Who is minding the store?


This is our president writing a diplomatic letter to a foreign head of state.

What’s terrifying about this, besides the obvious fact that Trump is incompetent and nuts, is that he’s operating completely unfiltered now. There are no grown-up minders anywhere. No buffers. No one to provide even a superficial illusion of restraint.

Impeach him, fire him, drag him out of office, and put him on trial. He does not belong there.

Comments

  1. DanDare says

    An appeal to Erdogan’s sense of his place in history could be a reasonable approach if it wasn’t supported by hyperbole and bluster and in the context of having given caet blanche for the current behaviour without political pre amble in the first place. And trying to broker a deal is always helpful if you didn’t have a reputation for renegging on every deal you make and sliming others at every possibility.

  2. PaulBC says

    The first thing I did was to Google this to see if there were multiple mainstream sources claiming this letter is real. Sadly, it appears so.

    “[History] will look upon you forever as the devil”

    Really?! Who talks like this? Trump doesn’t even, but maybe he does after getting into character. He seems to be channeling some of the weirdest tinpot dictator rhetoric lately. That and his “great and unmatched wisdom.”

    I get it… no, really. Trump is telling Erdogan that he’s a dream to some… a nightmare to others! What could be clearer? Can I write these letters for him. It sounds like a lot of fun, I mean except for the likely outcome and all that.

  3. says

    @#1, DanDare:

    No, an appeal to Erdogan’s sense of his place in history wouldn’t work. He semi-obviously believes he is the founder of a new Ottoman Empire that is destined to rule the mideast if not the entire world, and he only cares what other people think to the degree that he will have people locked up for badmouthing him if they’re in an area he controls. Erdogan is basically what Trump wants to be, showy military pomp and all. Neither one of them has a good grasp of what’s really going on in the world around them beyond the immediate “who do I yell at to get a cheeseburger and a ride to my next venue” kind of thing.

  4. maeve57 says

    Wow. Just wow.

    Not even Hitler would stoop to the level of pulling his troops out of a country, only to then threaten another country with non-violent action if they kept on committing crimes against humanity. Who does Trump think he is?? This is outrageous!

    Frogmarch this farce out of the White House!

  5. robro says

    He had a “meltdown” with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer earlier today over the House resolution condemning his Syria moves and abandoning the Kurds. The resolution was passed overwhelmingly with lots of Republicans voting for it. “Meltdown” was Pelosi’s description. Fitting. He’s a spoiled brat.

    Earlier today I read a excerpt from Dr. David Shulkin’s new book, It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans. Shulkin was the Undersecretary of the VA when Trump was elected, and recounts being called to New York to meet President-Elect Trump in The Tower. Reading about Trump’s behavior toward Dr. Shulkin, it’s easy to see Trump as just the terrible person many of us think he is.

  6. robro says

    NBC ran the story about the letter to Erdogan and said the White House confirmed the letter. There’s also a story about the press conference with the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella. Trump reputedly referred to him a President Mozzarella several times and claimed that the US has been allies with Italy since ancient Rome. The report also says Trump was noticeably slurring his words. That would be a troubling sign in a 73-year-old man in a high-stress job except I don’t really care if he keels over.

  7. numerobis says

    His kids are minding the store, and laughing all the way to the bank.

    As for the military, nobody much.

    News that Bolton was the adult when it comes to the Ukraine stuff rather boggles my mind.

  8. maeve57 says

    @PaulBC

    You mean a fact-based approach? Not especially.

    But, I do hope PZ realises that Trump relies on people like him who are apparently so blinded by ideology they can’t see what’s right in front of their faces: Trump talks big, but his actions are never as big as the hyperbole.

    PZ understands this phenomenon well. He called the Trump rally in Minneapolis a “Nazi rally.” That was hyperbole, he doesn’t actually believe it. If he did, he would move his family to another country immediately and disown his son, an Army officer, for collaborating with said Nazis.

    Trump uses hyperbole with North Korea, Iran, China, and now Turkey. What has it resulted in? Peace talks with NK, a trade deal with China, and the other two are still up in the air.

    Trump pulled the US out of Syria. He wants us out of Afghanistan. It’s been funny to watch the entire military industrial complex – to include prominent Democrats – argue that we need to stay in both places. Why? Because we’ve done so well for the last two decades?

