HOME



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



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
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


 

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

Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

 
Tweeting the start of WWIII

by digby




I wrote about Trump's dangerous foreign policy tweeting for Salon this morning:

One reason it's important to have a president who is capable of reading foreign policy briefing books and listening to experts is not just that it increases their understanding of world affairs but also gives them a sense of caution about their own words and actions on the world stage. For the most part our presidents have taken this aspect of the job very seriously.

There are exceptions. Recall that on August 6, 2001, George W. Bush told his national security briefer, “all right, you’ve covered your ass, now” after he was told that that Osama bin Laden was "determined to strike inside the United States." And then he went fishing. We know how that worked out.

From what he hear, Donald Trump is even less interested. Just before he took office he told Fox News' Chris Wallace, "I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years." We know he gets at least some briefings these days because he was able to spill the beans about some top secret Israeli intelligence to the Russian ambassador. Reuters reported that he has a very short attention span and requires all briefing memos to be single page and accompanied by visual aides. His advisers have found that if they put his name in as many paragraphs as possible they can entice him to read the whole thing.

His foreign trip made it obvious that he is way in over his head. There were lots of great visuals on the Saudi leg of the trip with everyone sword dancing and clutching glowing orbs. Conservative media swooned portraying the trip as a major breakthrough in which Trump single-handedly ended all bad blood among former rivals and brought the region together in peace and harmony. (Well, except for Iran which they all agreed to hate.) He didn't give any press conferences but he did give some speeches which were notable for what they didn't say rather than what they did. In Saudi Arabia he didn't mention human rights and at NATO headquarters he purposefully refused to endorse Article 5, the mutual defense pact at the heart of the alliance.

In the middle east, he sounded like a used car salesman trying to move surplus cars off the back lot with statements such as this one to the Emir of Qatar:

“We are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time now, haven’t we? Our relationship is extremely good, we have some very serious discussions right now going on, and one of the things that we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment, because nobody makes it like the United States. And for us, that means jobs, and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”
Imagine the surprise from the Emir to read these statements from Donald Trump yesterday:







Those were the first public statements made by the President of the United States since Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt — as well as the internationally recognized (and Saudi-backed) government in Yemen, the Emirati-backed government in Eastern Libya, and the Maldives suspended economic and diplomatic relations with Qatar. This was done on Monday ostensibly over Qatar's alleged support for Iran and terrorist organizations.

Always eager to pat himself on the back, Trump took "credit" in his statement for this crisis but seemed not to recall that on his trip he called Qatar a crucial strategic partner, which it is since it is the regional headquarters of the US Central Command with tens of thousands of American troops on the ground there.  His implication that the US is also going to break with Qatar would create an enormous military and strategic upheaval.

As usual the President didn't seem to have consulted with anyone before he issued his startling statements. The Pentagon praised Qatar for its "contribution to the security of the region" and for hosting the US Military and had no answer for the question of what in the world Trump was talking about.The ambassador to Qatar took to twitter to reassure the world that the US was still an ally. The Secretary of State urged the parties to sit down and try to work things out. 

If he had been able to keep his attention on the topic longer than a couple of minutes Trump would have learned that the disputes among these countries are far more complicated than Qatar's support for terrorism. (Saudi Arabia is hardly one to talk.) This article in the Washington Post  is from a few days before the announcement that these countries were cutting ties with Qatar and it explains the underlying conflict.

What is clear is that while Trump may have little understanding of the issues at stake, the players see a shift from the Obama administration's policy of working with the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) as a coalition to a focus on just Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, apparently largely based upon Jared Kushner having formed some personal relationships among the two country's leaders. They are taking advantage of the opening Trump has presented to change the balance of power in the region. 

The twist on the story is that this crisis was predicated on an alleged statement attributed to Qatar’s Emir Tamim on May 23 in which he supposedly praised Hamas and called Iran “a big power in the stabilization of the region.” Last night, CNN reported that US investigators suspect that this is a fake news report planted by Russian hackers on Qatar's state news agency. 

President Trump is the man who said the Israel-Palestine issue is "something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years" and that "nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated" so he tends to see the world is extremely simple terms. It's too much to expect him to ever be able to understand the complexity of relationships between countries of the middle east. But it really isn't too much to ask that he not make ignorant statements via twitter about such important issues. One of these days it could be fatal.

.