Small Wars Journal

National Security in the Trump Era: Business as Usual?

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 2:06pm

National Security in the Trump Era: Business as Usual?

G. Murphy Donovan

Donald Trump has only been in office for a couple of months. Any performance evaluation to date is probably premature. Nonetheless, early on, there are some good and bad omens. The good news is domestic. President Trump seems to be focused on health care reform, the economy, employment, border security, and immigration/alien control.

In contrast, national security and foreign policy initiatives are off to a hoary start.

One national security advisor has already been sacked and President Trump has been horse-collared as a Moscow puppet or stooge. No matter the evidence, insinuations that Russians played a role in the 2016 election is a smear now morphing into a political zombie, a Beltway specter with tenure.

By throwing, General Mike Flynn, erstwhile national security advisor, under the bus, Trump has forfeited the first game of “gotcha” to hostile Democrats and a partisan media. Beyond hasty judgement, the Flynn affair also suggests that team Trump folds at first fright.

President Trump flinched again by allowing his new Attorney General to recuse himself from the Russophobia probe. Flynn and Sessions are just blood in the water now. Trump opponents are circling like sharks.

The Flynn/Sessions casualties confirm what critics already believe about a Putin/Trump “bromance.” The Putin proxy is now tar and feathers to be used by a neo-conservative/ liberal establishment who believe that globalist experiments like the EU, military alliances like NATO, and regime change stunts in Ukraine and elsewhere are beyond reproach or reform.

President Trump may have thus handcuffed himself to “business as usual” on the world stage. Just before the 2016 election, the Obama White House and DOD deployed NATO and American tanks to the Baltics and Poland. New anti-missile missile deployments to Eastern Europe are now part of that mix too.

Yes, German tanks are again in Poland and the Baltics. Clearly designed to annoy the Kremlin, these “symbolic” NATO encroachments are now Trump baggage. 

We say symbolic because, NATO sabre rattling on Russian borders is more than a bit of a strategic mime. Putin says that he could be in Kiev in two weeks, should the need arise. The Russian president is probably correct.

Why would anyone believe West Europeans, who will not pay for NATO, would fight Russians today any more successfully than they fought the Wehrmacht in the last continental war?

Trump’s original campaign instincts were correct. NATO is an expensive Cold War artifact, not unlike the defunct Warsaw Pact. The need to defend defense budgets today is more important than any hedge against real Russian aggression. The long war against the Muslim jihad, still unresolved after 50 years, provides a similar rational for Intelligence spending.

The deep state has deep roots.

Appeasing Muslims, demonizing Israelis and Russians, and fiscal incontinence at home seem to be the three defaults, or inherited, legs of American national security policy and strategy.

NATO is next to useless when it comes to active shooters in a half dozen Muslim small wars. In fact, Schengen Zone vulnerabilities, and Berlin oblivion, are facilitating an ever expanding Islamist threat within Europe itself.  

Take Angela Merkel’s “open borders” policy and subsequent Muslim migrant blitz. No head of state in Europe has done more for terror, fear, appeasement, jihad, Islamic religious fascism, and continental instability than the German chancellor. If Brexit is followed by a “Frexit,” Mrs. Merkel can take a bow.

If the EU is going the way of the Holy Roman Empire, no single individual is more culpable than “Angela.” Indeed, if common sense and culture is at risk in Europe, the angel of death again rides again on a Berlin broomstick.

Muslim admission to Europe now seems to come at the price of another Jewish exit. You would think a German chancellor who walks under the shadow of the Holocaust would know better.                         

In a real world, a stable and prosperous future for Europe is a function of American and Russian forbearance and cooperation. Unfortunately, posturing or histrionics in Brussels and Washington is now more about business and appeasement than a stable European future.

Besides automobiles, the only manufacturing of any consequence left in the West is the defense industry. If the business of national security is now business, it’s a booming business.

The Middle East and Africa are awash with weapons, war, and instability because NATO nations are willing to sponsor sedition and sell the wherewithal to friends and foes alike.

US military exports grew by 54 percent in the Obama era and are expected to rise faster under Trump. America now accounts for 36 percent of world arms exports compared to 12 percent for Russia.

Unfortunately, taking on the American military/industrial establishment at this point might be a bridge too far as it seems to be one of a few manufacturing games left in America. Whilst Defense and Intelligence industries experience explosive growth, the private sector languishes in the doldrums.  

Throwing money at bombs and bullets is hardly new policy in Washington. America already spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, including China and Russia. The Pentagon spends seven times ($680 billion versus $94 billion) more on defense than does the Kremlin.

