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05 June 2017


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Col. -- Did you see this in Slate? The fact that Trump disregarded his team does not bode well for any form of "policy." New, old, or off-the-wall. This will keep the military leaders up at night...right?


robt willmann

Something new as well is that Saudi Arabia and others have, at least on the surface publicly, broken ties with Qatar, as of yesterday or today: "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut relations with Qatar in a coordinated move. Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined in later."--


Saudi Arabia says that it "has decided to sever diplomatic and consular relations with the State of Qatar, close all land, sea and air ports, prevent crossing into Saudi territories, airspace and territorial waters, and start immediate legal procedures for understanding with fraternal and friendly countries and international companies to implement the same procedure as soon as possible for all means of transport to and from the State of Qatar for reasons relating to Saudi national security."


A recent rumor is that in Yemen, on the Arabian peninsula, there were clashes between the Saudi Arabian military or its associates, and the military of Qatar, in Aden, on the southwestern coast of Yemen on the Gulf of Aden, but I have not seen confirmation of it--



At least McMaster & Cohn can articulate a clear argument. Lotsa clean-up required after the circus parade.
I don't find their pov to be new news. When has competitive mercantilism been out of favor? Globalist private enterprise has not given it up... nor will they, even as the Buy Local Movement proceeds. Is there really a contradiction between Ginormous Global Enterprise and Cute Stove Craftworks? Are they not distinct models for distinct markets? I see manipulating of populist angst for political gain more than real change in the Way Things Work in the Modern World. As long as folks are happy, I'm all for it.


Good, too many of his advisers are morons and should be disregarded as much as possible. He should trust his instincts.


Fareed Zakaria's father, Rafiq Zakaria was for many years a high-up in the Indian National Congress, close to Nehru and Mrs Gandhi, several years an MP, and representative of India at the UN. He seemed a decent sort, from what I remember of the time. That nasty, time-serving son of his, must take these traits from his mother perhaps.



I'm curious what role Gary Cohn, previously President of Goldman Sachs, is playing in Trump's administration.

When I read this oped when it was first published I thought this was cover for the big arms deal with the Saudis. On reflection not sure what it means in terms of tangible actions and who is driving policy strategy at the White House.

Then this story about break in relations between Qatar and the Saudis. What is the real back story here?



The father appears to be pretty well documented, with a number of books on Islam and Indian politics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafiq_Zakaria


When I read that op-ed I lauded Trump's honesty:

The U.S. has done no different than what he says he wants to do. It had only covered it up with talk of "human rights", "common values" and lots of other empty words. Threats were made and carried out in the dark by the CIA and a myriad of "NGOs" and proxy figures. Coups were arranged, even in "western" countries, and then papered over and forgotten.

I am happy when that behavior comes out into the open. Large parts of the CIA and the other entities (NED, RFE/RL) that have lived off the scam will of course dislike it.

Local politicians in Europe and elsewhere will now have to take responsibility instead of hiding behind U.S. "leadership". A great win for mankind when seen from my perspective.

The Beaver


As far as I remember reading (when he was caught for plagiarism) father was an Indian politico and a religion theologian (or something to that effect)
From Wikipedia:




From the URL of the link you supplied, it appears that the article was sourced from Huffington Post and Medium. So, rather unsurprising that it adopted the tone that it did.

What is truly surprising to me was that they didn't manage to include some innuendo concerning his "tiny hands" in this Chicken Little excrescence.

That we are may not all be incinerated in some Götterdämmerung brought on by a false flag staged in Estonia is actually a relief to me, and I rather suspect, to large numbers of citizens of European members of NATO. It is often said that "The Constitution is not a suicide pact"; I think it equally desirable that our membership in NATO not be a suicide pact. But with NeoCons and Russophobes (some of whom are involved in high levels in the current national security "team") doing their damnedest to maneuver our nation into a Showdown at High Noon with Russia, I am rather pleased that the unconditional affirmation of "the so-called Article 5 provision" was stricken from the speech. But of course, if you subscribe to the "thousands of Russian hackers" theory of Hillary's loss, you probably find this odious. À chacun son goût.

robt willmann

Regarding Trump's recent NATO speech, this article from the Politico website claims that a part of his speech that supposedly reaffirmed the Article 5 intervention part of the NATO treaty was removed by Trump himself: "... the president also disappointed — and surprised — his own top national security officials by failing to include the language reaffirming the so-called Article 5 provision in his speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode."--


Politico has an obvious slant on things, and reached out in the article to Strobe "I Am a Citizen of the World" Talbott to criticize Trump's exclusion of the Article 5 language. My thought was that Hillary Clinton would likely nominate Talbott to be Secretary of State had she won the election.



