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12 May 2019

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JJackson

What is happening with Trump's Syrian troop withdrawal? Someone seems to have spiked that order fairly effectively.

tony

I don't get it I suppose. I'd always thought that maybe you wanted highly opinionated Type A personalities in the role of privy council, etc. You know, people who could forcefully advocate positions in closed session meetings and weren't afraid of taking contrary positions. But I always figured you needed to keep the blowhards under cover so they wouldn't stick their feet in their mouths and that the public position jobs should go to the smoothies..You, know, diplomats who were capable of some measure of subtlety.
But these days it's the loudmouths who get these jobs, to our detriment. When will senior govt. leaders understand that just because a person is a success in running for Congress doesn't mean he/she should be sent forth to mingle with the many different personalities and cultures running the rest of the world? A clod like Bolton should be put aside and assigned the job of preparing position papers and a lout Like Pompeo should be a football coach at RoosterPoot U.

Castellio

Yes, you are. And we are grateful for the perseverance.

rho

"Once he’s committed to a war in the Mideast, he’s just screwed,"

Not only Trump, at the same time the swamp creatures risk losing control over the Democrat primaries, too. With a new major war in the Mideast, Tulsi Gabbard's core message of non-interventionism will resonate a lot more, and that will lower the chances of the corporate DNC picks. A dangerous gamble.

E Publius

Interesting post, thank you sir. Prior to this recent post I had never heard of Paul Mulshine. In fact I went through some of his earlier posts on Trump's foreign policy and I found a fair amount of common sense in them. He strikes me as a paleocon, like Pat Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts, Michael Scheuer, Doug Bandow, Tucker Carlson and others in that mold.
The other day I was thinking to myself that if Trump decides to dismiss Bolton or Pompeo, especially given how terrible Venezuela, NKorea, and Iran policies have turned out (clearly at odds with his non-interventionist campaign platform), who would he appoint as State Sec and NS adviser? and since Bolton was personally pushed to Trump by Adelson in exchange for campaign donation, would there be a backlash from the Jewish Republican donors and the loss of support? I think in both cases Trump is facing with big dilemmas. My best hope is that Trump teams up with libertarians and maybe even paleocons to run his foreign policy. So far Trump has not succeeded in draining the Swamp. Bolton, Pompeo and their respective staff "are" indeed the Swamp creatures and they run their own policies that run against Trump's America First policy. Any thoughts?

turcopolier

No. I would like to see highly opinionated Type B personalities like me hold those jobs. Type B does not mean you are passive. It means you are not obsessively competitive.

ex-PFC Chuck

What do you expect when the boss himself is a loud-mouthed blowhard?

jdledell

Keeping Bolton and Pompeo on board is consistent with Trump's negotiating style. He is full of bluster and demands to put the other side in a defensive position. I guess it was a successful strategy for him so he continues it. Many years ago I was across the table from Trump negotiating the sale of the land under the Empire State Building which at the time was owned by Prudential even though Trump already had locked up the actual building. I just sat there, immpassively, while Trump went on with his fire and fury. When I did not budge, he turned to his Japanese financial partner and said "take care of this" and walked out of the room. Then we were able to talk and negotiate in a logical manner and consumate a deal that was double Trump's negotiating bid. I learned later he was furious with his Japanese partner for failing to "win".

You can still these same traits in the way that Trump thinks about other countries - they can be cajoled or pushed into doing what Trump wants. If the other countries just wait Trump out they can usually get a much better deal. Bolton and Pompeo, as Blusterers, are useful in pursuing the same negotiation style, for better or worse, Trump has used for probably for the last 50 years.

Rick Merlotti

Tulsi for Sec of State 2020...

turcopolier

jdledell

I agree that this is Trump's style but what he does not seem to understand is that in using jugheads like these guys on the international scene he may precipitate a war when he really does not want one.

Outrage Beyond

Mulshine's article has some good points, but he does include some hilariously ignorant bits which undermine his credibility.

"Jose Gomez Rivera is a Jersey guy who served in the State Department in Venezuela at the time of the coup that brought the current socialist regime to power."

Wrong. Maduro was elected and international observers seem to agree the election was fair.

"Perhaps the biggest lie the mainstream media have tried to get over on the American public is the idea that it is conservatives, that start wars. That’s total nonsense of course. All of America’s wars in the 20th century were stared by liberal Democrats."

Korea? (Eisenhower)
Grenada? (Reagan)
Iraq? (Bush Sr.)

