Caroline Glick: McMaster’s Policies Completely Contradict Trump’s, Natural Continuation of Obama’s

AP/Getty

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Aug. 11, 2017:

Jerusalem Post contributor Caroline Glick criticized National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Glick said the problem with McMaster is that “in key issue after key issue, particularly in relation to the Middle East,” he “opposes the things that the president ran on and that he was elected on.”

She quoted Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the world’s leading activists against Islamic supremacism, writing in the Wall Street Journal that “President Trump, during the campaign, insisted that it was necessary to go after the political ideology of radical Islam, and he’s just completely stopped.”

“She called on Congress to pick it up and take it on since the president seems to have lost interest in it,” Glick said of Ali’s article. “Whether it’s Iran and countering Iranian influence and rising hegemony in Syria and in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and, of course, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, these are very, very key issues for the United States and for all of its allies in the Middle East. And on all of these issues, in practice, we see that the policies that the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, is pushing are at loggerheads with – completely contradict – the policies that President Trump ran on and continues to say that he wants.”

“For instance, I wrote in my column in the Jerusalem Post this morning, the United States special forces are fighting side-by-side with the Lebanese armed forces, which are controlled by Hezbollah, to the side of Hezbollah, which is a global terrorist organization, against ISIS,” she said.

“This is President Obama’s policy, was to try to get the United States to help Iran to take over Syria, without allowing the American people to know that, by saying, ‘Well, we’re fighting ISIS in Syria,’” she explained. “Allow Iran and Hezbollah to take over Syria and present an existential threat to Jordan and a massive strategic threat to Israel and to U.S. interests, in the name of fighting ISIS.”

“This, we see, is a policy that President Trump continues to implement,” Glick said with dismay. “It’s a very, very troubling thing.”

Glick was further troubled by the way Western media is allowing McMaster supporters, “from the Council on American Islamic Relations to the Anti-Defamation League” to frame coverage of his move away from President Trump’s policy agenda.

She further implicated “Soros-funded groups that are working day and night to undermine and subvert, with the hope of destroying this president.” These forces have conspired to forge a media narrative that claims people only oppose McMaster because they are “racist or Islamophobic or what have you.”

“In other words, they’re turning this into the same thing that the left always turns their policy disputes into, which is the good guys against the racists, and everyone who opposes them is essentially a non-person, and we mustn’t listen to them,” said Glick.

“It’s even worse in a way than just saying this is a partisan squabble and this is domestic politics,” she said. “What they’re trying to do is dehumanize the people who oppose McMaster, in order not to have a substantive discussion. That’s what we see the left doing everywhere, all the time, throughout the United States and throughout the Western world. You don’t win by substance because your substance is antithetical to what most people want, so what you do is you say that anyone who opposes you is a racist. Anybody who opposes you is the enemy of the good, and, therefore, all right-thinking people have to be on your side, against their side.”

“It’s interesting that this is the dynamic that’s taking place around McMaster. It would seem to me that, particularly for the president himself, who knows these things, this should be just a glaring red light. The fact that yet again yesterday he embraced McMaster, sitting next to Vice President Pence at his golf club in Bedminster, is an indication that something is awry, and I don’t really know what it is,” she said.

“Again, it’s very troubling because the problem here is not whether H.R. McMaster has a temper or is just the nicest person in the whole world. The problem is that he is pushing and getting implemented a policy, in relation to Israel in particular – and Israel as an American ally in the Middle East, no less Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and so on and so forth – that is a natural continuation of Barack Obama’s policy of realigning the United States away from its allies in the United States and in favor of Iran and Hezbollah,” she charged.

LISTEN:

NSC Purge: McMaster ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and to Trump

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Breitbart, Aug. 3, 2017:

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick wrote Wednesday evening that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is purging pro-Israel staff from the National Security Council (NSC), turning the administration against President Donald Trump’s policies.

