mind, Ukrainegate is a convenient diversion from Russiagate while providing the Impeachment satisfaction that progressives had clamored for.

It's difficult NOT to notice that ...

... America First Trump actually furthered Russiagate when he hired Manafort (who was known to have worked for pro-Russian Parties in Ukraine and had NO recent experience in US elections) and called upon Russia to publish Hillary's emails (which were KNOWN to contain top-secret information - making any publication a crime under US law);

... and America First Trump furthered Ukrainegate by the mentioning the name of an announced political opponent when talking about investigating corruption on a call with Zelensky.

One might excuse this in many ways: Trump's ego; his unfamiliarity with politics and statecraft; or just bad luck. But one can also see these actions, in a larger context, as disturbing part of the effort to initiate the new McCarthyism.

[Dec 19, 2019] Historically the ability of unelected, unaccountable, secretive bureaucracies (aka the "Deep State") to exercise their own policy without regard for the public or elected officials, often in defiance of these, has always been the hallmark of the destruction of democracy and incipient tyranny.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Today's Deep State most resembles the colonial administrations during the heyday of European imperialism. These too worked to run their own secret foreign policy, and to bring their power to bear on domestic policy as well. ..."
"... Impeachment, and the pro-bureaucracy anti-democracy campaign related to it, besides its more petty purposes (distraction from real social problems; forestalling Sanders), is the culmination of technocracy's attempted coup against a president who, even though he agrees with this cabal on all policy matters, is considered too unreliable, too undisciplined, too damn honest about the evil of the US empire. If they can take him down, they think they can restore the full business-as-usual status quo including the compliance of the rest of the world. ..."
Dec 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Russ , Dec 18 2019 22:00 utc | 19

Historically the ability of unelected, unaccountable, secretive bureaucracies (aka the "Deep State") to exercise their own policy without regard for the public or elected officials, often in defiance of these, has always been the hallmark of the destruction of democracy and incipient tyranny.

Today's Deep State most resembles the colonial administrations during the heyday of European imperialism. These too worked to run their own secret foreign policy, and to bring their power to bear on domestic policy as well.

Although both halves of the One-Party really want the effective tyranny of state and corporate bureaucracies, it's not surprising that it's the Democrats (along with the MSM) taking the lead in openly defending the tyrannical proposition that the CIA should be running its own foreign (and implicitly domestic) policy, and that the president should be just a figurehead which follows orders. That goes with the Democrats' more avowedly technocratic style, and it goes with the ratchet effect whereby it's usually Democrats which push the policy envelope toward ever greater inequality, ecocide and tyranny.

Now is a time of rising irredentism and the decline of all the ideas of globalization and technocracy, though the reality is likely to hang on for awhile. The whole Deep State-Zionist-Russia-Deranged-Trump-Deranged-MSM-social media censorship campaign is globalization trying to maintain its monopoly of ideas by force, since it knows it can never win in a free clash of ideas.

Impeachment, and the pro-bureaucracy anti-democracy campaign related to it, besides its more petty purposes (distraction from real social problems; forestalling Sanders), is the culmination of technocracy's attempted coup against a president who, even though he agrees with this cabal on all policy matters, is considered too unreliable, too undisciplined, too damn honest about the evil of the US empire. If they can take him down, they think they can restore the full business-as-usual status quo including the compliance of the rest of the world.

Since impeachment's going to fail, we can expect the system to try other ways.

james , Dec 19 2019 1:51 utc | 57

hey b... i like your title - "How The Deep State Sunk The Democratic Party" ... could change it to" How the Deep State Sunk the USA" could work just as well...

Seven of the 11 security state representatives who had joined the Democrats in 2018 gave the impulse for impeachment.

is this intentional?? it sort of looks like it...

good quote from @ 26 lk - "The contradictions of US empire and global capitalism cannot be mitigated by either more liberal strategies or realist ones."

ptb , Dec 19 2019 2:07 utc | 62
@babyl-on 35
yes that is about right. The top power networks are all a tight mix of names from govt, MIC, and private equity (incl. top 2-3 investment banks). With the latter group naturally paying the salaries of the whole policy making ecosystem, and holding the positions that select future generations who will eventually take their place.

They want the security of knowing noone in the world will mess with them. This necessitates that noone in the world *can* mess with them. Pretty straightforward from there.

[Dec 17, 2019] I have wondered about the neocon hatred of Trump myself and I think it boils down to the fact that he is not trustworthy.

Dec 17, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Mark Pontin 12.15.19 at 1:18 am

Likbez at #5 wrote: 'Paleoconservatives hate Trump.'

I dunno. I look at 'The American Conservative' from time to time, which was created and is run by Pat Buchanan, who's pretty much the original paleocon.

Part of that is because it's good to understand what the enemy is thinking. But also it turns out 'The American Conservative', for instance, has guys like Scott Ritter and Andrew Bacievich writing for them, as well as other critics of the American elite that will never be allowed in the MSM. And that's because one particular policy axe Buchanan and his writers grind very strongly is against the forever wars, U.S. military interventionism, and the MIC. They hate the neocons and types like John Bolton.

Thus, when Trump makes noises or does something that looks like it plays against the MIC, the State Department and the three-letter agencies aka The Blob, and maybe has a chance of tamping down on the bloody military interventionism, Buchanan and co. are pro-Trump.

Conversely, Buchanan and co. are big on the evangelical Christian stuff and the hard-working American white nuclear family who built America, blah blah blah. Whereas Trump is a billionaire vulgarian. And there Buchanan and his writers don't like him.

So paleocons like Buchanan seem to deal with Trump on a policy-by-policy basis. Though I radically disagree with some of the policies that Buchanan does favor, that seems reasonable to me.

Christians had better not let the unachievable perfect be the enemy of the common-sense good enough.

Donald 12.15.19 at 2:58 am ( 15 )

" Neocons for some strange reason also hate Trump, although it is not clear why -- he completely folded and conduct their foreign policy."

Not going to comment on British politics much since I'm an ignorant American, but I have wondered about the neocon hatred of Trump myself and I think it boils down to the fact that he is not trustworthy. Yes, he has caved in and when you get past the tweets he is trying to start a new nuclear arms race and actually armed Ukraine and gave Israel almost everything but still, he isn't stable. He doesn't play the game right. He is supposed to talk about how we want democracy and freedom and instead he rather openly fawns over dictators. Well, yes, other Presidents support dictators, but never with so much open enthusiasm. Appearances matter. And even neocons want someone who is mentally stable conducting their preferred brand of militaristic warmongering.

[Dec 07, 2019] UK Johnson vs US Trump

Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , November 30, 2019 at 10:13 AM

https://mainly macro.blogspot.com/2019/11/will-uk-voters-really-vote-for.html

November 30, 2019

Will UK voters really vote for the Republican party and our own Donald Trump?

There is so much about today's Conservative party that is very similar to the Republican party in the US. To establish this, there is no better place to start than our future Prime Minister for the next five years, if polls are to be believed.

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are both inveterate liars. They lie when they have no need to, just for effect. To take some recent examples. He told Andrew Marr that the Tories don't do deals with other parties, when everyone can remember the Coalition government and the Democratic Unionist Party. (Marr, as so often with interviewers, let that pass.) Johnson has said that the extra money he has allowed for the health service is the biggest boost for a generation. In fact it is smaller than the increase in spending from Labour from 2004 onwards. There are many like this. He has lied all his life, and been sacked from jobs twice for doing so. He lies about lying! No UK politician in living memory has lied like this.

A consequence of that is you cannot trust a word he says. When he and his ministers say that the NHS will not be part of any trade negotiations with the US, it means nothing. Brexit puts the UK in a very weak position because the political costs of walking away, while the costs for the US are zero. So of course the National Health Service and things that affect the NHS will be part of any trade deal.

When he says that he will get a trade deal with the EU in just a year he is lying. It is just not possible given the reasons the Conservatives want to leave the EU. So voters will have to decide which lie he will choose: to break his undertaking not to extend the transition period or to leave with no deal.

Like Trump, Johnson treats the economy, and the consequent wellbeing of everyone in it, as a plaything for his own ends. With Trump this involves imposing tariffs because of his 15th century understanding of economics. With Johnson he chose Brexit on a toss up about what would advance his own ambitions. He then championed the hardest of Brexits because it appealed to those who would vote him leader of his party. But there is a difference: Brexit is far more harmful than anything Trump has managed.

Where Trump wants to increase coal production in the US, Johnson wants to stop any increases in fuel duty. Johnson didn't attend a leaders debate on climate change.

Johnson, like Trump, is totally lacking in empathy for others, and is only interested in himself. Johnson thought nothing of helping a friend beat up a journalist. His personal life matters because it reflects the kind of person he is.

Like Trump, he has no time or respect for people who disagree with him. He shut down parliament because it was getting in his way. In his manifesto he now threatens to curtail the ability of the law to stop him doing what he and his party want. Johnson and the Conservatives, like Trump and the Republicans, are a threat to democracy.

Like Trump, he and his party want a totally compliant media. They have put so much pressure on the BBC that parts of it now do what they can to flatter Johnson and the Conservative cause. They have threatened Channel4 because they put a block of ice in his place when he failed to turn up to that leaders debate on climate change.

Like Trump, Johnson hates scrutiny. They both would much rather talk to an adoring party faithful than take part in critical questioning. In this election, Johnson has avoided questions from the press as much as he can, has avoided debates, and is avoiding an interview with one of the best interviewers around.

One reason they both hate scrutiny is their inability to concentrate on the details, the kind of details he got wrong such that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains in jail. This is one reason they sent Gove rather than Johnson to do the climate change debate. Johnson is as mentally unsuitable to be Prime Minister as Trump is to be President.

Republicans in Congress with few exceptions defend Trump. Conservative MPs do the same for Johnson without exception, now that the few Conservatives with some attachment to One Nation Conservatism have been driven out of the party. The Republicans never pretend to govern for the whole country, but just for what some of them call Real America. The Conservatives with Brexit have adopted the same policy. A narrow victory for Leave, obtained in the most dubious referendum ever, has become a mandate for the hardest of Brexits, and with a referendum on the final deal ruled out.

