The Trump Administration’s Spoiler Foreign Policy

U.S. strategy abroad is assuming a curious shape. Whether the president or his minders are running affairs, Patrick Lawrence sees the U.S. being reduced to playing a spoiler role in the Middle East and Northeast Asia. 

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

It is not possible to speak of “Donald Trump’s foreign policy” for the simple reason one can never tell whether the president or his minders are running it. Contradictions, reversals, and turns-on-a-dime have abounded since Trump took office.

But this administration’s strategy abroad has assumed a discernible shape in recent weeks, whoever may be managing it in any given context. Never mind “not a pretty picture.” This is a shameful picture.

Consider these recent developments. Have you lost track of how many sets of sanctions Washington has imposed on Russia? I have. Last week, the Treasury Department added four Russian companies and two Russian citizens to its lengthy list of sanctioned entities—these for allegedly circumventing United States sanctions and (in two cases) United Nations sanctions barring oil shipments to North Korea. More are on the way, to judge by deliberations on Capitol Hill. At this point, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the U.S. objective is to strangle the Russian economy.     

The Trump administration has mounted a maximum-pressure campaign on Europe, and especially Germany, to follow the U.S.-U.K. lead in developing a more hostile posture toward Russia, even if it hurts European, and especially German, interests. Prior to Angela Merkel’s summit with Vladimir Putin last weekend, Washington strongly urged the German chancellor to scuttle a Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline known as Nord Stream 2. Washington now threatens sanctions—as early as this autumn—against any European companies investing in the project.

The bizarre reversals are especially apparent on North Korea. Recall that the July summit was on-again and off-again. Last Friday, the White House canceled a trip to Pyongyang that Mike Pompeo had scheduled for this week. It would have been the secretary of state’s third visit. Trump’s complaint was that North Korea is “not making sufficient progress toward denuclearization.” He then went on the blame China for easing pressure it had formerly applied to the North. But he also sent “warmest regards” to Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, and added, “I look forward to seeing him soon.” This is a hard read. It may be a matter of Trump keeping the klieg lights focused on Trump, although the fundamental intent of Trump’s minders remains scuttling any accord that brings peace to Northeast Asia.

Syrian Shuffle

Trump and Kim: Best friends forever. (Dan Scavino Jr. / Wikimedia)

In Syria too, Trump says one thing and another thing seems to happen. In much-publicized remarks in April, Trump said U.S. special forces would be pulled from the country. They are still there, and it’s not clear whether the U.S. is winding down or ramping up.

Two weeks ago, the administration dropped plans to spend $230 million on reparation projects to help stabilize Syria. These funds were to have gone to fixing water systems, clearing rubble and removing unexploded mines. Note, however: The U.S. intended to spend this money in areas still controlled by anti–Damascus militias. Pulling the funds looks like an admission of defeat, but indications are it is not quite a surrender.

The Russian Defense Ministry warned all last week of another false-flag gas attack—this one in Idlib, where the last 70,000 anti-Damascus militias are holding out. This is not the first time the Russian military has detected such plans. It warned of the attack in Douma, the besieged Damascus suburb, weeks before it occurred in April. Over the weekend, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, countered that Washington has information that Damascus plans a chemical attack in Idlib.

Try me for treason. I believe the Russian intelligence, not Bolton. In the Douma case and now in Idlib, Moscow produced evidence implicating the White Helmets, the notoriously fraudulent “civic aid” group that is partly funded by the U.S. even as it maintains ties to jihadist militias. Bolton, as is the American habit these days, offered no evidence for his claim. We will have to see what transpires. Moscow predicts an attack in the next few days.   

Remaining in the funds-cutting column, the administration announced last Friday that it would eliminate more than $200 million in Palestinian aid to the West Bank and Gaza. These are small reductions in the administration’s plans to cut the foreign-aid budget by up to $3 billion.

‘Round the World Muddle

Russia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe. The above list covers a great deal of the planet. What do we surmise from it? A brief review of events in each region will help us toward an answer.

To begin with, the argument that North Korea has taken no significant steps toward denuclearization collapses when subject to even the most superficial scrutiny. Pyongyang has pledged to stop all nuclear and missile tests and has conducted none since the Kim-Trump summit in May. It has destroyed its principal nuclear-testing facility and decommissioned a key missile-engine manufacturing plant. It has returned the remains of some U.S. soldiers left from the Korean War. It has begun de-escalating tensions at the demilitarized zone separating North and South. And it is in extensive talks with South Korea, China and Russia on integrating the North into a Northeast Asian regional economic hub.

Is Idlib Syria’s next battlefront? (Wikimedia)

How this amounts to “insufficient progress” is simply beyond me.

Russia, by any detached measure, must be credited in recent months with some of the most outstanding statecraft of any major power in many years. Much of this, though not all, relates to Syria. In Douma last spring and more recently in the southwest, it negotiated agreements between jihadist militias and the Syrian Arab Army that allowed so-called “moderate rebels” safe-passage retreats. It then commenced relief efforts in both locations. Russia is now attempting the same thing in Idlib. Most startling, maybe, is the agreement Moscow arranged between Israel and Iran, whereby Iranian troops agreed not to participate in the S.A.A.’s southwest campaign, which put Syrian troops close to the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Putin-Merkel encounter last weekend appears to have been equally eventful. The two leaders agreed that the Nord Stream 2 project would proceed as a simple matter of mutual economic advantage—this despite Washington’s vigorous objections. We will now have to watch the fate of those European companies faced with sanctions for investing in the pipeline.

