President Trump’s Annus Horribilus

 

In January I wrote a piece wherein I praised President Trump’s first year in office as an Annus Mirabilis.” In it, I attempted to forthrightly assess his actions as President and the results we had seen. I said that:

[A]ssessing the rest of the year’s policy outcomes, the President has either exceeded or met only his most avid supporters’ wildest dreams,

And,

To the extent that our worst fears weren’t realized, this is an incredibly welcome relief and cause for rejoicing at having been wrong.

My sense of relief was not wrong, but it was, unfortunately, short-lived. The President’s second year in office has been characterized by a variety of unforced errors, which only serve to amplify the typical entropy which creeps into Presidential administrations. Whereas competent managers and normal people attempt to repair and maintain the frontiers of their Administration’s flagging political capital, the normal churn evident in the Trump Administration seems more like an existential threat, driven as it is to ever higher levels by the Executive himself.

The troubles began relatively soon after I wrote my initial praise of the Trump Administration’s first-year accomplishments. The relationship between Trump and his then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was always rocky but finally went critical in March, with the President basically firing Tillerson via his favorite communication medium, Twitter:

Tillerson was replaced, but not without considerable difficulty by Mike Pompeo, who in turn gave way to Gina Haspel at CIA via (yet another) bruising confirmation fight. Other signs of instability, such as the long-simmering investigations into the bizarre and autocratic behavior of Scott Pruitt (EPA) resulted in his resignation in June and Trump’s lingering feud with Attorney General Sessions continued to simmer throughout the year. That is, until his long-expected firing on the day after the catastrophic midterm election, without an apparent successor.

As if the staffing issues weren’t enough, Trump’s much-touted “Red Wave” turned out to be a 40-seat Democratic pickup in the House, while a very favorable Senate map for Republicans netted a mere two-seat pickup.

Other troubles, such as the departure of Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador and the apparent ouster of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (and the attendant difficulty in finding a willing successor) give the general public the uncomfortable sensation of personnel fleeing a stricken vessel. Indeed, what credible person would want to go to work for an administration where the boss will bawl you out before the assembled millions on Twitter and your post-administration prospects will forever be judged by his followers in the light of how POTUS publicly tossed you out of the presidential airlock?

Other spots which have been rubbed raw during this year include the activation of one of President Trump’s favorite issues: Tariffs. Unlike his first year, the President made good on his promises by using his powers to place levies on certain imported goods such as steel… which sparked the predictable retaliatory tariffs from our erstwhile trade partners. The price of certain export commodities (such as soybeans) suffered accordingly, as their markets simply ceased to exist, necessitating bailouts of affected farmers. An example of the damage wrought by this policy can be found in a story in the Baton Rouge Advocate, dated December 3:

As a result of the tariff on soybeans, grain elevators had a harder time finding buyers for the crop, and the grain stacked up in storage facilities. Farmers in turn couldn’t find grain elevators willing to buy their crop, especially because it was more damaged by rain than a normal year.

The problems have snowballed into a disaster for many Louisiana soybean farmers, especially in the southwest part of the state. Many had to leave their soybeans in the field, and more and more rain caused the crop to rot to the point where it was unusable. The beans that were usable sold for less money, as waning overseas demand drove down prices.

Emphasis mine. I can confirm that this is not “fake news”; I regularly travel from Baton Rouge across Louisiana in the process of discharging my job and I can report that I have witnessed firsthand the innumerable acres of Soybeans rotting in the field between Red Stick and Shreveport along LA-1, among many other un-harvested crops … largely due to lack of a market. One can only imagine with horror the quantity of crops thus affected, having traveled the vast, agricultural plains between Wisconsin and here many times.

Trade wars it seems are easy to start yet impossible to win, as their first casualties are always your own people.

