Speaking Of Foreign Policy

Yesterday, I posted about our truly frightening Secretary of State, and the infusion of fundamentalist religious doctrine into America’s foreign policy. But our international  challenges–which are mounting as quickly as our global influence is declining–are not limited to the results of Pompeo’s zealotry.

That’s because, in foreign affairs, the President has the last word. And when delicate and complex international issues are being decided by an erratic buffoon who is monumentally ignorant of world affairs and the way governments function, America’s interests can take quite a beating.

Just this week, Business Insider–a “non-lefty” publication that has been admirable in its coverage of the disaster that is the Trump Presidency–devoted considerable space to a scathing Penagon report that places the blame for the resurgence of ISIS squarely on Trump.

A report from the Pentagon inspector general found that President Donald Trump’s decision to rapidly pull troops out of Syria and divert attention from diplomacy in Iraq has inadvertently aided the Islamic State’s regrouping in Syria and Iraq.

The Department of Defense’s quarterly report to Congress on the effectiveness of the US Operation Inherent Resolve mission said that “ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq” — even though Trump said ISIS was defeated and the caliphate quashed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Many officials and experts have repeatedly warned that a rapid US withdrawal from Syria would enable ISIS to regroup into an insurgency after their battlefield defeats by the US-led coalition.

The IG’s report also explicitly said the troop drawdown in Syria, which Trump announced at the end of last year, contributed to instability in the region. The drawdown, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left the US’s Syrian partners in the lurch, without the training or support they needed to confront a resurgent ISIS. In Iraq, the Iraqi security forces lack the necessary infrastructure to fight off ISIS for sustained periods.

Trump was warned that his focus on Iran–one of his numerous efforts to reverse agreements entered into or regulations passed by Obama, no matter their reasonableness or value– would erode U.S. capacity to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS. McGurk served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

McGurk, like Mattis, resigned his post after Trump announced his drawdown. In a January op-ed, he warned that Trump’s policies in the region would give “new life” to ISIS and other US adversaries, and that the decision would “precipitate chaos and an environment for extremists to thrive,”exactly what the IG’s report said was happening on the ground.

But of course, Trump boasts that he knows more than the Generals. (This is the man who assured us that trade wars are “easy to win,” and who recently explained that we shouldn’t use windmills to generate electricity, because televisions won’t work when the wind isn’t blowing…among many, many other expressions of idiocy.)

A link to a one-page summary of the Pentagon report is here. Read it and weep….


  1. Precipitating chaos is what our President does best. He has done it in the markets, in trade, in the environment and in everything he touches. It is vital that he gets defeated next year, but it is even more vital that the Senate change hands. If McConnell is still in charge in the Senate, a Democratic President will not be allowed a Supreme Court justice. Nor will any other appointments be made. We will have a President without a government.

  2. At this point in time what is the average American to think of their country’s involvement in Syria, Iraq and Iran? Or Afghanistan and Yemen? Can anyone remember who said what to whom? Who shot first? Whose side we started on and then later deserted to the fires of war? What the purpose was for any of the sacrifices made by American soldiers and innocent natives? Can anyone now identify who benefited? Profited? Gained power? Has any side won?

  3. Let Vladimir deal with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Those countries who want access to oil should step up their game to ensure ISIS doesn’t stop the flow.

    Have we drawn down in Afghanistan or is the poppy more precious than oil? 😉

    When it comes to propaganda, I’ve never figured out who is better – the MIC or our corporate-controlled media.

  4. Theresa; no side wins when they count up their dead. Wars cross over into many-sided battlegrounds, countries, governments, religions, races so it appears to be one great “war of the worlds” with no discernible sides. No determined beginning point and no end in sight and no possibility of a winner; other than those few remaining countries where “boots on the ground” have not arrived…yet. Remember; WE are the foreigners in all of those countries where our troops are either killing those they have been told are our enemies or dying themselves to protect the foreigners whose homeland they have been sent to. There is no way to get an accurate count of the expendable innocent men, women and children lost in all wars. It appears to me to be that the current wars have become that “circular firing squad” President Obama warned the Democratic party from becoming, and is at an international level.

    And we have only the lead cuckoo who needs to fly over the cuckoo’s nest, once known as our White House, to rely on to prevent those “boots on the ground” showing up here…unless one of our enemies presses their red button and ends it all before Trump can press ours. Whoever or wherever; it continues to be those old men starting wars which kills off our young men, and now includes killing off our young women.

