Trump Lurches into Chaos and Conflict

President Trump lurched into the attack on Syria in much the same chaotic way that he has lurched from side to side on domestic policy and foreign affairs, notes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

By Alastair Crooke

It seems clear – as much as anything is ‘”clear” – that the so-called Tomahawk “tweets” were intended as a message (in the sense that they did not constitute a military strategic act, per se), but even now, the address on these Tomahawk tweets remains disputed. Ostensibly, it was directed at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, and Kim Jong Un of North Korea are considered probable addressees too (although no one seems certain of this, and U.S. statements are both confused and confusing).

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams)

 

But if we look a little closer at the U.S. National Security dynamics, it is clear that for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at least, the target is Russia (see below).

So what might have provoked this sudden lurch toward military action, and towards Trump’s great Syria policy “U-turn”?  Ostensibly, nothing had changed on the ground in Syria: Syria, Russia, and Iran were continuing to prosecute the war against the jihadists with slow, but solid success. Tactical military co-operation with America was growing, and had been effective in halting Turkish disruption.

President Assad had signaled an opened door to Syrian co-operation with U.S. forces in the war against “terrorists,” and President Putin was clear that he would welcome a summit with President Trump. Indeed, US officials were already anticipating the symbolic “defeat” of ISIS, with the fall of Mosul in Iraq and Raqaa in Syria as a major Trump achievement. All in all, things might have been thought to be heading in a positive direction (from the U.S. perspective).

Then, in the space of some 120 hours, we move from policy U-turn (from “Assad can stay”), to missiles, following the improbable claim that President Assad was willing to jeopardize this benign change in his environment for the sake of chemical-bombing women and children, in some strategically insignificant village long held by jihadists of various radical ilk. (Claims of use of chemical weapons by both sides are hardly new in Syria, either: this conflict is the site of the most intensely fought propaganda-war in history).

A Complex Puzzle

In trying to find an explanation for this sudden, out-of-the-blue, discontinuity of U.S. policy, we are forced into speculation – trying to put together the parts to a complex puzzle:

President Trump delivers his brief speech to the nation explaining his decision to launch a missile strike against Syria on April 6, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

The first (but only the first) piece relates to First Daughter Ivanka Trump. On seeing the distressing images of dying children on TV, she had an emotional melt-down, and “nagged her father into doing it.” (We have the reports of her brother Erik, Trump’s son, as well as the British Ambassador in Washington’s telegram to the British Prime Minister, stating that Ivanka was the initial catalyst). “Sure, Ivanka influenced the Syria strike decision,” Erik said.

But Pat Buchanan too (a former Republican Presidential candidate who has supported Trump) points to Trump’s own emotional state having played a pivotal role, when he asks “what was Trumps rationale” for the action. (And in the same vein, so does the New York Times).

Buchanan writes: “What was Trump thinking? Here was his strategic rationale: ‘When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. … And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.’ Two days later, Trump was still emoting: ‘Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.’”

In short, the initial reaction was emotive and impetuous – taken, it is clear, without bothering to wait for a considered analysis of facts, because obviously Assad did it, and Ivanka was in grief for the children.

From this initial reaction of emotion, and the desire to act, perhaps came into play Trump’s well-documented obsession to act, in every way, the opposite to that in which Obama acted. Roxanne Roberts, who sat next to Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, wrote in April 2016:

“Regarding the vast mystery … Why is the billionaire reality star running for president? I don’t know. You don’t know. But a handful of armchair psychoanalysts — reporters for major news organizations, no less — have decided that it all began at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where Trump was the butt of jokes by President Obama and ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedian Seth Meyers.

“Trump was so humiliated by the experience, they say, that it triggered some deep, previously hidden yearning for revenge. ‘That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature in the political world,’ wrote the New York Times last month.”

Judge his face for yourself (see here). So, unlike Obama, who prevaricated (in the wake of the 2013 claim of chemical weapons used by Syrian government forces), Trump did the opposite: He did not pause; he acted decisively and swiftly. Both White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson kept pressing this narrative of Trump’s decisiveness and swiftness.

Of course, post hoc, the further rationalizations may have set in: this attack on Syria, on Putin’s protégé Assad, Trump may have mused, additionally would kill dead the Democrats’ meme that he was somehow “Putin’s man.” This is the now celebrated “Machiavelli rationale” justifying Trump’s Tomahawk decision — a clever ruse to disarm the disparaging claim that he was the “Manchurian Candidate.” Maybe this became an afterthought, but the evidence suggests that the actual decision was grounded in the emotional impact of the moment.

