Saturday 19 November 2016

Trump: Too early for Moscow to celebrate?

That is exactly what I have been thinking. Far too early for people in Moscow to start celebrating

    Still very happy Hillary will not be the next president. However, if Trump will allow back the neocons of the Washington cesspool, then he will ignite my wrath in a nanosecond.

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Is it too early for Russia to rejoice over President Trump?
Though Donald Trump has said many positive things about seeking better relations with Russia, the ability of any US president to change the direction of US foreign policy is open to debate.

Efe Tanay

17 November, 2016

For the eastern bloc of the world Donald Trump promises less conflict with his positive statements towards Russia. But how much of that positive rhetoric can actually be put into action?

When Obama got elected for his first term, there was hope; he said he was going to withdraw troops from the wars in the Middle East, close the Guantanamo Bay prison and more.

He actually had so much peace and positivity during the campaign that only 11 days after taking office the Nobel Prize Committee announced Obama as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

But the withdrawal from Afghanistan never took place and even after 8 years in power Obama sill hasn’t shut the doors of the Guantanamo Bay prison, against his own will – as many believe.

It has always been debatable how deeply a US President can shape international policies. As is known institutions like the CIA and the Pentagon have long term plans, independent of the presidents.

In his interview to The Wall Street Journal after winning the election, Donald Trump stated that he is likely to end the support for the rebels fighting the Syrian government, making it clear that he sees no profit in it for the US.

However as is known war is a profitable business for those few at the top.

There is a widespread belief that unlike Hillary Clinton Donald Trump has no connection to the military industrial establishment and that its warmongers can’t direct him.

However, it it is unlikely that those who have invested so heavily in the Syrian conflict are going to to let go so easily just because Trump is in the White House.

Former President Jimmy Carter stated in January 2016 that he would pick Trump over Ted Cruz, because Trump is so malleable.

If a former President of the United States thinks Trump is malleable, then there have to be others who are of the same opinion. Either willingly or through the pressure of events or circumstances, Trump might change his positive view of working with Russia.

Trump has spoken in a much more positive way about Russia than did Hillary Clinton. However it shouldn’t be forgotten that Trump is also on record as saying that the US might have to shoot down Russian warplanes approaching US military assets when Russian warplanes overfly US warships in international airspace close to the Russian border.

For the Russian side Trump promises a lot. He might play a role to end the two sided conflict in Syria, sanctions against Russia, tensions with NATO, and the Ukrainian conflict.

However, there are too many sides to Trump and too many powerful people opposed to such a rapprochement to make that a foregone conclusion.

CrossTalk: Donald and Vladimir

President-elect Donald Trump says he wants to improve relations with Russia. The Russian President Vladimir Putin tells us he agrees. What does it mean to have better relations and will the American foreign policy establishment allow this to happen?

CrossTalking with Daniel McAdams and Andrew Langer.

Trump's Main Foreign Policy Challenge Will Be to Keep Neocon Vipers at Bay (Podcast)

Originally appeared at Sputnik

18 November, 2016

In an interview earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that he would welcome President-elect Donald Trump as a 'natural ally' in the fight against terrorism. Asked to comment on Assad's remarks, founder Patrick Henningsen stressed that his hopes can be met, if Trump continues to maintain his independent streak.

In his interview for Portuguese television broadcaster RTP, Assad said that while "we cannot tell anything about what he [Trump] is going to do, but if, let's say if he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be an ally, a natural ally in that regard, [together] with the Russians, the Iranians, with many other countries who want to defeat the terrorists."

Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Henningsen explained that what Assad was talking about "is a potential realignment in foreign policy – a clean break from what has been the US policy for the last eight years, and even going back further than that, which is Washington's disregard for respecting the national sovereignty of countries – their aiming to overthrow governments through regime change and other deep state subterfuge activities led by the CIA and using partners like George Soros on the ground, and softening up countries to the point where destabilization could lead to regime change."

"This has been the Obama doctrine, unofficially anyway," the journalist explained, adding that "this is what we've seen in Ukraine and Syria. And you could argue that a few Arab Spring countries would fall into that category as well."

"So Bashar Assad is talking about the potential that this presidency might be looking at Syria as a nation state with some sort of respect, rather than looking at it as something to topple, and disintegrate, a la Libya, for instance." This, Henningsen stressed, would be a "complete overhaul in the philosophy of [US] foreign policy."
As far as Assad's suggestions that Russia, Iran, the US and other countries could join forces to face down the common threat of Islamist terrorism, the journalist said that it would be "a little more problematic," even if it would be "ideal."

"Donald Trump has made a number of statements on the campaign trail that equate with common sense, but as we assemble a cabinet in Washington, you have some characters on the periphery that the establishment would like to insert or embed. [Trump's win is seen as] an opportunity for some neo-conservative elements to get reenergized and get back in the game."

