Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Generals v the Commander-In-Chief

by Oui Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 11:30:39 AM EST

More below the fold ...

Trump’s Syria decision shakes up Middle East | Gulf News |

These issues are just too much to handle by businessman Trump ... orders all troops back into the safety of castle the United States and will pull up the bridge to the rest of the world. As promised during the campaign: isolationism based on a touch of national pride summed up in the slogan AmericaFirst!

Cartoon "The Gap in the Bridge" by Ravenhill in Dec. 1919

Interbellum Years

"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." -- Leo Tolstoy

    In the United States' case, that inward economic turn matched their diplomatic isolationism. Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations never gained effective traction and didn't grant itself authority to intervene militarily or economically. The U.S. didn't join the League even though its president, Woodrow Wilson, founded it. American opponents of the League weren't mere reactionaries; they made a solid isolationist case that membership over-committed the U.S. to intervene all over the world in conflicts that didn't really concern Americans.

In the case of Trump today, it's more likely the realisation of the military costs [and lives of Americans] and the complexity of world affairs that forced his decision. And it was a campaign promise to do matters differently than his predecessor Barack Obama. All Alone in the White House.

In Afghanistan, U.S. military sprints to prove it can reverse insurgent tide | WaPo – March 30, 2018 |

More to follow in this diary about Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syrian territory and a big drawdown in Afghanistan after 17 years of failures.

Further reading ...

Trump to Pentagon: Hands Off Syria
What A Joke He Is!
Completing the Neocon PNAC Project
Dutch Colonial Heritage Reaches Xenophobic Zenith
Battle Lines Are Drawn in the EU to Fight Islam
Al Bashir’s Syria visit aimed at 'reclaiming Arab role’

James Mattis’s Letter of Resignation | The Atlantic |

Dear Mr. President:

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong US global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.


The annihilation of Daesh and its savagery | Gulf News |

Point of departure

When you consider how, after the Arabs’ humiliating defeat in the June war of 1967, all the secular ideologies that had then animated the public debate — such as pan-Arabism, Nasserism, Baathism, socialism — proved to be hollow and worthless, you begin to see a vacuum there.

And human nature, as we know, abhors a vacuum. At a time when Arabs needed a mythology of hope to live by — for man does not live by bread alone — what better one was there to turn to than Islam, a source of identity and power, whose holy texts grew out of the very bosom of one’s culture?

People want to be recognised and respected, defined within a shared system of thought that gives passion, meaning and elan to the lives they live — a notion in our part of the world called 'Assabiyah’ by Ibn Khaldun in Muqaddimah, and in the Euramerican world called Thymos by Plato in The Republic.

Sadly, secular Arab thinkers at the time envisioned the world, but failed to change it, and created meaning but possessed no means. Enter Daesh, bristling with arms and muscular swagger, ostensibly to speak to, about and from these people’s choked psyche.

But some Islamist activists, even before Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden and Daesh, were semi-literate oafs — indeed in some instances outright street thugs such as Abu Musab Al Zarqawi — rather than polished, discerning intellectuals in touch with the soul of their history.

Thus, like all such jejune movements, Daesh came burdened with the seeds of its own destruction.

Diminished range

And, yes, Daesh may continue to inspire some alienated people who demand a dissociation from personal identity, who prefer a diminished range for the self, and who want to entrust their imagination, their centre of reality, their emotional and tactical resources to a massed movement.

Clinton's 21st Century Statecraft and the Land of the Two Rivers
Makkah Siege of 1979 - Turning Point in Saudi Arabia


Trump asked Erdoğan if Turkey could clear the rest of Syria of ISIL | Hürriyet Daily News Opinion |

United States President Donald Trump did it again. His unpredictability has just become a norm when shaping U.S. foreign policy. Although he denies it was not a surprise move, Trump’s sudden decision for a complete pullout of all U.S. troops from Syria, despite the Pentagon’s continuous statements that the job has not been done yet, had an astonishing impact on the international community as well as regional actors.

As Reuters reported, citing a U.S. official, Trump’s latest phone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 14 pushed him to give the final order for the withdrawal from Syria.

According to the same Turkish officials, Trump asked this following question to Erdoğan on the phone: “Can Turkey clear the east of Euphrates of the rest of ISIL in the event that they withdraw from Syria?”

The reason why Trump raised this question was Erdoğan’s continued criticisms on the U.S. partnership with the YPG on the fight against ISIL. Erdoğan once again reiterated Turkey’s belief that the YPG was not genuinely in the fight against the jihadist groups but was using this assumption as a pretext for its political ambitions in the east of Euphrates.

Therefore, Erdoğan reaffirmed that Turkey could fight against ISIL as it did in mid-2016 and neutralized around 4,000 jihadists as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation.

It was well-reported that Trump had pushed the button after his conversation with Erdoğan. But Ankara was notified of the decision a few days after, on Dec. 17. But senior Turkish officials still had suspicions about the move. “Saudis, Israelis, Europeans and, of course, Kurds are against the U.S. withdrawal. Pentagon and other parts of the establishment are not happy with the move,” the senior officials said, expressing their skepticism over the course of the developments.

Russia, Iran Prevail - Syrian Rebellion Ends
Iran Avenges Terror Attack Hitting Targets in SW Syria

The ill advised invasion and occupation of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, a former ally of the US in the war against Iran …

The Pacification of Tal Afar – April till Dec. 2005
Iraq today - Iron Fist replaces :: Operation Restoring Rights by Oui @BooMan on Oct. 1st, 2005
NYT & Patrick Lang Beating the War Drums ¶ Exacerbate Fear of Iran [Jan. 2006]

PS The recent talks between US envoy and the Taliban held in Qatar … who was the American envoy? Indeed Khalilzad.

