Friday, December 15, 2017

Good news and bad news amid rumors of war

Let's recognize the good news first: the odd pronouncement on October 13 from President Trump that he was "decertifying" the international "deal" which restricts Iran's production of nuclear material did NOT mean that the U.S. was ceasing to abide by the agreement. Trump's (almost certainly false) determination that Iran was not compliant merely started the clock for Congress to have 60 days to restart economic sanctions. Heard any rumors of such an action two months later? Nope, crickets. The Israeli press is reporting on this, but the U.S. press has barely mentioned that the clock ran out without action. Joshua Keating at Slate predicts we'll probably get another round of Trump blustering against Iran followed by Congressional inaction starting in January, but he concludes

... Trump [is] fulfilling campaign promises, not accomplishing any real-world goal. It’s domestic politics, not foreign policy.

If that is somewhat reassuring -- though insane and dangerous -- the bad news is utterly dire: here's Daniel W. Drezner writing in the Washington Post about how the Trump people are pushing toward preventive war on North Korea:

I have spent the past week talking to people who are closely connected to the East Asia folks within this administration, however, and now I am seriously fazed. The message I heard was clear. Trump officials working on North Korea have developed the odd consensus that Pyongyang will use its nuclear arsenal to attempt a forcible reunification with South Korea. And if that is the goal, then time is running out for military options that would stop that from happening. ... The Trump national security team seems convinced that North Korea cannot be deterred, and war is the inevitable outcome.

What is equally disturbing is the lack of public debate on this question. Say what you will about Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the Bush administration took seven months between talking about it and doing it. In that time, administration officials secured congressional authorization and tried to do the same at the United Nations Security Council. There was also a vigorous public debate on the question. With North Korea right now, there is a lot of chatter but no visible debate. Indeed, if the Trump team is leaning toward a preventive attack, a debate is the last thing officials want, for tactical reasons. It is impossible to have a public debate about a surprise military strike.

... Maybe Trump’s national security team is trying to bluff its way into getting North Korea to back down. But having seen this White House shoot itself in the foot repeatedly, I now worry that Trump, Kelly and McMaster actually think there is a military solution.

Drezner was a supporter of the Iraq war, so it's not difficult to doubt his policy judgment, not to mention his good will toward humankind. But he's got the essence of this right. We are being led toward a catastrophic, unfathomably cruel, and unnecessary war in violation of international law by foolish men. Insofar as this is a democracy, we will own this crime.


Rain Trueax said...

All war is unnecessary in the end, and often accomplishes nothing that could not have been accomplished by stronger negotiating and sanctions. The thing is whether NK actually intends to hit one of our bases or even the mainland, how can anybody know what those goals are? Think how much each of those missiles and tests cost. Think how starved his people are. Now figure out how far he'd go to achieve his goals, whatever they are. I just don't think we can know and we should be worried. We can't have NK take over SK. We can't have them hit Japan to weaken a nearby enemy. I just don't think there are good answers here. We sure can't have them take a shot at our mainland.

UN Ambassador Haley has said that Iran is the major sponsor of terrorist groups in the region and around the world. Is she lying? If she's not, that is breaking the supposed agreement for which Obama secreted all that money to repay a debt or some such excuse but why in secret? $2 billion is a lot of money and if it was a legitimate debt why was it secretly transferred? That money may well be what is being used now by these groups who try to kill innocent people for some political gain (a goal of which is vague as to what it even is like in the last failed pipe bomber's case).

One reason we are not dealing with all of this in the press is all those Diet Cokes lol and then the Russia probe, something some FBI agents may have set as a trap purely to hamstring a president. How many dems even care what those texts meant and what was then done? Why did Hillary not get questioned under oath but Flynn did? To think the FBI is pure as the driven snow is to ignore the Hoover years. We know what can happen with these groups who are not elected and hold almost unlimited power in certain situations.

You know what this reminds me of-- when the Republicans went after Bill Clinton on lying about consensual sex and blow jobs. That was when bin Laden was growing his power. We are so intelligent as a people and so easily manipulated to forget what is important (i.e. nations who hate us and have nukes) and what can be fixed later. Some has to be the lack of attention span in the media of today, who are more into hiring hot women than they are acquiring real journalists. Or even if those hot women are real journalists, their bosses keep them looking pretty in front of cameras to suit-- who knows who or what.

janinsanfran said...

I don't know Rain -- you've faithfully reproduced all the standard Fox News/Trump talking points of the week. Why?

Rain Trueax said...

Where did you find a list of Fox talking points?

As for me, I read a mix of sources including Intercept. Vox, Guardian, several US papers, Politico, Federalist, etc. but i don't go to MSNBC although I will check out what CNN has to say.

For awhile I thought I was becoming more conservative as time has gone on but am more thinking I am where I was during the years I came of age-- the Kennedy years where the Democratic party was more conservative. It has moved so far left now that it does not even consider different ideas or ways of interpreting facts. The one Fox show I watch with some regularity is the Five with one liberal and four conservatives but of varying levels. I like hearing them argue without nastiness and laugh a lot with that show. Dana Perino, who used to be Bush's press secretary is a pretty moderate conservative voice for our times. Two of the guys are pretty extreme. Juan Williams always covers the democratic talking points and seems to totally believe them

Seriously, if you have a list of Fox talking points, I'd be glad to see how many of them I agree with... That last paragraph above came just from my own thinking as I've heard it nowhere else. I believed when 9/11 happened that we could blame some on Clinton's distraction over being impeached for something i considered a big nothing and how men do lie about sex but impeachment? I just couldn't see it. I see the parallels to today. People on the left do not want the things Trump ran on doing. I didn't either and why i voted for Hillary. I though see he is doing what he said he'd do and nothing much has changed from him even as to the tweeting.