Putin also drew Merkel into multi-sided reconstruction efforts in Syria. Merkel’s motives are obvious. Rebuilding Syria will make it possible for at least some of the 1 million-plus Syrians now in Germany to return. In September, Germany and France are almost certain to attend a four-way summit on Syria reparations that also will include Russia and Turkey.

Washington’s Receding Power 

It is time to draw conclusions. I have two.

One, most of the world, including the major powers other than the U.S. and Britain, are deeply committed to constructing a more orderly world. This judgment rests on many years of observation, but the past several months turn a surmise into a certainty. From the first North-South summit at the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), maybe, or the rout of jihadists in Syria, I see an ardent desire to develop a true “post-Cold War order”—which the community of nations has yet to achieve if you look back over the past 29 years.

Two, the policy cliques in Washington appear to recognize that there is no stopping (what I read as) a compelling global aspiration, but there is plenty of opportunity to slow or spoil it. Why are 2,500 to 3,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Syria, some occupying Syrian oilfields (and apparently harboring jihadist militias)—this while the theme in Syria shifts from conflict to reconstruction? By what possible logic can the White House or State Department or Pentagon argue that North Korea has done little to engender substantive steps toward an enduring peace in Northeast Asia?

Bolton: Operation No Peace. (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia)

If spoiler is the new American role, it strongly suggests a rear-guard action—a significant turn in the gradual-but-evident decline of American influence. This shift predates Trump by many years, and in a forthcoming column, I will explore it.

In the cases noted here, the objectives appear to be to prevent a reordering of the Middle East without the U.S. as its hegemonic prime mover, to maintain maximum tension in Northeast Asia to protect the U.S. military presence in the western Pacific, and to block the consolidation of the Eurasian landmass such that it eventually binds Western Europe closer to its eastern flank than it has been in many, many centuries.

Say the word “responsibility” slowly. It denotes the ability to respond. In this context, current U.S. foreign policy is not a responsible policy. The U.S. does not, to put the point another way, have the ability to respond in a world that changes before our eyes. This is Washington’s most perilous vulnerability, in my view. It leaves us nursing a pointless nostalgia for a global environment that events supersede almost by the day.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is Support his work via

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69 comments for “The Trump Administration’s Spoiler Foreign Policy

  1. William Perna
    September 11, 2018 at 21:49

    I am very glad to see Patrick Lawrence is now writing for Consortium News. He has very good insights. I have followed him at Nation, Salon and CounterPunch. Strong article.

  2. September 6, 2018 at 20:46

    America should back off. If there is a nuclear war, America will be the cause.The whole world is sick and tired of American mischief , constant interference and lies.

  3. Don Bacon
    September 5, 2018 at 22:19

    I don’t understand why people who have been understandably dumping for years on on the US government for war mongering worldwide via its many alliances are carping against a president who is destroying those alliances, and putting the US first in all the instances where the US taxpayers have been supporting the world in a foolish strategy of US world hegemony. Specifically, any examples of where the US is NOT doing this have been caused by the understandable intransigence of the establishment, especially the Pentagon. Why do you dump on Trump? Are you sorry Hillary isn’t there? Shame on you.

  4. anastasia
    September 5, 2018 at 12:39

    As each of these “chemical weapons” attacks take place, the more obvious the charade.

  5. rosemerry
    September 4, 2018 at 17:34

    Thank you for a very sensible, clear article which I wish many of “our leaders” would read and digest and even use!!

  6. JR
    September 3, 2018 at 16:32

    Trump is a complete moron. Nothing he claims is true. Nothing he does is what he said he would do. Nothing he promises is delivered. He’s beyond incompetent, he’s a train wreck and very, very bad for the country. Trying to figure out this nincompoop is a waste of time and energy, getting rid of him asap would be the best thing for America. The very worst U.S. President in American history, bar none.

    • Josep
      September 4, 2018 at 15:39

      The very worst U.S. President in American history, bar none.
      What about Clinton, Bush II and Obama? How bad were they compared with Trump?
      I wouldn’t be too quick to judge Trump like that just yet, since we’re hardly two years into his presidential term. I’m also unsure if he’ll win again in 2020 like Clinton, Bush II and Obama did in 1996, 2004 and 2012, respectively.

    • Taras 77
      September 4, 2018 at 20:48

      I do not to go too far with this idea because that would mirror obama’s tired blather that the gopers would not let him do what he wanted to do-total BS as obama was a fraud from day one.

      But looking at trump’s admin, it is infested with neo cons from top to bottom or almost even worse, with obama holdovers. Agree that trump has no idea how to staff his admin so he accepts whoever is thrown at him and thanks to romney,et al and the tanks such as FDD, AIPAC, and adelson, he has the nest of vipers making very important decisions.

      I’m just throwing this out as there but there are a large number of counter arguments that have validity-but as of now, it is what it is and it is not getting better, prob worse. He definitely started down the wrong road and reneged on all of his campaign promises-whether he had any strength or motivation to do otherwise is a question.

      I thought more than twice about posting this because it may be giving trump too much slack because after all he is the boss but I’m so thoroughly disgusted at the obscenity of the neo cons and their evil that I see nothing out there to grasp on positively.

    • anastasia
      September 5, 2018 at 12:31

      Trump is doing nothing different than the last four Presidents. He is absolutely following them in lock-step. We were hoping for something different, but we got the same President. At this point, I have to agree with Putin. He said, “no matter who is running for President, no matter what his campaign promises are, and no matter how earnestly he makes them, it is always the same policy.” Putin said this some years ago, and it is reason enough to believe he did not interfere in our election. What would be the point if he truly believed what he said, and frankly, his statement about candidates is so obviously true.

  7. James Charles
    September 2, 2018 at 14:09

    ” . . . and to block the consolidation of the Eurasian landmass such that it eventually binds Western Europe closer to its eastern flank than it has been in many, many centuries.”