So far so good, but did his National Security Adviser tell him that the intelligence services had their doubts about Assad’s culpability? It seems they did.We do know, from multiple sources, that many in CIA and DIA, including those on the ground, did not accept that President Assad was responsible.

The Missing Intel Officials

Robert Parry, a long time Washington hand writes: “There is a dark mystery behind the White House-released photo showing President Trump and more than a dozen advisers meeting at his estate in Mar-a-Lago after his decision to strike Syria with Tomahawk missiles: Where are CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other top intelligence officials?

The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

“Before the photo was released on Friday, a source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier — and thus Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting as Trump reached a contrary decision.

“At the time, I found the information dubious since Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior U.S. officials were declaring quite confidently that Assad was at fault. Given that apparent confidence, I assumed that Pompeo and the CIA must have signed off on the conclusion of Assad’s guilt even though I knew that some U.S. intelligence analysts had contrary opinions, that they viewed the incident as either an accidental release of chemicals or an intentional ploy by Al Qaeda rebels to sucker the U.S. into attacking Syria. …

“But in the photo of Trump and his advisers, no one from the intelligence community is in the frame. You see Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, strategic adviser Steve Bannon, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a variety of other officials, including some economic advisers who were at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“However, you don’t see Pompeo or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or any other intelligence official. Even The New York Times noted the oddity in its Saturday editions, writing: ‘If there were C.I.A. and other intelligence briefers around, … they are not in the picture.’”

So, at the crucial NSA meeting that formalized the government decision, the participants were “rigged” – in the sense that those who may have questioned the narrative of Syrian government culpability, simply were excluded. McMaster was the only intelligence professional present, and Trump got official endorsement for his instinctive conviction that President Assad was responsible.

But, here we come to the fourth piece to this puzzle: Why did the formal decision to attack the Syrian airbase metamorphose from a symbolic smack over the knuckles for Assad to an ultimatum? An ultimatum furthermore, which was clearly directed to Mr. Putin: Either Assad is your ally, or the U.S. – You choose. Whomsoever drafted this ultimatum will have understood well that such a binary choice was intended to visit humiliation on President Putin. Well, the only substantive security/intelligence professional present was General McMaster – of whom an erstwhile admirer of the latter’s intellectual powers, has written:

“I have been forced …  to come to the conclusion that McMaster is a big part of the problem in the mad rush to war on Syria that erupted, last week, war that could lead to a direct military confrontation with Russia. His appearance on Fox News Sunday was an indication of that but there were indications of this potential well beforehand, while he was still at US Army Training and Doctrine Command. His pre-occupation for the past two years, before he went to the White House, was, after all, how to reshape the Army for future war against Russia.”

Going After Russia

In the Fox interview, McMaster was asked a number of questions about Trump’s missile attack. Here is part of what he said: “The objective (of the strikes) was to send a very strong political message to Assad. And this is very significant because … this is the first time the United States has acted directly against the Assad regime, and that should be a strong message to Assad and to his sponsors.”

Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, national security adviser to President Trump.

He added: “Russia should ask themselves, what are we doing here? Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available … Right now, I think everyone in the world sees Russia as part of the problem.” (Fox News with Chris Wallace) (CF emphasis added)

To place this last answer in context, we need to refer to what McMaster, at a talk to CSIS in Washington D.C. in April 2016, said:

“And what we’re seeing now is we’ve awakened to, obviously, this threat from Russia, who is waging limited war for limited objectives – annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine – at zero cost, consolidating gains over that territory, and portraying the reaction by us and allies and partners, as escalatory: That what is required to deter a strong nation that is waging limited war for limited objectives on battlegrounds involving weaker states – or what Thomas – Mackinder called at the end of the 18th, early 19th century the shatter zones on the Eurasian landmass – what is required is forward deterrence, to be able to ratchet up the cost at the frontier 

“Of course, this is a sophisticated strategy: that Russia is employing – and we’re doing a study of this now with a number of partners – [one which] combines, really, conventional forces as cover for unconventional action, but a much more sophisticated campaign involving the use of criminality and organized crime, and … part of a broader effort to sow doubt and conspiracy theories across our alliance.”

McMaster went on: “And this effort, I believe, is aimed really not at defensive objectives, but at offensive objectives – to collapse the post-World War II, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe, and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.” (emphasis added)

So where does this McMaster aspect take us? It suggests that President Trump’s core instincts (seemingly) are still primarily focused on the domestic, U.S. scene. It is precisely here, however, in the domestic sphere that he has suffered serious reversals. After nearly 100 days, he has no legislation.

