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October 23, 2019

Open Thread 2019-61

For all the stuff your host doesn't manage to blog about ...

Posted by b at 19:18 UTC | Comments (33)

When Trump Ignored Bad Advice He Enabled Progress In Syria

When bureaucrats and officials, also known as the Borg, contradict the foreign policy of the president they inevitably create chaos. We yesterday explained how that happens:

Since Donald Trump became president many of his subordinates have tried to subvert his policies. Instead of implementing Trump's idea and preferences they have tried to implement their own. Some have done so because they believed that it is the "right thing to do" while others have ignored Trump's wishes to play their own game.

Trump was smart enough to circumvent the Borg with regards to northeast Syria. This led to the removal of U.S. troops and the Turkish-Russian agreement which is an excellent outcome for all sides.


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Commentator ben and others critizised yesterday's post:

b, I've been a participant at this site for 14yrs, and I don't believe I've ever seen your take on any subject more "off base", than your take on DJT.

This "man" has never been anything else but a grifter and giant con. Virtually everything he has done, he's done to enrich himself and his family. That is, besides deconstruct the U$ govt. to enrich his class of people, (the malignantly rich) by dialing back regulations that protect everyday Americans from the greed of the mega-corporations.

He's a sycophant for the corporate monsters who now own the U$A. Anything and everything he's done, isn't because he is such an egalitarian, it's for his personal enrichment, and the monsters he works for.

When they're done with him, they'll throw him under the bus, just like all the rest of us...

I agree with ben's characterization of Trump. I dislike most of his policies. But that does not change the fact that Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit.

Ben's and my opinion about Trump do not invalidate the point I made. Trump policies, especially in international relations, are getting sabotaged or co-opted by the Borg, the unelected establishment in the various departments and think tanks. This is a dangerous phenomenon that, more or less, hinders every elected president, especially those who want to make peace. It should be resisted.

The people in leading positions of the executive work "at the pleasure of the president". Their task is to execute his policies. When they refrain from doing so or implement their own preferences they create a mess.

Consider two additional examples, both published yesterday, which describe how James Jeffrey, the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, tried to sabotage Trump's decision to leave Syria and, while doing that, misled the Kurds:

A State Department official told a senior Syrian Kurdish leader during a meeting in Washington that the United States would not fully withdraw its forces from northeast Syria and advised her administration not to engage with Bashar al-Assad’s government or with Russia.

According to two sources familiar with the Monday, October 22 meeting, a senior member of Washington’s diplomatic team is said to have become angry and told Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, that the U.S. will not allow the SDC to arrange a deal with the Assad regime or Russia for protection against the Turkey-led attack.
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SDC officials told The Defense Post that American officials in the past have promised they would not withdraw U.S. forces until a political settlement was in place to secure their future in the Syrian political system.

Trump had long announced that the U.S. military will leave Syria. He had made no promises to the Kurds. The State Department official did not do his job but contradicted Trump's policies.

Another report on an earlier State Department meeting with the Kurds paints a similar picture:

The National Interest has learned from multiple sources about tense meetings between SDC diplomats and State Department officials who oversee the Trump administration’s policy on Syria. The State Department repeatedly pushed for the SDC to work with Turkish-backed Islamist rebels while berating Syrian Kurdish officials and refusing to listen to their concerns, according to multiple sources.

One source with firsthand knowledge of the screaming session told the National Interest that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rayburn, who is a special envoy for Syria, yelled at SDC officials and broke a pencil in a translator’s face. Two sources with secondhand knowledge confirmed this version of events.

“[Rayburn] loves the Syrian Islamist groups,” one of the three sources said. “He thinks they can counter Iran. He is dreaming.”

“He is pushing [the SDC] to meet with jihadists,” the source added.

To tell the anarcho-marxist YPG/PKK Kurds to unite with Erdogan's Jihadis is an absolutely crazy idea. Neither the Kurds nor Erdogan would ever agree to a partnership. These were impossible policies. They made no sense at all.

Jeffrey and his shop clearly worked against Trump's orders and against U.S. interests. Jeffrey clearly favors Turkey where he once worked as U.S. ambassador and, above all, Israel:

In addition to the uptick in tense verbal exchanges, the three different sources described to the National Interest how State Department officials attempted to condemn the brutal murder of Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevrin Khalaf only to have their efforts waylayed by Ambassador James Jeffrey, who oversees anti-ISIS efforts. Jeffrey blocked the statement, they said.
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Now, even as U.S. troops are stepping aside to allow Turkey to attack U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, Jeffrey’s team is floating plans to peel off Arab components of the Syrian Democratic Forces to build a counter-Iran force far from the Turkish border.

