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The United States on the World Stage: Slow-Motion Train Wreck

7 October 2019

The Slow-Motion Train Wreck.

Today’s foreign affairs headline reflects, in microcosm, our status as the “world super power.” We are no longer that, of course. We are an international train wreck. Specifically, what your are about to read is why I put chapter 16 in Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore. More generally, realities like what you’ll see below are why I wrote the book.

Let me preface by saying that precious few who read this will come away with the intended message. The reason for that is simple. Folks who read political/social commentary tend to lean in one strong direction or another. In today’s childish political environment that mostly equates to the two camps of I-LOVE-EVERYTHING-ABOUT-TRUMP (ILEAT) or TRUMP-IS-THE-ANTICHRIST (TITA). Both camps are brain damaged and rarely capable of real discourse.

The ILEAT believes that POTUS is a genius. No matter how stupid or immature his comments or tweets, they are convinced the gaffes are really signs of an underlying genius that only ILEAT members have the gift to understand. They believe he authored the tax reduction and actually “cured” us of Obamacare. He did neither. They believe that a wall, because he told them so, was going to solve out illegal immigration problem. It won’t. But don’t tell ILEAT that.

This cadre also believes that Donald Trump really is the greatest dealmaker of all time. A dealmaker he may be (there is doubt about who actually negotiated his deals in civilian life) but that hasn’t served him well so far in his international dealings and that is what we will discuss here.

And let’s face it, 1600 words is nothing. But for the average voter right now it’s considered a tough slog.

Look at North Korea, Hong Kong, Europe, China, Iran. They are taking advantage of Trump’s overtures to gain legitimacy. In the case of North Korea and Iran it is ONLY in Trump’s talk of making deals with them that they have even the pretense of legitimacy. But… in order to make the “beautiful, beautiful” deals the Donald claims are on the horizon, he needs people on the other side who want to make a deal. So far, none of them do, so they string him along with hints of deals and short, meaningless “negotiations”.

On the TITA side you have the idiots who think everything wrong with the US, especially foreign affairs, is the fault of Donald J. Trump. This is even more absurd than the former group.

Whether you agree with Trump’s approach or not (I don’t) there is one truth that can only be denied by the most credulous and ignorant: He is at least trying to move us back onto the world stage and regain some power and prestige.

Generations of politicians before him, both legislative and executive, have slowly ground away our position in the world mostly through a combination of incompetence, cowardice and cruelty. I’ll explain how that is still true today. Trump’s immediate predecessor actually took sides AGAINST America’s interests from his infamous apology tour through his standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the mullahs, against his own people, to guarantee Iran nuclear weapons by 2024.

Trump may be flailing from scheme to scheme, but he is at least trying. I will also credit him thusly: I think much of what we have seen of our policies throughout the Middle East are the result of advice going to Trump from advisors who have no greater concept of success there than he has.

So, with all that said, why write the article at all?

Someone has to say it.

One other caveat: This is not intended as an argument for or against new adventures in foreign lands. It is a critique of our existing ones.

If you prefer to get straight to the big picture, read the book.

So let’s dive in.

The morning headlines announced Trump’s reversal of his December reversal of his previous announcement that we were leaving Northern Syria. Back in December, when he first blurted out that we were leaving the region it became immediately clear that he was acting on impulse and had not sought the advice of the Pentagon or the Joint Chiefs. When they had a collective conniption, Trump quickly said we would stay to protect the Kurds (loyal allies) from Turkey’s clear intention to wipe them out. This morning? Meh…not so much.

From Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan we can now add Syria to the list of places where we wasted American and foreign lives for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In most cases, we have then left those who fought by our side to be broken by the enemy, as is now the case with the Kurds.

The poor, pathetic Kurds. Three times in three decades we sought their support in our ham-handed dealings in Iraq, and now Syria. Three times they took our side asking that we be there for them, if not to help them gain the independence they sought, then at least to keep them from being overrun by their enemies. And now, again, we have failed them.

Remember, it was Bashir al-Assad, emboldened by Barack Obama’s fecklessness, who decided to break from his father’s harsh but pragmatic style and start to crush his opponents overtly. Obama’s repeated lack of response (no law said he had to respond) left a power vacuum too tempting for Russia to resist. Assad had made too many domestic enemies. Seducing him was a cakewalk for Putin. 

In regaining a foothold in the Mediterranean not enjoyed since the 70’s, Russia made a cold calculation to let ISIS run free in northern Syria. Their presence there and in Northern Iraq, on real estate we paid for with blood – more than once – was icing on the cake for both Putin and Assad. They knew our position in Iraq was severely diminished thanks to Obama’s intentional destruction of the previous Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Even the sorry, corrupt government in Iraq at the time knew Obama didn’t care how many American lives were lost there when he sent Joe “Duh” Biden to “renegotiate” (SOFA) less than a month before it expired.

This set the stage for Iran to become the dominant force over the area we had fought for.

With the US busy in Iraq, Assad could continue to gas villages sympathetic to his internal enemies. If we moved against Syria, we would be the aggressors, on paper anyway.


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And the situation didn’t improve with age. Obama played paddy cake with ISIS and Putin for the final years of his presidency. His obsequious use of the term ISIL (even ISIS didn’t use the self-aggrandizing term for themselves anymore) throughout made it even more distasteful to watch.

The Trump administration reinvigorated W’s limited war practice to just barely rid Iraq and part of Syria of ISIS. Now, with the help of Turkey, ISIS is reconstituting as we speak.

The only locals who actually fought effectively through all this were the Kurds.

And so we come full circle. This is the same Turkey who will roll right past our people in the region and try to stomp the remaining Kurdish forces there into a fine paste. The Donald is making tough noises about this, “I’ll wreck your economy” and such. But that is for domestic consumption. If Turkey respected Trump they wouldn’t be sheltering ISIS or pushing into Syria to kill Kurds. They are doing both.

This post isn’t about whether we should involve ourselves in these places. That ship has sailed. The fact is, under an endless succession of post-Vietnam yes-men, we ARE there. We have once again wasted American lives and not pushed the contest to an advantageous outcome.

The few reading this who understand how the world actually works, get it. But the others?…

To the TITAs among you: Did Trump’s predecessors do any better? While I disagree with his approach to our present situation, I would contend POTUS is doing as well or better than any of his predecessors since WWII. That’s a REALLY LOW goddamn bar.

To the ILEATs; However we feel about Iraq (I don’t think we needed to go there) what of our actions since?  All those Americans killed and injured taking territory – in the case of some cities, more than once. Did they do it so Iran could take control of two thirds of the fucking country? And the guys who fought ISIS, was that so the nut bags could take cover in Turkey and come back later? How do we sum this up? Was it all just a fucking gesture? Do we now get to “harrumph” everyone and walk away having accomplished nothing, or worse leaving the field to a happier, healthier enemy (Iran)?

I’ll answer all those questions for you. No, Trump’s predecessors have done no better. They were all gullible enough to think limited war is a good idea. (Some jerkoff in the last 20 or so years came up with the term asymmetrical warfare as a synonym for limited war. It sounds so POWER POINT!) And yes, we are going to treat the sacrifices, both ours and those of our enemies, as a vapid gesture and we are going to walk away.

 

Thank you TITAs and ILEATs. Thanks to all who think war is good or bad based on who is president at the time. And of course, thanks to the governing class. Because of you, we WILL do this all again after we finally absent ourselves from Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s because many reading this are hopping mad right now – not at the situation, but at me – and you are incapable of learning.

All the other foreign debacles I mentioned at the outset will play out just as well. Some of that will be Trump’s fault. But his predecessors teed all of it up, especially in the cases of China and North Korea.

Oh, hell. Just read the damn book.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/35980364@N04/31607887384/”>mccauleys-corner</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Putin:Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/9817146255/”>Gwydion M. Williams</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
protest: Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/126497846@N03/46815696351/”>hillels</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
soldier:  Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/152139242@N07/47928990378/”>Katzencie ♡</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
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Part 3: I Am Throwing My Hands Into the Air. The Imperial Trump

  What did I tell you? What the HELL did I tell you?

This is part 3 in my discussion about our acceptance of extra-constitutional bullshit and how we think it’s okay when our guy does it. The Imperial Trump is not a good thing, no more than the Imperial BHO.

In part 2 I said that by not weathering another shutdown and declaring an “emergency” over the border wall dispute, Trump would set in motion a wave of silly, dangerous nonsense by the opposition.

Well, now we have Elizabeth Warren and others talking about what their emergencies are going to be. Healthcare will be declared and emergency. College education will be declared an emergency. ( I have to agree with this one. College education, thanks to governmental interference, is now pathetic. There is too much of it!) And of course, the high holy of stupid issues, Climate Change will be declared an emergency.


