Saturday, April 22, 2017

Steady As She Goes

"Since the inauguration, it seems there has been something of a mainstreaming of his foreign policy."
"I'm more optimistic than I think many in Washington are ... In many ways a number of things Trump has done already, including the Syria [missile] strikes, are an improvement over his predecessor."
Matthew Kroenig, professor, Georgetown University

"[Trump -- pre-election prophecy] would be the most reckless president in American history."
"Every president discovers that campaign rhetoric and campaign promises look different in the light of day than they did in the middle of the campaign."
"No president gets to impose his or her vision of the world onto reality. You have to deal with reality as it exists."
Peter Feaver, Republican foreign-policy expert

"This administration ... is running national defence and foreign policy a little like a pick-up team."
"It looks, at least for the moment, ad-hoc. That tends to heighten those fears the anti-Trump crowd have about the impermanence and fickleness of their strategy."
"It's not clear what the opposite of strategic patience is, in terms of what we're actually willing to do to compel the North Koreans to behave better."
Ilan Berman, senior fellow, American Foreign Policy Council

The Islamic Republic of Iran better look out; President Donald J. Trump is on to its malevolent tricks, knows the Republic's insultingly snide rhetoric about American duplicity and intransigence, and knows also that Iran is the world's current headmaster of the very prestigious school of jihadi terrorism central, fomenting destabilizing currents worldwide and planning its very own private arsenal of nuclear-tipped warheads to complement its growing stockpile of powerful and far-reaching ballistic missiles verging on the cusp of intercontinentalism. Um, where's Iran again....?

U.S. President Donald Trump excels magnificently at confounding his advisers, his confidants and his detractors. Those in the first two categories are limited in number, while those in the latter are profuse; while continuing to be skeptical have also been intrigued by the fact that the man whose obtuse confidence in himself seems unable to recognize fully in himself what his response should be at any given time to circumstances he responds to. How he will respond seems to be based on how he feels at any particular time, and since his feelings change with mind-boggling speed and regularity, there is no way to confidently declare how he will react, since he hardly knows himself.

The travel ban from specific Muslim countries was the first to cause a collective intaking of breath and a loud lament from 'rights' groups that America the Good was abandoning civil rights under this leader. NATO, once proclaimed "obsolete" in its function and purpose has now been reassured that it is respected by Donald J. Trump. This man who is now president and commander-in-chief of the largest and best-equipped military on Earth has declared his nation will no longer intervene in foreign affairs, conflicts and concerns, concerning allies and disappointing challengers.

The foreign policy of George W. Bush revolving around preventive conflicts, superseded by the Obama doctrine that favoured wimpish negotiations and diplomacy over unilateral action to 'lead from behind', now trashed. Spokesmen for the Trump administration who repeat his assertions that isolationism is the new doctrine, even though Mr. Trump will not formalize a doctrine were themselves taken by surprise when though stating military action would only be taken when threats arose to American security, Trump authorized a barrage of missiles to be struck at a Syrian airbase used by Syria and Russia.

As for North Korea's Kim, that troublesome, irksome little popinjay has had his moments of celebrity and fame; now comes the time for a reckoning; diplomatic overtures having proven useless, that leaves military action as an urgent potential. Donald Trump-the-candidate's bad-mouthing of China has disappeared because suddenly China's leadership presents as an ally against North Korean ambitions, as seemingly concerned at the juvenile antics of the 'bad boy' as South Korea, Japan and the United States itself.

The musing love affair with the notion that a new partnership was in the offing between the United States and Russia because Washington suddenly loves Moscow and admires the unique steadfastness of Vladimir Putin in pursuing his very personal agenda of restoring world power status to Mother Russia absent its satellites demonstrated a quality that resonated with the doggedness in business achievement of a corporate deal-maker. Uh-oh, maybe not, after all.

Well, there's always trade, isn't there and free trade has suddenly a very pungent odour that President Trump in his great, good wisdom, knows has effectively victimized the United States. Manufacturing jobs gone, never to return, and everything is the fault of those dedicated to the goal of cheating the United States of its status as world financial leader whose corporate interests have been stifled by competitors who, under the guise of free trade, cheat, lie, subsidize and whine to benefit their industries.

But for impudence in misinterpreting the direct instruction of the U.S. Commander-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces, it appears that it is not particularly snarky little tyrants attempting to confound his orders, but those he directly commands himself. That soul-shaking threat of the imminent presence of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson leading a naval group to confront North Korea's aggression appeared to have been casually set aside in a 'to-do' bin.

It steamed instead toward its initial destination, toward an assignation for joint exercises with the Australian Navy. No insolence involved, dear no; a miscommunication, a minor misdemeanor speedily rectified. Training over, waving farewell to the Aussies the aircraft carrier group is prepared to head toward the geography that Kim Jong-Un's threats has been roiling with consternation over will he or won't he?

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the Sunda Strait in an image released on April 15 A photo published by the US Navy on April 15 showing the Vinson transiting the Sunda Strait on its way to drills with Australia Credit: US Navy

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