    How can policy be set on these conditions?

  5. The Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Aristocracy of America and an essential gear in the machinery of their return to power. Their purpose in helping Putin install TrumPence was to finish off redistributing the wealth the workers of the world create with their labor. They see as clearly as we do that entertainment media advertising is running out of credible advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing; the demand for resources to support further growth in the human population has surpassed the supply the earth gave us; the old news that moving the chemical contents of all of the fossil fuels from underground sequestration to overhead greenhouse enhancement will screw up the civilization we built over their time on stage; and even their old friend debt has lost it’s power to enslave.

    Take the money and run to their enclaves surrounded by walls and let the workers fight it out is the conclusion of their annual outings in Davos.

    We need once again to take back our world.

  6. An argument can be made that none of our current travail either foreign or domestic is Trump’s fault who, after all, is mentally ill, but rather the fault of Republicans in Congress, who are doing nothing to rein in this ranting madman who is plainly in need of a 25 intervention, and while being crazy may not be a high crime or misdemeanor contemplated by the language of the Constitution, his accelerating descent into madness over the past few weeks cries out for some sort of intervention before the worldwide economy (including ours) crashes, the Amazon, Siberian and Arctic forests burn beyond repair, the Constitution becomes irrelevant, G-7 becomes G-6. etc. etc. etc.


  7. Gerald,

    Your plea will fall on deaf ears. Those Republican ears are too stuffed with donor cash to hear anything but what tells them to hear. It’s party over country every day for these idiots.

    As Rick Wilson’s book title says, “Everything Trump touches dies”. Nothing could be more prescient or correct. Now, the monster is touching the United States. How long will it be before our great experiment in democracy is dead too?

  8. “Everything Trump touches dies”.

    Trump is like the one man wrecking crew and since day one in these been trying to undermine everything that we and our global partners have built since the end of the Second World War. Whether he’s doing this out of his own abject stupidity or his rampaging ignorance to me this is the most dangerous aspect of this chaos he calls a presidency.

    What is going on today and what went on yesterday at the G7 meeting is indicative of just how dangerous this man is and in this arena he is trifling with what keeps us save every day which, whether he realizes it or not, is job number one for any American president. In this case we have someone who plays at foreign policy, someone that doesn’t really care about it nor understands it or its importance. He has surrounded himself with people who themselves represent a risk to this country. Whether it’s Mike Pompeo or John Bolton or any of those people and should be serving in all those vacant slots at State or Defense that do the grunt work that is always necessary in regard to formulating and administering our foreign policy. Of all the “perfect storms” this man has created this is, in my very humble opinion, the most dangerous one. This type of incoherence begets in more chaos down the road.

    His recent rhetoric regarding Russia going back into Afghanistan where they turned that country 40 years ago into something akin to the surface of the Moon destroying virtually everything of any consequence in that country and rendering its capital, Kabul, a shell of its former self, is reprehensible. It’s reprehensible that any American president would say such a thing and it’s even more reprehensible that it could be just a whim that accompanies his efforts to have Russia reignited to the gee seven making it the G8 even though Russia was expelled from that body by annexing the Crimea by force via a deliberate violation of the sovereignty of a nation state, Ukraine.

    Everything else that Trump has touched in regard to our foreign policy or international trade has also been gummed up through his incoherence and incompetence. He has surrounded himself with people that have made themselves subservient to his every whim regardless of how erratic or incomprehensible they may be. While we sit and think of what Vladimir Putin, Kim Jung Un and Chairman Zi are doing that is adverse to the wellbeing of this country we have an even more dangerous person running it. On Facebook he has been referred to as the “Mango Mussolini” which I have found myself using to describe him since he acts like a tin horn dictator and someone who’s mark on history will be a black one.

    We have lived for the last 75 years in this country in relative safety because of the coherence of our foreign policy even on a bad day through a succession of Presidents, Secretaries of State and Defense and National Security Advisers for who patriotism and the security of this country motivated them and where they understood the role of this country as a stabilizing force and also understood how the world works and how the United States could buy being that stabilizing force work for peace and stability. This country as flourished as have the countries of Western Europe, Asia and in the Pacific because of that stability and predictability in the international arena.