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Thanks, Donald. Because you can’t see past THIS one issue, because your ego was being battered (I know, they are too hard on you.), and because you play checkers while you opponents play chess, you have created the perfect atmosphere for the complete undoing of the American experiment.

But MJ, Everybody else did it!

Do you remember your mom irritating you with logic when you were 7 years old? “Just because Johnny Snotnose jumps off trees into the creek doesn’t mean you have to do it.”

But mommy! He did it! So I wanna do it too!!!

Adult much?!?!?

I have TOO MANY of my friends, ADULTS, from both sides of the political nuthouse, saying the emergency declaration is okay because the others did it. When BHO changed immigration law, after acknowledging he had no right whatsoever to do it (a rare moment of honesty), his cult said it was okay because W did it. Now the Trump cult is saying it is okay that he makes up law because BHO did it. And on and on it goes.

Well, kids, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

But MJ, Obama did it with big things!

No shit. And do you remember our opposition to it? Do you remember what we said then? We said he was acting like a king. We said what he did was unconstitutional. And we were right. The only correct executive actions Trump has taken so far were the elimination of some of Obama’s moronic actions. What can be created with the stroke of a pen can be eliminated with one.


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BUT…that which is created by Congress, even though we don’t like it, cannot be undone with the stroke of a pen. At least this is was true when there was a United States of America. That was the country that used to be governed by an organizing document called a Constitution. That country no longer exists. You can still see a land mass labeled as such on a map, but the country no longer exists. It is now New Post-Republic Rome.

Back when there was a USA, the only CORRECT action that would have been left to the president was the veto. In this case he had already exercised that option. But impatient to just get on with it, he backed down and set up a scenario where he would take the NPRR vs the USA approach.

Ruins as allegory, subtle, right?

People who correctly criticized his predecessor for such actions are now cheering Trump’s imperial presidency. IDIOTS!

Would another pretend shutdown have sucked? Yeah, a little. But by doing the right thing and making the correct, if more difficult, adult argument, Trump would have eventually prevailed.

(And no, my gullible friends, putting 800,000 people on extended furlough would not have crippled the economy, not matter what Joe Scarborough told you. And please, do remember they are non-essential government workers in an economy with 7 million unfilled job openings. If shutdowns are so hard on these poor souls, they could have nifty, new jobs tomorrow.)

And then there is the Tariff thing…

As of this morning, 22 Feb 19, I am now hearing rumblings, even from Trump cheerleaders like Stuart Varney saying we are looking at Obama era growth numbers for this quarter. The stock market is as volatile now as it was throughout the BHO nightmare. And we are creating an atmosphere where people think Bernie Sanders and Faux-cahontas are actually seen as more than emotionalist morons!

Why? Tariffs, my boy, Tariffs.

By instigating this uncertainty, markets hate uncertainty for sound reason, and by doing so with a phony national security argument; Trump has effectively killed the benefits of tax cuts and the general optimism created in his first year as president.

As I predicted in part one of this series and in other places, when all this tariff nonsense settles out, the president will have accomplished exactly nothing. We will end up almost exactly where we were with respect to the world economy as we were when we started.

Any concessions he squeezes out of China WILL NOT be honored. They will continue to behave exactly as they always have. These token purchases you see Trump’s cheerleaders talking about, like soy and rice are just one-offs to give the appearance of cooperation. These are consumables of the first order. Don’t look for China to buy tons and tons of either in the future.

Conclusion

If you really care about where all this is taking us you should read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

But about trade, I will say this: We are SUPPOSED to have to have trade deficits with everyone. We consume far more than any other country; more than entire continents. And our goods, because of demand and self-destructive labor practices, are more expensive than those in competing countries. This is a GOOD THING except for the union bullshit.

We need to strive for free trade, not even or equal trade. (And what the hell is fair trade?) But to do that, you would need to shame the 535 moral cowards on Capital Hill into striking all subsidies and tax breaks from the federal code. You would then have to insist our trading partners do the same. If you want to trade here, you trade in clean, unsubsidized goods. If you breach that, you’ve just sold you last widget in the US.  Trust me, Europe and Asia would cry us a river. Then they would do exactly as we say. And they will be better off for it.

 That would be a trade policy in which everyone would win, and the US especially would thrive. Oh, how the corrupt cronies would howl during the transition, but they would know that when and if such a trade environment did exist, they would be just fine. Hell, that’d be on fire.