    According to this book, Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich
    By Guido Giacomo Preparata, this has been the policy since the end of the 19th century.

  8. GKJames
    September 2, 2018 at 05:37

    When a country acts pursuant to its leader’s impulsive expressions of pure id, references to “policy” — suggesting a deliberative process that takes into account goals (immediate and longer-term) and consequences (intended and not)– seem inadequate. Coming out of Washington is attitude, not policy. It’s by nature mercurial, hardly a useful quality for a country whose hegemony is in decline. And its obsession with endless bursts of superficial “messaging” enables the behind-the-scenes rearguard actions by traditional constituents in the organs of state. Of course, it’s always been a close call whether it’s those constituents, rather than the elected president, who control policy. But power abhors a vacuum; when a president (a “very stable genius”) is as incoherent as this one, it should surprise few that people and institutions committed to the status quo will fill it, and will do so for unhelpful purposes. P.S. In connection with the possible return of Syrian refugees, to what extent can Russia be expected to restrain its client in the inevitable, ferocious retribution?

  9. August 31, 2018 at 22:03

    I see that John Kiriakou had a piece on CN “The Coming War with Iran”, in May, but Gareth Porter’s article lays out even more detail including how he and Cheney subverted protocol for Bolton’s meetings with Netanyahu and Mossad.

  10. August 31, 2018 at 21:55

    John Bolton is, I believe, the scariest character in Trump’s administration. How did Trump pick him? It makes no sense, but this whole mess literally makes none. There has got to be a way to get him out of there. Sheldon Adelson’s money is the connection between Trump, Haley, Bolton. Bolton wants war with Iran, has been intent on it since Bush 2 administration. He is quite dangerous, and has connections to Netanyahu and even Meir Dagan of Mossad. I can’t copy this link to Gareth Porter’s article but maybe Joe or someone can, it’s cited below. Everyone should read it. The facts in the article are quite alarming about Bolton. With all the political drama going on from the Mueller probe, there are possibilities of dreadful consequences, and I think Bolton could bring disaster. He may be the origin as well as the mouthpiece of this latest provocative threat about Assad using chemicals. Here is the article:

    “The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War with Iran”, by Gareth Porter, in The American Conservative, March 22, 2018.

    • tina garcia
      September 1, 2018 at 00:06

      Jessika I believe trump is the scariest person in his own administration. The president right now , gets to select, and pick and, put in positions of influence, his or her own persons. And that is no different from presidents before djt. So , what are we going to about this? Vote November 6 , 2018 for local dog catcher, or whatever, vote the congress people out of office who have enabled this. Vote for your local school district, vote for your state AG , that is what we do unless you have million dollars lying around

      • Michael
        September 1, 2018 at 08:47

        “vote the congress people out of office who have enabled this.” Good luck with this. Nothing is more certain in American politics than the incumbents in Congress, their campaign chests bursting with pay-to-play money from lobbyists, winning re-election. Establishment politicians, Democrats and Never Trump Republicans, have undermined Trump for the last two years (often with good reason, but more often by criticizing him for hot button issues like illegal immigration, which no administration since Reagan’s have made any real effort to correct). Expect a Blue Wave in the midterms, much like the Red Wave that took away Obama’s House and Senate after his first midterm elections. America prefers less active government.
        The scary part is that Congress in non-partisan manner doubled the “defense” appropriation increase Trump requested, and that (despite the visibility of the lone Ocasia Cortez), the Democrats will be bringing in an army of “ex”- intelligence officers to Congress. Trump is a small bump in the road for the Empire agenda. Building an un-needed MIC-based economy (on the broken glass fallacy that it is somehow critical to our character as a nation) has destroyed America. Trump is just the latest exclamation point to a horrible downward spiral under incompetent warmongering neocons, and more recently, neoliberals.

    • anastasia
      September 5, 2018 at 12:36

      It is Trump’s policy too. We are going to go to war with Iran. That is how Trump got in office. He made a promise to someone about that and that someone insured him the office. There was collusion all right, but not with Russia.

  11. incontinent reader
    August 31, 2018 at 19:30

    Patrick- Great article. I look forward to your follow up.

    Chris- What is your problem with Patreon? It sponsors many fine journalists and commentators, including Patrick Lawrence, Abby Martin and the Empire Files, Caitlin Johnstone, Dmitry Orlov, and Jimmy Dore, among others- who are otherwise barred from reporting in the mainstream media- and as for Abby and her fellow journalists’ at Telesur, barred also from receiving payments for their work because of U.S.’s crippling sanctions against Venezuela.

    Contrary to your ‘exhortation’, I would urge Consortium News readers to check out Patreon and help with a contribution, just as they should do for Consortium News.

    As for your other targets, Chris, I don’t disagree with your assessment, though I’d use less graphic language.

  12. August 31, 2018 at 16:50

    From Bhagavad Gita
    Sri Krishna on the demonic nature:

    They are ceaselessly busy, piling up dishonest gains to satisfy their cravings.

    “I wanted this and today I got it. I want that: I shall get it tomorrow. All these riches are mine; soon I shall have more. I have killed this enemy. I will kill all the rest. I am the ruler of men. I enjoy the things of this world. I am successful, strong and happy. Who is my equal? I am so wealthy and so nobly born. I will sacrifice to the gods. I will give alms. I will make merry.”

    That is what they say to themselves, in the blindness of their ignorance. They are addicts of sensual pleasure, made restless by their many desires, and caught in the net of delusion. They fall into the filthy hell of their own evil minds. Conceited, haughty, foolishly proud, and intoxicated by their wealth, they offer sacrifice to God in name only, for outward show, without following the sacred rituals. These malignant creatures are full of egoism, vanity, lust, wrath, and consciousness of power.

