Why isn’t Donald Trumpeting His Foreign Policy Record?

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Lambert here: This should provoke discussion! (And do think twice before using the word “you” in a comment. Address the substance of the comment, not the commenter.)

By Paul Rogers, professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He is openDemocracy’s international security adviser, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group.. Originally published at Open Democracy.

With the US election campaign entering its final weeks, one of its oddities so far is that Donald Trump is saying very little about the global aspect of his mission to “Make America Great Again”. True, there are plenty of reasons to concentrate on affairs at home, but all the falsehoods and fake trails on COVID-19, law and order, the economy, wildfires and the rest are doing little but shore up his base.

What makes this odd is that the Trump team are more than skilled enough to manipulate their presentation of foreign achievements as successes if not triumphs. The thorny issue of North Korea is currently sidelined, with Trump able to argue that his deal-making skills have brought Kim Jong-un to the table, while being vague on the details, and he can claim to be a peacemaker in the Middle East with the Israel-UAE-Bahrain agreement.

On Afghanistan he can point to the current peace talks between the government and the Taliban and the steady withdrawal of US troops, with plans being to bring back almost all the uniformed troops by next May, with half of them back home before the election. As for Iraq and Syria, he can also hail the withdrawal of US troops from those countries. It all sounds a good package from his perspective, especially if the pudding is hugely over-egged by a cursory regard for facts.

On all those issues, though, the actual circumstances are trickier. Things certainly are quiet at present on the North Korean front but so far it is Kim who has outplayed Trump and got more of what he wanted. Sanctions continue to have a dire effect on the North Korean economy, but China is providing sufficient support to avoid collapse, while the development of long-range missiles and nuclear warheads continues with little fuss from Washington.

Three years ago, an array of missile tests included the Hwasong-15, an ICBM with a range estimated at 13,000 kilometres – sufficient to reach any part of the US. In his election campaign in 2016 Trump made it clear that he would never allow the North Koreans to threaten the continental US, yet a further test of this missile would be enough to show he has broken that promise. There have been recent indications that the North Koreans could conduct such a test at short notice, so any campaign attempt by Trump to trumpet victory could suddenly look rather silly. Perhaps best to leave that item out of campaigning for now.

As for troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, that is certainly the intention, but problems are already emerging. The peace talks with the Taliban got under way two weeks ago. Within ten days, however, there were strong indications that the Taliban were continuing their offensive operations across the country, and US sources believe the progress of the talks will at best be tortuous.

The Afghan government’s concern is that the Taliban are entrenched across so much of rural Afghanistan that they are essentially negotiating from a position of strength and that the US is simply walking away because of domestic considerations. This would leave the government having to concede far too much. Among many sufferers from a Taliban role in governance would be women’s rights, but that means little or nothing to Trump.

He may well try and make something of his ‘success’ in Afghanistan, but it will be more difficult with Iraq and Syria. Here, again, ‘success’ depends on how you see it. US troop withdrawals have already cost the Kurds dear and are they are being left in the lurch. In any case, in spite of the four-year air war against ISIS which destroyed its caliphate, it is still a significant force even in Syria. It has even increased its attacks on US troops, so much so that earlier this week the Pentagon announced it was sending a mechanised force across the border into eastern Syria to protect US troops guarding oil installations against ISIS.

Trump can claim success in his dealings with Israel, but the agreements with Bahrain and the Emirates will, again, only shore up core support, no more.

Meanwhile, Islamist paramilitaries continue to maintain and even increase their influence in North Africa and across the Sahel. There are reported to be more than 5,000 ISIS paramilitaries in deeply unstable Libya and the instability in Mali following the recent coup does little to diminish their influence there.

Across the continent, Shabab in Somalia and North-East Kenya is sufficiently emboldened to increase its direct attack on US units. One Pentagon response to this is to argue for armed drone operations to be run from Kenya, provided the government will agree.

Overall, given his capacity for wild statements and unpredictability, Trump may still bring these issues into the campaign and will no doubt embellish the claimed successes.