In a Facebook post, Glick noted that “all of these people” whom McMaster has fired this week — Rich Higgins, Derek Harvey, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick — “are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, positions that Trump holds.”

She noted that the firings were the latest evidence that NSA McMaster is “deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump”:

According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.

Many of you will remember that a few days before Trump’s visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו and his advisers were blindsided when the Americans suddenly told them that no Israeli official was allowed to accompany Trump to the Western Wall.

What hasn’t been reported is that it was McMaster who pressured Trump to agree not to let Netanyahu accompany him to the Western Wall. At the time, I and other reporters were led to believe that this was the decision of rogue anti-Israel officers at the US consulate in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t. It was McMaster.

And even that, it works out wasn’t sufficient for McMaster. He pressured Trump to cancel his visit to the Wall and only visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial — ala the Islamists who insist that the only reason Israel exists is European guilt over the Holocaust.

Glick noted that the three latest firings were not McMaster’s first attack on pro-Israel officials, or those critical of radical Islam. Two others had already been assigned to other jobs outside the National Security Council, she said.

Meanwhile, she noted, McMaster has replaced pro-Israel officials with anti-Israel, anti-Trump officials, and he allowed anti-Israel Obama holdovers to continue in their jobs:

[McMaster] fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.

(Malley was notoriously fired by Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign for meeting with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and advocating negotiations with them. He was later brought into President Obama’s administration to negotiate with Iran, and advised Obama — evidently poorly — on how to fight the Islamic State.)

Glick noted that “McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda,” including the Iran deal: “As for Iran, well, suffice it to say that McMaster supports the deal and refuses to publish the side deals Obama signed with the Iranians and then hid from the public.”

She also noted the irony that Trump had only hired McMaster, under pressure, because he was recommended by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

Finally, there is the issue of how McMaster got there in the first place. Trump interviewed McMaster at Mara Lago for a half an hour. He was under terrible pressure after firing Flynn to find someone.

And who recommended McMaster? You won’t believe this.

Senator John McCain. That’s right. The NSA got his job on the basis of a recommendation from the man who just saved Obamacare.

Glick expressed disbelief that Trump could fire former General Michael Flynn as NSA “essentially for nothing,” while allowing McMaster to attack Israel, and undermining the rest of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, with impunity.

She suggested that Trump replace McMaster — or else Israel might begin to reconsider its embrace of Trump:

If McMaster isn’t fired after all that he has done and all that he will do, we’re all going to have to reconsider Trump’s foreign policy. Because if after everything he has done, and everything that he will certainly do to undermine Trump’s stated foreign policy agenda, it will no longer be possible to believe that exiting the nuclear deal or supporting the US alliance with Israel and standing with US allies against US foes — not to mention draining Washington’s cesspool – are Trump’s policies. How can they be when Trump stands with a man who opposes all of them and proves his opposition by among other things, firing Trump’s advisers who share Trump’s agenda?

She said that Trump should not fear criticism for firing another adviser:

One source claims that Trump’s political advisers are afraid of how it will look if he fires another national security adviser. But that makes no sense. Trump is being attacked for everything and nothing. Who cares if he gets attacked for doing something that will actually help him to succeed in office? Why should fear of media criticism play a role here or anywhere for this president and this administration?

Glick added, wryly: “Obviously, at this point, Trump has nothing to lose by angering McCain. I mean what will he do? Vote for Obamacare?”

Read Glick’s full post here.

Unimpressed Trump Sends Pentagon Back to the Drawing Board on Afghanistan

AP

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, July 20, 2017:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. President Donald Trump, unimpressed by the Afghanistan war options presented to him during a White House meeting with his full national security team Wednesday, suggested they may have to go back to the drawing board to craft a strategy that does not mirror the failed ones employed by his predecessors, said an administration official.

The meeting came as the Pentagon briefed lawmakers about plans to increase the U.S. military footprint in the country.