American Viceroy | The New Yorker – Dec. 2005 |

Zalmay Khalilzad was a hawk; he was close to neoconservatives like Richard Perle and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and had argued for regime change in Iraq for more than a decade. He arrived in Baghdad a few days after the first American troops, alongside General Jay Garner, who was sent to supervise the reconstruction of Iraq. But a few weeks later Khalilzad and Garner were suddenly recalled to Washington, apparently at the behest of the Pentagon, and were replaced by Paul Bremer, who became the head of the new Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer, in almost every major aspect, proved to be ineffectual. His peremptory dissolution of the Iraqi Army, in May of 2003, gave the insurgency vigor and a vastly expanded constituency.

In late 2003, Khalilzad was sent to Afghanistan as the U.S. Ambassador. The political capital he has in the Administration—which is considerable—is due to his successes there. While he was in Kabul, Afghanistan held its first free elections in history, which Karzai won handily. Karzai regarded Khalilzad as his close friend and adviser; he was very unhappy when, last April, President Bush nominated Khalilzad to replace Bremer’s successor in Baghdad, John Negroponte.

Europe responds with alarm to US defence secretary's resignation | The Guardian |

UK defence and foreign ministers, habitually inclined to keep differences with the US out of public sight, openly criticised Trump's decision. The Middle East minister, Alistair Burt, tweeted: "There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood - vital any successor agrees."

The tweet is a warning to the US that the Gulf states, as well as the Kurds, may deduce that the US pullout means their long-term interests may lie in allying with other more steadfast partners such as Russia or China. Russia has been increasingly active in the Middle East, and now seems certain to emerge as the victor that protected the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. Other Arab countries are preparing to recognise Assad as victor by sending diplomats to Damascus.

The UK defence minister, Tobias Ellwood, also praised Mattis as "trusted, respected and admired by friends and allies, as well as feared and revered by our foes".

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 04:26:41 PM EST
From a long interview with Russia's FM Sergei Lavrov - a steady voice from Moscow and a career diplomat:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, Moscow, December 17, 2018

We are in favour of keeping the INF Treaty. The entire international community has repeatedly recognised it as a cornerstone of international security and strategic stability. Today at the UN, we will make a second attempt to submit a General Assembly resolution in support of preserving this Treaty.

Apart from that, we have presented the US with our concerns regarding how it implements this Treaty. These concerns are based on concrete facts and developments in the military technical sphere, specifically the deployment of a US military base in Romania and deployment plans for Poland. We hear statements by our US colleagues that the only way to save the Treaty is to destroy the 9M729 missile, which Russia has allegedly developed with a range exceeding the limit imposed by the Treaty. In response, Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu, following similar steps at the expert level, has officially suggested that he and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis meet and start a professional discussion. The US did not even reply or at least formally acknowledge the receipt of the invitation. Possibly, if they had done this, they would have had to explain why they are evading a professional discussion and continue to act in the notorious "highly likely" style, as though wishing to say that what remains for us is to repent because we are allegedly to blame for everything.

Sole peace talks on Syria are taking place in Astana between Turkey, Iran and Russia. Recently joined by the UN envoy in Geneva ...

UN envoy discusses new Syria constitution body with Iran, Turkey, Russia FMs
Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress (Dec. 2018)

Ahead of NATO meeting in Brussels ...

Tensions rise as US threatens to 'take out' Russian missiles | BBC News |

US Ambassador to NATO: Kay Bailey Hutchison. Texas and the rise of Ms Hutchison - Oui @BooMan in Oct. 2005.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 04:35:17 PM EST
I could never be annoyed with you, Oui.

I'm annoyed that these lousy articles persist in the innerboobs, feeding some extremely mangey beliefs in US divinity. I'm responding to that.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Dec 22nd, 2018 at 03:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sympathetic to the general thrust of this essay. I suppose, that explains why I object to the digest of events offered in "Interbellum Years".

Here we find the author inexplicably relating "isolationist" sentiment, in general, to reluctance, in general, "to intervene militarily or economically" in in formation of the League, but not international settlement of reparations; and the US isolationists' argument that "membership over-committed the U.S. to intervene all over the world in conflicts that didn't really concern Americans" is a plausible explanation for Wilson administration's intermittent intervention by Herb Hoover-proxy in the Conference business, between his visits Jan 2018, Dec 2018, Jan - July 2019.

I smell a rat. I smell the innocence of US military aggression in this high school revival of US 'isolationism'. Consistency in fact is rather trivial detail in presentation of US hegemony as if alone in all things fabulous.

For one, I have posted here before Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1789-2012. The US federal gov has never been averse to intervention "all over the world" before, during, or after WWI.

Second, the author seems careless to conflate domestic agitation for 'reform' (Progressive Party, Roosevelt 'Moose' Party, Socialist and Communist parties, anarchists' demos) with polemic against 'isolationism', proposed by latter day US historians. In the decade after the Spanish-American War, brutal union-busting, Panic of '07, etc insurrection pre-occupied fed gov revival of imperial aspiration. It entered WWI late in part because of regime change to systematically suppress civil rights agitation right up to WWI conscription and secure budget financing. 'Isolationism' is the rug pulled over a period of violent, reactionary fed gov police action to quash US domestic 'reform'.