Where he would remain vulnerable, though, is that his recent criticisms of the senior US military, and especially his widely reported comments on US troops killed in action being “losers”, mean that any reference to military successes can easily be connected to those views. If Trump, as he hints, is ready to challenge the election result, he may come to need the support of the Pentagon. Perhaps best, therefore, not to raise the defence issue during the next few weeks.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

40 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Of course, the irony is that compared side to side, Trump is no worse, and probably better, measured objectively than Obama. The biggest black mark for Trump of course is his obsessive desire to dismantle Obama’s one genuine achievement, the Iran agreement. As much due to luck as anything else, Trump seems to have handled North Korea better than his predecessors (aided by having the cautious and sensible Moon in charge in South Korea) and of course, he hasn’t invaded anyone yet, which has to be a plus.

    I think you can also say that his identification of China as an economic rival, not a military/geopolitical rival makes him far more astute than Obama and his supposed circle of very clever people.

    But I do wonder whether politically any of this really matters domestically. I would guess that the only foreign policy that loses Presidents votes is one that involves too many homecoming body bags or one that too obviously results in humiliation. They seem to have pretty much a free hand otherwise. I think this is one reason why Sanders decided to focus exclusively on domestic economic issues, and Tulsi never got any real traction.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Similar to the tribal loyalties we see fueling support for both of these hideous candidates, there is an intrinsic patriotism for most Americans. We rarely like to admit that our government has ill used its “defense” department. Think how many still support the Iraq misadventure despite copious evidence even out right acknowledgment that we went in under false pretenses. We do love our generals and forget to look at what makes them generals in reference to goals, costs and outcomes.
      The people most likely to look at Trump’s foreign policy with greater approval than Biden’s are largely the very people who look at him aghast or already approve him because of his trade rhetoric. And with so much military support on Biden’s side….well it probably gains them little.

      Reply
    2. Clem

      It’s not what he does that matters, it’s the darn ideas he plants in his followers’ heads that are so dangerous!

      Four days ago, Donald Trump said The U.S. isn’t involved in the Middle East for oil, but because we “want to protect Israel.
      The comments have gone all but unreported in the mainstream press.

      Trump made the comment during a rally in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sept. 8, when he was bragging about America’s energy independence, which he said Joe Biden would undermine if he gets the White House (minute 47):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxvzI_3TuEU

      He’s falling down on his job, he hasn’t started even one new war yet!

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        Donald Trump said The U.S. isn’t involved in the Middle East for oil, but because we “want to protect Israel.”

        And thus Donald attracts campaign contribution form the Israel supporters.

        Better reported as “We want to protect Israel, because than my reelection will attract donations”

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It won’t attract donations from liberal Jews or Jewish liberals. It will attract donations from Likudiformists and from some of the Orthodox and the Ultra Hyperdox. It will also attract their votes.

          In tight states, perhaps the Trump analysts figure that he only needs to attract a just-large-enough percent of conservative and orthodox-hyperdox Jewish voters to tip the balance away from the Democrat side. ” Just enough” could mean that the liberal Jewish liberal majority of Jewish voters just won’t matter any more.

          Reply
  2. Greasy People

    I think Trump could trumpet the US stealing Syrian oil as a victory
    What a sad thing: Pentagon is reduced to petty oil-thievery… all these BnUSD and all they do is stealing oil…

    Reply
  3. William Beyer

    Americans have been traditionally ignorant of the rest of the world, much preferring navel-gazing to the understanding of foreign cultures. This is certainly compounded by the fact that newspapers can’t afford to fund original reporting from overseas. Here in Minneapolis we get nothing but warmed-over propaganda from WaPo and the NYT. No surprise that we can’t be made to care that the War on Terror has driven 37 million people from their homes, many of the survivors coming to envy the dead. I suspect it was just a Bush-Cheney typo – really intended to be the War of Terror.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      “Newspapers can’t afford to fund original reporting from overseas.” So much for living in the past. The corps that own the newspapers CHOOSE not to fund hardly any original reporting, and newspapers are largely dead letters any more when it comes to spreading real information and observation on what’s happening in the world. I personally mourn the passing of even conservative outlets like the Chicago Tribune, and WaPo and NYT and even what’s left of the LA Times are just mouthpieces for the powers that be and their imperium.

