Small Wars Journal

The Coming “Day One” Challenge to Trump’s Foreign Policy

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 8:07pm

The Coming “Day One” Challenge to Trump’s Foreign Policy

William Reno

In The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1939) the famed historian E.H. Carr, warned of the perils of chaos and insecurity in the international system, especially the dangers of a status quo power refraining from using “soft” and “hard” power to maintain stability in the global system. Today, we stand at a similar juncture, with a president-elect who appears to place blind faith in “the art of the deal” and his conviction that America does too much for the world. Superficially, Donald Trump’s comments appear fresh and appealing to a public that finds his tone and pitch markedly different from anything they have seen before. But this same public understands little about the complexities foreign policy. His unstudied approach to international relations is blind to the blood, treasure, and negotiations managed by previous administrations to create a world system that America benefits from immensely. Trump appears to not realize that America is a status quo power that benefits from an international order that the U.S. played a large role in building and from which it benefits.  

Trump faces a problem of his own creation. His words and those of most of his team indicate a hodgepodge understanding of America’s role in maintaining an international order that administrations since World War II created, and what the world still requires for stability. While the appointments of retired generals James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) and John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security) are positive steps, the appointment of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (who presided over extensive business interactions with Russian firms) and many others are representative of Trump’s overall disregard for how the U.S. exercises power. This disconnect is reflected in Trump’s rejection of historical precedent, which may please some of his supporters, but around the world, rivals smell the scent of weakness and uncertainty, and allies adjust and hedge in anticipation.  

Trump Undermines Himself

Trump has tipped his hand, creating three major problems that will face his presidency from day one. First, Trump’s election was a Pyrrhic victory in that his divisive tactics and speeches enabled him to win the electoral college, but not the popular vote. Losing the popular vote by about 2.8 million votes hardly provides a mandate or the requisite political capital to govern. Given the divisive style of his campaign, a White House team full of controversial figures, and adherence to violating diplomatic and political norms, his administration will find it difficult to craft policies that domestic and foreign observers will see as legitimate or sustainable.

Even with numerous retired generals in the Trump administration, an apolitical Mattis is scoffing at many of Trump’s Pentagon appointments is practically the only bright spot.  Trump’s team has also has considerable number of ties to Russia, signaling undue foreign influence. Combine this with intelligence reports indicating that Russia actively intervened in the American election to help Trump get elected, and now one has to question the reliability of future U.S. policies with Russia. One must also wonder the rationale for Trump and his team taking so long to reluctantly accept such findings from national security agencies.

How would the national security bureaucracy react if Trump forged a shady deal with Putin that played out within months of his inauguration? Such questions may arise, given the questionable history of Rex Tillerson, and others with pro-Putin views expected in his cabinet. Does Russia hold a ‘trump card’ given that they have not leaked any Republican emails? Worse yet, has Trump so delegitimized himself to his national security bureaucracy that they might not trust each other during an international crisis?

Second, Trump’s presidential transition and controversial picks highlight a lack of attention to how America and other countries exercise power in the world. Bromancing Russian President Putin, questioning the value of NATO or defense of its members, and abdicating American leadership on Pacific trade to China showcase a weak understanding of American power projection. Indeed, Trump’s provocations and disrespect towards China through Tweets and a phone call with Taiwan, are exactly why the Chinese illegally seized an American underwater drone in international waters.

Trump’s decision to surround himself with individuals that speak so unfavorably of Islam with ease and share a belief that international law constrains the American war on terror, suggests that Trump and company, view the religious faith of more than a fifth of humanity as the primary threat in the world. This stance ignores the fact that cooperation with Muslims, such as our NATO ally Turkey, and throughout the world generates immensely important information needed to defeat terrorists. What luck will American troops have in conducting counterinsurgency operations across the Middle East and in other Islamic countries, if Trump’s team keeps making inflammatory comments about Muslims? No wonder numerous terrorist organizations celebrated the election outcome, with one group even saying that America was “struck with disaster at the hands of their own voters.”

If there is a consistent theme in Trump’s formulation of U.S. interests and foreign policy, it is to ‘speak loudly and brag about America’s big stick’. Trump’s braggadocio gives the appearance of extorting allies, while maintaining murky business relationships with non-allied countries. Such a strategy is hardly appropriate in a post-9/11 era where non-state actors can inflict immense damage against the U.S. and its allies. Treating allies through a quid pro quo lens is scarcely an effective strategy in collecting coalitional intelligence, given the rise in transnational threats.

Finally, a lack of coherent adherence to traditional strains of American foreign policy conveys weakness. While it is true that most presidents develop their own distinctive styles – employing them pragmatically – Trump’s carelessness in rhetoric in conjunction with his distaste for America’s hegemonic position, international laws, and trade deals, foreshadows uncertainty and a lack of commitment to the contemporary order. Uncertainty is bad for an international system of states dependent upon the reliability of American behavior.

