Trump’s Foreign Policy: Retreat or Rout?

With President Trump’s foreign-policy team sounding a lot like President Obama’s, the new question is whether Trump has caved in to Official Washington’s powers-that-be or is biding his time for a big move, asks Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

After President Trump abruptly fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn a week ago and senior Trump officials flew to Europe to unveil a foreign-policy agenda that sounded a lot like President Obama’s, even some Trump supporters wondered if Washington’s “shadow government” or “deep state” had triumphed over their hero.

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn at a campaign rally for Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Oct. 29, 2016. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

But another interpretation is possible, that Trump understands that he first must gain control of the national-security and foreign-policy bureaucracies before he can press ahead with plans for détente with Russia and downsizing America’s vast web of military bases and geopolitical commitments. In other words, what we’re seeing may be a tactical retreat rather than a wholesale rout.

The latest crisis to hit the young Trump administration began on Feb. 13 with Trump’s firing of Flynn, a move that Trump seemed to regret almost immediately as he assessed how Flynn’s ouster had been engineered.

The orchestration of Flynn’s removal entailed illegal use of his wiretapped conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29 at a time when Flynn was still a private citizen and government rules require “minimization” (or redaction) of an American’s intercepted communications.

Holdovers from President Obama’s Justice Department then concocted a pretext for an FBI investigation based on the Logan Act, a dusty relic from 1799 that has never been used to prosecute anyone. Flynn was further tripped up because he didn’t have total recall of what was said in the conversation and then details of the case were selectively leaked to the press to buttress the narrative of illicit ties between Trump and Moscow.

But what was perhaps even more remarkable about this ambush of Flynn, who had made powerful enemies as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency overseeing its criticism of Obama’s Syrian war policies, was the collusion between U.S. intelligence agencies and a mainstream media intent on bringing down President Trump — or at least preventing him from redirecting U.S. foreign policy away from “regime change” wars in the Middle East and toward a détente with Russia.

When Trump hastily demanded Flynn’s resignation – at least in part to appease Vice President Mike Pence who complained that Flynn hadn’t been fully forthcoming with him – a media feeding frenzy followed. Even Hillary Clinton came out of hiding to radiate pleasure at the announcement of Flynn’s firing. (At the Republican National Convention, he had joined chants of “lock her up.”) We heard similar delight from media standard-bearers of the “dump Trump” movement – CNN and The New York Times – as well as among Trump’s former rivals in the Republican primaries who continue to hold key positions on Capitol Hill.

The Early Roll-Out

Next came a stunning about-face in the early roll-out of Donald Trump’s new foreign policy, which looked a lot like Barack Obama’s old foreign policy. We heard presidential press secretary Sean Spicer say Trump “expected the Russian government to … return Crimea” to Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Then we heard Defense Secretary James Mattis in Brussels (NATO headquarters), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Bonn (G20 Foreign Ministers meeting) and Vice President Pence in Munich (Security Conference) collectively pledge unswerving loyalty to the NATO alliance, insist that any new talks with Russia must be conducted from “a position of strength,” and vow to hold Russia accountable for the full implementation of the Minsk Accords, meaning all sanctions stay in place pending that achievement which the Ukrainian government has consistently blocked while blaming Moscow.

Amid these signals of surrender from the Trump Administration – suggesting continuation of the disastrous foreign policy of the last 25 years – the newly revived enemies of détente on Capitol Hill added more anti-Russian sanctions and threats. In response to alleged violations by the Kremlin of the Treaty on Intermediate and Short-range Missiles (INF) dating back to 1987, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, introduced a bill enabling the re-installation of American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in Europe. If enacted, this would undo the main achievements of disarmament from the Reagan years and bring us back to a full-blown Cold War.

These developments have unnerved even Trump’s long-time loyalists. Some friendly pundits have claimed that Flynn was the sole adviser to Donald Trump urging accommodation with the Russians and that his departure dealt a fatal blow to détente. Others have urged the President to reconsider what they see as a collapse of will under intense pressure from the powerful neoconservatives and their liberal-hawk allies. Trump’s backers reminded him of the disasters that the policies of American global hegemony have created in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Implicit in this well-meaning and sometimes condescending advice is a failure to understand the political acumen of Donald Trump and his entourage. He did not win the election on Nov. 8 by chance. It was the fruit of a more sophisticated calculation of voter support and Electoral College arithmetic than anyone else could muster. Trump also did not get his most contentious cabinet appointments – Rex Tillerson at State, Betsy DeVos at Education and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General – through the Senate confirmation hearings by luck. It was the fruit of hard work and brains in striking “deals” with political friends and foes.

No White Flag

Consequently, I view the present backtracking on Russia and retreat on a new foreign policy as a tactical repositioning, not the waving of a white flag. It is obvious that no progress on Trump’s less-interventionist foreign policy is possible until the subversive plotters in the State Department, the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI are sent packing. Arguably, some who broke the law in their haste to hobble Trump’s presidency should be held legally accountable. Only if and when his back is secure can Trump begin changing policy.

President Barack Obama at the White House with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Samantha Power (right), his U.N. ambassador. (Photo credit: Pete Souza)

With the end of the Obama presidency on Jan. 20, there was what might be called addition by subtraction at the State Department with the departures of political appointees who favored the neoconservative/liberal-hawk agenda, people such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a key architect of the Ukraine crisis, and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, a chief advocate for the “regime change” war in Syria.

During Secretary Tillerson’s maiden diplomatic voyage to Europe, more pink slips have been passed out to high-level officials on the State Department’s “seventh floor,” home to the post-9/11 “shadow government” first put in place by Vice President Dick Cheney and then more deeply entrenched during Hillary Clinton’s stint as Secretary of State. On a related front, The New York Times has reported that Trump plans to appoint businessman Stephen Feinberg to evaluate and recommend reorganization of the intelligence agencies, viewed as a shake-up to restore order and loyalty to the Chief Executive.

At the same time, we may expect President Trump to rally public opinion around his administration and its policies, both domestic and foreign. His appearance at the Melbourne, Florida airport this weekend where thousands gathered to hear Trump is surely only the first of many such public demonstrations by his supporters.

Donald Trump remains in close contact with his supporter base across the country not only via social media but using weekly, at times daily questionnaires delivered by email and asking the respondents to prioritize his next possible moves. Surely, this grassroots support gives him the confidence to wage battles against the Establishment in a bold manner.

It also must be emphasized that Trump’s pre-electoral and post-electoral commitment to détente is not an aberration in his political thinking. What so many people, including supporters, fail to understand is that detente is as essential to Trump for the sake of his domestic programs as detente was critical for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to implement his new thinking domestically in the 1980s.

Only via détente – meaning an end to the permanent wars abroad with their heavy operational costs and the dismantling of the vast global network of U.S. military bases – can Trump free up budgetary resources to finance his plans for massive U.S. infrastructure investments, modernizing the military, and addressing the needs of veterans. The sums involved are on the order of $600 billion annually which presently go to maintain some 800 military bases in 70 countries, bases which generate much anti-Americanism and entangle the U.S. in regional conflicts.

Gorbachev ultimately failed, squeezed between Moscow’s own “deep state” resisting change and a “new order” of greedy opportunists who saw a chance to plunder Russia’s riches. For Trump to succeed, he must not only overcome Washington’s “deep state” with its vested interests in protecting the status quo but he must enlist the capitalist world’s best minds to rebuild America’s infrastructure and restore a more broad-based prosperity.

Whether Trump can accomplish such a daunting task is debatable, but he has shown over a long business career the ability to attract and motivate a small team of not more than a dozen devoted assistants to run a multi-billion-dollar real estate empire. Obviously running an enterprise as large and complex as the U.S. government – and its interconnections with the domestic and global economies – is far more difficult. But if he is to succeed, Trump will have to press ahead with his earlier plans for a new and less costly foreign and defense policy.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

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41 comments for “Trump’s Foreign Policy: Retreat or Rout?

  1. February 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    The American people wanted change and still want change. Trump may or may not give it to them, but one thing is certain under Hillary Clinto there would have been no change and no possibility of change.

    Another point. As George Galloway recommended avoid grassy knolls, open top limozines and Dallas or it could be a short Presidency indeed..

