Category Archives: Foreign Policy

The real Trump

“But it is the unscripted Mr Trump that is real.”

The above line from Australian ABC political editor, Chris Uhlmann, should be the response every time Trump apologists once again mention that Trump can “act presidential”, as they cling to scripted speeches he delivers and speeches which he has no real input into their creation.  Other presidents relied on speechwriters too, but those presidents had political ideological core beliefs and principles.  Even for people like me, who vehemently disagreed with President Obama on almost every issue, I do not doubt for a minute his sincerity and conviction on issues.   This editorial is a must see report.  It is the grim truth:

“He is a character drawn from America’s wild west, a travelling medicine showman selling moonshine remedies that will kill the patient.

And this week he underlined he has neither the desire nor the capacity to lead the world.”

And:

“There is a tendency among some hopeful souls to confuse the speeches written for Mr Trump with the thoughts of the man himself.

He did make some interesting, scripted, observations in Poland about defending the values of the West.

And Mr Trump is in a unique position — he is the one man who has the power to do something about it.

But it is the unscripted Mr Trump that is real. A man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as President at war with the West’s institutions — like the judiciary, independent government agencies and the free press.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-09/did-trumps-g20-performance-indicate-us-decline-as-world-power/8691538?sf96473247=1

Here’s what I wrote August 29, 2015 about what we should demand of a president and I think I was right:

“America needs to hold all of its presidential candidates’ feet to the fire.  Expecting intelligent, well-reasoned arguments and explanations for their policies and ideas, should be the standard we demand. We need leaders who read extensively, who will study issues carefully and at the heart, being President is the highest political office in the land, so demanding a president who has mastered government policy issues is a must.  Expecting that all of our elected officials, both in Congress and the President possess an in-depth understanding of The Constitution, a breadth of knowledge on US history and a strong foundation on foreign policy issues should be our minimum expectation.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2015/08/29/he-never-means-anything-serious-till-he-talks-about-justice-and-right/

Trump’s competent cabinet members aren’t advancing Trump’s policies, they are doing damage control, assuring America’s counterparts around the world that America led by President Trump can still be relied upon and I suspect some like McMaster, Kelly,  and Mattis are there, not out of loyalty to Trump, but out of a sense of duty to try their best to keep America safe, .  However, the constant discordant messages between what these cabinet members say vs. whatever capricious nonsense Trump spouts are being noted around the world by not only our friends, but especially among America’s adversaries.

 

 

 

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Information Warfare, both foreign and domestic

The other day, I mentioned that the timing of the Seth Rich conspiratorial story, that alleged Rich leaked the DNC  emails to Wikileaks, smelled like more Russian influence efforts to get the Right latching onto this and cast doubt on the Trump/Russian collusion stories.  Assuredly, the mainstream media and Dems have way overplayed and sensationalized the Trump/Russian connections too, but the timing of the Rich story was odd.  The story originated with a FOX news affiliate and the entire story fell apart under closer examination, but when the story broke, The Drudge Report had that headline emblazoned across the top all day.  Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh believed and hyped the story, without any fact-checking.  Hannity clung to the story, even when it was obvious the story has no factual basis.

So, the story was intended to get Trump, his mouthpieces and the Right frothing against, not only Democrats, but also to distrust the FBI and American intelligence agencies… again.

Here’s what I suspect is going on and yes, it’s a conspiracy theory too:

Remembering timelines is important and adding new information into the timeline, as you come across it and remembering that timelines don’t end – the story always continues.  The Russians aren’t idly sitting on their hands now or declaring victory with Trump’s election, they are still busy with their information warfare efforts in America – to create chaos, to undermine the American political system, to damage America’s image in the world and to destroy the American people’s trust in their own government.

I suspect FOX News has been a tool the Russians exploited for Russian influence operations since it opened shop in America.  I suspect the same thing with The Drudge Report, which came onto the scene with breaking the Lewinsky scandal.  The Drudge Report has never invested in creating an appealing website.  Really, it’s a visually unappealing site, but it’s caché comes with what stories get highlighted at the top.   That America’s political class and media take The Drudge Report so seriously is why that site garners so much attention and has so much influence.  In recent years, The Drudge Report has worked to mainstream conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones and his “InfoWars” as a “news” source.   That Donald Trump, a believer in Alex Jones type “reporting” is now president is a boon to the Russian information war effort.

