Rest Easy, We Have A NatSec Adviser

With Bolton gone there is the hope (by some me not included ) that there will be a reset of American foreign policy…..

Tom Wright makes the case that Trump is about to make a “foreign policy pivot”:

Trump wants to write a new chapter, closing the one marked “Militarism and Maximum Pressure” and opening one called “Dealmaking and the Pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize.” He wants a summit with Iran’s leaders and deals with the Taliban, Kim Jong Un, and Vladimir Putin on arms control. He does not care about most of the details, as long as he gets the credit.

Few of his officials are particularly enthusiastic about this pivot, but led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they accept it and will seek to shape it.

The pivot metaphor has been used many times during Trump’s presidency to describe an impending change in direction, but the pivots never seem to take place. Like the expectation that Trump will eventually grow and learn while in office, the expectation that the president will become more responsible in his policies is always disappointed. It would make sense for Trump to deescalate tensions with Iran after creating the current crisis, but I see no evidence that he really intends to do this. Trump absolutely should extend New START, and without Bolton acting as an anti-arms control gremlin he could do this, but there has been no sign of interest in keeping the treaty alive. Trump should conclude negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, but he just blew up the negotiations earlier this week. Negotiating with Iran requires ending “maximum pressure,” but so far the post-Bolton line from the administration is that “maximum pressure” isn’t going anywhere:

A Foreign Policy Pivot? I Wouldn’t Bet On It

A reset?  Not a chance!

The village peasants may now rest easy.

The revolving door at the NatSec desk is still working….Bolton Out now O’Brien in…..

President Trump has named hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to be his new national security adviser, reports the AP. Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has “worked long & hard” with O’Brien and that “he will do a great job!” Trump’s announcement about O’Brien comes a week after he ousted John Bolton from the national security adviser’s post, citing policy disagreements. Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser

He is a professional….maybe not my idea of a good choice but Hell NO one asked me….but that said where does he stand on some of the major issue of the day?

O’Brien – a fierce critic of former President Barack Obama – published a collection of his national security essays in 2016 called “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis.”

Here are passages from his book that shed light on some of his views:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-adviser-obrien-factbox/factbox-trumps-new-national-security-adviser-in-his-own-words-idUKKBN1W32P2

While he may be a pro he is in direct opposition to Trump’s ideas for making American great again….will he adjust his opinions to conform with the president or will he be a short lived adviser?

Since the only thing on Trump’s mind these days is KSA and Iran and O’Brien fits nicely with Trump’s position…..

O’Brien was a critic of the Iran nuclear deal, and sees Iran’s nuclear programme as a major threat.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is building an archipelago across the Middle East using proxies and Revolutionary Guard forces from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon.”

We will see if he makes the transition from Neocon to Trump thug.

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Bolton Is Out Excuses

Let me say here and now….I did not like the ideas and policies that John Bolton spent decades pushing…..and he should have known better than go to work for a person that takes NO advice but his own.

The president has lots to say about Bolton now that he is gone…..

The Hill calls it a “public rebuke of a top aide that would have been extraordinary before the Trump White House”: The president on Wednesday elaborated on his firing of John Bolton in an Oval Office meeting with reporters. Five standout things he said about his former National Security Adviser:

  • 1. “He made some very big mistakes.”
  • 2. “Frankly he wanted to do things—not necessarily tougher than me—you know John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough he got us into Iraq … but he’s actually somebody I had a very good relationship with. But he wasn’t getting along with people in the administration that I consider very important.”
  • 3. “As soon as he mentioned that, the Libyan model, what a disaster. Take a look at what happened to Gadhafi. I don’t blame Kim Jong Un for what he said after that. And he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton. And that’s not a question of being tough. That’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.” (Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake notes that comment was made 16 months ago. See this story for more context.)
  • 4. “John wasn’t in line with what we were doing and actually in some cases he thought it was too tough what we were doing. Mr. tough guy, you know, you had to go into Iraq.”
  • 5. “I hope we left on good stead, but maybe we haven’t,” the Guardian quotes Trump as saying.
  • CNN sees Trump as keeping his eye on the prize, and needing Bolton out of his way: “Trump’s first term, while succeeding in traumatizing US allies and causing global disruption, is largely bereft of the big wins the great dealmaker promised back in 2016.” With Bolton gone, “US diplomacy is likely to reflect its principal author even more closely. It will be more impulsive, less strategic, and more geared to creating iconic moments, like the President’s stroll into North Korea with Kim Jong Un.”
  • The Wall Street Journal similarly frames Bolton as a now-departed “counterweight” to Trump, and predicts his “exit could remove a barrier to a meeting at the United Nations with Iran’s president later this month, or to talks with members of the insurgent Afghan Taliban movement.”
  • Robert Schlesinger echoes that, writing at NBC News: “Bolton had become a foreign policy Dr. No, tamping down Trump’s desire to go for big, showy deals with North Korea, Iran and the Taliban. Whoever replaces him will know to cheer on Trump’s ideas, no matter how ill-conceived.”