  2. John
    February 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    The man has been president for only one month. Every day he is set-up for a new fight against fake news and sensationalist …..There are snakes ready to strike at every opportunity…….

    • Realist
      February 21, 2017 at 2:33 am

      I also see more than a slight amount of ad hominem attacks by the media. Rather than simply criticise, say, Trump’s policies on travel visas from war-torn ME countries, or the wisdom of building a wall on the Mexican border, or whether we can afford tax cuts for the rich yet again, the media is sure to make the point that these are fails because Trump is a xenophobic, racist megalomaniacal lunatic. The media has a distinct anti-Trump agenda. No one is telling them to shut up, but they should stick to the facts, be a bit more objective and less conspicuously biased. Used to be only Fox News was out of touch with reality, now the entire media suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome (and Putin Derangement Syndrome).

      • Stiv
        February 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm

        Mental illness is the #1 health problem in America. FOX “news” and Trump are both symptoms and agents of making it into a national crisis. Its’ spilling over into every facit of American discourse. When logic and knowledge no longer have any meaning, being “objective” follows.

  3. Adrian Engler
    February 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    In principle, a reduction of US military spending would make sense. The US could reduce military spending significantly and still have the strongest army on earth by far, and this would allow financing an improvement of infrastructure in the US, which would be in the interest of a majority of the population and could improve the president’s popularity.

    However, while detente with Russia indeed seems to be a core goal of Trump – it is one of the areas where his statements were quite consistent most of the time -, he talked about increasing rather than reducing US military strength. Probably, one could attempt to reconcile the idea of a smaller, but more modern army with most of Trump’s statements, but this is hardly the way an unbiased interpretation of his words looks like.

    The question is whether Trump avoided talking about reducing military spending because this would have been problematic and led to more resistance from the deep state or whether it is something he really does not want.

    It seems that one can only guess. What is clear is that there is a strong pressure on US politicians not to talk about the reduction of military spending. Even Bernie Sanders did not mention this as one of the ways his proposals (which also included renewing infrastructure) could be financed, he only talked about taxes. I doubt that it was really important to Bernie Sanders that US military spending remains on the current high level, so I suppose that this shows that there is a strong pressure on US politicians against talking about a reduction of military spending. Therefore, it might be plausible that Trump has such plans, which would make his ideas for increasing domestic infrastructure spending look less unrealistic, but did not talk about them in order not to antagonize the military-industrial complex too much too early. On the other hand, since Trump only talked about strengthening the military and never talked about decreasing military spending, it might also be that this is because he really does not want to reduce military spending.

    • Stephen Sivonda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:59 am

      Adrian Engler… Trump is a great poker player, bluffs and never tips his hand. The article is spot on about the ,I’ll say calming of the waters” regarding NATO and the EU . He certainly knows that we don’t need all those bases and that our troops and vets need better care through the VA. As for the “strong military”….we already have far too many nukes ,but certain innovations for the delivery systems can be improved. Back to being a poker player…. timing is everything and everything in it’s time. I submit that there will be several very big surprises when he says CALL…and he plays his Trump card.

  4. Abe
    February 20, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Trump Roi (Trump the King) opened at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre Américain, causing a riotous response in the audience.

    Trump Roi is the first of three stylised burlesques. Trump Cocu (Trump Cuckolded) soon followed, and Trump Enchaîné (Trump in Chains) will hopefully open very soon.

    The ideas that underpin Trump Roi are based in Ubuphysics, a realm beyond both metaphysics and pataphysics. It studies the laws of American exceptionalism that float like turds, no matter how many times Americans attempt to flush their political system.

    • Brad Benson
      February 21, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Should we take advice from the French then? It sounds like a theater of the absurd to me. Trump will surprise all of those fools that can’t see the forest for the trees.

    • LJ
      February 21, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      We’re watching you. You have been triangulated thrice.

  5. Bill Bodden
    February 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Whether Trump can accomplish such a daunting task is debatable, but he has shown over a long business career the ability to attract and motivate a small team of not more than a dozen devoted assistants to run a multi-billion-dollar real estate empire.