Moving along to other frontiers, the stock market, which was once sailing high and had been daily setting all-time records throughout 2018 has been locked in a consistent funk in the 4th quarter – which is strangely coincident with when the President’s tariffs began to bite. As of this writing, the Dow had a day in which it shed over 400 points (again) to close below 23,000 for the first time this year. It is totally arguable that the market is simply responding to the impending political reality of partial government takeover by Democrats, so it seems foolish to blame the President for this outcome, and I don’t.

However, if it’s true that the sentiment of the market is forward-looking, one can only assume that many investors see choppy economic waters ahead, and the President’s actions have done nothing to reassure them that the Administration is their friend. This is especially true when the President goes around threatening CEOs of corporations like GM for engaging in otherwise sensible business practices:

The President can be a fantastic ally or your worst enemy and he switches his position on what you are with the slimmest of motivations. To quote myself from earlier this year again:

The President remains precisely what we skeptics said about him. He is petty, narcissistic, and a moral cipher. He is the sort of man who carried on trysts with porn stars to low-level applause while his recently pregnant wife remained at home with their infant child.

Nothing that has happened in this past year has changed my opinion of Donald Trump the Man; in fact, it has only served to confirm my darkest worries about him.

Left relatively unremarked upon here is the plodding nature of the Robert Mueller investigation. That train wreck has collared a couple of flunkies for Tax Crimes unrelated to the underlying investigation, and what amount to some process crimes such as lying to the FBI. While it’s true that these things look bad, they don’t cut any ice in terms of threatening the President in relation to the accusation of “Russian Collusion.” No, instead they do threaten his Administration with an unending stream of low-level Congressional investigations which will tie down and wound an already hampered Presidency like so many Lilliputians on Gulliver. The Democrats would be wise (politically) to leave a grievously wounded Trump to fend for himself in the 2020 election, but probably few will be able to resist their worst instincts and they will seek to impeach him out of revenge for their 2016 humiliation. The President benefits typically from his enemies.

What about the good? There is some amount of positive which comes out of this otherwise disastrous and cursed year. The President did stand behind Brett Kavanaugh for long enough to push him through the Democrats’ star chamber of fake accusations (even though Kavanaugh got me abducted by aliens.)

Sadly, the balance of the events which transpired this year point to it being little short of a catastrophe. The President’s supposedly legendary bargaining prowess managed only to accomplish alienating his Congressional allies while chumming the waters for Democrats as he talked smack about defeated members of his own party. Now, the President is laying the groundwork for surrender on what was supposed to be his signature issue: the Wall.

As an immigration restrictionist who yields to no one in that regard, my one true hope for this Presidency was that through a combination of guts and lack of knowledge about what seemed “politically possible,” the President would be able through force of will to coerce his own party and some number of Democrats into meaningful immigration reform and border security. The reality is that Trump has little taste for doing the hard work of convincing people of the rightness of his positions — which seems to stem from the fact that he doesn’t have any tie to those issues beyond the superficial or transactional level. The rare instances where the President has any genuine attachment to principle seem to cut in a direction which actively harms him and the nation, as in the case of Tariffs.

In 2016 I was actively opposed to Donald Trump as the Republican Nominee. I did not vote for him in the Election, choosing instead to vote third party in a state which went for the President by double digits. His very surprising victory heartened me — at least in the sense that we got to feast upon the delicious schadenfreude of our political opponents and their comical self-immolation for the better part of a year. But the sell-by date on schadenfreude passed long ago, and even though 2017 was a year of triumph, the President has precious little time remaining to demonstrate that he is more than just a “bullspitter who got lucky.”

There are 24 comments.

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  1. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Mattis is out and so am i right now.  

    • #1
  2. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I think I agree with every word, except how swell the first year was.  Good show.

    • #2
  3. Viruscop Member
    Viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Even the Supreme Court picks won’t matter once Democrats regain all three branches of government and pack the court now that there is no longer any judicial filibuster.

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Viruscop (View Comment):

    Even the Supreme Court picks won’t matter once Democrats regain all three branches of government and pack the court now that there is no longer any judicial filibuster.

    I suppose there’s a grain truth in this if one searches, but it’s rather simplistic, in addition to assuming the ability to see the future.  I know most on the left assume they have the ability to do this, but I’m not convinced.