Third, I've been following this WWI shitshow through NYT --'conscience of a liberal'-- clippings for several years at WIIIAI. These anecdotes nicely complement Zinn's survey ( Ch.13-14), for example. And for the last few weeks -100, I've been reading about Republican Party threats to depose Wilson in the event he took even a Japanese minute to sail to Europe for the Paris Peace Conference.

Fourth, the compact wasn't signed until 1920, wasn't 'wildly popular' nor ratified by the US Senate, and the League wasn't codified until 1930, when Herb Hoover was installed. Not that it mattered. US didn't ratify the United Nations Charter until July 28, 1945. And since then has "cherry picked" which UN conventions fed gov will sign but not enforce. Mr Trump is not in the least an atavistic figure of US 'foreign policy.'

"Over-committed the U.S. to intervene" should be understood instead to express a historical political sentiment that fed gov will refuse to be bound by international treaty prohibiting US aggression.

Happy Black History D355 Y3

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 06:30:58 PM EST
The choice of the article "Interbellum Years" was done simply due to the listed cartoon I wanted to use. I'm certain for historical use it had little to offer. Thanks for the information in your reply.

World War I and Historical Memory

Related reading ...

America's Greatness Ended With the Statue of Liberty
with link to Early 20th Century Immigration Restrictions  

The mountains of southern West Virginia are riddled with coal--and bullets | Smithsonian Mag |
Yesterday's Bolsheviki and Today's Deplorables
with link to The Lynching of Robert Prager [UMW] and the Problems of Patriotism in 1918 | St. Louis Globe Democrat |  

Uncertainty in International relations with elements of a century ago. From this week's interview with Sergey Lavrov ...

There are comparisons that go farther back into history. Both in this country and elsewhere, there are figures who predict that a situation will arise resembling that on the eve of World War I. They are referring to the pent-up antagonisms existing in Europe, including, by the way, in the Balkans. But it is my strong, firm conviction that the politicians in the key countries cannot allow a big war to happen. The public opinion and the nations themselves will not let them. I hope that the parliaments in each Western country will also display maximal responsibility.

But I absolutely agree that tensions are being fomented in an unprecedented way. We see international agreements collapsing. Not so long ago, the United States unilaterally disrupted the ABM Treaty. We had to adopt measures that would prevent this extremely negative event from undermining strategic stability. Next in line is the INF Treaty, which Washington believes to be outmoded, while accusing us of violating it. In so doing, they are hinting in no uncertain terms that they would like to extend the restriction identical to that assumed by the USSR and the United States to China and a number of other countries, including North Korea and Iran.

Let me note that this Russophobia, as we are convinced, is to a decisive degree linked to the internal political infighting [in the US]. The United States, no matter who would advocate good relations with Russia, sees us as a rival as it does China. It is not accidental that for the lack of facts proving our "sins" against US democracy, the Russophobic campaign has brought no results whatsoever.

In recent days, the US propagandists have pitched in at China. In their view, China is already the "chief hacker" undermining the mainstay of US society. It is regrettable that the interests of the international community, global strategic stability and international security are being sacrificed for the sake of domestic political squabbles. But we will always be ready for dialogue.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 07:38:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mental disorder is a communicable disease.
The evidence is all around you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Dec 28th, 2018 at 04:32:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for posterity, just in case you're still connecting dots to "migrants" (war refugees) into the EU

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Dec 28th, 2018 at 04:19:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe responds with alarm to US defence secretary's resignation

The sense of a transatlantic crisis spread across the European foreign policy establishment. The co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt  tweeted: "A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst."

The sense of anger, edging on defiance, at Trump's decision was clearest in Paris. The French defence minister, Florence Parly, said on RTL radio: "We do not share the analyses that the territorial caliphate has been annihilated. It's an extremely grave decision, and we think the job must be finished. While the territory controlled by the caliphate is no longer what it was in 2014 ... if it has been reduced to near nothing, there remains, however, a pocket where jihadists have bunkered down," she said.

Macron has invited two leaders of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to Paris to discuss how to protect the Kurds from what may now be an attack either by Isis, Turkish forces or Syrian government forces.

Carl Bildt: Neocon lobbyist? by NordicStorm @EuroTrib on Feb. 21, 2007

ECFR Council members: Norbert Roettgen, Timothy Garton Ash, Carl Bildt, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Mabel van Oranje, Coen van Oostrom, Javier Solana, Mark Leonard

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 11:38:41 PM EST
U.S. Supreme Court rejects Trump bid to enforce new asylum rules | CBC |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dealt a setback to President Donald Trump by refusing to allow his administration to implement new rules prohibiting asylum for people who cross the U.S. border illegally, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal justices in denying the request.

The justices on a 5-4 vote rebuffed the Trump administration's request to put on hold a California-based federal judge's order, at least temporarily preventing it from carrying out the policy intended to make anyone crossing the U.S.-Mexican border outside of an official port of entry ineligible for asylum.

The planned asylum change was a key component of Trump's hardline policies aimed at making it tougher for immigrants to enter and stay in the United States.

Justices rebuff government on asylum ban | Scotus blog |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 11:54:25 PM EST
As I had surmised from Turkish media, the phone conversation between Trump and Erdogan led to a decision to let the regional powers sort out the stalemate in the Euphrates valley. Key players are Turkey, Kurds, Russia, Iran and the rest of the "allied" powers giving air support to the SDF, a coalition of Kurds and Arab militia.