    Trump’s team may have worked in his business empire, but there is no cause for optimism with most of his team for management of the American empire. Education looks like it will be a disaster under Betsy DeVoss, Main Street will probably pay a hefty price (maybe even bankruptcy) to favor Wall Street under Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and to end the list for openers, the environment may prove to be more disastrous under Scott Pruitt than a nuclear war under the auspices of the Queen of Chaos.

    There are reasons to be concerned with Rex Tillerson at State and James Mattis at the Pentagon, but they may prove to be saving graces.

    The only point about which we can be assured is that interesting times lie ahead.

    • Joe J Tedesky
      February 21, 2017 at 1:01 am

      Tony Cartalucci feels that there are forces much bigger than Trump and that Trump will need to conform to those corporate one world order forces.

      http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/02/continuity-of-agenda-destroying-syria.html

      My perception of Pence is that he is going to head up one side of the Trump Cabinet, and that Pence will be Trump’s biggest pain in the you know what. I could speculate in many other directions of where all of this Trumpamania is going to go, but then I’d be wrong and very worried if right.

      Trump’s presidency has produced one thing of greatness, and that is ‘SNL’ has never been more relevant than now.

  6. February 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Interesting article:
    The previous “Foreign Policy” has been a disaster.
    “Millions are dead, millions are refugees, their countries invaded and destroyed, because of an evil plot by people in positions of power.”
    [Read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-plotters-that-killed-millions.html

  7. mike k
    February 20, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Trump’s improbable presidency has removed the rock that was hiding the ugly mafia that is American politics. Will the light that is beginning to shine on these vermin finally awaken the populace to get rid of them? Stay tuned….

    • February 20, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Only if Duopoly’s walls are pierced by rejection of Identy politics.

  8. SteveM
    February 20, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Re: “Trump’s backers reminded him of the disasters that the policies of American global hegemony have created in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

    I’m wondering who these “backers” are? Especially within Trump’s inner sanctum. The people banging in Trump’s ear on a daily basis now are Military lifers who grew up professionally to view foreign policy as a nail to be pounded down by the War Machine hammer.

    And I’m curious why Gilbert notes the “subversive plotters in the State Department, the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI” without including the Pentagon in that mix. Mattis himself looks at Russia as the primary “threat” to the United States. Although, in what way Russia threatens the U.S. is beyond me. Recently retired U.S. commander of NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove is a General Buck Turgidson like anti-Russian nut-job. And I imagine his opinions inside the Pentagon are not unique.

    The thing is Mattis and the Pentagon hacks don’t have to plot subversively to turn Trump to Neocon orthodoxy, he invites them in every day to be convinced.

    • Bill Bodden
      February 20, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Although, in what way Russia threatens the U.S. is beyond me.

      Putin failed to raise the white flag of surrender when NATO moved up to Russia’s borders.

    • Brad Owen
      February 21, 2017 at 5:40 am

      Check out Mattis on EIR website. Put his name in their search box. Mattis prefers to avoid a fight. He is like MacArthur that way. He prefers diplomacy. Trump is in the Gorbachev mold, seeking detente while rebuilding America. Gorbachev failed against his Deep State creeps and the oligarch racketeers that arose after the fail of the Soviet Union. I’m more inclined to write directly to Trump. The “commentariat” here should also write to Trump. I have gone from being anti-Trump to sticking up for him, against the war criminals who are trying to stage a Ukraine-like coup against him. Trump is with the new Nation- Builders Faction in the World, against the War-Fighting Faction of the Western Empire that tries to put a stop to nation- building. National sovereignty is a deadly threat to covert colonial Empire-Building. That is what has plagued our entire history against the British Empire. Our American Anglophile Tories always tried to sabotage it. They hated Hamilton, hated Lincoln, hated FDR, hated JFK, his brother and MLK.

    • Brad Benson
      February 21, 2017 at 6:19 am

      As my career military officer father told me many years ago, “The ones that have seen war, don’t want to see it repeated”.