    They loathe me, and deny my presence both in themselves and others. They are enemies of all men and of myself; cruel, despicable and vile. I cast them back, again and again, into the wombs of degraded parents, subjecting them to the wheel of birth and death. And so they are constantly reborn, in degradation and delusion. They do not reach me, but sink down to the lowest condition of the soul.

    Hell has three doors: lust, rage and greed. These lead to man’s ruin. Therefore he must avoid them all. He who passes by these three dark doors has achieved his own salvation. He will reach the highest goal at last.

    But he who flouts the commandments of the scriptures, and acts on the impulse of his desires, cannot reach perfection, or happiness, or the highest goal. Let the scriptures be your guide, therefore, in deciding what you must do, and what you must abstain from. First learn the path of action, as the scriptures teach it. Then act accordingly.

  13. mrtmbrnmn
    August 31, 2018 at 16:37

    US sanctions on Russia, Germany, China etc are war crimes in sheep’s clothing. Murder and mayhem by other means than bombing the s–t out them. Crazy Eddie INSAAANE!

  14. Professor
    August 31, 2018 at 16:25

    Well, I don’t know how many new CIA hires are sitting in a room at a cubicle somewhere killing women and children with drones, and I don’t know how many countries Trump has sent troops to ( Obama hit over 70 ) and I don’t know how many countries besides Syria Trump has bombed ( Obama hit 7, minimum) . I don’t know if Trump has established another hidden … to go with Africom , Centcom and whatever else Obama created… He is definitely a spoiler. He is flirting with backing out of Afghani and Syrian operations, the Saudi coalition in Yemen has received a heads up…. There is no doubt that Trump is a spoiler. Look at N. Korea . Hey, we aren’t bombing them yet and it doesn’t seem likely that we will under his watch. …. but he might make everything OK with the CIA and the Democrats and Others… if he attacks Iran. We will have to wait and see. So it is clear … He definitely is a spoiler but at least he increased the Military Budget like every other President. Think about it.

  15. August 31, 2018 at 16:09

    Very good article from Patrick Lawrence, and count me in on treason, too, might never makes right. Good post, Joe, the American people have been shaken down while their misleaders were shaking down and blowing up much of the world and expecting that, hey, they’re supposed to sit back and take that? Hillary would have advanced the already existing decay from neoliberal policies that Obama implemented, but Trump is using dynamite in his Kaiser Wilhelm ham-fisted way to give quicker results of economic gunboat Twitter diplomacy.

    Macron just spoke publicly of getting along and doing business with Russia, Merkel just met with Putin, and on Iran’s oil other nations like China, Russia, Turkey, are strategizing to find ways around the bully US that can’t implement anything but war games including economic ones. And isn’t it ironic that the bully boy bunch preside over a massive debt and deficit, while their vilified nemesis Russia has little to no debt and has divested itself of much US dollar business and continues to do so?

    But the gangsters can’t figure out anything but throwing more bombs. Today we hear of a bomb in a cafe killing a leader of Donetsk separatist movement who didn’t want those neo-Nazis and their corrupt chocolate puppeteer Poroshenko put in by the US in 2014. Could the CIA be involved? And Russia just went to the UN to report that there is planned chemical attack in Syria again to blame on Assad, attempting to preempt it. Spoiling is all the US can do, while the misleaders also spoil the lives of regular middle class Americans, many who still don’t understand how they are abused. And the Deep State TV show of Muellergate goes on daily.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 31, 2018 at 16:42

      Astounding, isn’t it? Back to the false flag chemical attack playbook once again–even though any rational person knows that a chemical attack in Idleb would not merely be one of the most ineffective tactics the Syrian Army could use to regain territory, but would be counterproductive in terms of PR both at home with Syrian citizens, and in the eyes of the world. Any ploy (no matter how deceitful or overplayed) that the U.S. war planners can use as an excuse to attack Syria and keep the conflict going will be used. The desperadoes know that when the fighting stops and an extensive joint rebuild begins, the truth from Syrian citizens themselves will out. The testimony of millions of Syrians cannot be denied. The fact that refugees want to return home cannot be denied–they fled terrorism, not Assad. The war planners didn’t dream Syria wouldn’t fall, just as they didn’t dream Clinton would lose. Now all the dirty tricks are coming to light–and it sure isn’t a good look.

      Anyway, thoughtful post as usual Jessika.

  16. Joe Tedesky
    August 31, 2018 at 15:23

    What is catching up to the U.S., is that all of this off shoring of product and productivity over these last fifty years has weaken the once mighty Post America that was able by default after WWII to be the world’s sole provider. The almost near monopolized leverage once enjoyed by the U.S. has been thoroughly diluted by American corporations finding greater value to go aboard to manufacture and farm, as the American consumer loses mightily to dead end wage jobs.

    The sanctions so as imposed by the U.S. have only driven sanctioned countries to coalesce amongst each other out of need. This along with tariffs is driving America’s friends right into the arms of the already solvent sanctioned countries, who are doing their best to steer clear of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Where there is a will, will find away, is no better pronounced as it is in these sanctioned and tariffed countries of various interest who are now exploring, while erecting new foundations of finance, and trade, where the U.S. is no where to be found. It is only a matter of time when the U.S. will be all dressed up with nowhere to go.