Both parties adopt divide and rule tactics, yet play the nationalist card for all its worth. To conceal and distract from far right economic policies designed to help the 1% wealthiest in the population, by a party financed by the even wealthier, they focus on attracting votes from the xenophobic and racist. The Conservatives have seen off the threat from the Brexit party by adopting the Brexit party. It was probably the votes of ex-Brexit party members that helped secure Johnson his leadership.

The Republicans play the race card and the Tories play the immigration card, something they have done since the turn of this century. Once you do that, it is inevitable that you end up with a party leaders who are themselves racist. Whatever you think about Jeremy Corbyn, it is Johnson who has expressed racial slurs like calling Muslim women letterboxes, talked about black people as 'piccaninnies' with 'watermelon smiles', Nigerians as money obsessed. (Not to mention his homophobic and sexist comments, and his description of working class men as drunk, criminal and feckless, and what he originally wrote about Hillsborough victims and single mothers.)

In the US Trump gets away with his behaviour among many because of his money and fame, and in the UK Johnson gets away with it among many because of his class and jokes. Both are where they are because they were given huge head starts, Trump through inheritance and Johnson through class, and have subsequently had careers which are dotted with failure. But once you see beyond the fame and jokes, they are both authoritarians who see nothing wrong in stoking fears about minorities to get the majority to vote for them, and in abusing the constitution to get their way. You might say that it is Trump not Johnson who is threatened with impeachment, but I have lost count of the legal cases about his actions that have been conveniently postponed for this election.

What too many commentators on this election fail to see is the potential irreversibility of this decline into right wing authoritarian rule. With most newspapers pushing out propaganda for the Conservatives and the BBC successfully tamed, the Conservatives now have a sufficient block to any real scrutiny of their policies or behaviour. In the next five years their manifesto suggests they hope to tame anyone else who gets in their way.

The Conservatives have ensured that enough people in this country see and read want they want them to see and read. Soon we will see attempts to introduce nationwide voter ID simply because it helps the Conservatives. It is wishful thinking to say 'if only we had another Labour leader they would be miles ahead' - just remember Ed Miliband who lost an election because the media conveniently decided austerity was good economics. [1]

Next year the people of the United States will have their chance to get rid of the worst US president in living memory. We have the chance to stop our own Trump, Boris Johnson, before he gets five years in which he could do irreversible harm to our economy, our democracy, our union and our civil society. The danger in both countries is that they keep their Trump/Johnson, and get locked into permanent authoritarian right wing rule similar to what we see in Hungary and Poland.

Alarmist? Johnson shut down parliament to get his way! When Brexit fails to be the promised land Johnson has promised and when the UK's potential fails to be unleashed, who will the Conservatives blame for their own failure? How much will they give away to get a US trade deal? Johnson, like Trump, is in the words of a BBC interviewer in braver times a 'nasty piece of work', whose only interest is in helping himself. It says a lot about what the UK has become that he looks like getting elected to be Prime Minister.

[1] Of course there were other reasons Miliband lost. He was unpopular, like every Labour leader over the past 40 years has been unpopular except the one who did a deal with the Tory press. And in the final days he was said to be in the pocket of Alex Salmond, even though the Scottish National Party have said they will never put a Tory PM into power so their bargaining strength is zero. The broadcast media went with the Tory's SNP story rather than Labour highlighting the (we now know very real) threat to the NHS.

-- Simon Wren-Lewis

[Dec 04, 2019] Ukrainegaters claim that Trump Reduced the USA empire 'Global Commitments' was fraudulent from the very beginning. Trump is yet another imperial president who favours the "Full spectrum Dominance; The problem is that the time when the USA can have it are in the past. Europe finally recovered from WWII losses and that alone dooms the idea

Highly recommended!
Pelosi interference in elections might cost democrats a victory. She enraged Trump base and strengthened Trump, who before was floundering. Now election changed into "us vs them" question, which is very unfavorable to neoliberal Dems. as neolibelism as ideology is dead. She also brought back Trump some independents who othersie would stay home or vote for Dem candidate. No action of House of Representatives can changes this. Bringing Vindman and Fiona Hill to testify were huge blunders as they enhance the narrative that the Deep State, unaccountable Security Establishment, controls the government, to which Trump represents very weak, but still a challenge. As such they strengthened Trump
Essentially Dems had driven themselves into a trap. Moreover actions of the Senate can drag democrats in dirt till the elections, diminishing their chances further and firther. Can you image the effect if Schiff would be called testify under oath about his contacts with Ciaramella? Or Biden questioning about his dirty dealing with both Yanukovich administration and Provisional Government after the 2014 coup d'état (aka EuroMaydan, aka "the Revolution of dignity" ?
Notable quotes:
"... It is true that both Obama and Trump have been falsely accused of presiding over "withdrawal" and "retreat." In Obama's case, Republican hawks made this false claim so that they could attack a fantasy version of Obama's record instead of arguing against the real one. Members of the foreign policy establishment have been warning about Trump's supposed "isolationism" for four years and it still hasn't shown up. Both presidents have been criticized in such similar ways despite conducting significantly different foreign policies because these are the automatic, knee-jerk criticisms that pundits and analysts use to criticize a president. ..."
"... Because there is a strong bias in favor of "action" and "leadership," the only way most of these people know how to attack a president is to say that he is "failing" to "lead" and is guilty of "inaction." It doesn't matter if it makes sense or matches the facts. It is the safe, Blobby way to complain about a president's foreign policy without suggesting that you think there is something wrong with the underlying assumptions about the U.S. role in the world. Instead of challenging the presidents on their real records, it is easier to condemn non-existent "isolationism" and pretend that presidents that maintain or increase U.S. involvement overseas are reducing it. ..."
"... We should debate whether U.S. commitments overseas need to be reduced, but we really have to stop pretending that the U.S. has been reducing those commitments when it has actually been adding to them. ..."
Dec 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Originally from: The U.S. Has Not Reduced Its 'Global Commitments' The American Conservative by Daniel Larison

Gideon Rachman tries to find similarities between the foreign policies of Trump and Obama:

Both men would detest the thought. But, in crucial respects, the foreign policies of Donald Trump and Barack Obama are looking strikingly similar.

The wildly different styles of the two presidents have disguised the underlying continuities between their approaches to the world. But look at substance, rather than style, and the similarities are impressive.

There is usually considerable continuity in U.S. foreign policy from one president to another, but Rachman is making a stronger and somewhat different claim than that. He is arguing that their foreign policy agendas are very much alike in ways that put both presidents at odds with the foreign policy establishment, and he cites "disengagement from the Middle East" and a "pivot to Asia" as two examples of these similarities. This seems superficially plausible, but it is misleading. Despite talking a lot about disengagement, Obama and Trump chose to keep the U.S. involved in several conflicts, and Trump actually escalated the wars he inherited from Obama. To the extent that there is continuity between Obama and Trump, it has been that both of them have acceded to the conventional wisdom of "the Blob" and refused to disentangle the U.S. from Middle Eastern conflicts. Ongoing support for the war on Yemen is the ugliest and most destructive example of this continuity.

In reality, neither Obama nor Trump "focused" on Asia, and Trump's foray into pseudo-engagement with North Korea has little in common with Obama's would-be "pivot" or "rebalance." U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a major part of Obama's policy in Asia. Trump pulled out of that agreement and waged destructive trade wars instead. Once we get past generalizations and look at details, the two presidents are often diametrically opposed to one another in practice. That is what one would expect when we remember that Trump has made dismantling Obama's foreign policy achievements one of his main priorities.

The significant differences between the two become much more apparent when we look at other issues. On arms control and nonproliferation, the two could not be more different. Obama negotiated a new arms reduction treaty with New START at the start of his presidency, and he wrapped up a major nonproliferation agreement with Iran and the other members of the P5+1 in 2015. Trump reneged on the latter and seems determined to kill the former. Obama touted the benefits of genuine diplomatic engagement, while Trump has made a point of reversing and undoing most of the results of Obama's engagement with Cuba and Iran. Trump's overall hostility to genuine diplomacy makes another one of Rachman claims quite baffling:

The result is that, after his warlike "fire and fury" phase, Mr Trump is now pursuing a diplomacy-first strategy that is strongly reminiscent of Mr Obama.

Calling Trump's clumsy pattern of making threats and ultimatums a "diplomacy-first strategy" is a mistake. This is akin to saying that he is adhering to foreign policy restraint because the U.S. hasn't invaded any new countries on Trump's watch. It takes something true (Trump hasn't started a new war yet) and misrepresents it as proof that the president is serious about diplomacy and that he wants to reduce U.S. military engagement overseas. Trump enjoys the spectacle of meeting with foreign leaders, but he isn't interested in doing the work or taking the risks that successful diplomacy requires. He has shown repeatedly through his own behavior, his policy preferences, and his proposed budgets that he has no use for diplomacy or diplomats, and instead he expects to be able to bully or flatter adversaries into submission.

So Rachman is simply wrong he reaches this conclusion:

Mr Trump's reluctance to attack Iran was significant. It underlines the fact that his tough-guy rhetoric disguises a strong preference for diplomacy over force.

Let's recall that the near-miss of starting a war with Iran came as a result of the downing of an unmanned drone. The fact that the U.S. was seriously considering an attack on another country over the loss of a drone is a worrisome sign that this administration is prepared to go to war at the drop of a hat. Calling off such an insane attack was the right thing to do, but there should never have been an attack to call off. That episode does not show a "strong preference for diplomacy over force." If Trump had a strong preference for diplomacy over force, his policy would not be one of relentless hostility towards Iran. Trump does not believe in diplomatic compromise, but expects the other side to capitulate under pressure. That actually makes conflict more likely and reduces the chances of meaningful negotiations.

It is true that both Obama and Trump have been falsely accused of presiding over "withdrawal" and "retreat." In Obama's case, Republican hawks made this false claim so that they could attack a fantasy version of Obama's record instead of arguing against the real one. Members of the foreign policy establishment have been warning about Trump's supposed "isolationism" for four years and it still hasn't shown up. Both presidents have been criticized in such similar ways despite conducting significantly different foreign policies because these are the automatic, knee-jerk criticisms that pundits and analysts use to criticize a president.