Some Capitol Hill Republicans have envisioned the nightmare scenario for 2017, and it goes like this: “No ­ObamaCare repeal. No tax reform. No trillion-dollar infrastructure package. No border wall.”

Additionally, “It’s not just drafting laws that Republicans have failed at – it’s drafting passable laws. Right now there are Republican factions who believe that health care should be abandoned so they can score a win on tax reform, and factions that believe tax reform isn’t possible without first dealing with the Affordable Care Act. There’s also an increasing recognition that they can’t get everything they want pushed through without seeking some Democratic support in the Senate, a factor that makes it even more likely that they will shed Freedom Caucus votes in the House. Because Republicans have spent decades declaring that anything which can garner a Democratic vote is intrinsically evil.” (Emphasis added)

Hitting a Wall

In short, Trump has hit a domestic legislative “wall.” And being instinctive, rather than intellectual-strategic by nature, when he hits one wall, he lurches off in another direction until he hits another wall. Now, at the urging of son-in-law Jared Kushner and his Goldmanite allies (Cohn, Phillips), Trump is lurching off in search of some “middle ground” that might help him get some legislation passed and save Republican candidates in the mid-term 2018 elections from a deserting base. Perhaps he thought that “decisive” action in Syria would help claim him the middle ground?

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walks with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve; Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Donald J. Trump; and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas A. Silliman after arriving in Baghdad, April 3, 2017. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

T.A. Frank in Vanity Fair warns succinctly: “He first went for establishment nominees in filling his Cabinet, then hit the wall of resistance from his base, and tacked back toward Bannon, then hit a wall of mainstream outrage over his travel ban, then lurched toward Reince Priebus and more stress on procedures, until he hit a wall with health-care overhaul, then lurched into an attack on Syria, running into a wall of outrage from his base and approval from all the wrong people. So he’ll probably lurch away from Syria, or try to. But acts of war have a momentum of their own, and for many of Trump’s deplorables, this was not a compromise but a betrayal.”

Mr. Frank has put his finger on the problem exactly: It is three inter-connected problems, in fact. Firstly, in betraying your friends (your political base), to court your enemies: you risk losing both – but the loss of the former can be fatal, and the fleeting approbation of enemies, is, at best, granted on a short lease.

Just to be clear, the activist base that brought Trump to the Presidency is not happy. The divisions within Trump’s team are not just a matter of bad chemistry between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner that can be corrected by a slap over the wrist – they are deeply ideological. Kushner (and Ivanka) are globalist, liberals from New York, and are both erstwhile Democrats. They represent the polar opposite of that for which stands Bannon and the America Firsters and nationalists.

But secondly, with legislative and GOP paralysis looming, mid-term elections in 2018, and strife within the Trump team already disorientated by Presidential “lurchings,” there is risk of systemic break-down.

And thirdly, in allowing McMaster to “weaponize” the “Tomahawk tweets” as an ultimatum to Putin (together with McMaster’s ambitions to “surge” in Syria and Iraq) Trump risks events spiraling out of control. There are interests in Syria who would happily escalate the situation into a standoff between America and Russia, in which either Putin or Trump will be humiliated by having to “blink first.”

Mr. Frank is likely right that Trump will “probably lurch away from Syria, or try to,” but as one expert on Russia ominously noted: “When I hear of the notion of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, against the will of Russia, I get a knot in my stomach, because I fully understand where this could lead.”

We are lurching to a situation as potentially serious as was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

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44 comments for “Trump Lurches into Chaos and Conflict

  1. Brad Owen
    April 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Except for Mr. Parry’s narratives, as far as any other further narratives on the “Trump turn-about” goes, on this site (or most others for that matter), I prefer to wait & see what turns up over on EIR and LaRouchePAC. I remember Mr. LaRouche talking, on a TV infomercial in the eighties, about how East and West Germany would be allowed to re-unite, while the fix was in for the tear-down of Yugoslavia. I thought this guy was a raving loon…but damn if it didn’t turn out just that way. I remember in July 2007, when he informed the world that the “Japan Carry Trade” was ended, and that it meant the Trans-Atlantic financial system (Wall Street/City-of-London) was now hopelessly, irrevocably bankrupt, and into a general breakdown crisis, that only firm renouncement of Monetarist policies, re-instating Glass-Steagall and an orderly bankruptcy reorganization could prevent further breakdown, and only a return to a Public Credit System (the American System of Political Economy) could repair the devastation…which is where we are at in Congress right now. I think I’ll continue putting trust in EIR narratives. They seem to be just about the only ones around (with a few exceptions) who know WTF is really going on in the World. The rest can’t tell their U-know-what, from a hole in the ground.

