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 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


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


Monday, April 09, 2018

Remember when Trump said gassing the Kurds was no big deal? 

by digby

For those of us who have been closely following politics for the past couple of decades the following words are undoubtedly something we never in a million years expected to read: today is John Bolton's first day as the National Security Adviser to the  president of the United States. After observing his years of extremist rhetoric and his checkered career in government, it seemed unimaginable that Bolton would ever attain such an important job. But then, it was once unimaginable that a reality TV host and shill for cheap consumer goods could become president either. Perhaps it's time to recognize that we are so far down the rabbit hole that comparing this administration to what we previously called reality isn't particularly relevant.

In an unusual move for this president, Bolton's predecessor, H.R. McMaster, was allowed to leave with some sense of dignity, even though he had been subtly critical of the president over his handling of Russia in a couple of speeches in his final days. Trump apparently allowed everyone in the White House to pretend that McMaster wasn't fired and must have approved his staff giving the departing general a big send-off. (You know they wouldn't have done this without the president's OK.)

I'm sure most in the White House were genuinely sad to see him go, considering who is replacing him. This administration has been careening wildly from the beginning, but it's about to take a sharp right turn.
The White House announced on Sunday night that another top national security aide, Michael Anton, would be leaving to spend more time with his far right intellectuals. Anton is best known for his pseudonymous essay "The Flight 93 Election," a bizarre metaphor in which the nation was 9/11's Flight 93, Hillary Clinton was the liberal globalist terrorist who was trying to take over the plane and Donald Trump was the heroic passenger Todd Beamer saying "let's roll" and charging the cockpit. (I confess I never understood why anyone thought this was so inspiring, since the plane crashed, killing everyone on board.)

According to the Hill, Anton was once a true-blue Trumper who changed in the White House and became aligned with those considered more moderate. One source was quoted saying that Anton “completely flipped. He was brought in because of [Michael] Flynn but he became the biggest cheerleader for the McMaster faction that fought against implementing the president’s policies.”

In any case, he's the last of the original America Firsters, and Bolton will be able to build his team in his own image. His biggest problem is going to be the same as any other White House adviser -- making coherent policy with Trump all over the map. Those who believe Trump is an isolationist probably think he and Bolton are a bad match. In fact, they share the same domineering sensibilities and, with the exception of Israel, have no affinity for any of America's allies. Much as they might disagree on the wisdom of invading Iraq, they both share a deeply held conviction that "nation building" is for losers.

As Kmele Foster, former host of Fox Business’ "The Independents," told Tina Nguyen of Vanity Fair, "Trump and Bolton are probably more alike from a dispositional, philosophical standpoint than most people appreciate. I don't think he’s likely to turn [Trump] into a neocon, because I don’t think the guy’s really that much of a neocon himself. I’m being generous here, or I’m being over-broad but [Bolton] would have been happy to install a dictator [in Iraq] who would have at least been subservient to the United States — even if he was kind of an awful monster — because he’s not concerned with those totalitarian impulses or human-rights violations, per se.”

I would guess that dovetails nicely with Trump's own view. As long as the U.S. could extract as much of the nation's natural resources as it chooses, he'd be happy to install friendly dictators everywhere. He certainly admires many of those who exist today.

There is little doubt that Bolton would agree wholeheartedly with Trump's approach to warfare, as reported by The Washington Post:
Trump’s words, both in public and private, describe a view that wars should be brutal and swift, waged with overwhelming firepower and, in some cases, with little regard for civilian casualties. Victory over America’s enemies for the president is often a matter of bombing “the s--- out of them,” as he said on the campaign trail.

In Trump's current "unleashed" mood, he is apparently taking contrarian stances to demonstrate his dominance. The Washington Post reported that the president's directive to the Pentagon to achieve "victory" against ISIS in Syria within six months and then withdraw completely came as a surprise to the brass, since they had in the past had success with presenting Trump with binary choices heavily weighted to favor their own consensus. It didn't work this time and he issued the order, leaving them to scramble trying to figure out how to carry out his order. (Personally, I think he just wants to be able to say he "won" a war and then have his big victory parade.)

Unfortunately, over the weekend the world got the horrific news of yet another gas attack in Syria, presumed to be the work of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump issued angry tweets, even slightly chastising his pal Vladimir Putin for the very first time:

You could understand Assad and Putin thinking that Trump had washed his hands of the matter and was back to his long held belief that strongmen were needed to stabilize the region. Recall that he made it clear during the campaign that he didn't care at all about using chemical weapons. Of Iran and Iraq he said:
They fight, that’s what they do. They fight…and they were equal, militarily. They go this way, 10 feet, they go this way, 10 feet…then Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy 'oh he’s using gas!' They go back, forth, it's the same. And they were stabilized.
CNN reports that Bolton quietly settled in at the White House already this week-end. He is a rabid Iran hawk and known to favor staying on in Syria to counter their influence.Perhaps he persuaded the president that this is a provocation that requires him to re-evaluate his earlier decision. Maybe they're going to bomb the shit out somebody and take the oil. Who knows? Trump is so volatile and unpredictable at this point that literally anything is possible.

But one thing is certain. Whatever Trump and Bolton decide to do or not do, humanitarian concerns or keeping the world from boiling over into violence and chaos are not going to be factors. Neither one of them care at all about any of that.