To skeptics, one should evaluate the consequences of Trump’s interaction with foreign leaders, such as his bizarre call to the leader of Pakistan, provocative communication with the Taiwanese president, and many more. It is almost as if Trump does not comprehend the ‘ABCs’ of foreign policy that even most liberals and conservatives agree to in maintaining American hegemony. Or maybe Trump is just ‘trolling’ the world one Tweet and call at a time?

Trump’s Illiberal Foreign Policy?

A nascent Trump doctrine appears to be unpredictable, transactional, and unilateral. This creates uncertainty in the minds of allies and enemies alike as to whether the U.S. will pursue long-term interests and stability or abide by the whims of an erratic president who thinks that he can make deals with a world that is inherently subordinate to his desires. Moreover, the possibility of extensive conflicts of interest will leave observers to wonder whether Trump is acting for personal gain – or for his country’s interests. Already, hordes of foreign diplomats are flocking to Trump’s luxury hotel near the White House, hoping to curry favor with the incoming president. This is not a winning recipe for an American president to develop and conduct an effective foreign policy.

The inherent uncertainty built into Trump’s style of foreign policy threatens American power in fundamental ways. The president-elect’s proclamations erode American reliability and predictability, which are foundational to deterrence and compellence. Even if Trump wants to go it alone in the world, it is hard to see how the U.S. can exercise power under such conditions. Instead, the conduct of foreign policy is likely to involve domestic battles between a president lacking political acumen and a political and economic establishment that is desperate to hold on to America’s prominent and influential position. Most likely, Trump will then turn to the people who voted for him, using divisive populist rhetoric, leading to increased domestic political instability. Collectively, this could accelerate global uncertainty, creating significant opportunities for foes to seize upon.

Furthermore, Trump’s public persona, to which some have referred to as Nixon’s madman strategy, is dismissive of special relationships developed with countries over time that share political, diplomatic, cultural, military, and historical ties. Alliances that are foundations of American power in the international system appear destined to face an ahistorical transactional framework that has no consideration or basic precept of power. Trump’s conceptualization of the international system created by the United States and cultivated during the Cold War and after appears to be faltering.

Finally, Trump’s personalist worldview stands as a type of illiberal American foreign policy that will be remembered as the critical element in the decline of American power. Perhaps Trump thinks the world will remain relatively benign and supportive of what America wants, and that most will follow his rules and Tweets. This vision is blind to the realities of chaos and insecurity in the international system that E.H. Carr once cautioned.

American Power Weakened

Trump’s flaws are easily read overseas as a man that lacks the dedication and understanding of what makes America powerful. It is no surprise then that Russia celebrated the election of Trump. Such a perception of Trump makes the international system ripe for rising and revisionist powers seeking to mold a new international order on their terms. It would be reasonable to expect some states to test Trump on day one. Already, major powers, such as Russia, recently moved its most advanced nuclear missile systems deeper into Eastern Europe, and China, flew a nuclear bomber into the South China Sea while stealing an American underwater naval drone. Further tests might include: Russia moving military forces into neighboring states to “protect” ethnic Russians; China proclaiming to militarily defend the entirety of the South China economic exclusion zone; Iran declaring a tax on vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz; Pakistani forces infiltrating Kashmir; or even China “unleashing” North Korea on South Korea. Such acts might be remembered as pivotal moments that put a nail in the coffin of Pax Americana.

Trump is the agent of this potentially radical decline in American power. But he is not alone in blame. The circumstances of his elevation to office show that the political establishment in this country has abandoned the interests of rural Americans. Moreover, America faces the possibility of prolonged domestic instability projected onto the world stage. Worse yet, the American educational system has become so weak that Vietnam is now considered to have a better educational system; such an educational decline is hardly helpful in making an educated public that appreciates democracy. No wonder the average Trump voter thinks “What’s the big deal?” about Russian hacking. Such realities are dangerous because the stability of the international system since World War II largely rests upon the stability of the American political system. Now, Trump paves the way for world disorder, or at a minimum, an opportunity for Russia, China, and others to claim a greater share of the world aligned with their interests; resulting in a multipolar world full of regional powers.

Meanwhile, Trump seems to believe that America needs to be run like a mafia security racket, demanding protection money to prop up a military it cannot afford. Trump’s “post-truth” politicking might have gotten him elected as the leader of the free world, but such post-truth rhetoric does not work in dealing with other states where objective truths of power mean more than populist platitudes. The truth is, American power is dependent upon the right blend of “hard” and “soft” power; not Trump’s caricature of power.

