Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 18, 2017

Trump Enthrones Erdogan - Destroys Trust In U.S. Diplomacy

Trump contradicted his speaker, the State Department and his allies by congratulating the Turkish President Erdogan for winning Sunday's referendum vote. He undermined his diplomacy.

Sundays referendum in Turkey makes the presidential office a quasi dictatorial position that leads the executive and can, via decrees, also overrule the legislative and judiciary elements of the state. President Erdogan is now in a dictatorial position. It maybe that a majority of the Turkish voters voted for this change but it is far from certain. The number of votes in doubt because they were not taken in accordance with the legal procedures (2-3 million)  is higher than slight majority lead (1.5 million) for the "yes" side.

Official international election observers noted (pdf) that the vote was neither free nor fair. The Turkish state is under emergency rules which  give the president (temporarily) extraordinary powers. The vote happened after an extreme hunt against anyone that could have endangered Erdogan's position. He jailed opposition politicians and civil servants, forbade some political groups and closed down opposition media. All state institutions were used in support for Erdogan's side. If he could only win by 1.5 million votes in a 80 million strong society after this extreme anti-opposition campaign how many Turks would really have agreed with him on more leveled grounds?

Twenty years ago, when he was mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan said in a Milliyet interview: "Democracy is like a tram ride: when you reach your stop, you get off". On Sunday Erdogan stepped off the tram.

Turkey is now a Tyranny of the Majority. There are no longer any institutional constrains to remove any minority group from the political scene or  maybe even from the physical world. Turkey as we knew it is no more.

EU members refrained from accepting the vote before the ongoing legal fight over it is decided. Only Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf and Central Asian dictatorships congratulated him. The terrorist group Ahrar al Sham, which fights the people and government of Syria, also congratulated Erdogan. Al-Qaeda in Syria, under its new alliance name HTS, joined in as well as other Takfiri groups in Syria.

Like the EU countries the U.S. State Department held out on congratulations. It only released a statement that noted reports of voting "irregularities" and an "uneven playing field". It voiced support for inner-Turkish dialog and legal processes. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the U.S. administration would wait until the final report by the international observers mission was released.

The State Department and the spokesman were quickly undermined by President Trump. Only an hour later the Turkish side reported of a Trump-Erdogan telephone conversation:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on the referendum victory.

The two leaders had a "pleasant" call which lasted for 45 minutes, diplomatic sources said.

This was later confirmed by a White House readout of the call. (The readout is not yet on the White House website but was sent out to the press via email).

The published content of the call does not bode well for Turkey, Syria and Iraq (emphasis added):

“President Trump and President Erdogan also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends,” the White House statement said.

The Turkish version of the readout was worse:

The two leaders also discussed an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on April 4 that killed approximately 100 civilians and injured 500 others in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
Trump and Erdoğan agreed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.

The U.S. president also thanked Turkey for its support for U.S. missile strikes on the Shayrat air base on April 7 in retaliation for the chemical attack.

Both leaders also stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against terror groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Khan Sheikhun incident was likely a "false flag" attack initiated by the terrorists on the ground -possibly with Turkish support. The proven number of casualties was far less than the statement claims. The only purpose of the following U.S. missile strikes was to dispel allegations that Trump is in cahoots with Russia.

A question now is who the two countries regard as terrorist groups. The mostly Shia Hizbullah fighting on the Syrian government side is seen as such by both even while it holds parliament positions in Lebanon. While the U.S. agreed to UN Security Council resolutions designating al-Qaeda in Syria as a terrorist group that must be "eradicated", Erdogan is sponsoring and supporting the group. The U.S. is allying with parts of the Kurdish YPK/PKK groups in Syria while Turkey has designated those as terrorist entities. Does the "against all groups that use terrorism" formulation include the Iraqi militia in Syria? Does it include Iran?

What is most concerning is the fact that a 45 minute call is extremely long for such an occasion. We can be sure that plans were made in it that have not yet been published. It is likely that a new, higher level of war against Syrian (and Iran) was agreed upon. Besides the battlefields of Syria there is Turkish military interference in Iraq. Were common plans made for that country too? 

Still one wonders why Trump would undermine his speaker, his State Department and his European allies by contradicting their statements and positions with his Erdogan call. A precedent was set.  Foreign countries can no longer rely on official U.S. administration statements unless Trump personally voices his agreement with them. (Which he may then retract and reverse on a moments notice.) The basis of diplomacy is a certain level of trust in reliability - words and standing by those words matter. The diplomatic standing of the United States was severely damaged by this unprecedented move.

The reversal of the original position of the Trump administration is extreme. From a realist standpoint a much more neutral position towards Erdogan's shenanigans, as shown by the State Department, would be advisable.

Why did Trump reverse it? Has this five year old tweet something to do with it?

Ivanka Trump‏ @IvankaTrump
Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #TrumpTowers Istanbul!
1:56 PM - 20 Apr 2012

Posted by b on April 18, 2017 at 9:39 UTC | Permalink


One can imagine and write numerous fictional novels which would be a lot less fantastic than what we are witnessing today both in Europe and the US. Trump is a system of a corrupt system and despite his apparently insane approach to foreign policy I believe Clinton would have been far worse. We were left with the typical "bad or worse" choice for politicians but ultimately we ended up with the same thing regardless. This has been happening now every election since Kennedy and it just keeps getting worse and worse.

I am reminded of a recent joke I saw in a Russian blog "Beware! All those kids who purchased their degrees are now working!" This is in many ways true in every Western country now and perhaps they didn't "buy" their degrees outright (although that does happen) the sense of entitlement for paying so much for a college education and the belief that the student is the master has yielded a generation that has refused to do the basic work necessary to have the skills to succeed. Apparently, they carry this sense of entitlement into their careers as well so we are doomed if we believe they will rise to the occaision.

