All those who have contributed to the Trump - Pence "Make America Great Again" campaign are getting two or three messages per day from them complaining about their detractors in the establishment and the media who are preventing Trump from implementing his agenda. The complaints are always with the request to send more contributions so the President could stay focused on the American people.
At the same time judging from the pretty modest results achieved during his first 6 months in the White House the probability the Trump revolution will succeed diminishes daily together with his public approval ratings.
And if the President can claim some modest results on the domestic front hisforeign policy has been an incredible mish-mash of contradictions ever since he took office. This is mainly the result of unsuccessful tactical concessions he has made to keep his political enemies forever guessing his real intentions. Concessions first of all in personnel: Trump has appointed a great many advisers, like Fiona Hill, Nikki Haley, ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, H.R. McMaster who are all pursuing policies at odds with the President’s overall vision. That vision is wholly revolutionary. His America First was meant to be taking a step back from day-to-day running of the world and engaging in never ending wars, refocusing the nation on rebuilding its infrastructure and job creation.
The announcement this week that President Trump is proceeding with the nomination of Jon Huntsman to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Russia falls entirely in line with this pattern of "keeping his enemies closest.” Huntsman has great talents and professional experience as a diplomat but as the head of the Atlantic Council his world view is both clear and anti-Trump.
To sum up, Donald Trump has assembled a foreign policy and security policy team that would give the incoming President Pence a fully integrated Cold War 2.0 administration should Trump himself be impeached or otherwise removed from office.
Meanwhile, Trump’s concessions on personnel, and even his single show of force when he directed a cruise missile attack on Syria in April to please all his detractors and show that he is no wimp like his predecessor, have not kept the dogs at bay for long, and they have made the foreign policy pronouncements of his administration a total muddle. The President himself has compounded that muddle by taking mutually exclusive positions from day to day, as he did when he visited Poland and threw an anti-Russian bone to the Poles, before proceeding to Hamburg where he made a display of great friendship with Vladimir Putin.
It is clear that the President needs some tips on how to more effectively push through his planned Conservative Revolution over the bitter opposition of the Deep State.One experienced statesman whom he should consult is Mikhail Gorbachev. No one in modern history has come close to Gorbachev’s skill in duplicity and keeping his Central Committee colleagues guessing what he was up to, till it was too late for them to stop him.
Another, perhaps easier group to consult with would be the scriptwriters of Sky Italia’s very successful television serial "Young Pope.” The challenges which this Conservative Revolutionary pope meets and apparently overcomes are exactly those facing Donald Trump. The same vicious politics.
Or is there some other advice we can give the President to get traction and restore coherence to a new direction in U.S. foreign policy?
The topic for the Discussion Panel is provided by Gilbert Doctorow,
Gilbert Doctorow is a Senior Research Fellow of the American University in Moscow and a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.
Expert Panel Contributions
By Patrick Armstrong
Patrick Armstrong is former political counsellor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
Conventional opinion has been wrong about Donald Trump every chance it has had. He wasn't seriously running; he'd never get the nomination; couldn't possibly win the election; would be impeached, declared insane, would quit, was failing, was a Putin stooge and on and so on. Therefore absolutely nothing in the MSM or conventional thinking about him is worth a millisecond's consideration: whatever conventional thought thinks is wrong. I know of only one person who has successfully read the Trumpian tea leaves and he is today saying that Trump is on the point of complete victory. Read Scott Adams; don't waste your time with those who have been wrong every time before.
That having been said, I have been reading Adams on Trump for more than a year now and have seen him get it right time after time. If he says Trump is on the verge of victory, I believe him. I waste no time on the opinion of pundits who will be wrong again.
I was encouraged by Trump's oft-stated intention of having better relations with Russia and his statement in his Inauguration Address that "We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone...". For too long Washington's real message has been the threat, however fragrantly wrapped, "Do what we want or we'll destroy you". Twenty years of this has destroyed many countries: it has also (not that the destroyed are sorry about it) weakened the United States itself: Iran's power and influence has spread, Russia and China are allied, other long-time allies are looking away, the US itself is debt-ridden, quarrelsome and stripped of the manufacturing power that made it so mighty. I believe that Trump understands this on some level.
But I am dismayed by his adulation of the winners of the "U.S. military’s marathon, 30-year, single-elimination, suck-up tournament". I am disturbed by his evident belief that jihadist terrorism – that product of takfiris like ibn Taymiyya and al Wahhab – finds its headquarters among Twelver Shiites. Many of his personnel choices are very disturbing: people who in no way can be seen as making the change that he promised. The resistance of the Deep State to his attempts is frightening (although it may be significant that one of his latest tweets is that it is not merely a "swamp" to be drained but a "sewer". Many people pull against him. But I haven't given up hope yet (and, indeed, developments in Syria give hope.)
