Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paul Wolfowitz has high hopes for Donald Trump

by digby

I wrote about the neocon dreams being rekindled for Salon this morning:

It was entirely predictable that as soon as President Donald Trump decided to drop some bombs on a Middle Eastern country, the neoconservative claque that had rejected him during the election would slither back into the GOP orbit. It’s true that Trump himself had nixed the appointment of Elliott Abrams, the man the Republican establishment had chosen to be Rex Tillerson’s right-hand man. That rejection had some people hopeful that Steve Bannon (whom Abrams blamed) would at least prove useful in keeping architects of the GOP’s tragic adventures in Central America and the Middle East out of this White House.

Bannon, of course, is the nationalist enemy of neoconservative global crusaders like Abrams and former George W. Bush administration official Paul Wolfowitz. But it’s always struck me how much they actually have in common in terms of temperament, if not ideology. Bannon is well-known from his propaganda filmmaking and Breitbart days as a trafficker in conspiracy theories. And Wolfowitz for years insisted that 9/11 had been a collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, largely based on a discredited book called “Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein’s War Against America” by a crank named Laurie Mylroie. They are both well-read and erudite conspiracy mongers who found their way into the most powerful offices on Earth.

Despite the obvious fact that Donald Trump is a torture-loving, “bomb the shit out of ’em” and “take the oil” kind of guy, his opportunistic distancing of himself from the Iraq War (despite evidence that he actually supported it) gave many people the impression that he wouldn’t support military intervention. That included members of the neocon establishment, who were leery of him. But now they’re back in the public eye, and one of the main architects of the Iraq War is once again making his presence known. According to Susan Glasser of Politico, Wolfowitz can take some credit for the action. In an interview with him she said:

Paul, you’ve jumped back into the fray as it were with what appears in hindsight to be an extremely well-timed intervention in the Wall Street Journal, saying Donald Trump should go ahead and do something in Syria, should intervene militarily in some way to respond to the chemical weapons strike. Miraculously enough, perhaps, he surprised much of the world by going ahead and taking your advice and doing so.

Wolfowitz modestly replied that he’s not sure Trump took his advice but he’s awfully glad he did bomb Syria because the U.S. is back in business:

I don’t think anyone would deny that he’s opportunistic, and I don’t think anyone would deny that he would like to be “the greatest president in modern times” or “huge” or you pick your adjective. And I think to achieve a Dayton-like peace settlement in Syria would not only be something that would be widely acclaimed, it would be hugely in the interest of the United States.

That does show a certain understanding of how to appeal to this president. But it’s mind-boggling to believe he could ever be capable of brokering the kind of complicated agreement that Wolfowitz goes on to describe, in which every country, faction and religious sect in the Middle East would be involved (except Iran and Russia, which makes no sense at all.) Apparently Wolfowitz doesn’t know that Donald Trump can’t even hammer out a deal between Republican congressmen who voted for him.

Wolfowitz places a great deal of faith in Trump’s generals, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, to run foreign policy and guide Trump to the right conclusions. He is impressed that Tillerson told Vladimir Putin that lining up with Syrian president Bashar Assad is “lining up with a loser.” Said Wolfowitz: “It may not get through any better than telling him that what he’s doing is criminal and immoral, but I think at least may resonate a little bit better with people around him.” Apparently, Wolfowitz thinks Putin is Russia’s Donald Trump, which is probably a wrong assumption.

The scariest part of the interview, however, involved Wolfowitz’s views on Iraq. He seems eager to get right back into the quagmire and stay there. Mentioning in passing that comparing Iraq to Germany and Japan in the post-World War II period had been the wrong comparison, he said it should have been compared to Korea — where we still have 30,000 troops stationed 60 years later and war is threatening as we speak! Wolfowitz recalled the period after the Iraq “surge” with great nostalgia as a sort of golden era:

[W]e do have a model there. I think it’s a model that worked dramatically. When Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker was Bush’s last ambassador to Iraq and General Petraeus was there commanding the U.S. forces, the two of them — they had offices, I think, in the same building deliberately. I think every night they would go to [Nouri al-]Maliki when he was, I think the way they put it, too tired to fight back.

Wolfowitz said Petraeus and Crocker would tell him things about his own country he didn’t know and would instruct him to fire this or that general and “stop these corrupt practices” that were going on in places around the country and it worked perfectly. If we don’t go back in there and repeat that, Wolfowitz said, “the alternative is to let a very important, critical part of the world go to hell literally and lose American influence.”

This is a man who says in the same interview that “if we give up the Western idea of freedom, we’re giving up one of the most important diplomatic tools in our arsenal.” It doesn’t sound a great deal like freedom and democracy if a foreign government puts its generals in offices next door to the president so they can conveniently whisper orders in his ear when he’s tired.

In other words, Wolfowitz didn’t learn a thing from America’s disastrous experience in the Middle East. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the neocons seem to think the Iraq War is a “model that worked.” The smoldering wreck that’s left in the region can be fixed up promptly with a few thousand troops and some savvy military leadership.

There’s no reason to think that Trump is going there just yet. But with Bannon on the wane as an influence and Jared Kushner (who is more in sync with the neoconservative worldview) on the rise, that could change. These old neocon hands certainly have Trump’s number anyway. On the day after the Syrian airstrikes, Elliott Abrams wrote in The Weekly Standard that the president had “finally accepted the role of Leader of the Free World.”

They have good reason to be confident. After all, they got one president to invade a country that hadn’t attacked us. Why wouldn’t they believe they can do it again?