Contrary to mainstream media claims that the president has taken a completely hands-offapproach to the 16-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, Trump presided over Wednesday’s meeting primarily aimed at discussing the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a Trump administration official familiar with the deliberations told Breitbart News on condition of anonymity.

President Trump indicated that he is not satisfied with the strategy as it currently stands.

The Pentagon and White House National Security Council (NSC) declined to provide specifics about the developing plan.

President Trump demanded that his team go back to square one if necessary and create a realistic plan that ensures Afghanistan is ultimately able to stand on its own as a country, said the administration official, noting that the meeting served as a sort of wake up call for those involved in developing the strategy.

It appears that besides the Pentagon, the NSC has at least some authority in setting the strategy.

Asked about the meeting, the Pentagon did not confirm nor deny that the President asked officials to go back to the drawing board.

“We’re not going to discuss White House meetings or direction,” said Adam Stump, a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman, when Breitbart News asked whether or not it has been forced to start developing the Afghanistan war strategy from scratch and when it expects to present the plan to Trump.

The NSC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters last Friday a decision on the new plan would be unveiled around “mid-July” or “somewhere around there. We are driven by the maturity of the discussion, and where we’re at, we are not going to meet some timeline if we are not ready, but we are pretty close.”

Trump has granted the Pentagon the authority to decide how many additional troops to deploy to the war-ravaged country.

Currently, Mattis may increase that number of troops by between 3,000 and 5,000, from the 8,400 already there.

Mattis noted on Friday that the number of additional troops has not been “finalized yet,” adding that the Pentagon is waiting from input from the U.S. State Department.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, CNN reports that as it currently stands, the strategy:

Encompasses a way ahead in Afghanistan, including the possibility of sending more troops, but also a look at new ideas for dealing with Pakistan, which the US believes is supporting or turning a blind eye to a number of terror groups operating inside the country.

The president made it clear he is not interested in any approach that resembles the strategies used by his predecessors and will not accept anything less than a dramatic overhaul, the official told Breitbart News.

Directly dealing with Pakistan’s support for terrorists fighting the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan would mark a significant departure from what America has done in the past.

Most of the 2,255 U.S. military fatalities and 20,245 injury incidents have taken place in provinces that border Pakistan.

The Pentagon spokesman defined what victory in Afghanistan means for the Trump administration, saying it utlimately involves a settlement with the Taliban and terrorists laying down their arms.

Stump told Breitbart News:

The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan remains centered on working with NATO allies, operational partners, and the international community to defeat the remnants of core al Qaeda and to defeat other violent extremist organizations and terrorist groups, such as ISIS-K [Islamic State], to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a safe-haven for groups to plan and execute attacks against the United States, U.S. persons overseas, or allies and partners; and continuing efforts to provide financial and advisory support to the Afghan Government and to enable a well-trained, equipped, and sustainable ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Force] that provides security in Afghanistan.

The U.S. and Afghan Governments agree that the best way to ensure lasting peace and security in Afghanistan is through reconciliation and a political settlement with the Taliban. The United States supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process and supports any process that includes violent extremist groups laying down their arms.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Washington Post (WaPo) reports that the current U.S.-Afghan war is framed around a four-year plan to degrade the Taliban this is unlikely to “yield significant results until its later stages.”

In recently issued reports, the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon have accused Pakistan of willingly serving as a safe-haven for the Taliban and its affiliates, including the deadly Haqqani Network.

The Taliban affirmed its relationship with al-Qaeda in December 2016.

Also see:

The National Security Council’s New Pro-Hamas Israel Advisor

The swamp strikes back against Israel and Trump

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, May 10, 2017:

Kris Bauman, the National Security Council’s new point man on Israel, believes that the “Israel Lobby” is a threat, that Israel should be pressured into making concessions to Islamic terrorists and that “the Obama Administration must find creative (but legal) ways to include Hamas in a solution.”

Yael Lempert, Bauman’s predecessor, had been one of the Obama holdovers that conservatives had fought to pry out of the swamp. Lempert had been described as “Obama’s point person in the White House orchestrating his war against Israel.”

Lee Smith wrote that, “Lempert, one former Clinton official told me, ‘is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left. From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively.’”

Lempert’s mother, Lesly Lempert, had been an anti-Israel activist with the misleadingly named American Israeli Civil Liberties Coalition. Yael had carried on her mother’s work. Her departure should have been a victory for conservatives. Instead the swamp was replaced with more swamp.

Kris Bauman had been part of the failed “peace” efforts in the Obama years working for Hillary ally, General Allen. His views on Israel, the PLO and Hamas were those of the Obama-Kerry team.  Bauman believes that Israel is at fault for the failure of previous peace efforts and that peace can only be achieved when the United States applies enough pressure on Israel.

It’s like Yael Lempert never left.

Once McMaster took over as National Security Adviser, the swamp was back. McMaster has warned Trump against talking about Islamic terrorism. He had tried to force out Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who played a crucial role in exposing the Obama eavesdropping, and replace him with Linda Weissgold, the director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis, who had helped draft the Benghazi talking points which blamed the Islamic terror attack on “protests”.

President Trump overruled McMaster. Just as he had overruled Mattis’ plot to bring in Michele Flournoy, Hillary Clinton’s likely Secretary of Defense, and move Anne Patterson, the Muslim Brotherhood’s favorite State Department hack, in as undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon.

But not every tidal flow of the swamp can be stopped.

Kris Bauman is exactly whom the swamp and the Deep State want to be there “explaining” the wrong things to the right people. Bauman raised eyebrows when he appeared as the highest ranking administration official at a PA-PLO reception shortly after his appointment.

It won’t be hard to guess what Bauman’s views on the peace process are. He laid them out in great detail in “The Middle East Quartet of Mediators: Understanding Multiparty Mediation in the Middle East Peace Process”. In the hundreds of pages, Bauman makes occasional efforts to pretend that he’s delving into the narratives of both sides, but his conclusion makes it painfully clear whose side he’s on.

Kris Bauman is eager to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists of Hamas. He insists that Hamas had “signaled moderation was a real possibility” and bemoans the “failure” of the Quartet,” to capitalize on this event by recognizing Hamas’s signals of willingness to moderate.”

Bauman complains that America’s failure to deal with Hamas played into Israeli hands.  “Once Hamas came to power, the US and the EU refused to deal with it. This strengthened Israel’s ‘no partner’ argument as more ‘facts were created on the ground’ daily in the settlements.”

He even defends Hamas against accusations that its takeover of Gaza was a coup.

Bauman accuses, “Israel and the Quartet refused to engage with Hamas and instead turned Gaza into an open-air prison.” This isn’t even an anti-Israel position. It’s Hamas propaganda.

Kris Bauman insists that “given the widespread popularity of Hamas… some kind of inclusion of Hamas is absolutely necessary if a peace agreement is event to be reached, much less implemented and sustained.” He whispers that, “the Obama Administration must find creative (but legal) ways to include Hamas in a solution” and “the Quartet must find a way to meaningfully engage Hamas”.

In Kris Bauman’s twisted mind, the obstacle to peace isn’t PLO and Hamas terrorism, but supporters of Israel in America. He favorably quotes Walt and Mearsheimer’s anti-Semitic tract, The Israel Lobby. Bauman urges overcoming the “Israel Lobby” which he claims “is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.”

Progress in the peace process requires that the United States apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel. And indeed, Bauman’s recommendations mirrored the policy of Obama, Hillary and Kerry.

Kris Bauman urges that the United States move further away from Israel and adopt “a new US policy on Middle East peace that is closer to the policies of the other members of the Quartet.” In Bauman’s formula that would include not only the UN, the EU, the US and Russia, but also the Arab League.