Did you get no info regarding the FBI agents and their texts? I might ask where you get your news? I can tell you I read both sides but don't often agree with the liberal perspective these days. Maybe it's my age

Would you prefer I no longer comment here? I can do that. I don't have many places I try to discuss political issues as generally it's a huge mistake and convinces nobody. If you only want those who agree with you here, I will not comment again-- and no hard feelings on my side. It is your space after all.

janinsanfran said...

Rain: sorry for going off sloppily. The bit that set me off was the notion that the FBI or anyone else in the government is making up things out of hostility to Trump. Sure, many of them think he was -- and is -- unfit to be President. But that is a) self-evident and b) the opinion registered by a majority of the electorate. Federal employees have a right to political opinions -- and a duty to do their jobs professionally. We are very lucky that a significant portion of them, so far, are resisting being steam-rolled by a buffoonish, sleazy con man.

FWIW, I don't think the Mueller investigation is the most important thing happening -- I'd consider that the growing likelihood than an incompetent and unhinged man might lead us into nuclear war. (After all, a much more disciplined but also ignorant predecessor did lead us into the country's greatest foreign policy disaster -- the Iraq invasion.) Presidents matter.

Rain Trueax said...

They can dislike him but can they do something that would take down his presidency should he be elected? If you believe in one side, does whatever they do become justified even if it breaks the law? Some would say yes.

This is one of the troubling texts that was sent:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office - that there’s no way he gets elected - but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texted on Aug. 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

the question would be what might they have done as an insurance policy. That thing in my initial post here about not putting Hillary under oath when they questioned her and yet they did Flynn. Then indicting Flynn on lesser charges as a way to make him testify against Trump or his people? If you never believe anybody lies to get a lesser sentence, this doesn't bother you but it does me. I have never liked plea bargains that involve that.

I get it that most lefties want Trump out period-- but is okay to create a phony dossier and use it to trap someone, which they clearly did with Flynn. They knew he'd lied by the calls and yet asked him to get him on perjury. He should have also known he'd have been tapped. This whole thing is murky to sat the least.

I remember the misuse of the ATF with Randy Weaver and even David Koresh. I get it that Koresh was not a good guy but what the government did there was unnecessary to get him. As was going to Mannifort's house when they were still in bed. In my home, that'd get me killed because we have guns that if someone broke in, we'd be using. Maybe Mannifort had been alerted-- or maybe not.

There are a lot of texts between the two FBI agents and the odd thing is Mueller also saw it as not okay and removed the guy from the investigation but said nothing about it until those texts were released recently. Another strange thing is if this was something showing Trump badly, mainstream media would be all over it. They aren't writing much if anything about it.

I think for a lot of establishment types on the right and left, the big thing is get rid of someone they despise but at any cost? When we justify our government laying a trap to get someone and letting someone else off-- is that what we want in government bureaucracies, especially those with guns. I would not be happy about this no matter who had won.

Rain Trueax said...

As for leading us into war, Hillary is as capable of that as Trump. She voted for the Iraq war. She was instrumental in deciding to help the rebels destabilize Libya to get rid of Qaddafi. She talked hard-line in terms of going after the bad guys. I suspect with NK, either one could get us there if they keep testing missiles and developing their ability to put their nukes on one. I don't see how we can expect the kind of logic that has ruled Russia and the US in not wanting a war using nukes. NK has less to lose.

How would you stop them from their weapons programs? Obama didn't succeed and they are closer now than they were to a real ability. As for Trump's ability to do a first strike, if the military doesn't agree it's needed, they will not go along with whatever he wants. I am not sure he wants a war but he leaves a lot up to the military guys. His big deal has always been the economy and deregulating. A war would get in the way of that. I though don't believe he's nuts as so many lefties do. I just never figured he had the right temperament to be president, lack of curiosity being a big deal for someone in that position. Mostly though his loudmouth talk is words. I've never heard of him actually hitting someone even.

janinsanfran said...

If anyone cares, here's a good article that deals with the problematic texts from the guy who was dumped out of teh Mueller investigation.

Rain Trueax said...

Unless someone can prove that they put Flynn under oath to get him on perjury, when his real issue was operating as an agent for Turkey and I think Ukraine, that the dossier was their insurance policy, that being able to surveil someone was all about stopping Trump, the words alone don't mean more than a desire to find a way to hamstring the president from doing what he said he'd do if he got elected.

The thing is why did Mueller use only Clinton aficionados? I think this is another of those things that the right and left will never see alike. IF Mueller ends up saying, after a year or two and a lot of money, that Trump didn't do anything, will the left believe it? If they can get Trump's family, as they did Flynn's, will that be the real way to get him? My guess is most lefties will never believe Trump isn't a very bad guy and it doesn't matter whether he is. It's all about what he ran on doing and now is doing.

As a writer, I put together events and then create the feeling it will be about where it leads. In life, that works that way also. Did they impeach Clinton because they cared that he lied about a blow job... or was it always about the things he wanted to do? We are in such a partisan time and what people want to see done is so hugely different, not sure this can ever be anything but chaos in a nation so divided