Category Archives: U.S. Foreign Policy

Bibi and Donald and Adele and Forcible Dates: Is the Thrill Gone Already?…………..

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Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington this week. Meetings of world leaders with Netanyahu remind me of younger days and dating days. Sometimes the thrill is gone from the get go, from the first time. Sometimes afterwards she (usually) or he realizes they would not want a repeat.
In world politics it is that way too, except that these diplomatic dates are almost like “forcible dates”. If one lasts eight years as a leader he/she would have to keep on dating him or her often.

George W Bush kept his meetings with Netanyahu to a minimum: he already knew exactly what his date would say. Which always takes the thrill out of any date. Clearly Obama did not want a repeat after his first date with Netanyahu, but he had no choice: eight years in office is a long time. I doubt any world leader ever looks forward to meeting him. (American Congressmen and Senators are not world leaders, they are more like star-struck Bibi-groupies. Or maybe they can’t get another date with so many resources).

In fairness, almost all other Middle East leaders are also like Bibi in that respect: they all think others are thrilled to hear them whine out their wisdom.

I suspect, as some comments in the media have noted this week, that Donald and Bibi will start taking many bathroom breaks during their very first date this week. A real date is not like a long-distance post-election telephone date, you don’t see and hear the warts (a rude person would add that you don’t use your olfactory faculties).

Mr. Netanyahu is at a bigger disadvantage here when he meets Trump this week. He really has no new case to make anymore. The US Congress, both houses and almost both parties, have been making the case for him for several years. The Senators and Congressmen have made his visit to Washington redundant, just a cosmetic thing. A photo-op. Sort of like watching Beyonce and Adele walk and pause on the Red Carpet: it has nothing to do with the prize…..

But eye candy is much more pleasing to look at than older men plotting to step into the next military quagmire……

Cheers

M H Ghuloum

Will Eastern Syria Trigger America’s Next Endless Muslim War?……..

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“A professional ground force coalition-of-the-willing led by the United States is something this writer has been long urging. This would involve American combat skin-in-the-game along with ground forces from countries such as Turkey, Jordan, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. The final three on the list have already volunteered forces to fight the Islamic State; recruiting the others would require hard-nosed diplomacy. But if the Islamic State is the threat the Trump administration says it is — and the people of Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, and Ankara, who have all suffered terror attacks at its hands, would agree — why would its neutralization be left to militiamen? In addition to putting the military defeat of the Islamic State in the hands of military professionals, the Pentagon’s plan for northern Syria must take several other factors into account………”

Forget the nonsense about the Coalition of the Willing (and Bribed if unwilling). It will be an American war, if it happens. After ISIS is defeated, kicked out of the major Syrian cities like Raqqa, it will be a different war. The Turks will want to crush Kurdish aspirations for autonomy, that will be their priority. It would be like pushing the toothpaste back into the tube. Expect more spectacular fireworks inside Turkey. The Saudis will want some kind of Wahhabi-ized regime in the liberated area. The Qataris (and the Turks) will want some say for the Muslim Brotherhood as well. The Syrian Jihadis, masqueraded as ‘moderate opposition’, will want some ethnic cleansing of Alawis and Shi’as. Some of the Arab allies from the Persian Gulf will try to get America to join their regional sectarian Jihad (as Obama warned last year), to enter a new conflict with Iran and Lebanon, who have either forces or advisers in Syria.
A recipe for another sectarian region-wide war. A war the pro-Jihadi Salafis and their potentates could not wage without the help of their enemies, the Americans.

America will be pushed to get involved in an even wider field of multi-wars in the Middle East. A regional war urged by regional potentates and princes as their only hope to push the menacing Iranian mullahs back. More Americans killed, more Arabs and Muslims killed. That is not a good recipe for fighting Arab Muslim radicalism. It could be a formula for expanding it.

Cheers

M. H. Ghuloum

A New Persian Gulf War? A Message from Marcus Licinius Crassus to Donald Trump……..

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“The Saudis have been bombing the Houthi rebels and ravaging their country, Yemen, for two years. Are the Saudis entitled to immunity from retaliation in wars that they start? Where is the evidence Iran had a role in the Red Sea attack on the Saudi ship? And why would President Trump make this war his war? As for the Iranian missile test, a 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was. Is the United States making new demands on Iran not written into the nuclear treaty or international law—to provoke a confrontation? Did Flynn coordinate with our allies about this warning of possible military action against Iran? Is NATO obligated to join any action we might take?………..”
Also sprach Pat Buchanan, now older and even wiser.

Mr. Trump is a Manhattan businessman and a showman. Which means he has mastered the arts of showmanship and bluffing (and bullying).
His nonsensical campaign promise to ‘Make America Great Again‘ was absurd, as if America is Egypt or Peru. But it was bought by enough of the desperate industrial working classes, and much of the campaign-money-donating upper classes, to get him into the White House. Even as he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

His promise of America First looks set to be set on fire by his new adventurism in the Persian Gulf region. Possibly egged on by some of the same Arab and Jewish regional allies he detests so much. He has surrounded himself by a few former military men and civilian hawks who have a chip on their collective shoulders regarding the Middle East, especially Iran. They think they can win the wars of choice that Bush and Obama squandered.