If Trump and his team do not articulate reasonable stances on America’s role in the world by day one, it is probable that there will be significant realignments against U.S. interests. If it were 1938 again, Donald Trump would be Neville Chamberlain at the Munich Conference, proactively appeasing rising powers. But the difference now is that such arrangements might enrich himself and his friends at the expense of American hegemony. But as E.H. Car warned, it is fatal to ignore political reality.

About the Author(s)

William Reno is a Professor at Northwestern University and is Director of the Program of African Studies. He has authored several books, including Warfare in Independent Africa and Warlord Politics and African States, and has published numerous articles on state collapse and irregular warfare. His current projects include explaining rebel group cohesion in highly fragmented social environments, and measuring how officers in African militaries apply skills and connections from overseas military training to advance in their home country political and economic circles.


Outlaw 09

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:07am

The President's official tweets are now written by @DanScavino, a man who regularly promotes fake stories on Twitter

Outlaw 09

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 9:45am

Without the US, China will create its own trade bloc, Europe will create its own military alliance, and the UN will fall apart

EU is now talking directly straight at Trump...if the US continues on their path of a 35% tariff then the EU will do a free trade agreement directly with China and tie into those countries that were attached to TTP....AND place higher tariffs on US products...

THUS creating a free trade block of consumers the US will be cut out of....

Without the US, China will create its own trade bloc, Europe will create its own military alliance, and the UN will fall apart

IF we look at all of Trump's statements...this is apparently what he actually wants....

Outlaw 09

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 5:03am

REMEMBER when the news was leaked that Flynn was communicating with the US Russian Ambassador on the exact same day as the US levied sanctions against Russia for Russian hacking?????

FIRST not a single response by the Trump transition team when queried about the leaked news article....

THEN...well yes he had called but it was to wish the Ambassador a Merry Christmas....BUT then when the media pushed harder WELL it was FIVE times in one day...a lot of Merry Christmas wishes it appeared.....

THEN it was leaked that Flynn had been in multiple other conversations with the ambassador...AND the Trump team never responded to that......

At the least he is under suspicion of violating the Logan Act....

AND now we see....

Flynn’s communications with Russia investigated: report
9 / 17

The Hill
Cyra Master

U.S. counterintelligence agents investigated National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's communications with Russian officials, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night.

Flynn is the first person inside President Trump's White House whose communications are known to have been combed as part of a multiagency investigation by the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency, among others, into whether Russia's government secretly helped elect Trump.

The WSJ said it's unclear when the inquiry began or whether it produced any incriminating evidence. Its unknown if the matter is closer or ongoing. The report came hours after Flynn was sworn in Sunday, along with other senior advisers.

The key focus is a series of calls Flynn made to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, the WSJ reported, the day the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia.

The goal of the probe is to determine the nature of Flynn's contact with Russian officials and whether it may have violated the law, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ.

But the White House denied the investigation on Sunday.
"We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement to the paper.

The report follows a similar one from the New York Times published Thursday that said intelligence and law enforcement agencies are looking at intercepted communications and financial transactions from former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign advisers Carter Page and Roger Stone.

SO now indirectly confirmed are the FOUR FISA requests NOT the single one...THIS was also leaked right after the Joint Agency briefing of Trump on the Russian hacking.....the figure of FOUR FISAs has been out there as well....

REMEMBER the FBI cannot get approval for a FISA request without showing "probable cause" backed by other information....

Outlaw 09

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 1:05am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Kirill Dmitriev, smart CEO of Russia's Direct Investment Fund: "We very much appreciate the professionalism of the new Trump administration"

Outlaw 09

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 1:03am

“Whatever his intentions, it was horrible...He has no understanding of the world & what is going on...really ugly.”

Love fest?????????