In the Obama years of proxy warring parties, there were moments the CIA backed fighters were confronted by rebels supported by the Pentagon. What a chaos and mess created by the Western allies with Turkey, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The confrontation with the SAA, Hezbollah and the Iranian forces will wait for another day.

Mattis resignation triggered by phone call between Trump and Erdoğan | The Guardian |

Mattis went to see the president on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to change the president's mind, and argue for standing by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have take the lead role in ejecting the Islamic State from its Syrian strongholds.

Mattis had already composed a resignation letter that did not mention the SDF or Syria but repeatedly referred to the importance to US national security of respecting allies, and confronting strategic adversaries.

Trump rebuffed Mattis's arguments over the course of a 45-minute meeting. Trump had already recorded a video in the White House garden, announcing he was bringing the troops home, and it had been shown to Mattis.

At the end of the meeting Mattis took Trump by surprise by presenting his resignation letter. According to the New York Times, Mattis ordered 50 copies to be made and circulated around the Pentagon on his return to his office.

After the defeat of HRC, "progressive" America is at a loss to analyse the events and cannot break with the policy set forth by president Barack Obama which ended so abruptly when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

With this decision in favor of Turkish president Erdoğan, Trump has split with his allies of the Middle East: Israel, UAE and Saudi Kingdom of crown prince Salman.

The next beneficiaries are Russia and Iran. If a diplomatic plan is agreed upon for Syria where there is a future role for the Sunni majority in a setting of democracy, the rebuilding of a war torn Syria can start. Just as Beirut was rebuild with KSA funding (Hariri the elder), so will the players of the destruction be counted upon to rebuild Syria. Question arises is whose image? A lot of water is yet to flow down the Euphrates and unfortunately it will be colored red with blood and bodies of ethnic revenge. It's been this way for decades ... ask Winston Churchill. Yet the Kurds realize once again they will be left behind in the triangle Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Kurds can find solace in the plight of the Palestinians.

NY Times: Collusion Trump Transition Team with UAE/Israel

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2018 at 08:58:19 AM EST
Old Generals Coming Out of the Woodwork

John F. "Jack" Keane, a 37-year U.S. army veteran, former four-star general, and former vice chief of staff of the Army, is a vocal advocate of hawkish U.S. foreign policies. He is often credited as an architect of the 2007 U.S. "troop surge" in Iraq.

Well connected among both defense contractors and the neoconservative advocacy community, Keane is currently the board chairman at the Institute for the Study of War --a neoconservative military policy institute directed by Kimberly Kagan and formerly chaired by Liz Cheney--and is a frequent guest on Fox News.

From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq | Vanity Fair |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2018 at 10:04:11 PM EST
The jig is up for the USA at least until all the swag bags are doled out to the 116th session. Fed gov had two sides to play in the Idlib corridor, now they're down to, I reckon, none.

Sporatic, veiled threats from SDF are infiltrating US syndicated reporting on PTSD in the Pentagon.

Southfront began reporting convoy retreat 21 Dec, while HTS runs raids on SAA. Erdogan is so going to clean up territory the NW that NATO will pay Turkey more to shield them.

Turkey masses troops near Kurdish-held Syrian town

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 06:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Our occupation isn't the same to your occupation!"

It's In Israel's Interest to Mend Ties with Russia | JPost |

Following United States President Donald Trump's announcement that Washington will immediately begin withdrawing troops from Syria, analysts believe it is more important than ever for Israel to mend strained ties with Russia.

On Wednesday, Moscow sent a special delegation to Israel to help ease tensions, potentially signaling a willingness by the Kremlin to move beyond the dispute over the downed plane.

Before the delegation's arrival, however, the discord played out at the United Nations, with both governments taking contrasting positions on resolutions in the General Assembly. For its part, Russia helped defeat a United States-sponsored resolution that would have condemned Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip.

The Kremlin also invited Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to visit Moscow later this month despite opposition by Jerusalem.

Israel seemingly retaliated diplomatically when earlier this week it voted for a UNGA resolution that denounced Russia's "progressive militarization of Crimea." The measure also called on Moscow to "end its temporary occupation of Ukraine's territory." Up until that point, Israel had notably been silent on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

"We are still figuring out the [Israeli-Russian] relationship after the downing of the Russian aircraft," Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Russia and the Ukraine, told The Media Line.

"The Russians tried to change the rules of the game [by courting Haniyeh] and the Israelis didn't like that. Russian officials, on the other hand, wanted to teach Israel a lesson that they will assert their own independent interests.

Israel will continue Syria strikes despite S-300, Netanyahu tells Moscow
Russia says Israeli role in Syria plane downing was premeditated

Further reading ...

Chabad, Vekselberg, Putin and the Schneerson Library
Poroshenko's Losing Bet on a Clinton Win

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2018 at 10:50:46 PM EST
Reporters lack sense of nonsense. Where nations stayed on de sideline in March 2003, many have joined the neocons in aggressive policy. We're in a full-fledged Cold War scenario by any means. This includes an ungoing hybrid warfare against the enemies of the West: Russia and China.

Our new heroes ...