Kris Bauman not only equates Islamic terrorism and Israeli self-defense against terrorism, but at one point he actually equates Jews living in territory claimed by the terrorists with Islamic terrorism.

And he insists that the latter is worse than the former.  “It is true that one could make an analogous argument regarding Palestinian terrorism, but there is one major difference between the two. Israeli government control over settlement expansion is far greater than Palestinian Authority control over terrorism.”

This was the man who had played a key role in defining what security will look like for Israel. And who will likely be doing so once again.

It goes without saying that Bauman doesn’t like Israel and especially dislikes Israeli conservatives. He accuses Netanyahu of “inciting Palestinian violence” and winning because he “played on the public’s security fears”. He accuses Netanyahu of having “derailed the peace process almost completely”.

President Trump had promised to repair relations with Israel. The NSC’s Israel advisor shares Obama’s loathing for Netanyahu. And blames him, instead of the Islamic terrorists, for the violence.

Bauman blames the Second Intifada on Sharon’s visit to the holiest place in Judaism which had been occupied and colonized by Muslim settlers.  “Ariel Sharon’s September 28 visit to the Temple Mount / Haram alSharif was a spark on dry tinder,” he writes. “His visit set off a series of demonstrations, suicide bombings, and IDF reprisals that became the Second Intifada.”

Bauman’s statement is a lie. The Second Intifada had been planned by the PLO before Sharon’s visit. But Kris Bauman doubles down, “The Al-Aqsa Intifada spontaneously erupted in the fall of 2000 because of the anger and disillusionment among Palestinians after the failure of Oslo, their ongoing, daily affliction, and the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount area.”

The Intifada was as “spontaneous” as Benghazi. But Bauman is too busy sympathizing with the “affliction” of the terrorists to tell the truth.

Kris Bauman consistently blames Israel for Islamic terror. He suggests that the Muslim violence following the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel was a “needless provocation of the Palestinians.”

Even Arafat’s rejection of the 2000 Camp David offer under Barak and Clinton was Israel’s fault. “Permanent cantonization, permanent settlements, and essentially, permanent occupation,” he huffs. “Of course they rejected it.”

And of course Kris Bauman stands with the PLO’s rejectionism and makes excuses for it.

Every peace deal in the past, Bauman suggests, “overwhelmingly favored Israeli interests.” The terrorists couldn’t be blamed for rejecting every single peace deal. The United States must turn on Israel and threaten it with the loss of “diplomatic support”.

This should sound familiar. It’s what Obama did. And what Trump blasted him for doing.

But it’s just another day in the swamplands of foreign policy mired in the muck of the Deep State.

Kris Bauman extensively quotes Robert Malley, who was briefly fired by Obama when his Hamas contacts for Soros’ International Crisis Group came to light. Obama later brought Malley in and moved him all the way up. Bauman also quotes and praises the Soros organization’s attempts to push engagement with Hamas. And the swamp doesn’t get any deeper than George Soros and Hamas.

Bauman’s policy prescriptions are relics of the Obama era. He should have become history just like John Kerry, Yael Lempert and his former boss, General Allen who bellowed at the Democratic National Convention that, “Hillary Clinton will be exactly, exactly the kind of commander-in-chief America needs” and warned that Trump’s fight against Islamic terrorism would kill “innocent families”.

Trump had blasted Allen. Why is his former chief of staff now occupying a major position in the NSC?

Draining the swamp is hard work. Because the swamp is bigger than you are. It’s a powerful and influential establishment. And if you look away, the swamp will swiftly come flowing back.

Also see:

What every American should know about the CIA analyst who quit and blamed Trump

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Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, March 1, 2017:

Last week, Edward Price, a former CIA analyst, became a media darling after the Washington Post published Price’s op-ed announcing his resignation from the CIA because he was unable to serve the Trump administration in good faith because of President Trump’s policies and disregard for the U.S. Intelligence Community.

