Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trump’s Disruptive Foreign Policy

 

The following began its brief life as a comment on another recent post, but after reflection I thought maybe it was cogent enough to stand on its own. On the foreign policy front, I suspect I may be the only one here who has served in Embassies, including during the Trump era. This is what I will say about that.

  1. I’m sure I won’t break any news when I say that most of the foreign policy establishment leans left and is distressed when any Republican is elected but was especially so in 2016. This is not only true of our dear State Department friends but across the entire transnational community of foreign policy elites.
  2. Continuing as Captain Obvious, DJT is a norm-breaker, and the foreign policy community seriously loves it some norms–and resents when they are broken.
  3. Of course, some norms badly needed to be broken. In particular, the national and international foreign policy consensus on China urgently needed to move, and this administration succeeded in catalyzing that movement. The 2017 National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy were masterfully done. They met a critical need to generate a global awakening about the failure of the previous consensus on Beijing, probably best summarized by Robert Zoellick’s 2005 “Responsible Stakeholder” speech. Someone had to end the charade, and it’s worth wondering whether a more conventional administration of either party could have overcome the entrenched consensus to have boldly introduced major-power competition as the new normal–so successfully that even the professionals now agree that we can’t go back to the status quo ante on China.
  4. Israel and the Middle East is the other major area where the foreign policy consensus simply had to be sidelined. I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.
  5. Getting our allies to finally invest in their own defense is also a plus.
  6. Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on our side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
  7. Also, the incessantly revolving door of senior officials (especially SecDefs and National Security Advisors) has been extremely disruptive to getting important work done in the international space.
  8. Finally, there’s been a dearth of consistently strong and vocal leadership on our American principles (democracy, rule of law, human rights, etc.), particularly since Nikki Haley stepped down as U.N. Ambassador. Foreign policy requires salesmanship, and ours would benefit from some strength, steadiness, and consistency on these themes.

Bottom line, this administration has served as a corrective to some badly flawed policy. Disruption was absolutely necessary, but at some point should start to give way to stability and focused team-building.

My humble opinion only.

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Bob Thompson Member

    Jailer:

    • Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
    •  

    Most of our allies lean Left. And we are doing a lot of that, too. We need to stop it and those allies need to join us.

    • #1
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Despite his flaws, DJT has excelled at doing things no one else would ever have done as POTUS.

    • #2
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jailer: Bottom line, this administration has served as a corrective to some badly flawed policy. Disruption was absolutely necessary, but at some point should start to give way to stability and focused team-building.

    Did you say “stability” or “atrophy?”

     

     

    • #3
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. The Cynthonian Member

    How do we start correcting the leftist tilt of this part of the Swamp? Can it be done top-down? Is it a matter of the academic environment most of these people come from? Or a combination of the two?

    • #4
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Breaking: Sudan is moving to normalize relations with Israel. 

    • #5
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Despite his flaws, DJT has excelled at doing things no one else would ever have done as POTUS.

    I agree totally, and I know we probably think the same on most things concerning the President.

    But once again I would like to stand up from the back of the bleachers and shout to the heavens “Please please please stop beginning every statement about this president with “Despite his flaws”, or “Sure he’s a pig, but”, or “Yes he has no character, but”!!!

    DJT is not a manicured politician. No s***. That’s exactly why I voted for him. I wanted someone who might, like U.S.Grant, fight.

    DJT is a manicured salesman. Entrepreneur. Dynamo. Force of nature. (Freak?) And definitely nobody’s fool. 

    When we always qualify any statement of support for him with some kind of weaselly “Yes I know he’s a terrible person” opener, we suggest that every other president has been some kind of model of rectitude, just because they hide their hideousness behind a Dorian Gray-like genteel facade. 

    Obama was a prickly, smug ass.

    Bush seemed like an OK guy. Deer, those are headlights right there.

    Clinton was . . . words fail me.

    Bush Sr. was pure Washington patrician. Elected to be a perfect punching bag for the reliably despicable Left.

    Reagan was . . . Hmm, no detectable flaws. Wow, that’s rare.

    LBJ was effing Godzilla if Trump is the Geico gecko. 

    JFK was an appalling man, but sure looked good in a suit.

    Before that, I was only four so I can’t remember.

    Trump is undoubtedly the most honest and clearly uncomplicated, direct, what-you-see-is-what-you-get man in general, let alone politician, Out there today.

    I don’t think he needs any apology. Quite the freaking contrary.

    If he loses, and we get dragged under finally after 240 years, never to be seen again, at least we will have put up a fight there at the end.

     

     

     

    • #6
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 20 likes
  7. EODmom Coolidge

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Jailer:

    • Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
    •  

    Most of our allies lean Left. And we are doing a lot of that, too. We need to stop it and those allies need to join us.

    I agree – friends/allies behave like friends/allies. To put it in grade school terms: that includes showing up with their notecards for their section when there’s a team term paper due. Or, not working with the class bullies behind your back when you’re the kid assigned to do some unpleasant task. Many of our “allies”do neither of those things and they do not respect our laws and traditions when they demand or require the benefits therefrom. I’d like to see our elected and confirmed representatives speak and behave (at home and abroad) as if they are proud of those laws and expect to be respected, even as we respect the local laws and traditions of others. I do accept that it’s just a 1st Amendment perk to argue for the destruction of our Republic. 
    @thecynthonian – I submit it’s a matter of firing a LOT of people and eliminating a LOT of “agencies” without looking back. 

    • #7
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:26 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Jailer: I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.

    Unbelievable. It’s why despite points 5-8 I would still rather have Trump. But he does need someone articulate to defend America, both abroad and at home. An orator, he ain’t.

    • #8
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. PHCheese Member

    The State Department has been a piggy bank for corrupt politicians for years. It was obvious to me that that they gave billions to the Ukraine in exchange for kick backs to the Biden and Kerry families. How far down the chain of management the payoffs went is anyone’s guess. The Ukraine is just one example. What is there 175 more embassies out there? Biden got a payoff with US taxpayers money.

    • #9
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:34 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. OldPhil Coolidge

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    Obama was a prickly, smug ass.

    Close to the description I use: Arrogant, condescending prick.

    • #10
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge

    After eight years of Obama’s “leading from behind” (translation: “I really don’t know what the h*ll I’m doing, so I’ll do nothing but I’ll really look good doing it”), anything that Trump did was welcome.

    My only fault with Trump is that, at times, he is so mercurial that our allies (yes, we still have some) don’t have a clue as to what he will do next.

    • #11
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Bishop Wash Member

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Jailer: I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.

    Unbelievable. It’s why despite points 5-8 I would still rather have Trump. But he does need someone articulate to defend America, both abroad and at home. An orator, he ain’t.

    Like that snot-nosed Lt Col Dorfman who was upset that the President wasn’t following established foreign policy with Ukraine. Hey numbsy, he’s the boss man. He sets policy and you follow it. 

    • #12
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:52 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Hoyacon Member

    I liked your earlier comment and respect you for taking on this topic. The first, basic question that arises concerns the extent to which the results achieved by the Administration matter. This seems to be another version of the “style over substance” discussion that crops up in many things Trump.

    For example, if Trump wasn’t Trump, would our embassy have been moved to Jerusalem? This was not received well, to say the least, and the foreign policy establishment was skeptical. Do we question it today? Do we recognize the move’s impact on certain unprecedented foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East? Results.

    On the other hand, let’s concede that Trump’s “style” could not be more different than practiced by the trained diplomats in the Foreign Service and State Dept. He is blunt, which is a cardinal sin in the diplomatic world, while his predecessor (in a disastrous foreign affairs Administration) played the game. This alone is sure to produce much displeasure among diplomats who don’t view themselves as part of the Administration under which they serve.

    My opinion is that things needed shaking up, and that our allies–particularly Germany–needed a bit of a wake-up call. They should be more concerned about coming along with us, as opposed to us coming along with them. Regarding turnover, this is relative to the need for a unified approach. Sec Defs and Sec States have a degree of turnover in most Administrations, and there’s no benefit to having the same person if that person is not particularly competent (see Madeline Albright).

    • #13
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:55 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. WI Con Member
    WI Con Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My son just graduated as a Private 1st Class this morning at Fort Benning. I’ve never had this kind of ‘skin in the game’, so not being a slave/at mercy of Mideast oil is huge! I think of all those dead and injured in Iraq and Afganistan, really-we gave those savages the opportunity of a millennium to join the modern world and they squandered it. Past time for them to come home already, those people are hopeless. 

    As for our allies, if these partnerships are as important to them as the foreign policy establishments go on about, then meet your obligations and be able to field an army. Kurt Schlichter asks a very reasonable question when he asks if/why any American should be sacrificed in the Balkans. Seems as if they won’t even stand up for themselves but my kid is supposed to for them? There are some allies whose feathers he has ruffled though but more from the trade aspect. 

    Most of these countries both in Europe and Asia have had nearly 75 years to rebuild since WWII now. The mil6and trade agreements should be much more reciprocal than they have been.

    All in all, I think he’s been a welcome influence.

     

    • #14
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  15. Bob Thompson Member

    I have spent over half-a-century trying to understand why the Palestinians get so much attention and the results are always more conflict. I never did get it and now maybe I won’t have to bother.

    • #15
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge

    It is nice to have a leader that is not focused on UN popularity (Obama) or grifting (Biden/H.Clinton) or resume-building (H.Clinton) or making up for not being daddy’s favorite (Bush43) or just being a Dbag (Kerry). It is nice to have a negotiator that understands that other countries are focused on what is best for them.

    • #16
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:43 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Despite his flaws, DJT has excelled at doing things no one else would ever have done as POTUS.

    I agree totally, and I know we probably think the same on most things concerning the President.

    But once again I would like to stand up from the back of the bleachers and shout to the heavens “Please please please stop beginning every statement about this president with “Despite his flaws”, or “Sure he’s a pig, but”, or “Yes he has no character, but”!!!

    DJT is not a manicured politician. No s***. That’s exactly why I voted for him. I wanted someone who might, like U.S.Grant, fight.

    DJT is a manicured salesman. Entrepreneur. Dynamo. Force of nature. (Freak?) And definitely nobody’s fool.

    When we always qualify any statement of support for him with some kind of weaselly “Yes I know he’s a terrible person” opener, we suggest that every other president has been some kind of model of rectitude, just because they hide their hideousness behind a Dorian Gray-like genteel facade.

    Obama was a prickly, smug ass.

    Bush seemed like an OK guy. Deer, those are headlights right there.

    Clinton was . . . words fail me.

    Bush Sr. was pure Washington patrician. Elected to be a perfect punching bag for the reliably despicable Left.

    Reagan was . . . Hmm, no detectable flaws. Wow, that’s rare.

    LBJ was effing Godzilla if Trump is the Geico gecko.

    JFK was an appalling man, but sure looked good in a suit.

    Before that, I was only four so I can’t remember.

    Trump is undoubtedly the most honest and clearly uncomplicated, direct, what-you-see-is-what-you-get man in general, let alone politician, Out there today.

    I don’t think he needs any apology. Quite the freaking contrary.

    If he loses, and we get dragged under finally after 240 years, never to be seen again, at least we will have put up a fight there at the end.

    Excellent comment, it deserves a stand alone post. 

     

     

     

    • #17
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. JoelB Member

    I have always thought that GWB took too long getting all the allies on board with beginning hostilities in Iraq. By the time we got there, Saddam had ample time to get all the WMD to Syria and other hiding places. I must admit that I know practically nothing about the diplomatic and military issues involved, but I am interested in your take on this @jailer

    Was Bush, in your opinion, dilly-dallying, or was it a prudent and necessary build-up in cooperation with our allies?

    • #18
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Jailer Member
    Jailer

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I have always thought that GWB took too long getting all the allies on board with beginning hostilities in Iraq. By the time we got there, Saddam had ample time to get all the WMD to Syria and other hiding places. I must admit that I know practically nothing about the diplomatic and military issues involved, but I am interested in your take on this @jailer

    Was Bush, in your opinion, dilly-dallying, or was it a prudent and necessary build-up in cooperation with our allies?

    To be honest I spent a lot of time being wrong about Iraq, and I’m not really sure I’m right today. But if you ask me right now I’d say that I’m not sure Saddam had any appreciable WMD program in 2003, so it seems likely there would have been nothing appreciable to find regardless. I don’t deny he could have sent them to Syria, but something about that doesn’t add up … why didn’t he just use it against us instead? What did he have to lose at that point? I just can’t square the circle.

    Bush 43 turned out to be an idealist, and as a professional military officer (and an idealist myself) I badly wanted him to be right. I loved the idea of the transformative power of democracy unleashed upon the world’s most autocratic region. Perhaps it may yet turn out to have such power, but if so it’s not microwavable–it cannot be achieved in a short, two-term presidency, and the American people have repeatedly demonstrated that we are unwilling to wait around and see how long it will take to fully bake.

    Back to your original question. We could have gone in ourselves and almost certainly driven to Baghdad with little serious trouble on the conventional side. We may even have found WMD if it indeed existed. But we would have been left with the same problem we had and still have … to quote then-Major General David Petraeus: “Tell me how this ends.”

    • #19
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:07 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Flicker Coolidge

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    When we always qualify any statement of support for him with some kind of weaselly “Yes I know he’s a terrible person” opener

    And I think I’ve seen personal growth (as well as professional) in this 70-year-old man over the last four years. That’s something rare.

    • #20
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:28 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Jailer: I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.

    Unbelievable. It’s why despite points 5-8 I would still rather have Trump. But he does need someone articulate to defend America, both abroad and at home. An orator, he ain’t.

    When you and those like you have built careers for 70 years that involve getting governments and NGOs to pay you to make buggy whips, and some clown figures out how to make cars affordable for the hoi polloi, you’re probably going to want to have that clown whacked.

    • #21
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I have spent over half-a-century trying to understand why the Palestinians get so much attention and the results are always more conflict. I never did get it and now maybe I won’t have to bother.

    You’re an old school anti-Communist. This might provide some context:

    Arafat was the KGB’s man. Abbas was a KGB spy in Damascus.

    In the Wall Street Journal, [defected head of Romanian KGB franchise Ion Mihai] Pacepa explained how the KGB built up Arafat — or in current parlance, how they constructed a narrative for him:

    He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-operations school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat’s birth in Cairo, and replaced them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth.

    As the late historian Robert S. Wistrich wrote in A Lethal Obsession, the Six-Day War unleashed a protracted, intensive campaign on the part of the Soviet Union to delegitimize Israel and the movement for Jewish self-determination, known as Zionism. This was done in order to rectify the damage to the Soviet Union’s prestige after Israel defeated its Arab allies:

    After 1967, the USSR began to flood the world with a constant flow of anti-Zionist propaganda… Only the Nazis in their twelve years of power had ever succeeded in producing such a sustained flow of fabricated libels as an instrument of their domestic and foreign policy[1].

    For this the USSR employed a host of Nazi trigger words to describe the Israeli defeat of the Arab 1967 aggression, several of which are still employed on the Western left today when it comes to Israel, such as “practitioners of genocide”, “racists”, “concentration camps”, and “Herrenvolk.”

    I was privy to a streetcorner conversation between my late stepfather (A”H) and the then chief of police of Berkeley, who lived down the street. The chief described the tactics used in the protests: Distribute big rocks and half bricks to preteens and young teens, egg them on to throw them at the cops, and put the kids up front in the crowd. The revolution benefits whether a kid or a cop gets hurt. Sound familiar?

    Then picture yourself as a kid who marched back in the day. Your nostalgia now includes “activism,” and you want it for your kids, and you get warm pink fuzzies when you see the Intifada or Antifa doing what you did (or aspired to) as a kid. It’s got a great soundtrack in your head, too.

    Talk about great propaganda:

    • #22
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  23. EODmom Coolidge

    WI Con (View Comment):

    My son just graduated as a Private 1st Class this morning at Fort Benning. I’ve never had this kind of ‘skin in the game’, so not being a slave/at mercy of Mideast oil is huge! I think of all those dead and injured in Iraq and Afganistan, really-we gave those savages the opportunity of a millennium to join the modern world and they squandered it. Past time for them to come home already, those people are hopeless.

    As for our allies, if these partnerships are as important to them as the foreign policy establishments go on about, then meet your obligations and be able to field an army. Kurt Schlichter asks a very reasonable question when he asks if/why any American should be sacrificed in the Balkans. Seems as if they won’t even stand up for themselves but my kid is supposed to for them? There are some allies whose feathers he has ruffled though but more from the trade aspect.

    Most of these countries both in Europe and Asia have had nearly 75 years to rebuild since WWII now. The mil6and trade agreements should be much more reciprocal than they have been.

    All in all, I think he’s been a welcome influence.

     

    Congratulations 🎈- I think having adult children and seeing them succeed and achieve is just the BEST! Happy days to all! Well done. 

    • #23
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Bob Thompson Member

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    When we always qualify any statement of support for him with some kind of weaselly “Yes I know he’s a terrible person” opener

    And I think I’ve seen personal growth (as well as professional) in this 70-year-old man over the last four years. That’s something rare.

    I agree with this and think how hard that must be for someone born into a household as rich as Trump’s.

    • #24
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    When we always qualify any statement of support for him with some kind of weaselly “Yes I know he’s a terrible person” opener

    And I think I’ve seen personal growth (as well as professional) in this 70-year-old man over the last four years. That’s something rare.

    I agree with this and think how hard that must be for someone born into a household as rich as Trump’s.

    I think his line of work has helped to keep him agile. DJT is a ferocious competitor and competitors who lose their edge, well . . . they lose. I’m glad he’s on America’s side.

    • #25
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:49 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Hang On Member
    Hang On Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jailer:

    • Having said that, we are paying a price for appearing capricious and unnecessarily dismissive of our allies. Sure, they can be difficult, but they remain our allies and we do need to keep them on our side. Those same national security documents make it clear that major-power competition is a team sport, and we have to bring the team along if we’re going to win. And we must win.
    •  

    I assume you are talking about Europeans/the EU and Germany in particular. Are they our allies? On paper, yes. In reality though? 

    American foreign policy should be about balance of power and in Europe, we have helped create a single power – the EU. It is in the EU’s interest to put distance between itself and the US as it plays the US against China and Russia and Iran. 

    Jailer: Finally, there’s been a dearth of consistently strong and vocal leadership on our American principles (democracy, rule of law, human rights, etc.), particularly since Nikki Haley stepped down as U.N. Ambassador. Foreign policy requires salesmanship, and ours would benefit from some strength, steadiness, and consistency on these themes.

    These values are important, but balance of power is more important otherwise, our freedoms will not survive. And it is our freedoms which are most important. When an administration pursues the ideals rather than the power play of balance of power, we wind up with a complete screw up as in Iraq with empowering Iran. 

    • #26
    • October 16, 2020, at 3:23 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Zafar Member

    Jailer: I recently spoke to a State Department official who–in the context of a discussion about normalization with the UAE and Bahrain–seethed angrily about how this Administration had trashed 70 years of foreign policy consensus on Palestine. Without irony. Sometimes the conventional wisdom must be firmly rejected.

    Conventional wisdom was to pay lip service to the ‘two state solution’ while something else took shape on the ground de facto supported by the US. What was the benefit to US foreign policy, as opposed to domestic politics, from dropping the lip service, which cost nothing but was helpful to the US’ allied Governments in the Gulf? (Already on shaky ground, not to mention these countries being a long time source of extremism and funds for extremism.)

    Similarly

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Breaking: Sudan is moving to normalize relations with Israel.

    From the link:

    Sudan moves to normalise relations with Israel under US pressure, says report

    The Trump administration allegedly told Khartoum that Sudan would be removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list in exchange

    Obviously people are aware that the State Department’s list has a political dimension, but what is the impact on the credibility of the State Department overseas when it’s so overtly a quid pro quo thing?

    My question isn’t about the rights and wrongs of these specific issues, but rather about the move from covert (or plausibly deniable) to overt.

    • #27
    • October 16, 2020, at 4:53 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Zafar Member

    Hang On (View Comment):
    American foreign policy should be about balance of power and in Europe, we have helped create a single power – the EU. It is in the EU’s interest to put distance between itself and the US as it plays the US against China and Russia and Iran. 

    The EU is one of two powers in Europe. You named the other one. The EU had to be big enough to bring some balance, places like the UK or France or Germany are too small to do that on their own.

    Also – as long as the US is de facto the EU’s security guarantor (I know those countries’ guarantee back, but really), and actually pays for that, then NATO is dominated by the US’ interests. Who pays says, right? Getting other countries in the alliance to step up is good for the US’ bottom line, which is a very valid objective, but it comes at the cost of diminished control – and I don’t know if that’s been factored in (or even considered).

    For eg the Gulf Wars – nobody outside the US actually believed the WMD thing, but troops from other countries still showed up when asked. Would that have happened if the US wasn’t paying “more than its fair share” for the defence of Europe and Australia? I doubt it. In fact that level of control and influence is precisely what it was paying for.

    • #28
    • October 16, 2020, at 5:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Hoyacon Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):
    American foreign policy should be about balance of power and in Europe, we have helped create a single power – the EU. It is in the EU’s interest to put distance between itself and the US as it plays the US against China and Russia and Iran.

    The EU is one of two powers in Europe. You named the other one. The EU had to be big enough to bring some balance, places like the UK or France or Germany are too small to do that on their own.

    Also – as long as the US is de facto the EU’s security guarantor (I know those countries’ guarantee back, but really), and actually pays for that, then NATO is dominated by the US’ interests. Who pays says, right? Getting other countries in the alliance to step up is good for the US’ bottom line, which is a very valid objective, but it comes at the cost of diminished control – and I don’t know if that’s been factored in (or even considered).

    For eg the Gulf Wars – nobody outside the US actually believed the WMD thing, but troops from other countries still showed up when asked. Would that have happened if the US wasn’t paying “more than its fair share” for the defence of Europe and Australia? I doubt it. In fact that level of control and influence is precisely what it was paying for.

    Query: if “nobody outside the US actually believed the WMD thing,” I would have expected convincing and contemporaneous evidence that our intelligence was wrong from other countries. I’m unaware of it, but perhaps I missed it. Note also that there were a substantial number of reasons cited, other than WMDs, for the invasion.

    • #29
    • October 16, 2020, at 6:15 PM PDT
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  30. Zafar Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Query: if “nobody outside the US actually believed the WMD thing,” I would have expected convincing and contemporaneous evidence that our intelligence was wrong from other countries

    How about from the actual UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix?

    But also this and this and this, just from five minutes googling.

    I’m unaware of it, but perhaps I missed it. Note also that there were a substantial number of reasons cited, other than WMDs, for the invasion.

    From the last link:

    Why were we invading a country with no connection to 9/11? If this had something to do with supporting terrorists, why were we invading a state ruled by a secular Baathist dictator, a type hated by religious extremists like bin Laden almost as much as the United States is hated? If rogue states with weapons were the problem, why Iraq and not Iran, Libya, or especially North Korea? If WMD were the issue, why not wait until inspections were finished?

    None of it made sense.

    But other countries went along with it anyway. Which was my point.

    • #30
    • October 16, 2020, at 7:27 PM PDT
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