It is Jeffrey who is pressing for a continued U.S. occupation of Syria's oilfields. These are not Trump's policies, but contradictions to them.

Aymenn Al-Tamimi makes a similar point:

When [Trump in December 2018] told his advisers that he wanted to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, he meant it. The message should have been clear: devise an orderly withdrawal plan.

But that is not what happened. Instead, efforts and attention were geared towards U.S. forces remaining indefinitely in Syria.

One can criticize Trump for not selecting advisors and envoys who follow his directions. But Trump is a New Yorker businessman and not a politician with decades of experience in Washington. He does not know who he can trust. He has to proceed by trial and error until he finds people who are willing to go work with him against those permanent powers that usually drive U.S. foreign policy.

In a congress hearing yesterday James Jeffrey admitted (vid) that Trump did not consult him before his phone call with Erdogan.

By going off-scrip in that phone call and by greenlighting the Turkish invasion Trump achieved - despite the resistance within his own administration - a win-win-win-win situation in Syria:

Erdogan could show that he was fighting against the PKK terrorists and prevented their attempts to become a proto-state. Trump could hold his campaign promise of removing U.S. troops from useless foreign interventions. Syria regained its northeast and the important economic resources of that area. Russia gained global prestige and additional influence in the Middle East.

We will have to wait for Trump's (and Putin's) memoir to learn how much of this has been coordinated behind the scenes.

I for one count this as a major foreign policy achievement for Trump and I am happy with this outcome.


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Posted by b at 15:23 UTC | Comments (124)

October 22, 2019

When U.S. Officials Ignore The President The Outcome Is Chaos

Since Donald Trump became president many of his subordinates have tried to subvert his policies. Instead of implementing Trump's idea and preferences they have tried to implement their own. Some have done so because they believed that it is the "right thing to do" while others have ignored Trump's wishes to play their own game.

A recent example can be found in a Washington Post Ukrainegate story:

Trump’s conversations with Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country — one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said.
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The efforts to poison Trump’s views toward Zelensky were anticipated by national security officials at the White House, officials said. But the voices of Putin and Orban took on added significance this year because of the departure or declining influence of those who had sought to blunt the influence of Putin and other authoritarian leaders over Trump.
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American policy has for years been “built around containing malign Russian influence” in Eastern Europe, a U.S. official said. Trump’s apparent susceptibility to the arguments he hears from Putin and Orban is “an example of the president himself under malign influence — being steered by it.”

The president does not like how the 'American policy' on Russia was built. He rightly believes that he was elected to change it. He had stated his opinion on Russia during his campaign and won the election. It is not 'malign influence' that makes him try to have good relations with Russia. It is his own conviction and legitimized by the voters.

Trump's policies look chaotic. But one big reason for that is that some of his staff, like the 'U.S. official' above, are trying to subvert them. They have tried and still try to cage him in on nearly every issue. When Trump then wields his Twitter sword and cuts through the subversion by publicly restating his original policies the look from the outside is indeed chaotic. But it is the president who sets the policies. The drones around him who serve "at his pleasure" are there to implement them.

Instead they have tried (and try) to make their own ones:

Cont. reading: When U.S. Officials Ignore The President The Outcome Is Chaos

Posted by b at 17:24 UTC | Comments (117)

October 21, 2019

737 MAX Produces More Bad News For Boeing

The financial markets have finally woken up to Boeing's criminal behavior around the certification of the 737 MAX:

Boeing shares were falling in premarket trading Monday after analysts from at least two firms cut their ratings and price targets in light of recent revelations about the Chicago aerospace giant's grounded 737 MAX jetliner. Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn cut Boeing to neutral from outperform and pared his price target to $323 from $416 after publication of instant messages by an ex-senior test pilot at the company that he "unknowingly" misled safety regulators about a 737 MAX control system.

"We can no longer defend the shares in light of the latest discoveries, [which] significantly increase the risk profile for investors," Spingarn said in a note to investors.
...
Boeing was the Dow's biggest loser on Friday, closing down 6.8% to $344.

At 1:00PM EDT Boeing was down to $330. Since the second deadly MAX crash Boeing's share price has decreased by more than 18%. On Wednesday Boeing will reveal its quarterly results and may well announce billions more of losses.

The bad news for Boeing continues to come in.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, whose grandniece died in a 737 Max crash, says that Boeing CEO Muilenburg and the entire board need to go. Nader says that the plane should never fly again.