    • #4
  5. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Viruscop (View Comment):

    Even the Supreme Court picks won’t matter once Democrats regain all three branches of government and pack the court now that there is no longer any judicial filibuster.

    I suppose there’s a grain truth in this if one searches, but it’s rather simplistic, in addition to assuming the ability to see the future. I know most on the left assume they have the ability to do this, but I’m not convinced.

    If it should happen it will be part of the transition from the chaos of the Trump years to the New Authoritarianism of the Left. 

    • #5
  6. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Viruscop (View Comment):

    Even the Supreme Court picks won’t matter once Democrats regain all three branches of government and pack the court now that there is no longer any judicial filibuster.

    I suppose there’s a grain truth in this if one searches, but it’s rather simplistic, in addition to assuming the ability to see the future. I know most on the left assume they have the ability to do this, but I’m not convinced.

    If it should happen it will be part of the transition from the chaos of the Trump years to the New Authoritarianism of the Left.

    Roberts, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh aren’t going anywhere. Alito is 68 and Thomas 70.  Such facts appear foreign to the poster to whom I responded.  I’m hopeful that SCOTUS will be instrumental in opposing any transition.  The notion that Trump’s selections “won’t matter” is wishful thinking of the highest order.

    • #6
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    This was an excellent post that I can directly relate to. Like Mr. Buell I did not vote for Trump. I didn’t like him on a wide variety of reasons. However, once he was elected I began to root for his success largely because his enemies on the left were my enemies as well. Those on the right were, for the most part, people whose views and knowledge I respected, though in some cases, like Bill Kristol’s, I thought that we would have been better served if they worked for the success of the administration rather than the success of the left.

    Trump, despite some of the notable good aspects, is turning out to be exactly what I thought he would be, a disaster of biblical proportions for the conservative cause. His intellectual limitations combined with his libidinous past and his simple inability to consider the implications of a choice before announcing it on Twitter have made him a joke. The idea that he is playing three dimensional chess when he makes a policy statement and then recinds it a day later is patently absurd. That his stupid statements are simply attempts to troll the left, goes beyond ludicrous. There is quite simply a disconnect between his mouth and his cerebral cortex. His mouth and Twitter finger are directly connected to his lizard brain.

    I will say these things here among people I consider allies and friends because I respect all of you. I would not repeat them to those on the left, because as bad as Trump is, he is still my preference to any of the Democrats currently lining up to run for the 2020 race. Though some of them may be more intelligent than Trump, more knowledgeable, and even more politically skilled, there isn’t one among them who is any more honest than Trump, and their political goals are far more distant from my own than are his. The problem remains binary. The two men currently most likely to challenge Trump for the nomination in 2020 are, in my humble opinion, slime.

    It seems unbelievable to me that among the real conservatives in our party that there is no one of real integrity willing to challenge Trump for the nomination in 2020, but there really isn’t. I am not sure that Trump can be as successful in 2020 against any but the most egregious of the possible candidates, that is, unless some miracle occurs which stops the decline and reverses its direction. For now it seems as though Trump is on a tear to prove that everything negative that has been said about him is true.

    • #7
  8. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Some of what you describe is true, but to be fair:

    1. The stock market has been overblown and played like a casino for years. It’s manipulated and the least little jolt or a negative report from one company sends it reeling.  What goes up must come down. We have to raise interest rates sometime. We’ve been sailing on zero, for not very good reasons, for years.  It is fickle and it needs to settle.  Also, many have said we go in to and out of recessions about every 10 years.  It’s been 10 years since 2008.
    2. The crops issues are also weather-related.  Hurricane Michael and other terrible storms this year wreaked havoc on Southern crops, including soybeans, cotton, and other crops.  Trump has worked out agreements with other countries to purchase soybeans and other commodities, so when the farmers start planting again, there is a market.
    3. Bad actors like Russia and China have been trying to dis-arm us thru many channels – no need to re-hash, but it it time to talk about it and do something.  Holding hands with those that are out to take you down one way or another does no good.  Trump doesn’t have all the answers but he gets some credit here.
    4. Our allies have been coasting on the dime of the American taxpayers for a long time – decades. They face threats, and it’s time to spend money on defense, and get real with regards to border security and the national and economic interests of their people – Paris – you go first.
    5. Undoing many of Obama’s heavy regulations, bringing back jobs and companies to the US, finding solutions can’t all be done in 24 months, but things have been going well.  Bush faced a financial crisis, 911 and Middle East misery. Here’s a president that has been bashed from every angle since taking office. He had many holdovers from Obama, and we saw many of them fail.  We could do worse, like Hillary Clinton in charge.
    6. Syria is and has been a nightmare for a long long time. It is hard to figure out what to do.  Our soldiers give everything. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think the times we are living in are difficult.  Syria is a thorn felt by many countries.  Many are ready to bail when the news is dire, but one person can’t save the world.  We all need to take responsibility.  Putting the Democrats back will get the same results – no wall – no support – no new ideas – we are where we are because of the eight years under Obama of no foreign policy or domestic agenda, other than multi-gender bathrooms.
    • #8
  9. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    The president doesn’t control the stock market.  It goes up and down.  Assuming his statements correlate directly with its performance doesn’t make sense.  The Fed has more impact on the stock market than any other entity and it’s not controlled by anybody.

    The economy is not the stock market.  GDP was up 4.2% in 2Q 2018, 3.5% in 3Q 2018.  Those are not numbers seen in recent years.

    Tariffs are stupid.  Ask Obama.

     

    I’m not a Trump fan, and didn’t vote for him.  But to cherry pick the bad things, expound upon them, and ignore the good things that have happened, does not, by default, make for a horrible annus.

    • #9
  10. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk)
    @Majestyk

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I’m not a Trump fan, and didn’t vote for him. But to cherry pick the bad things, expound upon them, and ignore the good things that have happened, does not, by default, make for a horrible annus.

    Please, feel free to tell me about all of the great things that have happened.

    I’m not cherry-picking here.  These things happened, and my assessment of them is that the administration is in deep trouble – particularly in light of Mattis’s impending resignation.

    • #10
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    We all need to take responsibility. Putting the Democrats back will get the same results – no wall – no support – no new ideas – we are where we are because of the eight years under Obama of no foreign policy or domestic agenda, other than multi-gender bathrooms.

    But is Trump? I don’t see new ideas coming from him or the Republicans either, I don’t see a wall or much effort to get one done (though I hold “the wall” in contempt as an idea so frankly I’m happy it’s going nowhere), and I don’t see any real improvements in foreign policy. I see Trump providing cover for Putin even while people in his administration do the opposite (which frankly makes it look like we are schizophrenic). Trump loves to hate on our allies and complain about them but has few words of criticism to spare for our enemies (whom he actively courts in the same futile dace past presidents tried, but their excuse is being the first ones in without any past precedents to guide them) we know after 18 years of dealing with him that we can’t be friends with Putin’s Russia, nor can we trust the North Koreans.  We are leaving Syria and abandoning our Kurdish allies on the ground in favor of the Turks who have become less reliable, not to mention by pulling out we are giving victory to Assad, Putin, and the Mullahs in Syria. We’ve played this game before in the middle east, who can we trust to guard our interests on the ground if we are not there? So rather than staying and finishing the job we cut and run. Obama lacked the nerve to stay or go in hard when it was clear action was needed, now Trump lacks the patience and will to stick it out. I’m sure the policy will be quite popular domestically because doing the easy thing always is. It still looks like a mistake to me. 

    I don’t see our position anywhere being strengthened, unless one thinks Trumps tweets are taken seriously by any world leader? Trump is all bluster, and I think most world leaders have figured this out by now. And it was the job of people like Halley and Mattis to be the adults, but now they are leaving and being replaced by, who knowns?  But Trump like Obama wasn’t elected to do things or lead America, but rather validate the feelings of his base supporters who can find no fault in him. 