The rest of this post is all a repeat on what I term  a mass media saturation strategy, which came into being with the Clinton “war room” in the 1992 presidential election, so feel free to skip it if you’re tired of my repetitive messaging;-)

I believe this media messaging strategy is really information warfare ( a military swarming strategy juxtaposed to an information battlefield).  Since the Clinton impeachment scandal in 1998, I strongly suspect there is a strong, hostile foreign intelligence influence involved in manipulating American politicians, the American media and the American punditry circles.  The Clintons launched an all-out scorched earth information war to keep President Clinton from being removed from office.  To repeat, ad nauseam, here again are the components:

Here are the components:

  • Talking points and buzz word messaging, which are relentlessly repeated by both political operatives and the media. (mass brainwashing)
  • Mass media domination of the messaging, to control the 24/7 NEWS cycle, which requires mass media collusion.
  • Relentless repetition of polling data by both the political operatives and media, to facilitate the manufacture of opinion cascades (winning in all the polls)

It can NOT work without that media collusion.

Until Trump, with the help of FOX News collusion & Wikileaks leaks, only Democrats had successfully used this strategy.  The mainstream media colludes with the Democrats and political Left in America.

I’ve cover all of this many times before, so here are some interesting bits and pieces in this ongoing information war.  American partisans have blinders on and when it comes to “Russian influence”, they want to pin the Russian influence on their American political opponents.  Republicans will accuse the Dems of emboldening the Russians, because the Obama administration kowtowed to the Russians and Iranians, to secure the Iran deal and because President Obama did not take an assertive American posture in dealing with America’s adversaries.

Trump, although it’s doubtful he was actively “colluding” with the Russians, he assuredly welcomed the Russian influence efforts, because they were benefitting him.  Trump also took a hostile approach toward American intelligence agencies and the FBI, who were working to thwart and expose the Russian influence efforts.  If there is actual Russian collusion within the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, I would expect the Russians to operate using third-party intermediaries, so they can maintain complete deniability and to mask their collusion.  In fact, I would not be surprised if the intermediaries were not even aware they were being manipulated to promote the Russian information warfare memes and messaging.

Like I said the other day, the Russians are many things, but being stupid enough to entrust a loose cannon, like Trump, who blurts and tweets everything based on whims,  with the knowledge of Russian operatives identities, seems very unlikely.  Anyone who trusts Trump is a fool, the same is true of Hillary Clinton, who would even sell Bill Clinton down the river to save herself… if he didn’t know where all the bodies are buried… so to speak.

Against this history of information warfare, which I wrote about on the Excite politics message boards during the Clinton impeachment scandal, when Trump entered the 2016 presidential race and the media started repeating he was the “GOP Insurgent”, immediately my “information warfare” antennae went up.

Initially, throughout most of the GOP primary all the cable news networks spent a great deal of time promoting the “GOP Insurgent” and they gave him millions of dollars in free media, in addition to endless coverage in their punditry air time.  In early 2016, a shift took place, as it became obvious Trump had the GOP nomination locked up.  CNN, MSNBC and major news outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post went “full fascist” mode, painting Trump as a dangerous fascist, while FOX news dug in on a 24/7 Trumpathon.

President Trump assures that the Left will stay in full-throated Trump Derangement Syndrome mode, that much of the Right will discount everything they say and that Trump, who truly is a LOOSE CANNON, will flail about and create chaos and mayhem in his wake.  Hillary Clinton would have been the same chaos, albeit in a less flamboyant way.  The Russians have the dirt on the Clinton Foundation money-laundering and assuredly they are sitting on all the emails from her home-brew server, which they would have wielded to blackmail her or leak to create political damage and hamstring her presidency.  There was no better choice between Trump and Hillary.

