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04 January 2018


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I'm amused at how many people still buy the "Trump has a plan" canard. It reminds me of how many people - even including many so-called "antiwar" types - who continued to believe Obama's "Change You Can Believe In" nonsense eight years in, no matter how many times he proved there would be no change.

Not buying it.

For one thing, a motormouth like Trump can't possibly conceal his plans. Foreign policy is not a business plan that you can hide from your competitors by printing it on copy-resistant paper. If Trump has any kind of "plan", we would know it by now because he would be tweeting it daily.

Instead, everyone is playing psychologist, behavioral psychologist, or forensic psychologist - or maybe reading entrails - trying to figure out what his plan is. If it's that hard, I submit it's because there is no plan, not that he is some sort of genius who can conceal it right up to the moment when it stands revealed in all its glory.

I continue to believe that Trump is merely play-acting at being President and is allowing his "advisers" to run the government until his time runs out and he can go back to making real money by waving the cache of having been President.

And his advisers suck and intend war with North Korea and Iran.

If he can't even fire the bozos who are running an intelligence operation against him, how is he going to stop the rest of these clowns from starting more wars?

It's delusional. There is no disentanglement strategy - and if there were, someone would assassinate him to prevent it - or at least make sure it failed, which wouldn't be hard to do, especially if he really is going against the tide of the rest of the government.

The other issue I have with all this is the reliance of many otherwise thinking people on the 24-hour news cycle as a predictor of future events. Any time someone in the Administration makes a random statement - that invariably contradicts what they said last week - everyone starts talking like it's a sea change in policy. Actions speak louder than words and I've seen nothing being acted on as any major change in US policy toward anything.

No where is this clearer than the policy towards Iran. If you want to avoid "foreign entanglement" in the Middle East starting a war with Iran wouldn't be my first choice in policy. Giving Jerusalem to the Israelis has clearly been refuted as a rational decision by virtually everyone in the world except Trump believers.

And of course we have yet to see any change in regards to North Korea. The only reason it's relatively quiet now is: 1) NK hasn't set off another nuke - yet, or launched another missile - yet; 2) NK and SK may be trying to get negotiations going; and 3) US/SK military drills will resume after the Olympics because no one wants a war in the North Korean winter or in the middle of Olympic games. Wait and see what happens in the spring...before predicting Trump has some "grand plan" to resolve that issue.

Peter AU

I wonder if the Trump strategy on Iran has as much or more to do with MAGA and kick starting the US oil industry than Israel?
Trump has just opened up most of the US continental shelf for exploration. US out reaching just under ten thousand barrels a day according to a recent Reuters report. High oil prices would kick the US oil industry into top gear and be detrimental to China.


But it means he can do all the rest while the Washington Borg thinks he's doing what real men do - going to Tehran.


It may also relate to the development of the gas fields of the Eastern Mediterranean where I believe Gazprom has a presence.

This too. But nobody in Russia has any illusions on largely Sunni arc of instability across Maghreb either. Pretty much all Southern Med is or may become destabilized and that involves scenarios of large jihadist groups (or even armies) reappearing together with their claims to whatever will be the fad then--Caliphate or whatever else they will come up with. This requires an "emergency" naval force capable to support legitimate governments before "cavalry" (if need be) arrives or legitimate forces properly trained and supplied. Yes, almost Syria scenario. And then, there is an issue of Europe, which still transcends just geopolitical considerations. There are, certainly, a Christian ones at play here in Russia. Putin DID voice a concern about it. In the end, by 2030, Tartus may house a carrier and amphibious battle group of Russian Navy, granted that appropriate decision on construction of an appropriate (I stress this) new carrier will be made. I see no reasons to doubt it. For now, amphibious component will be made of Ivan Gren landing ships once they pass trials.


And the Biden family was represented on the board of a Ukrainian gas corporation:


Patrick Armstrong

Some where in this photo are the so-called leaders of Ukraine. Can you find them? Does it matter whether you can?


I am cautiously of the same opinion you hold.