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Apr 18 2017 10:10 utc | 1

I have been watching international relations for over half a century now. Again and again we see that the USA may be the worst war-monger on the planet. The USA government often rewards the worst governments (Saudi for example) and attempts to destroy the relatively decent governments.

The USA is hell bent on destroying the secular government on Syria and destroying that civilization just as it has done to so many other middle eastern countries. Perhaps this play in Turkey is part of the Syria strategy.

Trump is also hell bent on proving that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Posted by: Mark Stoval | Apr 18 2017 10:44 utc | 2

It seems Erdogan did not get US commitment not to support the PYD - that is the main fact.

Trump gave him all the rest.

The State department's declaration is the whip - should Erdogan not comply. The main whip I suspect is the banker they arrested in New York.

Erdogan survived the coup but that will not be the end of it.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 18 2017 11:24 utc | 3

While I cannot discount the Trump Tower angle, it occurred to me this might be about much more. Trump hates the CIA and the "fake news" media it controls, Erdogan hates Gullen, the CIA stooge, so maybe there is some trade here, Erdogan gets to deal with Gullen and at the same time the problematic CIA for Trump?

Posted by: TJ | Apr 18 2017 12:13 utc | 4

@4 tj,

i think that 'squabble' with the cia is sooo over tj. they're the best of friends now. you can't blink or you miss the play. very fast. he will start backtracking soon, having bounced of all the walls in his official tee-rump florida retreat. it's amusing to see everyone scramble to line up behind him, isn't it? i'm sure no one enjoys it more than the tee-rump himself.

the first 44 times were mostly tragedy, the 45th is pure farce.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2017 12:34 utc | 5

@b, still think tee-rump's not stupid?

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2017 12:36 utc | 6

No more "quasi-authoritarian" (delete quasi) and "wannabe sultan" (the power, palace size etc. compare well with the sultans of yore, harem and messengers with silk scarf (to throttle disobedient officials) to be enacted a bit later.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 18 2017 12:39 utc | 7

A 5-year old tweet? How about current business dealings:

First Sons Donald Jr, Eric Anoint Plush Trump Dubai Golf Resort

A hotel planned for Dallas is backed by investors from Turkey, Qatar and Kazakhstan.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18 2017 13:03 utc | 8

Just what does one expect of Trump; he's a tonic unto himself...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Apr 18 2017 13:11 utc | 9

It's funny that you have the Erdogan quote about democracy being like a tram ride. The last time we had a quote about politics and public transportation it was Johnny Chung commenting about the Clinton White House: "The White House is like a subway: You have to put in coins to open the gates." Neither analogy bodes well for the people.

Posted by: Curtis | Apr 18 2017 13:14 utc | 10

It's interesting the authoritarian regimes and terrorists congratulated Erdogan on his authoritarian turn. You might think they're connected somehow like conservative neocons supporting Hillary last year.

jfl 6
It's looks stupid and somewhat is but it looks like more of a sellout of principles (and campaign promises) than anything else.

Posted by: Curtis | Apr 18 2017 13:20 utc | 11

@6 jfl

That's a question you could ask a whole lot of people on this board. There's been a sea change in the opinions of around 90% of posters here. Now some of them like to let on that they were never Trump boosters. They know who they are.

Maybe Trump's being pragmatic by calling Erdogan. After all, Turkey is one of the linchpins of Nato, that is when they are toeing the company line and not flirting with Russia. With Trump's new policy of getting right up into everybody's face there's always a chance that things could lead to war. Then it's a given that he'll invoke Article V and drag everyone else's sorry ass into the fray. So it could be he's just doing a little schmoozing with one of Nato's most high maintenance members.

Posted by: peter | Apr 18 2017 13:45 utc | 12

must read
publication of a note of the french ministry of foreign affaires (january 2017) on possible support to the Syrian areas taken by the Islamists "which we've helped since 2012"

Posted by: Mina | Apr 18 2017 13:51 utc | 13

- Do combine that with the cutbacks on several US departments (e.g. the State Department) and one can figure out in which direction the Trump administration is heading. I don't know if it's intentional but I think the US could/will end up at a very ugly place.

Posted by: Willy2 | Apr 18 2017 14:19 utc | 14

It is likely that a new, higher level of war against Syrian (and Iran) was agreed upon.
I dunno about that. A more serious level of commitment is not necessarily in Trump's interest. As you say, the 59 Tomahawks and the MOAB were just showing off to discredit allegations of being in bed with the Russians. Serious new war wouldn't go down well with Trump's voters, who're expecting attention to the economy. The Neocon warmongers are not all-powerful. One thing they won't be able to do is to have free run on destroying Trump's power-base.

Posted by: Laguerre | Apr 18 2017 14:42 utc | 15

@12 peter

In fact, Trump remains a puzzle to all commentators. One can take a position and say he's this or that, but one will still have to wait for the conclusive demonstration of whether he actually is or is not this or that. For sure he's been gamed by the swamp. The question is, does he change yet again in the future and renounce the current position? Unlikely perhaps, since action and habit have a way of reinforcing themselves, but not impossible.

The ultimate question for me is, if Trump were to change his behavior at some point, would the US political establishment allow him to do this? We're watching a contest between forces that are not very clear to us - and a more clear understanding of Washington would be welcome.

For the record, my money's no longer on Trump to prevail as an independent actor. There are now too many possibilities that another kind of person is who Trump really is. Insiders may privately know, but the commentariat cannot see this yet. It may be that when Trump can be seen clearly for who he really is, this may bear more resemblance to a mafia guy than a dictator. If so, one wonders how his conservative base will take that. But it's all speculation yet, as far as I can see. Others with better ideas probably also have collateral to demonstrate them.

Meanwhile, we have only action, and events on the ground. The US military has been given its head. It can now proceed directly into the globally public humiliation that it so richly deserves. Sooner or later, one would think, these geopolitical policies of Trump must produce a setback that even the media cannot hide from the US culture. If so, will Trump throw the actors under the bus and himself survive? This would tell us much.

