Friday, December 28, 2018

Trump's real suckers and the sucker punched

Donald Trump visiting the  troops over Christmas proclaimed a memorable line which will haunt him for years.   " We are no longer  the suckers of  the world." he declared to justify an order to  withdraw US troops from Syria. The real suckers  are those who believe that Trump's foreign policy is putting America First, when in reality it is making our adversaries stronger.  In tweeting the orders, he  blind sided and  sucker punched his own advisers who had tried to refrain  him from taking such a move..

The tweet was an abrupt  reversal of a prior policy and a slap in the face to his own national security advisers . In  their eyes withdrawal hurt  American national security interests and it gave a boost to the power of US adversaries, Russia and Iran, allowing them to increase their influence in the region at USA's  expense. The US national security advisers believed our effective allies, the Kurds, could not carry on  the fight without US air and US special forces' support. ISIS  may have lost the bulk of the territory they once controlled, but they were not defeated. They still had the knowhow and an appealing  ideology waiting for an opportunity to re-emerge.

 Trump's tweeted orders resulted in the exit from his administration of those who were considered the adults in the room and  who were keeping America safe from some of his worst impulses. Trump made the spur of the moment decision to withdraw from Syira in the middle of a telephone conversation with the President of Turkey,  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a dictator Trump  admires. Turkey views the US allies, the Kurds, as anti-Turk terrorists and a threat to their national security. Trump never bothered to give a heads up to the Secretary of Defense General James Mattis or the diplomat coordinating our allies' participation. Both Mattis and the diplomat quit.  Their advice was ignored and they could not in good conscience follow those orders.

Trump's timing and method of reversing policy may have been impulsive, but it should not have been a surprise. It was consistent with his  long held views. Trump's  policy wishes dated to his  campaign days. He often stated  foreign policy preferences were  to let Russia and Syria's President Assad take over the conflict.  Trump has  frequently indicated he was willing to lift sanctions and overlook Russia’s take over the Crimea. Weakening  NATO, a thorn in Russia's side, has also been Trump's goal. We do not know if Trump himself conspired with the Russians  to help him win in 2016.  That awaits Mueller's Special Counsel report. However, Mueller's  court filings reveal a Russia who took us for  suckers  by infiltrating , using and manipulating our media to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential campaign in order to elect a Russia friendly Trump.

Trump had always insisted  throughout the campaign and his presidency that the US has been taken for suckers for fighting for our allies who were unwilling to pay US for its assistance. He called that campaign plank “America First”. That helping allies  was in US national security interests was never a concept he understood or bought into. That it was better to fight our adversaries abroad instead of in the homeland did not concern him.  This isolationist viewpoint has surfaced before in our history. How did that work out?, These latter day American Firsters  believe isolationism will keep the US free of foreign control over our country. The lessons of post World War I exposed  the failure of isolationism, an American First movement that refused to provide the will or power to stop Hitler's rise.  Intentionally ignoring the threat of Japan contributed to the  Pearl Harbor surprise. would vote for Hillary Clinton.


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