Trumpwatch: The Drum(pf)s of War
The Trump Era: A New Cold War, on multiple fronts:
Not since Bush launched a propaganda war against three nations (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea) with his jingoistic “Axis of Evil” rhetoric in 2002, has a U.S. president so successfully instigated Cold War II on so many fronts.
Barely a month into his “presidency”, and Trump has achieved what no other US President has in history. Winding back international relations to pre-Perestroika days, Trump (or his operatives in the Occupied White House) has shown belligerence toward;
After Iran test-fired a missile on 31 January, the American Empire has responded with bellicose threats from the Trump-occupied White House. In a press release, National Security Advisor, Michael T. Flynn – a Trump appointee – issued this threat;
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and engages in and supports violent activities that destabilize the Middle East. This behavior seems continuous despite the very favorable deal given to Iran by the Obama Administration. These sanctions target these behaviors.
Iran’s senior leadership continues to threaten the United States and our allies. Since the Obama Administration agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran in 2015, Iran’s belligerent and lawless behavior has only increased. Examples include the abduction of ten of our sailors and two patrol boats in January 2016, unwarranted harassment of vessel traffic and repeated weapons tests. Just this week, Iran tested a ballistic missile, and one of its proxy terrorist groups attacked a Saudi vessel in the Red Sea.
The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough. The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests.”
The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.
At a White House press briefing, Flynn added;
“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.”
Pentagon spokesperson, Christopher Sherwood, stoked the flames;
“The U.S. military has not changed its posture in response to the Iranian test missile launch.”
Unsurprisingly, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was scathing of the militaristic knee-jerk reaction from the Trump White House;
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, rejected claims that the Iranian missile test contravened a 2015 UN resolution which prohibited tests of ballistic missiles potentially capable of carrying atomic warheads;
“We do not see any special problems in this area. We want to stress again that missile launches with the use of missile technologies are not a breach of the [Joint Comprehensive] Plan of Action and UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We have brought this position to the notice of the US side as well.”
Trump is scheduled to meet Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – a sworn enemy of Iran – at the White House on February 15. With Trump’s slavish support for Israel, this will not bode well for peace in the Middle East.
A US war with Iran, coupled with on-going civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, would disrupt any remaining stability in the entire Middle East and possibly spark a third world war.
Not quite two weeks after his inauguration, Trump created an international incident when he spoke with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, on 2 December.
The phone call angered the Chinese leadership in Beijing, as the UK’s Guardian explained;
The US closed its embassy in Taiwan – a democratically ruled island which Beijing considers a breakaway province – in the late 1970s following the historic rapprochement between Beijing and Washington that stemmed from Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China.
Since then the US has adhered to the so-called “one China” principle which officially considers the independently governed island part of the same single Chinese nation as the mainland.
It seems improbable that Trump was not briefed by the US State Department that such a phone call would raise alarm bells with the Chinese government in Beijing. But according to the Taipei Times article;
Trump reportedly agreed to the call, which was arranged by Taiwan-friendly members of his campaign staff after his aides briefed him on issues regarding Taiwan and the situation in the Taiwan Strait, sources said.
Would one of those “Taiwan-friendly members of his campaign staff” be Steve Bannon?
Steve Bannon – far-right media-blogger, political activist, and executive chairperson of far-right website, Breitbart News.
The same Steve Bannon who – one month after Trump spoke with Taiwan’s president – made this startling statement to the world’s media;
Another Trump stooge, White House media spokesperson, Sean Spicer, announced;
“The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there [in the South China Sea].”
When US “interests” are threatened, the American Empire reacts in the only way it understands: war. Especially as our American cuzzies see themselves as Hollywood-style “good guys” in international conflicts;
“Washington policymakers seem addicted to intervention and war, unable to imagine there is any international problem they cannot solve.
The claim that the United States could have provided just the right amount of assistance to just the right groups [in Syria] to yield just the right outcome is a fantasy, belied by America’s failure to get much of anything in the Middle East right.”