      My father fought in WWII and was wounded three times in nine months of actual fighting following D-Day, including being shot through the neck in Aachen, Germany. While I’m not sure that his theory will hold true for all of the officers in today’s “all volunteer” military, it remains a good thing that these generals have already made rank and don’t need combat experience to get that next promotion. I’m hoping that these guys will not be so anxious to commit to operations in the future.

      There will still be enough combat experience to go around, so that the young bucks can make rank, since we are now in 138 countries and it will take some time to wind down.

      • Bill Bodden
        February 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        As my career military officer father told me many years ago, “The ones that have seen war, don’t want to see it repeated”.

        Nice theory and probably true in many cases, but it certainly doesn’t apply to John McCain and some of his fellow warmongers.

    • bobzz
      February 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Mattis is like Zbignew—too old to forget Stalin and the old Soviet Union. Things have changed in Russia, and they can’t get it.

  9. Bill Bodden
    February 20, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    There are some encouraging signs with the appointment of General McMaster to National Security despite favorable comments by Petraeus and McCain.

    “Trump appoints HR McMaster as national security adviser: The US president announced from Mar-a-Lago Monday that Lt Gen McMaster is his pick to replace Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign last week” – https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/20/trump-appoints-hr-mcmaster-national-security-adviser

    • Brad Benson
      February 21, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Well it sounds really good but, when it is said by the Guardian you’re hearing it directly from the CIA, through GHQ.

  10. JWalters
    February 20, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks for this very sensible analysis. It is supported by the ferociousness of the Deep State’s attack on Trump using their controlled intelligence and media organizations. The absolute lack of objectivity and balance in the MSM will be a major topic of future history programs on C-SPAN.

  11. February 20, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Am I permanently barred fr this comment section? If so, why?

    • Realist
      February 21, 2017 at 2:02 am

      Very occasionally weird stuff happens when one tries to post a comment, like a “moderation” notice will pop up or the comment will simply disappear instead of posting. The latter happened to me tonight, but I figure it is the occasional electronic glitch. They wouldn’t have shown your last remark if you were blackballed.

  12. Realist
    February 21, 2017 at 2:18 am

    I pity the fate of the world if Trump has been forced to adopt Obomber’s irrational hard line confrontation of Russia. It means war because it is not fair, reasonable or acceptable. It is in-your-face vicious aggression out of DC. Not being an experienced hand in politics (or having many seasoned politicos on his staff) Trump is being ambushed on some issue, no matter how trivial, every day. Then he feeds the vicious cycle with inartful and inarticulate tweets and the media trolls him yet again. As I’ve said, the man needs an experienced articulate and restrained spokesman to respond to all the sniping from the Dems, the neocons, the spooks, the Deep State and the media. His intended policies on rapprochement with Russia would not be depicted as traitorous chaotic lunacy if presented by perceived moderates like Jimmy Carter or G.H.W. Bush. But such a person was not electable this time round and no one of the sort has come forward to help out. I think if they exist they may be afraid, just like the leaders in congress seem to be. Really, I see the GOPer leadership running scared right now, all afraid of the media except for John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have become Republican anarchists.

  13. Realist
    February 21, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Best summary of the political reality in America that I have seen.

    To quote the key paragraph in the work: “The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation.”

    This is why the Deep State is trying multiple options to remove Trump from the presidency so they succeed one way or another.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/21/goose-stepping-our-way-toward-pink-revolution/

    • Brad Owen
      February 21, 2017 at 8:30 am

      This is also why it is wrong to call it the American Empire. We’re just the “manpower” Province of a global Empire, who must suffer doing duty in this Empire’s “Roman Legions”. This is no benefit whatsoever to the U.S. citizens. It’s a great detriment to us, maintaining a global military that denies us those things like free public schooling, healthcare, etc…We only need a National Guard and Coast Guard at probably much less than one tenth the cost of a global military force.

  14. Peter Loeb
    February 21, 2017 at 7:16 am

    LOVE THAT CHAOS…!!!

    Gilbert Doctorow’s analysis is much too kind in its way. Those Trump.
    supporters with whom Trump keeps in contact love him because he
    will kick anyone in the ass, Especially the purer-
    than- thou “liberals”, so cocksure with their “balanced”
    journalism (sic)

    The tragedy in it is that many believe what they are told to
    believe. A tree will grow in Brooklyn, There will be masses of
    (high salaried?) jobs for everyone. Things will be just
    as they used to be. Etc.