Your hatred for the US is impressive. pl


indignation seems to me closer to it
thanks for letting differring voices have their say


Trump cuts a $450b deal with Saudis, ISIS getting it handed to them in Syria, and now this.

This is a far-reaching cutting of ties. Seems to me that the pressure on Iran is about to be ratcheted up significantly, and perhaps Qatar didn't want any part of it given their proximity and vulnerability in a hot war.

Not sure what the back story is here but I think I've seen enough and need to start buying some oil futures!

Mark Logan


FT has a piece which claims Qatar earned their place on the Saudi S-list by paying about $700 million to Shia militias which were holding a couple dozen Qatari princelings in Iraq. The princelings are reported to have been snatched in Iraq while on a "hunting trip". Someone educate me on Iraq safaris. Sounds positively thrilling!



Old thing. Don't know how long you have been here but "b" has been bitching about the US on SST for about ten years. pl


Jersey, I did miss the source. Politico not Slate. Sorry, my bad. You can scoff all you want but consider the morale issues. I don't know what line of work you are in but how would you respond if your boss walked into a major meeting and completely changed your agreed upon approach? And what if he did that routinely? Would you stay? Would anyone -- other than a shill -- stay?

Today's news brings more of the same -- Trumps Justice Department is defending his travel restrictions before several courts (including the Supremes) and what does "the boss" do? Completely undermine their argument ON HIS BEHALF by stating the policy IS A BAN and NOT STRONG ENOUGH. This has to be pretty demoralizing to those attorneys. It's like having the worst client ever!


I think this is a desirable first step, but only a first step.

The trouble with US foreign policy, to a large degree, is not that other countries and non-state actors around the world are "competitors," per se, but many of them are parasites--they may compete, but they compete for the right to con and to steal from whoever that is gullible enough to leave valuable assets exposed, and often, it is us. Ditching the do-gooderism, often no more than excuse for giving warlords, cheats, and global conmen millions and billions in aid so as to assuage the multiculturalist guilt of our overinsulated elites, is a good thing. But changing the metaphor from that of "community" to an "arena" seems as misguided as before: we are not "competing" with many of the globalist bozos and their foreign friends, no more than a farmer does with rats.

different clue


If the TrumpAdmin contains people who reject Free Trade as a concept, and wish to position America for eventual abrogation and rejection of all the Free Trade Agreements going all the way back to GATT Round One if necessary in order to repatriate America's production-held-captive in foreign countries; then our policy is set for a genuine actual shift.

For the last few decades, the American Government served the International Free Trade Conspiracy against the American people. If the TrumpAdmin and future Admins which come after it reverse course and decide to support the American people against the International Free Trade Conspiracy, that will be a genuine reversal.

Ideally, it would mean repatriating as much production of as much of everything as possible and exporting as little as necessary in order to import the least and lowest amount of imports which we can not absolutely abolish completely. Ideally, the United States will become a NON TRADING nation. If we could achieve that, you would experience it as a change. Whether you would like it or not would not be my concern.


The fact that Trump's World view is essentially Hobbesian should not be news to anyone except the purest of snowflakes. However, the schoolboy 'you are either with us or against us' tone of the piece does appear to me to be somewhat self-defeating. There is a new kid on the block and this crass ally bullying comes across as ever-so-slightly desperate.

McMaster and Cohn want to be friends only with "those societies that share our interests" (America First, presumably - so rather few, I guess). And notice "interests" not "values".

Yes, removing the veneer of moral leadership and replacing it with explicitly transnational terms of partnership is going to change things. Former allies may now calculate that either 1) they need to go it alone (Germany) or 2) if forced to choose, they are better off throwing it their lot with China (ASEAN countries & maybe Japan). Either way I find it hard to see how articulating this ethos in such a way will ultimately "...extend American influence around the World", I'd expect it to do the exact opposite. But, I agree, it will probably be a hit with the good people of Plainfield, CT.


Israeli news site Walla adds some perspectives to the Qatar quashing. (trans):

....."Along with all this, it is worth pausing on what appears to be a perfectly coordinated move with the White House. The Donald Trump administration is in no hurry to join the Saudi round on Qatar, but it can be assumed that such a move was made by Washington. The new wind blowing from the US administration, including Trump's warm embrace of Riyadh, apparently gave the Saudi king the feeling that the time had come to liquidate accounts with the Qatari "fifth column" - a Sunni state that has done quite a bit to attack and even undermine its neighbors in the Gulf.

The move was apparently fabricated with the knowledge of Washington.

And it is impossible without the Israeli-Palestinian context: The electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip is more difficult than ever, and it was Qatar that helped solve it six months ago, with its agreement to finance the fuel for the Gaza power plant. However, Qatar now refuses to do so, even though the amount required is not considered an expense that the Qatari Treasury will not be able to meet. Doha is working to distance itself from Hamas in order to improve its image somewhat. Thus, several Hamas military wing leaders, Salah al-'Urri and Musa Dodin, have been expelled from Qatar in recent days, known for their ties to terrorist cells in the West Bank.