So, watch closely how FOX News has dismantled its Trump chorus, first with ousting Roger Ailes, now their star, Bill O’Reilly and it seems obvious Sean Hannity is on the chopping block too.  FOX News is now not leading the cable prime time.  I suspect there will be more critical reporting on Trump at FOX  in the near future, because the Russians want the Trump presidency to be an endless Reality TV, scandal-plagued nightmare, that makes America the laughingstock of the world.

The Russians don’t want a successful American president, who unites America.  We have had nothing but very extreme partisanship and a complete disintegration of shared American ideals since the 1960s counter-culture revolution, with a short lull during the early Reagan years, and then a downhill slide since the early 90s.

The mass media saturation strategy continues, as does the information warfare, both foreign and domestic.

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Filed under Corrupt Media Collusion, Culture Wars, Foreign Policy, General Interest, Hillary's Email Scandal, Politics, The Media

Putin diagnoses “political schizophrenia” in America

Short update on yesterday’s blog post:

Russia always tries to fuel partisan divides and inflame tensions, along with aiding and abetting radical factions, in America.

So, here’s what Putin said Wednesday:

“Putin said allegations that Trump had disclosed top-secret intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S., proved that the U.S. was  “developing political schizophrenia,” according to the Russian state-controlled news agency Tass, which quoted comments Putin made at a Wednesday news conference in Sochi, Russia.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-putin-transcript-offer-htmlstory.html

Yes, according to Putin, who does everything he can to undermine political stability in America, the U.S. is developing political schizophrenia…  He wants the rest of the world to believe America’s political system is falling apart and America can not be trusted as a world leader.

Too bad most of the partisans in Washington and the mainstream media, while screaming about Trump/Russian collusion, are completely oblivious to how Russia continues their same information warfare and they’re actually feeding the Trump/Russian collusion hysteria.

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Perfect Timing

Divide and conquer

If you think the Trump turmoil/Russian interference hysteria peaked, well, think again.  Here are some news and flashbacks to other bits of loose threads in this ongoing American soap opera – The Never-ending Trump/Clinton Scorched Earth Information War.

In the past week, President Trump fired FBI Director, James Comey, hosted two top Russian officials in the Oval Office, tweeted out a “warning” to Comey that he might have tapes of their conversations, blew-up his WH staff’s explanations on the Comey firing and stated he might stop WH press briefings.

Amidst this endless turmoil, the mainstream media keeps breaking “bombshell” stories, all citing anonymous sources (likely Dems & intel officials who want Trump impeached).  The mainstream media continues to carry the talking points for the Clinton (Dem) scorched earth information war.  Trump, by his own imprudent tweeting, impulsive actions and need to boast, has inflicted more damage on his presidency than his enemies could ever hope to.

So, into this latest drama here are some things to watch:

The New York Times reported that there is a Comey memo of Trump asking Comey if he can end the General Flynn investigation.  The memo was not handed over to the New York Times, but a Comey associate read parts of it to a reporter during a phone conversation.

President Trump’s National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, refutes the media claims that President Trump divulged highly classified intelligence to the Russians during his Oval Office meeting.

Yesterday, the Drudge Report ran a blazing headline about a murdered DNC staffer, Seth Rich, which other conservative media leaped on.  The story alleges that this young staffer was Wikileaks’ source of the leaked DNC emails.  The victim’s family refuted the cited evidence.  Zero Hedge, a blog reported by some intelligence analysts as a Russian front operation,  has a story reporting the chronology of events from  Rich’s murder, to 12 days later Wikileaks started leaking DNC emails.  Rich’s family came out yesterday and refuted this report.

The perfect timing of this sensational story, that moved attention from the Dems’ “Russian collusion” hysteria to a story, that shifted blame for the leaks to a disgruntled DNC staffer, struck me as quite astounding.  This story bolstered many Trump supporters’ belief that Trump is a victim of unfair liberal media attacks and that the Russian collusion hysteria is a Democrat effort to destroy Trump.