    I remember so clearly the responses of some Trump
    supporters (via NPR) in Essex Country in the northernmost
    part of New York State , in the Adirondack State Park.
    I went to Junior and Senior High there. These men were
    not insider experts, analysts. They just luxuriated in
    Trump’s “You’re fired!” approach.

    As one liberal(?) analyst commented, “In the end,
    Trump will be judged by the usual metrics. Did jobs
    reappear along with decent wages?” There is either
    a yes or no answer. Low-paying part time jobs may
    show in millions of jobs created figures. They are not
    the same.

    The strongest points of Doctorow’s analysis are its
    comparison with policies under Obama as well as other
    former Administrations. The style was different indeed.
    But the lying was carefully crafted and fed to the
    cooperative media and the people of America. In those
    years America wanted Obama’s professorial dignity and
    that’s what they got. Less to no attention was paid to
    the provision of “Made in America” white phosphorous
    bombs to Israel to be used against Palestinians.
    (That corporation also sells MORTON SALT!)

    On crimes of aggression, murder, starvation and the
    like, the Obama Administration was silent.Lying. Not as
    Donald Trump does: tweeting and bellowing.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  15. myshkin
    February 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

    “Implicit in this well-meaning and sometimes condescending advice is a failure to understand the political acumen of Donald Trump and his entourage. He did not win the election on Nov. 8 by chance.”

    This is the key to the analysis and conclusion in this article, that Trump and his entourage are brilliant tacticians playing a sophisticated multi dimensional strategic game against the deep state shadow government in Washington and its fourth estate cheerleaders.

    Another possibility is that it was all by chance and he is largely what he appears to be, a know nothing demagogue who mouths pleasing populist pablum and occasionally pertinent geopolitical observations. He has disrupted the establishments business as usual but not with the intentions proposed. As to winning the Republican nomination, the argument can be made that Trump, whose business model rests on selling his name, was likely participating in the primaries mainly to keep his brand polished and never seriously believed he would win the nomination. A look at how his backers and team assembled, disassembled and reassembled suggests this.

    It would be far better for the world and the US to find a way to work with Russia than antagonize them and I hope you are right but the fact that Congressional Republicans have ushered in appointments like Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Betsy Devos, Steve Mnuchin and Steve Bannon is not reassuring. Instead it seems likely the US has elected a reality game show host as president who will be used by the powers that be to institute the most corrupt administration we have had the misfortune to be subject to.

  16. Wm. Boyce
    February 21, 2017 at 11:50 am

    “Whether Trump can accomplish such a daunting task is debatable, but he has shown over a long business career the ability to attract and motivate a small team of not more than a dozen devoted assistants to run a multi-billion-dollar real estate empire.”

    The man is unhinged, meaning the president, not the author. Beyond vague ideas and weird beliefs, what is there to know? Latest reports have the Homeland Security people hiring thousands of new agents to better deport people, and unfortunately, the Obama administration has all the infrastructure set up to do so. And we’ll see evironmental standards of all types dismantled by these loonies. So foreign policy? We’ll be lucky if we’re not incinerated, as it’s 2 1/2 minutes to midnight on the doomsday clock.

    • Realist
      February 21, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      The sad fact is that no Republican, Trump included, would have stood a chance to be elected if not for the catastrophic administration of Obama and the nomination of Hillary. Obama fixed none of the problems he inherited from Dubya, in fact making many of them worse. Maybe no Democrat could have done so with the brick wall opposition from the GOP, however, Obama’s agenda basically became that of a Republican neocon and neoliberal.

      Perhaps to compensate for his enormous failures on the domestic front, he chose to become a warmonger, tripling down on Dubya’s Middle East fiascos, and actually picking a fight with Russia, probably the only country on earth, aside from China, that could inflict real damage on American infrastructure in a war. And, Hillary promised to double down again on both the conflicts in the Middle East and the new Cold War (teetering on a hot war) with Russia.