Why is the US in Afghanistan | BBC News |
Sen. Graham is on a mission to convince the President Afghanistan is still worth fighting for | CNN News |

Trump's Syria move pleases dictators and hands initiative to ISIS | The Guardian Opinion |

Donald Trump's sudden decision to pull US troops out of Syria, and slash the numbers deployed in Afghanistan, came as a nasty shock to Britain, regional allies such as Israel, and to many in his own administration and Republican party. Although he had threatened such action in the past, his wiser, more experienced advisers had succeeded in restraining him - until last week, when the president finally got away from the White House "grown-ups" and went rogue.

Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad, will be gratified too, as will his allies in Iran. US Republican senators quickly pointed out that, by his decision, Trump has effectively "lost Syria" for the west and confirmed the victory of the pro-Assad forces. Assad may now feel emboldened to launch an assault on Idlib, Syria's last holdout province.

Less happy are the Saudis, who rely on US support in their proxy wars with Iran in Yemen and elsewhere. They will fear further American disengagement. Another ally, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, refrained from criticism but said he would escalate Israeli military action against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria and Lebanon following the US decision.

Trump's troop withdrawals also pose a conundrum for Britain and France, which both have military units engaged in Syria and Iraq. Downing Street said it had been consulted in advance and opposed it, but was clearly not listened to.

The benefits of our Middle-East policy ....

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 07:27:49 AM EST
Misguided - A Liberal and Progressive America!

The foreign policy 'blob' is horrified by Trump's Syria move - though not the voters | Mondoweiss |

For all of us who worry about misguided groupthink in the Washington foreign policy establishment, the last 24 hours have been validating and demoralizing. The reaction to Trump's announcement that he will withdraw U.S. forces from Syria has been reflexive horror that Trump is going against the great traditions of U.S. foreign policy. When in fact those traditions are the discredited ideas of liberal interventionists and neoconservatives who (somehow still) believe that the projection of U.S. military force in conflicts far from our shores will make the world a better place. Those ideas aren't even traditional, but generational, rooted in post-cold war globalist hubris- which Trump promised voters he was going to reverse.

Indeed, Trump's commitment to ending the role of the U.S. as a gunboat reformer surely played a much larger role in his winning the election than any interference by Russia. His stance was an important departure from Hillary Clinton's hawkishness. Her surrogates were prattling on about "regime change" in Syria and ignoring the antiwar feeling of swing voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Now Trump says he will follow through on the commitment, and the horror echoes through the mainstream media. Marco Rubio, Richard Blumenthal, Nancy Pelosi, and Lindsey Graham are all chagrined by the announcement and the departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis. Andrea Mitchell and Mara Liasson both expressed the concern that we are abandoning our allies in the Middle East.  

The Year in Trump Freakouts | The New Yorker |

Need to rethink the class of anti-war and pro human values in a world where peace is a goal, not the end after warfare and destruction. Vision and planning for the good of society. The 9/11 attacks on America and Bush's war on terror has skyrocketed the abuse of human rights and International Law and treaties between nations.

Look at the number of victims fallen at the hands of terror in the 21st century. More domestic terror by rightwing extremists lies ahead. Of course the US dwells in more deaths due to gun violence ... a leading nation. Fortunately an exception in our Western world.

Number of fatalities from terrorist attacks | Chart Global Terrorism Database |

An election promise, so no surprise really!

Trump: "It Is Time" To Get Out Of Syria, "I Want To Bring Our Troops Home" | RCP - April 3, 2018 |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 10:29:47 AM EST
Oui, got any useful background on McGurk? I'm not highly motivated to investigate the purported SIGNIFICANCE of his protest resignation.

Dude's a curiosity from the previous admin, the "Ben Rhodes" of the middle-east GWOT. His appearance in headlines this week is otherwise inexplicable.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 06:32:39 PM EST
McGurk ... his INSIGNIFICANCE is explainable. I briefly looked at his appointment by Obama in 2015. As the US pulls out of Syria, the coalition also operates in Iraq. The grand coalition will still be flying sorties, this includes three fighter jets from The Netherlands out of Jordan. They do not bomb targets over the sovereign state of Syria due to International law. Both McGurk and Mattis were to retire early in 2019. What's the fuss all about? Protest from the Neocons from both the left and right. The comments on so-called "progressive" blogs are incomprehensible.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 07:48:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Political leanings have almost nothing to do with it.  After decades of propaganda there's a large .... plurality? ... majority? ... of Americans in favor of bombing people for their own good.  Especially if the people being bombed are standing on something the Imperial 1% needs or wants, e.g. oil.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 06:40:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin calls the CEOs of major banks amid market turmoil | CNBC |

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held calls on Sunday with the heads of the six largest U.S. banks to shore up confidence in the U.S. financial system amid the recent market turmoil.

"The banks all confirmed ample liquidity is available for lending to consumer and business markets," a statement from the Treasury said.

Mnuchin spoke with J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America's Brian Moynihan, Goldman Sachs' David Solomon, Morgan Stanley's James Gorman, Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo and Michael Corbat of Citigroup.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 07:48:42 AM EST
The US is on the edge of the economic precipice - Trump may push it over | The Guardian Opinion - Robert Reich |

On Friday, Donald Trump said: "We are totally prepared for a very long shutdown." It was one of his rare uses of the pronoun "we" instead of his preferred - and in this case far more appropriate - "I".

The shutdown is indubitably his. Congress offered him a way to continue funding the government without the money to build his nonsensical wall along the Mexican border, but Trump caved in to the rabid rightwing media and refused.

I was in Bill Clinton's cabinet when Newt Gingrich pulled the plug on the federal government in 1996. It wasn't a pretty picture. A long shutdown hurts millions of people who rely on government for services and paychecks.