Putin had similar problems when he, an outsider, was dropped into the Moscow swamp and here the Saker advises Trump to emulate Putin.
Putin was underestimated too. Here are two opinions that look pretty silly today:
"Psychiatry recognizes a condition known as ‘moral idiocy’. Every time he opens his mouth in public, Putin confirms this diagnosis for himself." (Andrey Piontkovsky, 2000.)
"Putin, of course, is no Peter. The KGB lieutenant colonel who was abruptly bumped into the presidential throne of a nation in total disarray comes nowhere near 'the Great' in ambition, potential, drive or physical height." (Serge Schmemann, 2000.)
Wise Up, President Trump
By William Dunkerley
William Dunkerley is author of Ukraine in the Crosshairs and Litvinenko Murder Case Solved. He is a media business analyst, principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, and a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.
Donald Trump is failing to fulfill promises of his campaign. Who would argue with that? But how could he turn things around for the benefit of the American public?
Take the Russia issue, for example. Establishing a positive working relationship was a consistent campaign theme. It apparently resonated enough with voters. Elected as president, Trump famously went on to say, "I would love to be able to get along with Russia. Now, you've had a lot of presidents that haven't taken that tack. Look where we are now. Look where we are now."
I get his point. Making an enemy of Russia has yielded no benefit for America. It's even dangerously increased world tension. That's what he means, I think, with his "Look where we are now" remark.
But, as a result of Trump's mishandling the Russia issue to date, look where HE is now.
Trump, his family, and his associates have been thoroughly vilified by unsubstantiated allegations of an untoward Russia connection. Members of Congress even want to impeach him.
Perpetrators of fraudulent allegations have made great headway. Variety magazine reports, "Driven by surges for 'The Rachel Maddow Show' and 'Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,' MSNBC is up a whopping 86 percent in total viewers in primetime compared to second-quarter 2016." I've seen these commentators to be two of the most rabid fraudsters in the so-called "Russian Conspiracy."
Trump's primary response? It's been to tweet. But tweets aren't fixing this problem. Trump faces unprincipled opposition pushing a fabricated grand conspiracy. They're playing hardball. But Trump offers softball responses. His retaliation has been a bust.
Other than the fabricators, nobody is benefiting from this. Even principled liberal and progressive opponents are losing out. The Russian Conspiracy is pushing aside everybody's national agenda, liberal or conservative. Trump needs to get serious about this fast.
All the fabricators are long overdue for hardball responses. If Special Council Mueller is, as the Trump side contends, conducting a witch hunt outside the law, appoint a special prosecutor to go after him. If on-air broadcast outlets are using the public airwaves to perpetrate a fraud on the American people, call their licenses into question. If Hillary Clinton did, as is alleged, commit crimes, prosecute her and her accomplices. No more Mr. nice guy.
The fraudsters must be stopped. The story that 17 intelligence agencies found Russian culpability was proved a hoax. Even the New York Times admitted that. Now a group of intelligence experts has proved forensically that there was no hack in the first place. It was a leak from inside. Yet, the fraudulent claims persist in news reports. Americans have a right to be protected from massive fraud. The idea is not to silence divergent viewpoints, but to stop the fraud. Simply correcting false stories has been ineffectual so far. This nonsense needs to be nipped in the bud.
For years Vladimir Putin handled a multitude of fabricated allegations against him with a softball approach. He never effectively dealt with the problem. Look where HE is now. He's viewed as an international pariah in many quarters.
Allegations include destroying press freedom, blowing up apartment buildings, killing Alexander Litvinenko, invading Crimea. There are no supportive facts. Just allegations. I've written four books documenting this. Taken together, the accusations represent an attempt by Putin's political enemies to take him down.
That's what Trump's political enemies are doing to him. The Russian Conspiracy isn't the real issue. It's just the latest effort by political enemies to take down Trump. It's not Russia. It's an attempted take down.
You know, even if the Russian Conspiracy allegations were true, what's the big deal? Russia would still be well within international norms established by the United States through its own actions.
Trump has allowed himself to be baited into a defensive posture over a nonsense issue. He faces a Congress that itself has fraudsters in its midst. They're trying to use Russia in their efforts to get rid of him. The rest of Congress, unfortunately, is mostly full of members who have been duped by long-running false and mythical stories about Russia.