Because there is a strong bias in favor of "action" and "leadership," the only way most of these people know how to attack a president is to say that he is "failing" to "lead" and is guilty of "inaction." It doesn't matter if it makes sense or matches the facts. It is the safe, Blobby way to complain about a president's foreign policy without suggesting that you think there is something wrong with the underlying assumptions about the U.S. role in the world. Instead of challenging the presidents on their real records, it is easier to condemn non-existent "isolationism" and pretend that presidents that maintain or increase U.S. involvement overseas are reducing it.

Rachman ends his column with this assertion:

In their very different ways, both Mr Obama and Mr Trump have reduced America's global commitments -- and adjusted the US to a more modest international role.

The problem here is that there has been no meaningful reduction in America's "global commitments." Which commitments have been reduced or eliminated? It would be helpful if someone could be specific about this. The U.S. has more security dependents today than it did when Trump took office. NATO has been expanded to include two new countries in just the last three years. U.S. troops are engaged in hostilities in just as many countries as they were when Trump was elected. There are more troops deployed to the Middle East at the end of this year than there were at the beginning, and that is a direct consequence of Trump's bankrupt Iran policy.

We should debate whether U.S. commitments overseas need to be reduced, but we really have to stop pretending that the U.S. has been reducing those commitments when it has actually been adding to them.

[Nov 13, 2019] Where is Trump's James Baker, or better yet, his Sergey Lavrov. to moderate and control his goofier instincts

Nov 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

schrub , says: Next New Comment November 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm GMT

Trump's biggest weakness is that he appears incapable of friendships with other adult males because he trusts no one. This is probably partially the result of his dealing in the absolutely cut throat New York real estate industry along with his own relentless and long time need for publicity no matter how outrageous this publicity is? (Remember Trump's forays into professional wrestling?)

Trump decided to hang out with the dogs and, no surprise, ended up getting fleas.

His continual purging of his cabinet members and his bad mouthing of them afterwards has probably made his White House staff paranoid about challenging anything that comes out of his mouth no matter how outrageous it is.

Along with all this self promotion has come an increasing inability to accept any sort of criticism whatsoever. To claim he is slightly "prickly" is a gross understatement.

Where is Trump's James Baker, or better yet, his Sergey Lavrov. to moderate and control his goofier instincts

.

Patrikios Stetsonis , says: Next New Comment November 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm GMT
@steinbergfeldwitzcohen If Trump is smart enough and wants History to write his name with Golden Letters, he has to order a new and true investigation on 9/11 in his second term.

[Oct 31, 2019] It looks to me like he has some background in professional wrestling where the "kayfabe" concept is important in analysys Trump behviour

Oct 31, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Jonah Thomas 10.29.19 at 3:11 pm (no link)

Thank you for this unorthodox view. I've noticed that my thinking has been strongly contaminated with "The Conventional Wisdom", which includes big falsehoods and misdirections. While the situation was stable this didn't matter much in the short run -- the politics would be dominated by people who believed those things. But now that things are starting to fall apart it's getting important not to believe the old lies.

So ideas which look very different are important because they challenge me to examine my unconscious assumptions, regardless how true the new ideas may be.

About Trump . It looks to me like he has some background in professional wrestling where the "kayfabe" concept is important. He doesn't care how awful he looks to the rubes who think of him as a heel, provided they keep focusing on the outrageous things he says more than on what he does. The more attention he can get on that, the more he "sucks the air out of the room" for anything else.

It's possible the Republicans will do a surprise and nominate somebody else. That will disrupt everybody's thinking. I don't think that's real likely, but it would sure disrupt things, wouldn't it?

Since Truman the US presidential elections have gone 8 years of Democrats and 8 years of Republicans, like clockwork. One single exception, Reagan got Carter's second term. Is it a secret agreement between the parties? I don't know why. But it's plausible that the Republican will win in 2020 and the Democrats get 8 years starting in 2024. One way to look at it is that when it isn't their turn, the losing party runs somebody who's too far from center.

About the "color revolution" thing, of course there hasn't been anything much like that here. But there was the "pussy hat" march. Somebody put a lot of money into that, and a whole lot of people turned out for it, and then it just ended. Could it have been the same people, organizing it as a kind of trial run? They have the methodology. They could do it here, if conditions were right. Would they? I don't know. I don't know much about them. What would it take for conditions to be right? I don't know that either. Maybe they don't know. They have surely analyzed the places it succeeded and the places it failed, so they know more than I do.

Maybe the most valuable thing here is to recognize how much I don't know. I hear ideas that sound absurd, and then realize that while there may be no truth to them, the reason I think they are absurd is that I have accepted bullshit conventional thinking inside my own head, and I have hardly any more teason to believe it than I do the new absurd ideas.

> 28

[Oct 23, 2019] When Trump Ignored Bad Advice He Enabled Progress In Syria

Oct 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Commentator ben and others critizised yesterday's post:

b, I've been a participant at this site for 14yrs, and I don't believe I've ever seen your take on any subject more "off base", than your take on DJT.

This "man" has never been anything else but a grifter and giant con. Virtually everything he has done, he's done to enrich himself and his family. That is, besides deconstruct the U$ govt. to enrich his class of people, (the malignantly rich) by dialing back regulations that protect everyday Americans from the greed of the mega-corporations.

He's a sycophant for the corporate monsters who now own the U$A. Anything and everything he's done, isn't because he is such an egalitarian, it's for his personal enrichment, and the monsters he works for.

When they're done with him, they'll throw him under the bus, just like all the rest of us...

I agree with ben's characterization of Trump. I dislike most of his policies. But that does not change the fact that Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit.

Ben's and my opinion about Trump do not invalidate the point I made. Trump policies, especially in international relations, are getting sabotaged or co-opted by the Borg , the unelected establishment in the various departments and think tanks. This is a dangerous phenomenon that, more or less, hinders every elected president, especially those who want to make peace. It should be resisted.

The people in leading positions of the executive work "at the pleasure of the president". Their task is to execute his policies. When they refrain from doing so or implement their own preferences they create a mess.

Consider two additional examples, both published yesterday, which describe how James Jeffrey, the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, tried to sabotage Trump's decision to leave Syria and, while doing that, misled the Kurds:

A State Department official told a senior Syrian Kurdish leader during a meeting in Washington that the United States would not fully withdraw its forces from northeast Syria and advised her administration not to engage with Bashar al-Assad's government or with Russia.

According to two sources familiar with the Monday, October 22 meeting, a senior member of Washington's diplomatic team is said to have become angry and told Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, that the U.S. will not allow the SDC to arrange a deal with the Assad regime or Russia for protection against the Turkey-led attack.
...
SDC officials told The Defense Post that American officials in the past have promised they would not withdraw U.S. forces until a political settlement was in place to secure their future in the Syrian political system.

Trump had long announced that the U.S. military will leave Syria. He had made no promises to the Kurds. The State Department official did not do his job but contradicted Trump's policies.

Another report on an earlier State Department meeting with the Kurds paints a similar picture :

The National Interest has learned from multiple sources about tense meetings between SDC diplomats and State Department officials who oversee the Trump administration's policy on Syria. The State Department repeatedly pushed for the SDC to work with Turkish-backed Islamist rebels while berating Syrian Kurdish officials and refusing to listen to their concerns, according to multiple sources.

One source with firsthand knowledge of the screaming session told the National Interest that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rayburn, who is a special envoy for Syria, yelled at SDC officials and broke a pencil in a translator's face. Two sources with secondhand knowledge confirmed this version of events.

"[Rayburn] loves the Syrian Islamist groups," one of the three sources said. "He thinks they can counter Iran. He is dreaming."

"He is pushing [the SDC] to meet with jihadists," the source added.

To tell the anarcho-marxist YPG/PKK Kurds to unite with Erdogan's Jihadis is an absolutely crazy idea. Neither the Kurds nor Erdogan would ever agree to a partnership. These were impossible policies. They made no sense at all.

Jeffrey and his shop clearly worked against Trump's orders and against U.S. interests. Jeffrey clearly favors Turkey where he once worked as U.S. ambassador and, above all, Israel:

In addition to the uptick in tense verbal exchanges, the three different sources described to the National Interest how State Department officials attempted to condemn the brutal murder of Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevrin Khalaf only to have their efforts waylayed by Ambassador James Jeffrey, who oversees anti-ISIS efforts. Jeffrey blocked the statement, they said.
...
Now, even as U.S. troops are stepping aside to allow Turkey to attack U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, Jeffrey's team is floating plans to peel off Arab components of the Syrian Democratic Forces to build a counter-Iran force far from the Turkish border.

It is Jeffrey who is pressing for a continued U.S. occupation of Syria's oilfields. These are not Trump's policies, but contradictions to them.

Aymenn Al-Tamimi makes a similar point :

When [Trump in December 2018] told his advisers that he wanted to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, he meant it. The message should have been clear: devise an orderly withdrawal plan.

But that is not what happened. Instead, efforts and attention were geared towards U.S. forces remaining indefinitely in Syria.

One can criticize Trump for not selecting advisors and envoys who follow his directions. But Trump is a New Yorker businessman and not a politician with decades of experience in Washington. He does not know who he can trust. He has to proceed by trial and error until he finds people who are willing to go work with him against those permanent powers that usually drive U.S. foreign policy.

In a congress hearing yesterday James Jeffrey admitted (vid) that Trump did not consult him before his phone call with Erdogan.

By going off-scrip in that phone call and by greenlighting the Turkish invasion Trump achieved - despite the resistance within his own administration - a win-win-win-win situation in Syria :

Erdogan could show that he was fighting against the PKK terrorists and prevented their attempts to become a proto-state. Trump could hold his campaign promise of removing U.S. troops from useless foreign interventions. Syria regained its northeast and the important economic resources of that area. Russia gained global prestige and additional influence in the Middle East.

We will have to wait for Trump's (and Putin's) memoir to learn how much of this has been coordinated behind the scenes.

I for one count this as a major foreign policy achievement for Trump and I am happy with this outcome .

[Oct 15, 2019] Trump's selection of Pompeo to run the department put someone with a deep loathing for genuine diplomacy in charge of the administration's diplomatic efforts

That's by design, not by mistake
Oct 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

His extremely personalized approach to handling relationships with other governments has put U.S. foreign policy at the mercy of his whims and moods, and it has undermined U.S. officials whenever they have tried to make any progress in negotiations. His appointment of hard-liners to key positions has ensured that there is no one inside the administration to argue for mutually beneficial compromise, and that has resulted in one bankrupt, all-or-nothing policy after another.