But alas, because we have corrupt politicians who opt for fragmentary “free trade deals” (an oxymoron) and trade through executive overreach, and because we have children/citizens who cheer their stupidity, we are likely doomed to remain NPRR. The USA will likely never exist again.

And know this, when you cheer your guy doing stupid things because their guy did the same stupid things, you are as responsible for our slide toward NPRR than anyone you criticize.

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Mathew Schwartz
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My Facebook Friends Are Drones. An inner monologue.

We are indeed a lovely lot of mindless drones. The state of our nation is in free-fall. This is the product of our own numb skulls.  Thank you Facebook!

It would be one thing to say that we had no choice in the matter. Perhaps an evil government entity snuck some hypnotic substance into our junk food causing us to loose the power of reason and abandon maturity. Perhaps we are being manipulated by the evil government entity.

 

But such is not the case. We have done this to ourselves. We, through our self-destructive level of complacency and intellectual sloth have given over everything that is ours, including our capacity to reason to a cacophony of entertainment media and our lessers on Capitol Hill.

 

Of course, I paint with a wide brush. There are individuals who work hard every day to make you aware of the ocean of inanity we are happily drowning in. Some work in the very entertainment industry I mentioned. You can actually find them on CNN, FOX News, the U. S. Government and on multiple internet sites like this one.

 

Arrogant, you say? Who am I to set myself on such a lofty pedestal? Well, you might have a point if I were discussing complex issues like Quantum Mechanics, microbiology or how a Slinky can walk down the steps, all of which are far beyond my capacity for understanding.

 

But I’m not. It is much simpler than all that. I am speaking here of our ability to know when we are being played; manipulated. The game is ubiquitous and depressingly obvious. And nearly all of us either ignore it or voluntarily dive into the cesspool and swim around in it. Worse, many of us contribute extra layers of excrement to it in places like Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Every day, we tune in to our favorite echo chamber and drink stupid through a fire hose. Whatever the issue – taxes, immigration, Hollywood’s adolescent celebration of the word “fuck”, there seems to be two basic reactions among the vast majority of people: ignoring the issue (I can’t blame you, but you do so, often at your peril) or jumping into the fray with mindless and/or intentionally offensive comments. And most of what I read in FB threads and from “professional” news personalities alike, do not inform, deal in truth or contribute to the betterment of anything.

 

Pick any talk program or any FB thread – that isn’t about kitties playing with toilet paper – and ferret out the comments that are based on reason. Then look at the rest. Do a running tally on both. It will take you perhaps two or three threads and ten comments each to spot the pattern I speak of. The only difference between FB drones and “professional” commentators is splashier presentation and a big budget. And I’ll provide an example in just a sec.

 

But almost all of it slavishly serves a phony “side” in a non-existent battle between forces that commentators couldn’t define if you paid them to do it. I will have to break down that comment in a separate article. But it is probably the root of the intellectual abyss we find ourselves in.

 

But here’s the upshot of things we are seeing, wall-to-wall, on immigration this week. The newsies messed up. Last week Trump had the best week he’s had in a while and the Mueller Investigation, for the same reason, had it’s worst. A few basic truths trickled out into the light of day.

 

There was a sudden spark of outrage among parts of the population, enough to trigger an all-out response by the entertainment/news industry to change the subject.

 

[No, I am not a Trump supporter. Read my work. The words “President Trump” still do not roll easily off my tongue, although I don’t question his occupation of the office. I simply throw the bullshit flag wherever bullshit bubbles up.]

 

We have had the immigration issue on slow boil for decades. It is a tool both parties use to keep you from focusing on real issues, like the fact that Fannie and Freddie are nearly broke again and will soon need another trillion-dollar bailout. This will make 2008 look like a 3-point market correction.

 

So look over here!

 

Don’t look at the most brazen abuse of the presidency in our history (all the things Obama did to squash opponents – that would be the Mueller thing no one is supposed to focus on)!

Don’t look at the silly home loan thingy.

Look at the plight of the people no one really cares a lick about anyway. Look at the crying children in the pictures, including the ones staged by the people protesting how we make children cry…by making children cry.

 

We are “imprisoning” innocent (?) people who broke a law and are now being called on it! How dare we?

 

Leave alone the fact that the processing these people face is a goddamn welcome wagon when compared to the shitholes they just left behind. Don’t consider the man-hours and effort and money spent to make them comfy while they await almost inevitable release onto our streets. Ignore the fact that MAYBE 3% will ever show up for the hearing they will surely dodge at the border.

