By Harry C. Blaney III
Another strong voice against the gutting of the Department of State, diplomacy, and our Foreign Service Dan Rather. Dangerous is not strong enough to describe what is taking place. It is a crime and we all need to say so to our representatives and ask their help to stop it. I have never is over 50 years of active foreign affairs engagement have I seen America so weakened and counterproductive abroad and indeed destructive of all that is good than under Trump. This must stop. Dan Rather says it all and to the point!
Dan Rather (Post on his Facebook page):
I try to stay steady. I try to remain calm. But of all the things stuck in my craw these surreal days, the willful and deliberate decimation of the United States Department of State by President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a turn of events that is both bewildering and so obviously dangerous that it begs for reason in an age already plagued by a striking lack of reason.
This is an attack on the very health and security of the United States. It undermines our political, cultural, economic, and moral power around the globe. Yes our military forces are important and yes the aircraft carriers and fleets of tanks and airplanes are impressive. And yes the courage and dedication of our fighting men and women are impressive. But so too is the courage and dedication of our diplomatic corp who wield words and the power of persuasion to further our national interests, along with the aspirations of peace and justice. Their budget is but a fraction of our defense budget, but dollar for dollar they do more than almost anyone I can think of to make America what it has been, what it is, and what I believe we hope it to be.
There should be a bipartisan outcry against this undermining of American values. We have had strong diplomats from across the political spectrum. And as the world becomes ever-more complicated and difficult to navigate, we need leadership not empty rhetoric.
Make no mistake, our allies are watching with great unease. And our adversaries are salivating at our shortsightedness, and frankly, stupidity.
MORE ON THE TRUMP SYRIAN MISSILE STRIKES AND BEYOND & WEIGHING RISKS.
Harry C. Blaney III
Already there have been many comments on the impact of the missiles strikes and discussions of their implication and what they may mean going forward. The simple truth is that none of us know what risks may lurk ahead not even Trump, nor Putin, nor Assad. Trump has not indicated much in the way of his real aims and less about what hand he will play. Many bet he has no plan and others have surmised strategies from the more likely to the ridiculous. The one thing I think is true is that the old Trump we have seen is NOT a new Trump of a “grand sophisticate strategist.” I doubt he has little but a fuzze and probably ill-informed idea of what he must now do and what the future risks are.
Already after the initial Trump strikes, Syrian government warplanes were back bombing the same site that was hit by the sarin chemicals. And as sited in the Washington Post (4/9/17), reportedly there were more strikes also against civilians at Khan Sheikhoun, where Tuesday 68 people had been killed. Assad planes are still active in brutal killings. Thus nothing much has changed for the people as a result.
Not least of concern is the reaction of Putin to these actions and dangers of mistakes on both sides. Our larger approach with Russia must be an integral element of our strategy.
Trump’s national security team is about the worst I have seen in 50 years. Leaving aside the fractious White House still dominated by Alt-Right ideologists, one glaring weakness is the selection of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State without any previous knowledge or experience in foreign policy and national security areas. He is like a lost soul out of his depth. Worst he won’t talk to or listen to experienced hands at State according to reports. Part of that may be that he knows he may have to fire many of them to meet the demands of his harsh circus ring boss who has a desire to ensure that foreign affairs belongs exclusively in the White House and as a fiefdom of an incompetent family. Thus we see the Trump inspired 30% cut in State’s budget.
Trump said his motivation for the strikes were humanitarian for saving of lives, but his proposed State and USAID budget cuts will result in millions of added deaths including women and children in poor and conflict ridden nations around the world. Is that an act of a real “humanitarian?”
The results on the policy side of this action many end with no serious negotiations and with no strategic game plan behind them. This results in no long-term thinking or seeking peaceful win-win solutions. It seems the major fault is lack of respect of the tools of deep analysis and the concern and understanding of risks as well as end-game benefits for peace by Trump. That is dangerous for America and the world.
He has now made a “big bet” with a rather limited strike in Syria. He warned the Russians ahead which meant that the Assad air force had some kind of advanced warning. The damage done to the airfield and planes were modest in the extreme. He did not destroy all their planes and they can continue the killing of innocent civilians with what seems impunity with the protection of Russian arms. Did Trump foresee that outcome or even desire it?
The questions that many of us are asking is: given the military strategists have likely already developed complex scenarios for potential contingencies, has Trump given any consideration to both their analysis or recommendations or recognized the risks they may present? Another question is he even asking what options or problems they might have over looked. And does he have people around him with deep knowledge that can ask the right questions, note the pitfalls, weaknesses, and provide him with additional realistic options?
I hearken back to the recommendations by DOD, CIA and even State to President John Kennedy in the 1960s Cuba missile crisis to attack with nuclear weapons Cuba, when unknown to US, Russian forces there had permission to use nuclear weapons against the US should Cuba be attack. President Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy together ignored the “nuclear war option” and choose, rightly, the negotiation option which saved mankind from mass obliteration. Is there any sign of this kind of depth and serous thinking among the Trump gang?
Finally, I like senator Chris Murphy’s recent analysis of our Syria actions:
“As a theoretical matter, a targeted military strike in response to a major violation of non-conventional weapons norms is justifiable. Why have rules against chemical weapons use if no one is going to pay a price for violating the rules? International norms should be upheld by the international community–not the United States acting alone–but it’s hard to argue against Trump’s action last night when viewed in isolation as a response to Assad’s barbaric attack.
The problem is military strikes never happen in isolation–the before and after are arguably even more important than the strike itself. The actions Trump took leading up to Assad’s chemical weapons attack, as well as the all-important and totally unanswered question of what comes next, highlight the administration’s immoral and hypocritical approach to violence in the region.”
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