Trump's selection of Pompeo to run the department put someone with a deep loathing for genuine diplomacy in charge of the administration's diplomatic efforts. In theory, having a Secretary of State with the president's confidence should be very good for the State Department, but when both the president and the Secretary have nothing but disdain for their work it has proved to be a nightmare instead.

It is no surprise that fewer people are interested in joining the Foreign Service when they see how its officers are sabotaged and maligned. It is understandable that so many career diplomats don't want to stay on in such a toxic, demoralizing environment. We need to remember that this isn't just a question of how one department of the federal government is being horribly mismanaged. This is something that affects the quality of U.S. foreign policy, and that affects American interests more broadly.

If we want to see a more responsible and restrained U.S. foreign policy, that will require spending more on diplomacy and development and less on an already exorbitant military budget. It means treating diplomacy as more than an afterthought or as a prelude to intervention. It will also require putting people in charge of the State Department that respect diplomats and value their work. Today we have just the opposite, and the results speak for themselves.

[Sep 15, 2019] Trump's new world disorder: competitive, chaotic, conflicted by

The key to understanding the c
The collapse of neoliberalism naturally lead to the collapse of the US influence over the globe. and to the treats to the dollar as the world reserve currency. That's why the US foreign policy became so aggressive and violent. Neocons want to fight for the world hegemony to the last American.
Notable quotes:
"... US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational ..."
"... Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel. ..."
"... Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. ..."
"... The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched. ..."
"... driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university. ..."
"... "The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy." ..."
"... This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible. ..."
"... The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along. ..."
"... With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely. ..."
"... "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", ..."
Sep 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

With John Bolton dismissed, Taliban peace talks a fiasco and a trade war with China, US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational

It was by all accounts, a furious row. Donald Trump was talking about relaxing sanctions on Iran and holding a summit with its president, Hassan Rouhani, at this month's UN general assembly in New York. John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser, was dead against it and forcefully rejected Trump's ideas during a tense meeting in the Oval Office on Monday.

...Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel.

The US president is now saying he is also open to a repeat meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, to reboot stalled nuclear disarmament talks. On another front, he has offered an olive branch to China, delaying a planned tariff increase on $250bn of Chinese goods pending renewed trade negotiations next month. Meanwhile, he says, new tariffs on European car imports could be dropped, too.

Is a genuine dove-ish shift under way? It seems improbable. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. He has cosied up to autocrats, attacked old friends and blundered into sensitive conflicts he does not fully comprehend.

The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched.

The suggestion that Trump will make nice and back off as election time nears thus elicits considerable scepticism. US analysts and commentators say the president's erratic, impulsive and egotistic personality means any shift towards conciliation may be short-lived and could quickly be reversed, Bolton or no Bolton.

Trump wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal in Afghanistan with the Taliban, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute

Trump is notorious for blowing hot and cold, performing policy zigzags and suddenly changing his mind. "Regardless of who has advised Mr Trump on foreign affairs all have proved powerless before [his] zest for chaos," the New York Times noted last week .

Lacking experienced diplomatic and military advisers (he has sacked most of the good ones), surrounded by an inner circle of cynical sycophants such as secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university.

"The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy."

This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible.

As a result, the US today finds itself at odds with much of the world to an unprecedented and dangerous degree. America, the postwar global saviour, has been widely recast as villain. Nor is this a passing phase. Trump seems to have permanently changed the way the US views the world and vice versa. Whatever follows, it will never be quite the same again.

Clues as to what he does next may be found in what he has done so far. His is a truly calamitous record, as exemplified by Afghanistan. Having vowed in 2016 to end America's longest war, he began with a troop surge, lost interest and sued for peace. A withdrawal deal proved elusive. Meanwhile, US-led forces inflicted record civilian casualties .

Facebook Twitter Pinterest The US and Israeli flags are projected on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in May, marking the anniversary of the US embassy transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/Getty

The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along.

All sides are now vowing to step up the violence, with the insurgents aiming to disrupt this month's presidential election in Afghanistan. In short, Trump's self-glorifying Afghan reality show, of which he was the Nobel-winning star, has made matters worse. Much the same is true of his North Korea summitry, where expectations were raised, then dashed when he got cold feet in Hanoi , provoking a backlash from Pyongyang.

The current crisis over Iran's nuclear programme is almost entirely of Trump's making, sparked by his decision last year to renege on the 2015 UN-endorsed deal with Tehran. His subsequent "maximum pressure" campaign of punitive sanctions has failed to cow Iranians while alienating European allies. And it has led Iran to resume banned nuclear activities – a seriously counterproductive, entirely predictable outcome.

Trump's unconditional, unthinking support for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's aggressively rightwing prime minister – including tacit US backing for his proposed annexation of swathes of the occupied territories – is pushing the Palestinians back to the brink, energising Hamas and Hezbollah, and raising tensions across the region .

With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely.

The bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived

Stephen Wertheim, historian

Yet Trump, oblivious to the point of recklessness, remains determined to unveil his absurdly unbalanced Israel-Palestine "deal of the century" after Tuesday's Israeli elections. He and his gormless son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may be the only people who don't realise their plan has a shorter life expectancy than a snowball on a hot day in Gaza.

... ... ...

...he is consistently out of line, out on his own – and out of control. This, broadly, is Trump world as it has come to exist since January 2017. And this, in a nutshell, is the intensifying foreign policy crisis of which Professor Cohen warned. The days when responsible, trustworthy, principled US international leadership could be taken for granted are gone. No vague change of tone on North Korea or Iran will by itself halt the Trump-led slide into expanding global conflict and division.

Historians such as Stephen Wertheim say change had to come. US politicians of left and right mostly agreed that "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", Wertheim wrote earlier this year . "But agreement ends there " he continued: "One camp holds that the US erred by coddling China and Russia, and urges a new competition against these great power rivals. The other camp, which says the US has been too belligerent and ambitious around the world, counsels restraint, not another crusade against grand enemies."

This debate among grownups over America's future place in the world will form part of next year's election contest. But before any fundamental change of direction can occur, the international community – and the US itself – must first survive another 16 months of Trump world and the wayward child-president's poll-fixated, ego-driven destructive tendencies.

Survival is not guaranteed. The immediate choice facing US friends and foes alike is stark and urgent: ignore, bypass and marginalise Trump – or actively, openly, resist him.

Here are some of the key flashpoints around the globe

United Nations

Trump is deeply hostile to the UN. It embodies the multilateralist, globalist policy approaches he most abhors – because they supposedly infringe America's sovereignty and inhibit its freedom of action. Under him, self-interested US behaviour has undermined the authority of the UN security council's authority. The US has rejected a series of international treaties and agreements, including the Paris climate change accord and the Iran nuclear deal. The UN-backed international criminal court is beyond the pale. Trump's attitude fits with his "America First" isolationism, which questions traditional ideas about America's essential global leadership role.

Germany

Trump rarely misses a chance to bash Germany, perhaps because it is Europe's most successful economy and represents the EU, which he detests. He is obsessed by German car imports, on which protectionist US tariffs will be levied this autumn. He accuses Berlin – and Europe– of piggy-backing on America by failing to pay its fair share of Nato defence costs. Special venom is reserved for Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, most likely because she is a woman who stands up to him . Trump recently insulted another female European leader, Denmark's Mette Frederiksen, after she refused to sell him Greenland .

Israel

Trump has made a great show of unconditional friendship towards Israel and its rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has skilfully maximised his White House influence. But by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, officially condoning Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, and withdrawing funding and other support from the Palestinians, the president has abandoned the long-standing US policy of playing honest broker in the peace process. Trump has also tried to exploit antisemitism for political advantage, accusing US Democrat Jews who oppose Netanyahu's policies of "disloyalty" to Israel.

... ... ...

[Sep 10, 2019] Since the president's performance is so utterly out of character and against America's overseas economic interests

After the ideology is discredited, foreign policy became less coherent and more aggressive then nessesry. That speeds the demise of the empire. Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad
Sep 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

DanFromCT , says: Next New Comment September 10, 2019 at 12:43 pm GMT

@A123 Consider that DJT himself, you'd think, would dump Bolton, Pompeo, Pence, Berkowitz, et al if he could inasmuch as, if he'd hired them to put up a skyscraper and their performance was like their work in foreign policy, they'd be gone. From his work in the real world building complex stuff he'd see right off that what marks government experts from the "best schools" isn't their expertise, but their preternaturally lousy judgment. They look and sound like goofballs because that's what they are, not because their geniuses. Altho Boot's apparently out of favor, consider that Israel's costumed automatons in the Pentagon allowed themselves to be swayed by this slobberlipped moron with drool coming out of the side of his mouth, and he's supposedly one of the neocons' finest minds.

Since the president's performance is so utterly out of character and against America's overseas economic interests, it follows he's being handled, and if he's being handled, it can only be by Israel. The implication is that a parasite, which also owns the public forum in America and through its ownership of the msm the formation of men's minds, is directing our foreign policy. It's analogous to the way certain insect parasites like Ampulex sp take command of their much larger prey's antenna and in so doing can direct the prey to do its bidding by processing the prey's contact with the external world.

In his Logic of Failure Dietrich Doerner cites his research that supposed experts have no more judgment or ability to respond to unfamiliar feedback loops in scenarios of increasing complexity than students do. Unfolding events of increasing complexity become increasingly opaque to these block heads in the State Dept and the president's inner circle because they continue to follow a fairytale situational model of the ME constructed for them by Israeli intelligence and neocon "experts."

Incredibly, they assume it correctly models outcomes despite a known 100% failure rate that'll be compounded a hundredfold if another "call walk" breaks out with a military powerhouse like Iran. Overall I can't believe they can be that stupid, and if they're not that stupid, it follows they are intentionally wasting and destroying both the US economy and its military to establish Eretz Israel as the new world empire. After that the president's good friend Netanyahu has supposedly promised he'll toss the US on the ash heap of history.