 While several media outlets rushed to interview Price and depict him as an ethical, non-political CIA officer who rejected what he claimed was the “deceitful” and “delusional” Trump administration, a brief look at the facts suggest not only is this a blatant instance of fake news, but that Price is a “fake” CIA analyst.

 OK, Price really did work for the CIA.  But for the past several years he was a member of the Obama National Security Council staff, apparently on a detail assignment from the CIA.  His NSC job was serving as a spokesman and helping deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes run the Obama NSC “echo chamber” that misled the news media, Congress and the American people about the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.  Price even bragged to New York Times writer David Samuels about how he manipulated and lied to the press to promote the Iran deal.

Price’s selective outrage over Trump administration’s polices – which are still being finalized – while he was part of the Obama Iran deal echo chamber is pretty galling.  It’s also hard to square Price’s NSC position with his statements to the Post that his resignation had “nothing to do with politics” and said “as intelligence professionals, we’re taught to tune out politics.”  Price also apparently had no problem with the CIA crafting politicized talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2014 or the Obama administration pressuring CENTCOM intelligence analyststo slant their analysis of ISIS to favor Obama administration policy.

 I also wonder why, if Price is really such a paragon of virtue and a champion of keeping politics out of intelligence, that he didn’t resign last summer after Senator Harry Reid called on intelligence analysts to give Candidate Trump fake intelligence briefings.

But the bigger question is why the CIA was paying Price to be an Obama administration political hack.  Once Price assumed such an extremely partisan NSC job, he stopped being a bona fide intelligence officer.  A CIA officer should never have been allowed to serve in a job like this or to participate in a scheme to mislead the American people and the U.S. Congress.

This also is fake news because the mainstream media left out crucial facts.  For example, Price contributed a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party in 2016.  This was a huge contribution for a government employee and suggests Price was angling for a senior job in a Clinton administration.  None of the mainstream media press accounts I reviewed mentions this contribution, although the Washington Post added the following clarification to the Price story after it was criticized for omitting this information:

“Clarification: This column should have included a disclosure of donations made by author Edward Price in support of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In August, Price gave a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.”

All of the mainstream media accounts also omitted that Price is a fellow with the Truman Project, a leftwing think tank that served as a mouthpiece for the Obama administration, and that he worked for several Democratic political campaigns.

Price’s resignation had everything to do with politics.  This is the story of a liberal political hack quitting a Republican administration.  Price engineered a splashy resignation advertised on the opinion pages of the Washington Post as part of the Democratic Party’s effort to undermine President Trump and to secure himself a well-paid perch in a liberal think tank to bash the Trump administration.  The media’s coverage of Price’s resignation is typical of its extremely biased coverage of President Trump.

The bottom line: this is fake news about a fake CIA officer.

NatSec advisor Michael Anton outlines a way forward with an alternative to the “New World Order”

Michael Anton, center, at a White House news briefing Feb. 1. At left are Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Michael Anton, center, at a White House news briefing Feb. 1. At left are Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Note: Michael Anton is Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications, National Security Council. This article was prepared before the author accepted his current position. The views here reflect only those of the author. They do not represent the views of the Trump administration, the National Security Advisor, or the U.S. government.

American Affairs Journal

Trump’s campaign was driven by the basic awareness of ordinary citizens that American peace, prestige, and prosperity were not being served by our foreign policy. Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists.

Excerpt:

Reforming the Liberal International Order

How best to remain safe, rich, and respected? Let us consider the ways in which the LIO might be reformed.

First, our trade policy is in obvious need of reform. The LIO elevates “free trade”—really, phonebook-thick agreements that regulate every aspect of trade, mostly to America’s disadvantage—to holy writ. It does so for political reasons as well as ideological ones, such as the often-inappropriate invocation of David Ricardo. The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been composed entirely of true believers in the free trade doctrine for several decades. But the world economy has changed significantly since 1945, to state the obvious. In certain cases, at least, the conditions underlying that period’s commercial policy orientation (and the theoretical impulses behind it) no longer apply. The Trump administration is right to be skeptical of free trade ideology and to revisit trade policy based on core interests and commercial realities.