There are signs that Boeing will reduce or even completely stop the production of new 737 MAX at least until its re-certification is assured. Currently Boeing still produces 42 MAX per month without delivering any to its customers.

The downgrading of Boeing comes after a three years old exchange between two MAX project pilots came to light:

The exchange of messages in 2016 between the two lead technical pilots on the Boeing 737 MAX program was released Friday after regulators blew up at the company for belatedly disclosing the matter. The messages reveal that the flight-control system, which two years later went haywire on the crashed flights, was behaving aggressively and strangely in the pilots’ simulator sessions.
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“It’s running rampant in the sim on me,” 737 Chief Technical Pilot Mark Forkner wrote to Patrik Gustavsson, who would succeed him as chief technical pilot. “I’m levelling off at like 4000 ft, 230 knots and the plane is trimming itself like craxy. I’m like, WHAT?” (Spelling errors in the original.)

“Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious,” Forkner added.

Cont. reading: 737 MAX Produces More Bad News For Boeing

Posted by b at 17:44 UTC | Comments (60)

October 20, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-60

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Clinton's wacky claims came after the NYT published a smear piece about Gabbard: What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To? Both seem to be part of concerted effort.

The predicted Streisand effect:

Mike Cernovich @Cernovich - 4:12 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard has gained more than 40,000 Twitter followers today - more than she gains in an average month.

More nonsense from Hillary:

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton - 00:06 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
When I was a little girl, I wrote to NASA and told them I dreamed of being an astronaut.
They wrote back and said they weren't taking girls.
A new generation of little girls watched today's historic spacewalk. May their dreams of reaching the stars have no bounds.
Oregon Designer @Easycure - 6:40 UTC · Oct 19, 2019
You were born in 1947, NASA wasn't formed until 1958 and we didn't have an astronaut in space until until 1962 when you were 15 years old.
You didn't write a letter to NASA when you were a little girl and you should definitely stop drunk tweeting.

Moody's Analytics' Presidential election model predicts that Trump will win: 2020 Presidential Election Model (pdf)

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-60

Posted by b at 13:49 UTC | Comments (232)

New York Times Fakes The Record About Arming The Syrian Rebels

History as faked by the New York Times:

Kurds’ Sense of Betrayal Compounded by Empowerment of Unsavory Rivals
Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick, NYT 18. Oct 2019

Now, [..] the sense of betrayal among the Kurds [..] is matched only by their outrage at who will move in: Turkish soldiers supported by Syrian fighters the United States had long rejected as extremists, criminals and thugs.
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The deadly battles [..] have also given new leeway to Syrian fighters once considered too extreme or unruly to receive American military support.
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Grandly misnamed the Syrian National Army, this coalition of Turkish-backed militias is in fact largely composed of the dregs of the eight-year-old conflict’s failed rebel movement.

Early in the war [..] the military and the C.I.A. sought to train and equip moderate, trustworthy rebels to fight the government and the Islamic State.

A few of those now fighting in the northeast took part in those failed programs, but most were rejected as too extreme or too criminal. Some have expressed extremist sensibilities or allied with jihadist groups.

The reality is the opposite of what the NYT claims. The majority of the groups now fighting with the Turkish army had earlier received support from the U.S. Even their nominal leader is the same one who the U.S. earlier paid, armed and promoted.

COMPONENTS OF THE NATIONAL ARMY AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE UNIFICATION
Ömer Özkizilcik, SETA, October 2019

On August 31, the Syrian National Coalition came together and elected the president and the cabinet of the Syrian Interim Government in which Abdurrahman Mustafa was elected president and Salim Idriss was elected defense minister. With the new cabinet, the Syrian Interim Government became more active on the ground, started visiting each faction of the National Army, and accelerated the stalled negotiations to unite the National Army and the NLF under one command.
Salim Idriss with U.S. Senator John McCain

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Cont. reading: New York Times Fakes The Record About Arming The Syrian Rebels

Posted by b at 11:19 UTC | Comments (40)

October 19, 2019

The Democratic Party Should Suspend Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has gone mad:

Hillary Clinton appeared to suggest that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is the “favorite of the Russians” to win the 2020 presidential election and is being groomed by Moscow to run as a third-party candidate against the eventual Democratic nominee.
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The Russians already have their “eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” she said, in an apparent reference to Gabbard.

“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far,” Clinton told David Plouffe, the podcast’s host and the campaign manager for former President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset,” Clinton added, referring to the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate.