    Keep your eye on China. The Chinese are developing a Navy which will rival U.S. seagoing supremacy. Add to this that China is dispatching troops to such places as Syria, and Afghanistan, as it would now appear China has nothing to lose, as the Trade War escalates. I’m not saying Trade should not be dealt with, but the less we give in to China the more anti-hegemon pronounced the Chinese will be with their total world foreign policies. The U.S. will learn to respect China’s relationships with other sovereign nations not so loved by U.S. foreign policy, as China appears to be stepping up their game. Unipolar must be replaced with Multipolar sovereign nations.

    Let’s face it, the U.S. is out of control. These people now running it are not the same people who won WWII, but they are certainly the unpleasant reminders of an era of some 70 years or so, where the U.S. began losing wars while enriching the rich at the same time, all due to it’s commitment towards dealing out death for the sake of profit. Seventy years ago the rest of the world was not in any shape to oppose such might, but this isn’t 70 years ago, and the world is starting to say, enough is enough.

    • Dave P.
      August 31, 2018 at 16:50

      Excellent comments, Joe. There is this very relevant article in Strategic Culture today by M.K. Bhadrakumar.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 31, 2018 at 22:28

        Thanks Dave the article you provided was exactly what my comment needed.

        It goes without saying how you reap what you sow, and with that old cliche the U.S. would do well to keep it’s age old messaged warning in mind. Why, with how the U.S. has historically acted, would any said country feel save to negotiate with it?

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 31, 2018 at 22:52

        Dave maybe President Trump should read his mail, and get a sense of where much of everything went wrong,

        • robjira
          September 1, 2018 at 13:34

          I think Meyssan nails it, Joe; thanks for sharing the link. I’ve resisted thinking the worst (mainly due to my “golly-gee-whiz” take on human nature) about all that, but given the preponderance of past patterns, I think the prez knows what can happen when the Lords of Capital are crossed, which is why it’s sadly unlikely he’ll get this urgent letter. My only answer is that the citizenry must assert itself (nonviolently) while it is still at least a hypothetical option.

      • Dave P.
        August 31, 2018 at 23:18

        It is very timely mail, only if it can get to the President. From the article by Bhadrakumar:

        “On the other hand, the Russia-China alliance will also be a “unique community of values”, as NATO keeps proclaiming itself. Conceivably, these “values” will include strict adherence to international law and the UN Charter, respect for national sovereignty – no Libya or Iraq-style interventions, for example – and the peaceful resolution of disputes and differences without the use of force. However, one cardinal difference with the NATO will be that unlike the latter, which takes cover behind inchoate “values” such as “liberty”, “rule of law”, “democracy”, et al, the Russian-Chinese alliance will be focused and purposive on the strengthening of a multipolar world order.

        Arguably, the Russian-Chinese alliance will be in sync with the spirit of our times – unlike NATO, which must constantly justify its raison d’etre through the juxtaposition of an “enemy”, caught up in the tragic predicament of having to stir up paranoia and xenophobia among member states in order to simply keep the herd from wandering away toward greener pastures.

        Where the Russia-China alliance has an advantage is that it is a new type of alliance that allows the two countries to pursue their national interests while also creating space for each other through mutual support and foreign-policy coordination to maneuver optimally in the prevailing volatile international environment where it is no longer possible for any single power to exercise global hegemony. Indeed, the Sino-Russian coordination is working well in the Syrian conflict, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Iran nuclear issue or the struggle against terrorism and has become a factor of peace and regional stability.”

        I hope the Rulers in the West can understand this message. But it does not look very likely to happen. It is increasingly clear that this country is run by people who are megalomaniacs. The Ruling Powers across the Atlantic are no better either. The political climate in the World is getting very unstable. In this World with nuclear weapons, accidentally or intentionally, some catastrophe to happen is just around the corner.

    • christina garcia
      September 1, 2018 at 00:30

      hi joe
      tina here. My dad is not doing well but the VA in Milwaukee is wonderful. I have never met a person here who is not thankful or grateful.They always say Thank you for your service. I push my dad in a wheelchair and they tell me thank you. Even though my dad was military which I dislike, those vets are so sad and honest and they are old, disabled, but yet so proud of korea or Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan. There is no way I would engage these people about what they did and why. If we could engage the leaders who sent them, that would be cool.

    • Professor
      September 1, 2018 at 13:48

      Joe, when the Nixon “Regime” abandoned the Gold Standard and engineered the Petrodollar scheme they created the ‘Goose that lays the golden egg’. That is why other nations have to worry about debt when ours hits $20 trillion and we don’t have to. They have to buy more bonds. This is the $300,000,000,000.00 Gorilla in the room. All the crooks around the world, the billionaires , the Corporations, the Political elites store their tax free loot in dollars. it was stolen from energy Trades mostly. Remember when Sisi bought the Mistrals that France could not sell Russia? When asked where Egypt got the $10 billion because they were supposedly broke he responded .”We had some hidden in a mattress” . I wish that was funny. I can remember the Egyptian’s Military gunning people down in the streets in a Military coup not long ago. Morsi? ( Like Lula) is still in jail . For what? . So too, Russian Billionaires money for all the BS is still welcome in England because they want it and nerd it for their banking sector’s bottom line. . We play the sanctions game but not to the point that the Goose that lays the Golden Egg shifts to Yuan or the Euro. Not yet anyway. The Non-Aligned nations at the UN are nothing, powerless…. and why is the UN in New York anyway . All those Ambassadors and Embassy’s are open for business and they take Dollars to run their operations. There is no interest in the world, Not in China and not in Russia , maybe a little in Iran, too upset this apple cart. Certainly not in the EU. How could the Euros and the Chinese not have developed their own SWIFT in their own currency systems by now. . This is a willful decision on their part. BRICS and Euro talk otherwise is a broadside over the sails on the USA. Meaningless. Trump says “Prove it” to them like Wilson ( Jack Palance) to Shane (Alan Ladd) in a gunfight that will never happen. The Donald is acting in a consistent matter with previous Administrations. The elites stay on top all over the world, even in the capitols of enemy states and at the UN because of the Almighty Dollar. Where’s Nixon when you need him? the World could use a new trick.