    • Bob Van Noy
      April 14, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Brad, we seem to be on very similar reading lists although I don’t follow Mr. LaRouche at all. I’m most fascinated by Carrol Quigley…
      Here is what I’m reading presently:

      ”Wall Street and The Socialist Revolution ” by Anthony Sutton

      ”During his time at the Hoover Institution, he wrote the major study Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (in three volumes), arguing that the West played a major role in developing the Soviet Union from its very beginnings up until the present time (1970)” from Wikipedia

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_C._Sutton

      • Brad Owen
        April 15, 2017 at 5:03 am

        Hi Bob. Yes, I’m familiar with the saga of Quigley. I picked up from EIR that he was in agreement with the bankster cabal, just thought they should come forth, into the open, with their activities, as respectable, necessary activities. He was also a mentor to Bill Clinton, which explains to me a lot about what happened to FDR’s Democratic Party…and the fact that it became FDR’s Democratic Party is itself another story: FDR represents the “Bernie Sanders take-over” of the Democratic Party in his era; Clinton represents its restoration to its original (rotten) character, minus the Planters slave society. The LaRouche organizations (EIR, LaRouchePAC, Schiller Institute, the Hamiltonian, The Manhattan Project-no not the atom bomb, The New Federalist, etc…) are not just journalistic pursuits commenting upon the the World they find around them. They are political activists involved in shaping the World according to the actual founding ideals of The American Experiment. They represent the Taproot to the original Patriots AND those men and women who inspired THEM. They see the narrative of history as the unfolding of the ongoing confrontation between the old oligarchic Empire of managerial elites who manage men as if they were a herd of beasts, AND the newer concept of a Republic of self-governing humans capable of intelligence, creativity, self-direction towards productive, useful ends (as Jefferson said: “no man was born with spurs on his heals, nor a saddle on his back). I just find their Worldview to be true to what is really going on, in the World. The real enemy to the American Experiment resides in Britain, whose oligarchs inherited the mantle of Empire from previous holders (Venetians-in-Netherlands/Venice & Genoa/Constaninople/Rome herself, which provided the organizational genius & template for other European dynasties to replicate Empire, causing other Europeans to have to flee Europe, in order to re-establish republican ideals…The American Experiment). Russia has always “guarded our flank” , in Imperial times, in communist times, and now in Her Federal era, because our continuing existence helped keep Her free of British predations. Anyway…I find this a more compelling narration, so I attend to it more& more, and other narrations less & less. Take care Bob.

        • Bob Van Noy
          April 15, 2017 at 8:54 am

          Thank you Brad and Lisa Brown below for your thoughts…

    • Lisa Brown
      April 15, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Yes, me too: I have been waiting for LaRouchePAC to make comments on all this. They always have it right.

  2. D5-5
    April 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    In contrast to Brad above, I found Crooke’s analysis helpful. It summarizes the forces of turmoil that currently put Trump into his “lurching” style of leadership–what I said yesterday is his continual rotating from simplistic to belligerent–and adds to understanding of what we’re up against.

    In short, to paraphrase Mr. Crooke’s key points, Trump is beset by inner division in his team, failure to legislate anything, his emotional wounds which have a history at least to 2011 and being humiliated, and his limitations as a thinker versus the type who has always gotten by with shooting from the hip.

    Add to that a General at his ear who reminds of Dr. Strangelove.

    His utter lack of fitness for the position is daily further revealed. His finger-wagging self-righteousness toward North Korea is a good example of his dangerous incompetence. North Koreans following decades of threat are not going to respond favorably to his patronizing, and will bluntly indicate to him what a POS they think he is, which is automatically interpreted as aggression instead of their plain-spoken outrage over his arrogance.

    They are not as cool as Moscow’s calmer and icier leaders setting things straight by telling Tillerson to pull up his socks and change his underwear.

    In recent weeks we have also been discussing the type of mental state, or psychological pathology, that most suits the US at this time, given its leaders’ stupidities and its echoing and cheering MSM. I’m going to suggest the most relevant term should conjure memories of Captain Queeg rolling his little steel balls: paranoia.

    The US has apparently entirely gone off any ability toward sober and mature assessment of what it’s doing into a self-righteousness-cum-persecution-complex on how to manage its foreign policy henceforward. If McMaster doesn’t roll little steel balls there’s probably some equivalent behavior, such as shaving and polishing his head morning and evening.

    (Sorry, feeling pretty ticked at the moment.)