The responses were appropriate:

Tulsi Gabbard @TulsiGabbard - 22:20 UTC · Oct 18, 2019
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a ...
... concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and ...
... powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

and

Cont. reading: The Democratic Party Should Suspend Hillary Clinton

Posted by b at 13:44 UTC | Comments (161)

October 18, 2019

Media And Pundits Misread The 'Everyone Wins' Plan For Syria

The U.S. media get yesterday's talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all wrong. Those talks were just a show to soothe the criticism against President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria.

The fake negotiations did not change the larger win-win-win-win plan or the facts on the ground. The Syrian Arab Army is replacing the Kurdish PKK/YPG troops at the border with Turkey. The armed PKK/YPG forces, which had deceivingly renamed themselves (vid) "Syrian Democratic Forces" to win U.S. support, will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army. Those moves are sufficient to give Turkey the security guarantees it needs. They will prevent any further Turkish invasion.


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The Washington Post reports:

Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire that would suspend its march into Syria and temporarily halt a week of vicious fighting with Kurdish forces, while allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to carve out a long-coveted buffer zone far beyond its borders.

The agreement, announced by Vice President Pence after hours of negotiations, appeared to hand Turkey’s leader most of what he sought when his military launched an assault on northeastern Syria just over a week ago: the expulsion of Syrian Kurdish militias from the border and the removal of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on Turkey’s vulnerable economy.

Pence said Turkey had agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of ­Kurdish-led forces, called the ­Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from a large swath of territory stretching from Turkey’s border nearly 20 miles south into Syria. After the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation, which began Oct. 9, would be “halted entirely,” Pence said.

The New York Times falsely headlines: In ‘Cave-In,’ Trump Cease-Fire Cements Turkey’s Gains in Syria

Cont. reading: Media And Pundits Misread The 'Everyone Wins' Plan For Syria

Posted by b at 6:43 UTC | Comments (394)

October 17, 2019

North Korea Announces Something Important But Does Not Say What It Is

The Korean Central News Agency reports: Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Ascends Mt Paektu on Horseback


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He, atop Mt Paektu on the horseback, recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu and days of fast-paced changes and took a bird's-eye view of mountains that looked like the high steep mountains of the revolution he has to pass in high spirits.

Reflected in the dignified mien of Kim Jong Un atop majestic Mt Paektu was the majesty of the illustrious commander looking far into the road of advance of a powerful socialist country that will achieve prosperity with its own efforts, meeting all headwinds with the storm of Mt Paektu.

The venerable announcer Ri Chun-hee, now 76 years old, was recalled from retirement to read the statement (vid) on North Korea's state TV.

The horseback visit of the mystical mount Paektu is a sign that North Korea will soon "strike the world with wonder again" - i.e. reveal something important and new.

It is not likely that this will be a new nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch. The ride on the mountain is too early to be a sign for that. After the last negotiations with the U.S. failed, North Korea announced that it had given the U.S. time until the end of the year to come up with a new offer. North Korea usually stands by its words. Anything nuclear has therefore to wait until next year.

A civil space launch of some satellite within the next few weeks would fit to this propaganda event.

But may be I am wrong and Kim Jong Un will do something special to shake up Trump a bit, and to receive at least some relief from sanctions.

What else but nuke tests and ICBM launches could achieve that?

Posted by b at 18:15 UTC | Comments (60)

October 16, 2019

How The Win-Win-Win-Win Plan For Syria's Northeast Succeeds

The Syrian and Russian operations in the northeast of Syria are going well.


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Russian troops prevented attempts by Turkish supported Jihadis to attack Manbij. Russian and Syrian units have now also entered Ayn al-Arab/Kobani. Syrian government troops took control of the electricity producing dam in Tabqah and some units set up posts in Raqqa. Other units entered the Conoco and Al-Umar oil fields north of Abu Kahmal and east of Deir Ezzor. Some local tribe which profited from the oil explorations there held a small protest against the return of government control.


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The Turkish controlled Jihadis made little progress. Mostly Kurdish fighters are preventing them from expanding from the area they are informally allowed to hold. The Turkish command has called up more irregular 'rebel' troops including Jihadis from Jaish al-Islam who had once controlled Ghouta in the east of Damascus. They had been transported to Idleb after their defeat. A video shows them on a bus traveling through Turkey to reinforce the Turkish attack.

Cont. reading: How The Win-Win-Win-Win Plan For Syria's Northeast Succeeds

Posted by b at 17:47 UTC | Comments (310)