      Far as I can see, there’s nothing good to report on the US’s imperial efforts, and there has not been since they started up in the 19th Century. Notagainistan was and is a futile exercise, of course Iraq too, and stirring up trouble in Syria and looky what the Empire did to Libya. Generals are overstuffed furniture who pursue their present and future careers with not a “victory” to show except in the column of dumb-shit deployments and looter procurements and wealth-siphoning on a grandiose planetary scale.

      quite a few people were hopeful that Trump would make good on his campaign intimations that he was going to bring the troops home, but of course there are so many ways to weasel that around, including the long buildup of mercenary “contractor” gangs in “hot spots” and “long term commitments to bringing democracy to the Wogs.”

      It’s broke beyond fixing. The bureaucracy is entrenched, the MIC owns the aortas of the nation’s wealth and blood-funnels unaccounted trillions to doing stupid shit that kills people and destroys any nascent pockets of stability and decency. And feeds a vast corruption that includes disappearing pallet loads of used, unmarked $100 bills, and protection of the world center of the opium-heroin production in Notagainistan.

      And of course, given the givens, :”Fundamentallly, nothing will change.”

      USA! USA! USA!

      Reply
  4. 1 Kings

    Jesus.. Are we the US ‘leaving’ the largest opum producing country in the world? Are we pulling our bases from the 1st and 2nd biggest oil producers and center of Islamic world? Are we stopping ringing China and Russia with bases? Are we stopping trying to overthrow the last(and most important-oil) South American country that turned ‘left’ in the early 2000’s? Sigh.. Are we stopping keeping our boot on Central America? Are we stopping extorting Germany, Japan and various other ‘allies’ to stay dependent on us? Are we stopping playing the Indian subcontinent against each other? Oh wait, the Trumpster will do all in his next four?
    Well, never mind then.

    Reply
  5. Donald

    The article didn’t mention Yemen. I realize the author is speaking about how Trump could make his case, but Yemen is a counter- example. After Khashoggi was murdered, the Democrats belatedly came together with a handful of Republicans to oppose it. Trump supports the war in part because we sell weapons to the Saudis.

    Most Democrats are too busy claiming Trump does the bidding of the Russians to admit that Trump is sanctioning Russian allies and Russia itself, opposing the pipeline from Russia to Germany, and ending arms control agreements. Basically nobody in the American political mainstream talks about foreign policy in any way that connects with reality and so long as we don’t have Americans dying in large numbers overseas, this is how Americans like it. I constantly see liberals claiming Trump is in Putin’s pocket. You can go for years and never see them mention Yemen. I think this is only in part because Obama was the one who began our involvement. The main reason is that mainstream liberals would prefer outflanking Trump from the right by accusing him of being a Russian asset. Most of Trump’s foreign policy, including his worst crimes, don’t fit that narrative, so they ignore it.

    Reply
    1. Donald

      I meant to connect paragraph 1and 2 a little better

      Given that Democrats in Congress along with a few Republicans are now opposed to US support of the genocidal Saudi war, while Trump talks like a cartoon villain about making money selling weapons to the Saudis, why does the Resistance fixate on Russia and ignore Yemen?

      A). Because Obama is also guilty

      and

      B). Liberal resistance types actually love playing the flag waving Russia- hating CIA and FBI loving super patriot. Russiagate fits this psychological need. Being a bunch of anti war types does not. And for people in the beltway, there is the kaching factor. Stirring up a new Cold War means money. Opposing a war does not.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    I feel certain most of our generalship could have been coaches for the hapless Bills most of this century, a bunch of palookas with losing records, that could never lose their job just as long as they showed up.

    War is how we learn the names of places such as Helmand Province, Fallujah, Al-Tanf et al. Generally we glean nothing more than that, aside from tv shows on the History Channel that spend an hour trumpeting the brave stand made there by our soldiers before we left, never to return.

    Reply
  7. Kasia

    The premise of this article is flawed. Trump should be strongly attacking Biden on foreign policy and not defending his own achievements. Because at the end of the day, no one can deny that Trump has not launched any new military adventures.

    The attacks on Biden can go like this:

    1. Biden enthusiastically supported the catastrophically evil invasion of Iraq that killed and maimed untold numbers of Americans and slaughtered up to a million Iraqis.

