Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June 4, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Trump vs. the War Hawks: How Will He Deal with their Advice? Pat Buchanan Writes

I pass on two more thoughtful and probing Patrick Buchanan columns today. Both resonate beyond the words Pat puts down succinctly on paper. As he points out, President Donald Trump ran on an often-stated platform of “America First,” a platform and agenda that very clearly declared that all the world’s problems were not our problems, that globalism and the Neoconservative zeal to impose American-style managerial democracy on every benighted faraway oasis and jungle in the world was foolhardy and strategically disastrous to our national interests.
Donald Trump won, amazingly and against all the bookmakers in Las Vegas, on that promise and that platform. But, as Pat points out, it seems that the Inside-the-DC-Beltway Neocon internationalists just never go away and never give up. Despite being in many cases bitterly Never Trump prior to Trump’s nomination, as soon as he was the GOP candidate, and even more after he was elected, they swarmed around him, cooing like turtle doves and vowing eternal fidelity, if he would just name them to some high and important positions in his new administration.
And in far too many cases that is exactly what happened.
Over the past three years some who supported Donald Trump from the beginning, who championed his “America First” agenda, and his more populist promises, began to scratch their heads: why would he name such apparatchiks with apparently contrary views to his administration?
Perhaps the best explanation has to do with the president’s own business background and his real lack of political experience in the intricate, back-stabbing shark tank known as Washington DC. As a successful businessman and entrepreneur the president is accustomed to dealing forthrightly with people: you promise me you will do this, so I expect you to do it. I don’t necessarily know of (or care about) all the skullduggery you may have engaged in; I take your word when you pledge to work with and for me.
Then, of course, there has always been the incentive to somehow unify the Republican Party, and since Donald Trump comes at that as an outsider, he has been dependent to a large degree on GOP advisors and counselors already in place, whether Reince Priebus or Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan.
Lastly, we should not discount the input from members of his family, from Jared Kushner and from Ivanka, whose views on some issues vary from those of the president.
In it all, despite Donald Trump’s obvious strengths, there is also a certain trusting naivete’ that manifests itself at times when dealing with sly and calculating politicians. He does learn, however, and in a way it is his own instincts that enable him sometimes to avoid problems and to resist the advice of some of the advisors that he, himself, has put in place.
Thus, even if he may be his own worst enemy on occasion, he is usually the only one capable, instinctively, of getting himself out of such situations…if he realizes what is happening.
For many of his supporters this can be frustrating; the realization that the Deep State can attach itself like maggots to even the best-intentioned figure should serve as a sobering reminder of the immense hurdles we are up against. The multi-faceted frenzied furor unleashed against the president indicates fully that even a slight deviation from the establishment script runs the risk of provoking an unhinged response, even possible impeachment.
Yet, questions persist, and most especially about foreign policy, the favorite bailiwick of Neoconservative globalists who wish to remake, at times using American force, the world. And, again, it appears that only the president stands in the way of major blunders.
Of course, the best way to avoid such difficulties would be to fire John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams, and a few others who surround him, and maybe get Tucker Carlson’s input on whom to replace them with!
Now that would set the Washington establishment ablaze!
Buchanan’s columns explore these questions:
Do Trump's Hawks Speak for Trump?
By Patrick J. Buchanan    Tuesday - June 3, 2019

For a president who won his office by denouncing the Middle East wars into which George W. Bush and Barack Obama plunged the nation, Donald Trump has assembled the most unabashedly hawkish conclave of foreign policy advisers in memory. And he himself seems to concede the point.

If foreign policy were decided by my security adviser John Bolton, the president confided recently, "We'd be in four wars by now." It was Bolton who ordered the Abraham Lincoln carrier group and B-52s to the Gulf and told the Pentagon to draw up plans to send 120,000 U.S. troops. It is Bolton who is charging Iran with using mines to sabotage four oil tankers outside the Strait of Hormuz.  Asked for evidence, Bolton barked back at reporters: "Who else would you think is doing it? Somebody from Nepal?"

But if Bolton is first hawk, he is not without rivals in the inner circle of the commander in chief.  At West Point last week, Vice President Mike Pence, after hailing the diversity of a class with the highest number of Hispanic and black women graduates ever, laid out what the future holds in store for them.  "You will fight on a battlefield for America ... You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen….Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence….Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere. And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns ... and you will fight, and you will win.”

"Put your armor on," Pence admonished the warriors, "so that when — not if — that day comes, you'll be able to stand your ground."

A question: Did not candidate Trump say he would be ending wars and bringing troops home, not plunging into new conflicts in the Mideast, Asia, Europe, the Western Hemisphere and "the Indo-Pacific"?
As for war in our hemisphere, which Pence said was possible, that could come sooner than the graduating cadets expect, if Trump's confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham has his way. All last week, Graham beat the drums for an ultimatum to Cuba to get any and all of its troops out of Venezuela. Should Havana refuse, said Graham, Trump ought to "do in Venezuela what Reagan did in Grenada."

In 1983, Reagan ordered an invasion of Grenada to prevent U.S. medical students from being taken hostage by Marxist thugs who had just assassinated their leader and seized power.

But Grenada is a tiny island roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C., with a population of 100,000, while Venezuela is the size of Texas, with 30 million people and an army of more soldiers than Grenada has citizens. "I would let the Venezuelan military know, you've got to choose between democracy and Maduro," thundered Graham. "And if you choose Maduro and Cuba, we're coming after you. This is our backyard."

