Tag Archives: Trump administration

Let Venezuela Decide Its Own Destiny, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The Trump administration is going to have to up its game if it’s going to do regime change in Venezuela. So far, nobody in the administration is publicly question whether regime change is even a good idea. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Who would be free themselves must strike the blow…

“By their right arms the conquest must be wrought.”

So wrote Lord Byron of Greece’s war of independence against the Turks, though the famed British poet would ignore his own counsel and die just days after arriving in Greece to join the struggle.

Yet Byron’s advice is the wise course for the United States, and for the people of Venezuela who seek to free their country of the grip of the incompetent and dictatorial regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Let the Venezuelans decide their own destiny, as did we.

As of today, Caracas seems to be in something of a standoff.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the U.S. and 50 other nations as president, has failed to persuade the army to abandon Maduro.

Yet he can still muster larger crowds in the streets of Caracas to demand the ouster of Maduro than Maduro can call out to stand by his regime.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Guaido announced that the regime’s final hour was at hand. But by midweek, the army’s leaders, including the minister of defense, still stood with Maduro.

Guaido’s opportunity seems to have passed by, at least for the moment. Maduro remains in power, though his generals, weighing the odds, have apparently been negotiating in secret with Guaido.

The Trump administration has backed Guaido, only to see him fail twice now at taking power.

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On to Caracas and Tehran! by Patrick J. Buchanan

In Washington, nothing succeeds quite like failure, which is why the Trump administration is pressing for regime change in Venezuela and Iran, the same policy that has led to a string of US failures around the globe stretching back to the 1950s. From Patrick J. Buchanan at antiwar.com:

In the Venezuelan crisis, said President Donald Trump in Florida, “All options are on the table.” And if Venezuela’s generals persist in their refusal to break with Nicolas Maduro, they could “lose everything.”

Another example of Yankee bluster and bluff?

Or is Trump prepared to use military force to bring down Maduro and install Juan Guaido, the president of the national assembly who has declared himself president of Venezuela?

We will get an indication this weekend, as a convoy of food and humanitarian aid tries to force its way into Venezuela from Colombia.

Yet, even given the brutality of the regime and the suffering of the people — 1 in 10 have fled — it is hard to see Trump sending the Marines to fight the Venezuelan army in Venezuela.

Where would Trump get the authority for such a war?

Still, the lead role that Trump has assumed in the crisis raises a question. Does the reflexive interventionism — America is “the indispensable nation!” — that propelled us into the forever war of the Middle East, retain its hold on the American mind?

Next week, Trump meets in Hanoi with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

While Kim has not tested his missiles or nuclear warheads in a year, few believe he will ever surrender the weapons that secure his survival and brought the U.S. superpower to the negotiating table.

Is Trump prepared to accept a deal that leaves a nuclear North but brings about a peace treaty, diplomatic relations and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula? Or are American forces to be in Korea indefinitely?

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Pussy John Bolton and His Codpiece Mustache: Examining the Freak Show, by Fred Reed

None of the important people in the Trump administration are particularly admirable human beings. Fred Reed has a strong constitution. From Reed at theburningplatform.com:

American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren’t crazy. Today’s administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And–this is important–their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America. It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF  treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

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Trump Looks Set to Lock Horns With Europe Over Iran Nuclear Deal, by Middle East Monitor

The Europeans are looking like they might challenge US domination, breaking with the US over sanctions on Iran. From Middle East Monitor at theantimedia.com:

The Trump administration is apparently exasperated at the European Union’s bid to bypass US sanctions on Iran. Infuriated by the EU’s effort to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) agreed in 2015 when Barack Obama was in the White House, Washington has threatened to punish any efforts seeking to circumvent the sanctions.

The US government is said to be putting the Europeans on notice, saying that if they try to bypass the sanctions on Iran, they will be subject to stiff fines and penalties. A senior Trump administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity about EU efforts to set up an alternative payment method to allow trade with the Iranians told the Associated Press that the US “will fully enforce its sanctions and hold individuals and entities accountable for undermining them.”

European leaders, however, are unfazed by the threats and are said to be marching forward with the plan, which, if implemented, could further strain trans-Atlantic relations. AP reported that a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that preparations for the alternative system are “at an advanced stage.”

The EU is working on an initiative that will enable payments from companies that want to trade with Iran and offer protection from US penalties. According to Bloomberg, the proposal could be presented as early as today. EU government envoys are said to be discussing the “three nation initiative” in Brussels and looking into the “positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran.” A statement is expected soon.

 

Is the Trump Revolution Over? by Paul-Martin Foss

Has the establishment taken over the Trump administration? From Paul-Martin Foss at ronpaulinstitute.org:

A year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, analysts and commentators are assessing both his performance in the first year of his presidency as well as the outlook for the remainder of his first term. Entering office as a surprise winner and a political neophyte, many people didn’t know just what to expect from Trump. Would he do what he pledged to do as a candidate, or was his campaign rhetoric just a lot of hot air to bamboozle enough people into voting for him? One of Trump’s most popular promises was to “drain the swamp” and, while the President has tried to make some strides in that respect over the past year, there are concerning signs that any swamp draining may be coming to an end.

