#Syria

Hassan Hassan: US strikes mark a new turn in Syria and beyond. Destination unknown – The Guardian

Russia has insisted that it opposes any offensive in Raqqa that does not go through Damascus and Moscow. Unlike previous US-led offensives against Isis, the regime positioned its troops near the front lines in Raqqa, as well as between Raqqa

Posted in International Relations, Noted & Quoted, Operation American Greatness, War Tagged with:

Joshua Landis: America’s Failure, and Russia and Iran’s Success, in Syria’s Cataclysmic Civil War – TPM

I just attended a conference at the Baker Institute where the attitude of many analysts was to let Russia and Iran choke on Syria. Let’s see if we can turn it into a swamp for them, seemed to be the

Posted in International Relations, Noted & Quoted Tagged with:

Leon Wieseltier: Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure – The Washington Post

If Obama wants credit for not getting us into another war, the credit is his. If he wants credit for not being guilty of “overreach,” the credit is his. If he wants credit for conceiving of every obstacle and impediment

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted, War Tagged with:

Itani and Abouzahr: Lessons from Russia’s Intervention in Syria – Atlantic Council

Whatever its merits, the United States’ limited involvement in Syria granted Russia a powerful first-mover advantage, which in turn has complicated US policy options, granted a strategic foothold to a historical rival, facilitated mass atrocities, and undermined the concept of

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted, War Tagged with: ,

Marc Lynch: What’s Really At Stake in the Syria Debate – War on the Rocks

For many U.S. politicians and pundits, forceful action in virtually any arena is its own reward. In Syria specifically, many interventionists have argued that the United States needs to be more deeply involved in the war because this will give

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted, War Tagged with:

Frederic C. Hof: The Non-Option of Disengagement from the Middle East – MENASource

The next president, like it or not, will have his or her hands full with the Middle East. The starting point for getting anything right is to reject the proposition that we will always get it wrong; that it is

Posted in International Relations, Noted & Quoted Tagged with: , ,

Philip Gordon: Obama Should Have Bombed Assad… – The Atlantic

Goldberg: But you still believe a limited strike would have been the right thing to do? Gordon: I believed it, and I said so at the time. And this is what I thought the president thought as well. The president

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted Tagged with: ,

Defense and Defense Mechanisms

Diehl assesses the Obama Doctrine, or Jeffrey Goldberg’s Obama’s Obama Doctrine, as, in a word, neurotic – as much a psychological construct or defense mechanism as a policy – enabling the President minimize the importance of any setbacks, the alternative being emotionally intolerable.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

If Obama Had Followed Through (Hof on the Red Line)

“…[H]ad it laid waste to Assad’s air force, field artillery, Scud missiles, and rockets, the strike would have emptied Assad’s victory speech of substantive content. Yes, the chemicals would have remained in place, and perhaps so too the Assad regime. But instruments of mass terror would have been neutralized, the migrant crisis afflicting Europe might have been averted, and tens of thousands of people now dead would still be alive.”

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: ,

Understanding American Interests (Steven Heydemann in Washington Post)

“It is sadly ironic that the president’s commitment to inaction has undermined his vision of an international system in which military restraint and a smaller U.S. footprint would produce a more stable and peaceful international order.”

Posted in Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: ,

Noted & Quoted

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Trump actually congratulated Erdogan on the outcome. Trump apparently thought it was a good thing that, despite all the flaws in the process, a bare majority of Turkey’s citizens voted to strengthen their populist leader. I don’t think any other post-Cold War president would have congratulated a democratic ally that held a flawed referendum leading to a less democratic outcome. This is not that far off from Trump congratulating Putin on a successful referendum result in Crimea if that event had been held in 2017 rather than 2014.

Public disquiet and behind-the-scenes pressure on key illiberal allies is an imperfect policy position. It is still a heck of a lot more consistent with America’s core interests than congratulating allies on moving in an illiberal direction. In congratulating Erdogan, Trump did the latter.

For all the talk about Trump’s moderation, for all the talk about an Axis of Adults, it’s time that American foreign policy-watchers craving normality acknowledge three brute facts:

  1. Donald Trump is the president of the United States;
  2. Trump has little comprehension of how foreign policy actually works;
  3. The few instincts that Trump applies to foreign policy are antithetical to American values.
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(0)

He sensed that the public wanted relief from the burdens of global leadership without losing the thrill of nationalist self-assertion. America could cut back its investment in world order with no whiff of retreat. It would still boss others around, even bend them to its will...

There was, to be sure, one other candidate in the 2016 field who also tried to have it both ways—more activism and more retrenchment at the same time. This was, oddly enough, Hillary Clinton... Yet merely to recall Clinton’s hybrid foreign-policy platform is to see how pallid it was next to Trump’s. While she quibbled about the TPP (which few seemed to believe she was really against), her opponent ferociously denounced all trade agreements—those still being negotiated, like the TPP, and those, like NAFTA and China’s WTO membership, that had long been on the books. “Disasters” one and all, he said. For anyone genuinely angry about globalization, it was hard to see Clinton as a stronger champion than Trump. She was at a similar disadvantage trying to compete with Trump on toughness. His anti-terrorism policy—keep Muslims out of the country and bomb isis back to the Stone Age—was wild talk, barely thought through. But for anyone who really cared about hurting America’s enemies, it gave Trump more credibility than Clinton’s vague, muddled talk of “safe zones” ever gave her.

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(0)

As they war with the right, though, Trump and Kushner would gain no quarter from Democrats—unless Democrats were allowed to set the all the terms. This is Bannon’s central point. Democrats have no incentive to prop up Trump’s presidency for half-loaf compromises that many will suspect are contaminated with seeds of Trumpism. Trump can adopt or co-opt the Democrats’ infrastructure platform outright if he likes, but he can’t easily entice them to compromise with him, and he can’t entice House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to advance a trillion dollar direct-spending bill filled with environmental and labor protections that the GOP exists to oppose.

Which is just to say, Kushner wants Trump to chart a new course that leads to a substantive dead end for at least another 19 months. Bannon’s path, at least, preserves the hope of keeping his base consolidated through the legislative ebb. He can deregulate, scapegoat, and unburden law enforcement to turn his Herrenvolk fantasy into reality—all while keeping congressional investigators at bay.

There’s no real logical rebuttal to this, except to point to three months of chaos and humiliation as indicative of the futility of continuing to do things Bannon’s way. That is really an argument that Trump should get rid of both of his top advisers, but Trump is unlikely to grasp that in a contest between loyalists, both might deserve to lose. Family loyalty, and the beating his ego will take when the stories of his first 100 days are written, will pull him toward his son-in-law. And that’s when the real fun will begin.

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@CK_MacLeod

State of the Discussion

+ Wade, your last paragraph is crucial to your argument. Certainly it expresses economically the source of the weight of a country's foreign policy, and [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic
CK MacLeod
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ Not sure where you got the idea that I ever wrote “[President Trump] doesn’t know what he’s doing!!!!!!" - bob's idea for a possible rallying [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic
Wade McKenzie
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ The conversation that you and Bob were having at the time that I wrote my comment had everything to do with the recent missile strike [. . .]
Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. – The Atlantic

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