    • Brad Owen
      April 14, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Sorry about the mislead. I just had an epiphany and plopped it down here on the very next article. It’s not any reaction to Crooke at all. In fact, I’m getting to where I have no reaction, one way or the other, to most journalists, just a select few, who I think, are sufficient to navigate by. Such is the depth of deception we are living through. Take care, D5-5.

    • mike k
      April 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      You’ve got it right D5-5. Trump reminds me of the captain of the Exxon Valdez, lurching around in his cabin drunk as a skunk, while the ship he is supposed to be piloting is heading for disaster. We need a miracle to get this idiot out of the job he has no business pretending to handle.

  3. D5-5
    April 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm
  4. D5-5
    April 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    VJ Prashad on the mother of all bomb drop in Afghanistan as propaganda

    “There is a kind of I would even go so far as to say, a racist assumption that the United States is the doctor, and it must provide doses of medication through bombing around the planet to maintain order. And whereas Obama was in a sense a homeopath who gave homeopathic doses of bombing, Trump is an allopath. He comes in with massive scale bombing which we’ve seen now with this Mother of All Bombs.”

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=18870

    • Zachary Smith
      April 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Your link was a very interesting addition to the main essay.

      PAUL JAY: Now, I’m not a military expert, but it seems to me both of these things, as you say, are linked, and both of these things are more propaganda events than they are military exercises.

      You start with the Syrian… attack on the Syrian air base, 59 missiles fired, was it 36 got through? They’re apparently using the base later the same night. They phoned the Russians ahead of time to say it was coming, which means Russian air defenses and radar were all ready for it.

      I’m going to continue in the spirit of this page – speculate! That attack on the airbase was a total failure in terms of damage to the place. But what in blazes was the purpose? Perhaps it was a statement. “We” could have made this attack on a Russian base and totally overwhelmed the vaunted S-400 missiles. Possibly it was also a “test” of how efficient the Russian jammers were. Success would be reassuring, but an obvious failure could be a sign the Air Force and Navy will be badgering Congress to get them a new cruise missile into production. What about a statement to North Korea – “we have these cruise missiles to burn!” Finally, it might have been a do-nothing thing designed to get the neocons off Trump’s back, at least temporarily.

      The Massive Ordnance Air Burst was an obvious statement, for it wasn’t even designed to make an attack on a tunnel complex. The device has a meter-long rod on the tip to guarantee detonation in the air, and I’d imagine it is of fragile construction to hold the most explosive possible within its case. Since the bomb is literally shoved out of the rear end of a transport, it’s not exactly a super-accurate device, either.

      The US has some very large tunnel-smashing bombs like the GBU-28 which would have been much more efficient if underground destruction was the goal. IMO the MOAB was another statement – to both North Korea and the Taliban/ISIS that we still have 15 of the things and are willing to use them. Since Trump had delegated power over these to the military, he wasn’t really involved except to brag about them.

      On the flip side, there is food for thought about the sheer scale of the attack. Would a US aircraft carrier have been able to survive a string of 60 such missiles? Potential enemies can launch in salvos as well as we can. And many of their ocean-skimming missiles come in at rifle-bullet speeds.

      Many thanks to author Crooke for his thought-provoking essay.

      • D5-5
        April 14, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        Isn’t the MOAB the mother of all barrel bombs? But Assad’s dropping a barrel bomb is “a red line.”

        • Marko
          April 15, 2017 at 8:08 am

          That was exactly my thought. Assad fills up a 55-gal. drum with firecrackers and gravel and it’s a heinous war crime if he uses it. Trump can fill up a railway tank car with C4 explosives and use it to level a city and everyone goes ” Oooooh. Again ! Rewind , rewind !”.

  5. backwardsevolution
    April 14, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    One guy explained it well this morning, that Trump will always look for leverage. He says something terrible about someone, calls them whatever, and then flip flops and takes it all back. He says he wants to go one way, then flip flops and goes in a completely different direction. You can’t get a bead on him.

    He gets people to move this way. He appears to be chaotic and all over the board. Not a very good way to negotiate with people (always forcing them to find their bottom line), but it’s his particular method, and he does get people to move, if even slightly. He finds out how much they’re going to stand at attention for him.

    I doubt very much whether he’s falling in line with the warmongers. He’s probably setting out to hang them.

    I can’t remember what Putin did a few months ago, but I remember Trump saying, “Oh, I knew he was smart.” Well, it takes a smart person (or at least someone who is able to think in a particular way) to know one. A dumb person doesn’t see a smart person, not really, but Trump was able to see the intelligence in Putin and appreciate it.

