Tag Archives: Trump

Trump Foreign Policy: Is There a MOAB in the Pyongyang Kid’s Future……

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“North Korea’s military on Friday directly responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewed threats to take “care of” Pyongyang’s nuclear threat amid expectations of a new nuclear test that could come at any time. “Our toughest counteraction against the United States and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive,” according to unnamed spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army. “Under the prevailing grave situation, the United States has to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution of the problem,” continued the statement, carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency……..”

Donald Trump spent his first two months in office trying his hands at domestic issues.

His first policy Executive Order, a Muslim immigration/entry ban, was thrown out by U.S. federal courts. His second policy try was a sly but direct attempt at screwing the American people, repealing the ACA Healthcare law (Obamacare) without replacing it with a policy that covers those uncovered. He could not get his own party to pass a healthcare bill that he almost certainly did not understand. His attempt at screwing up the healthcare system was opposed by all professional associations of doctors, nurses and hospitals. It failed, so he blamed the Democrats, ignoring that his own party controls Congress.

He faced a rapidly building up crisis about allegations of his and his associates’ connections to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Democrats milked that issue for all its worth, but Republicans helped along by mishandling the investigation.

So what can a president do when he fails in domestic policy?

He can always revive or inflame a simmering crisis in the Middle East, or in some other Muslim country. Hence Trump’s “seeming” flip flop on Syria. Before any UN meeting, before any investigation, he used suspicions and allegations of Assad using chemical weapons against a rebel area to throw about 60 Tomahawk missiles at a nearly-empty Syrian airbase.

The American media loved it: nothing brings Republican and Democrat political elites together than waging or escalating a war in a Muslim land. Some of the more “liberal” news networks went nearly orgasmic, could not have enough of the attack in Syria, some like CNN were sorely disappointed that it seemed like a one-time event.

The Syrian attack quickly distracted from the domestic Russian investigation. But the Russians and the Syrians mounted their own PR blitz and the need arose for more show of foreign toughness. Hence the first use of the biggest baddest non-nuclear bomb, the MOAB. Few people would argue with the target picked: a territory in Afghanistan reportedly boiling with Taliban and ISIS killers. And with few civilians.

Some, including myself, speculated that the MOAB and even the Syrian bombing may have included a message for the chubby dictator of Pyongyang. One Kim Jong Un, a seeming addict to Twinkies and Ding Dongs. But unfortunately the MOAB use also coincides with a time of serious fireworks in North Korea: the birthday of late dictator Kim Il Song. He was the man who established Communist North Korea and blessed it with his dynasty of nasty murderous despots.

They are reported to be planning some nuclear fireworks for the occasion. Now the Pyongyang regime is not an Arab regime. It is not the type that is expected to bend over and take it, even if it is well deserved as in this case. At the least, they have the city of Seoul hostage to their massive artillery: potentially hundreds of thousands of casualties, including many Americans.

And someone like the Pyongyang Kid can’t afford to seem weak. There are probably some among his own family who would gladly dispose of him.

That is why I doubt that Mr. Trump would authorize the use of MOAB in Korea, not without serious provocation. Unless the generals can find a way to have it land right where M. Kim is napping, taking a shower, among other activities.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Will America Join the Jihad in Syria? How Do They Line Up in Eastern Mediterranean……..

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demands that Russia drop its support of Assad in Syria. Sure: Putin, current heir to the rough and tough Soviet and Romanov empires, is almost certain to listen to the Texas oilman and his TV celebrity boss.

Nikki Haley seconds the Tillerson motion and threatens to take the names of anyone opposing it and add it to her famous list of names. And to cut their weekly allowances.

China‘s Xi, a guest of Trump at Mar-A-Lago, grins and remains “inscrutable”, as he is supposed to remain as leader of PRC (Chi-Com to the American Right). But he knows the futile game Trump is playing with him. Too transparent. No doubt, Trump was trying to unnerve Xi by attacking Syria during his visit. The problem with that is that Chi-Com leaders don’t get unnerved easily by television or real estate celebrities. Haven’t done it since the days of Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. They can smell the bull from far away, they have done their fair share of spreading it.

Russia‘s Lavrov will ask that Trump drop his unwitting (or is that witless) support of Al Qaeda and other Jihadi cutthroats in Syria, including those in Idlib. The latter probably owned the same cache of chemical weapons that were bombed by the Syrian regime last week.

American mainstream media, often copying the media of Arab royal regimes that are as repressive as Assad, are gung-ho on avenging the Alamo, or the Maine. They have been since 2011.

Turkey wants Trump to help install a nice clean-cut Muslim Brotherhood regime in Damascus like the one in Turkey, and as humorless. It would be more repressive, given that it will include former Baathist renegades as well as current fundamentalists with Wahhabi ties.
Saudis want Trump to install a Wahhabi-esque regime in Damascus. Or, barring that, any regime that is hostile to the Iranians and Iraqis and not secular like the Baathists. They promise to shower the “right” regime in Damascus with many billions that they will not have.
UAE rulers don’t seem to care that much, as long as they get to have a naval base somewhere in Syria to protect their “national interests”, whatever the hell that be. In the Mediterranean of course.

The Bahrainis have no money to give to anyone outside the ruling family and their minions. So they will offer to receive the new Trump-anointed Caliph of Syria in their well-policed capital. On the assumption that this would legitimize both their regimes. Yes, they are clueless.
Iranians and Lebanese make the “right” noises, essentially they make the same noises in unison. But they keep on doing the voodoo that they do in Syria. So far.

Bashar Al Assad (America’s bête noire de la semaine) is a man who has had a target on his back for six years. He has been pronounced a dead-man-walking many times, mostly by Arab despots and Jihadis inside Syria and gullible believing Westerners. Yet he doesn’t seem worried about it. In fact I haven’t seen him worried since before the brief 2011 uprising that became a Jihadi insurrection that became a combination civil war and proxy war. Does he know something we don’t? Is he taking something we don’t? 

More on this later….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Trendy Bigotry: Rent a Jew, Rent a Muslim, Rent a Bigot (or Elect One)………

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“Do Jews get a discount when they buy a car? Do they own McDonald’s? Do Jews control the media and international banking? Do any of them live here anymore? These are among the questions German school children ask Jews who volunteer in a new outreach program with the provocative name, “Rent A Jew.” The Jews in question are not actually “rented” since they volunteer their time. But they do present themselves as living exhibits of something young Germans hear about constantly, thanks to their curricula on Germany and the Holocaust but rarely see: living, talking, walking Jews as they live their lives today. The program – launched in 2015 by the Munich-based Janusz Korczak Academy in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel – is beginning to catch on. The Jewish Agency provides funding for the program, which mixes education with humor. “Rent a Jew,” the group’s tagline urges. “You will never forget your first.”

What next? Rent-a-Muslim for the Trump and Bannon and Gaffney kids to learn from?
Some say Muslims may be the “new” Jews in Europe and the United States. The next target for frustrated underemployed Christians and Evangelicals who can’t wait for “The Day” when all Jews are expected to convert to their peculiar old sect started by Jesus of Nazareth.

I don’t believe it, this thing about Rent-a-Muslim. It takes a long history, many centuries of suspicion, discrimination, abuse, and massacres to get to where the Jews are. And requires us to have a lot of talent that makes others realize their own shortcomings, which we don’t have yet. Besides, Muslims are nowhere near being group targets of life-and-death situations: there just are too many of us, and we are not one race or one nation. We come from all over.
Even the New Neo-Republican Party can’t build that kind of a wall. I believe that in this Congress and at the New White House they are realizing that and focusing on their real long-term enemy: a well-educated and healthy American people.

Besides, Muslims don’t make good scapegoats. We make better goats than scapegoats, given how our native countries are managed.

Maybe Rent-a-Bigot can become a viable business in some coastal states. A quaint conversation piece on one of the two coasts. Unless you elect a whole passel of them and let them loose on a country.


FYI: unlike the myth being encouraged in extreme right wing media, not many Muslims prefer slitting throats. Many prefer AK-15 (but that would be a Russian connection no?). One other thing is worrisome, tough: many of us like our food, especially our meat, Kosher (except we called it Halal after we copied it from the Jews about fifteen centuries ago).
More on this later, possibly, stay tuned…….

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Iran’s Khamenei Does a Trump: MAGA becomes MIGA……

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“Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei fleshed out his vision of a “Made in Iran” economy Tuesday, calling for a ban on certain imports and an end to the $15-billion smuggling trade. The annual speech on the first day of the Persian year serves as a sort of Iranian equivalent to the US State of the Union address, and Khamenei used it to provide more details about his calls for a self-sufficient “resistance economy” that has been his main theme in recent months. “The importing of products where an Iranian equivalent exists should be considered religiously and legally haram (forbidden),” he told a huge crowd in the holy city of Mashhad. He took aim at Iran’s rampant black market in smuggled goods, which he said was worth at least $15 billion annually. “Some speak of $20-25 billion,” he said. “We want greatness for our country, social well-being and security at the national level. Without a strong economy we cannot achieve all that…..”

Ayatollah Khamenei sounds almost like a Trumpista, but only in the economics of trade sense. I am exaggerating a bit: clearly Khamenei does not believe in a trickle-down economy, now set to become a gushing-up economy under Trump. He does not have a gaggle of billionaires around him defining his own “populist” comfort zone in Tehran. He mostly favors fellow mullahs.

Not as bad as many other Middle East leaders these days. Some groveling Arab leaders are the worst offenders, effectively throwing their fellow Muslims under the bus to please Trump. Before the November elections they expected a resounding Hillary Clinton victory. Their Wahhabi-Liberal mouthpieces in the press and social media obediently excoriated Trump. But that was then.

Soon after Mr. Trump issued his first unconstitutional Executive Order banning many Muslims from travel to the USA, surprisingly including legal residents, some Arab kings and princes reacted positively. Particularly Saudi and UAE rulers, who have certain demands of Mr. Trump for their own regional agendas, quickly praised his move. Even as many Americans and the US courts stood against it. Their hasty positive reaction was uncalled for, it was voluntary, did not even wait for the US court decisions, which turned out as I had expected.

Khamenei is also applying some pressure on President Rouhani in his election year, distancing himself from an economy that has not done as well. Some Iranian officials have recently expressed disappointment that the Nuclear Deal has not helped the economy as much as they had expected.

But the Iranians have become good at managing under forced self-sufficiency. The long decades of mostly-American sanctions have forced them to produce many of the tools, equipment, and weapons they have needed. An unintended positive by-product of the economic siege. Even with the reduction and lifting of sanctions, their country will continue to produce many of the goods it has been forced to make under the economic siege.
So, maybe its is the other way around: maybe Mr. Trump’s “Made in America” message is an imitation of the forced “Made in Iran” policy on the other side of the world. Ali Khamenei has not uttered the term “Make Iran Great Again” (MIGA), but his occasional exhortations and policy statements sound similar to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). Without the goofy red Trump hat.

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Offshore Rex vs the Contractors: Trump and the Privatization of American Foreign Policy…….

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There has been some recent speculation, mostly by me, about the whereabouts of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. I noted weeks ago that he has vanished after his swearing-in. I tweeted that he seems to have gone AWOL, joined Waldo in his undisclosed location.
Then there have been media reports that Donald Trump is gutting the State Department’s budget, shifting the savings to other departments, mainly Defense (prices of military-grade toilets must have skyrocketed since his election) and Homeland Security. It looks like Mr. Trump is getting ready to “go to the mattress”, in old Mafia parlance. Waging internal, external, as well as border wars.

Now my private barely credible source reports of rumors that the Trump Administration plans to keep Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out of sight. Making him an ‘offshore’ foreign-based cabinet member, perpetually traveling outside the country. Some mythical character like Ulysses or a ghost aboard the Flying Dutchman. He will discharge his shrinking duties from the various US embassies around the world.

Eventually, the whole State Department will be privatized, its policy functions taken over by the White House staff, its field duties contracted out to the private sector. Ambassadorial appointments and posts will no longer be based on experience or merit, not even on Party loyalty and donations to political campaigns. These desirable posts will go to the highest bidder.

When I expressed some doubts about the veracity of his report, my source pointed out to General Flynn. He noted that Flynn was reported to have been already a lobbyist for Erdogan, the strongman of Turkey, before Trump picked him to lead his National Security Council. He claimed that was a form of privatizing the National Security Council. A hint of what is to come when you run a country as a business: something that makes conservatives go orgasmic but does a lot of harm to the country.

It s all about privatization and the money. What W Bush privatized was peanuts compared to the new land grab that is unfolding under Trump“. My source said. He added “However, trump insists that all posts will go to American citizens. and all privatized departments will be run by Americans. The president said that ‘it would be unseemly to be seen to let Russians or Chinese or foreign potentates run US foreign policy. Bigly unseemly, or maybe just unseemly in a bigly way’.”

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

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

Arab Leaders Blowing in the Wind: Torn Between Many Lovers…….

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The Arab regimes that care, mainly in the Gulf region, have failed to devise and implement a strategy against the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Military attempts in Iraq and Syria (via insurgent Jihadi proxies) have failed. An extended and ferocious destructive bombing campaign with Western help seems to have failed against the fierce Yemenis. Attempts at forging various reliable foreign alliances, from Turkey to Africa, have failed. Now they think they have a chance at a reset with the Trump administration, but that is probably just another illusion.

A leading Saudi newspaper editor, Mr. Turki Al Dakhil who is close to some potentates, has asked Saudis to launch a campaign on Twitter and other social media praising Donald Trump’s criticism of Iran. In the process also exaggerating it. Many, including the huge official Saudi Electronic Army have been tweeting hashtags (most common hashtag has been #TrumpWarnsIranianTerrorism or something like it) supposedly egging Mr. Trump on, pushing him toward a confrontation with the Iranian regime.

Wahhabi extremists, Salafis, ISIS fans, Al Qaeda fans and other assorted fans of Jihadi cutthroats are all suddenly tweeting in praise of the new President of the United States.

Remember when President Obama complained to the Atlantic Magazine last year that some Arab oligarchs in the Persian Gulf were trying to get the USA to join their regional sectarian conflicts? They are now trying to egg Trump on to fight their sectarian war in the Gulf region and possibly beyond. Only a few weeks ago they were blasting Trump as an Islamophobic racist, now they are clinging to him as a potential war ally. The last great (very) white hope.

Of course this is not new. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003 some Arab autocrats tried with George W Bush to provoke yet a new Gulf war. But he turned out smarter than that, less cooperative. Obama was even more skeptical of the Arab oligarchs, especially after the uprisings of 2010/2011 started. So, the oligarchs soured on Obama and hitched their wagons to Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel. As they waited for their old Clintonista friends to retake the White House.

Netanyahu talked tough against the mullahs, but he would not go to a risky war for the sake of Wahhabi kings and princes who don’t even recognize his country. You see, I suspect that much of Netanyahu’s bluster about the Iranian regime was to divert attention from the settlements in the West Bank (he has been warning since 1995 that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within six months). Some Iranian leaders helped him along with their absurd and bigoted comments about the Holocaust and their silly “Death To” slogans. The Iranian hardliners are good at milking these hostile slogans to their advantage in the Middle East, even if they harm their country’s interests in the halls of power in the West.

Enter Donald Trump and his frustrated hawkish former generals and cultural religious racial warriors.

So that is where it stands now. The Arab oligarchs are suddenly admirers of the American leader they called a clown only a few weeks ago. They think they have a chance against Iranian expansion with Trump, given that the president is surrounded by hawks and by cabinet members and advisers who have been close to the Iranian Mujahideen-Khalq opposition group.

Trump promised to avoid foreign wars and focus on America, but he is now making ominous noises. Will he go to war for his new autocratic admirers? Hopefully not: the Middle East has had enough of foreign meddling and Western wars.
Just help defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda, Mr. Trump, then get the hell out. You don’t belong in the Middle East permanently. The Iranians and the Arabs (and Kurds and Jews and others) belong there, and they have for thousands of years.

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