Trump’s Vainglorious Affront to the C.I.A.
By Robin Wright   January 22, 2017

The death of Robert Ames, who was America’s top intelligence officer for the Middle East, is commemorated among the hundred and seventeen stars on the white marble Memorial Wall at C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. He served long years in the region’s hellholes—Beirut; Tehran; Sanaa, Yemen; Kuwait City; and Cairo—often in the midst of war or turmoil. Along the way, Ames cultivated pivotal U.S. operatives and sources, even within the Palestine Liberation Organization when it ranked as the world’s top terrorist group. In April, 1983, as chief of the C.I.A.’s Near East division, back in Washington, Ames returned to Beirut for consultations as Lebanon’s civil war raged.
Shortly after 1 P.M. on April 18th, 1983, Ames was huddling with seven other C.I.A. staff at the high-rise U.S. Embassy overlooking the Mediterranean, when a delivery van laden with explosives made a sharp swing into the cobblestone entryway, sped past a guard station, and accelerated into the embassy’s front wall. It set off a roar that echoed across Beirut. My office was just up the hill. A huge black cloud enveloped blocks.
It was the very first suicide bombing against the United States in the Middle East, and the onset of a new type of warfare. Carried out by an embryonic cell of extremists that later evolved into Hezbollah, it blew off the front of the embassy, leaving it like a seven-story, open-faced dollhouse. Sixty-four were killed, including all eight members of the C.I.A. team. It was, at the time, the deadliest attack on an American diplomatic facility anywhere in the world, and it remains the single deadliest attack on U.S. intelligence. (Only one of the thirty attacks on U.S. missions since then, in Nairobi, in 1998, has been deadlier.)
Ryan Crocker, the embassy’s political officer, had met with Ames earlier that day. Crocker was blown against the wall by the bomb’s impact, but escaped serious injury. He spent hours navigating smoke, fires, and tons of concrete, steel, and glass debris, searching for his colleagues.
“This is seared into my mind, irretrievably,” Crocker recalled for me this weekend. “There wasn’t an organized recovery plan, not in the initial hours after the bombing. I was de facto in charge that first awful night, when you dug a little and shouted out in case there was someone alive there, and then dug a bit more. Somewhere that night, I was on that rubble heap, and a radiator caught my eye. There was an object at the foot of the radiator. It looked like a beach ball, covered thick with dust. It was Bob Ames’s head.”
Ames left behind a widow and six children. He was so clandestine that his kids did not know that he was a spy until after he was killed. President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, saw the flag-draped coffins of the American victims arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, and met with the families of the deceased.
Reagan, who had known Ames, recounted the meetings in his diary, according to Kai Bird’s book about Ames, “The Good Spy”: “We were both in tears—I know all I could do was grip their hands—I was too choked up to speak.” More than three thousand people turned out for the memorial service at the National Cathedral for Ames and the other American victims.
On his first full day in office, President Trump spoke at the C.I.A. headquarters in front of the hallowed Memorial Wall, with Ames’s star on it. Since his election, Trump has raged at the U.S. intelligence community over its warnings about Russian meddling in the Presidential election. After CNN reported on, and BuzzFeed published, an as-yet unsubstantiated dossier about Trump’s ties to Russia and personal behavior, the President erupted on Twitter, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
On Saturday, speaking to about four hundred intelligence officials, Trump blamed any misunderstanding on the media. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth,” he said. (The official White House transcript notes “laughter” and “applause” here.) “They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the No. 1 stop is exactly the opposite—exactly.”
Trump vowed greater support for America’s sixteen intelligence agencies than they had received from any other President. “Very, very few people could do the job you people do,” he said. “I know maybe sometimes you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted, and you’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’re going to say, Please don’t give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.” Trump said he assumed that “almost everybody” in the cavernous C.I.A. entry hall had voted for him, “because we’re all on the same wavelength, folks.”
In his remarks, Trump made passing reference to the “special wall” behind him but never mentioned the top-secret work or personal sacrifices of intelligence officers like Ames and the others who died in Beirut, including the C.I.A. station chief Kenneth Haas, and James F. Lewis, who had been a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, and his wife Monique, who was on her first day on the job at the Beirut embassy. Nor did the President refer to any of the dozens of others for whom stars are etched on the hallowed C.I.A. wall of honor. It was like going to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and not mentioning those who died in the Second World War.
Trump’s unscripted remarks were, instead, largely about himself, even as he praised Mike Pompeo—a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate, Kansas congressman, and Tea Party supporter—as his choice to lead the C.I.A.
“No. 1 in his class at West Point,” Trump said. “Now, I know a lot about West Point. I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for thirty-five years, who did a fantastic job in so many different ways, academically—was an academic genius—and then they say, Is Donald Trump an intellectual? Trust me, I’m like a smart persona.”
Apparently as proof, the President noted that he had set an “all-time record” in Time magazine cover stories. “Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right?” he told the intelligence officials. “I’ve been on it for fifteen times this year. I don’t think that’s a record that can ever be broken.” Time told Politico’s Playbook that it had published eleven Trump covers—and had done fifty-five cover stories about Richard Nixon.
Trump spoke briefly about eradicating “radical Islamic extremism,” a cornerstone of his foreign policy. But he devoted more than twice as many words to the dispute over the turnout at his Inauguration. “Did everybody like the speech?” Trump asked. “I’ve been given good reviews. But we had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was—it looked like a million, million and a half people.”
Crowd scientists who spoke to the Times estimated that about a hundred and sixty thousand people attended, compared with the record-setting 1.8 million who were estimated to have been at President Obama’s first Inauguration. Trump was defiant. “We caught them, and we caught them in a beauty,” he told the C.I.A. crowd. “And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”
Trump’s remarks caused astonishment and anger among current and former C.I.A. officials. The former C.I.A. director John Brennan, who retired on Friday, called it a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of C.I.A.’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” according to a statement released through a former aide. Brennan said he thought Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”
Crocker, who was among the last to see Ames and the local C.I.A. team alive in Beirut, was “appalled” by Trump’s comments. “Whatever his intentions, it was horrible,” Crocker, who went on to serve as the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Kuwait, told me. “As he stood there talking about how great Trump is, I kept looking at the wall behind him—as I’m sure everyone in the room was, too. He has no understanding of the world and what is going on. It was really ugly.”
“Why,” Crocker added, “did he even bother? I can’t imagine a worse Day One scenario. And what’s next?”
John McLaughlin is a thirty-year C.I.A. veteran and a former acting director of the C.I.A. who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University. He also chairs a foundation that raises funds to educate children of intelligence officers killed on the job. “It’s simply inappropriate to engage in self obsession on a spot that memorializes those who obsessed about others, and about mission, more than themselves,” he wrote to me in an e-mail on Sunday. “Also, people there spent their lives trying to figure out what’s true, so it’s hard to make the case that the media created a feud with Trump. It just ain’t so.”
John MacGaffin, another thirty-year veteran who rose to become the No. 2 in the C.I.A. directorate for clandestine espionage, said that Trump’s appearance should have been a “slam dunk,” calming deep unease within the intelligence community about the new President. According to MacGaffin, Trump should have talked about the mutual reliance between the White House and the C.I.A. in dealing with global crises and acknowledged those who had given their lives doing just that.
“What self-centered, irrational decision process got him to this travesty?” MacGaffin told me. “Most importantly, how will that process serve us when the issues he must address are dangerous and incredibly complex? This is scary stuff!”
Trump could have taken a page from Reagan, whom he has often invoked. In 1984, at a groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to C.I.A. headquarters, Reagan told the intelligence community, “The work you do each day is essential to the survival and to the spread of human freedom. You remain the eyes and ears of the free world. You are the ‘trip wire’ over which totalitarian rule must stumble in their quest for global domination. . . . From Nathan Hale’s first covert operation in the Revolutionary War to the breaking of the Japanese code at Midway in World War II, America’s security and safety have relied directly on the courage and collective efforts of her intelligence personnel.”
Bruce Riedel was a protégé of Ames at the C.I.A.; they travelled together in the Middle East. For more than three decades, he has made an annual visit to Ames’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. He noted one glaring omission from Trump’s comments: a third of the stars are from deaths that have happened since 9/11, “making it more dangerous to work for the agency now than ever before.” He faulted Trump for not visiting the Counterterrorism Center, talking to the team now tracking Al Qaeda and Islamic State leaders, and seeing how drones work—all “invaluable experience when he later needs to make life-and-death decisions,” Riedel, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me.
Paul Pillar, a Vietnam veteran, rose to become deputy director of the Counterterrorism Center and later the National Intelligence Officer in charge of the Middle East and South Asia. He, too, was anguished by Trump’s comments. “He used the scene as a prop for another complaint about the media and another bit of braggadocio about his crowds and his support,” Pillar told me Sunday. “That the specific prop was the C.I.A.’s memorial wall, and that Trump made no mention of those whom that wall memorializes, made his performance doubly offensive.”
At 7:35 A.M. on Sunday, Trump responded on Twitter to the negative reactions to his comments. “Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!”
But it’s hard to see how America’s new leader will recoup from a performance so shallow, irreverent, and vainglorious.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:33pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