Posted by: Grieved | Apr 18 2017 14:42 utc | 16

I suspect that the State Department's position is the same as that of Trump's. Perhaps he is taking his orders from the military which is running foreign policy.

Posted by: Les | Apr 18 2017 14:42 utc | 17

I think it is pretty basic; Erdogan called him when he won the election, he returned the favor and yes, this probably translates into hotel deals somewhere. I think based on the failure of the rep health bill, the blocking of his immigration restrictions, that the hand of of the US military to its commanders indicates that Trump is already "so over" the Presidency role except as it translates into money/influence for his businesses which he can directly control unlike the govt. So from now on he will do what ever is asked of him as long as they leave him to line his pockets, hence the now private WH guest book. He is after all a very practical man. So now the only question is will we the people survive it, I suspect he will do just fine.

Posted by: frances | Apr 18 2017 14:52 utc | 18

@b, still think tee-rump's not stupid?
Posted by: jfl | Apr 18, 2017 8:36:59 AM | 6

Can't speak for b, but JFK tried the confrontational approach to the Swamp and it got him killed in broad daylight in front of millions of witnesses. Trump might be a member of that rare breed capable of learning from other people's mistakes as well as his own.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 18 2017 14:57 utc | 19

@ somebody | Apr 18, 2017 7:24:49 AM | 3

That's precisely what's going on. Plus, Israeli sources speak of the US and Germany abandoning Incirlik in favour of positions in northeast Syria. Why not be courteous to somebody you will no longer care about?

(Food for thought: maybe Assad's allies objected to the American plans to keep NATO airbases in Syria? Russians and Iranians would nit be ecstatic about that for slightly different reasons... Also, who has given permission to vaterland-bound-since -1945 to go abroad to Incirlik? Yes, you guessed it: those who insist Germans should pay more for NATO's defense, i.e. two consecutive US administrations, the current and the previous one.)

Posted by: Ron | Apr 18 2017 15:07 utc | 20

Grieved @16:

For sure he's been gamed by the swamp.
What makes you so sure?

He's got billions of reasons to have been 'on board' all along (see my comment @8). People just hate the notion that they were played, I guess.

Similar excuses were made for Obama. Remember 11-dimensional chess? I've seen some lambast Trump's game as 4-dimensional backgammon.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18 2017 15:12 utc | 21

I think b's correct in making the point about the Outlaw US Empire's trust factor going negative, which is what one would assume from an Outlaw Empire. The greatest implications for this first and fore mostly are in relations with Russia and China then the rest of world--the trust factor already greatly shredded by Obama/Kerry/Clinton/Neoliberalcons, thus further solidifying the USA's Rogue Nation status. By comparison, North Korea is more trustworthy.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 18 2017 15:19 utc | 22

Gee, whiz, b. Ya think.

Posted by: Bardi | Apr 18 2017 15:47 utc | 23

thanks b... the usa strategy here seems to be to get as many dictators in place to surround syria.. that way the logic of regime change will make sense in syria - replace assad with another salafist dictator.. oh and it makes israel look good, lol.. trump - idiot..

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2017 16:08 utc | 24

See the building. Think pink.

Posted by: stumpy | Apr 18 2017 16:08 utc | 25

We have finally shaped Erdo into what we want, just like the Shah, Noriega, and the Ukrainian flavor of the month, a mad dog dictator with deep pockets. Biz as uze.

Posted by: stumpy | Apr 18 2017 16:11 utc | 26

Similar excuses were made for Obama. Remember 11-dimensional chess? I've seen some lambast Trump's game as 4-dimensional backgammon.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18, 2017 11:12:24 AM | 21

Oops. Backgammon is just a dice game. Chess isn't a game.
If you lose at craps or backgammon you always can blame the dice.
Chess losers don't have that luxury.

I joined a b/g club years ago as a novice and, a few months in, the dice helped me to thrash the reigning champ. She was Red-hot Livid.
"You beat me! And you can't even PLAY! If I beat you, you lose 60 points, but you won and I lose hundreds of thousands of points!"
HW: "Don't tell me, tell the dice..."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 18 2017 16:26 utc | 27

@16 Grieved

Gamed by the swamp..or a longtime resident of said swamp? As for the base, fuck 'em, who needs 'em. He's the president now and 2020 is a million years away. Besides, he's 70 years old and four years is plenty to set him and his family up forever.

From day one he's appointed members of the .1% to every department that matters. He's made it his mission to unravel any legislation that might have curbed the 'masters of the universe' from making billions simply by being speculators in a rigged game. He refuses to make public his tax returns, in fact his family continues to conduct business that's so blatantly in conflict with his position that even the GOP is shaking their heads.

Fuck climate change, it's all bullshit. Never mind that a river in the Yukon changed course last week due to receding glaciers. Never mind that residents of Miami Beach are ankle deep in saltwater during high tide when the storm sewers back up or that the NYC subway system flooded during a cat2 storm. It's more important to get rid of the fucking Mexicans.

Swear to disentangle the country from foreign adventures but appoint a bunch of generals to run foreign policy. Let them decide when to make war when making war is all they know how to do. You don't become a general by finding roads to peace. Then add 54,000,000,000 to the defense budget while eviscerating the diplomatic budget of the state department.

Trump's enjoying the spike in the polls, he's getting some respect that he feels he's due. People are talking about that crazy Kim and not about his Russian connections. But the wheels are grinding away in FBI land. People are taking to the streets to demand he reveals his returns. The guys in the John Deere hats have pretty much given up on him. I guess one can't blame them for hoping things would be different but one might also wonder why they would put their money on 70 year old reality tv celebrity zillionaire with a record of fucking everybody he ever did business with.