    I don’t think Trump is as stupid as many think. Time will tell.

    • Marko
      April 14, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Believe me , I want very much for you to be right on this , but here’s what I see , even with my eyes closed : Trump has buttons. Big buttons , easy to push. You want to make him hate Putin ? Roll out these or similar lines periodically , as opportunities arise to frame them halfway believably :

      1) Mr. President , Putin is doing this to make you look weak
      2) Mr. President , Putin is killing women and children indiscriminately. And babies. Mostly Christian.
      3) Mr. President , Putin is trying to make you look stupid. He’s setting you up.
      4) Mr. President , have you noticed the way he looks at her ? Putin wants to bang Ivanka.
      …and so on.

      After enough of this , if he hears a sudden loud noise , Trump will nuke Moscow.

      And the same strategy will work on other issues. Trump will end up like putty in their hands.

      • backwardsevolution
        April 14, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        Marko – maybe, but the jury is still out. It’s early. Everybody has big buttons, if you look hard enough. Some are harder to find, but they’re there. Who knows what Obama’s were, Clinton’s, Bush’s.

        We still don’t know whether he’s doing what he’s doing for leverage, whether he’s doing it to be likeable, to appease the warmongers, or whether it’s because his buttons have been pushed. We don’t know his motives. Let’s wait and see.

        But one thing is certain, in order to alleviate appeasing the neocons, he should have (as Sam F said) gotten rid of all of them right at the beginning. You don’t want people around you who are going to push your buttons for their own gain or people who you feel you have to please.

        • D5-5
          April 14, 2017 at 8:15 pm

          What are we waiting to see? We’re talking about a MOAB he has authorized dropping. May I ask where? on what? how many casualties? how many children? The man is obviously a borderline lunatic and you’re asking us to wait and see? What are you expecting to happen?

          • backwardsevolution
            April 14, 2017 at 11:52 pm

            D5 – the MOAB was dropped in an area of underground tunnels and caves, away from everything, causing damage to the diameter of one mile. They were trying to collapse the caves and tunnels. I agree it’s idiotic, they should just get the hell out, but as far as civilian casualties, I don’t think there were any. Just a complete waste of taxpayer money.

          • Libby
            April 16, 2017 at 1:44 am

            I think…. backswardsev just meant, by ‘wait and see’, what his motives were. There might have been pressure from the ‘Deep State’, as if… after all the inflammatory, fire-stoking rhetoric by the same about ‘hacking’ and Russia that he was possibly ‘pressured’ into this, either for credit, appeasement, or his own ego. Possibly for ‘the children’.

            I say this from a state of alarm about Syria and MOAB, and the desire, the lust, for war, which is a war for world dominance. Possibly even WWIII. I agree that this about-face of Trump as regards Syria, Russia in the campaign is not clear. One interpretation is that we have witnessed a coup, which it would have been as well had Trump been ‘impeached’ in these circumstances.

    • mike k
      April 14, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      No doubt Trump has cleverness, he got himself elected, he’s made a pile of money. What Trump lacks is wisdom, he is a walking testament to shallow selfish thinking.

  6. April 14, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Good article, good comments. This is a scary time, and I have to say that when I first read about McMaster my stomach turned before even this turn of events. Who got Trump to take so many leftover generals from the hideous wars, when he said he would try to get out of warring mode? Was it Jared Kushner and his undying support for Israel?

    The United States is a rogue state and has been for several decades now, maybe more, I’m no analyst but know what I see, this country’s sociopathic “leaders” do whatever they want, regardless of world reaction. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and at that time, at least the country had a levelheaded leader in JFK. Since the beginning of the cowboy Hollywood Reagan era, things have continued to go steadily downhill. I feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and I suspect I’m not alone.

    • Taras77
      April 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      No, you certainly are not alone, Jessica.

      I really am starting to believe that mcmaster is part of the problem, maybe a big part. He is very close to patraeus and we know how that rolls. Calls for more and more troops into syria have patraeus’ fingerprints all over that mindless idea. Surge all over again-I have seen some reports that mcmaster and patraeus are working/consulting together.

      I watched video excerpts of the fox interview with mcmaster-it was not reassuring-he is all in for regime change with the temerity to ask why is russia in syria. I think the question should be turned around and to ask why the us is and has been in syria for years-i think we all know the unpleasant answer to that one.

      • Marko
        April 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm

        “…..with the temerity to ask why is russia in syria. I think the question should be turned around…..”

        That’s been a striking feature of our time , IMO : The unbelievable volumes of absolutely shameless hypocrisy.