"Namely, we're looking at characters like John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani; these would be the war hawks, people who have called for the bombing of Iran – people who say that Iran is the world's number one state sponsor of terror – making statements like this that really come off a memo that's probably handed to them by the Israeli lobby."
"These sort of characters are involved financially in some ways and also politically very much aligned with Israel," Henningsen stressed, "so anything anti-Iran is going to feature in their rhetoric and belief system."

"That's a problem, because of Iran and their support of Syria, and the relationship with Russia and other countries, like China. This is going to be a constant source of problems, of conflicts of interests within the Trump cabinet."

Accordingly the journalist suggested that only time will tell how everything plays out. "If there is a complete realignment of US foreign policy, then they will be looking at Iran differently, but this rhetoric against Iran has been so deep and pervasive over the last many years in the US that it would be very hard for some politicians to walk back some of the outrageous statements [they have made]."
Asked whether President-elect Trump will be able to overcome these hurdles after stepping into office, Henningsen emphasized that thing the businessman has going for him is his independent streak.

"In Donald Trump you see an independent person in terms of a chief executive compared to the last two presidents, who came in with very little experience. George W. Bush had very little experience as a statesman, much less traveling outside the United States before he became president. Barrack Obama came in with less than one term as a US senator, completely wet behind the ears…Both of those presidents with little experience were basically surrounded by hand-picked people around them. They had no power base."

"This is different with Trump: he's used to being a CEO, making his own decisions; actually caring about making his own decisions. He doesn't have the political experience, but has a lot of experience as a decision maker – as a chief executive."

"So we'll have to see," Henningsen stressed. "It's going to be very difficult for him to maintain that air of common sense foreign policy with so many vipers in the nest. There are a lot of interests and a lot of big money in Washington that have a vested interest in seeing perpetual conflicts."

"Fake News" About Trump Continues Unabated

17 November, 2016

Clinton makes some twenty different issues or person responsible for her loss - everyone and everything except the DNC, her staff or herself. But a campaign that did just enough to get the states it thought it needed and not one bit more was going to lose no matter how much money it would spend. Shunning progressives and implausibly blaming Russia for her own mistakes did not help either. Clinton failed as a politician and presidential candidate. She just isn't good enough in those roles. It is as simple as that. But now another culprit responsible for her loss is rolled out. "Fake news" that somehow was not censored out of social networks.

But "fake news" was and is a daily occurrence even in major media. What were the "Saddam's WMDs" stories if not fake news? The Clinton campaign spread fake news about Sanders. The news about Clinton's email were (mostly) not fake even as she claimed otherwise.

My personal impression is that there was more fake news about Trump than about Clinton. The NYT, like most other mainstream media, was so much off from reality that its publisher now wrote a letter to request that staff "rededicate .. to the fundamental mission of .. journalism". He thereby admits that the NYT had failed as a news organization. 

But there is no rededication, neither in the NYT nor elsewhere, that I can see. The fairy tales about and around Trump seem not to stop for a minute. It will be claimed in top headlines that Trump will make John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani Secretary of State, lunatic Frank Gaffney will be his advisor. Trump wants security clearances for his children! Of course hardly any the active promoters of such nonsense will put the official denials of these lies on top of their pages or mention them at all. Poltico today told me that Wall Street is celebrating the Trump win, implying that Clinton would have been much better. Trump received some $5 million in donations from the finance sector, Clinton received $105 million - guess why.

Trump wants to abandon a No-First-Strike policy for U.S. nuclear weapons is one current scare (650 retweets!). That is a policy the U.S. never-ever had. Obama, like Clinton, rejected a NFS policy. How could Trump abandon it?
Trumps wants to register all Muslims? The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System was introduced in 2002 and only applied to visitors and residents from majority Muslim countries. In 2011 the system was phased out because it was "redundant" - some other system currently holds the data of mostly Muslim in the U.S.  The no-fly-lists are largely lists of Muslim - even four years old ones. Obama waged drone war in seven countries and bombed five. All were majority Muslim. So what please could Trump actually do to Muslim people that would be worse than what Bush or Obama have done?

Trump is a racist and his voters are white supremacists is a fake news claim that is still rolled out on a daily base. The facts do not support it. If they were true why did he get more votes from blacks and hispanics than Romney or McCain?

Why not take Trump for what he is? A fast talking salesman, born too rich, but politically a centrist who long supported Democrats and who will simply continue the political path Clinton, Bush and Obama created and walked before him. There is some hope that he will be less "globalist", neoconned and belligerent in his foreign policy but that still needs to be proven. On many of his announced policies there will likely be more Democrats in Congress supporting him than Republicans.

The man should be attacked on his politics and policies whenever that is justified. There will plenty such opportunities, especially with his economic and tax plans. Instead we get a daily dose of fake news about Trump this or that and one scare story after the other.

Is it so difficult, or even impossible, for journalists and media to "rededicate" themselves from feverish pro-Clinton and anti-Trump advocates back to (semi-)serious reporting?

That would be bad news for everyone.

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