One of Trump's strengths is deflection. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem has been official US policy for how long, again? Subject to waivers by the US President. What was the most recent Senate vote on recognizing Jerusalem, something like 90-0? Well, Trump seems to have said, if that's what you want . . . .

The cruise missile strikes on Syria really disheartened me . . . for about 24 hours. Then I looked around, noticed it had all the earmarks of a one off, essentially meaningless strike, and started to cheer up.

The GOP spent seven years saying Obamacare had to go. Trump essentially bounced it back on the establishment and said, "Have at it." Gee, nothing much changed. The establishment GOP was shown to be all bluff and blather, with no real plan.

DACA? It sure looks as if he's slow walking it to nowhere, and now the immigrant lobbies are busily hating on Democrats for not forcing a government shutdown over DACA.

A lot of awfully smart people disagree with me on this subject, but I really think he's playing misdirection at a masterful level while accomplishing key objectives under the radar. Who knows?

In my most secret of hearts I keep thinking, "Only Trump could go to Teheran" but, like I say, I could be a fool.

Patrick Armstrong

As to Syria strike see this https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2017/04/12/the-us-missile-strike-on-syria-a-theatrical-production-for-the-simple-minded/
As for Trump's misdirection, manipulation, control of the discussion see Scott Adam's blog


The Twisted Genius said...

'He cares nothing about these places or people and that's actually a good thing. He has no ideological reason to remain."

perhaps as a business man he sees the writing on the wall. dollar hegemony is on the fall. (Pak just switched over to CYN). with the expectation of much higher inflation, the deficit could become the final nail. so why not close down on the over seas mis-adventures before the fan kicks in. "perhaps" even his iran hardline is just to get the 'crazies' in DC some appetite to salivate for now.. whilst he gets the zios to open their coffers and provide him the support.


Just wait. If there is further breakdown in Ukraine, if Poland (and Hungary) start having pretensions towards Ukraine (not unlikely considering the governments) then people in Germany will start to remember what actually happened at the end of the war in these former German territories. It is certainly no coincidence that among the leading lights of the new right in Germany there are disproportionally many who are descendants of expellees. Alice Weidel being the most prominent among them. In her case (and certainly in others) it is this family history which has played a decisive role in her political development. All this is below the surface now but might erupt in the future if things continue to deterioate. Finally let us not forget Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsberg. This issue is not solved as well. Unless and until Russia is truly integrated into a new European security system this problem will continue to fester.


No real chance that there will any problems.

Well, yes, Ulenspiegel. It's a funny idea. ...

But from an insider perspective. Semi-irony-alert: What is Erika Steinbach doing lately?


Grudinin is low-key burzhuj, who began his political career in the United Russia, then he became a member of Zhirinovsky’s LDPR, and now – this. He did enough to sank his chances (not high to begin with) by making several statements on the TV and in the press:

- Admired Mikhail Saakashvili/
- Called A. Navalny’s brother Oleg a “hostage”
- Called Kurils “the Japanese islands”

If anything, Grudinin would underperform, leading to Zhirik – finally! – scoring the second place.

P.S. Mr. Armstrong, are you aware of the… racial and scientific leaning of one A. Karlin whom you, apparently, hold in so much esteem? Also – do you know of his collaborations with “Sputnik&Pogrom”?


“Finally let us not forget Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsberg. This issue is not solved as well. Unless and until Russia is truly integrated into a new European security system this problem will continue to fester.”

What a load of BS. The issue was sealed once and for all in 1945 by the old principle of Vae Victis. Germany and, yes, Poland, were the loser states so they had to endure the will of the Winners. No amount of whining will change that, because the post-1945 territorial distribution laid the ground for the whole post-1945 world order. There is literally no desire to unwrap it now. And so – no “Koenigsberg problem”. There is “West vs Russia” problem.

Patrick Armstrong

I have met AK, corresponded with him for a long time. I read a lot of what he writes and don't always agree. On Russia (Russia) that's Russia, I regard him as in the best of the best.
I believe in free speech, the exchange of ideas rationally argued and sourced without pre-assigned limits.