Posted by: peter | Apr 18 2017 16:31 utc | 28

b wrote: Sundays referendum in Turkey makes the presidential office a quasi dictatorial position that leads the executive and can, via decrees, also overrule the legislative and judiciary elements of the state. President Erdogan is now in a dictatorial position.

So, that would put the next Turkish president on the same high horse that all US presidents since George Washington have been riding on...

I don't get it b, are you upset that another sovereign state has decided to interfere with the US status of an exceptional dictator? /s

Posted by: LXV | Apr 18 2017 16:44 utc | 29

@ 28 peter

Why did they support him? Pepe Escobar describes his current actions in one nicely written paragraph, which also reminds us of his former actions:

"It's as if the whole dysfunctional Trump administration machine has become a prisoner of its non-stop duty to justify the Tomahawks-with-chocolate Commander-in-Chief's about turns and blatant lies, whereas its previous strength derived from exposing the lies and the hypocrisy inbuilt in the US establishment/deep state nexus." - Piece of Cake: New Normal of Trump's Foreign Policy

I didn't support Trump, by the way. I'm just trying to parse him. He doesn't strike me as a devious man, but rather one who lives on the surface of his ego. So does he simply believe the public narrative about who the good and bad guys are, and which is the greatest military in the world? Maybe he does, because plenty of other people in the US do. Or maybe he has the deviousness to exploit that narrative while feeling completely different things, but this strikes me as unlikely.

So who is he? And what is the extent of his real power? Whom can he overrule in DC and whom must he obey? These are the questions I'd love to know the answers to. Vilifying Trump gets us no closer to understanding who's winning and losing in the world of affairs.


As to b's article today, it seems that acting as a loose cannon Trump can get away with anything. He damages US diplomacy through acting as if by diktat, in support of a dictator. Maybe Erdogan now throws himself at the refrigerator to see if his dreams of empire will stick. Maybe Erdogan slides down to the floor. Only a suicidal fool would mess with Russia the way that he has done and seems intent on continuing.

I haven't seen Trump throw himself at the 'fridge yet - maybe he has and I don't recognize it. I'm seeing everyone else take actions, and Trump become some kind of Teflon president though being a wild card, a loose cannon, a stream-of-consciousness will 'o the wisp. If the establishment tries to make him tangible through impeachment, the populace will support him because they hate the establishment. If he acts according to the establishment will, the populace can't get to him because all the machine is alongside him.

At root it's nothing to do with Trump. It's the continuing story of the population of a nation trying to get decent policy made, in a system owned by the rulers. The angst comes from trying to see the shape of the ruling forces and their consensus, on the incredibly slender chance that there may be a way to do something about it. The ongoing puzzle of Trump is one piece of a huge quandary the people face in any nation - do we get more representation with the government or without it?

Posted by: Grieved | Apr 18 2017 17:00 utc | 30

US/Nato used Turk Opium poppy seeds to restart A Stan after Taliban
Had decimated the industry.
NE Syria and Iraq could be future Opium industry which the CIA
has loads ( pun)...of experience,....just ask Ollie North : )

While pipelines and energy are key issues in tumble Iraq and
Syria,....Crime sees both as Fields of opportunity.
Turk/Iraqi drug lords best get ready.....Al Capone just hit town.

Posted by: Brad | Apr 18 2017 17:15 utc | 31

peter@ 28

Well said. We guys in John Deere hats who have to go on the gray market for software hacks so we can break the proprietary soft locks that freeze our tractors unless a JD certified mechanic uses the magic key...

Seeems like forever ago but yes Trump gave us the hope that all of us unrepresented yet thinking folk would get some benefit out of the Don's reign, but not too surprised at the present. Pro-Trump wasn't the cause as much as anti-Hillary, you roll a pair and one die has HRC on 5 sides. Russian Roulette. A game, but rigged.

Upstream posters mentioned the SOS and CIA, to which I would humbly add that the swamp is deep with a powerful gas, and there's only so much room under the bus. Seems likely that the dark money is as pplentiful as ever and the clandestine ops are well-insulated from Pompeo, despite his presumed mission to destroy the agency from within. This could also be construed as an internal cleansing by the cons themselves, using the purge as a way to trim fat or potential weaklings.

Grieved @ 29

If the establishment tries to make him tangible through impeachment, the populace will support him because they hate the establishment. If he acts according to the establishment will, the populace can't get to him because all the machine is alongside him.

Interesting point, we'll see how it plays out. Either the mobs work together to keep everybody happy, or we get a cockfight. I'd guess we see a couple of bodies dumped by the road to keep everyone in check, so to speak.

Posted by: stumpy | Apr 18 2017 17:21 utc | 32

Grieved @29:

Why did they support him?
Summarizing the answer from a commenter (I forgot who) at ZeroHedge:
The choices were a sure disaster or a possible savior.

Hillary and the corrupt UN-Democratic Party were just awful. But when people point that out, they are labeled Trump lovers.

<> <> <> <> <> <>

We have to stop trusting politicians and move to Direct Democracy.

Check out the Pirate Party!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18 2017 17:23 utc | 33

Nearing 100 days into this administration, does anybody know what fraction of the positions to be filled of an administration actually are? Of that fraction, at what point between election and inauguration would that be in the historical transfer between administrations? Should consideration be given to the appearance of a large number of military occupying key positions? Is that a flaw or a feature? Should thought be given to a military coup d'état by stealth? Or might that be paranoia seeping in? Will the Trump administration ever be allowed to coalesce and function as a legitimate political entity? Or will it be stillborn?

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Apr 18 2017 17:25 utc | 34

Reports that al Baghdadi, McCain's Best Buddy in ISIS, is alive and has been arrested on the Syria / Iraq border whilst travelling from Mosul to Syria. The arrest follows on from Syrian / Russian intelligence leads. Hmmm, if this is true, things may get interesting if he starts spilling the beans.