When Churchill wanted euphemism for a lie he used "terminological inexactitude". I suppose "alternative facts" trips easier off the tongue.

Trump/Bannon want to control information & the public by sowing distrust in facts/truth. Scientists, journos=the first thrown to the wolves.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:31pm

This explains Trump's ongoing war with the US IC....

.@KellyannePolls: "It's really time 4 [Trump] 2 put in his own security & IC." What? @ThisWeekABC

Whose only spy-partner will be FSB.

Cannot get much clearer than that statement about "smiling fascism"....

HERE comes the American "Stasi" your local neighborhood...

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:25pm

Trump's "smiling fascism" hard at work......

Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts.…

Facts are the death of "smiling fascism"..... 


Speaking at the CIA this afternoon, President Donald Trump said, “I have a running war with the media.”
Like much that Trump says, this isn’t quite true. His war isn’t with the media. Trump lives off media attention and delights in press coverage. His war is with facts. And it’s there that his tactical skirmishes with the press begin to make sense. Delegitimizing the media is important to Trump because delegitimizing certain facts is important to Trump.
The topic today — and trust me, it feels as strange to write this as it does to read this — is crowd size. Trump’s inaugural was sparsely attended compared with President Obama’s inaugural. We don’t have exact estimates yet, but aerial shots are clear on this point, as is secondary data, like Metro ridership and television ratings.