    • Taras 77
      September 1, 2018 at 22:01

      Speaking of out of control, link is to testimony by Mitchell to Senate Foreign Relations committee (mostly composed of Browder Bros: Menendez, Cardin, et al) Mitchell replaced the odious nuland and may be even more rabid than she if possible. Nuland is not CEO of CNAS, she kicked Michelle Fortnoy to the curb (Fortnoy was founder of CNAS: so much for loyalty among the neo cons).

      I was quite astonished at the direct threats and overall war mongering tone of the testimony. It is long but the tone comes thru after a few paras.

    • Michael Leigh
      September 2, 2018 at 06:01

      Surely, it is about time that the US people removed the foreign ownership ( by 18 secretive gold billionaires in Berne Suisse ) of the USA economy, whereby those aformentioned money lenders who control the USA supply and issue of it’s own money, at an incredible cost payable to those moneylenders in Berne, who totally control the issue of and the use of the USA’s own money.

      And, thereby the USA’s economic policy is soley controlled by the tax-haven protected estrangers?

      Indeed the USA’s elected political representative are well aware of this incredible burden, and by implication
      refuse to publicise this stranglehold over the US people current and future freedom to manage their own monetary affairs ?

  17. Seamus Padraig
    August 31, 2018 at 15:19

    Glad to see that CN is now reposting articles by Patrick Lawrence.

      August 31, 2018 at 23:04

      This is not a repost. This is an original article written specially for Consortium News.

  18. JR
    August 31, 2018 at 14:59

    BRAVO! This predicted “false flag white helmets chemical attack” in Syria coincides with what I picked up on-line earlier in the week from Col. W. Patrick Lang’s site: site. He describes himself as a retired senior officer of US. Military Intelligence & U.S Army Secial Forces (The Green Berets)…. Check out his site & bio: About Me It seemed to be what Sergei Lavrov is saying based on Russian Intel. Correct me if I’m wrong…gotta go now to do urgent errands.

  19. hetro
    August 31, 2018 at 14:07

    To begin with back in April, Trump’s supposed will toward dealing with North Korea was obviously in direct contradiction to what Diana Johnstone reviewed recently–the neocon one-world order dictated by the US. The prospect of a united Korea combining with the new silk road aspirations of China, supported by Russia, clearly, immediately, indicated Trump was deluded–or if not deluded he was playing a game.

    The game may be as simple and superficial of “lookin’ good” for strokes to himself on what a genius he is. Immediately, the summer summit between Kim and Trump went sour due to US arrogance that Kim was not acting adequately in surrendering to US demands. Repeatedly since, as with Moon of Alabama as an example, analysis has pointed out that the deal was supposed to be a mutual negotiation, not a one-sided wheel barrow your nuclear weapons to us by next fall.

    Trump has continued this arrogance only yesterday by saying that although the military exercises will not be resumed right away, when they are resumed they will be mightier and nastier than ever. All this suggests to me, additional to a naïve and glory-seeking Trump, it was all a set-up from the get-go to do exactly what the Kim administration has recently expressed–bring in the special teams for invasion and regime change. Obviously that would be catastrophic, as much as any other of these hair-brained schemes we’re seeing and the oncoming new crisis in Syria, as the unipolar US obsession and mania clings on and grows increasingly hysterical.

  20. robjira
    August 31, 2018 at 12:05

    Excellent article.

  21. August 31, 2018 at 12:00

    The Russian Foreign Ministry is saying that another false flag CW attack could be imminent in Idlib in order of course to justify a Washington-Saudi-Zio bombing campaign against Syria.

  22. August 31, 2018 at 10:27

    Wondering what kind of US foreign policy RussiaGate is supposed to distract us from? It’s time to talk about Yemen.

    US Provided “Intelligence” and Bomb Used in Massacre of Yemeni Schoolchildren

    • TomG
      August 31, 2018 at 10:45

      It certainly exposes the hypocrisy of being ‘pro-life,’ doesn’t it?

      Congregations go through a lot of paper. I have a suggestion for every church, synagogue and mosque in the USA. Print four letters calling for an end of support for the war in Yemen and our continued excursions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Give these letters to every voting age member of the congregation along with stamped addressed envelopes–one to the president, one to each senator and one for the house representative. Sign and drop it in the mail. Until the ‘faithful’ unify for peace we are going to wallow in our sin of war.

      I made this suggestion to the National Council of Churches. Not even a courtesy response…

  23. KiwiAntz
    August 31, 2018 at 09:19

    The dilemma America is confronted with, is that it can’t allow “peace to break out” anywhere in the World! Be that in Nth Korea, Syria or anywhere else! As a vile, War profiteering, Warmongering, dying Empire, nothing must prevent it from waging endless war to justify its demonic existence! And if the US can’t win the conflicts they will continue to play a spoiling role as we have seen in Syria & will do everything possible to sabotage & disrupt any peace making attempts by others because that’s what War criminals do! It’s petty, vindictive & pathetic! The sooner this deathcult Empire explodes like a dying star & collapses in on itself into a black hole will be a great day for this World!

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      August 31, 2018 at 14:18

      Yes, and isn’t perpetual war indeed a foundation of Neocon ideology?