    2. The architects of this war (Bill Kristol, David Frum, Colin Powell, and numerous other Neocons) plus a huge portion of George W. Bush’s team (43 Alumni for Biden) support Biden. This support is not free and these war mongers will expect rewards — which will be paid in middle America’s blood.

    3. Sleepy Joe puts a lid on it by 8:45 most mornings so if the war meeting is scheduled for 10:00am, Joe will miss it and his staff will decide which wars to launch. Kamala is of course a non-entity, she cannot even answer a softball question on the best living rapper, so we cannot expect her to resist the release of the dogs of war.

    4. It’s not the clowns in Antifa who will be fighting these new wars. While US cities will continue to burn, middle America’s best will be sent overseas to fight and die for the swamp’s wars.

    5. So if you don’t want your teenage kids to get slaughtered in the Middle East, don’t vote for Joe Biden.

    Reply
    1. Shiloh1

      Full disclosure/‘talking my book’: a father of a 20 year old male. I agree with comments here that any mitigation of the war machine by Trump or anybody else is a good thing.

      The country lost a good part of its soul with Bush I / Gulf War I and Bush II – Cheney – Rummy / Gulf War II, specifically sad on the ‘90%+ approval ratings’ both had and all cable news channels of either political stripe cheering them on at the time ‘for the eyeballs’.

      Takes a lot to undo that mentality, especially with those with no skin in the game or worse, stakes in the perpetual war MIC.

      Reply
      1. TBellT

        One thing that has stuck with me for a year. The blowback podcast did a plug on Chapo and brought up polling that said that support for the Iraq War was 70% right before it started and yet in 2014 a majority claimed they were against it at the time.

        “The country lost a good part of its soul ” is right, and lost it’s memory of doing so.

        Reply
    2. anon in so cal

      +1000

      1. Biden (like Pelosi) knew in advance the WMD narrative was bogus. Biden advocated for the war, anyway, then defended his and Bush’s decision.

      2. The entire NeoCon establishment (GOP and CIA Dems) is united with Biden.

      3. It will be a Kamala Harris admin within months, according to some who think a 25th Amendment is in cards.

      4. Biden’s comments to CFR and other outlets are worrisome. Biden wants a bigger military budget, Russia to “pay a heavier price,” more weapons to Ukraine, move NATO farther eastward. Biden’s foreign policy advisor, Antony Blinken, says no further attacks on Idlib, Syria (last Queda bastion), and stated, “the Syrian govt would love to have dominion over those [Syrian] resources. We should not give that up for free.”

      Obama and Biden escalated two long-standing wars and started 5 new regime change wars. Biden was also a key actor in the 2014 U.S. coup in Ukraine. Professor Stephen F. Cohen (RIP) discusses this in several articles in The Nation, as does Robert Parry (RIP), in Consortium News.

      Biden’s campaign transition manager is Avril Haines, CIA analyst who headed Obama’s kill list. His FP team consists of the worst NeoCons. He reputedly wants Michelle Fluornoy as defense secy.

      Biden has already criticized T from the right, saying T should have toppled Venezuela’s Maduro.

      Reply
    3. Alex Cox

      +1

      How quickly it’s been forgotten (including by the excellent Professor) that Trump intended to bring all US troops back from Afghanistan in time for the election – no doubt leaving sufficient numbers of CIA and mercenaries to maintain control of the opium and heroin trade.

      He was thwarted in this by the Democrats and Republicans united, all of whom appear to be the right of him on foreign policy.

      I like Professor Rogers, and he did stand-up work last week testifying for Assange. But I disagree with him when he writes “If Trump, as he hints, is ready to challenge the election result, he may come to need the support of the Pentagon.” The Pentagon has no need to intrude on the US presidential election. It will get everything it wants, no matter who is elected.

      Domestically, if re-elected, Trump will be a worse disaster than Biden. But given his history and foreign policy “team”, things may turn out much worse for the world if Biden is elected.