Like I have said…I did not agree with much Bolton had to say but at least he was a professional in a White House staffed with amateurs.

Not all conservatives thought Bolton was a good hire for Trump……

It took far too long to happen, but Bolton’s firing is undeniably good news. Bolton is the embodiment of everything wrong with hawkish Republican foreign policy, and his role in the administration has been without question a purely destructive one. I have to admit I didn’t think it would happen. Bolton had prevailed again and again on policy, and despite pushing his own agenda and doing an abysmal job as National Security Advisor he remained in place. Whatever Trump’s reason was for getting rid of him, it was the right decision. Bolton ends his career as one of the worst National Security Advisors in U.S. history. He should never have been hired, but at least he is out of government. Now he can go shill for the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) full-time.

Good Riddance, Bolton

Now we have another “interim” staffer…..

President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, that joy is likely to be shortlived due to the character of Bolton’s acting replacement, Charles M. Kupperman.

Kupperman has been a member of the boards of a number of defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. He served in the Ronald Reagan administration and boasts a decades-long relationship with Bolton.

The rumor mill is working over time with the departure of Bolton and the newest one involves Pompeo….

…administration officials are discussing the possibility of replacing Bolton with his chief rival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Under this scenario, the country’s top diplomat would absorb the national security adviser role and do both jobs, according to a senior administration official and a source familiar with the possibilities.

That would make Pompeo the second person in history to have both jobs at the same time. The first, Henry Kissinger, was already President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser when he was appointed secretary of state in 1973, and filled both roles for two years.
 
(cnn.com)
As a foreign policy wonk I will be watching this situation as the results of the firing of Bolton unfolds.  The media likes to state that this is the 4th NatSec adviser in 3 years and they keep emphasizing the point…but keep in mind that them GOP God Reagan had 6 in 8 years….so this is nothing new for a Repub president to go through multiple advisers (that is my history lesson for the day)
 
“Lego ergo Scribo”

Is Bolton Out?

I have made NO secret that I do not like the policies and the ideas of Trump’s adviser John Bolton.

I have disliked this man for decades when I first became acquainted with him and his war hawk ideas…..I shuddered when he became ambassador to the United Nations under GW.

He then became a hit man against Obama foreign policy on FOX where he fit in well with the spreading of crap news.

And then Trump installs this hawk into his inner circle of adviser as the NatSec Adviser……and every since he has not been on the same page as his president…..and now it looks like His Majesty may have had enough crap out of Bolton….

John Bolton doesn’t seem like a sidelines kind of guy—but the hard-talking national security adviser appears headed that way as he opposes his boss yet again, the Washington Post reports. Their latest conflict? Afghanistan, where President Trump is considering a reduction in US troops if the Taliban will cut ties with al-Qaeda and stop them from training, fundraising, recruiting, and so on. Bolton opposes the Taliban talks and wasn’t invited this month when Trump huddled with top officials to discuss Afghanistan at the president’s golf club. Officials say they feared Bolton and his aides would oppose the deal and leak details to the media. “His team has a reputation for losing and leaking,” says a top White House official.

Bolton later got into the meeting and did disagree with Trump. Bolton has also clashed with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who’s leading the talks and apparently refused to let Bolton have a copy of the draft agreement with the Taliban. One official said Bolton was enraged. “I can’t think of another example where a national security adviser was sidelined like this,” says an international security expert. But Bolton has already disagreed with Trump on Iran and North Korea—playing the hawk to Trump’s quasi-dove—and maybe that helps. “I think Bolton loves it, and I think the president does too,” the head of a think tank told the New York Times in May. “It opens up some diplomatic space for him to go back and forth between a very hard-line position and holding talks.”