We could also be more sensible about our alliance structure. NATO is far from irrelevant today, but it could surely be made more relevant. Certainly, decades of joint exercise, interoperability rules, interchangeable weapons systems, and the like should not be tossed aside lightly, especially among countries with long histories of deep bonds and common interests. But it is reasonable to ask: What is the alliance for once its original purpose has evaporated? If it can be reformed to better address the threats of our time—terrorism, mass illegal migration—all to the good.

We must also ask: Why is it in our strategic interest to push that alliance’s borders ever outward? What do we gain by pledging American blood to defend places where it would take us a 48-hour airlift to mount a forlorn defense with one regiment? In what way does committing to impossible things enhance prestige?

The case for continued expansion of the LIO seems feeble indeed and has recently been taken to absurd extremes. One school of thought—let us call them the “neocons”—holds that since democracy is “our team,” and that team’s overall health improves when its prospects are expanding, then surely it is in our interest to democratize the world. No?

No. That is to say: America would likely be better off if the world were more democratic than it is, given that democracy correlates highly with friendliness or at least non-opposition to American interests, whereas “authoritarianism” (or, to be more precise, “tyranny”) correlates highly with opposition and even hostility to American interests. But in some regions, democracy also correlates highly with instability, which breeds war and chaos that are antithetical to American interests. In others, the rhetoric and mechanism of democracy are used—one man, one vote, once—to squelch robust democracy and impose a tyranny worse than what preceded the “democracy.”

Sticking with the LIO’s original context between 1945 and 1989, its first purpose was to preserve democracy where it already existed and was under threat, either by foreign conquest or foreign-directed internal subversion. Second, it was to restore democracy to “captive nations” whose liberty had been seized by a foreign power. Third, it was to develop democracy (gradually) in countries with substantial economies, deep reserves of human capital, and civil intuitions capable of serving as soil in which democracy could grow. Never did it mean imposition of democracy—much less suggest this imposition was a vital American interest.

Democracy is a precarious flower. It will not grow just anywhere. There are a great many patches of land we could easily seize that are nonetheless fit for growing only cacti or weeds. If we see the democratic flower struggling to bloom in a place where and at a time when we have the capacity to water it, and it is in our interest to do so, by all means we should consider it. But the fact that America has a “team interest” in the success or non-failure of democracy does not mean that we have an interest in trying to impose democracy in places where it is almost certain to fail. In fact, the opposite is true, because glaring failures undermine our prestige.

I would ask careful readers to please note that, for all the criticism of the foreign policy establishment, nothing here has specifically criticized the LIO per se. It served our interests well in the times and places for which it was built. It remains superior to most alternatives, including paleo-isolationism and neocon overreach. Confusion may arise from the implicit conflation of the LIO with the latter. It is not an outrageous error to make, precisely because the neocons have expended a lot of effort since the end of the Cold War to meld the two in the public mind, beginning with the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine strategy paper drafted in the Pentagon in 1992 and continuing in 2014 with Robert Kagan’s New Republicthink piece “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire.”

The very phrase “liberal international order” hints at the problem. It is at least a better term than President George H. W. Bush’s “new world order,” for the simple reason that the LIO has never prevailed over the entire world and never had a chance to. The failure to see this limit was, it seems, the core mistake of America’s post–Cold War foreign policy. The establishment thought it could take a system built (more or less) for the OECD or the Rich Nations Club and make it work everywhere. That was never possible and still isn’t. The “liberal international order” is thus better termed the “liberal rich-country order” or—if you prefer foreign policy jargon—the “liberal functioning-core order.”

Even if one were to assert that America’s national interest is to build and maintain a liberal order in every corner of the globe (which it isn’t), we would still face the thorny problem that America lacks the means to do so. We have to choose. What do we choose and on what basis?