There is no great mystery to this. Trump lost the popular vote in the presidential election — and by a wide margin. Since the election, poll after poll has shown him to be unpopular. A lackluster response to his inauguration is precisely what you would predict in this situation.
But Trump has insisted that turnout was, well, yuge. Speaking at the CIA, he said he “looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.”
To be fair, the crowd might have looked much larger to Trump. Where you stand matters quite a bit in making these estimates:

But it soon came clear that this wasn’t an off-the-cuff comment from the new president. Trump then had press secretary Sean Spicer call an impromptu briefing in which Spicer lashed the press for estimating crowd size. “Nobody had numbers, because the National Park Service does not put any out,” he insisted. Seconds later, he said: “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, both in person and around the globe.”
This, along with much else Spicer said, was plainly untrue. But there’s a strategy at work here. The Trump administration is creating a baseline expectation among its loyalists that they can’t trust anything said by the media. The spat over crowd size is a low-stakes, semi-comic dispute, but the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn’t, true.
Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals.
It also gives the new administration a convenient scapegoat for their continued struggles with public opinion, and their potential future struggles with reality. This kind of “dishonesty from the media,” Spicer said, is making it hard “to bring our country together.” It’s not difficult to imagine the Trump administration disputing bad jobs numbers in the future, or claiming their Obamacare replacement covers everyone when it actually throws millions off insurance.
Spicer ended the statement on a warning. “There has been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility of holding Donald Trump accountable. I am here to tell you that it goes two ways. We are going hold the press accountable as well.”

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:17pm

NOW we have truly arrived in the Orwellian world of "doublespeak" or "an altered state of reality".....take our pick....

Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that White House press secretary Sean Spicer wasn't lying about crowd size at the President's inauguration—he was just giving "alternative facts."
"On this matter of crowd size, I think it is a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this president often receives," Conway told Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Meet The Press."
"You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood," Todd interrupted. "Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."
"No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—"
"Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?" Todd interjected, looking incredulous. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true."
Conway tried to interrupt, but Todd continued.
"Look, alternative facts are not facts," he said.
On Saturday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer accused the media of misrepresenting the crowd at Trump's inauguration in order to "lessen the enthusiasm" of the event and cited attendance numbers which contradicted those reported by the D.C. metro authority.
It was unclear where Spicer got the measurements he conveyed to reporters or how they were obtained.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:06pm

Russian TV tonight defending Donald to the hilt: anchor dismisses claims Trump is a racist who maligns women, & praises his 'family values'

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 12:57pm

Does Trump in fact realize that of the 46% of the American registered voters only voted and out of those 46%... 48% voted from Clinton with a general election majority of 3M....and only 46% voted for Trump????

NOW what is interesting is that he won the electoral college on three States by a total of 77K votes which a number of polling specialists are indicating that they came after the FBI reopened their so called email investigation...and after the constant leaking by WikiLeaks of Podesta emails....

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 5h
5 hours ago
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:09pm

MORE Trump tweet lies...

Donald J. Trump
Verified account
Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!

Media analysts announced before Trump tweeted that the actual viewing audience of Trump's inaugural were lower than the 2009 Obama inaugural....

SO WHO is feeding Trump the false information...Bannon by any chance...

WHEN you surround yourself with yes people the only echo's in your own echo chamber are the yes people.....and if you hate MSM then you take their information as valid...

SO who exactly feed these rating numbers to Trump?????

Nielsen ratings, first term inaugurations:

Trump: 20.1
Obama: 25.5
GWB: 20.8
Clinton: 24.5
GHWB: 20.0
Reagan: 37.4
Carter: 31.5
Nixon: 33.5

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 12:35pm

Love fest with the very people Trump recently compared to Nazis & WH accused of sabotaging the new admin.


White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday defended President Donald Trump's relationship with the intelligence community, saying a meeting on Saturday at CIA headquarters was a "love fest." 

"I was there yesterday. I'm telling you it was a love fest if you were in the room," Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."

NOTE: was not the so called "love fest" that Preibus made it out to be as the speech was rambling...all over the place and largely a critique of the "dishonest media" and complaining about attendance numbers which Trump actually then lied love fest?????

"These are men and women that President Trump loves and respects."

BUT WAIT......
Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump Jan 15
.@FoxNews "Outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan, blasts Pres-Elect Trump on Russia threat. Does not fully understand." Oh really, couldn't do...

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump Jan 15
much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?

NOTE..this tweet was a blatant lie...
Donald J. Trump
Verified account
‏James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts.Too bad!
THIS was not what Clapper told Trump when he called...

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump Jan 11
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:03pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

BREAKING: White House confirms #Trump admin has started "beginning stages" of discussing moving @usembassyta to #Jerusalem

WELL there goes all our Arab allies in the entire ME and most Sunni populations in the other parts of the world on top of it.....