 

YOU ARE ORDERED TO ACCCEPT THE FACT THE DONAL TRUMP IS A NAZI AND ALL THE PEOPLE WORKING ON THE BORDER ARE NAZIS.

 

Or if you are on the opposing side:

 

THIS IS PROOF THAT WE NEED A BORDER WALL!

 

Both those statements are, of course, bullshit.

 

It was and continues to be pathetically predicable. I use illegal immigration as an example because it happens to be the line of bullshit run on us right now, and as it develops the bullshit continues to pile up. It is simply the timeliest demonstration of how we are being played.

 

The laws and regulations protecting illegals crossing the southern border are voluminous, so much so that they are almost impossible to enforce. That is intentional.

 

So (I’ll say it – President Trump) signs an executive order* directing that families be kept together.

 

And this is where the predictability continues. It was precisely what politicians, newsies and stupid people on FB had been chanting since the IG report showed how vile and corrupt the FBI and Justice Department had become. “Keep the families together” was the phrase heard in every pass on your Facebook page and several times a minute on every “news” program.

 

So Trump says okay, keep the families together.

 

This morning what do we see in “newspapers”, commentaries, and on social media? IT’S NOT ENOUGH! IT DOESN’T INCLUDE GRANDPARENTS, COUSINS, AUNTS AND UNCLES.

 

WTF? (I characterized my reaction thus for the FB drones) What that means is: who are these people kidding? No one, and I mean no one, ever intended to include extended family in this phony protest. You didn’t, Mika Brzezinski didn’t, even the Four Morons didn’t. But the whiners had to add that in today because their demands about taking kids from their moms were met. Some people just can’t take “yes” for an answer. People like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

 

The fact is, this is all fuelled by a simple anti-Trump agenda. It isn’t real. The folks crying about illegal immigrants today, on both sides of the argument, will be on to the next shiny object when told to be by the “news” entertainers. Only a negligible few will fight for or against illegals as they always have. The rest will have made themselves feel good, having contributed to the stupidity of their fellow man.

 

Let’s get a taste of how things get so blown out of proportion.

 

This is Joe Scarborough on the child separation issue: “I know children are being ripped from their mother’s arms, even while they’re being breast-fed. I know children are being marched away to showers, marched away to showers. Being told they are — just like the Nazis — said that they were taking people to the showers and then they never came back.”

 

That has got to be the single most irresponsible, most appalling thing I have ever heard from a “news” entertainer. That idiot compared holding your child in the custody of caregivers while you await processing (a reward for committing a crime) to killing people in gas chambers with Zyclon-B! And the stupid people all over social media jumped right on it. They loved it!

 

As an aside, I was just wondering if Mistress Mika made him say it. Perhaps she had him on his knees in a leather G-string during show prep.

 

“You will say the Nazi shower line, you dirty, little comment boy!” [cracks whip across pasty, white butt]

 

“Yes Mistress!”

 

And Scarborough is not alone. There are endless references to Nazis throughout the “news” and from Capitol Hill. It’s a common theme when criticizing Trump. And it can never be defined. Even the people using the term “nazi”, in these endless I-hate-Trump contexts, wouldn’t know a nazi from a kumkuat.

 

There was a time, I would say 4 or 5 years ago, when Scarborough would have not survived an hour in his present position, for a comment so vile. Not today. Today, like I said, you drink your stupid through a fire hose, and most of you are dumb enough to accept it. That’s how far we have fallen.

 

And can you imagine if George Will had made such a comment about an Obama policy? Even the exact same policy? He’d have gotten a double whammy for the crappy nazi comment AND being racist for disagreeing with Dear Leader Obama. Either way, he’d have been escorted from the studio during the next commercial break.

 

So here’s a challenge: the next time you are told to look over at the new shiny object, take a look around at what they would rather not talk about. And I mean the “they” on both sides of the aisle. You will find, almost without exception, the big headlines are not the most important political or social issue you should be focusing on.

 

More on this and related topics to come.

 

Maybe I’ll go back to talking about some of Trump’s bullshit. That will make some of my friends who think they are “liberal” happy.

 

Here endeth my random stream of consciousness on poor citizenship. Cheers.

*This is total bullshit in that he has no authority to do this. The laws he addressed can only be addressed legislatively.  “But – B. Hussein did it, so why can’t we?” comes the chant from people who think they are conservative.

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