Si1ver1ock , says: Next New Comment September 10, 2019 at 2:42 pm GMT
It's the Theater of the Absurd . I'm waiting for Mr. Pompeo to come out and tell us that our new, duly elected president is Juan Guaidó. Or maybe Juan Valdez.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hoiO6Ln83SQ?feature=oembed

[Sep 06, 2019] Protectionism is worse when it's erratic and unpredictable

Sep 06, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 05, 2019 at 04:08 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/opinion/trump-china-tariffs.html

August 26, 2019

Trump and the Art of the Flail
Protectionism is worse when it's erratic and unpredictable.
By Paul Krugman

The "very stable genius" in the Oval Office is, in fact, extremely unstable, in word and deed. That's not a psychological diagnosis, although you can make that case too. It's just a straightforward description of his behavior. And his instability is starting to have serious economic consequences.

To see what I mean about Trump's behavior, just consider his moves on China trade over the past month, which have been so erratic that even those of us who follow this stuff professionally have been having a hard time keeping track.

First, Trump unexpectedly announced plans to greatly expand the range of Chinese goods subject to tariffs. Then he had his officials declare China a currency manipulator -- which happens to be one of the few economic sins of which the Chinese are innocent. Then, perhaps fearing the political fallout from the higher prices of many consumer goods from China during the holiday season, which would result from the tariff hikes, he postponed -- but didn't cancel -- them.

Wait, there's more. China, predictably, responded to the new United States tariffs with new tariffs on U.S. imports. Trump, apparently enraged, declared that he would raise his tariffs even higher, and declared that he was ordering U.S. companies to wind down their business in China (which is not something he has the legal authority to do). But at the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz he suggested that he was having "second thoughts," only to have the White House declare that he actually wished he had raised tariffs even more.

And we're not quite done. On Monday Trump said that the Chinese had called to indicate a desire to resume trade talks. But there was no confirmation from the Chinese, and Trump has been a notably unreliable narrator of what's going on in international meetings. For example, he made the highly improbable claim that "World Leaders" (his capitalization) were asking him, "Why does the American media hate your Country so much?"

To repeat, all of this has happened just this month. Now imagine yourself as a business leader trying to make decisions amid this Trumpian chaos.

The truth is that protectionism gets something of an excessively bad rap. Tariffs are taxes on consumers, and they tend to make the economy poorer and less efficient. But even high tariffs don't necessarily hurt employment, as long they're stable and predictable: the jobs lost in industries that either rely on imported inputs or depend on access to foreign markets can be offset by job gains in industries that compete with imports.

History is, in fact, full of examples of economies that combined high tariffs with more or less full employment: America in the 1920s, Britain in the 1950s and more.

But unstable, unpredictable trade policy is very different. If your business depends on a smoothly functioning global economy, Trump's tantrums suggest that you should postpone your investment plans; after all, you may be about to lose access to your export markets, your supply chain or both. It's also, though, not a good time to invest in import-competing businesses; for all you know, Trump will eventually back down on his threats. So everything gets put on hold -- and the economy suffers.

One question you might ask is why Trumpian trade uncertainty is looming so much larger now than it did during the administration's first two years. Part of the answer, I think, is that until fairly recently most analysts expected the U.S.-China trade conflict to be resolved with minimal disruption. You may recall that after denouncing Nafta as the worst trade deal ever made, Trump essentially surrendered and declared victory, settling for a new deal almost indistinguishable from the old one. Most economic newsletters I get predicted a similar outcome for the U.S. and China.

At the same time, the U.S. economy is slowing as the brief sugar high from the 2017 tax cut wears off. Another leader might engage in some self-reflection. Trump being Trump, he's blaming others and lashing out. He has declared both Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and Xi Jinping, China's leader, enemies. As it turns out, however, there's nothing much he can do to bully the Fed, but the quirks of U.S. trade law do allow him to slap new tariffs on China.

Of course, Trump's trade belligerence is itself contributing to the economic slowdown. So there's an obvious possibility for a vicious circle. The economy weakens; a flailing Trump lashes out at China, and possibly others (Europe may be next); this further weakens the economy; and so on.

At that point you might expect an intervention from the grown-ups in the room -- but there aren't any. In any other administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a.k.a. the Lego Batman guy, would be considered a ridiculous figure; these days, however, he's as close as we get to a voice of economic rationality. But whenever he tries to talk sense, as he apparently did over the issue of Chinese currency manipulation, he gets overruled.

Protectionism is bad; erratic protectionism, imposed by an unstable leader with an insecure ego, is worse. But that's what we'll have as long as Trump remains in office.

[Aug 25, 2019] Is it true that "Trump is doing nothing evil" ?

Aug 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

WTFUD , 1 hour ago link

Done nothing EVIL bar fire 100 cruise missiles into Syria and attempting to starve millions in Venezuela & Iran, while sucking on Bibi's ****, emboldening him to continue on a genocidal path in the ME among other twisted fuckery.

Other than the above, man done good.

TheRapture , 41 minutes ago link

Trump is an oathbreaker: he broke both the WTO agreement and the bilateral agreement with China.

On non-trade issues,

  1. Trump promised to investigate 9/11. How is that coming along?
  2. The Las Vegas / Paddock false flag happened on Trump's watch. He covered it up.
  3. Trump is doing his best to start a war with Iran.
  4. Truck seems to love Israel more than he loves America.
  5. Epstein was assassinated on Trump's watch. Trump could have protected Epstein, but didn't
  6. Trump is in Saudi Arabia's pocket.
  7. Trump is helping wage Saudi Arabia's genocidal war in Yemen.
  8. Trump promised to unify the country. He's doing the opposite.
  9. Trump has increased surveillance, police state powers instead of calling for repeal of Patriot Act, NDAA, etc.
  10. Trump has not taken any concrete steps to curtail internet censorship, or protect an Open Internet.
  11. Trump promised to pull out of Syria, yet he still has U.S. troops there, and colludes with Israeli attacks on Syria.
  12. Trump promised he would cut taxes for the middle class and not cut for the rich. He did the opposite.
  13. Trump is crashing the global economy, and like Humpty Dumpty, it can't be put together again.
  14. American farmers may have lost their single biggest export market. US taxpayers will pay farmers welfare forever.

There's more, if you'd like more.

[Aug 22, 2019] Trump Doesn t Know How to Negotiate by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
The problem with Trump is that everything in him is second rate. Even bulling. and many americans were aware of that and voted for him just because that thought that Hillary was worse. Much worse.
Actually Madeleine (not so bright) Albright was of the same mold... Gangster style bulling and extortion as the only Modus operandi
And Daniel Larison is correct: when Trump faces strong backlash he just declare the partner in negotiation "terrible" and walks out and try to justify his defeat ex post facto.
Notable quotes:
"... As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation. ..."
"... The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender. ..."
"... he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up. ..."
"... "Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas." ..."
"... The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price. ..."
"... "Trump has always been a lousy negotiator." ..."
"... But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Michael Hirsh reminds us that Trump has always been a lousy negotiator:

Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer who interviewed him many times, agrees with Lapidus that there is no discernible difference in the way Trump negotiates today, as president, compared to his career in business. "His style involves a hostile attitude and a bullying method designed to wring every possible concession out of the other side while maximizing his own gain," D'Antonio said. "As he explained to me, he's not interested in 'win-win' deals, only in 'I win' outcomes. When I asked if he ever left anything on the table as a sign of goodwill so that he might do business with the same party in the future he said no, and pointed out that there are many people in the world he can work with, one at a time."

As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation.

The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender.

He seems particularly obsessed with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) because the trade-off inherent in any agreement made with Iran was that they would regain access to frozen assets, and he ignorantly equates this with "giving" them money. The fact that the JCPOA heavily favored the U.S. and the rest of the P5+1 doesn't interest Trump. Iran was allowed to come away with something at the end, and even the little bit they were able to get is far too much for him. This is one reason he has been so closely aligned with Iran hawks over the last four years, and it helps explain why he endorses absurd, unrealistic demands and "maximum pressure" of collective punishment. He is doing more or less the same thing he has always done, and he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up.

Here is another relevant point from the article:

"Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas."

The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price.


JSC2397 8 hours ago

Pulling off that "greatest trick" was amazing easy, actually: all Trump and his creatures had to do was go on the assumption that most Americans will readily believe what they see on television. Especially when it jibes with their prejudices.
david 8 hours ago
"Trump has always been a lousy negotiator."

But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself.

Martin Ranger 6 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

While I agree with pretty much all of the article, let us not forget that a majority of Americans was not, in fact, fooled.

Zsuzsi Kruska 6 hours ago
He can negotiate, but the thugs in Wash. don't want to. They are doing everything they can to start a war somewhere.
me 5 hours ago
Americans are certainly paying a price Benjamin Franklin warned about. But as for other countries, theirs is due strictly to their own doing, for relying excessively on the goodwill of America and turning a blind-eye to our imperialism. Quite frankly, up to now, US allies have been enablers.
Gary Rosenberg 5 hours ago
Add to that, " When someone hits me, I hit them back ten times harder."
This is not what we teach our children. It is a miserable way to live, or to run a country. No wonder the President is longer referred to as "the leader of the free world." He gave up that title. These are sad days.
d_hochberg 3 hours ago
Yes, he is utterly incompetent on his main selling point, his supposed skill at negotiating. It is very inconvenient having Trump as our standard-bearer.
Alan Vanneman 3 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

Actually, the people who voted for Trump and who support him now love him for being a bully. That's what they want. They want a Tony Soprano as their president, a guy who will go out and beat up all the people they hate. They don't want "negotiation". They want a guy who has a baseball bat and knows how to use it. What's "interesting" is that despite all of Trump's appeals to violence, and his willingness to support violence (for example, Saudi Arabia), he largely shrinks from it himself. We've seen far fewer Tomahawks than one might have expected, particularly considering the great press he received the first time around. Will we continue to be lucky? I hope so, but it's hard to be optimistic.

[Aug 20, 2019] Trumponomics on the march: Israeli and EU farmers say thank you to Trump .

Notable quotes:
"... "The sentiment out in farm country is getting grimmer by the day," said John Heisdorffer, the chairman of the American Soybean Association. "Our patience is waning, our finances are suffering and the stress from months of living with the consequences of these tariffs is mounting. ..."
"... The Republican senator Chuck Grassley, who represents Iowa, a state heavily reliant on agriculture, has called for a quick resolution to the dispute. "Americans understand the need to hold China accountable, but they also need to know that the administration understands the economic pain they would feel in a prolonged trade war," Grassley said in a statement. ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

American farmers are likely to feel the pain first. Soybean exports to China collapsed last year when the trade war began, and agricultural exports will be hit harder when, or if, the new tariffs are imposed. Farmers are also suffering from extensive flooding that has delayed planting.