Now it looks like Trump is trying to appease the dupesters by compromising his promise of a positive working relationship with Russia. But he should think of his own words, "Look where we are now." If he doesn't stick to his promise we will find ourselves STUCK where we are now. Or worse.
The only way out for Trump I see is to use full force to take on the Russia myth and the fraudsters that are using it to destroy his presidency.
It's time to wise up to that, President Trump.
ADVICE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP & PRESIDENT PUTIN
By William Jeynes
Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, NJ
Professor, California State University, Long Beach, CA
I think an improved relationship between Russia and the United States is extremely
important and also quite possible. I am writing this piece for both leaders, because I think that in order to reach a place of greater commonality, there must also be common strategies applied. Please keep in mind that these recommendations are in no particular order, in terms of a suggested chronology. However, the first recommendation is the most important.
1) A MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENTS TRUMP AND PUTIN AT THE REAGAN LIBRARY OUTSIDE OF LOS ANGELES, CA (AND LATER AT THE GORBACHEV FOUNDATION IN MOSCOW) - Recently in downtown Moscow, a sculpture of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev was unveiled. Both Russians and Americans understand that in order for relations between the two nations to improve, the nations’ leaders must return to the Reagan-Gorbachev model. What better way for these leaders to communicate that both nations are returning to better ties than to meet and give speeches at the Reagan Library. These men could then have a subsequent meeting at the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow. Clearly, in each case there could be joint meetings at other locales as well, but these two would be central.
2) BOTH LEADERS SHOULD BE PATIENT - Unfortunately, because of the current investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it is very difficult for President Trump and President Putin to pursue the improved relationship that they both desire. To be sure, this is a frustrating development. Nevertheless, because of this investigation, the leaders need to be patient until after the investigation ends. While the investigation proceeds, Trump and Putin should set in motion actions that will enable quick progress on key issues after the Mueller investigation ends.
3) BOTH LEADERS SHOULD BE CAREFUL IN THE USE OF THEIR ACTIONS AND WORDS - Both leaders appear to underestimate the way that their actions will be interpreted in one another’s countries. They therefore need to be much more careful in their actions and use of words. Mr. Trump’s choice of Jon Huntsman as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia is extremely unwise. Mr. Huntsman is not a standard Republican and is anti-Trump. It is possible that President Trump was trying to appease his critics regarding the Russian investigation in choosing Huntsman, but it nevertheless sends a message to Russia that progress in relations will likely be "on hold.” President Putin also needs to be more careful. He apparently does not fully understand how his words are interpreted by Americans and how much press he receives in the US. Putin’s assertion that Russia is the only nation in the world that could "destroy America in half an hour or less” creates mistrust. Just as Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump delays progress in Russia-US relations, Putin’s words above have the same effect. Mikhail Gorbachev understood how his words and actions could influence relations much more clearly than either President Trump or President Putin. It would be wise for both leaders to learn from the legacies of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.
Overall, these are my three recommendations.
By Andrew Korybko
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst and radio host at Sputnik News
Trump Must Embrace His Revolutionary Self Or Politically Perish
President Trump's first six months in office have left his supporters with decidedly mixed feelings. There are those who still "believe" in him and are convinced that he's perfectly executing some "master plan." There are others who have given up all hope on him and are convinced that he disappointingly "sold out."
The reality, as usual, lies somewhere between these two extremes.
Trump has clearly made several major foreign policy concessions to his opponents in the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (the "Deep State"), though he doesn't seem to have fully given up on his campaign promises to be a revolutionary president.
What happened, though, was that the Deep State expertly exploited Trump's deal-making propensities to push him into a corner and capture control of most of his administration's foreign policy.
Trump's appointment of a number of individuals with a neoconservative worldview completely contradictory to the one that he campaigned on isn't "to keep his political enemies forever guessing his real intentions," since everybody already knew what he supposedly intended to do if he were ever elected president.
Instead, these people were placed in their respective positions because Trump was conned into thinking that he was cutting a deal with the Deep State whereby he sacrificed some of his ambitiously revolutionary foreign policy promises in exchange for less opposition to the implementation of his desired domestic agenda.
As could have been expected, the "Republicans In Name Only" (RINOs) didn't abide by this "gentlemen's agreement" between the President and the Deep State, and they continued to make it all but impossible for Trump to govern except in the select instances when he could rely on Executive Orders.
Whereas Trump thought that he was wheeling and dealing in the foreign policy sphere in order to obtain advantageous outcomes in the domestic sphere, he soon found out that the domestic and foreign policies of the US are so intertwined as to be inseparable, meaning that a loss on one front inevitably leads to further losses on the other.