Posted by: Yonatan | Apr 18 2017 17:31 utc | 35

be nice if they arrest mccain while they are at it.... amazing how terrorists like him are allowed to roam free in the land of the...........

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2017 17:38 utc | 36

America sucks Sunni Dick. That. is. All.

Posted by: Northern Observer | Apr 18 2017 17:50 utc | 37

TJ @ 4

>> Trump hates the CIA

Though I try to entertain strange narratives, this statement seems impossible given the evidence.

Even if you reject the conventional narrative regarding his military moves because you interpret it as a show to silence his critics, he surrounded himself with militarists in positions he can't turn over rapidly. It's like Obama surrounding himself with Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, etc. The picks reflect the policies to come.

If he had any intention to rule for the benefit of average Americans, upon election he would've *immediately* minimized the ways powerful forces can manipulate him. He would've disposed of all his foreign financial assets, where his wealth can be easily threatened (by foreign *or* US-based actors), plus most of his domestic businesses, too, for effectively the same reason though a lesser degree of risk. Better to park the wealth into raw land acreage in every state.

I'll eat my words only if Trump announces next week that he read the MIT professor's analysis, concludes the Deep State sold him and the American public a bankrupt casino not just this time but many times before, and makes huuuuge dramatic personnel changes that show he means business. (For example, name Cindy Sheehan to run the VA.)

>> and the "fake news" media it controls,

It now worries me to hear Trump use the phrase "fake news", because I anticipate that at any moment he'll flip in favor of the apparatchiks on this position, too. He'll start using the label not to refer to "the real fake news" manufactured with government/corporations collusion but instead to refer to what little independent journalism really exists.

Posted by: dumbass | Apr 18 2017 17:55 utc | 38

@33, it has all the appearances of a military coup, just not announced. There's no need to fill all those unnecessary administrative positions if the military's in charge, and it sure looks like the military's in charge.

With Trump at the helm, who is POTUS on any given day changes as the wind blows. For a while Bannon was POTUS. Now it's Mattis and McMaster. Tomorrow, maybe it will be Mnuchin. Never Trump. He's just the Douchebag In Chief.

Either way, the military is now firmly in charge and calling the shots like it's never been and done before. When they make it official (that America is now a military dictatorship) is anyone's guess, but why bother if this de facto arrangement is working so well?

Jaded Juxtaposition

Posted by: The Stephen Miller Band | Apr 18 2017 17:57 utc | 39

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by: chet380 | Apr 18 2017 18:05 utc | 40


>> Destroys Trust In U.S. Diplomacy
>> ...foreign countries can no longer
>> rely on official U.S. administration
>> statements unless Trump personally
>> voices his agreement with them.
>> (Which he may then retract and reverse
>> on a moments notice.)

What trust was there to destroy? Anyone with any knowledge of US history would not trust Uncle Sam. The events in the first 100 days of the Trump administration prove nothing's changed.

And what is different about Trump flip-flopping or contradicting the apparatchiks? During the prior administration, people on this blog were imagining faction wars within the Deep State because of the perceived contradictions between speakers and between words/actions.

Just more of the same. Yes?

Posted by: dumbass | Apr 18 2017 18:06 utc | 41

>> (For example, name Cindy Sheehan to run the VA.)

Off the top of my head, some other picks:
- Assange, State Department
- James Corbett, 911 re-investigation
- Jill Stein, HHS, tasked with designing RomneyCare replacement
- "Gasland" maker, Dept of Interior
- Ralph Nader ...

You get the idea.

Posted by: dumbass | Apr 18 2017 18:12 utc | 42

How much you want to bet Sessions is a key pick for this reason as well. Does he act as a block for Saudi Arabia?

If these lawsuits are allowed to proceed, the truth may come out, and we all know that can't & won't happen. Either Sessions blocks them, or some of these families and their lawyers are going to encounter an odd, untimely demise.

I can't believe Congress allowed this to pass.

9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia Flow Into Federal Court Under 2016 Law

Posted by: The Stephen Miller Band | Apr 18 2017 18:46 utc | 43

Kudos for:

peter @ 28..

dumbass @ 37, 40 & 41..

All excellent posts, thanks!

Pardon my brief posts, but have been ill, and not all there yet.

Thanks again b, for this island of sanity and information...

Posted by: ben | Apr 18 2017 18:51 utc | 44

dumbass 41
Good idea. The best thing is to put the critics in charge. TPTBs would still find a way to circumvent them or reduce their power to accomplish anything. It's like Treasury or the FED. Many would love to see Ron Paul, Ellen Brown, G E Griffin, or others in charge.

Posted by: Curtis | Apr 18 2017 19:02 utc | 45

@ b "Has this five year old tweet something to do with it?"

Erdogan had the name Trump Towers removed from the towers during Trump's election campaign - a stand against Trump's anti-muslim stance. So, are you suggesting that the name is now to be reinstated for some reason?
And anyway, isn't it a franchise?
I thought the shopping centre was owned by the Dogan group.
Sorry. Didn't really understand the relevance.

And in a more general note, I really see no reason why Trump should not congratulate Erdogan given tbat the US needs to try and pull Turkey back under its influence to some degree, and given that most of the ME dictators who congratulated Erdogan within minutes of the tesult.being announced are probably on Trump's speed dial!

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 18 2017 19:29 utc | 46

I am thinking along the same lines as AtaBrit 45. Trump trying to pul turkey/Erdogan back into the US sphere.
Putin also rung to congratulate Erdogan apparently.
Erdo will go with whoever offers the best deal. Now that he has been blocked at al Bab, he will be looking to move in Idlib area. Erdo and Trump may well have had much they could agree on when it comes to a major Turkey backed attack through Idlib.

Posted by: Peter AU | Apr 18 2017 19:54 utc | 47

How Trump and Obama are Exactly Alike

Fundamentally, Obama and Trump ran against the establishment and then helped rebrand it — further entrenching it.