Personnel Is Policy

One of the primary rules in politics is “personnel is policy.” What a politician says he’ll do is less important than who he hires to implement his policies. In many cases, the people he hires may not agree with his policies and may work to surreptitiously (or not so surreptitiously) undermine and co-opt him. We certainly see this on Capitol Hill all the time, where class after class of freshman Congressmen enters Congress pledging to fix the way Congress works. Yet time after time they get corrupted by the system in Washington. Why is that? It’s because of the people they hire.

Coming into office often with no experience of how things operate in DC, they rely on their respective party apparatuses to staff their offices. They’ll hire Hill veterans as their chiefs of staff and legislative directors, staffers who are more concerned with the future of their careers and who consequently do everything they can not to upset party leadership so that they can maintain their ability to work on the Hill and work the government/lobbying revolving door. We’re seeing much the same thing happening in the White House today too, as Trump continues to hire establishment Republicans who wouldn’t be out of place in a Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, or John McCain White House.

To continue reading: Is the Trump Revolution Over?

Pakistan Says The US Is No Longer Its Ally (And It’s A Much Bigger Deal Than You Think), by Darius Shahtahmasebi

There are some countries that are important simply because of where they are. Turkey comes to mind. Pakistan is another. It’s bordered by Iran, Afghanistan, India, China, and Tajikstan, an interesting neighborhood. Oh, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at theantimedia.org:

Donald Trump’s decision to ring in the New Year by simultaneously demonizing both Iran and Pakistan on Twitter has already backfired tremendously. Following threats that the U.S. would withhold aid to Pakistan, the U.S. confirmed it would withhold $255 million in aid (which has now become $900 million) and is now reportedly threatening a roughly $2 billion more, as well.

“We’re hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment,” a State Department official told reporters.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this recent animosity towards Pakistan has not gone over well. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in an interview that the U.S. has failed to behave as an ally, and as a result, Pakistan no longer views it as one.

If anything, Washington’s recent behavior has only pushed Pakistan into the open arms of America’s traditional rivals, China and Iran. China has long been providing financial and economic assistance of its own to Pakistan with plans to expand an economic partnership in the years to come.

China has already pledged to invest $57 billion in Pakistani infrastructure as part of the so-called “Belt and Road” initiative. Just last month, Pakistan announced it was considering a proposal to replace the U.S. dollar with the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade between Pakistan and China.

Following the Trump administration’s recent attacks on Pakistan, Pakistan confirmed that dropping the dollar was no arbitrary threat and immediately replaced the dollar with the Chinese yuan.

“Chinese investment in Pakistan is expected to reach over $46 billion by 2030 with the creation of a [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] connecting Balochistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar, in Western China,” Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center who focuses on Pakistan and China, told Newsweek.

In the middle of last year, it was reported that China was considering establishing its own naval bases in Pakistan. These reports began to immediately resurface again in the past week, though Pakistan has vehemently denied that any such naval base will be built (even though Chinese military officials were the ones to expose the plan to build a naval base at Gwadar Port, in Balochistan).

To continue reading: Pakistan Says The US Is No Longer Its Ally (And It’s A Much Bigger Deal Than You Think)

 

US Administration Defends Its Right to Start Wars on a Whim, by Andrei Akulov

Forget that separation of powers of stuff that if you’re old enough, you may have learned in an American Government class somewhere. If the president wants to make war, he just makes war. From Andrei Akulov at strategic-culture.org:

US Administration Defends Its Right to Start Wars on a Whim

The US Constitution says that only Congress can declare war for an extended time but there is a workaround. Congress approved the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), giving the president the authority to track down and destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The resolution stipulates that “The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” The resolution’s 2002 version gave President Bush the authority to invade Iraq. Only 25 percent of the current members of Congress in the House and Senate were present when the current AUMFs were passed.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and several other Democrats are asking whether a new law authorizing the use of military force should be written. They are planning to introduce legislation that would prohibit Trump from starting a pre-emptive war against North Korea, absent an imminent threat or without express authorization from Congress. They call for one without a sunset date, saying that Congress needs to have a voice.

The deadly incident in Niger last month ignited a push among many members of Congress to update the legal parameters for combat operations overseas. The revelation that the US is at war in Niger, without Congress even knowing, was startling. This is the perfect illustration of the US’s permanent war posture around the world, where battles are waged with little or no public scrutiny and no congressional authorization. All previous attempts to ditch the old authorization and force Congress to craft a new one have failed. For years now, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to debate and vote on US wars.

This time lawmakers mentioned the possibility of using military force in crises involving North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, as well as the ongoing efforts against multiple militant groups that did not exist at the time the AUMF came into force. The AUMF authorized military actions only against al Qaeda, the Taliban and other perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

To continue reading: US Administration Defends Its Right to Start Wars on a Whim