Now they have made Donald Trump into a George W Bush on steroids. But a new military conflict in the Persian Gulf will last much longer than the hawks and chickenhawks think. Remember the Iran-Iraq war? It was started by Iraq as a blitzkrieg victory, but it lasted eight years and ended up destroying Iraq. This latest war in Afghanistan has lasted 16 years, so far. The latest Iraq war started in 2003, Syria is in its seventh year.

A lesson for Mr. Trump from ancient Roman history, if he and his new generals care to read. Read the story of the Roman consul and general Marcus Licinius Crassus, a friend of Julius Caesar. He collected a huge army of many invincible Roman legions to invade ancient Persia more than two thousand years ago. Another unprovoked war. Crassus and his Roman legions vanished somewhere in the Iranian Plateau, never to be seen or heard from again.
Lesson? Wars of choice half-way across the world are not a good investment (as you, Mr. Trump and your class would say).
Mr. Trump, there are no direct American national interests threatened by the Iranians. They have not broken the Nuclear Deal with the world powers. They have not attacked Americans or America’s regional allies, yet. So, tone down the bluffing.

Mr. Trump, you are used to playing the cheap game of Casino poker, but the mullahs play the more enduring game of Chess. A game their country invented when your ancestors were still lurking in the caves and forests of Central Europe.
So, call back the dogs of war, get them out of your White House. Don’t throw good money after bad in the Middle East. Save a few more trillions of dollars and many lives on both sides.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Trump Middle East Policy Confusion: America First? New Muslim Wars First?…….

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The slogan America First implies focusing on internal US affairs: the economy, trade, infrastructure, even immigration.
Yet the Trump administration is already being pulled into a new morass in the Middle East (the Muslim World in case you didn’t know). It is falling for the trap of an Iranian missile test that is apparently unrelated to the Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Perhaps it is a test by the mullahs of a new administration that is already shooting itself in the foot in domestic matters (healthcare, immigration). The new alleged ballistic missile test, which at least Russia and China certainly consider unrelated to the Nuclear Deal, came quickly after reports of a phone call between Trump and the Saudi King that mentioned containing Iran.
The Iranians most likely look on their ballistic missiles as defensive weapons, since hey don’t have the threatening Western-made sophisticated warplanes that their potential regional enemies have. Part of their deterrence that would prevent a repeat of an attack similar to the Iraqi Baathist invasion of their country.

Or maybe the mullahs in Tehran were giving Mr. Trump and Netanyahu something to discuss when they meet next month. The latter would be eager to sell Trump the snake-oil of another Muslim war/quagmire that neither Bush (W) nor Barack Obama would buy from him. The Trump administration probably won’t get far in the UN Security Council: even the European allies may oppose them. New President Trump has no reservoir of goodwill in Western Europe, or in most of the world, to draw on. He never had any beyond his own base and his own party.

In fairness, the Trump administration apparently have discarded the silly notion of “tearing up” the Nuclear Deal. It is not really a “piece of paper” as experienced right-wing hawks like John Bolton still think. They now seem to realize that it can’t be undone beyond campaign rhetoric.

In response to reports of the recent Iranian missile test, the White House NSC issued a tough statement mainly attacking Barack Obama for it (Obama, not the UN). A very retro reaction. Expect a Trump tweet to follow soon. Also expect more muscle-flexing in the Persian-American Gulf region by both sides, something even allied regional governments worry about.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Trump State Department: Apes Taking Over the Zoo……..

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“A handful of senior U.S. diplomats are resigning their posts during President Donald Trump’s first week on the job, creating more high-level openings that the new president must fill. State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, a career foreign service officer, planned to retire effective Friday, the State Department said. He was joined by two assistant secretaries, Joyce Barr and Michele Bond, who both resigned Wednesday. Gentry Smith, who directs the Office of Foreign Missions, was also departing.………..”

These are the men and women who keep the State Department bureaucracy functioning every day. Sort of like the wardens or curators do at a zoo. What was that common saying about the wardens quitting after the apes take over the zoo?……..
Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Advice Netanyahu Can Give President Trump: on Healthcare, Funding Free Abortion, and War……

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Forget about waging new wars against more Muslim nations or sanctioning more Muslim countries. That will surely be on Mr. Benyamin Netanyahu’s agenda as well when he arrives in Washington  next month, part of the snake-oil he has been trying to sell for years. The Bushes and Obama thwarted him. They looked into his eyes and saw the weasel that members of Congress could not see. What else could they see?

But that was then.
The Republican Party, post-Bush, is now effectively a sub-branch of the Likud alliance in Israel. Netanyahu is the new prophet of the American right. But at home, in domestic Israeli policy, he is further to the left of many American Democrats. Especially in matters of public healthcare and funding abortion (almost certainly with some funds voted by the rabidly pro-life American Congress).