    Why is the idea of using a different dimension of national power – economic power – so out of bounds to people who profess to be pacifists? Because it’s Trump who wants to do it, that’s why. It’s the very definition of allowing ideology to blind you to the actual facts.

    And it’s quite sad to see.

  9. raven says

    Trump uses hyperbole with North Korea, Iran, China, and now Turkey. What has it resulted in? Peace talks with NK, a trade deal with China, and the other two are still up in the air.

    Maive, you are an idiot and a liar!!!
    This isn’t hyperbole either.
    Words are inadequate to describe just how cosmically stupid and reality challenged you are.

    .1. Trump’s talks with North Korea have gone absolutely nowhere in 3 years.
    .2. Trump started the trade war with China on the basis that it was good and easy to win.
    In several years, it is still ongoing with almost no signs of any solution.
    It’s been hard on China, hard on the USA, and hard on the world.
    There is no upside.
    .3. Trump started the current cold war with Iran by withdrawing from a 6 nation agreement that was working well.
    He has no idea what to do next.
    .4. Trump just caved to Turkey for no obvious reason and no idea what he was doing.
    The best explanation these days is that he is senile, age related cognitive impairment of some sort.

    Trump doesn’t solve problems, Trump causes problems!!!

  10. raven says

    dumb troll:

    … so out of bounds to people who profess to be pacifists?

    How do you know we are pacifists?
    You don’t know that and are just guessing.

    I’m not.
    I’m a huge believer in nonviolence but there are times when answering violence with violence is necessary.
    I believe in self defense.
    I would have supported WW II if I was alive then.

    Because it’s Trump who wants to do it (economic power), that’s why.

    As you say Trump lives in a hyperbolic fantasy world.
    He also has the attention span of a fruit fly, about 15 minutes.
    Those economic sanctions haven’t worked on North Korea, China, Russia, or Iran yet.
    The chances he will put them on Turkey are almost nonexistent.
    The chances that they will do anything is also about zero.

  11. PaulBC says

    maeve57@9

    I just think the letter was badly and naively written, and therefore likely to be ineffective at best, more likely counterproductive, perhaps disastrously so. Does that mean I think it would be successful if vetted by “sophisticated” diplomats who know how to write letters to heads of state? Eh, not really, but it is still a farce any way you slice it. The letter doesn’t make Trump seem like Hitler, and PZ didn’t say it did. It just seems like amateur hour on the diplomatic front, and this is not going to to turn out well.

  12. John Morales says

    Trump pulled the US out of Syria.

    Not even slightly. There are still thousands of US troops in Syria (not counting spooks and contractors); what was done is move a few dozen further inland, away from the border with Turkey.

    These are all well-known facts, except to trumpoids.

  13. maeve57 says

    @raven “The best explanation these days is that he is senile, age related cognitive impairment of some sort.”

    Thank you for making my point.

    Your counterfactuals are all wrong, btw. We were all worried Trump would stumble into nuclear and/or conventional war with North Korea two years ago, not that peace talks wouldn’t bear fruit.

    There is an phase 1 deal with China, and there will be further talks. It hasn’t been all that hard on our economy – unemployment is the lowest it’s been in forever and every other economic indicator is near all time highs. China, on the other hand, may not be doing well.

    Trump “caving to Turkey” means pulling troops out of Syria. Do you want to argue the opposite? Do you want the US military to get more/deeper involved in a country the US Congress never authorised the military to go? This is the kind of shit I’m talking about. If anyone but Trump did this you’d be celebrating the fact that our innocent civilian-killing troops had left. But the bad orange man did it and that makes it bad…somehow.

    And here’s the funniest thing: I hate Trump! But I’d like to continue hating him for actual, real reasons.

  14. microraptor says

    robro @7:

    The report also says Trump was noticeably slurring his words. That would be a troubling sign in a 73-year-old man in a high-stress job except I don’t really care if he keels over.

    My problem with that scenario is that it pretty much means that the impeachment will be over and everyone else who’s dirty will get off scott free.

    Also, it means that Pence will suddenly be running the show and I think he’ll be able to whip up a lot of motivation in the election from voters who have been upset with Trump. In addition to being one of the people who would have any potential involvement with Trump’s dirty deals swept under the rug.

  15. PaulBC says

    maeve57@15

    Are you going to defend the letter on its own terms? It’s a weird letter. I don’t care if Barack Obama or a hypothetical Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders wrote it. It seems dumber than anything I would send to a foreign head of state, and I don’t imagine I’d do a very good job even if I thought I was doing my best.

    But I agree to an extent that Trump has done no worse on the foreign policy front than most presidents. He does seem reluctant to send American troops for the most part, and I don’t criticize him for that. It’s great he did not follow John Bolton’s advice and that Bolton is no longer in his cabinet. That was just scary. The main fear is that he will blunder into a war that is even worse than one that another president might have planned. I think we’ve been lucky.

    My real problem with Trump is his immigration policies and pandering to far right white nationalists. That is something new. It’s not something normal or potentially excusable in other presidents. Even George W. Bush, who did the most to get us into our ongoing catastrophe knew how to give lip service to 21st century pluralism.

    I would have against any Republican president. Any Republican would have passed the outrageous corporate tax giveaway and filled the courts including SCOTUS with Federalist Society picks. But Trump is certainly no better on that front. He probably just doesn’t care enough and is happy to let Mitch McConnell drive.

    Trump has also gone to unusual lengths to shield both his administration and personal dealings from oversight. He’s engaged in blatant nepotism at levels far exceeding norms of, well, blatant nepotism. It happens, but not to this degree. He’s hired a hatchetman to head every agency he has control over. So there’s a lot of reasons to consider this administration a complete catastrophe.

    Yeah, it’s good that his first instincts are not to go to war, though I think the reason is mostly one of self-interest. It is not enough on balance to recommend him.

  16. John Morales says

    maeve57:

    If anyone but Trump did this you’d be celebrating the fact that our innocent civilian-killing troops had left.

    You are in denial.
    A few left the border and moved inland, to allow the invasion to proceed, but they’re still in-country.

    (oh, and the USA destroyed its own anti-ISIS headquarters in Syria, as one does. After all, it’s only taxpayer funded)

    And here’s the funniest thing: I hate Trump! But I’d like to continue hating him for actual, real reasons.

    You really haven’t got a clue.

  17. PaulBC says

    It should be obvious why this is such a bad letter, but let’s just go straight to the second sentence. The fact that it’s violating norms of high-level state communication isn’t necessarily a problem. That’s a matter of style. But in substance, nobody capable of a small degree of reflection would believe this letter would lead to greater understanding.

    There may be a perception that Erdogan is bent on genocide of Kurdish people in Syria. It may have some legitimacy, and Trump may share it. However, it’s highly unlikely that Erdogan sees things in those terms. Either he believes that his actions are justifiable, in which case, what the heck, maybe he does want to be responsible for a mass killing. Or else he believes that it will not happen or that he will not be to blame. The point is that Trump’s entire premise is a non-starter. It’s really insulting. Like, who the hell is this guy (and I guess because he’s US president he really thinks he’s something special) to presume to tell me what I want, what I’m actually going to do, and then to have the gall to suggest he’s here to help me out of it. I mean, I am at the first part of the second sentence and already very angry.

    Maybe Erdogan is a more reasonable person than I am. I have no idea. But Trump sure pissed off my inner head of state. This is just a stupid letter. I would not accept it from someone with whom I actually had the level of familiarity Trump feigns here. You don’t have to be a professional diplomat to figure out how bad this is.

    Now, if the goal is not to make a deal but actually to piss me off… then it’s pretty good. But is that Trump’s intent?

  18. John Morales says

    PaulBC:

    But I agree to an extent that Trump has done no worse on the foreign policy front than most presidents.

    So you think he is at least as good as most presidents at it.

    Informative.

  19. John Morales says

    PaulBC:

    It should be obvious why this is such a bad letter […]

    Sure: his diplomatic skills are on a par with his foreign policy skills. :)

  20. vucodlak says

    @ maeve57, #9

    Trump uses hyperbole

    No, he blusters like a bully. There’s a big difference between that and exaggeration for effect. His constant stream of empty threats is just one more thing that tells other countries that we can’t be trusted. Our leader is an utter fool, as the Syrian debacle demonstrates.

    Trump pulled the US out of Syria.

    …resulting in the mass slaughter of our allies and the release of people who’ve demonstrated a willingness to slaughter civilians at every turn (Daesh), which absolutely everyone except maybe Trump knew would happen. And there was absolutely no excuse for Trump not to know. There is nothing laudable about what he did. I rank it up there with his concentration camps, in terms of his many evil deeds.

    Why is the idea of using a different dimension of national power – economic power – so out of bounds to people who profess to be pacifists?

    So, so much wrong with this.

    First off, how does increasing the violence and instability in a region serve the interests of pacifism? Turkey’s assault was both predictable and preventable. Prevention didn’t even entail further violent action- all Trump had to do was tell Erdogan to shove it, and refuse to move our troops out. Erdogan’s a dictator, which means he’s nearly as big a coward as Trump is. He wouldn’t risk getting into a shooting war with the US. But Trump as much as told him we wouldn’t shoot back, so Erdogan knew he had free rein to commit war crimes.

    Second, destroying a nation’s economy results in deaths, too. It’s quieter than a bombing campaign, but starvation isn’t a great way to die. Nor is dying from illnesses that would be treatable if the country could afford medicines, which it can’t because the economy has been ‘destroyed.’ Remember, it’s never the people at the top (the ones responsible for the conditions that ostensibly warranted the destruction of the nation’s economy) who suffer in these situations. The rich fucks always get by just fine.

    Finally, we’re not all pacifists. I’m sure as hell not, and I don’t have much love for pacifists either. Too many of them are like you, pretending that all the blood spilled because they won’t to get their hands dirty doesn’t sully them.

    You all reek of death, hypocrite.

    Because it’s Trump who wants to do it, that’s why.

    If President Obama or President Hillary Clinton had done something this catastrophically stupid, it would be no less loathsome, although I can’t imagine either being so foolish. And I’d damn well rake them over the coals for it, too. Gods know there were plenty of things about Obama I didn’t care for. His refusal to hold the Bush war criminals or Wall Street to account, drone warfare, the shitshow of the ACA, his administration’s treatment of whistleblowers… I could go on, and I have.

  21. PaulBC says

    John Morales@21

    He may be “worse at it” and yet so far not have led to worse outcomes. It’s really hard to beat George W. Bush’s track record for getting the US stuck in unending war. Obama didn’t help much (and I’m inclined to like Obama for other reasons). He just kept Bush’s wars going on the back burner. Not that Trump has improved matters. It’s just a question of how much worse can you get?

  22. John Morales says

    PaulBC, I got you the first time: in your estimation, only a minority of presidents hitherto have exceeded Trump’s foreign policy achievements.

  23. F.O. says

    Trump pulled the US out of Syria.

    Just for the record, Trump actually put US troops in harm’s way.
    https://www.newsweek.com/us-troops-syria-turkey-1464727

    That is not how you “pull out” your forces from a place.
    (Let alone backstab your allies, who are paying with their lives their trust for the US. Morals are obviously not important, so let’s point the practical problems: no one will ever trust the US again, and this will cost US lives).

    But let’s be honest: people who, at this point, are still defending Trump don’t give a fuck about morals, allies, soldiers or even self-interest, they are just authoritarians who just care that the Dear Leader Is Right.

  24. birgerjohansson says

    The only good thing is that the bastards are destroying the credibility of their grift operation, making the corruption and incompetence more obvious.
    BTW When I get really depressed by the news, I watch Trevor Noah or read satire online:
    The Onion: ‘You’ll never take me alive* shouts Giuliani jumping onto chandelier and immediately falling 3 stories
    Also. Boris Johnson condemns Bulgarian racists as ‘amateurs’ http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2019/10/17/boris-condemns-bulgarian-racists-as-amateurs/

  25. raven says

    Maeve lying some more:

    Your counterfactuals are all wrong, btw.

    No they aren’t.
    You are simply lying some more.
    Like your hero Trump.

    Trump has made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims
    https://www.washingtonpost.com › politics › 2019/08/12 › president-trump-…
    Aug 12, 2019 – The president has topped 12000 in our database of false and misleading … President Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days …

    When all you have is lies, you’ve got nothing.
    Trump averages 12 lies or so a day.
    I’m sure you are in the same range.

  26. lotharloo says

    Say what you will about comrade maeve57, but let’s be honest, he has very good English. He must have been graduated with a solid A+ from the Surkov Troll Factory.