Patrick Armstrong

A lot of Europe's present borders are vae victis. Indeed, which are not?
The other fancy Latin term telling us that war does actually settle things especially borders is "uti possidetis"


I’m pretty sure the Russians have decided against a US style Carrier Force, they st8ll retain an interest in the two Mistral class currently being operated b6 Egypt and have initiated a home bu8ld programme as per these links.

Russian MoD: First LHD Amphibious Assault Ship to be Built in Russia by 2022 - Navy Recognition
www.navyrecognition.com › defence-news

Russian Large Landing Ship (BDK) - GlobalSecurity.org
https://www.globalsecurity.org › russia
6 Aug 2017 · With its new amphibious warship, known as Priboy ("Surf"), the Defense Ministry plans to replace the Mistral-class helicopter carriers that France failed to deliver to Russia. For now, the ship is ...


Love your shoutout,

or maybe reading entrails

I belong to the category watching entrails. And based on that seem to be pretty bored on both the professional and hobby psychologist.


There is indeed a Kaliningrad problem. You might not be aware of it but the inhabitants cannot just travel to neighbouring countries anymore without a visa. The territory is accessible only by a thin corridor and steadily losing population. It is not self sustaining in any way. It is a ward of the Russian state and has to be permanently subsidised. Again a not very stable situation. I am not saying that this problem is pressing in any way. But if there is greater instability within Russia for any number of reasons, then problems may arise. Exclaves tend to create exactly such problems. Ironically East Prussia had the same role before the second world war. Again it might stay quiet and nothing happens. But let us hope that Ukraine stabilises. If not IMO all bets are.

Malachy Smyth

I don’t think Karlin’s racial/scientific views are much different than, let’s say, mainstream guys like Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at U. of Toronto and formerly of Harvard. Karlin’s a relatively young guy who went to Cal-Berkeley and was in Silicon Valley. You might not like his views but he’s one of the most scientifically literate and smart guys blogging on HBD, Russia, Europe, et al.


Revising borders drawn by the victors of the WW2 would mean revising the atermath of the WW2. Now, who is willing to conceded to that?

Patrick Armstrong

I used to think it was just pedantry that Russians/Sovs referred to their carriers and "aircraft carrying cruisers". But they are something different: Kuznetsov carries a lot of weaponry in addition to its aircraft so it can, to some extent, operate independently. A US carrier has almost no defence and needs to depend on other ships. These are two quite different approaches to lugging FWA around the oceans.

Babak Makkinejad

Just like Gibraltar, Kaliningrad can be indefinitely supported by the Russian Federation. Ukraine will not survive in its current configuration, there might remain a tiny country called so, entirely based on old Galicia.


Mr. Armstrong, are you aware of the… racial and scientific leaning of one A. Karlin whom you, apparently, hold in so much esteem?

Karlin is a classic representative of a HBD community--nothing wrong with that. People are free to have their ideological and racial leanings. How much real science is behind this I don't know. Karlin's issues are completely from different "field", especially if one considers his utter ignorance of Russian history and being completely detached from geopolitical and military reality of Russia, which is expected from a product of US West Coast "education" in some "humanities" field. It is also expected from a very young man.

Babak Makkinejad

Nah, it is willful ignorance. Even in Cow Colleges in US, the faculty is of high caliber; if one has any intellectual curiosity, one can learn a lot.


Nah, it is willful ignorance

I don't know, Babak. My latest (among very many) communications with Princeton Ph.D in Russian-American Relation, no less, left me scratching my head when he was stunned with the fact that Soviet Air Force of 1945 was the largest tactical-operational air force in history with combat experience to back it up. He thought that if Allies wanted to--they would end up in Moscow in December of 1945.

if one has any intellectual curiosity, one can learn a lot.

It depends. My book (which should see the light sometime this year) is precisely on that--curiosity is not enough, one has to have a background, and a serious one. I could be very curious on open heart surgery, it doesn't mean I can perform one.

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