Trump has thus been caught in a trap from which he'll have immense difficulty escaping, and which requires legendary Deep State management skills and strategies to reverse, if it's even possible to do so after all the negative momentum that he's been tricked by his adversaries into generating.
Reflecting on how he got into this whole mess, it's obviously due to the inter-services Deep State collaboration which concocted the conspiracy theory about "Russia's intervention" in the 2016 elections, and which therefore placed Trump on the strategic defensive and made him more likely to inadvertently enter into a series of disadvantageous deals.
Now that he is cornered on both foreign and domestic policy, Trump has no choice other than to embrace his revolutionary self that was proudly on display during the campaign trail if he wants to stand any chance at implementing his policies.
It's presumed that he's working behind the scenes with his trusted advisors to slowly but surely place "his people" into key positions so as to facilitate this at a later time, but the clock is ticking, the momentum is turning against Trump, and he's already been pressured into walking back many of his promises, whether as "tactical retreats" for the short term or as genuine strategic reversals.
If President Trump doesn't bullishly embrace "Candidate Trump", then he's bound to politically perish and go down in history as one of the most ineffective and hamstrung leaders that the US has ever seen.
The Myth of the Trump Revolution
Martin Sieff is a senior fellow of the Global Policy Institute in Washington DC. He is a former chief foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and former managing editor, international affairs for United Press International and has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting.
It should now be clear that there is not and there was never going to be a "Trump Revolution” in the conceptualization and implementation of US foreign policy.
There is no reason to doubt that the president was sincere in his many and repeated criticisms of the enormous list of costly failures, bungles and fiascos over the previous quarter century and three disastrous double-term presidencies since 1993.
But it has also rapidly become abundantly clear that Trump has no conception of how to select and staff his administration with the kind of individuals who share his vision.
The skills needed to run successfully multi-billion dollar construction companies, hotel chains and casinos, it turns out were not sufficient preparation for the job of re-staffing the executive level strategic positions of the United States Government.
The selection of Jon Huntsman as the next US ambassador to Moscow is a case in point.
At one level, Huntsman is a sober, welcome choice. He has held a remarkable series of positions at a high level under all presidents over the past three and a half decades. His personal experience of Russia in particular and Eurasia in general is impressive.
Huntsman is therefore a most welcome and stunning contrast to the clown Michael McFaul who inflicted so much long-lasting harm on the highest level relations, trust and respect between the thermonuclear superpowers under the feckless Barack Obama and far worse Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
However, in selecting Huntsman, Trump once again appointed a bitter personal critic and strategic opponent to his expressed policies from the campaign trail. This has become an appalling and repeated pattern of his management.
We have already seen the clearly disastrous and potentially catastrophic appointment of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations – a job of whose true nature in assertion of her country’s national interests and the pursuance of global peace she clearly has not the slightest conception.
The old cliché from Mario Puzo’s famous novel "The Godfather” that Trump and other leaders must keep their friends close but their enemies closer should be at last recognized as the self-evident nonsense it always was.
When Julius Caesar tried it, his enemies simply stabbed him to death on the floor of the Senate of Rome. Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and most of all Josef Stalin never made any such fatuous mistake.
Because Trump’s national security team is so weak on seasoned diplomatic, intelligence and military professionals with extensive first-hand experience of dealing with Russia, Huntsman’s appointment is likely to be of disproportionate and unusual importance.
However, Huntsman’s entire career confirms him to be mired in the now obsolescent certainties of the Reagan Era, which in my work Cycles of Change I identify as the Sixth Era of US political and diplomatic history. And it is now over.
Huntsman is therefore a man still living in the past: Far from preparing him for his crucial new assignment. Every achievement (as he imagines) of his previous life has left him more ill equipped to recognize and respond to the terrible challenges he is certain to face.
All his life and career, Huntsman has been used to dealing with – and visualizing – a weak, compliant and ineffectual Russia that can be ordered around by the United States and its allies.
He buys into the simplistic zero-sum, white versus black neoconservative conceptions of a world where NATO must always expand and the world beyond NATO is by definition a world of failure and darkness that must always recede.
Nothing more dangerous and misleading to the current US strategic dilemma can be imagined.
For in reality the United States under Trump remains mired in its dilemma of global strategic overstretch – the same dilemma that doomed the empires of Hapsburg Spain, Louis XIV’s France, Imperial Britain, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union before it.
We may hope for better things from Huntsman’s appointment but it is alas almost certain that we will not get them.
The best advice that can be given to all Americans and Russians of influence and goodwill is to Speak Truth to Power as often and as loudly as they are given the opportunity to do so.
For otherwise, the end of the road we are on is unthinkable.