        I don’t think we can expect to live in peace as long as this continues. Normal people don’t tolerate that kind of crap indefinitely , and I don’t think normal countries will , either.

        • Libby
          April 16, 2017 at 1:50 am

          The shameless hypocrisy, even down to the MSM’s incessant talk of Russian oligarchs, people who couldn’t get on the ballet, their biased ‘state media’, civilian deaths Russians occasion… We need to be concerned about all of the same, right here, and the 300 dead civilians in Mosul of maybe two weeks ago. Putin seems to have a very level head and a lot of restraint. For how long?

    • Libby
      April 16, 2017 at 1:45 am

      You are not alone Jessica… Best to you.

  7. akech
    April 14, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    MOAB (mother of all bombs) has just been dropped in an area of the world prone to all sorts of earthquakes, Afghanistan! The earth formation in this part of the world is still very, very fragile indeed.

    The people being targeted for destruction with this type of bomb are supposedly (al-Qaeda and ISIS). They were recruited into these terrorist activities by the west, with the help of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf autocracies. Now they are being discarded to ashes because they have exhausted their usefulness to these marauding elites!

    Whose sons are these young people? Before they were recruited, did they have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, relatives or were they plucked from some trees in Afghanistan?

    Remember, the elites who recruited, trained, and financed these condemned youths live in heavily guarded palaces. The fighters being wasted here are sons of the powerless and the disadvantaged population of the world! Maybe they were lured into these dangerous activities hoping for better future!

  8. akech
    April 14, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Today is GOOD FRIDAY!

  9. April 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Russia Insider has an article on Nikki Haley gaining unexpectedly high prominence with her belligerent posturing against Russia and Assad. Where is that coming from, the article suggests? More like the McCain-Graham-Rubio Republicans, and she is from SC as is Graham. She was considered a “rising star” in the GOP, but for what? Taking down the Confederate flag from the statehouse when Dylan Roof killed 9 black parishioners? She opposed Trump when he was running and then he turned around and tapped her for UN Ambassador, obviously a big mistake. She is undermining things and should be fired

    The other article that caught my attention was that Tillerson was accompanied to Moscow by his chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, a top cybersecurity and surveillance specialist who headed a Boston firm that set up programs for the government that may include the CIA reverse hacking software outlined in Wikileaks Vault 7. She is photographed at the meeting table next to Tillerson across from Lavrov, and Lavrov would not look at Tillerson, as though he knew who she was. And when Putin met Tillerson for the 2-hour meeting they had, he would not allow himself to be photographed with Tillerson.

    • backwardsevolution
      April 14, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Jessica K – yes, Nikki Haley needs to go, like yesterday. Who is paying her off? I mean, she couldn’t possibly believe what she’s saying, could she? It’s seems too incredible. Trump should have chosen someone like Tulsi Gabbard. Maybe he tried to at the meeting they had. Too bad McCain and Graham are always in the background. All I can say is they must have had a hand in the decision to take Haley on. What a poor choice.

      Margaret Peterlin was not at the meeting, was she, when the actual talking was going on between Tillerson and Lavrov? Is this usual? Tell me it was just for a photo op. And she surely wasn’t in the meeting with Putin, was she? If this isn’t the usual practice, then who is sending someone to babysit the Trump administration?

      If she was sitting in on the discussions, then she seems like the type (with her ties to the CIA) who would go running back to McCain and Graham at the first opportunity, like a little spy. These leaders need to be candid with each other, and it’s hard to do that when others are present. I hope she wasn’t there.

  10. Realist
    April 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    “Just to be clear, the activist base that brought Trump to the Presidency is not happy.”

    Spot on. I’m not one of them but even I have heard clips of Alex Jones and Michael Savage absolutely ripping Trump a new one for this, with Jones saying that “80%” of his base have major misgivings about Trump’s actions on Syria. The libertarian right quite definitively does not want this war. Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and other prominent right wing supporters of Trump during the campaign are clearly consternated.

    Trump has just poisoned the well with the base that elected him, but, hey, he’s got the MSM in his corner on this. Next week they will crucify him for something else. You see the mind of a man at work who has revolutionized American politics. He’s unifying the country by getting everyone to agree on his incompetence. Of course, the false narrative about Russia that they all embrace is truly scary and will lead to catastrophe.

  11. April 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I think we have the right to demand that McMaster be replaced. He is talking about sending 50-60,000 troops into Syria in June, and that would be illegal, but, hell, we’re the US and international law does not apply! They will be sitting ducks for Russian planes striking at terrorist bases. And Putin has announced suspension of the deconfliction zone over Syria so that Russian and American planes could definitely come into conflict, to top it off. Or does McMaster think Russia is going to roll over for them?