"The sentiment out in farm country is getting grimmer by the day," said John Heisdorffer, the chairman of the American Soybean Association. "Our patience is waning, our finances are suffering and the stress from months of living with the consequences of these tariffs is mounting."

The new round of tariffs will hit other parts of the US food industry, with beans, lentils, honey, flour, corn and oats all on the list of goods that will be taxed.

... ... ...

The Republican senator Chuck Grassley, who represents Iowa, a state heavily reliant on agriculture, has called for a quick resolution to the dispute. "Americans understand the need to hold China accountable, but they also need to know that the administration understands the economic pain they would feel in a prolonged trade war," Grassley said in a statement.

[Aug 20, 2019] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States Venezuela_relations by making that idiotic wannabe-coup. The sh*t that previously USA did silently pretending whitegloved "shining beacon", Trump exposed.

Notable quotes:
"... EU is the power, that took part in creating narco-haven in Kosovo, murdering children of Iraq, building sex slaves markets in Libya, destroying what was left of democracy in Ukraine. EU power is diminishing? Let it crash and burn if you ask me. ..."
Aug 20, 2019 | en.wikipedia.org

Did it really made USA position better in 2018 than it was in 2014? I doubt. To me it seemes more like T.T. accelerated things and "threw it all on the table" making Venezuela "hit the rock bottom". Now Venezuela can adjust to the new brave world, while USA would probably not be in position to tighten its grip - it already burned all the reserves and in so clumsy way, that Bolton and Co became a laughing stock. If anything, it exposed that while most gov't there would be paying lip service to USA, none would go with something material. France invaded with USA Libya, Germany invaded with USA Serbia, but none enlisted to invade Venezuela with USA.

> In Latin America most governments are now US puppet governments.

Brazil was indeed a huge blow into the BRICS dream. But i see it more of that indirect, covert "soft power" that USA secret services prepared and rushed to implement before Trump.

> Weakened the EU, via support for Brexit and other ways - it means that the euro will not be a viable alternative for replacing the dollar

Basically turning EU elites against USA and splitting "Western Hegemony" into rivaling factions.

From multipolar view circa 2010, would it be much difference for, say, Russia or China or Iran, whether USD or EUR would be "reserve currency"?

After Alexander of Macedonia died his empire split to pieces, and some of those pieces soon started warring. Did this enhance Greek hegemony or reduced it?

When COMECOM and Warsaw Pact disbanded did it enhanced Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe or reduced it? But it slashed exports of those lands, Bulgaria is not more agriculture super-power it used to be, "Ikarus" bus is still often meet in Moscow street but in the "remnants of old times still able to run" kind, Poland is no more producing ocean-grade ships. So, was it enhancing USSR share of world economy then?

Also, didn't he kind of forced EU elites into Chinese OBOR camp? That said, similarly Russia was forced towards China in 2013-2014 by Western lunacy, so i would not say it was Trump's novelty to push EU eastwards.

EU was in with US in looting Libya, EU was in with US in looting Serbia, now US calls for EU to join in "patrolling" Persian Gulf and response is... like the one about invading Venezuela. Hegemon became stronger?

> Trade wars seem to be hitting EU's export dependent economy pretty hard.

And i wish to see more of those wars not less. Won't you? EU is the power, that took part in creating narco-haven in Kosovo, murdering children of Iraq, building sex slaves markets in Libya, destroying what was left of democracy in Ukraine. EU power is diminishing? Let it crash and burn if you ask me.

> Turkey has serious economic problems - partly due to the US again - which again means slowing down multipolarity

Wasn't in 2012 Turkey part of Hegemon entourage neck-deep in bloody ISIS affair?
Wasn't Turkey for decades be knockign into closed EU membership doors?
Wasn't Turkey send their poeple into Germany to intertwine and cross-influence?

Turkey as part of multipolarity? Maybe. But exactly because it was prohibited from what they see their place in global western world. However i am not very sure that would West offer "larger piece" to Turkey in their crippling hegemony, turkey would not turn back yet again. Goog thing, it would be hard to do as few believe western promises today, but again, didn't Trump (but other western politicians too, and including many pre-Trump) invested into making West glaringly "not agreement-capable" in but everyone's view?

Trump could smash Turkey and instate Kudistan.
Trump could smash Kurds and make amends with Erdo.
Instead Trump is breaking pots with both. Neither Kurds not Turks no trust "the shining beacon".

> Overall situation - the US share in the world economy is declining at slower rates than before

Won't this mean Trump's economic policy is if limited success?

> the retarding of growth of everyone else, which means defacto slowing down multipolarity and the replacement of the US dollar

That may be what some faction of Team Trump counting upon. But i have reservations.
Uni-polarity is not about economic growth. It is about trading on One True Market, hegemon's one.
And when everything goes down, another factors start to weigh in. Like elasticity of demand and replacement with cheaper substitutes. Like, if i need a tooling for my house, i would perhaps want to purchase Japanese Makita or German Bosh. Those are famous brands with decades of well earned reputation. But if i only can salivate on them, then perhaps i can go with some cheaper Chinese knock-off? Or perhaps to blow the dust from my grandpa's old tool and purchase nothing at all? If i can buy genuine American Levi's it is a fad, but if i can, then perhaps i will make it in Turkey-made or China-made or Philipinnes-made or even Syria-made jeans? You know, their cut is not that fitting as European or American, but perhaps we can deal with it for the price? If in Russia i can no more buy Czech or German beer as before 2014, then perhaps i can sooth myself with apple cidre from semi-eastern Altai region of Russia? And then, will my gov't still had the same need for USD for those adjusted trade transactions, as it used to?

Posted by: Arioch | Aug 20 2019 14:22 utc | 83

[Aug 19, 2019] 'Hawk Policy' in Financialised Garb -- Strategic Culture

Aug 19, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The 'max pressure', Make America Great Again formula is not going to work, for the simple reason that it is consuming America's 'capital stock' at a torrential rate. It will neither restore America's manufacturing base, nor will it recover to America it's political hegemony. It polarises widely. All the world now understands that MAGA is about gaining whatever advantage there is that can be accrued to the US, whilst making everyone else pay the price – and pick up the loss. Even the Europeans have 'got that' now. Trumpism lacks 'dimension' beyond the mercantile. Yet, if it could narrate cultural 'sovereignty-ism' as something more than being mere 'anti-identity politics', and narrow advantage, it might find some wider sustainability.

As it is, the narrowly defined MAGA policy, simply is eating both into America's political capital – and, is eating away at America's unparalleled privilege of being able to consume at a higher standard of living than others on the US reserve currency, 'credit card', which requires no settlement by the US of its debit dollar balances. By sanctioning 'the world' and playing so loose with dollar hegemony and the Bretton Woods system, the US ultimately will lose it all. It will then face the unpleasant experience of having to pay – with something of real value – for all that it consumes. It will shock.

It is true that the global system sorely needed a shake-up, and Trump's iconoclasm has been, as it were, to that extent, a creative-destructive force that opens the path to seeding something new. But the 'disrupter' impulse can become an unmitigated train-wreck, absent any balancing fecundity which might bring some synthesis or ultimate harmony.

For now, there is no sight of any figure around President Trump that has either the insight, or the political ' savoir fare ', to lead the US President out from his 'corner'. On the contrary, a train-wreck in foreign policy – and ultimately – in monetary policy too (as the 'Fed' keeps fuelling the financial bubble, while the real economy moulders) – seems ahead. Maximum pressure has not harvested its anticipated political dividends – instead it is dangerously escalating global tensions.

Trump's foreign policy both has been centred around – and blighted by – his deep-seated antipathy towards Iran. It lies at the apex of his Greater Israel policy, and his 2018 tweet that "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" (capitalisation is Trump's).

The collateral damage cascading from the obsession that Iran represents 'cosmic evil', and if defeated, WORLD PEACE is somehow assured, is spreading: Russia's refusal to pivot against Iran represents the principal reason for the souring of Trump's relations with President Putin. Iran policy is dividing Europe from America. It has become a substantive impediment in the China relationship (as China requires energy security, and is not prepared to join the boycott). And the US Iran policy may yet result in global economic damage (should the oil risk heighten). The Middle East already is roiling, and Iran has become the universal US bureaucratic pretext for why American forces must be kept in place in place across regional conflicts. (They are required there 'to contain Iran').

As Daniel Larison writes in The American Conservative , Trump's Iran "policy is one of regime change in all but name, and Trump has signed off on everything that has made it so. He has no problem waging economic war on Iran, and he has given the hawks virtually everything they want. Trump's Iran policy is "the hawkish policy" in action, and if it is a disaster, that is because the "hawkish policy" was guaranteed to be one The president is fixated on nuclear weapons because his National Security Advisor has been running around for months promoting the lie that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, and he and other advisers have managed to convince (dupe) Trump of another lie: that the JCPOA "permits" Iran to acquire nuclear weapons".

And here is why, Larison observes :

"Iran hawks [have long] opposed the deal because they [never] wanted Iran to benefit from sanctions relief Iran hawks [keep] up the pretense that they want a "better deal" [because they] spent the previous 15 years before the JCPOA, hyperventilating about a potential Iranian nuclear weapon, often absurdly describing it as an "existential threat." For most of this century, many Iran hawks wouldn't shut up about the need for preventive military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. The nuclear issue was their pretext for conflict, and they hated it when the nuclear deal took that pretext away So instead we get the endless carping about the "flaws" in the deal that aren't really flaws, and the shameless goalpost-moving, that requires a non-proliferation agreement to solve all regional problems [all] at the same time.

"Trump has embraced these lies [and] has repeated them several times. Iran can't negotiate with an administration that claims that the nuclear deal "permits" them to have nuclear weapons. They know that it doesn't, and so they have to assume that there is no agreement they would be willing to make that would be acceptable to the administration. Sure enough, the administration's latest talking point that Iran must agree to give up all enrichment confirms that the US is insisting on a concession that Iran is never going to make. Trump doesn't want to talk to Iran as his predecessor did. He wants Iran to capitulate. That has always been the goal of "maximum pressure." Trump's Iran policy is definitely a hawkish policy, and that is why it is producing such awful results for the US and Iran."