      The liberal dovish intellectual faction of the Democratic Party abandoned Obomber and Killary, which was the key to Trump getting elected. They might have made up for the disillusioned unemployed blue collar workers who went for Trump for economic reasons in virtually the entire rustbelt, from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. Then there was the alienation of the Bernie supporters due to the dirty tricks played by Wassermann-Schultz and the DNC.

      The Democrats threw away the election moreso than Trump winning it. Substitute Sanders for Clinton and those liberal peaceniks come back and the rustbelt remains part of the “Blue Wall.” Unfortunately, the string pullers behind the scenes wanted the warmonger not the “revolutionary” social democrat. They wanted your tax dollars to continue pouring into the MIC rather than infrastructure and social programs. The Democratic Party is not who most people think it is. What they couldn’t win at the ballot box they are now trying to win through intrigue and insurrection.

      • Wm. Boyce
        February 22, 2017 at 1:12 am

        Oh bullshit. Read Greg Palast to find out how it was stolen. It doesn’t freaking matter what fantasy you engage with, Clinton should have won easily. It’s amazing to me how otherwise intelligent people sign in to the gas chamber willingly.

        • Realist
          February 22, 2017 at 3:27 am

          “It’s amazing to me how otherwise intelligent people sign in to the gas chamber willingly.”

          Which is what the country would have been doing by choosing Clinton. Be honest, you SHOULD know that her unfavorable ratings were just as high as Trumps. Except for California, her support was as weak as it gets for a Dem. Plus people caught on long ago that she was no “Democrat,” she was a Wall Street neoliberal and a warmongering neocon. Sir, you are still in denial. Are you also blaming “the Russians” for stealing the election?

          • Really Real
            February 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

            I agree with your analysis 100% – where to go from here though?

        • February 23, 2017 at 3:31 am

          You are arguing with someone who’s so hung up on Hillary and Obama that they have a hard time understanding that Donald Trump is where he is because he stole his way on most of what he has done in life.

          • February 23, 2017 at 3:34 am

            This post is a reply to Wm. Boyce.

          • Realist
            February 25, 2017 at 2:27 am

            And you had eight years in which to judge the efficacy and morality of the policies that Obama and Hillary put into effect, all of which were a failure and a travesty. You are such a partisan that you refuse to give these devils their due… which they received at the ballot box. This country would have been in another major war right this minute, and perhaps smoldering in a pile of nuclear ash, if Hillary had won that election.

          • February 25, 2017 at 7:48 am

            To Realist: Yes I am a partisan as you are in defense of Donald Trump. Are you schooled on the subject of Citizens United? Are you aware of who David Bossie is? He has been attacking Hillary since the early 90’s. He was on Trumps team as I am sure you are aware of. Some of Hillarys antagonists think she has killed upwards of 45 people. For all of her faults she is still a far better person than Donald Trump.

  17. D5-5
    February 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    “Donald Trump remains in close contact with his supporter base across the country not only via social media but using weekly, at times daily questionnaires delivered by email and asking the respondents to prioritize his next possible moves. Surely, this grassroots support gives him the confidence to wage battles against the Establishment in a bold manner.”

    From what I can see officials in Europe and Russia are not as confident as Mr. Doctorow that Trump really knows what he’s doing and is, in effect, cleverly fencing and deking to deal with his situation. The above is to give an impression of rube president so far out of his depth he believes world leadership is carried on by asking his supporters what he should do next? But this is some kind of brilliant shadow maneuver while he’s cleaning out the rat’s nest he inherited?

    Further, and what would seem to be confusing to European and Russian views is the mixed messages received from Mattis-Pence-Haley vs. Bannon-Trump, a foreign policy “schism” as this reporter indicates:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-19/

  18. March 1, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Why is Trump asking for more money for defense when we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world and our budget is larger than the next10 countries combined? Why is he backing away from detent with Moscow and agreeing with our Neo-cons in Washington to reject Moscows attempts to work together? Why do we criticize Moscow for trying to keep the Ukraine and Crimea in the Russian camp and out of NATO when we invaded Iraq and left over 1 million civilians dead and millions displaced as refugees based on fabricated lies? Isn’t this like the pot calling the kettle black?

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