In sum, the reach of “liberal international order”—while mostly beneficial to American interests—is in practice a lot smaller than the whole world. Even when created in 1945–1950, it was never intended to encompass the globe. It was built to protect the interests of America and its non-Communist friends in Europe and Asia and (in an update to the Monroe Doctrine) keep Communism out of the Western Hemisphere. The Middle East was added later, in stages, as Anglo-French hegemony collapsed after Suez, as the original Western-friendly Arab kings fell, and as the West (and the United States especially) became net oil importers. The attempt, beginning in 1991–92, to extend that order over the whole world was a case of American eyes being much bigger than our stomachs (or teeth), a confusion of ideology and interests. In fact, however, such expansion was never necessary to core American interests—peace, prosperity, prestige.

The uncertainty of the present moment does not derive primarily from President Trump’s supposed disregard for the fundamentals of the liberal international order. On the contrary, the uncertainty arises from a growing awareness of the disconnect between the instrumental policies of that order and its overriding purpose. In restoring a sense of the core objectives behind the LIO’s institutions, Trump actually shows a greater regard for it. These institutions will survive only if prudently amended to serve their essential purposes and meet their members’ needs.

Trump’s campaign was driven by the basic awareness of ordinary citizens that American peace, prestige, and prosperity were not being served by our foreign policy. Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists.

While orienting foreign policy around American peace, prestige, and prosperity still leaves room for disagreements in policy formation, focusing on the ends rather than the means marks a dramatic change in the way our diplomats see things. The quicker we make that change, the quicker we will find clarity in strengthening the institutions that make the American people safe, respected, and wealthy—and the quicker we can reform those that do not.

This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume I, Number 1 (Spring 2017): 113–25.

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Michael Flynn and the revenge of the bureaucrats

Michael Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn (left) (Associated Press/File)

Michael Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn (left) (Associated Press/File)

The Washington Times, , February 15, 2017:

The resignation of White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Monday was the result of a coordinated effort by current and former U.S. intelligence officials to undermine the Trump administration using the disclosure of highly classified communications intercepts.

President Trump voiced his displeasure in a tweet Wednesday stating that misuse of the intercepts was un-American.

“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” the president stated.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former Defense Intelligence Agency director, was let go after admitting he did not fully explain to Vice President Mike Pence and other officials the content of telephone conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak late last year when Mr. Trump was president-elect.

According to a White House national security official, the intelligence bureaucrats went after Mr. Flynn not because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The real concern was his plan to reform U.S. intelligence agencies that during the Obama administration became mired in political correctness and lost much of their effectiveness, the official said.

The anti-Flynn campaign was launched prior to Inauguration Day and targeted not just the national security adviser but also at least one of his aides.

The National Security Council’s staff specialist for Africa, retired Marine intelligence officer Robin Townely, had his request for “top secret, sensitive compartmented information” clearance rejected by the CIA. Under current rules, the NSC can issue top-secret clearances. But the higher SCI-level clearance must be approved by the CIA. The White House official said the denial was unjust and an indirect political attack on Mr. Flynn.

Yet it was just such SCI-level information that was shared with reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and other news outlets in disclosing details of Mr. Flynn’s pre-inauguration phone calls to Mr. Kislyak.

Chris Farrell, a former counterintelligence official and director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch, called the disclosures “reckless endangerment of national intelligence sources and methods to advance a political smear job.”

 

Mr. Flynn is a critic of U.S. intelligence agencies and was planning to oversee a major overhaul of the spy agencies — something that upset entrenched intelligence officials concerned about protecting bureaucratic rice bowls.

In 2010, then-Gen. Flynn co-authored a landmark report, “Fixing Intel,” calling for sweeping reforms after criticizing intelligence as misaligned with the objectives in the Afghanistan War.

“Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy, Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade,” the report said.