      Reply
  8. pjay

    “US troop withdrawals have already cost the Kurds dear and are they are being left in the lurch. In any case, in spite of the four-year air war against ISIS which destroyed its caliphate, it is still a significant force even in Syria. It has even increased its attacks on US troops, so much so that earlier this week the Pentagon announced it was sending a mechanised force across the border into eastern Syria to protect US troops guarding oil installations against ISIS.”

    Every point of this article is one-sided propaganda using a “the world began in 2016” tactic. Take the above quote. It leaves out most of the crucial history of the Syrian debacle that would explain *why* the Kurds might be “left in the lurch” with a US withdrawal. This would include the Kurds’ refusal to accept the Syrian government’s offers for reconciliation and their continued use as a US proxy. And the insinuation that the main US concern is the battle against ISIS is beyond ridiculous. The US presence is the main *obstacle* to the eradication of ISIS by the Syrian army and its Russian (and Iranian) allies. As far as Afghanistan goes, the author is probably correct that US withdrawal would result in an eventual Taliban victory. But left out of the story is our *19 years* of devastating intervention that created this situation! No doubt the Afghan government — and the CIA and its favored drug lords — would lose out with a US withdrawal. But as much as I would hate living under Taliban rule, it is easy to understand why most of the common people might prefer that to the current chaos.

    There are other problems, but this is enough. Professor Rogers is said to be an expert on “international security” in a department of “peace studies.” Unfortunately, he sounds like most of the Ivy League “experts” we have at our US universities writing articles in Foreign Affairs or op-eds in the NY Times.

    Reply
  9. Michael

    To me this is a very strange and narrowly focused article. They author overlooks the continuous damage of American “interests” by all recent administrations through its history of militarism throughout the planet.

    The only difference with the Trump administration is his bluster and the overt obscene calls for universal submission by his Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor. Both Russian and Chinese foreign ministers question Team Trump’s sanity. There is nothing to tout.

    IMHO, as polls indicate American’s interest in foreign policy approach about 1%. Perhaps the public is worried about more pressing matters.

    Reply
    1. Donald

      I agree that the article is strange and narrowly focused. I think he is trying to adopt the mindset of Americans who have a completely narcissistic attitude towards foreign policy. From that perspective, it makes a kind of demented sense to say that Trump has a record to be proud of, even if the reality is that like his predecessors, he is a war criminal and wants to spend even more vast sums on military junk.

      Reply
    2. Mike

      There is one flaw in the argument that Americans show little interest in foreign antics. Not that they ARE interested, but that foreign policy has little to do with domestic policy. I must say in summarized form that foreign policy often comes home in surprising ways.

      At this juncture, capital is hurrying the process along where those outside the USA are in distinction to citizens here. Our own citizens have already felt the barbs of policy that once was the bailiwick of foreign economic and political intrigue. Chickens do come home to roost.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Unfortunately, the chickens don’t roost on the mansions of the rulers who sent them out to begin with. Instead, they roost among the huts and hovels of the poor and nuveau-poor American who live on the wrong side of the power-and-policy tracks.

        Reply
    3. Mike

      Chickens come home to roost, That which was the bailiwick of CIA and State foreign intrigues have been used on the citizenry here as the rush to concentrate wealth must attack Americans and their standard of living (no matte how poor that is compared to history).

      Reply
    4. John Wright

      I found this unexpected writing coming from a “professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England”.

      How many of these USA “defense” actions have caused the Chalmers Johnson’s forewarned blowback that continues to haunt the world and the USA?

      The question should be asked, how would the world be without a US military presence everywhere?

      Another “tell” about the author is his statement about North Korea “while the development of long-range missiles and nuclear warheads continues with little fuss from Washington”.

      What “fuss” would the author advocate?

      Imagine NK developing a long range missile and then making a credible threat to use it on South Korea, Japan or USA (Hawaii).

      Would NK be bought off with food and consumer goods?

      Or is it more likely NK would be converted into an even more devastated country by the world’s combined military?

      Here is a quote from the Professor’s University of Bradford’s Department of Peace website.

      https://www.bradford.ac.uk/social-sciences/psid/from-students/

      “As a direct result of their learning in academic modules, students finishing their 2018/19 degree programmes felt it necessary to make a point. The point that the disastrous conditions in Yemen are directly linked to UK politics. Such connection has historical precedent: the Chilean military coup in 1973 had links to the UK. The connection was and is lying in the manufacturing of weapons used in each conflict.”