By December, the Chinese government had had enough, issuing this warning through it’s mouthpiece, the state-owned Global Times;
In response, the Global Times, a state-run tabloid that sometimes reflects views from within the Communist party, said on Thursday that China should rebalance its stance towards Taiwan to “make the use of force as a main option and carefully prepare for it”.
“The Chinese mainland should display its resolution to recover Taiwan by force,” the paper wrote in an editorial. If Taiwan were to declare formal independence, it went on, “the Chinese mainland can in no time punish them militarily”.
As tensions increased, in response to US demands over the South China Sea, China unequivocally told the Americans to ‘butt out’. By the end of January, Beijing’s senior Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang,issued a more direct warning;
“There might be a difference [of opinion] over the sovereignty of these islands but it’s not for the United States. That might be between China and some other countries in this region. The South China Sea is not the United States territory or the international territory…”
“Since assuming office, Trump and his team have changed their rhetoric about China. Trump has stopped openly challenging China’s core interests, and instead showed respect to Beijing.
The change creates an impression that Trump is learning about his role in the realm of Sino-US ties. He’s now sending a new message that he does not want to be a disruptor of the Sino-US relations.”
Saner heads have seemingly prevailed somewhere within the dimly-lit coridors and back-rooms of the American Deep State.
Let’s hope that Trump learns the intricacies and dangers of international relations before he inadvertently blunders into an irretrievable crisis and triggers an atomic apocalypse.
World War I started with less.
During the presidential elections last year (and earlier), Trump made no secret of his inclination to keep the US out of “other people’s wars;
“Now we’re supposed to get involved with Syria? I would say stay out.”
In March 2016;
“I do think it’s a different world today and I don’t think we should be nation-building anymore. I think it’s proven not to work. And we have a different country than we did then. You know we have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting probably on a bubble, and, you know, it’s a bubble that if it breaks is going to be very nasty. And I just think we have to rebuild our country.”
In April 2016;
“We can’t be the policeman of the world. What we do get out of it?”
In May 2016;
“I would have stayed out of Syria and wouldn’t have fought so much for Assad, against Assad because I thought that was a whole thing. You have Iran, which we made into a power. Iran now is a power. Because of us, because of some of the dumbest deals I have ever seen. So now you have Iran and you have Russia in favor of Assad. We’re supposed to fight the two of them. At the same time, we’re supposed to fight ISIS, who is fighting Assad.”
On 30 January – ten days after the world witnessed Trump’s inauguration – US Navy Seal forces mounted a raid in Yemen to attack an alleged Al Qaeda base;
Washington, DC: A US commando died and three others were wounded in a deadly dawn raid on the al-Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen, which was the first military operation authorised by US President Donald Trump.
The US military said 14 militants died in the attack on a powerful al-Qaeda branch that has been a frequent target of US drone strikes.
The gunbattle in the rural Yakla district of al-Bayda province killed a senior leader in Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab, along with other militants, al-Qaeda said.
As usual, civilians were caught up in the gun-battle;
Medics at the scene, however, said around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.
Eight-year-old Anwar al-Awlaki, the daughter of US-born Yemeni preacher and al- Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki, was among the children who died in the raid, according to her grandfather. Her father was killed in a US drone strike in 2011.
“She was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” Nasser al- Awlaki told Reuters. “Why kill children? This is the new (US) administration – it’s very sad, a big crime.”
US Central Command (CENTCOM) on Wednesday confirmed that a raid carried out in Yemen earlier this week “likely killed” civilians, including possibly children.
“A team designated by the operational task force commander has concluded regrettably that civilian non-combattants were likely killed in the midst of a firefight during a raid in Yemen January 29. Casualties may include children,” said a statement from CENTCOM.
Noticeable, however, the story had changed from an “al-Qaeda militant group” to this;
In what was the first confirmed military raid under President Trump, commandos targeted three tribal chiefs with links to al Qaeda in the central province of Bayda.
More obscene still;
Trump on Wednesday paid a surprise visit to the family of the soldier, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, from Illinois. Afterwards, Trump described the visit as “something very sad, very beautiful.”
Though probably not as “beautiful” as one local Yemeni’s description of the brutal violence from the US attack;
“The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al- Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and unloaded paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside,” said one resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Next, the gunmen opened fire at the US soldiers who left the area, and the helicopters bombed the gunmen and a number of homes and led to a large number of casualties.”
For a man committed not to become involved in “other people’s wars”, Trump was quick of the mark to authorise this latest adventurism in the Middle East.
Update: Former national security official for President Barack Obama, Colin Kahl, has rejected claims that the Navy Seal attack in Yemen had been planned by the previous Administration. In a series of tweets, Khal said;
“1/DoD worked up GENERAL proposal for OVERALL set of expanded authorities for these types of raids at end of Obama admin
5/And, critically, Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen”
Even if Trump’s White House officials were being truthful (which is dubious), and the Navy Seal mission had been planned by the Obama Administration, the obvious question remains: why did Trump permit the attack to proceed?
Short answer: because very little has changed within the Deep State of the American Empire.
The “bromance” between Trump and Russian President, Putin, is well known. There appears to be a “detente” between Putin and the Trump Administration, with the suggestion last year that the Russians could be given a “free hand” in Syria.
As far back as September 2015, then-Republican candidate, Donald Trump told Bill Reilly on Fox News that he would – in essence – be giving Putin suzerainty over Syria;
“Well, we spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over, and Putin is now taking over what we started, and he’s going into Syria, and he frankly wants to fight ISIS, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. You know, I said that a year ago and everybody said oh, that’s terrible. If he wants to fight ISIS, let him fight ISIS. Why do we always have to do everything. But he wants to go in. He wants to fight ISIS. Now, he wants to keep, as you know, he wants to keep your leadership, your current leadership, Assad in Syria. Personally I’ve been looking at the different players, and I’ve been watching Assad, and I’ve been pretty good at this stuff over the years, cause deals are people. And I’m looking at Assad and saying, ‘Maybe he’s better than the kind of people that we’re supposed to be backing.’ Because we don’t even know who we’re backing.”
O’Reilly probed further;
“Once Putin gets in and fights ISIS on behalf of Assad, Putin runs Syria. He owns it. He’ll never get out, never.”
“Alright, okay, fine. I mean, you know, we can be in Syria. Do you want to run Syria? Do you want to own Syria? I want to rebuild our country.”
Putin took up the offer, deploying Russian naval and air-power to support Assad’s forces to retake Aleppo.
But Trump’s willingness to carve up the world, Yalta Conference-21st Century style, delineating “spheres of influence”, does not seem to extend to the Ukraine which lies on Russia’s doorstep.
On 2/3 February, Trump’s appointee as the US’s ambassador to the UN, former-Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, launched a blistering attack on Russia for it’s activities in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea;
“ I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance here is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.”The sudden increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine has trapped thousands of civilians and destroyed vital infrastructure and the crisis is spreading, endangering many thousands more. This escalation of violence must stop.
The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” said Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s envoy to the world body. “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”
The Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN, Volodymyr Yelchenko, pitched in, holding up a photo of a slain Ukrainian serviceman;
The Ukrainian Ambassador addressed the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Yelchenko, accusing;
“You killed him.”
The Russian ambassador, though, was having none of the United States’ grandstanding, but responded with noticeable restraint;
“The essence of those events is quite clear: Kiev is trying to use the armed clashes that it provoked as a pretext for a complete rejection of the February 12, 2015, Minsk agreements, sealed by the UN Security Council resolution 2202.
Any serious intensification of hostilities in Donbass miraculously coincides with foreign visits of the Ukrainian leadership. Apparently, this is how Kiev expects to keep the crisis that it had provoked on the international agenda.