    • #11
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    The economy is not the stock market. GDP was up 4.2% in 2Q 2018, 3.5% in 3Q 2018. Those are not numbers seen in recent years.

    Yah not since the Obama years, 2Q and 3Q of 2014. I’d say given the way the graph looks for the last 20 years I wouldn’t be too excited by two data points just yet. 

    • #12
  13. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I’m not a Trump fan, and didn’t vote for him. But to cherry pick the bad things, expound upon them, and ignore the good things that have happened, does not, by default, make for a horrible annus.

    Please, feel free to tell me about all of the great things that have happened.

    I’m not cherry-picking here. These things happened, and my assessment of them is that the administration is in deep trouble – particularly in light of Mattis’s impending resignation.

    Sorry, you wrote the “horrible year” – if you want to give it a fair shot, what’s good and bad, don’t elide the good.  You’re asking me to write the post for you?

    I’m remembering all the times people were saying “Well, that’s it for Trump”, based on whatever the most recent event was.  I was one of those people.  He remained a candidate for president (when I thought there was no way in hell he becomes president, I’m still occasionally startled that he’s president).   Now, despite everything the last couple of years, he’s still president.  We’ll have to just wait and see, like everybody else.

     

     

    • #13
  14. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    The economy is not the stock market. GDP was up 4.2% in 2Q 2018, 3.5% in 3Q 2018. Those are not numbers seen in recent years.

    Yah not since the Obama years, 2Q and 3Q of 2014. I’d say given the way the graph looks for the last 20 years I wouldn’t be too excited by two data points just yet.

    Did I say anything about excitement?  I’m comparing the stock market claims of how the economy is doing compared to GDP.  GDP is a better indicator of economy activity than the stock market is – it’s not the best indicator, there is no one “best” indicator, and you’d want to look at employment, job growth, incomes, new housing starts, etc.  It’s a long list.

    But if you think the economy was better under Barry, that’s fantastic.

    • #14
  15. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    What the hell were we doing in Syria in the first place? To speak of “friends” and “allies” in the Middle East shows a level of naivety that is simply remarkable. They are “friends” and “allies” only so long as we keep shoveling the loot to their numbered bank accounts.

    And Mattis is right, Trump should have a Secretary of Defense who agrees with him on Nato and Syria. If Mattis was giving the conventional foreign policy establishment views, he should never have been there in the first place. This establishment are responsible for the problems at the moment. The louder the likes of Rubio and Graham bellow at Trump is simply a sign of how right Trump is.

     

    • #15
  16. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    But if you think the economy was better under Barry, that’s fantastic.

    I dont think it was better but I remain skeptical of the claim that Trump has turned anything around. To me it seems like the data shows us in a constant glide path following the 2008 recession. We are now just further along, so Trumps real merit is timing then. 

    • #16
  17. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Hang On (View Comment):
    What the hell were we doing in Syria in the first place?

    Killing ISIS, stopping Iran from consolidating power across the Middle East. But hey MAGA means betraying America’s interests and supporting our enemie’s plans through neglect while demonstrating to everyone you can’t count on us.  

    • #17
  18. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk)
    @Majestyk

    Chris Campion (View Comment):

    Sorry, you wrote the “horrible year” – if you want to give it a fair shot, what’s good and bad, don’t elide the good. You’re asking me to write the post for you?

    I’m remembering all the times people were saying “Well, that’s it for Trump”, based on whatever the most recent event was. I was one of those people. He remained a candidate for president (when I thought there was no way in hell he becomes president, I’m still occasionally startled that he’s president). Now, despite everything the last couple of years, he’s still president. We’ll have to just wait and see, like everybody else.

    Economic growth is a legitimate counter-point to my argument.  Does that conclude your side of the case then, Counselor?

    I happily concede this point: Economic growth under Trump has been about a percentage point higher than I think we could have expected otherwise, and this is largely because of regulatory and tax relief.