The nature of their deception is different. Obama is lawyerly and, like jello, hard to pin to the wall. Many of his broken promises are actually violations of the spirit of what he said, not the letter. He can promise to withdraw “all combat troops” from Iraq — but doesn’t inform voters that “combat troops” in his parlance is not the same as “troops”.

Trump triangulates by being an electron. He can say X and not-X in the span of a minute. Like an electron, he can be in two places at the same time.

In both the cases of Obama and Trump, the “opposition” party put forward a ridiculous critique that pushed them to be more militaristic. [Like] Obama as a “secret Muslim” — which gave him more licence to bomb more Muslim countries

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 18 2017 21:10 utc | 48

@46 p au, 'Erdo will go with whoever offers the best deal.'

i think erdo will go with both ... with neither. erdo will go by himself and continue to play the us and russia off against each other. and both tee-rump and putin, apparently, will help

"Vladimir Putin congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the successful outcome of a referendum on constitutional changes in Turkey," said a statement released by the Kremlin on Tuesday.

“They once again pointed out that an impartial international investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Governorate was important," added the statement.

erdo has already done 'autopsies' on some of the victims of the 'gas attack' and 'proved' that the agent involved was 'sarin', hasn't he?

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2017 22:09 utc | 49

@45 atabrit

it's just business, get over it. right?

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2017 22:11 utc | 50

Reports that al Baghdadi, McCain's Best Buddy in ISIS, is alive and has been arrested on the Syria / Iraq border whilst travelling from Mosul to Syria. The arrest follows on from Syrian / Russian intelligence leads. Hmmm, if this is true, things may get interesting if he starts spilling the beans.

Posted by: Yonatan | Apr 18, 2017 1:31:35 PM | 34

I highly doubt this is true. The original report seemed unconvincing to me. Did you read it? They even called him the leader of Al Qaeda. It seemed like it wasn't even a professional document. Or at the very least was incompetently and hastily written. Russian intelligence claims they have no knowledge of this. No reports anywhere besides this one original document.

Posted by: George Smiley | Apr 18 2017 22:20 utc | 51

one unpredictable president endorses another. The Donald is not interested in facts. He was told Erdo won. "Oh he won? Get him on the phone, quick"

It is NOT important for Donald what Erdo won or was it certified.

David Stockman has the best description of Trump at 100 days:(my emphasis)

“He has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s making it up as he goes along. Donald Trump is a tourist in the Imperial City of Washington D.C. He’s flipping, flopping and making it up as he goes.”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
That said, I disagree with David pushing a Border Tax, VAT=value added tax or consumption tax. Ask anyone in countries with a VAT if their Income Taxes were ever decreased.

Posted by: likklemore | Apr 18 2017 22:53 utc | 52

@grieved, speaking of trump, 'for the conclusive demonstration of whether he actually is or is not this or that'

there is no there there in the sense of someone acting in the world based on principle of one sort or another. tee-rump has none. he'll say or do anything that appears to himself to be to his advantage at any point in time.

i think he is certainly more mafia than dictator. that was jbf's point in the article that karlof linked the other day, with its reference to 'Brecht’s 1941 satirical play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' which 'was an allegorical attempt to place Hitler’s rise in Germany in the more familiar context.'

but does it make a difference? would things be markedly different if, say, hillary clinton were potus? i think the atmospherics would be different, but not the policies. the policies do not spring from tee-rump or hillary, they spring from the 0.1% who cling to the helm, trying to keep 'their' ship off the rocks.

i'm afraid that unless and until 'their' ship - with all of us aboard - breaks up on the rocks the beatings will continue. our best shot is to prepare for the breakup.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2017 23:01 utc | 53


"If the establishment tries to make him tangible through impeachment, the populace will support him because they hate the establishment. If he acts according to the establishment will, the populace can't get to him because all the machine is alongside him."

The establishment doesn't need to make Trump tangible - he's making all their moves, whatever the reason is. But even if they did impeach it would be a far different situation than was the most recent attempt at that - the populace definitely would not support him, other than the small number of diehards presently constituting his 'base'. This isn't Clinton, who had us all pretty much on his side against the sleaze that purported to be what he'd done wrong. And that's the only charge that the establishment would ever bring, because the truly impeachable offenses implicate them as well.

Still, Trump has it in him to even outcon the establishment, which probably does make them very nervous. It's as if he's telling them something like Clint Eastwood's 'Make my Day'. Why he's doing that, I have no idea. But I don't think it is making him any safer. There are other ways, as has been pointed out.

Posted by: juliania | Apr 19 2017 0:17 utc | 54

I'll just add that even the 'other ways' aren't as viable as they were back in the '60's. Too much water under the bridge on that score, and the population is not as gullible now as it was back then. We trusted our media to tell us the truth. I can't say what would happen to the status quo today, given such a scenario, just that it would not be business as usual.

I'll just register my own disappointment in all the current players in our government. They don't seem to care a fig that they are making it so dangerous for us all whilst causing so much harm to so many innocent people.

Thank you again, b.

Posted by: juliania | Apr 19 2017 0:27 utc | 55

juliania @53:

Still, Trump has it in him to even outcon the establishment ...
Trump is, by nature, an insecure social climber. I think he really wants to join the ranks of the American royalty - that means dramatically increasing his net worth as well as political connections.

If you noticed discussions during the campaign about Trump's charitable contributions, you got a sense for what he is like. Over the span of ten years or so, he actually gave very little (if anything) to charity. He used his Foundation to benefit his own interests (slush fund for influencing) and pay his family.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 19 2017 1:05 utc | 56

As I said before: Everything according to the plan...

Putin, Erdogan discuss situation in Syria – Syrian Arab News Agency

Moscow, SANA-Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed on Tuesday with President of the Turkish regime Recep Tayyib Erdogan, in a telephone call, the situation in Syria.