So, why have the hawks been so vehement in opposing the normalising of relations with Iran? It is because normalisation would shift the strategic balance away from those states favouring accommodation with Israel – towards the so-called resistance states who never have (in their view). PM Netanyahu has been adamant throughout that sanctions relief must never be offered to Iran – he sees US sanctions as the leverage to force Iran's expulsion from Syria.

It is this intransigent stance that lay behind the failure of the tri-partite meeting of national security advisers of US Israel and Russia in late June. Netanyahu earlier had proposed to Putin that he (i.e Israel) represented the 'gateway' to opening doors in DC; that with Israeli endorsement, Netanyahu could bring the ending to US sanctions on Russia, but only were Mr Putin to agree to end Russia's ties with Iran, and to isolate Tehran.

President Putin had countered with the offer that – were the US to lift sanctions on Iran, and withdraw its forces from Syria – then Russia would use its best endeavours to have Iran exit Syria. American and Israeli interests additionally, then would be 'accommodated' in a Syrian political settlement.

The Jerusalem trilateral, in short, was expected by Netanyahu to lay the ground work for a clear commitment by Russia to sever relations with Iran – and that this would be unveiled as the 'grand outcome' for Trump at the Osaka G20, following his one-on-one with Putin. It didn't happen.

In the event, Netanyahu blankly refused any lifting of sanctions on Iran (arguing that sanctions represented real leverage over Iran's presence in Syria), and the trilateral not only failed in its strategic objective, but the Russian representative at the trilateral, Nikolai Patrushev, while being friendly to Israel, did not abjure Iran. Quite the opposite: He denied Tehran is a threat to regional security. "Russia sides with Iran, against Israel and US. A senior Russian official stands by Tehran's claim that US drone was shot down in Iranian airspace, defends rights of foreign troops to remain in Syria despite Israeli opposition", concluded one Israeli journal.

And in consequence, the Osaka summit between Trump and Putin did not go well either: Trump merely handed Putin a list of US demands. Putin smiled sphinx-like, but did not answer.

But look: The White House's Iran policy is but the lead 'chariot' heading towards a tight bend at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), and to a potential 'pile up'. Close behind is US-Russia relations; the chariot of trade war with China, and in the tail, the laggard of trade war with Europe. Far more grave – for us all – would be if US-Russia relations slams into the stadium wall. And we are close to that happening: The incident with the Russian submersible that led to the loss of fourteen lives (whose details the parties prefer to keep quiet), and the letter from NATO insisting that Russia's 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems breach the INF treaty and must be destroyed, all set a scene of gravely deteriorating relations.

Why would Trump risk so much on an ancient Middle Eastern quarrel? Why snub Putin over Iran? Maybe Trump has convinced himself of the narrative that Iran is indeed a cosmic evil, in the biblical sense. But his conversion to this ideology also happens to sit comfortably with his immediate interests:

Last week the summit of Christians United for Israel , took place in DC. Thousands of evangelical Christians from across the country attended the event, at which Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo (both evangelicals), as well as, John Bolton, Jason Greenblatt, and his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman all spoke. The theme, of course, was the Iranian threat.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes :

"Evangelicals, the backbone of Christians United for Israel, are a key voting bloc for Trump and the Republicans. Around 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, helping him secure victories in several swing states. The consensus among US political analysts is that the president will need similar or greater support among evangelicals to win a second term next year.

"Last week, the news website Axios reported that Trump's re-election campaign "is developing an aggressive, state-by-state plan to mobilize even more evangelical voters than supported him last time." This will include, according to the report, "voter registration drives at churches in battleground states such as Ohio, Nevada and Florida," which will promote Trump's record on issues important to evangelical voters."

And the primordial interest for these Evangelical voters? Moving toward actualising (Biblical) Greater Israel as a prophesy fulfilled. And here is the unsolved question – as Iran escalates its counter-pressures, in response, and as America's strangulation hold tightens – what will Trump do?

"At the moment", Ben Caspit, a leading Israel commentator notes , "Trump is influenced by his close advisers (mainly John Bolton and Mike Pompeo) who have adopted a hawkish stance and are not deterred at the thought of military involvement (at least aerial involvement) vis-a-vis Tehran. But the US president also has other mentors (some political and some from the media world) who claim that getting involved in a military adventure on the eve of elections would greatly reduce Trump's chances of reelection to a second term of office."

Caspit however, does 'nod' towards the weight of the Evangelicals: "Israel has transformed this evangelical repository into a tremendous electoral-diplomatic-strategic asset over the last three years, vis-a-vis Trump's administration. Netanyahu and his ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, have great influence over the evangelical preachers. The relationship between Israel and this American Christian-messianic faction has been deepening [even to the point of rivalling AIPAC]"

"One thing is sure", concludes Caspit: "The considerations and analyses in Israel surrounding the Iran issue at this point in time are completely different than what prevailed in the summer of 2012 One way or another, anyone who thought that the issue of a possible Israeli attack on Iran has long since been removed from the agenda is welcome to catch up: It is returning".

[Aug 05, 2019] Recruiting or promoting dupes is a characteristic neocon activity. Find some nice-looking cipher, surround him or her with whisperers and handlers, acclimatize them to saying and doing as they're told.

Notable quotes:
"... "Rather than simply pointing out how unqualified Kelly Craft is for the United Nations job, I think it would be wise for us to reconsider the idea of politically appointed ambassadors entirely," Ashford said. "Is there really any ambassadorial appointment so unimportant that it should be handled by a donor, rather than by experienced diplomats? The whole donations-for-ambassadorships system is bad for U.S. diplomacy and national security." ..."
"... "Certainly, having an entirely inexperienced diplomat in the United Nations role will probably empower Pompeo, and is reflective of Bolton's own antipathy towards international organizations," said Ashford. ..."
"... an inexperienced DNI would allow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to continue heavily influencing the U.S. intelligence community, as he has done for over a year since leaving the CIA, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. ..."
"... "Pompeo, who was Donald Trump's first CIA director, is now serving as a key intermediary between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community, the officials say, a very unusual role for the secretary of state, who is supposed to be a customer of the intelligence community, not its master," The Intercept report ed. "Pompeo has emerged as the administration's de facto intelligence czar." ..."
"... "It's not easy to be a Trump ambassador," she added. Due to Trump's "particularly confrontational style," which "makes the job of diplomacy more challenging," it's particularly impressive that Craft was able to "keep the relationship going extraordinarily well on behalf of the U.S. and Canada" throughout the renegotiation of the trade deal and the "daily work of solving border issues." ..."
"... "I have John Bolton who I would definitely say is a hawk. And I have other people that are on the other side of the equation," Trump has said . "Ultimately I make the decisions so it doesn't matter." ..."
Aug 05, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

President Donald Trump's recent choice of the relatively unknown Congressman John Ratcliffe for Director of National Intelligence and his elevation of Kelly Craft as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- despite concerns about her inexperience -- illustrates the power vacuum within Trump's cabinet, and the opportunities this opens up for interventionists like National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The rash of remarkably unqualified and inexperienced candidates for top slots points to a presidency that values personal loyalty to Donald Trump above the ability to govern effectively. This atmosphere favors those with Washington insider status and the policy goals to bring it to fruition, say defense analysts who spoke to TAC.

Trump's recent picks "fit the pattern of the eroding of competence which is particularly happening in the national security apparatus," said Trita Parsi, associate professor at Georgetown University, in an interview with TAC. These are "clearly people that are just willing to go along with whatever the political agenda is."

Unfortunately, that agenda may be wielded now by the most experienced, and powerful senior officials left standing -- Bolton and Pompeo -- whose aggressive foreign policies sometimes clash with their president's.

"My view on this is that any appointment on Trump's foreign policy staff after the ascent of Bolton will reflect Bolton's will," said Mark Perry, TAC senior writer and author of The Pentagon's Wars. "Which is to say: if Kelly Craft meets with Bolton's approval, it's because he views her as weak."

"My view on this is that any appointment on Trump's foreign policy staff after the ascent of Bolton will reflect Bolton's will," said Mark Perry, TAC senior writer and author of The Pentagon's Wars. "Which is to say: if Kelly Craft meets with Bolton's approval, it's because he views her as weak."

Almost everyone else who originally held a senior national security job has now left the Trump administration, including the defense secretary, national security adviser, attorney general, FBI director, secretary of state, White House chief of staff, secretary of Homeland Security, and director of the Secret Service.

This week, the Senate confirmed multi-million dollar Republican donor Kelly Craft to replace Nikki Halley, who left her post as ambassador to the United Nations at the end of 2018. Craft was mostly absent from her previous position as Trump-appointed ambassador to Canada. Before that she was appointed delegate to the UN by President George W. Bush, and headed her own business advisory firm in Kentucky. That is where her resume seems to end. She has no other government or foreign policy background, academic or professional, to speak of. This makes her one of the least experienced people to ever hold the post.

"Craft's appointment as UN ambassador is just one more step towards the 'Trumpification' of government functions, whether it's putting his unqualified family members in key White House roles or rewarding countries that patronize his businesses with sweetheart deals," Emma Ashford, a research fellow in defense and foreign policy for the Cato Institute, told TAC.

Amassing War Powers, Bolton Rips a Page Out of Cheney's Playbook

"Rather than simply pointing out how unqualified Kelly Craft is for the United Nations job, I think it would be wise for us to reconsider the idea of politically appointed ambassadors entirely," Ashford said. "Is there really any ambassadorial appointment so unimportant that it should be handled by a donor, rather than by experienced diplomats? The whole donations-for-ambassadorships system is bad for U.S. diplomacy and national security."

Given that John Bolton once suggested that if the United Nations building "lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," it is possible that the choice of Craft reflects the Trump administration's disregard of the institution. Nothing says that better than putting an entirely unqualified person in the job.

And it would also play into the hands of Pompeo and Bolton, who have already ensured that Craft's position will be demoted from the president's cabinet and placed back under the Secretary of State's purview, the way it was under President George W. Bush.