O'Shawnessey

So what exactly is Pussy John, then, just a Yosemite Sam-type bureaucrat with no actual portfolio, so to speak? I defer to your vastly greater knowledge of these matters, but at times it sure seems like they are pursuing a rear-guard action as the US Entity shrinks and shudders in its death throes underneath them, and at others it seems like they really have no idea what to do, other than engage in juvenile antics, snort some glue from a paper bag and set fires in the dumpsters behind the Taco Bell before going out into a darkened field somewhere to violate farm animals. If were Lavrov, what would I think to myself were I to find myself on the other side of a phone call from PJ or the Malignant Manatee?

Jack

I have seen this style of negotiations work on occasion. The most important lesson I've learned is the willingness to walk. I'm not sure that Trump's personal style matters that much in complex negotiations among states. There's too many people and far too many details. I see he and his trade team not buckling to the Chinese at least not yet despite the intense pressure from Wall St and the big corporations.

Having the neocons front & center on his foreign policy team I believe has negative consequences for him politically. IMO, he won support from the anti-interventionists due to his strong campaign stance. While they may be a small segment in America in a tight race they could matter. Additionally as Col. Lang notes the neocons could start a shooting match due to their hubris and that can always escalate and go awry. We can only hope that he's smart enough to recognize that. I remain convinced that our fawning allegiance to Bibi is central to many of our poor strategic decision making.

David Solomon

Colonel Lang, I know you will not do it, but if you were to run for President, you would certainly have my vote. While I often don't agree with you, I trust your integrity and your reasonableness. That is something I cannot say about Trump or most of his potential opponents.

turcopolier

O'Shaunessy - He is an adviser who has no power except over his own little staff. the president has the power, not Bolton.

rho

jdledell

Just out of curiosity: Did the deal go through in the end, despite Trump's ire? Or was Trump so furious with the negotiating result of his Japanese partner that he tore up the draft once it was presented to him?

jdledell

yes the deal went thru, if my memory is correct the price was something in the mid 40 million range. The complication was Trump made his Japanese partner( some kind of bigwig Hotel owner) actually purchase the land then Trump bought a majority interest in the land from the Japanese guy. I guess Trump did not want his name associated with a "losing' deal.

The Twisted Genius

I doubt Trump feels that strongly about avoiding a war. Nor does he feel strongly about starting a war. He probably relishes the idea of being a hero war president if given the opportunity. I think jdledell's story illustrates Trump's style perfectly. Bluster loudly in the opening round in the hope of scoring an immediate victory. If the opponent doesn't budge, walk away leaving subordinates to deal with the matter. If it works, seize the credit and adulation. If it turns into a losing deal, blame it on the subordinates and avoid blame himself. The art of the deal is garnering adulation while avoiding blame. Unfortunately, his subordinates in this care the likes of Bolton and Pompeo. It's a complete roll of the dice if we end up in a shooting war or not.

The Twisted Genius

oops. care = case

rho

jdledell

So Trump was quite furious for a while but did not do anything crazy or erratic. Not too bad, considering the alternatives we are worried about here.

rho

The Twisted Genius

You are a lot more pessimistic than I am but your view is consistent, too. I guess it ultimately depends on how Trump sees this war: Mostly an opportunity for profit and enhancement of his personal reputation? On the other hand, a lot of real estate gets destroyed in war (bad...) and people get killed, and he campaigned against such an idea as a candidate so he will piss off a lot of his base if he turns around on the issue now.

Nobody except the swamp dwellers and their propagandists seems to like Bolton and Pompeo, so maybe the idea is to let them have a try and get them fired when they fail?

Anonymous

See even you misjudged trumps true motives.it was a game for trump.put up no money and play the partner by walking away only to score later.ìranians will have to pay to play.upfront.

different clue

That all depends on the Iranians being willing to play Trump's game Trump's way on Trump's chose field of brain-battle. Is there any reason to think the Iranians would humor Trump in that manner?

This would be a fine time for some various DemParty Nomination seekers to promise to run on bringing America back into the JCPOA-as-written . . . if elected. That would give primary voters something specific to vote for in Primaries. If the IranGov saw such a resume-JCPOA candidate winning the Primaries, and especially then winning the DemPrezNom; the IranGov might delay its own " well-rip-up-the-agreement-then" decisions and moves to see how the US election plays out.

different clue

But if "their failure" takes the form of a War with Iran, then that would be a "success" from the Bolton-Pompeo point of view. If they can get a war started with Iran by getting their creatures in the field to stage enough Gliewitz Incidents that one finally sets off the war they desire; then Bolton-Pompeo would not mind being fired. They could leave their posts happy in the knowledge that " our work is done here".

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