It is about time!

His departure cannot come soon enough to my way of thinking……now we need to work on that slug Pompeo who is in the same vane as Bolton….time for him to look to the exit door.

“Et Certa Apud Verbis”

Terrorism And Its Fuel

With all the drama in DC (personally I think it is mofre reality TV than a descent drama) the whole topic of terrorism has taken a back seat to the players and their silly, silly rhetoric.

Since I write about foreign policy and national defense I am always reading stuff that most MSM tries to ignore.

We all know what terrorism is, right?

We know what the consequences are for not taking it seriously.

But truly what fuels these cells hatred?

Since September 11th 2001, the U.S. media and government have demonized Muslims and fetishized the US military so much that many Americans do not understand what a devastating impact our foreign policy has had on the Muslim world. It is the duty of every American to question their government’s action, we need to get this idea out of our head that patriotism means blind support for our military adventures in the Middle East.

Osama bin Laden has been painted as a maniac, a man so insane and blind with rage that he toppled the Twin Towers because Allah told him to hate Western culture. But the fact is bin Laden made his motivation for attacking us very clear: US intervention in the Middle East. If we don’t address the root cause of terrorism this cycle of violence will never end.

Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa was entitled, “Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holiest Sites (Expel the infidels from the Arab Peninsula).” The title makes bin Laden’s goal clear. After the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan and collapsed at the end of the Cold War, bin Laden turned his eye on the United States. The US support for Israel long angered the rich Saudi, but it was US troops occupying the Arabian Peninsula that really stoked his rage.

It’s About Time We Recognize What Fuels Terrorism

Keep in mind that geopolitics has a 3rd law…..”For every action there is an equal and opposition reaction”….sounds familiar right?

Knee jerk reactions to world affairs leads to interventionism and war….neither of which does anything but make terrorists stronger.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Closing Thought–17Jun19

Something we hear very little about these days, with all the election and legal wrangling to news of our War on Terror……believe it or not we are still trying to counter terrorism across the world………and as a law the president must inform Congress of our efforts as a national security thing…..

The text of the letter sent by President to the Congress outlining the US military efforts across the world……

Dear Madam Speaker:    (Dear Mr. President:)

I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of United States Armed Forces equipped for combat.

MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF UNITED STATES COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS

In furtherance of counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the United States Central and Africa Commands’ areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed United States combat-equipped forces to conduct counterterrorism operations and to advise, assist, and accompany security forces of select foreign partners on counterterrorism operations. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/text-letter-president-speaker-house-representatives-president-pro-tempore-senate-6/

This is a good idea but my question is…what about the troops in Central Asia….are they not armed and ready for combat?

It Is About “Rare Earth”……

Not the rock group from the 70s (Get Ready and Celebrate)….I am referring to those minerals that are a major component in some electronics….and guess who has control of much of these elements?   Wait for it……..China!

Rare Earth Minerals?  What the Hell is that all about?

Many applications of REE are characterized by high specificity and high unit value. For example, color cathode-ray tubes and liquid-crystal displays used in computer monitors and televisions employ europium as the red phosphor; no substitute is known. Owing to relatively low abundance and high demand, Eu is quite valuable—$250 to $1,700/kg (for Eu2O3) over the past decade.

Fiber-optic telecommunication cables provide much greater bandwidth than the copper wires and cables they have largely replaced. Fiber-optic cables can transmit signals over long distances because they incorporate periodically spaced lengths of erbium-doped fiber that function as laser amplifiers. Er is used in these laser repeaters, despite its high cost (~$700/kg), because it alone possesses the required optical properties.

Specificity is not limited to the more exotic REE, such as Eu or Er. Cerium, the most abundant and least expensive REE, has dozens of applications, some highly specific. For example, Ce oxide is uniquely suited as a polishing agent for glass. The polishing action of CeO2 depends on both its physical and chemical properties, including the two accessible oxidation states of cerium, Ce,3+ and Ce4+, in aqueous solution. Virtually all polished glass products, from ordinary mirrors and eyeglasses to precision lenses, are finished with CeO2.

https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/

Plus the Rare Earth Minerals are used in our military……

A lack of these minerals could force a national security risk……and that would increase the use of the military (cause and effect)…….