  27. jrkrideau says

    @ 18 PaulBC
    It seems dumber than anything I would send to a foreign head of state

    If I recall correctly,George W Bush sent the Ayatollah Khomeini a presentation quality Bible and it is reported that he also sent the letter to the French president that was so full of weird biblical allusions that the secular French government had to send it out to religious scholars for some kind of interpretation.

    A personal letter like this from Trump maybe actually the worst we have seen but it is following a long tradition.

  28. Zeppelin says

    It’s an interesting question whether Trump’s foreign policy is meaningfully “worse” than that of your typical US administration, as judged by outcome rather than intent or tone.

    Past governments have set a pretty high (low?) bar for treachery and brutality as well as incompetence. I mean, throwing the Kurds under the bus is entirely within the ballpark of normal US imperial cruelty. And fucking over Iran and Cuba in seemingly capricious, spiteful ways is a long-standing tradition.
    I mean, every US president of my lifetime has been a war criminal who’d probably be hanged if we applied Nuremberg Trial standards. So Trump’d have to work pretty hard to fall below that standard.

    I guess it’s “worse” from the US perspective in the sense that his ignorant bluster and unmasking of naked imperial self-interest is tarnishing the US’s image among their allies, thereby diminishing their soft power? But as a citizen of The Rest Of The World I consider that a positive, if anything.

  29. stroppy says

    “Trump’s foreign policy” !!!???

    There is no Trump foreign policy. There is just self-serving jibber jabber and sycophants trying desperately to turn this mess of a broken cuckoo clock into the illusion of something sensible.

  30. PaulBC says

    leophoreo@33

    Donald Trump’s mixture of threats and locker-room banter infuriated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His staff told the BBC that he threw the letter into the bin and launched the Syrian operation the same day.

    Quelle surprise.

  31. PaulBC says

    The same BBC article linked at @33 comments that the letter and Erdogan’s reaction “could be proof there was no Trumpian green light.”

    OK, this is probably assuming Trump is more wily than he really is, but how do I “green light” Erdogan’s plans while having an audit trail of cautioning him? Easy, I send a letter that it is a complete non-starter and more likely to egg him on.

    A diplomatic naif like me can see why the letter would fail at its stated purpose, but… eh, it does sound very Trumpian, so who knows, maybe he can plausibly claim he expected it to work. Anyway, a point to consider is just that the actual purpose of the letter need not be its apparent purpose.

    But who the hell am I kidding? He just has no idea what he’s doing. Either way he’s culpable whether he gave a “green light” or not.

  32. stroppy says

    Yeah, talk with Erdogan, then remove obstacle to an attack. No green light, just a butler giving a polite bow while stepping aside. But no green light because there’s not an actual big green flashing light with big green arrows pointing at it reading “Big Green Flashing Light.” Because actions don’t speak louder than words.

  33. unclefrogy says

    why does anyone think what Trump does or says has anything to do with the interests of the country and its various people.
    Trumps has only one interest it has never changed it is of the most paramount it is his idea of himself and the image he projects of himself. his personal wealth and power
    He clearly does not care for anything or anyone else, Poor desperate migrants and their children, Allies in the fight against the terrorists, our country and it’s constitution and the rule of law.
    Not the military that is for sure. Where are those military personal going who will actually levee Syria the reports I have heard is they will be going to increase those deployed in Saudi Arabia another none freedom loving country ruled by a despotic and corrupt regime. That increased presence in the Holly Land of Islam home of the prophet and Mecca will surely not be welcome by the radical fundamentalists across the entire Islamic world.
    His actions do however play into the hands of Russia and China by getting out of the way and demonstrating our unreliability and capriciousness. How can it be to our benefit to alienate our historical allies and play up to our foes? leader of the free world is in the past a leader is made by followers who are following Trumps lead?
    uncle frogy

  34. maeve57 says

    @PaulBC “ The main fear is that he will blunder into a war that is even worse than one that another president might have planned.“

    This is exactly my point re: North Korea and Iran. This is exactly what analysts and people like us have been saying for years, yet nothing has happened. In fact, on the ground, in real, measurable terms, the opposite has happened. Tensions with NK are down, not up. Iran is still rattling sabres but there have been no hostilities. Troops are pulling back from Middle Eastern countries, not charging into more of them (and a big shout out to everyone in the comments here who wants to US to stay in the Middle East, what, forever? Somewhere, Bush is smiling and laughing).

    Trump wants to wield economic power, not military power. And you can laugh about the style or tone of the letter all you want, there’s no chance that Erdogan misunderstood the message.

    Also – Erdogan actually is the tinpot dictator a lot of us fantasise that Trump wants to be. He’s a bad, bad guy who’s done some horrific things to his people and to the Kurds as a whole. Perhaps, lightly interspersed with our Trump hatred, we could spare a word or two of gratitude that someone is doing something to stand up to him.

  35. numerobis says

    jrkrideau: sending Khomeini a nice copy of your holy book seems fine to me. Weird for a supposedly-secular country but whatever. Hopefully he returned the favour with a nice copy of the Quran.

  36. unclefrogy says

    @ 42 (interesting number)
    from what has been posted in the news the military is not leaving the middle east but is being re-positioned in Saudi Arabia the number I saw was 15,000
    sure the tension on the Korean peninsula is off the headlines there is no longer any public complaint about what Kim is doing which is what he has been doing all along.
    The nukes are his ultimate deterrent to being invaded no one is countering his threats anymore or doing much about his ongoing testing and development of his weapon systems.
    oh yes we are oh so close to peace with Iran? you must be living where weed is legal if you really believe any of that.
    uncle frogy

  37. Akira MacKenzie says

    PaulBC @ 37

    The same BBC article linked at @33 comments that the letter and Erdogan’s reaction “could be proof there was no Trumpian green light.”

    Or, more likely, political theater:

    Erdogan: “What? Trump gave me the green light to ethnic cleanse the Kurds? Ridiculous! See how I’m balling up and throwing away this letter he spontaneously sent me on fly with absolutely no planning? No stage management here! This is not some pre-arranged spectacle for the gullible press to make it look like we’re not in cahoots. No siree!”

    maeve57 @ 42

    Perhaps, lightly interspersed with our Trump hatred, we could spare a word or two of gratitude that someone is doing something to stand up to him.

    Yeah, now the Kurds are being PEACEFULLY expelled from their territory at gunpoint by the Turks. So fuck gratitude.

  38. maeve57 says

    @Akira

    The “him” I referred to is Erdogan. Trump is trying to get Erdogan – I.e. a real tinpot dictator – to stop slaughtering the Kurds.

  39. PaulBC says

    maeve57@46 How am I supposed to know what Trump is trying to do? Should I assume it’s what he said? Why should I, when any reasonable person would conclude that his letter is at best ineffective, and likely to be harmful to its stated goal. Is Trump so deluded he thought it would persuade Erdogan? (I don’t know but I conclude he’s either dishonest or deluded) And to get back to this:

    [blundering into a war] This is exactly what analysts and people like us have been saying for years, yet nothing has happened.

    It’s easier to start a war without intending to than it is to prevent a war when sides are lined up to fight. So either we’ve been lucky so far (accepting your premise that “nothing has happened”) or Trump is somehow waging peace intentionally and competently. That’s an interesting viewpoint and I’m not sure you will have a lot of takers on it. He did appoint John Bolton after all, though Bolton is thankfully out. There is no n-dimensional chess scenario in which that appointment reduced the likelihood of war with Iran.

    Or maybe you disagree that it’s easy to start a war. Maybe you think wars only start because US presidents are intent on having them. I find that hard to believe as well. There is a strong likelihood that at some point, Trump will find himself personally trapped and unable to save face any way other than starting a war. It’s happened to much better and more competent leaders than Trump.

  40. John Morales says

    maeve57:

    Trump is trying to get Erdogan – I.e. a real tinpot dictator – to stop slaughtering the Kurds.

    And the way to do that is to (a) get them to remove their defensive structures near the border, and (b) then withdraw US troops from the battle zone, abandoning posts and destroying materiel.

    I’m sure the Kurds are very grateful towards Trump for his help.

    (But it’s true that Trump is only a wannabe tinpot dicktator)

  41. vucodlak says

    @ maeve57, #46

    If you give a serial arsonist a pack of matches and a can of gas, then point him toward the nearest orphanage, you don’t get to take credit for saving a couple of the kids just because you tried to blow the fire out later like bloody birthday candle.

  42. John Morales says

    from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Turkish_offensive_into_north-eastern_Syria)

    “Preparations for the offensive began in early October, starting with the withdrawal of American forces from positions near the Turkish border, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a phone call with United States President Donald Trump about plans for a military operation against SDF-held areas east of the Euphrates river.[75][76] While the United States government has stated it does not support the Turkish-led offensive, the White House also announced on 6 October 2019 that it would not interfere, and would withdraw all United States personnel in the area to avoid a potential US-Turkish standoff; US Secretary of State Pompeo denied that this amounted to giving the TAF a green light to attack the SDF while a spokesman for the SDF called the withdrawal a betrayal by the United States.[41] The US also reportedly cutoff aid to the SDF in order not to arm them against a NATO ally.[77]”

    With helpers like that, who needs enemies?

  43. PaulBC says

    On the subject of “green lights”, consider Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

    The American ambassador declared to her Iraqi interlocutor that Washington, “inspired by the friendship and not by confrontation, does not have an opinion” on the disagreement between Kuwait and Iraq, stating “we have no opinion on the Arab–Arab conflicts”.

    April Glaspie’s first meeting with Saddam Hussein
    Glaspie also indicated to Saddam Hussein that the United States did not intend “to start an economic war against Iraq”. These statements may have caused Saddam to believe he had received a diplomatic green light from the United States to invade Kuwait.[29][30] This exchange only became public knowledge in 2011, following a WikiLeaks release of a cable, sent by the US embassy in Iraq, following on from Ms Glaspie’s meeting with Saddam Hussein. In addition, one week before the invasion, the Assistant Secretary of State, John Kelly, told the US congress that the US had no treaty obligations to defend Kuwait.

    I won’t presume to read anybody’s intentions, including the HW Bush.administration. But taking this at face value, it’s easy to see how signals can be misinterpreted. (For whatever reason, HW contradicted these signals by declaring war.) In Trump’s case, he handed Erdogan everything but the actual traffic light. It’s ludicrous to suggest that a poorly written letter nullifies the most obvious interpretation of events.

  44. KG says

    He’s a bad, bad guy who’s done some horrific things to his people and to the Kurds as a whole. Perhaps, lightly interspersed with our Trump hatred, we could spare a word or two of gratitude that someone is doing something to stand up to him. – maeve57@42

    The depth of your hypocrisy in pretending concern for the Kurds is actually impressive, in its way, but I advise you not to air your views in the vicinity of any actual Kurds. Trump did everything he could to facilitate Erdogan’s invasion; first persuading the SDF to remove their fortifications on the Turkish border to allay “Turkey’s security concerns”, then taking US troops out of the way and inviting Erdogan to procede. Just today, his factotum Pence has signed a “ceasefire agreement” with Erdogan which gives the latter the “security zone” he wants to fill with his Syrian Arab clients after expelling the Kurds (despite which Turkey has already violated the “ceasefire”), and removes the supposed threat of economic sanctions imposed by the Administration.

  45. zenlike says

    @maeve57

    “Tensions with NK are down, not up.”
    Two weeks since the last missile launch, directed towards Japan, falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

    “Iran is still rattling sabres but there have been no hostilities.”
    Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran at boiling point. Tanker attacks this year. Attacks on SA oil refineries last month.

    “Troops are pulling back from Middle Eastern countries”
    Announcement last week that more troops will be send to Saudi Arabia.

    “there’s no chance that Erdogan misunderstood the message.”
    Multiple reports that the letter was just trashed, and the letter had no effect on the invasion.

    “we could spare a word or two of gratitude that someone is doing something to stand up to him.”
    Standing up to him, by giving him the greenlight to annex a part of Syria. Then abandoning the already feeble economic sanctions after giving Erdogan literally everything that he wanted.

    Your grasp on the state of international politics seems to be in line with Trumps grasp.

  46. stroppy says

    53 zenlike

    Beautifully and succinctly put. My only quibble would be the last line. maeve57’s grasp is in lockstep with Trump’s PR machine talking points.

    (I would hesitate to list “grasp” among Trump’s attributes.)

  47. vucodlak says

    @ maeve57, #42
    To elaborate on my #49:

    This is exactly my point re: North Korea and Iran.

    Trump hasn’t gone to war with North Korea because he’s an easily-manipulated buffoon. Kim Jong Un is both smarter and vastly more competent than Trump, and knows that all he has to do is flatter the fool in the White House to avoid any unpleasantness. Trump’s incompetence and easy-to-manipulate nature has no doubt proved a double-edged sword for Kim Jong Un; he can make the president ease up and cancel a few exercises, but the US military advisors can manipulate Trump out of trying to pull US troops out of the demilitarized zone, because they always have his ear. All they have to do is call him “sir.”

    Trump hasn’t gone to war with Iran because he’s an incompetent fuckwit with an ego the size of Jupiter. He never cared one way or the other about going to war with Iran; he just wanted to destroy the nuclear deal because Obama did it. Bolton is the one who wanted to go to war with Iran, but Bolton has an ego the size of Neptune. I doubt he was ever properly deferential to president brain worms, so Trump hated him. In a weird way, Bolton probably prevented war with Iran- Trump would have avoided it just to spite him.

    So what exactly are we supposed to be giving Trump credit for? Being the worst human being he can possibly be? The only saving graces the man has are his vast incompetence and all-encompassing laziness. I shudder to think of what he would do if he could overcome either of those things, but that would take effort. He might not be able to play golf and watch TV all day! He might have to read something, or at least watch a couple of videos that didn’t even mention his name!

    I admit, I overestimated Trump’s abilities, but he’s still mind-bogglingly dangerous. If someone with an ounce of competence and a real agenda wormed their way into his inner circle, the damage they could do is immense. Oh wait- that’s what Stephen Miller has done. And so we have concentration camps.

    a big shout out to everyone in the comments here who wants to US to stay in the Middle East, what, forever?

    There’s a vast difference between “staying in the middle east forever” and not wanting our allies thrown to the mercilessness of a known war criminal who has been promising to slaughter them.

    Somewhere, Bush is smiling and laughing

    Whatever happened to your exhortations to not be ‘blinded by ideology?’ Just because something might possibly please the second Bush doesn’t automatically make it wrong. I’m not going to give up art just because that old war criminal seems to enjoy painting portraits.

    Trump wants to wield economic power, not military power.

    No he fucking doesn’t. He wants unquestioning worship. He doesn’t really give a rat’s ass how he gets it, except that he doesn’t like to work. Military exploits would mean generals bugging him all day long, and that would cut into TV time. But if he had to start a war to keep his sheep lining up to huff his farts, he’d do it.

    And you can laugh about the style or tone of the letter all you want, there’s no chance that Erdogan misunderstood the message.

    Which is why he threw it in the trash, and got Trump to give him everything he wants. The Kurds now have less than 5 days to abandon either abandon everything they’ve fought so hard for, or be murdered. Erdogan is what Trump would be, if Trump were a skosh less lazy or incompetent. That means Erdogan is yet another dictator who can (and has) play Trump like a… well, not a fiddle, but something simple and obnoxious like a washboard or a jug or something.

    Perhaps, lightly interspersed with our Trump hatred, we could spare a word or two of gratitude that someone is doing something to stand up to him.

    Fine: Thank you, Mr. President, for being the biggest godsdamned fool I’ve ever seen. Thank you for all the people killed for your incompetence. Thank you for the murders, the rapes, and the torture born of your malicious indifference. Thank you for the democracies destroyed, at home and abroad, to feed your planet-sized ego.

    While I’m at it: Thank you for the terrors born from your terminally incurious nature (“why can’t we use nukes?” he’s asked, over and over/”climate change is a hoax” he says, continues to say). Thank you for the mass shootings and marching Nazis your rhetoric inspires. Thank you for fanning the flames of hatred against the mentally ill and LGBTQIA+ communities.

    I don’t hate Trump because he ‘plays for the other team’ or some such nonsense. I hate him for what he has done. In Syria, thousands have died, and thousands more will die, as a direct result of Trump NOT standing up to Erdogan (and his boss Putin).

    You want real gratitude? I will be grateful when Donald John Trump spends his last years in prison, penniless and despised, and accompanied by all his flunkies, toadies, lickspittles, and co-conspirators. May they all rot for all their remaining days, and may they be buried under a public toilet.

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