Trump's shutdown also adds to growing worries about the economy. The stock market is on track for the worst December since the Great Depression. World markets have lost nearly $7tn in 2018, making it the worst year since the 2008 financial crisis.

The shutdown is stoking fears that Trump could do something even more alarming. He might fail to authorize an increase in government borrowing before the federal debt reaches the current limit, which Congress extended to 2 March. A default by the US on its obligations would be more calamitous than a government shutdown.

All this brings us closer to the economic precipice. It worsens America's most fundamental economic problem.

Investors, financial regulators, and now the FED are voicing concerns about the U.S. corporate bond market

JPMorgan CEO's 'Golden Age of Banking' Is Proving Short-Lived
A $9 trillion corporate debt bomb is 'bubbling' in the US economy

For stocks the worst month of December since ... 1929 :(

As fear rises on Wall Street, strategists warn the worst is yet to come | CNBC |

A bear market ... hmm!

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 07:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
December 1929 isn't their mark. October 2008 is --something like 1800 pts over three weeks with no 'backstop'. Until Mr Obama put himself between the bank chiefs and 'the pitchforks'. Remember that?
o, look.
Wall Street selloff worsens on Mnuchin move, Washington drama
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called top U.S. bankers on Sunday amid the pullback in stocks and said he was calling a meeting of financial regulators to discuss ways to ensure "normal market operations."
Mnuchin spoke on Sunday with the heads of the six largest U.S. banks, who confirmed they have enough liquidity to continue lending and that "the markets continue to function properly."

But investors said his move to convene a call with the President's Working Group on Financial Markets [Mar. 18, 1988 EO UPDATE], known as the "Plunge Protection team," may have weighed on sentiment on Monday.

Whatever it takes.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 09:06:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump resumes attack on the Fed as markets sink again | CNBC - Mon 24 Dec.|
Nikkei average dived 1,010 points, or 5 percent, to end at its lowest finish since April 25, 2017. | Japan Times  - Tue 25 Dec. |

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Dec 25th, 2018 at 08:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Links added to article are mine - Oui]

Shame! Trump Didn't Coordinate with Netanyahu | JPost - Xmas Eve |

Up until last week, there were many people in the United States and Israel who thought that President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't make a move without prior coordination. The moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the American decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and the defunding of UNRWA, all gave a feeling that Israel and the US were in-step like never before. Daylight? Not between Netanyahu and Trump.

Gen. Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, second from left, with his wife, Ivanka Trump, and Stephen K. Bannon, the president's chief adviser, at the White House. Only Trump's family is left standing in role as advisor.

But then came Trump's surprise decision last week to withdraw US military forces from Syria. For the first time in his two years in office, it seemed that not all was perfect in the US-Israel alliance. What particularly irked Israel was that Trump reportedly made the decision to pull out his military forces after speaking earlier this month with Erdogan.

This was the same Erdogan who on Saturday, said that Muslims would teach Israelis a lesson for beating Palestinian women and children even after they fall on the ground.


Israel's systematic violence against Palestinian women | Electronic Intifada |
IDF T-Shirts Boast of Killing Babies, Pregnant Women, Sodomizing Hamas Leaders | Tikun Olam |
Chabad Rabbi: Jews Should Kill Arab Men, Women and Children During War | Haaretz |
Murder In the Name of God - Plot to Kill Yitshak Rabin

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 12:51:23 PM EST
Even after Brexit, PM May and the British are causing concern and a heap of trouble. Never mind the Irish border and Old Troubles.

'Intrusion' or 'Invasion'? Russian politicians attack May over mis-translated speech

Russian politicians reacted angrily to British Prime Minister Theresa May's Christmas Speech -- all because of a mistranslation.

The Prime Minister praised the armed forces in her annual Christmas address thanking them for playing a "vital role" in, among other things, "protecting our waters and our skies from Russian intrusion."

But in Russia, the TASS news agency and multiple news organisations including Kommersant, the Novaya Gazeta and NTV, translated the sentence as "Russian invasion" sparking outrage.
'Absolutely stupid'

Alexei Chepa, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Parliament's International Affairs Committee described it as "an unweighted, absolutely stupid and ill-conceived statement," according to the Ria Novosti news agency.

"I think that it, on the one hand, causes a certain irony in the assessment of the political strength of the British leader, on the other hand, it is very offensive and very alarming that such statements are heard from the lips of the leaders," he added.

Andrei Klimov, head of the Federation Council's Commission to Protect State Sovereignty, also took aim at May over her (mistranslated) speech.

"Something is wrong in the British Kingdom. Nobody attacks the UK, so it's very convenient for them to say that their army is bravely resisting threats from Moscow," Klimov is quoted by Ria Novosti as saying.

Gavin Williamson:  HMS Echo in Odessa 'sends message to Russia'
Russian Embassy Slams UK Over Warship's Ukraine Visit 'Sending Message' to Putin
A dozen Russian fighter jets land in Crimea amid rising tensions on border | Reuters |
Mike Pompeo offered 'military assistance' to Ukraine in Crimea stand-off with Russia, says Poroshenko

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 at 07:39:17 PM EST
Trump Goes on Epic Christmas Eve Twitter Rant: "I Am All Alone (Poor Me) in White House" | Slate |

At this point in Donald Trump's presidency, it's clear that whenever the commander in chief is left alone in the White House, he grabs his phone and starts tweeting. And Christmas Eve was no exception as the president stayed in Washington amid a partial government shutdown rather than go to Mar-a-Lago as is his tradition. So instead of playing golf, the president is throwing a bit of a pity party for himself.