    And I think we also should demand that Haley be fired!

  12. April 14, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    McMaster is also connected with Soros, worked for a Soros funded think tank called IHSS, I think, was on Zero Hedge. Someone in comments on another site today called him “McDisaster”. He’s definitely a neocon.

  13. April 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    backswardsevolution, I got the impression that Margaret Peterlin was at the meeting with Lavrov, she was seated at Tillerson’s right at the table, as she is his chief of staff. It’s on Russia Insider, the picture shows a group seated at the table, didn’t note how many, maybe eight total. But the header was something like “CIA Spook Advises Tillerson in Moscow”. I doubt that she attended the meeting with Putin, though that was not stated. It is alarming, seems Trump’s inexperience allowed him to get taken over early on, probably at Trump Tower when he was vetting people. I do think you’re right, Haley is being paid off. She sounds like John McCain. Kushner is also of concern, where are his allegiances? To Netanyahu? This Ivanka-Jared power couple is beginning to look like a real problem. And why did Tillerson get a spook chief of staff? McMaster is a serious problem, I think he is behind the dropping of MOAB in Afghanistan.

  14. tina
    April 14, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    all I know tonight, no one individual , or government, can explain why DJT used that bomb, unless trying to invoke fear. All you Clinton haters, Do you really believe she would have unleashed that bomb so early in an administration just to show military might? I do believe DJT is a business man and wants to make more money. Who are those people in Coal country, those men doing nothing, except waiting for Trump to deliver them jobs. I know I can sleep way better, because we killed 36 people with the Mother OF All Bombs. I am So Proud of my Country, We Kill anyone we do not like? Way to go USA

  15. Zachary Smith
    April 14, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    An idle thought: perhaps the Syrian cruise missile attack was designed to completely neuter the Congressional role in war-making. From a story I found –

    The US attack happened in direct violation of US law, of international law and of the UN charter.

    The only outcome I hear from this incredible bit of lawlessness is applause from the Democrats and Republicans and Corporate Media.

    The White House has been grabbing power for decades, and – whatever the other motives – this has been another massive grab. And a successful one.

    www*off-guardian.org/2017/04/12/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/

    We in the US seem to be increasingly comfortable with our Elected Emperor who does what he damned well pleases without any restraints.

  16. Don Olsen
    April 15, 2017 at 1:25 am

    I keep waiting for the sane people to show up and I’m not seeing them anywhere. Perhaps in the Kremlin. It’s a bad situation.

    Looks like Trump might lurch into North Korea.

  17. fuzzylogix
    April 15, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Apparently a UPenn education is worthless since the Prez can’t even put an eight-grade sentence together. I think he just watches TV and eats junk food since he brags that he does not read books. Very scary times.

  18. tina
    April 15, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Here is my question; Yesterday it was 36 isis fighters, soldiers, people , whatever, in Afghanistan. Today the number was upped to 90+ isis people who were killed with that big bomb. What , do all these people put a target on themselves, that says, “Hi, I am isis kill
    me?” And in Afghanistan of all places? The media says these were isis people. I believe that is not true.

  19. tina
    April 15, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    I think trump wants to play with his military toys

  20. tina
    April 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    84 days , massive ordnance air blast, 59 tomahawk missiles, Yemen raid, Somalia raid, and tell me again how Trump is the prince of peace? Yesterday 36 isis in Afghanistan dead , today at least 90 isis in Afghanistan. Dead. Do these people wear targets on their bodies, so DJT can kill them and make it easy? Gotta love DJT because he is not that war monger person. Anyone but that other criminal. woman.. Who cares if DJT gets us in trouble, at least it is not that Clinton chick. God bless Donald J Trump. I believe in him. And lots of golf. Our golfer in chief. He has the best golf score.

  21. R Davis
    April 16, 2017 at 5:52 am

    It looks like ever member of the Trump family wants in on the action.
    What do they call this kind of show .. Meet The Sims – And Shoot Them .. The Rise of Militainment .. Peter Warren Singer.

  22. Bill Goldman
    April 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Not a bad review. I prefer the black and white position. Trump surrendered to the neocon hawks and was willing to sacrifice possible detente with Russia for temporary military glory; a losing strategy. The deconfliction decree by Putin ends Trump and McMaster”s hope for “no fly” zones in Syria. Turkey and NATO support anything hard core against Syria and Russia in Iraq, but Russia will blunt any military progress there.

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