  24. August 31, 2018 at 09:09

    Sad to say, but I consistently cheer for the other side when it comes to foreign policy. Certainly beginning with the Vietnam war where we inserted ourselves to prevent a united Vietnam to this day our foreign policy is anti-people, flouting our power in irresponsible and cruel ways. I confess I did not feel as strongly when the Vietnam war commenced, but the consistent dysfunctional decisions of the United State led inevitably to a look back at the carnage and waste caused by our country. So much power to do good, so little inclination to do so.

    As to the article, the logic and substance are excellent, in my mind.

  25. TomG
    August 31, 2018 at 08:46

    I look forward to the next installment. Who would think dysfunction at this level could bring one hope but the fact that we are increasingly such an unreliable and predictably-unpredictable partner is forcing governments to think outside the USA hegemony box. As the recent military budget bears out, our counterstrategy to a saner world is a more insane one with military bases and the surveillance state as ubiquitous as sand in the middle east.

    Moon Jae-in is trying mightily to turn years of internal animosity into reconciliation. He must be faced with realizing working with Russia and China would be far easier than working with us. Putin is in dialogue where we want to cut-off and isolate. Merkel, to her credit, doesn’t seem to care about what the UK or USA think on any given topic. I think Mr. Lawrence is right that her two biggest wins in priority order would be rebuilding a Syria to send refugees home (alleviating internal protests) and Russian oil to keep German manufacturing humming. Neither of those are representative of high moral ground, but then we conceded all moral ground a long time ago. Both are certainly in their immediate interests.

    It still seems to me that Western Europe and Russia can make the USA irrelevant in Iran (with fortitude and ignoring the bullying from Trump/Bolton/RIP-McCain, etc.) and in doing so make it next to impossible for us to blow them up no matter how badly the warmongers want to do it.

    There is no more hopeful sign for the rest of the world than for us to become irrelevant. We may have to thank Trump one day for exposing just how psychotic USA foreign policy is and making it almost mandatory for other countries for their own sanity and security to get outside the box.

  26. mike k
    August 31, 2018 at 07:47

    What we are seeing now is the drama of the US Hegemon taking on the world, in a last ultimately futile attempt to make it bow to the Empire’s fading power. This is going to be very, very messy. All of this is playing out in the shadow of the imminent collapse of industrial civilization and the ongoing extinction of crucial strands in our ecological safety net.

    • Thomas
      August 31, 2018 at 13:09

      Yes, it reminds me of King Canute ordering back the incoming tide. Canute knew he hadn’t the power to control the sea but I’m not at all sure that Trump has a clue about anything.

  27. Ma Laoshi
    August 31, 2018 at 07:36

    Apart from the reality-show atmosphere surrounding it all, is there really anything new here? It is the US Govt’s written policy to prevent the people of Eurasia from conducting their business among themselves without Wall St getting its cut; in Reagan’s famous words, “That’s why we fought two world wars”. So spoil they must. It has become such an accepted part of the Pentagon jargon that they “want a presence”, intend to “play a role”, etc. It’s all but acknowledged that the wars or at a minimum the base-building must go on; mission objectives or even on whose side the US intervenes are secondary in comparison.

    One notes that the Resistance fights Trump on cultural and symbolic issues which are safe for Democrats, not on what the Donald does in the world–once back in power, they’d do the same things.

  28. John Puma
    August 31, 2018 at 06:21

    Re: Quote author of article: ” … it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the U.S. objective is to strangle the Russian economy.”

    With all due respect, it appears the author is ?3.5 years late. (More like 70 years.)

    It was BH Obumma who said, in his 2015 State of the Union Address:

    “Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.”

    It IS the US objective and it is unmistakably (if pathetically and pathologically) “bipartisan.”

    The Cold War was restarted when Bush II abrogated the ABM treaty

  29. Realist
    August 31, 2018 at 05:43

    “Whether the president or his minders are running affairs, Patrick Lawrence sees the U.S. being reduced to playing a spoiler role in the Middle East and Northeast Asia. ”

    They are one in the same…..Deep State.

    • Realist
      August 31, 2018 at 16:55

      The man currently in the White House is NOT part of the Deep State. The Deep State has been trying to either remove him from office or co-opt all of his actions. The latter approach has worked to a tee for them so far, but they will still try to remove such an unpredictable foe if they can.

      (The colored icons will identify the real Realist.)

      • Realist
        August 31, 2018 at 16:56

        This is the only alternative icon for the real deal.

  30. August 31, 2018 at 03:53

    Well said.

    I think the stuff about Trump only confirms the observation that American presidents really are not in charge.

    It was no different with Obama except for the style and superficial “class.”

    • RickD
      August 31, 2018 at 10:36

      It is rather difficult to encompass your opinion that Trump is , forgive my summation, “just another president”. So many facts get in the way of such a conclusion, the blatant bigotry of Trump’s comments, and ,coupled with that as if it were not sufficient to fervently work for his impeachment, or at least an end to his presidency, his pandering to nativists, white supremacists and extremists.

      The revolving door of his White House alone should give one pause as to Trump’s inconsistencies, and one must include the number of indictments, convictions and turning states evidence from those who work or worked for him. His tweets alone should be enough to see him for what he truly is, an ego-maniacal, barely literate, far more than mercurial, lest we forget, misogynistic aberration.

      • August 31, 2018 at 16:28

        Noisy, ugly, and unpleasant – all qualities Trump posses in abundance – have nothing to do with the power relationship between a President and the Washington power establishment.

        My point is that Obama from whom we expected a little heroism proved an almost complete coward. He did as was expected of him – in Libya, in Syria, in Bahrain, in Egypt, in Ukraine, and in China. He gave us industrial-scale drone murder, something every American should be deeply ashamed of.