One can guess that this move was also done not only because of Israeli pressure, but also because of some American demand. But these cosmetic procedures are too little and too late. Qatar, which for years tried to act as a Western business partner, has invested tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in terrorist organizations that have hit the West and Israel at every opportunity. Now, it seems that the Qataris will have to find out the price of the fickle conduct of the royal family in Doha."

In a JPost article today, a new challenger for leadership of the Labor party (and >Bibi) MK Omer Bar-Lev, is also linking to direct pressure from the Trumpettes in pushing the

....."The Sunni countries' decision to disconnect from Qatar will have a dramatic influence on Israel, Labor leadership candidate Omer Bar Lev said Monday, echoing Liberman's assessment.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen severed their ties with the wealthy Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Bar Lev, who was a colonel in the IDF, said the Sunni states took action due to pressure from US president Donald Trump, and Israel will soon have to do the same.

"The Arab world is marching to Trump's flute, and soon Netanyahu's government will also have to justify the 3.8 billion dollars in American military aid and folow his orders," Bar Lev said. 'The right-wing government is waiting in panic for the American initiative, which is the only possible diplomatic horizon. In light of Trump's initiative, it is only a matter of time before the security vacuum will end.'

Bar Lev said Qatar fuels Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist terror groups while also giving money that goes through Israel for rehabilitaing Gaza.

"It is better that Qatar go through Israel rather than becoming a laboratory for terror," he said.".....

The recent revelations via hacked UAE Amb Otaibi's uber-cozy relationship with Kushner and the administration-embedded Iran (and of late, Qatar) obsessed think tank FDD suggest that Qatari non-compliance in that arena is the prime mover in smashing Qatar's notions of sovereignty.


I saw the op ed and was going to write it up, but events intervened. My take on the editorial and President Trumps speech to NATO members as well as his Paris Climate accord withdrawal, is that they are "unfortunate" for America as a whole. By that I mean that the attitudes expressed, if not walked back, do not advance American interests at all. Instead, they will cost jobs and create new and expensive foreign policy headaches. What Trump and his advisors have done, in a fit of emotional hubris, is to create the conditions for an anti - American alliance to form as well as starting the process of driving the non American people of the world in that direction. President Macron of France sums this direction up perfectly: "make the planet great again".

On one level, Cohn and Mc Master are stating the obvious; the world is an arena in which nations compete tooth and claw for resources and power, this is as it should be. However there is another level that Trump and his advisers appear to have failed totally and completely to understand and accordingly have trampled. That is the level where nations collaborate together to manage risk in all its forms.

Simple examples? The refusal of President Trump to enumerate NATO Article 5 increases perceived risks to European countries that they may have to fight alone. While this may have the desired effect of getting them to increase defence spending, in my opinion it is difficult to see how that increase will not be spent on local production, so no jobs for Americans from that avenue. Furthermore a growth in European self defence capability is going to automatically reduce American influence on European foreign policy. Europe for example may not wish to hate Russia as much as America seems to want to. Do we want that? What is the risk of Europe acting independently of American strategic interests, for example, in the Arctic?

Then of course there is the little matter of how we might wish to advance the cause of Nuclear non proliferation. If America cannot be relied on, why wouldn't Germany, Japan, South Korea and Australia start thinking about acquiring their own nuclear deterrents? How is that reducing risk of nuclear confrontation?

On the public level, which of course billionaires of all political persuasions ignore, President Trump and his advisors are perceived to have thumbed their noses at the rest of the world by their "America first and devil take the hindmost" attitude to climate change and industry development. It is important to explain here that this is not a matter of the rights and wrongs of climate science which may well be debatable, it is about the worlds perception that the Trump Administration doesn't give Two hoots for the risk to the rest of the planet. What Trump has done is given permission to the people of the world to hate America and their are plenty of ideologues that can be counted on to use the evidence provided to grind this axe. Doesn't this increase the risk that nations are going to elect Governments that are not friendly to American interests?

As for American jobs and industry development, President Trumps alleged comments about the German auto industry sales success in the US are pathetic. The Germans make damn fine cars and people will buy them. I have experienced industry protection as I grew up in Australia. The ONLY effects of industry protection are featherbedding rotten management and unions,, a decline in R&D and new investment and an increasing cost burden on the rest of the economy from the free riders. To put that another way, 30% tariffs on Asian steel imports may feel good if you are a steel worker, but what about all the American manufacturers who just saw their steel raw material costs increase by 30%???? How is Trump going to manage the increased GLOBAL business risk and the inevitable reduction in GLOBAL business investment that inevitably follows? How attractive does the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) look now compared to remaining in the American economic sphere?