Report: Trump tells Erdogan 'Syria all yours, we are done' | Ynet News |
Order for US military withdrawal from Syria has been signed | Gulf News |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Dec 25th, 2018 at 09:30:21 PM EST

President Donald Trump pays unannounced visit to US troops in Iraq | DW |

The visit to the Al-Asad Airbase west of the capital, Baghdad, comes just a week after Trump unsettled his military advisers and international allies, including in Iraq, by announcing that he would withdraw US troops from neighboring Syria, where they have also been helping in the fight against extremist militants.

It was the first visit Trump has paid to troops in a troubled region, and he has previously faced criticism on that score.

Trump makes unannounced visit to US troops in Iraq | The Guardian |
President Trump and First Lady make surprise trip to Iraq to visit troops | CNBC |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Dec 26th, 2018 at 10:26:48 PM EST
The "unsettled allies" in Iraq has voted in parliament to get the foreign troops out of Iraq, now that ISIS is defeated. So I don't think they are that unsettled.
by fjallstrom on Wed Dec 26th, 2018 at 11:19:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
28 Dec [Bolton] Heading to Israel, Turkey on Syria Withdrawal
While Turkey applauded the move -- it has long considered the Kurdish militants whom the United States has helped arm in the fight as a terrorist group -- many pro-Israel groups found themselves at odds with Trump for the first time.
London-based newspaper The Telegraph [!] meanwhile reported Friday that Kurdish forces have now officially turned to the Syrian government for protection against a possible Turkish invasion of the Syrian city, Manbij.
29 Dec A Wise and Rare Decision
President Donald Trump's announcement that he will withdraw 2000 U.S. troops from Syria has caused great alarm in elite circles. The New York Times and The Washington Post both warned it would leave Israel "abandoned" and "isolated" and would embolden enemies of the U.S.  Martin Indyk, a former Mideast envoy for Democratic administrations, complained that Trump did not factor in the national security interests of Israel. ... Hollywood celebrities have also jumped into the act.
As Trump pulls troops out of Syria, we must acknowledge the enormity of the world's failure to halt a humanitarian catastrophe . U.S exit benefits Russia, ISIS - still active, Iran & Assad. Was this agreed to during Putin/Trump's 2 hour Helsinki meeting- without witnesses?
    -- Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) December 19, 2018
    You know, I forgot about #VladimirPutin! He's probably doing the happy dance right now!! #Trump pleases TWO dictators with one move, bringing home American soldiers from Syria, thereby abandoning #Syria to the #Russians, and the #Kurds to the #Turks!
    -- Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) December 19, 2018
    "ISIS IS GONE"..IS trump's
    WHO WANTS 🇺🇸OUT OF SYRIA🤔.RUSSIA,TURKEY,IRAN, SYRIA‼️THOSE COUNTRIES ARE 👻 🎂👻‼️trump's THEIR💋BITCH4💰💰💰.trump's Stupid, & Up 2 His Mammoth Ass In Investigations 4 Crimes.ISIS Isn't Gone & Will Be Back In Force.
    -- Cher (@cher) December 20, 2018
    A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable - and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood. https://t.co/4LPB21X3dm
    -- Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) December 19, 2018
Trump's fault, in the eyes of those who criticize his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, is that he did not follow the advice of his military. The notion that a president must follow military orders is entirely undemocratic. ...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 02:19:33 PM EST
to pick up slack in 2019.
Torygraph | Britain to become 'true global player' post-Brexit with military bases in South East Asia and Caribbean, says Defence Secretary
Gavin Williamson has revealed: ""This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way, we can actually..."

Any tariff greater than 0 is the number driving prospects of "permanent insanity or piracy" through the UK.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 02:34:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To Win The 2020 Race Trump Will Need To Fire More Of His Staff | MoA |

We pointed out that overruling his advisors by ending the U.S. war on Syria was a decision that will define Trump's presidency:

    This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg, the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy. It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.

Three analysts explain why Trump will need to go further down that road by finding people who diligently implement his foreign policy instead of undermining it.

Gareth Porter describes how the U.S. military under Secretary of Defense Mattis implemented its own policy, one far from President Trump's wishes. It delayed his policy of withdrawal from Syria again and again. Trump finally broke the scheme.

Now, that the decision is made, even Obama's Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who personally instigated the insurgency against the Syrian government, comes out in favor of the Trump ordered retreat.

The curious role of Robert Ford [and Victoria Nuland] in Syria (2011)

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 02:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgetting history of the First Gulf War, dictatorship Baath party leader Saddam Hussein, Scud missiles, misguided interventions fomented by Ariel Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu and PNAC.

Trump: Israel can defend itself with the billions the US gave it | JPost - 5 days ago |

US President Donald Trump on Baghdad visit dismissed Israeli concerns over his abrupt withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

Speaking to reporters on a surprise visit to American troops in Iraq, the president said that Israel receives enough US defense aid to defend itself, amid concerns that a US retreat will pave way for Iranian forces marching towards Israel's border.

"I'm the one that moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I was the one who was willing to do that," Trump said. "So that's the way it is. We are going to take great care of Israel. Israel is going to be good. We give Israel $4.5 billion a year. And we give frankly a lot more than that if you look at the books. They've been doing a good job."

Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have frequently spoken of Iran's threat in Syria, including as recently as last week, according to aides of both leaders. Israel advocates repeatedly warned Trump that a complete withdrawal would expose Israel to great dangers.

"I spoke with Bibi," Trump continued. "I told Bibi, `you know we give Israel $4.5 billion a year. And they are doing very well at defending themselves."

Trump's decision to retreat from the Syrian battlefield - a strategic nightmare comprising of a civil war, a massive counterterrorism battle and a complex geopolitical struggle - took US allies and his own national security cabinet off guard.

Israel intel chief sees possible threat from Iraq as Iran's clout grows | Ynet News |
Israeli PM Netanyahu's close ties to Brazil's Bolsonaro. Highlighting Likud Support for Ethno-Nationalist Politicians Abroad

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Jan 1st, 2019 at 02:04:18 PM EST
The apprentice with on-the-job training. Sounds OK, except he IS the boss and Commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces. Holy sh*t! Hail Mary. Yesterday during a press briefing he invited to meet Pakistan's new leadership in a conciliatory note amidst other abuses, of course. Trump wants to reduce troop level in Afghanistan badly.

Letter to PM: Trump `acknowledges Afghan war cost both USA, Pakistan |Dawn - Dec. 3, 2018 |

"President Trump has also acknowledged that the war had cost both USA and Pakistan," the statement added. "He has emphasised that Pakistan and USA should explore opportunities to work together and renew partnership."

The ministry "welcomed" the US decision for negotiations, noting that "Pakistan has always advocated a political settlement to end war in Afghanistan".

"Pakistan reiterates its commitment to play a facilitation role in good faith," the statement reads. "Peace and stability in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility."

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also confirmed Trump's letter to Reuters, saying: "President Trump has written a letter. He has asked for Pakistan's cooperation to bring the Taliban into talks."

Trump's letter was first talked about by the prime minister in a meeting with journalists earlier in the day.

In the letter, the PM said, Trump has asked Pakistan to play its role in the peace talks which seek to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

This is the first direct communication between the two leaders since Imran Khan assumed power in August.

Suspending military aid to Pakistan not done lightly: US John Bolton | Dawn - Sept. 13, 2018 |

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the decision to suspend military aid to Pakistan was not taken lightly as the Trump administration was fully aware of the consequences of taking such an action against a nuclear weapons state.

In his address to a Washington think-tank -- the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies -- earlier this week, Mr Bolton also said that the US wanted Pakistan to cooperate fully in war against terrorism as "it's a matter of extraordinary importance" to America.  

Trump backs off Afghan withdrawal, lambastes Pakistan over terrorist 'safe havens' | Dawn - Aug. 22, 2017 |

President Donald Trump cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan on Monday, backtracking from his promise to swiftly end America's longest war, while pillorying ally Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

I've said it before and will say it once again: America, the President and U>S> Congress are clueless about the world and setting foreign policy. The elephant in a room decorated with chinaware.

Washington DC - Jan. 2, 2018 -- The Trump rant where he invites himself to meet the new folks in Pakistan ...

"... Then we give money to Pakistan, $1.3 billion, I ended that. A lot of people don't know it, because they haven't been fair to us. We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy, they take care of the enemy. We just can't do that. So, I look forward to meeting with the folks from -- and the new leadership in Pakistan, we'll be doing that in the not-too-distant future. I ended the 1.3 billion we paid, it's like water, we just do it. And I ended the money to countries that don't even vote for us in the United Nations. We give them billions and they don't even vote for us in the United Nations. It's not all about the rich countries because the rich countries really do take advantage of us because they pay a very small percentage of their military and they cheat on trade. They take advantage of us on trade. Other than that, they're wonderful, OK.

But there are countries that are poor that we will -- we don't want anything from them. We want to help them. There are some horrible things going on in the world. We want to help those people. We don't want money from them. We're not looking for that. But when you have massively wealthy countries that could easily pay us the full amount and they also take advantage of us on trade so when I speak up, I mean, that's why I got elected. Issues like that. Issues like the border. And it would be so easy not to do anything. When they say I'm not popular in Europe, I shouldn't be popular in Europe. If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn't be doing my job because I want Europe to pay. Germany pays 1 percent. They should be paying 4 percent. They're paying 1 percent. They should be paying even more than that. Other countries pay a small percentage of what they should be paying. So, when I say I'm sorry, folks, you have to pay up,

.. I shouldn't be popular in Europe. They do a poll. I was at 88 percent [ultra-negative in many countries except the UK - Oui] and now I'm at a very low number in Europe. I don't care about Europe. I'm not elected by Europeans, I'm elected by Americans. And by American taxpayers frankly. So, you know, I think my relationship, I will tell you with the leaders of Europe is very good. A lot of them don't even understand how they got away with it for so many years. I'll say to Angela and many of the other leaders, I'm friends with all of them. I'll say how did this ever happen? And they sort of go like I can't believe it either. They can't believe it. You know why? Because they have Presidents and other people within the administration in the past to allow them to get away. Some of them will say no one ever asked us to pay. We have negotiations going on with a lot of countries to pay a lot of money to the United States. I wouldn't say they're thrilled. If that makes me unpopular in those countries, that's OK, but we're doing tremendous service to those countries and they should at least respect us. They didn't respect us."

Related reading ...

Trump says he loves the military, but he keeps insulting its members

"No, Gen. Mattis didn't really resign, I fired him for poor results."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Jan 3rd, 2019 at 08:16:03 PM EST

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