    Every day this fool remains in office and surrounds himself with his sycophants and they collectively have ideas that are contrary to good sense and that peace and stability, the greater the danger for this country and all of us will become. There are a lot of reasons to want this man out of office at the earliest opportunity most of them being entirely obvious due to his behavior in each and every day but in this arena, this specific arena, he presents a grave danger to the peace of the world and with it the safety of this country and all of us.

  9. The idea of letting the Generals conduct the Wars in the Middle East is bogus. One General after another has failed. Bush the Elder, Clinton, Bush the Younger, Obama and President Agent Orange have all failed.

    One very important piece has not failed in fact has profited immensely is the Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial-Complex. Our elected officials Democrats and Republicans for the most part are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial-Complex.

    The essence of what we are fighting in the Mid East or North Africa is as Mao wrote on Guerrilla Warfare:

    ‘In guerrilla warfare, select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack; withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision. When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws. In guerilla strategy, the enemy’s rear, flanks, and other vulnerable spots are his vital points, and there he must be harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted and annihilated.”

    “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”

    Our armies move amongst the people like a Bull in China Shop, we destroy. We have been the most aggressive nation on the face of the earth since WW 2.

  10. The Middle East is a complicated stew of shifting goals and alliances. Thrown into the mix, we have Trump’s business interests and those if his son-in-law, who has had secret meetings with MBS and encrypted communications with the Saudi Crown Prince. The US is supplying arms to the Saudis to fight rebel forces in Yemen, and is supposedly fine with the US attacking Iran as long as the Saudis know of the plan in advance. Our Mideast policy is supposedly aligned with the Saudis, Israel, and the UAE with Iran playing the bad guy and Turkey possibly included with Iran. Even though Turkey is s NATO ally. But we know how Trump feels about allies. But now we have a trove of leaked emails reported by Al Jazeera and the Middle East Eye showing that MBS wants out of Yemen and that the Saudis want to mend relations with Iran using an Iraqi spokesperson to help broker the deal. So who is playing whom? Trump is no student of foreign affairs. He is basically a real estate developer with a massive ego and a diminished mental capacity. He could easily be manipulated and outflanked in these partnerships by anyone who flatters him, fir example, by referring to him as the King of Israel. Our foreign policy has to be based upon what’s right and who we are as a nation. You can’t be played if your response to situations is based upon principle. Incidentally, the ISIS threat is also increasing in Afghanistan, where it threatens to undermine any agreement made between the Taliban and the government.

  11. Peggy
    “Precipitating chaos is what our President does best.”

    There’s a kinky line of kinky reasoning to his kinky madness.

    If I can’t have a Libertarian government, in which the strongest and most brutal (I’m good at brutal) always win, then I’ll have Chaos, which achieves the same thing.

    If I can’t have an unregulated Capitalist government, in which the strongest and most brutal (I’m good at brutal) always win, then I’ll have Chaos, which achieves the same thing.

    If I can’t have a Totalitarian government, in which the strongest and most brutal (I’m good at brutal) always win, then I’ll have Chaos, which achieves the same thing.

  12. For Betty (spillover from a late comment from Friday) – I stand corrected – I appreciate the clarification – I actually wouldn’t be surprised that the town names made the migration from France to Canada and with Acadians to Louisiana. It is interesting that Carville identifies with his Louisiana town.

  13. Peggy – you remind me of a humorous piece posted by one of my fellow graduate students discussing the hierarchy of academia, starting with the lowly graduate student going through post-doctoral fellows and professors and finally culminating in the Department Chairman (man in piece – it was somewhat old) – the Chairman was faster than a speeding bullet and thought he was god – top of the hierarchy was the Departmental Secretary (always a she) who caught bullets with her teeth and was god.

    Trump believes the is the “All-perfect, Glorious Leader, Tsar Donald the GreatEST” (never just great)- In reality, McConnell is “Tsar Moscow Mitch the Terrible”, with Grand Duke Donald causing additional mischief

    Back to the main topic, I really do fear that if Trump gets four more years, the world will end up with two superpowers, China and Russia, with the rest of the world in subservient positions. Fortunately, I believe that only a massive screw up on the part of the Democrats could produce that result — on the third hand, Democrats are quick capable of such things.

  14. Bravo M.L., bravo!! The Middle East has been a great test track of sorts for arms manufacturers with ours and Russia’s on different occasions sometimes equipping both sides in conflicts. What better way to obtain usable data on performance that pitting the same aircraft or tanks against each other and then reading the after-action reports provided that anyone survives long enough to make them.

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