        Trump had no promise at all in most areas, but on the crucial matter of the Neocon Wars across the Middle East and relations with Russia – both extremely important matters – he did offer some promise of change. And he has been completely unable to deliver. He’s paralyzed.

        George Bush was the first convincing proof that America doesn’t even need a President, except to sign the required papers put before him by the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld.

        Obama’s sad time proved it further as the man who once wore sandals and eschewed a ridiculous American flag pin on his lapel, killed at least half a million people across the Mideast, created millions of refugees to nearly destabilize Europe, and supported a dangerous and destructive coup in Ukraine. And then there’s those drones killing thousands of innocents, because even the targets are legally innocent, let alone the “collateral damage.”

        And Trump hasn’t delivered on one important imperial matter. The killing goes on across the Mideast, and an important country like Russia is treated disgracefully.

        Its what the power establishment wants.

        So it’s what America gets, no matter who is elected, rendering American elections close to meaningless.

        You know, you can can either have a empire or you can have a decent country. You cannot have both, and you very much do not.

        Great empire, with the anti-democratic and authoritarian instincts of the Pentagon and CIA and the plutocrats who benefit from it all, is about as far from decent and truly democratic as you can get.

        That’s America today.

        You may find interesting:

        • Skip Scott
          September 1, 2018 at 10:32


          Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply to RickD. For the latte sippers Trump is horrible for his obvious shortcomings; but Obama was “cool”, so you can forgive him for his murdering innocents at the behest of the Deep State. After all, he didn’t do a drone strike on a single Starbucks, and the latte sippers’ portfolios were doing just fine. For them there is no hypocrisy in having a “coexist” bumper sticker on your car while your Black president bombs foreigners at the behest of his corporate overlords.

  31. David G
    August 31, 2018 at 03:38

    In today’s news:
    “A rail project meant to connect North and South Korea has been blocked by US military officials, highlighting divisions between Washington and Seoul on how to deal with the nuclear armed North. The two Koreas planned to begin a joint field study last week by sending a train from Seoul across the length of North Korea to Sinuiju, on the Chinese border, but their application was denied by the US-led United Nations Command. The multinational military body is a remnant of the 1950-53 Korean war and controls all movement across the heavily fortified demilitarised zone that bisects the peninsula.”

    I don’t know what Patrick Lawrence could possibly be thinking of.

  32. Jeff Harrison
    August 31, 2018 at 01:32

    Great piece, Patrick. I would like to add to your list of gee, this is what’s happenin’ in the world. Most of European business has retreated from Iran. The Chinese, Indians, Russians, Turks, and others have been reducing their purchases of Iranian oil. And Iran is saying that the Europeans aren’t saving the JPCOA. I’ve always said that the US was the most powerful country in the world but not more powerful than the rest of the world. But the world has to come together to counter the US and I’m seeing words but not actions. The reality is that the Europeans have to at least kick the US out of European megabases that are used for all kinds of things that have nothing to do with European security. They have to stop being pussies.

    • Realist
      August 31, 2018 at 06:36

      Sorry to hear that the Chinese, Russians, Indians, Turks and others are bending to the will of Washington on limiting purchases of Iranian oil. That’s not going to foster solidarity amongst the BRICS economic union. I thought its purpose was to buck American hegemony, not facilitate it. If they won’t stand by Iran, no one will stand by them against the American bully. Bad decision, if true.

    • Ma Laoshi
      August 31, 2018 at 07:51

      With all respect, are you even making sense here. Why would Russia ever have needed to buy Iranian oil? Rather, Russia’s less-than-solid commitment to its Iranian ally has in part to do with the two being energy-export rivals. But your larger point stands: no country wants to be caught out in front facing the hegemon’s wrath, only to find that the cavalry hasn’t followed behind them–the High Noon thing.

      It may be just how our chimpanzee brain is wired to approach power. After every disaster, prayer vigils and temples go up to hopefully propitiate God better next time round. Nobody says: “No praises for You until You learn to behave”.

    • ToivoS
      August 31, 2018 at 20:18

      jeff writes The Chinese, Indians, Russians, Turks, and others have been reducing their purchases of Iranian oil.

      This is incorrect. China has in fact increased purchase of Iranian oil. In the last week a top level Indian official announced that they would not cut off trade with Iran (presumably, some Indian refineries have cut back on imports because they are worried that they will be cut off from international financial transactions dominated in dollars). I have nothing about Russia and Turkey cutting back on Iranian deliveries. Maybe Jeff should give us some links to back up his points.

  33. jacobo
    August 30, 2018 at 23:04

    Seems to me that, as President, Trump is performing in ways that are analogous to how he performed as a real estate mogul, Recall that he’d make deals which he subsequently would violate, at the same time threatening to countersue anyone demanding in court that Trump make good on whatever his original commitment. Suing, that is, with the intent to financially bust whoever might dare to challenge him in court. The business-man’s equivalent to a President’s threat to unleash “Shock and Awe” upon any nation not adhering to his diktats.

    Thus,, whether as a real estate mogul or President, Trump’s deal-making modus operandi remains consistent: Go one way first, then turnabout. While his initial move is may be positive (Singapore,Helsinki), subsequent events (increased sanctions, cancelling diplomatic meetings) can quickly turn negative. Whether these turnarounds are planned in or forced by minders, perhaps not even Trump himself knows, but based upon the direction our nation is headed under his leadership, for sure, he’s not to be trusted – no more than he was as a real estate mogul.

  34. mike k
    August 30, 2018 at 21:25

    America longs to live in a past that never really happened, We are poorly equipped to deal with the rapidly changing real world around us. We are in a hopeless effort to turn back the clock to an illusory America. Donald Trump continues to play on this futile nostalgia.

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