“The two sides held talks on the cessation of hostilities agreement,” Russia Today quoted the Kremlin as saying, adding that discussions underlined the need for making a progress in the Syrian-Syrian talks of Geneva and Astana.

The Kremlin added that the talks also dealt with the need for conducting a fair and accurate investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Idleb.

Trump – two steps forward, one step back, by Thierry Meyssan

President Trump’s radical change in rhetoric concerning his foreign policy was accompanied by the bombing of an air base in Cheyrat, and that of an Afghan mountain.

The world trembled before the deployment of such force - 59 Tomahawk missiles in Syria and one GBU-4/B3 mega-bomb in Afghanistan. Yet the base in Cheyrat was already operational again the following morning, while the « Mother Of All Bombs » certainly caused the collapse of three exits of a natural tunnel, but did not destroy the kilometres of underground passages created over time by the rivers within the mountain. In short, much ado about nothing.

These two operations were clearly intended to convince the US deep state that the White House was once again supporting its imperial politics. They had the desired affect on Germany and France. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande applauded their lord and master, and called for an end to the Syrian situation. The surprise arrived from elsewhere.

The United Kingdom did not only follow the movement. Their Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson, proposed to levy sanctions against Russia, according to him an accomplice in the Syrian « crimes », and responsible in one way or another for the Afghan resistance and a plethora of other evils.

During the meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs at the G7, Johnson announced the cancellation of his trip to Moscow, and invited all his partners to break off their political and commercial relations with Russia. However, though approving the British initiative, these partners prudently stayed in the background. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, incontrovertibly dismissed this insane proposition and maintained his trip to Moscow. Brazenly, Johnson then declared that the Europeans had appointed Tillerson to go and talk some sense into the Russians.

Although international protocol states that Ministers are to be received by their opposite numbers, and not by the Head of State, the Atlantist Press presented Tillerson’s welcome by Lavrov as a cooling of Russo-US relations. Before he had the time to salute his guest, Sergey Lavrov was interrupted by a Washington journalist who took him to task. Reminding him of the conventions of basic politeness, the Russian Minister refused to answer him and cut the presentations short..

The meeting, behind closed doors, lasted for more than 4 hours, which seems fairly long for people who have nothing to say to one another. Finally, the two men requested an audience with President Putin, who recieved them for 2 extra hours.

After these meetings, the Ministers gave a Press conference. They declared without irony that they had done little more than take note of their divergences. Sergey Lavrov warned the journalists of the danger that this rupture represented for the world.

However, the next day, the same Lavrov, addressing the Russian Press, indicated that he had concluded an agreement with his guest. Washington had agreed not to continue their attacks on the Syrian Arab Army, and the military coordination between the Pentagon and the Russian army for circulation in Syrian airspace had been re-established.

In appearance, the Trump administration is roaring its power and throwing bombs around, but in reality, it is taking great care not to cause any irreparable damage. The worst and the best are therefore possible.

Posted by: ProPeace | Apr 19 2017 1:12 utc | 57

The confusion is understandable, so many contradictions. Thats by design of course. Our policy in the region had been rather stable since the 1970's. The Bernard Lewis plan,1979 Jerusalem conference, 1982 Odin Plan, 1983 Fuller memo on Syria, Clean Break in 1996 by neocons/netanyahu, 1997 Grand Chessboard by Brzezinski 1997, etc The plan is and has been to balkanize the middle east and central asia and replace secular governments with Islamic leaders who are authoritarian dictators or phony democracies like Turkey now is.

Our 2 allies in the Syrian conflict not including IS are Israel and Turkey with Saudis and Qatar lurking in the background arming IS. Both have improved relations with Russia which includes gas deals with Gazprom and of course Russia's interest in Syria or Israels interest in the Golan Heights is no secret. Then add in some Genie energy and Genel Energy and look at the ownership and board for a perfect cocktail of contradiction.

Turkey of course is NATO and considered part of Europe. Tensions between Erdogan and the EU are high. Erdogan was recently quoted as saying : “Turkey is not a country you can pull and push around, not a country whose citizens you can drag on the ground.If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”

Destabilizing Europe and breaking the EU seems to be on the table. The immigration wave seems to be setting the table for another Operation Gladio. Perhaps we want to finish off real Democracy in Europe so as to get support for the coming wars against China and Russia in the future. Erdogan could be a valuable tool

So is Erdogan friend or foe?. Its interesting that shortly after working out deals with Israel and Russia on a gas pipeline and apologizing for shooting down a Russian plane and mending relations they had a terrorist attack and coup attempt in short order. Graham Fuller who is Gulens CIA controller was in Turkey at the time. Some analysts feel it was staged so Erdogan could consolidate power, others suggest it was real and punishment or at least a warning for getting too close to Russia.

The only thing we can say for sure is that what they want us to believe is true is probably not the truth, or at least is not the whole truth

Posted by: Pft | Apr 19 2017 1:47 utc | 58

Jackrabbit @ 55 said:"Trump is, by nature, an insecure social climber. I think he really wants to join the ranks of the American royalty - that means dramatically increasing his net worth as well as political connections."

Good take, and by his very nature, and the social status he was born into, keep him from being more than that.

Posted by: ben | Apr 19 2017 2:09 utc | 59

From TRNN on Trump's class:

Posted by: ben | Apr 19 2017 2:13 utc | 60

Trump White House Taking 'Marching Orders' from Hundreds of CEOs: Report
'One of every five of the corporate executives who met with the Trump administration within the first 100 days represented the banking or financial sector'

Sorry for the OT, but an answer as to who runs the U$A..

Posted by: ben | Apr 19 2017 2:43 utc | 61

@somebody | 3

One thing we must remember is that Erdogan's situation has changed massively now. With the latest constitutional changes he and his cabal will be untouchable which is why this referendum was so very important for him.