I note in passing that Trumps disavowal of the Paris Climate accord protects Virginia coal miners and their bosses, but how many jobs are going to be lost , or will never be created locally? I was taught by an American businessman that pollution is wasted money. The least polluting company is the most profitable. Wouldn't you run your business , your house and your car on free energy from sunlight if you could? Where is the virtue in burning coal and oil? What is the risk that solar powered economies are going to outstrip fossil fuel based systems?

Now for the disclaimer. You can all label me as an America hater and say "screw you and the horse etc., etc." but I really mean what I say. President Trumps actions are not in the best interest of the USA. While I am not an HRC supporter, President Trump is also a disappointment. He is playing to the grandstands, he forgets hubris and nemesis. He does not understand that the rest of the world can make more trouble for America than America can make for the rest of the world.

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;
For an early exposition on “Globalization”, may I recommend “The Disappointments Of War” section of Freud’s essay “Reflections On War And Death” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35875/35875-h/35875-h.htm) written about WW-I.Here is an excerpt:
“Trusting to this unity of civilized races countless people left hearth and home to live in strange lands and trusted their fortunes to the friendly relations existing between the various countries. And even he who was not tied down to the same spot by the exigencies of life could combine all the advantages and charms of civilized countries into a newer and greater fatherland which he could enjoy without hindrance or suspicion... The new fatherland was to him also a museum, filled with the treasure that all the artists of the world for many centuries had created and left behind. While he wandered from one hall to another in this museum he could give his impartial appreciation to the varied types of perfection that had been developed among his distant compatriots by the mixture of blood, by history, and by the peculiarities of physical environment. Here cool, inflexible energy was developed to the highest degree, there the graceful art of beautifying life, elsewhere the sense of law and order, or other qualities that have made man master of the earth….

The enjoyment of this common civilization was occasionally disturbed by voices which warned that in consequence of traditional differences wars were unavoidable even between those who shared this civilization. One did not want to believe this, but what did one imagine such a war to be like if it should ever come about? No doubt it was to be an opportunity to show the progress in man's community feeling since the days when the Greek amphictyonies had forbidden the destruction of a city belonging to the league, the felling of her oil trees and the cutting off of her water supply. It would be a chivalrous bout of arms for the sole purpose of establishing the superiority of one side or the other with the greatest possible avoidance of severe suffering which could contribute nothing to the decision, with complete protection for the wounded, who must withdraw from the battle, and for the physicians and nurses who devote themselves to their care. With every consideration, of course, for noncombatants, for the women who are removed from the activities of war, and for the children who, when grown up, are to become friends and co-workers on both sides. And with the maintenance, finally, of all the international projects and institutions in which the civilized community of peace times had expressed its corporate life.”

In Freud’s global world, civilization was for “the great ruling nations of the white race”. He expected that: “there would be wars between primitive and civilized nations and between those divided by color, as well as with and among the partly enlightened and more or less civilized peoples of Europe… (but) We expected that…the leaders of mankind…would find some other way of settling their differences and conflicting interests.” He then observes that in reality things turned out different: “(This new war) is at least as cruel, bitter, and merciless as any earlier war... It hurls down in blind rage whatever bars its way, as though there were to be no future and no peace after it is over…” In essence Freud states that, in complete contrast to his earlier expectations, “civilized states” and “individuals of the highest culture” could and did exhibit extreme “brutal behavior”. He then goes ahead and states that to live in civilized society requires one to suppress these elemental impulses, and thus become a “ hypocrite”, stating further that “There are therefore more civilized hypocrites than truly cultured persons”.

It seems that, for whatever reason, Trump is less of a hypocrite when compared to traditional "elites". Freud suggests psychotherapy to deal w/ hypocrites. I do not think this would work with the current bunch.

Ishmael Zechariah


Thanks for this pithy view. "those societies that share our America-First interests."

I wonder just how violently US FP will enforce this new regimen--should it ever get totally on track?

John LeDell

I don't understand why people think our current trade deficit is such a huge problem that it's okay for Trump to anger our allies and other countries of the world. Our current trade deficit with the entire world is about $750 billion, with China responsible for half of the deficit.

The $750 billion trade deficit represents 4% of our GDP, or 2% without China. Blowing up free trade will create a lot of problems. First, inflation will increase as consumers pay more for goods that were formerly relatively cheap.With unemployment a little over 4%, how confident are we that we can find workers to make the $2.1 trillion in goods we previously imported. Given that consumers don't have a ton of extra money, can they afford to buy $2.1 trillion in goods with inflated prices.

Our top exports are computers,electronic stuff, cars, and oil. How much more of this type of product can the US consumers purchase. There can be negative results if we get into another Smoot-Hawley tariff fight.

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