      Perhaps Trump’s attempted military Potemkin Village pull-backs converted to actual pull-backs are wise after all?

      Reply
  10. Yik Wong

    The men from Koch run Trumps administration. They probably believe Biden is better suited to give them Venezuela and perpetual war. Liberals will go to sleep with Biden in office. Koch Industries manufactures explosives too, so it’s not just the petroleum. I half suspect the attempts to impeach and trial Trump was an attempt to get Mike Pence in office, but it had to be done in a way that would insure his own election.

    Reply
    1. Michaelmas

      The men from Koch run Trumps administration.

      Very good. You’re paying attention.

      It’s very interesting that the media and much of the establishment blather on with their idiocy about Putin and Russia, but never mention the fact that Pence (head of the Trump White House Task Force), Pompeo, Kellyanne Conway, and — at this point — somewhere between one-half and two-thirds of the staff of Trump’s administration, including whole departments like the EPA, has been filled with people who’ve worked for Koch.

      Reply
  11. juliania

    I would dearly like to see him admit that the murder of Sulieman and the Iraq generals was a mistake. I suspect that has already been considered in his heart of hearts, but Trump ought to remember that part of President Kennedy’s popularity came from his acknowledgment that the Bay of Pigs debacle was a mistake, and he said it publicly. If Trump could bring himself to say that, it would help his own popularity considerably, and it would affect world tensions to an equal degree.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I don’t think that JFK ever showed any remorse for ‘carping’ Diệm 3 weeks before his demise, for it was a Ngô zone.

      Reply
      1. Bruno

        “I don’t think that JFK ever showed any remorse for ‘carping’ Diệm” nor should he have had any.
        Ngo Dinh Diệm was a dictator hated by most Vietnamese, a tyrant so bad that multiple Buddhist monks were compelled to burn themselves to death in protest. The leader of his overthrow, General Duong Van Minh–fully supported by the most popular Vietnamese leader, Thich Tri Quang–was openly ready to negotiate peace with the National Liberation Front (called by media propaganda “Viet Cong”). Of course, Duong Van Minh was forcibly removed by the CIA as immediate sequel to its forcible removal of John F. Kennedy, and the twelve-years horror began (to end only in 1975 when Duong reemerged to negotiate peace and reunification)

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Oh, we had a wee bit of a hand in offing him, it’d be like the Vietnamese consulting with Lee Harvey Oswald (or the bakers dozen of gunmen on that grassy knoll) and giving him/them the go ahead.

          The coup d’état was designed by a military revolutionary council including ARVN generals led by General Dương Văn Minh. Lieutenant Colonel Lucien Conein, a CIA officer, had become a liaison between the US Embassy and the generals, who were led by Trần Văn Đôn. They met each other for the first time on 2 October 1963 at Tân Sơn Nhất airport. Three days later, Conein met with General Dương Văn Minh to discuss the coup and the stance of the US towards it. Conein then delivered the White House’s message of American non-intervention, which was reiterated by Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., the US ambassador, who gave secret assurances to the generals that the United States would not interfere.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngo_Dinh_Diem

          Reply
      1. marym

        There isn’t a single transliteration standard for Arabic or Persian into English, and over time even fairly well accepted standards have varied. There are different preferred standards for Arabic and Persian too, and a need to reflect differences in particular forms of Arabic in different countries.

        In Persian Soleiman and Soleimani (or transliterations) are both men’s names, so adding the final “i” seems correct, but transliteration of the first 2 vowel sounds varies. See examples in his Britannica entry.

        The former name is also the Persian spelling for the Biblical Solomon. Adding the “i” changes the meaning to something like “of Solomon” in the sense of “with the characteristic of Solomon.” You often see the “i” used with place names as a surname like al-Baghdadi – of/from Baghdad, the Baghdadian.

        (This isn’t a scholarly attempt – just amateur observation).

        Reply
    2. km

      I frankly doubt that Trump feels any remorse whatsoever. Remorse is not an emotion familiar to sociopaths, at least when they personally do not suffer.