Erdogan will be far more emboldened now, and his launch into Syria and Iraq could be on the books. That northern Syria and Iraq are 'Turkish' is already part of the nationalist venacular in Istanbul!!

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19 2017 4:40 utc | 62

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19, 2017 12:40:53 AM | 64

I don't think so as the oppisition has asked for the referendum result to get anulled.

They will not go far within Turkey's institutions but they will go to European courts.

Should the opposition ever get it together against Erdogan - and the referendum result show that they could, the Turkish atmosphere - and that includes people in positions of power - will switch. The legality of the referendum could be challenged in Turkey.

I think for the opposition to get it together the Atatürk party will have to critically assess its heritage - and admit that you should not ram westernization down people's throats without a justified backlash as it infringes on personal freedom. And to keep religion out of politics. They also have to admit that Kurdish people - and Armenian history - never mind Alevis and Arabs, are part of the nation. Erdogan splits along these lines.

There is big gulf money in Turkey but the backbone of the economy depends on Europe and its energy on Russia.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2017 8:25 utc | 63

@LXV - @29

So, that would put the next Turkish president on the same high horse that all US presidents since George Washington have been riding on...

I don't get it b, are you upset that another sovereign state has decided to interfere with the US status of an exceptional dictator?

The U.S. system of an imperial president with its unlimited assertion of executive power is not good at all (see, Bush -Iraq, Obama - wars on seven Mulim countries - Trump - Khan Sheihun).

The new Turkish system is even worse than then the U.S. one. There is less control of the president in it. It is also extremely majoritarian within a country that has distinct and large minority groups who need to be integrated in the political process.

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2017 8:33 utc | 64

With none of the U.S. allies congratulating Erdogan like Trump did, he is now pulling back:

White House: Trump’s call to Erdoğan wasn’t an endorsement of referendum results

Spokeswoman denied call meant Trump accepted the vote’s result.
The call caused quite some diplomatic damage without much gain ...

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2017 8:48 utc | 65

Posted by: b | Apr 19, 2017 4:48:31 AM | 65

Plus OSCE kicks up a big row over Turkish electoral commission not cooperating.

OSCE is the nice brother of NATO with Europe, Turkey, US, Canada, Russia plus all post Soviet States included.

You can add jurisdiction in your list, b., which managed to stop Trump in the US on immigration, but already has no chance in Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2017 9:36 utc | 66

@somebody | 63
The opposition is comical, isnt it? Bahceli, Kilicdaroglu ... More xommitted to maintaining their positions!

The reason Demirtas was imprisoned is because he is the only competent opposition leader to really threaten Erdogan. The atmosphere of hope, of change before the first of the last general elections was palpable and it scared Erdogan to death, hence his cancelling the vote, igniting civil war and repeating the elections later that year - 'the barrel of a gun' democracy!

You are right about the economy but forgot to mention the not insignificant billions of dollars of 'black money' that enters the economy anually. Granted this has reduced with Russia killing off Turkeys theft of Syrian natural, industrial and antique resources, but nonetheless ...

We really have to wait and see what Erdogans next move is. I dont think he is going to shake things up in the near abroad too much because Turkey simply can not afford to.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19 2017 11:37 utc | 67

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19, 2017 7:37:17 AM | 67

Erdogan is politically stuck now as - with OSCE - he has lost international legitimacy but cannot stop without admitting the fraud.

I agree with you on Demirtas but the solution can only come from an AKP split - which is likely if Erdogan stops winning elections.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2017 12:12 utc | 68

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19, 2017 8:12:39 AM | 68

Can Turkish democracy count on defected conservatives, rather than Kurds?

I don't think the south-east vote for Erdogan mentioned in the Hürriyet article was legitimate but was the area where the fix was in. Erdogan did try to get the religious conservative Kurdish vote, though.

However, this here is interesting

However, it seems that conservative nationalist MHP voters in the big urban centers, as well as those living in Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions, largely voted “no.” Did they vote “no” because they were against the presidential system, or because they were angry at MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli’s stance against dissent within the party? Was it a reaction against economic problems, or a reflection of the fear that the presidential system could lead to a federal system with more autonomy for the Kurds? These are important questions that polling companies will seek answers to.

Erdogan is not the worst possible politician in today's Turkey nor in Turkey's history. AKP would have to split at the center to be an improvement.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2017 12:26 utc | 69

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19, 2017 7:37:17 AM | 67

'black money' is where Trump's, Jared's and AKP's businesses meet, as real estate is a simple way to launder black money.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 19 2017 12:40 utc | 70

@somebody | 68

"an AKP split"
I agree. Unkikely though it is at present. Having said that if Erdogan does not start pulling the economy together he and AKP will start losing serious business backing and that will threaten their position - its what led to the Russian detente.

In the passage you quote the issue of federalism and a degree of Kurdish autonomy is interesting. It is inevitable. There need to be answers and the current situation is not sustainable. Whether the demographic changes being implemented in the South will hold is unlikely.
But I tend to agree that autonomy is coming in some shape or form and it will either be a reaction to what happens in Syria or it could be led by a progressive Turkish policy. Either way Erdogan needs to stop playing the clearly duplicitous and divisive game he is in playing in Northern Iraq and Northern Syria or he will find that decisions may be made without his consultation ..

The United States of Turkey ... Shot to sh#t before it began ... Or not ...

Posted by: AtaBrit | Apr 19 2017 13:48 utc | 71

Haha, well lookee here... fkn US election thought police in here up thread. The US electorate had the choice of a shit sandwich or a turd burger, everyone knew that. The the pay for play crim vs the unknown, though if you look at Trump's tweet history - esp 2013 - he's a very, very good handle on Syria.

It matters not now, the deep state has won, again...and in quick time, no Jack Ruby's required to clean house...but in a 2 horse race, the war weary should be forgiven for

Posted by: MadMax2 | Apr 20 2017 15:33 utc | 72

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