AND it gives Hezbollah/Hamas/IS added emphasis in their stated goal of attacking Israel through Jerusalem...

NOW that is a truly FP dumb just makes AQ/IS even more important in the eyes of Sunni's in the ME they have stated the US is against Islam as a whole not just IS and or AQ....

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 12:05pm

BREAKING: Israeli news channel (Channel 2) reporting that Trump will announce the move of US embassy to Jerusalem - @IsraelHatzolah

BUT WAIT........
Hey, it's not like we need Arab allies to fight jihadists.


AND eradicating radical Islam from the earth does not need any allies at all...with this single move Trump will lose the EU and especially France...and then try to go it alone with just Russia who we knw is deeply in bed with IS...

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 12:00pm

This @MeetThePress interview w/ @KellyannePolls is amazing. Either they're really worried about Russia connections or completely tone deaf.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:44am

While Trump obsesses about crowd size, he's wrecking the top-secret shield that has kept the West safe for decades.

80%+ of the terror plots stopped "left of boom" since 9/11 were thanks to intel sharing -- which Trump is wrecking

For three-quarters of a century it’s ranked among the world’s most important secrets. The American-led global spy alliance, born in the early years of the Second World War, is beyond question the most effective partnership in espionage history. Now, it’s all starting to come unraveled.
This remarkable hush-hush story began in the summer of 1940, in the dark days after the fall of France to the Wehrmacht, when Britain stood alone against Hitler, who occupied most of Europe. With his ally Stalin, the Nazis and Soviets had divided much of the continent between them, and it seemed only a matter of time before Britain gave in—as several ministers in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet were counseling, so bleak did London’s odds appear.
Britain’s secret ace in the hole, known to only a privileged few, was her ability to crack German codes, above all the Nazi Enigma machine, which gave London deep insights into the enemy camp. The Poles were the first to break into Enigma, and shortly before their country fell to Hitler and Stalin in September 1939, Polish intelligence shared their secret knowledge with Britain. There, codebreakers made quick progress against Enigma, a top-secret program they termed ULTRA. But they needed help.
That’s where American code-breakers came in. In the bleak summer of 1940, in a desperate effort to stave off British collapse, which would leave all Europe under the Nazi-Bolshevik yoke, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began assisting London with money, supplies—and weapons.
The cornerstone of FDR’s plan was the Lend-Lease program, which gifted Britain billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to resist the Nazis. The U.S. Navy even began escorting convoys of freighters bound for Britain to protect them from German U-Boats. Hitler was hardly wrong when he insisted, a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that America was a neutral in name only.
Unknown to the public, FDR also dispatched experts across the Atlantic to assist the British in the SpyWar. British and American spies began sharing secrets in the late summer of 1940, and in January 1941 U.S. intelligence officers were sent in secret to assist British code-breakers with ULTRA. Here, American know-how paid dividends, and months before the United States was officially in the Second World War, its spies were serving on its clandestine front lines.
So was born history’s greatest spy alliance. Anglo-American signals intelligence cooperation in the ULTRA secret, which soon encompassed Canada, Australia, and New Zealand too, played a role on all fronts in the global conflict and made possible numerous Allied victories. That ULTRA shortened the Second World War by months and perhaps years is not in doubt.
This secret alliance was so successful that the Anglosphere SIGINT partnership continued after Allied victory, and would soon prove vital in the budding Cold War too. The Five Eyes family, as it’s called, eventually expanded into other kinds of intelligence, but code-breaking remained its heart. Anglosphere SIGINT played a key role in keeping the Cold War from going hot, and it’s continued to the present day, keeping global peace while tracking terrorists and other international malefactors such as nuclear proliferators and narco-thugs.
After 9/11, intelligence-sharing became more important than ever and it’s no exaggeration to term the American-led spy alliance the secret shield that keeps the West safe from jihadists. In a high percentage of cases, operations to take down terrorists before they kill innocents begin with a tip, usually from SIGINT, that’s shared among intelligence partners rapidly, leading to successful disruption “left of boom” as the spies say.
Unfortunately, newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump is threatening the whole Western intelligence system with his brusque comments about our spies and worrisome ties to Moscow. For the first time, an American president is causing our allies and partners to wonder if Washington can still be trusted.
As I’ve explained, Trump’s aggressive comments about American spies—mocking them and comparing them to Nazis on Twitter, for example—have generated unprecedented enmity in our Intelligence Community. Going to war with the IC is a bad idea for any new administration, particularly given the new commander-in-chief’s rumored links to Vladimir Putin, which are keeping American spies up at night.
It’s not just Washington that’s worried. Throughout the Western spy alliance, intelligence agencies are pondering the previously unthinkable: Is the American president compromised? On several occasions over the decades, the IC had to reduce spy-links, usually only temporarily, to various partners when a new government contained too many cabinet ministers with Moscow linkages. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s the American government that seems to have a Kremlin problem.
Just how alarming things are was revealed by a recent report in The Times of London that British intelligence has asked the IC for reassurances that the new administration—which has several officials with Kremlin ties that aren’t exactly hidden—won’t compromise British spies operating clandestinely inside Russia. When America’s oldest and most intimate intelligence partner is worried that the White House can’t be trusted with secrets, we’re in uncharted and dangerous waters.
The cost of breakdowns in the Western spy alliance won’t be theoretical. If intelligence sharing wanes, the world gets more dangerous and jihadist attacks will increase, perhaps quite quickly. When spy-partners aren’t confident their shared secrets can be protected, they will become reticent to talk to us. As Mike Hayden, the former director of both NSA and CIA explained, “How many foreign intelligence agencies might say, ‘I’m not sure giving this information to the Americans will do any good anyway. So why should we share it in the first place?’ If they come to the conclusion that the decision-makers don’t pay attention to the intelligence and the Intelligence Community is not respected, then why take the risk?”
If President Trump doesn’t explain his shady Kremlin ties soon, the impending Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, which will have subpoena powers, will explain them for him. Our allies and spy-partners are watching with baited breath. If they don’t get answers soon, the 75-year-old American-led Western espionage alliance will start breaking down, with ominous real-world consequences. The public won’t hear much about the collapse of the West’s spy alliance, which works hard to keep itself out of the newspapers, but if terrorist attacks are suddenly on the rise, with innocents dying in greater numbers, you will know it’s happened.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:27am