The mainstream media and the Democrats can be out to destroy Trump, but the timing of this Seth Rich story, made me wonder about the Russians, once again, playing a hand to keep the American partisans frothing.  It smelled to me like the Russians possibly playing another “trump” card.  The veracity of the story, is something I have no idea about, but the perfect timing is out in the open for all to see.  I wonder who decided to sensationalize this story and which media outlet(s) ran it first.  The Drudge Report decided it needed to be emblazoned across the top of the site yesterday, as “big” news.

Now, Putin aides report that Putin might release a transcript of the conversations that occurred in the Oval Office, between President Trump and two top Russian officials last week.

This is Putin using “Russian interference” to fuel American partisans’ distrust of each other, but on the national level, this casts America, not just President Trump, as inept, Reality-TV level buffoonish and not a world leader.

And that has been the real goal of the “Russian interference” in our 2016 election, but also the goal of the Russians since 1919, when the Russians took charge of the Comintern (Communist International).

President Trump really is just a useful idiot to Putin.  If Trump takes the Russian bait and touts the Russian’s transcript as vindicating him, he will have been masterfully played… again.

Putin is not America’s friend… or President Trump’s.

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Afghanistan questions

War On The Rocks has an interesting article by Stephen Tankel, laying out the strategic questions that need to be answered in regards to U.S. policy in Afghanistan:

BACK TO FIRST PRINCIPLES: FOUR FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN

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Coughing up catchphrase strategic hairballs

In light of President Trump’s decision to order airstrikes in Syria against Assad forces this past week, I’ve been awaiting some hint of a comprehensive regional strategy for, not only defeating ISIS, but for the gigantic strategic elephant in the room (power vacuums across the region), that assure continuing fertile ground for Islamist nutjobs to reseed and grow for decades to come.

ISIS was Al Qaeda in Iraq.  The belief that driving them out of Raqqa holds some sort of magical strategic power eludes me.  The belief that ousting Assad opens some magical door to peace in Syria and a grand opportunity for the people of Syria, also eludes me.

The regime change cadre, like General Keane, John McCain, and  Lindsey Graham are ecstatic, but these are the same people who place a lot of trust in Elizabeth O’Bagy and the Institute for the Study of War’s analysis with their “Syrian moderates” magic carpet ride.

I was going to await General McMaster’s appearances on the Sunday shows, before commenting, but here’s how I see the pros and cons from Trump’s actions.  The pros:

  1. Pushing back against Putin and Iranian power plays in Syria bolsters U.S. credibility as a world player, not afraid to act.  Count that as very positive.
  2. Grounding Assad’s air assets is also very positive with more U.S. troops on the ground in Syria
  3.  On purely symbolic PR grounds, Trump’s actions showed strength and resolve.

Now the cons:

  1. Escalating military action without clear, well-defined ends leads to mission creep and can very quickly turn into a complicated strategic Gordian knot (like the one we’ve been choking on for over a decade). We are still coughing up catchphrase strategic hairballs.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive regional strategy.
  3. Building a strategy on false beliefs leads to very poor strategic outcomes.

That #3 is where we screw-up most often, by believing things that are not true.  Since 2012, there has been a vocal chorus among some US pundits and strategists for regime change in Syria.  There has been a belief that a large part of the insurgents in Syria’s civil war are “moderates”.   They are all varying shades of Islamists – that is a FACT.  And that FACT should cause everyone some pause.  Islamist insurgents assure that if they succeed in seizing power in Syria there will be another state run by Islamists.  Why the US should be gung-ho for establishing Sharia compliant states, I don’t know.  If past is prologue, nothing is simple in that region of the world.

Without all the “Rah, Rah, Go USA” cheerleading… I want to know what the comprehensive strategic ends are and how this dramatic miliary escalation fits into that strategy.

Just an added thought about articulating a strategy… the clearest American message isn’t coming from the White House, the State Department, or the Pentagon.  It’s coming from the United States ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.  The rest of the Trump administration should follow her lead on how to craft a clear, principled, unified ” strong American voice” on Russia, Syria and Iran.

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Learning From Mistakes

A small embroidery booklet that my mother gave to me when I was around 8 or 9 years old (circa 1968-69).  The booklet has a copyright of 1964 listed.