And, of course, the Ukrainian leadership needs money today, that can easily wheedle out of the European Union, some European nations, the United States and international financial institutions when they pretend to be a victim of ‘aggression’.”
Later, the Russian ambassador appeared conciliatory toward Ambassador Haley;
“I think it was friendly enough, given the circumstances, and given the subject which we were discussing. We may have some differences on some individual issues from time to time, but the fact remains that she is going to play a very important role in whether or not the SC will be able to play a role as a collective international body carrying the main responsibility for international peace and security.”
It is not hard to guess why.
Putin wants to maintain the positive relationship that appeared between himself and Trump during last year’s election campaign. No doubt the Russian leadership is hoping to get Trump back “on board” with some skilled diplomacy. A few sugar-coated words from the Russian president should appeal to Trump’s ego.
Putin may have his work cut out for him as Trump has already been in contact with the Ukrainian leadership, at about the same time Ambassador Haley was busily denouncing the Russians;
President Donald J. Trump just had [5 p.m. Saturday] a very good call with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine to address a variety of topics, including Ukraine’s long-running conflict with Russia. “We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border,” said President Trump. Also discussed was the potential for a meeting in the near future.
The new American leadership is hyper-Nationalistic and has more in common with the Ukrainian nationalistic government than it does with Moscow.
It may be a matter of time before Putin and Trump’s “respect for each other” dissolves into acrimony. The president of Mexico and Prime Minister of Australia can testify to how fractious Trump can be when he doesn’t get his own way;
There is no way that Russia will surrender it’s interests in the Ukraine. Just as the American Empire considered Cuba to be well within it’s “sphere of influence”, and blockaded the island during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Russia will not abandon it’s influence on it’s western borders.
Like the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula, the Ukraine is a dangerous flash-point. It is one mis-calculation away from war.
— Doomsday Clock
Recognising the dangerous situation posed by a volatile Trump and the new Nationalist regime in Washington, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock forward by thirty seconds. It is now two and a half minutes to Doomsday.
Leading scientists, who are the clock’s keepers, say the world has edged closer to apocalypse in the past year amid a darkening security landscape and comments by US President Donald Trump.
In a report, the BPA said Mr Trump’s statements on climate change, expanding the US nuclear arsenal and the questioning of intelligence agencies had contributed to the heightened global risk.
It is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1953, when the minute hand was moved to two minutes away following hydrogen bomb tests by the US and Russia.
The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock is a metaphor for how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe.
No wonder Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Executive Director, Rachel Bronson appealed to world leaders to “calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war”.
The last time the hands of the Doomsday Clock were so close to mid-night (Doomsday) was in 1953, when the US test-detonated it’s first Hydrogen Bomb.
We live in dangerous times.
The White House: Statement by National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn on Iran
The Jerusalem Post: Trump’s UN envoy – Israel will ‘never again’ question US support
Taipei Times: Tsai-Trump telephone call scheduled
Wikipedia: Steve Bannon
The Huffington Post: Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable
Sydney Morning Herald: US raid on al-Qaeda compound in Yemen Donald Trump’s first military engagement as president
The White House Archives: Vice President Biden Announces Dr. Colin Kahl as New National Security Advisor
Wikipedia: Yalta Conference
Complex.com: Did Donald Trump Piss Off Two of Our Biggest Allies?
Radio NZ: Doomsday Clock moved closer to midnight
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Timeline
Fox News: Trump unveils plan to boost US military
Bowalley Road: Political Paradoxes
Brian Edwards: Profile of Leader of the Free World
Imperator Fish: The fascism of facts
Gordon Campbell on NZ’s silence over Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda
Local Bodies: Trump’s Muslim ban exposes stupidity
Mars2earth: you are the resistance
Mars2earth: the start of the peel
No Right Turn: Outright corruption in the US
The Standard: New Zealand Second?
The Standard: Postcards from the Trumpocalypse
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 February 2017.
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