    The opposite side of that ledger is the deficit and the debt, which has now crested $22 Trillion.  Congress has responsibility for this mess as well, but Trump’s stated goals upon entering office were to do things like “protect Medicare and Social Security” which are the two largest line items in the Federal Budget… and we only have one President at a time.

    This is where I am saying Trump’s supposedly legendary deal-making prowess turns out to be a sham; he couldn’t even craft a compromise between himself and his Congressional allies to “protect” those entitlement programs and extract concessions on things like the Border or Employment security.  The President is nothing but a bloviator on those topics.

    He clearly has no grasp of how any of these programs function and is largely insulated from reality by foot-thick walls of his own hubris and ignorance.

    • #18
  19. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk)
    @Majestyk

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    What the hell were we doing in Syria in the first place?

    Killing ISIS, stopping Iran from consolidating power across the Middle East. But hey MAGA means betraying America’s interests and supporting our enemie’s plans through neglect while demonstrating to everyone you can’t count on us.

    Indeed – and doing those things without spending a King’s ransom.  If we could have all of our military incursions function so well at so little cost (with a lot of the grunt work being done by our allies) then we ought to be doing more of them just like this.

    Contrast this with Afghanistan, where we apparently lack the will to take the hammer and tongs to their utterly dysfunctional culture and instead have wandered aimlessly through that pile of rocks for almost 2 decades.

    • #19
  20. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    What the hell were we doing in Syria in the first place?

    Killing ISIS, stopping Iran from consolidating power across the Middle East. But hey MAGA means betraying America’s interests and supporting our enemie’s plans through neglect while demonstrating to everyone you can’t count on us.

    Indeed – and doing those things without spending a King’s ransom. If we could have all of our military incursions function so well at so little cost (with a lot of the grunt work being done by our allies) then we ought to be doing more of them just like this.

    Contrast this with Afghanistan, where we apparently lack the will to take the hammer and tongs to their utterly dysfunctional culture and instead have wandered aimlessly through that pile of rocks for almost 2 decades.

    I thought the Iraq war was for helping Iran secure hegemony in the Middle East. 

    As for Afghanistan, you are really clueless. If the culture were so utterly dysfunctional, why has it survived for over a thousand years? 

    • #20
  21. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk)
    @Majestyk

    Hang On (View Comment):
    As for Afghanistan, you are really clueless. If the culture were so utterly dysfunctional, why has it survived for over a thousand years? 

    I suppose your definition of “dysfunctional” and mine vary.  Afghanistan is after all, the cradle from which much of the modern incarnation of Islamofascism was born… closely followed by the Saudis.

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I thought the Iraq war was for helping Iran secure hegemony in the Middle East. 

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about, but I suppose it’s arguable that the destruction of the Hussein government in Iraq did unleash the Shia supremacists and Mullahs in Tehran and Qom.

    • #21
  22. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I thought the Iraq war was for helping Iran secure hegemony in the Middle East. 

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about, but I suppose it’s arguable that the destruction of the Hussein government in Iraq did unleash the Shia supremacists and Mullahs in Tehran and Qom

    Well the Mullahs were around for longer than Hussein, and I think it is entirely counter factual to assume leaving Saddam in place would have made Iraq more stable in the long run. Do we think he would have continued on in perpetuity with no challenge? His Baathist neighbor in Syria saw his country descend in to an equally bloody civil war with no help from the US. As I recall we stayed clear of Syria until we literally were left with no choice because their unresolved chaotic civil war created the condition to allow ISIS to metastasizes. 

    In 2007  after the surge we has pacified Iraq, made promises to the cooperating Sunni tribesmen, then Obama decided to pull out like it ain’t no thing. Which kind of worked until Syria melted down and boiled over. Then we had to start from scratch again. With less power, less influence, less trust. But you know even Obama finally got his act sort of together by then end and Trump inherited an ISIS on the run, which he is taking credit for now, and amazingly as if the man has paid no attention to anything is doing his level best to repeat all of Obama’s mistakes. 

    Have you read Mattis’ resignation letter. He essentially says he can’t work for Turmp any longer because Trump hates our allies and ignores our enemies. Mattis says it more diplomatically. So the one guy every Trumper liked to point to when the quality of Trump’s advisers was brought up as the real heavy weight is now going out the door be cause Trump can’t take his advise because he is too big a fool.  Now Trump will just be surrounded by his cronies and Foxnews enablers. So we are really going to start MAGAing it up. 

     

    • #22
  23. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    As for Afghanistan, you are really clueless. If the culture were so utterly dysfunctional, why has it survived for over a thousand years? 

    I suppose your definition of “dysfunctional” and mine vary. Afghanistan is after all, the cradle from which much of the modern incarnation of Islamofascism was born… closely followed by the Saudis.

    Afghanistan (the Pashtuns) has survived civilizing imperial onslaughts for a very long time. The British, the Russians, and now the Americans. The Pashtuns have been used to running the country but now they aren’t. So they rebel. They aren’t interested in what we are trying to sell. So leave them alone. There are more Pashtuns in Pakistan that in Afghanistan, but more Pashtuns than anybody else in Afghanistan. Not a formula for stability. But what does it have to do with us? 

    And it wasn’t Afghanistan that was the cradle, but the Saudis. Wahabbism is at the root. With the oil money, it spread. To Pakistan and then through the ISI into Afghanistan. 

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    I thought the Iraq war was for helping Iran secure hegemony in the Middle East. 

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about, but I suppose it’s arguable that the destruction of the Hussein government in Iraq did unleash the Shia supremacists and Mullahs in Tehran and Qom.

    When you have a religious Shia society subjugated for centuries and you suddenly bring majority-rule institutions to a country, why would you be surprised if they elected revanchist Shia politicians who rely on Tehran? 

    • #23
  24. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Do we think he would have continued on in perpetuity with no challenge? His Baathist neighbor in Syria saw his country descend in to an equally bloody civil war with no help from the US.

    But with lots and lots of help from Saudi Arabia who were backing the Sunni Islamist militias. It was with Saudi influence and help that we got behind the same ones never being able to sort out who was what. The Saudis were not going to back anyone trying to bring down Hussein in Iraq because they were well aware the country was majority Shia. The Iranians might have tried, but that would have reinforced Hussein’s reign.

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    As I recall we stayed clear of Syria until we literally were left with no choice because their unresolved chaotic civil war created the condition to allow ISIS to metastasizes. 

    ISIS was an international threat. Assad was not. ISIS were Muslims from around the world meeting in Turkey and then crossing over into Syria and Iraq. Our interest was not and should not have been Assad and who ruled Syria. Our interest was in killing the members of Isis and making sure that they did not go back to their host countries. We did that.

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Have you read Mattis’ resignation letter. He essentially says he can’t work for Turmp any longer because Trump hates our allies and ignores our enemies. Mattis says it more diplomatically. So the one guy every Trumper liked to point to when the quality of Trump’s advisers was brought up as the real heavy weight is now going out the door be cause Trump can’t take his advise because he is too big a fool. Now Trump will just be surrounded by his cronies and Foxnews enablers. So we are really going to start MAGAing it up. 

    I have. I side with Trump on both Nato and on Syria.

    We were not in Syria for the benefit of the Kurds. We were not in Syria for the purpose of bringing down the Assad government. All the pundits talk about how it strengthens Putin and Iran. It simply shows how amazingly stupid – and there is no other word than stupid – for the foreign policy establishment of this country. We have left Putin and Iran with a country that is not worth having, was never worth having, and will never be worth having – and is no threat to us. For this, we should expend blood and treasure according to this amazingly stupid group of “experts”. 

    Nato has been on the wrong path since it started admitting former Warsaw Pact countries against the statements of President GHW Bush. Clinton in the culprit with his revanchist Secretary of State and Brzezinski. His son made it worse when he took in the Baltic states. 

    • #24

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