Trump continues to led the American people into the believe he is this great HONEST businessman would not be afraid to release his tax records.....

WHAT is he really trying hide......

Conway makes it official: Trump won't release his tax returns

BUT WAIT.....Conway lies as well as her boss and his spokesperson.....

71%n of American polled recently stated he must reveal his tax records with 57% of even his own voters....

AND 48% of American voters voted against him and demanded he reveal his records and those were 3M more than he received in the general votes...

"He's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care," Kellyanne Conway says on ABC.

SO YES it was litigated...with the majority still demanding he release hos records...

SO gain any honest businessman even Soros reveals his records if need be....SO is Conway telling us indirectly Trump is not an honest businessman...????

Outlaw 09

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 3:34am

An interesting sentence that goes to something I posted on the thread of Trump 45th President.....

The circumstances of his elevation to office show that the political establishment in this country has abandoned the interests of rural Americans.

What the author does not mention and it goes to the heart of the "smiling fascism" that we Americans tend to truly ignore....example....the McVeigh Oklahoma city attack was from the right not jihadi's.....

In the 20s we had the same rural issues which led the KKK to gain strong following in the millions up into the early 30s until FBI/Hoover basically crushed them.

In any country globally right now we have a rural depletion of the population all heading to larger cities/towns where work is/was available....this has been ongoing as the countries shifted from agricultural to industrial processes...and it will never stop especially in the 21st century.

THIS is in fact still ongoing in Germany especially the former eastern part...but there are jobs and cities capable of handling the inflow with some the US this has not been the case. While Trump critiqued Merkel for taking in 1.1M refugees...Germany has survived nicely and is in the process of integrating them into their society.

Why is easy to the world of "just in time" manufacturing suppliers/manufacturers MUST have access to educated labor...reasonably good lines of communications usually air/truck freight and harbors...

THEN you will notice that those manufacturing points are usually located in the exact middle of all of this in order to facilitate constant production....and along the way corporations play the who can give us the best deal on low property taxes...and tax relief and or subsidies...AND for how long....

All designed to produce cheaply as possible....

BUT now we have a President who is a verified narcissist...ego driven..vengeful...who lies constantly..has conducted his businesses in a corrupt and illegal fashion including federally fined money laundering and is tied to the Russian Intelligence Service and has needs for constant funds to keep his empire afloat which Russian oligarchs easily provide him with....but black money...

NOW merge that with verified ties to white supremacists...KKK....and the US Nazi Party ALL on his staff and or in his Cabinet and who feels the "fourth estate" is suppose to only print what he wants them to print....

We are now in serious trouble....and his FP....will in fact reflect all of the above....chaos with the US having to bail this out years after he is long gone...

At some point the 25th Amendment will have to be triggered to resolve this problem....

Trump to CIA: "Trust me: I'm, like, a smart person."

That is real. That is a real quote.

BTW.."American First" was the 30s slogan/movement for keeping the US out of the coming World War...basically no different than what Trump is preaching today...isolationism....

Pay close attention to how Trump uses the term..."our movement"....