Mr. Netanyahu can do the American people and President Trump a great service in other ways, all based on the Israeli experience. Like explain the benefits of the “right” of every Israeli to public Healthcare. Like the public funding of abortion (free abortion partly funded by American money). Republicans and the likes of Joe Lieberman consider that public health policy socialistic even though all industrial countries in Europe have that as well. The much-cited European right would never dream of taking away the public healthcare option: in that it is to the left of many U.S Democrats.

Among other useful examples of how Netanyahu can be useful to a US president, for once in his life.

In addition to the expected inevitable attempt of pushing a new stupid war against a new Muslim country.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

John F. Kerry of Arabia: an Honorable Man, a Futile Quest……

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John F Kerry is an honorable man. We knew that from the 1960s. He served honorably in Vietnam, did not evade or avoid the war like most his current critics. He also honorably spoke out afterward.
Later today, soon, he will speak about the “Middle East” problem: Palestine-Israel. But he will get nowhere. The Israeli Likud has a lock on both houses of the U.S Congress, on both parties. It will probably be a good speech, but too optimistic. It will get nowhere.
Mr. Trump has already contributed his own drivel to complicating the issue.
Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

An Illegal Martian in America: the Party of Russia vs the Party of China…….

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A Martian who has just arrived in the United States (either a legal or an illegal alien) would think American politics are divided into two major parties:

  • The Party of Russia. We are told across much of the media to believe that the Republican Party (GOP) is the Party of Putin and Russia (with all the unpleasant accoutrements: Gulag, KGB, other extremely un-American behavior like guzzling Vodka and eating Pirozhky). Suddenly the Democrats, big losers of this election year, have developed a strange zeal for fending off a Russian quasi-Bolshevik takeover of the USA.
  • The Party of China (Chi-Com, PLA, Robber Oligarchs, Generals snapping up US real estate, industrial espionage, job-stealers, unfair Trade Surplus, Cyber Espionage, North Korea, etc). That would be the Democrat Party, and not only by default.

To complicate matters, many people in the Middle East, and in the wider Islamic world have a different view on this. They also have their own notion about US politics. Many, nay actually most people in the region, believe that both major American political parties are the Party of Israel. Or, more precisely, the Party of Likud right-wingers.
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

 

A Banana Republic? USA as Portrayed by Some Americans and One Israeli Hustler…….

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“President-elect Donald Trump will be a good friend to Israel and hopefully the two countries can work together to dismantle the international nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Sunday. While the two countries are close allies, relations were sometimes tense between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama because of their vastly different world views on the Iran deal and other issues………”

There is something eerily Banana Republic-ish about the way the USA is being portrayed in the media these days. As portrayed by US media, some US politicians, and also by foreign hustlers like Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel.

American media and many among the political classes talk of Russians influencing the 2016 presidential election. Hacking the DNC and RNC and somehow influencing the election results (no explanation yet as to how hacking leads to influencing). A lengthy investigation is pending.

Enter Benyamin Netanyahu, the super-opportunistic right-wing prime minister of Israel. He is publicly and loudly offering to “help” the president-elect Donald trump handle the cancellation of the Iran Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,or JCPOA). An agreement signed on by Iran and the Rest of the World, including the UN and European Union. Mr. Netanyahu knows a thing or two about breaking treaties and agreements (you can ask Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nicolas Sarkozy, and many other world leaders and international bureaucrats about that).

Thus Netanyahu is setting the stage for what he has wanted for years now: to get America embroiled in another endless Muslim war. A war of choice that is not related to American homeland defense. Yet another of what some critics have been calling stupid wars in Muslim lands.

To complicate matters, reports have announced yesterday (Sunday) an agreement between Iran and Boeing to purchase jetliners for US$ 16.7 billion. Unless Sheldon Adelson and John Bolton can replace the Iranian order with their own. No matter, the US Congress of both houses and both parties is beholden, and often forgets national interests when it comes to campaign money……….
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

Trump State Department: from Romney to Petraeus and Huntsman?……

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President-elect Donald Trump apparently is mulling several choices for Secretary of State:

  1.  A disloyal weasel (that would be Mitt Romney, the man who savaged Trump and attacked his integrity the most last spring and summer).
  2. A loyal weasel, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He has also taken funds from foreign organizations.
  3. A detestable man who has campaigned noisily, loudly for the job, after losing out the struggle for Attorney General: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He has also taken funds from foreign organizations.
  4. A likable well-educated knowledgeable man who also carries some personal baggage: General David Petraeus.
  5.  Then there is the most dangerous, least diplomatic of the lot, a man who practically has hand-grenades strapped to his mustache: John Bolton.

Not easy choices. Of course Trump is capable of surprising everybody and pick some surprise choice. But that would further infuriate the media who have been focusing on these names.

A Dark Horse could be Jon Huntsman Jr, former governor and former ambassador who also speaks other languages.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum