Tag Archives: White House

Fire and Fury of Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks and the Trumps ……….

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just finished reading the book Fire and Fury, about the dysfunction, internal squabbles, and mutual backstabbings of the first year of the Trump White House. The author is not exactly a Theodore White, but then these are not Teddy White days, and the book’s focus was on the post-election rather than the campaign.

It took me a few days because I usually read several books at the same time, a habit from undergraduate university days. Here is my brief take, succinctly put: 

Beyond all the headlines and the cacophony which focused on Donald Trump and his inadequacies and consequent insecurities. The picture drawn in the book, at least the picture I saw, was one of a bunch of  self-serving extremely disloyal players. Everyone of the White House staff seems to be in the game for themselves, everyone focuses on their own role and its continuation.

Nobody gave priority to “serving” Trump and what is good for his tenure. That includes his own immediate family who took offices in the West Wing. That includes his New York in-laws. Everyone seems to have forgotten political convictions and principles and what Trump promised the voters. One young lady who apparently had some ‘boy trouble’, Hope Hicks, was/is probably loyal to the Trumps.

But there was one more other significant exception: one person who did not seem, from the author’s depiction, to be looking after personal gain and the one who did not play the sycophant. Perhaps the most ideological, most zealous person among them all.

Oddly that is the one person whom much of the media focused on and incessantly reviled during his brief tenure in the West Wing: Steve Bannon.

(P.S.: funniest thing in the book? Was the part about NSC candidate General H R McMaster showing up in a large suit and Trump thinking he looked like a ‘beer salesman‘)

Cheers

M H Ghuloum

Who to Believe on Future Syrian WMD Allegations: the Trump White House or Bashar Al Assad?…….

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“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be preparing a chemical weapons attack that would result in the “mass murder” of civilians, the White House said Monday, warning the regime would pay a “heavy price” if it goes ahead…….. “The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement. “The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.” Assad, backed by his ally Russia, has strongly denied the allegation that his forces used chemical weapons against the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, describing it as a “100 percent fabrication”……..”


It is not a theory anymore: it is a fact. Whenever the Syrian Jihadist rebels are losing some serious ground someone, either the United States government (or occasionally British or French sources), come up with “evidence” that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons (WMD). All based on”reliable” sources on the ground in Syria: meaning Syrian Jihadi rebel sources. Possibly all of it corroborated by by reliable “allied” intelligence sources in some Persian Gulf kingdom, and maybe some Western reporter in Istanbul or Riyadh or even Beirut.

Could be true, the reports are accompanied with photos and video clips, which regime supporters claim are staged or doctored. But anything can happen in the bloody killing fields of Syria. Apparently somebody has been repeatedly playing with chemical weapons in (or over) some of the besieged Jihadi-held parts of Syria. This has been the pattern for several years, a pattern that started in recent years, as soon as the rebels began to lose ground to the Assad regime and its allies. Is the limited, alleged small-scale use of chemicals really helping the Assad regime that much? I doubt that it is worth the trouble nowadays, so I have doubts about it. It has now become like a matter of determining which came first: the chicken of the egg?

Usually the accusations (and retaliation) come after the alleged fact. This time the Trump White House claims that Assad is “thinking” or “planning” to use chemical weapons. Normally the losing side in a war is tempted to use chemical weapons, as Saddam Hussein’s Baathists used Western-supplied WMD against the Iranian forces and against Kurdish civilians during the 1980s. The winning side in a war rarely uses WMD, it has not happened since 1945.

Now Mr. Trump is getting involved deeper into a predictable Syrian quagmire, just as he is getting deeper into the certain Yemeni quagmire. Possibly both for a price to be paid by one or two oil potentates. And he is setting the stage to get the American media that he despises on his side.
His White House now claims they have foresight, that some bird must have told them Assad will use WMD soon. Perhaps along the eastern border with Iraq? Or maybe at one of the last strongholds of the Jihadis inside Syria. The New York Times reports that the new White House claim took US military leaders by surprise. National intelligence and even White House National Security officials refused to comment on the surprising and unprecedented statement by Sean Spicer. UN ambassador Nikki Haley was also reported yesterday to have threatened to hold Iran responsible if Assad uses chemical weapons, although it is not clear why she did not threaten Russia as well. (Hint: Russia, like North Korea, has nuclear weapons).

The question now is: how credible are any new allegations by the Trump White House these days? Especially about matters of war and peace, but not just those? A sign of the times, no? Sad….


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum