Trump Foreign Policy

McMaster’s Obama (don’t call them) holdovers

Featured image According to the Daily Caller, about 40 of the 250 officials on the National Security Council (NSC) are Obama administration holdovers. Their boss, H.R. McMaster, has instructed that these folks not be called “holdovers.” This might make sense from a team-building perspective. But since I’m not part of the team, they will be referred to as holdovers in this post. The Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock and Ethan Barton profile some »

Media treats obvious Trump sarcasm “literally”

Featured image Today’s phony Trump controversy pertains to the president’s reaction to Russia’s expulsion of U.S. diplomatic personnel in response to congressional sanctions (which Trump did not favor). Trump stated: I want to thank [Putin] because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real »

North Korea responds to Trump’s threat by threatening Guam

Featured image Today, President Trump warned North Korea to stop making threats against the United States. He stated: North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. Predictably, Kim Jong Un responded by doing precisely what Trump said he “best not” do. He threatened to attack Guam. According to CNBC: North Korea said on »

Europe balks at Russia sanctions; Trump won’t veto them

Featured image President Trump has decided not to veto the Russia sanctions legislation passed by Congress. The decision was probably an easy one inasmuch as (1) a veto would easily have been overridden, resulting in embarrassment for the president and (2) it would have added fuel to Trump-Russia connection stories. Naturally, Russia is angry about the sanctions. Europe is also unhappy, which is ironic because some European leaders have criticized Trump for »

How Trump inadvertently helps al Qaeda in Syria

Featured image I’ve discussed how President Trump’s collaboration with Russia in Syria is helping Iran. Marc Thiessen shows that it is also inadvertently aiding al Qaeda. Thiessen cites the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (CTP). They find that “current U.S. strategy empowers al-Qaeda, which has an army in Syria, is preparing to replace ISIS,. . . [and] is more dangerous than ISIS.” How so? »

Defining American greatness down

Featured image You might think that a website called “American Greatness” would be concerned that the U.S. is “outsourcing security in Syria to the Russians” (to use the reported words of the Trump administration’s acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs). You might think that such a site would have qualms about the U.S. abandoning Syrian fighters that we armed, trained, and encouraged to fight against the pro-Iranian regime in »

Pompeo vs. Tillerson on Syria

Featured image At the Aspen Security Forum, the same conference Scott discussed here, CIA Director Mike Pompeo discussed with clarity the situation the U.S. confronts in Syria. As Josh Rogin reports, Pompeo stated that we have two main enemies in Syria: ISIS and Iran. Our goals, in addition to finishing off ISIS in Syria, should be to stop Iran from establishing a zone of control that spans the region and “providing the »

What did Trump certify?

Featured image Did President Trump certify to Congress on Monday that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal? This is what virtually of all of the reporting on his action says he did. We wrote that, early in the day, National Security Council director H. R. McMaster indicated the administration would certify Iranian compliance. The next day we reported, per Eli Lake, that Trump had balked at providing certification and came close »

Trump’s big concession to Putin

Featured image We know little, if anything, about what happened at the formal between President Trump and Vladimir Putin after Trump told the autocrat-thug that he was honored to meet him. We know nothing about what transpired at the dinner in Hamburg after Trump sought out Putin for further discussion. But now we know what Trump has done for Putin since they met in Germany. He has ended a CIA program in »

Trump’s “undisclosed” meeting with Putin

Featured image President Trump chatted at some length with Vladimir Putin during a dinner for G-20 leaders in Hamburg, Germany last week. The Washington Post and New York Times describe the meeting as “undisclosed,” an accurate description in the sense that Trump’s team didn’t tell the press about it. But the press acts as if Trump was obligated to tell it. He wasn’t. The press also acts as if there was something »

Report: Trump nearly killed the Iran deal

Featured image Eli Lake reports that President Trump came very close yesterday to not certifying Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal. Eli writes: On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was supposed to certify Iranian compliance again. Talking points were sent to columnists. Senior administration officials briefed analysts on a conference call. The Treasury Department was set to announce new sanctions against a number of Iranians to soften the blow for the »

Trump administration to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear deal

Featured image The Iran nuclear deal requires that the administration certify (or decline to certify) to Congress every 90 days that Iran is in compliance and that the agreement is in the vital national security interest of the United States. The next certification is due today. Earlier in the day, National Security Council director H. R. McMaster indicated that the administration will so certify. McMaster added plenty of noise about how the »

They’ll always have Paris

Featured image What should we make of last week’s love fest in Paris between President Trump and French President Macron? On the surface, it was improbable. In the French election just a few months ago, Trump seemed more favorably disposed towards Marine Le Pen than towards Macron. And Trump did the unthinkable, from the French perspective, when he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Macron responded by attempting to ridicule »

The new meaning of treason

Featured image Rebecca West wrote a once well-known book about British supporters of the Nazis during World War II that she called The Meaning of Treason (1947). Harry Kalven’s review is posted here. West famously revisited the subject to take account of the British Communists who spied for the Soviet Union in The New Meaning of Treason (1964). Sidney Hook’s review is here. When I wrote “The new meaning of collusion” earlier »

Emmanuel Macron: The boy who cried “wolf”

Featured image Emmanuel Macron, the 39 year old president of France who has been in office for a few months, declared yesterday that “our world has never been so divided.” At the end of the G-20 summit, Macron intoned: “Centrifugal forces have never been so powerful; our common goods have never been so threatened.” I don’t know what Macron’s 64 year-old wife taught him when she was his high school teacher, but »

President Trump in Poland

Featured image President Trump’s visit to Poland — a great U.S. ally and a nation with strong personal links to ours — has become the latest pretext for Trump bashing by the U.S. media. The Washington Post (paper edition) tells us, darkly, that Trump “shares ideological affinities” with Poland’s right-wing ruling party. In particular, he shares its aversion to immigration by Muslims and its combative relationship with the press. The Post also »

North Korea missile launch indicates ability to hit Alaska

Featured image North Korea today successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. The launch marks a breakthrough of sorts for the regime. The missile flew higher and remained in the air longer than previous attempts — long enough to reach Alaska, experts believe. The New York Times explains: Their missile traveled only about 580 miles, by itself no great achievement. But it got there by taking a 1,700-mile trip into space and re-entering »