I would say the possibility of a war with China is more so than with Iran.

Thoughts?

And now they, China,  have issued a threat over the Trump tariffs……

Facing new trade sanctions and a US clampdown on its top telecommunications company, China issued a pointed reminder Wednesday that it has yet to unleash all its weapons in its trade war with the Trump administration. Chinese state media warned that Beijing could cut America off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. The threat to use China’s rich supply of so-called rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in US stocks and sliding long-term bond yields, the AP reports. The nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times warned that China has plenty of ways to retaliate against the United States, including the threat of cutting off supplies of rare earth minerals. China last year produced 78% of the world’s rare earths, according to researchers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

If the US fails to exercise restraint, it will see that “China is far from running out of cards, and we have the will and determination to fight the US to the end,” the paper’s editorial said. China has used rare earths as a cudgel before. Five years ago, the World Trade Organization slapped down China’s attempt to restrict the export of rare earths during a dispute with Japan, rejecting its claim that it just wanted to conserve supplies. Scott Kennedy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, however, says the threat has lost much of its power. First, users of rare earths have stockpiled the minerals for a “rainy day,” he says. Second, they also have figured out how to “use less rare earth to achieve the same results” in products like lasers and magnets. And third, different minerals and chemicals are increasingly being used as rare earth substitutes.

Not to worry……we have troops in a country that is sitting on about $1 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”) worth of rare earth minerals……

Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, is loaded with minerals deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began inspecting what mineral resources Afghanistan had after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in the country in 2004. As it turns out, the Afghanistan Geological Survey staff had kept Soviet geological maps and reports up to 50 years old or more that hinted at a geological gold mine.

https://www.livescience.com/47682-rare-earth-minerals-found-under-afghanistan.html

That is right…out longest war EVER is in a country that is loaded with rare earth minerals……could that explain why we are hanging on in the spot?

It is not like we have never fought a war for a resource……think OIL……

Can He Do That?

The big story these days is the fact that our Dear president has declared a “national emergency” so he can fulfill an ego trip to build a wall for a Trump plaque.

Now the Dems and others will be challenging the “declaration” in court…..”a big beautiful wall”…can he do that? When a president threatens to exercise the power to declare a national emergency, our system of checks and balances faces a crucial test. With President Trump threatening such a declaration in order to build his proposed physical border wall, that test could be an important one that could quickly implicate your right to privacy and a transparent government.

EFF has long tangled with governmental actions rooted in presidential power. From mass telephone records collection to tapping the Internet backbone, and from Internet metadata collection to biometric tracking and social media monitoring, claims of national crisis have often enabled digital policies that have undermined civil liberties. Those policies quickly spread far beyond their initial justification. We have also seen presidential authorities misused to avoid the legislative process—and even used to try to intimidate courts and prevent them from doing their job to protect our rights.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/15/national-emergencies-constitutional-and-statutory-restrictions-presidential-powers

Trump’s announcement looks like the first step of a person trying to cease power for himself and himself alone…..we cannot and should not support or allow him to do so……

presidential declaration of a national emergency is an outrageous abuse of power – perhaps the most dangerous yet by the unstable and increasingly autocratic President Donald Trump. If this invocation of emergency on false pretenses is tolerated, it could justify almost limitless abuses of presidential and military power, including far-reaching clampdowns on civil rights.

This unlawful and unconstitutional action is going to be challenged in court, including by Public Citizen. On behalf of several Texas landowners and a Texas environmental organization that will experience firsthand the immediate impact of Trump’s illegal emergency declaration, we will sue to challenge his unconstitutional attempt to circumvent the legislative process.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/15/why-we-must-stop-unstable-trump-and-his-dangerous-national-emergency-declaration

The American people should demand their reps do everything possible to stop this ego trip……it is a manufactured crisis of no basis……his action is ripped from a playbook for dictators (like it or not)……https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-rempel-trump-marcos-parallels-20190214-story.html

On the other hand if he is successful (after all he has stacked the Courts with lackeys) the next Dem president could do the same for such true emergencies as guns, climate, etc…..

Let the lawsuits begin!

When will the GOP step up and do what is right?  This is the perfect situation where they can get off the Trump merry-go-round……but will they?

Personally, I have NO problem watching the GOP implode….but it is just a little sad to watch it destroy itself…..principles be damned!