While sorting and organizing in my sewing room, I came across this embroidery booklet, which I have been using since the late 1960s.  When I first started learning embroidery, my mother gave me an embroidery hoop, embroidery floss, needles, small scissors and this booklet.  My great-grandmother had a closet full of boxes of fabric scraps for her quilting and she subscribed to a needlework magazine, Workbasket, which had iron-on embroidery patterns.  She gave me fabric to stitch on and let me pick out some iron-on patterns.  My mother and great-grandmother, both spent time showing me how to embroider and helping me when I ran into problems.

I ran into problems often, because I am not naturally talented at needlework (or much else for that matter).  What I am good at is practicing.  Even as a child, I set up a routine to practice things I really wanted to learn how to do or improve at doing.  I stuttered and couldn’t even spit out my name.  I spent years reading the dictionary, almost daily, and practicing how to pronounce words.

Needlework was the same frustration when I first started stitching, where instead of my tongue twisted into knots over how to pronounce words, I was spending more time dealing with tangled embroidery floss, than I did stitching.   I practiced… a lot.

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Large dictionary I spent years reading as a teenager – in need of binding repair.

My mother gave me that booklet, so that I had a reference to reread, when I forgot how to make the stitches. As my stitching improved, I began to tackle harder stitches in the booklet. I clung to that booklet and handled it carefully, because it became as dear to me as the large dictionary that came with the set of World Book Encyclopedias my parents purchased in the early 1970s.  Before having this large dictionary to study, my mother had given me a paperback dictionary to use.

The thing about learning the value of “practice makes perfect” is that even if you never achieve perfect, your skills, at whatever you’re practicing, improve.

And that brings me to foreign policy.  Along with rereading my childhood embroidery booklet, I’m reading a book that I had started a few years ago and didn’t finish.  National Security Dilemmas: Challenges & Opportunities by Colin S. Gray is one of those books that returns you to the basics of national security strategy, by reminding you constantly of the “lessons learned” that we keep forgetting.

I’m not ready to do a book report, but the thing Dr. Gray often asks, when confronted with catchphrase strategic notions that permeate among the Washington policymakers and punditry class, is “So, what?”  He is analyzing based on his wide-breadth of historical knowledge and decades of meticulous research of STRATEGY.  I’ve read several of his books and many articles he’s published over the years.  He always gets down to the essence of strategy  – the basics, if you will.

Strategy basics are just like needlework basics.  If you forget the basic stitches there’s no way you can master the complex stitches.  I hadn’t done hardly any needlework since 1998, so I’m back to basics and decided several weeks ago that I need to start doing a lot more practice on basics to regain my stitching proficiency and confidence.  We still haven’t done that with our national security strategy.

The Trump administration’s national security strategy seems as immured in “catchphrase” strategic-thinking as the Obama administration’s “narrative as strategy”.  President Trump likes to hide behind the “we don’t want to tell the enemy what we’re doing”, trying to sound strategically savvy, but really just avoiding having to explain what his ISIS strategy really is.  I suspect it’s about as well-thought out as his “murdering ISIS family members to scare ISIS terrorists into submission” war crimes strategy he doubled-down on in the GOP primary debate.

In recent weeks, I’ve become concerned that his ISIS strategy, in essence, is Mission Creep.   More American troops here, more American troops there (like in Syria) and so far, little in the way of explanation.  There doesn’t seem to be any sort of laying out American national security ends and building  a big picture regional strategic framework to achieve those ends.  President Trump’s strategy seems tied to PR sound bites more than to securing America’s national interests.

Does the Trump administration have a clear strategy to defeat ISIS?

I doubt it.  Any who question President Trump are brushed aside with constant reminders that General Mattis is running the Pentagon and General McMaster is a strategic genius.  That doesn’t explain the strategy to me.  That is citing “experts” to validate a strategy, that has not been explained.  It’s a dodge.

So, I’m very wary of  President Trump’s foreign policy and at the same time, I am heading back to the basics… in both my needlework and studying strategy.

More later.

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