"Certainly, having an entirely inexperienced diplomat in the United Nations role will probably empower Pompeo, and is reflective of Bolton's own antipathy towards international organizations," said Ashford.

Inexperience in so many top national security slots is "going to make it easier to have a non-fact based foreign policy, a profoundly confrontational foreign policy, that will please John Bolton but that will not in any shape or form serve U.S. national interest," said Parsi, who added that Bolton seems to be determined to "neutralize these positions."

Since Bolton joined Trump's cabinet, the Pentagon has begun referring questions about troop deployments to the National Security Council, which is in his purview. As TAC reported previously, Bolton appeared to take a page from former vice president Dick Cheney's playbook when he took the highly unusual step of convening a meeting about a possible confrontation with Iran not at the White House but at CIA headquarters. Bolton is an unapologetic Bush-era war hawk with four decades of experience inside the Beltway, who has used his long career to advocate for regime change in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran.

Like Craft, the new Pentagon chief and former Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper is unlikely to serve as a backstop to empty or wrongheaded proposals, particularly when there's so little longevity within Trump's cabinet.

"We've seen people that push back being replaced with people without any capacity to push back," said Parsi.

Trump's choice of Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence was so weak that the president ultimately withdrew his name from consideration on Friday. While the man he would have replaced was a former Indiana senator, U.S. ambassador to Germany, and one of Trump's least difficult Cabinet confirmations, Ratcliffe is a former U.S. attorney who has engaged in some serious résumé inflation, and was only recently elevated to a seat on the House Homeland Security and Judiciary committees.

Coats famously contradicted Trump on the threat posed by Russia and North Korea's willingness to give up its nuclear arsenal, whereas Ratcliffe appears to have been chosen for his Trump boosting questions at the Mueller hearing, a performance that thrilled the president.

Ratcliffe apparently was surprised by the intensity of the reaction after his name was floated. His credentials were so thin that it led some to question whether Trump can field a bench and if anyone vets his picks before he announces them.

But an inexperienced DNI would allow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to continue heavily influencing the U.S. intelligence community, as he has done for over a year since leaving the CIA, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

"Pompeo, who was Donald Trump's first CIA director, is now serving as a key intermediary between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community, the officials say, a very unusual role for the secretary of state, who is supposed to be a customer of the intelligence community, not its master," The Intercept report ed. "Pompeo has emerged as the administration's de facto intelligence czar."

Not everyone shares the concern that a relative lack of experience means that a candidate will be ineffective. Maryscott Greenwood, former chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to Canada during the Clinton administration, told TAC that applying that criticism to Craft is "a reach."

"I think a better way to judge someone is by the work they do, so whether you're physically sitting in the embassy in Ottawa or somewhere else, the better question is: are you doing the job, are you advancing the goals of the country?" said Greenwood. "The narrative that she was absent or didn't uphold her duties [as ambassador to Canada], that's not what I observed. I saw her as a workaholic."

"It's not easy to be a Trump ambassador," she added. Due to Trump's "particularly confrontational style," which "makes the job of diplomacy more challenging," it's particularly impressive that Craft was able to "keep the relationship going extraordinarily well on behalf of the U.S. and Canada" throughout the renegotiation of the trade deal and the "daily work of solving border issues."

"Craft played a key role at a time when" the role of ambassador to Canada was particularly difficult, said Greenwood.

It is also worth noting that Trump doesn't have much experience. And no matter how aggressive the positions of his advisors, in the final analysis, as Trump frequently likes to remind us, the commander in chief is his own man.

"I have John Bolton who I would definitely say is a hawk. And I have other people that are on the other side of the equation," Trump has said . "Ultimately I make the decisions so it doesn't matter."

Barbara Boland is 's foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.

Back Valley 20 hours ago

Recruiting or promoting dupes is a characteristic neocon activity. Find some nice-looking cipher, surround him or her with whisperers and handlers, acclimatize them to saying and doing as they're told.

The template is Quayle - Kristol back in the late eighties, but there are many more recent.

Fayez Abedaziz 20 hours ago
First of all, Trump is a liar and also historically ignorant.
Second, he doesn't make a final decision if it concerns the Middle East:
his son in law, Kushner tells/ 'briefs,' let's say Trump on what is, which of course is Kushner basically working as a lobbyist for Israel.
Who are we kidding?
That extreme Kushner and Trump's daughter Ivanka tell Trump the 'facts.'
Pompeo and Bolton are fine with that.
Do people who have been around really not know that the neo-cons are the reason the above two war mongers got appointed?
As I look and read, I see Pompeo smiling too much and I know why:
the power and ego he's got now. Tell him I said he's a clown.
Look at hate filled Bolton. Tell him i'd destroy him in 2 minutes in a debate.
Now, compare all of the above characters to the dignified Russian or, say, the Jordanian foreign ministers. See a difference? Yeah, the latter two practice diplomacy not crude threats and misery making all over the world.
Why don't the moderate, realistic peace groups like J Street and Peace Now /Israel and Peace Now/ USA not have a voice with the critters in the Congresses or in the white house?
Oh, yeah, Kushner and Ivanka, his wife, daughter of 'our leader'- Trump.
I'm telling you, people all over the world are looking at the USA and calling it for what it has become- clown city and a joke among diplomatic, civilized behaving nations and is anti any peaceful solution.
See what i'm saying? Can you relate?
Sid Finster Fayez Abedaziz 10 hours ago
That's so not true! Bolton and Pompeo also recite whatever crap Jarden "Boy Wonder" Kushner is stovepiping Trump.
EliteCommInc. Fayez Abedaziz 10 hours ago
I have several documentaries on our US presidents and I have to say, your comments could fit several them and the role of insiders and the family patronage systems that permeates the entire country.

I am not a very bright fellow, but something tells me the country is not a disaster because the current president is and remains in office.

That against all of the doomsday predictions.

HenionJD 11 hours ago
The only pool of candidates Trump has left are those who are either poison, such as Bolton, or else so far outside the pool of experienced people that their nomination represents the only shot they'll ever have at such a position. After the examples of Coates, Kelly, and Mattis, anyone who is actually qualified doesn't want to go anywhere near this administration for fear of being permanently stained by their time in the pig-pen.
Been There 11 hours ago
A face that practically screams "Use Me!"
Sid Finster 10 hours ago
Appointing loyal amateurs would be an understandable strategy, especially for anyone seeking policy outside the Washington Consensus. DC is full of people who are advancing their own agendas and those of their clients, and who don't give a care for Trump or his agenda.

But Trump doesn't choose appointees based on loyalty. Trump's own appointees think he's a moron.

Trump chooses his appointees based on flattery.

EliteCommInc. 10 hours ago
Here's the problem with the underlying contend here,

"And it would also play into the hands of Pompeo and Bolton . . ."

these gentleman are experienced diplomats as were a huge bevy of diplomats that have led us to our current status.

And while the donors to Ambassador career path is no more credible based on the merits of wealth and status . . .

Experience of the United Kingdom in play for some 1800 years has a different meaning for young upstart and still very young US.

A Shmoe 9 hours ago
If there were a thought bubble over Craft's head, it would say "I really hope Israel commits some nauseating atrocity against the Palestinians while I'm UN ambassador, because then I get to go on TV and say that US support for Israel's right to self-defense will never waver ... just like Nikki Haley got to do!" But for obvious reasons there is no thought bubble over Craft's head.
Mark Thomason 8 hours ago
This form of manipulation is characteristic of the insider game played by Bolton. I see his hand it in here too.
Bill In Montgomey 6 hours ago
Appoint a potted plant to most of these positions. These plants couldn't make things worse, and only require watering every now and then. That is, they work cheap. I'd vote for a nice pretty fern as president if I had the chance.
EliteCommInc. Bill In Montgomey 4 hours ago
Laugh
EliteCommInc. EliteCommInc. an hour ago
"That is, they work cheap. I'd vote for a nice pretty fern as president if I had the chance."

I won't say where i stand, but that is a very funny line.

[Aug 05, 2019] Impulsive and aggreesive President: not a good combination

Aug 05, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Passer by , Aug 4 2019 23:56 utc | 56

Trump Overruled All Advisors Except Navarro "In Heated Exchange" Before Launching New China Tariffs

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-04/trump-overruled-all-advisors-except-navarro-launching-new-china-tariffs

So much for Trump being a "moderate" and "not a hawk".

In my assessment Trump is very aggressive President foreign policy wise. Way more aggressive than Obama.

[Jul 30, 2019] All-or-Nothing Diplomacy Always Yields Nothing by Daniel Larison

All or nothing diplomacy("my way or highway") is a politically correct term for imperial dictate
Notable quotes:
"... For the neocons infesting the Trump administration, that is a feature, not a bug. ..."
"... Agree but I think "my way or the highway" has been a fairly standard feature of American arrogance going back several decades. ..."
"... Bush senior and Clinton's state dept (Madeleine notsobright) were prime examples of "exceptionalism" and all that comes out of ray gun's NED. ..."
"... one realizes that what the Trump administration calls "strategists" are what regular folks call "morons". ..."
"... This is a very good assessment of a normal diplomatic give and take noticeably lacking here. The ironic part is that the greatest deal maker of all time can't make a deal because he considers every person on the other side of the table a mark. Trump actually believes to the core of his being that he can charm the world's pants off. Once they are naked, he can have his way with them. In fact, he considers them a fool for believing him in the first place. This formula has served him well and made him the most powerful man in the world. What worked for him here, won't work for him anymore on the world stage. While that says some terrible things about us, it is nice to know there are limits to this kind of behavior. The stakes are much higher and his opponents are smarter and more ruthless. ..."
"... I don't see him trying another strategy. This one has served him so well for so long, he's never going to change. When called into question, he always says, "We'll see." He thinks it's just a time factor. Eventually, they will come around. No one can long resist his charm offensive or so he thinks. ..."
Jul 29, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with U.S. President Donald Trump during the Singapore summit June 12. NPR reports on the current state of U.S.-North Korea "talks":

"The president still has faith" that Kim can be an effective negotiating partner, said one person closely familiar with U.S. deliberations. The person asked not to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter.

But elsewhere within the U.S. government, there is a widespread "loss of faith." The source said U.S. strategists are baffled that the North Korean ruler has seemed unable to spur his country to keep what they see as his c