      Note that I said not a word of praise of Obama/Biden

      Reply
  12. anon in so cal

    imho, the Russiagate psy ops constrains Trump’s ability to present an anti-war platform to voters and to fully brag about starting zero new wars in the 1st term. It also prevents an accurate explanation for several of the regime change wars started by other presidents.

    If only voters could learn that, starting with Carter and Brzesinski’s CIA Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan (where the US armed “moderate rebels” aka the Mujahadeen), the U.S. interfered in Afghanistan for the same reason it orchestrated the 2014 coup in Ukraine: the elected president expressed pro-Russia tendencies. An argument can be made that the US presence in Afghanistan was aggression toward Russia.

    If T touts the limited US withdrawal from Syria, NeoCons’ (and Biden’s) criticism is that Trump harmed the Kurds (who could have accepted a reconciliation agreement with the Syrian government but opted not to) and is handing Syria to Russia. Too bad Trump can’t point to Kerry’s admission that the US nurtured the rise of ISIS in Syria as part of its regime change strategy, which is why Russia could no longer not step in. Trump can remind voters he ended the Obama Biden Brennan CIA Operation Timber Sycamore (billions to jihadis), but again, he gets the standard criticism.

    If T really wanted to expose Biden, he could explain the origins of the U.S. proxy war with Russia in Ukraine and remind voters that US weapons shipments to Ukraine (which Biden wants to increase) are going to Nazi-infused forces.

    But Democrats and NeoCons have Trump boxed in. There’s a good argument that NeoCons’ anti-Russia propaganda started with the rise of Putin because a resuscitated Russia could once again act as a brake on U.S. NeoCons’ aggression in the Middle East and thwart their long-term goals.

    If anyone peeks in at Fox news, it’s on the same page as Rachel Maddow and MSNBC when it comes to Russia, with the sole exception of Tucker Carlson. So, Trump cannot really come out with a full-on anti-war platform or tout his record without running in to the propaganda machines.

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      “and especially his widely reported comments on US troops killed in action being “losers””…….

      Jeff Goldberg wrote an article in the Atlantic on Sept 3 claiming that Trump rejected the idea of the visit because “he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation……”

      The “four” with “first hand knowledge”
      are never identified and never step forward. But then the unsubstantiated “report” is (mysteriously?) republished, becoming a talking point. “Reporters” (“political operatives”) then reiterate “their blockbuster revelation” in Q and As with POTUS and on talk shows.

      The process is, magikally “imagine a slander”, (Russia Russia..) and then massage, repeat, amplify, discuss, reincorporate….. yada yada yada…..

      This is intermediate-school level mind control, which is backfiring badly on OUR Ivy League Influencers….

      Please, please, give us all a break from this intermanable whining. Yes, Hillary did lose the 2016 election. Hillary is not the president.

      USAians have a chance to vote again in November.

      Reply
  13. km

    To answer the author’s question, because:

    1. Most Americans care little about foreign policy, unless it’s “kicking ass!” Very few voters are motivated by foreign policy, and not undecided voters in swing states.

    2. Because Trump has little in the way of actual completed foreign policy achievements to his name. Mostly saber-rattling, failed pull-outs and ineffectual airstrikes.

    Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Yes. At this point ‘caring’ enough about foreign policy to have it affect your vote for President is a sport for our elite. The upper 10% that is, not the upper 0.1%. The rest of us are slaves to domestic policy. Especially healthcare and employment issues, like a minimum wage or the legal definition of an employee v. independent contractor.

      Also Trump’s foreign policy “accomplishments” ex China mostly stem from his comparative lack of action, and his denigration of the foreign policy establishment. The world has more to fear from well organized centrist Democrats.

      Reply
  14. Pookah Harvey

    Trump has cranked up the economic sanctions against both Venezuela and Iran, last count 40,000 dead in Venezuela and who knows in Iran. In draining the swamp Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams (of Iran-Contra fame) as the Special Representative for Venezuela in 2019, and just appointed him to the same position for Iran last month. Col Larry Wilkerson has pointed out that by international law Trump’s actions against these two nations are acts of war. How different is Trump?

    Reply

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