Trump may have run as anti-interventionist, but his secretary of state was apparently not closely following his campaign. Speaking at the West Coast neocon lamasery Claremont Institute last week, Secretary Mike Pompeo said the Founding Fathers "knew peace wasn't the norm" and "conflict is the normative experience for nations."

He ripped into the Russians. Thirty years after the Cold War, said Pompeo, "The Putin regime slays dissidents in cold blood and invades its neighbors," and, along with China, conducts a foreign policy "intent on eroding American power."

"We Americans have had too little courage to confront regimes squarely opposed to our interests and our values." As for "America First!" Pompeo explained Trump's signature phrase thus:

The president "believes America is exceptional — a place and history apart from normal human experience." This recalls Madeline Albright's famous formulation: "We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further ... into the future."

President George Washington would approve of our policies, said Pompeo. Though the Father of our Country may have warned in his Farewell Address against "permanent alliances," we are "banding together with the like-minded nations like Australia, India, Japan and South Korea to make sure that each Indo-Pacific nation can protect its sovereignty from coercion."  "American exceptionalism ... will remain alive and well in the 21st century," concluded Pompeo. "What's good for the United States is good for the world."

One wonders: Do the hawks in his inner councils speak for Trump? For they surely do not speak for a nation whose weariness with wars put him into the White House.
On the first day of Trump's visit to London, Pompeo, who last year issued his 12 demands on Iran, was quoted as saying the U.S. is now prepared to negotiate with Tehran with "no preconditions."

For now, Trump's hawks appeared contained. But for how long?
Are All the World's Problems Ours?
By Patrick J. Buchanan     Friday - May 10, 2019

In 2003, George W. Bush took us to war to liberate Iraq from the despotism of Saddam Hussein and convert that nation into a beacon of freedom and prosperity in the Middle East. Tuesday, Mike Pompeo flew clandestinely into Baghdad, met with the prime minister and flew out in four hours. The visit was kept secret, to prevent an attack on the Americans or the secretary of state.

Query: How successful was Operation Iraqi Freedom, which cost 4,500 U.S. lives, 40,000 wounded and $1 trillion, if, 15 years after our victory, our secretary of state must, for his own security, sneak into the Iraqi capital?

Topic of discussion between Pompeo and the prime minister: In the event of a U.S. war with Iran, Iraqis would ensure the protection of the 5,000 U.S. troops in country, from the scores of thousands of Iranian-trained and Iranian-armed Shiite militia.

That prospect, of war between the U.S. and Iran, had been raised by Pompeo and John Bolton on Sunday, when the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and a squadron of U.S. bombers were ordered into the Middle East after we received reports Iran was about to attack U.S. forces. The attack did not happen. But on Thursday, Tehran gave 60 days' notice that if it does not get relief from severe U.S. sanctions, it may walk out of the nuclear deal it signed in 2015 and start enriching uranium again to a level closer to weapons grade.

The countdown to a June confrontation with Iran has begun.

Wednesday, North Korea's Kim Jong Un, for the second time in a week, test-fired two missiles, 260 miles, into the Sea of Japan. Purpose: To signal Washington that Kim's patience is running out.  Kim rejects the U.S. demand that he surrender all nuclear weapons and dismantle the facilities that produce them before any sanctions are lifted. He wants sanctions relief to go hand in hand with disposal of his arsenal. Few believe Kim will surrender all of his nukes or his ability to replicate them.

The clash with Kim comes days after the failed U.S.-backed coup in Caracas, which was followed by Pompeo-Bolton threats of military intervention in Venezuela, a country 100 times the size of Puerto Rico with 10 times the population and a large well-equipped army.

This week also, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford told Congress that the U.S. will have to keep counter-terrorism forces in Afghanistan "until there is no insurgency left in the country."  Which sounds like forever, as in "forever war."

Before flying to Baghdad, Pompeo was in Finland. There, he warned the eight-nation Arctic Council about Russian aggression in the region, suggested China's claim to be a "near-Arctic" nation was absurd, and told Canada's its claim to the Northwest Passage was "illegitimate." Our Canadian friends were stunned. "Those waterways are part of the internal waters of Canada," said the government in Ottawa.

After an exhausting two weeks, one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, "Why is this our problem?"

Perhaps the most serious issue is North Korea's quest for nuclear-armed missiles that can reach the United States. But the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea, committed to attack the North should war break out. That treaty commitment dates to a Korean War that ended in an armed truce 66 years ago.

If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Iran has no nukes or ICBMs. It wants no war with us. It does not threaten us. Why is Iran then our problem to solve rather than a problem for Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and the Sunni Arabs?

Nor does Russia's annexation of Crimea threaten us. When Ronald Reagan strolled through Red Square with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988, all of Ukraine was ruled by Moscow.

The Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro was established decades ago by his mentor, Hugo Chavez. When did that regime become so grave a threat that the U.S. should consider an invasion to remove it?  During the uprising in Caracas, Bolton cited the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. But according to President James Monroe, and Mike Pompeo's predecessor John Quincy Adams, who wrote the message to Congress, under the Doctrine, while European powers were to keep their hands off our hemisphere — we would reciprocate and stay out of Europe's quarrels and wars.

Wise folks, those Founding Fathers.

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