Possible explanations for such disparities include waste, fraud, abuse, and incompetence. The truth is probably the Eisenhower prophesy actualized. The military/industrial complex seems to be more about profit than patriotism.

Alas, big spending never meant more capability. The profligate USAF F-35 fighter program alone is illustrative, possibly the biggest budget boondoggle ($1.5 trillion) in all of military history.

If America needs a next-generation fighter that is affordable and operational, the Pentagon might think about giving the next contract to the Kremlin. Russian rockets now shuttle American astronauts in and out of orbit, a dependency that doesn’t get much visibility in national security estimates.

Government debt in the US now stands at 24 trillion dollars, ten times larger than Russian debt. National sovereignty isn’t a virtue if the price is moral bankruptcy or national insolvency. .                          

President Trump Needs a Dog

Obama era national security acolytes, now serving under Trump, are not doing much to help with or clarify American foreign policy or national security futures.

The Ummah provides the best example.

Just days after the Trump inauguration, the newly minted CIA director, Michael Pompeo, flew off to Saudi Arabia to present Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, with a medal for “counterterrorism” efforts (sic). Saudi Arabia is America’s most generous arms customer, indeed the largest buyer worldwide.

CIA and the Crown Prince

The ties that bind America to Arabia are first pecuniary and then political.

Yes, the same Saudi Arabia that produced the 9/11 terrorists, the same House of Saud that finances and arms global Sunni jihad and terror in the Levant and North Africa, and the same Arabia that exports the worst kind of Islamic irredentist theology to the rest of the world gets another azimuth kiss from an American Intelligence nabob.

Irony here is beyond satire. The medal in question is named after George Tenet. Tenet is the CIA director who, with Colin Powell’s help, fabricated the fake intelligence that gave America the ongoing 30 year religious war in Iraq; a war we might add, that reversed the sectarian power poles in Iraq from Sunni to Shia.  

A White House that claims that America is not at war with Isalm, now doubles down with Saudi Sunnis against Shia Yeminis in another proxy religious war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has long denied complicity with Islamism, Sunni terrorism, or wars motivated by a 1400 year old religious schism. Now Riyadh has a CIA medal provided by team Trump to prove it.

Meanwhile over at the National Security Council, newly christened director, H.R McMaster, is apparently laying down a companion party line about Islam with White House staff. General McMaster cautions that terms like “radical Islamic terror” are not helpful. According to the General, “terror is not Islamic.”

Like many millennial era flags, the new national security advisor seems to have succumbed to the Obama thought police. Surely not all Islamists are terrorists, but virtually all terrorists these days are Muslims, Mohammedans who kill in the name of their god, their prophet, and Islam - the “religion of peace.”

“Allah hu akbar” is what an Islamist chants at a beheading, bombing, and other sanguinary rituals. Links between terror and Islam are more real than any links between US Army generals and analytical theology.

Who is McMaster to pontificate on what is or is not Islamic? The national security advisor is not an imam, ayatollah, prophet, priest, or religious scholar. Based on recent sermons, he’s not much of a historian either.  

Over at the Department of Defense, another scholarly warrior seems to be confused about real threats too. The new Secretary of Defense, like Obama era staff officers, shoots from the hip at the “Russian” chimera and personalizes the assessment with trash talk about Vladimir Putin.

At confirmation, General James Mattis rose to every leading question from John McCain, the Senate’s most notorious Kremlin baiter. Mattis swallowed McCain’s practiced political demagoguery hook, line, and sinker.

Mattis also failed to distinguish between a threat that actually kills Americans today and a threat that might. Worse still, General Mattis’ sweeping indictments of “Russians” fails to distinguish between a proud nation and a regime that doesn’t fit the globalist EU/imperial NATO business plan.

NATO began as an allied mutual security pact and the EU began as a modest economic condominium. Both institutions have strayed far from original designs and the world is not safer place because of it. Brussels is now populated by political autocrats and imperial janissaries. Hat tip to a Turk or Ottoman model. 

If sweeping vile assessments of Muslims are unacceptable, why is sweeping slander about Israelis or Russians allowed?  Is selective bigotry at the Pentagon now a military virtue?

Indeed, after leaving the military, Mattis claimed that Israeli “settlements” and “apartheid” made his job at CENTCOM more difficult. The general’s also says that there was “a price to be paid” for backing Israel, a sneer that is vintage David Petraeus.

General Mattis claims that “Russia needs to prove itself.” In contrast, apparently, no Islamic country, especially Arabian, need to prove anything to America, the world, or the new Secretary of Defense.

The sad truth of the European Union today is a tragic combination official Islamic tolerance and official indifference to parallel anti-Semitism. The western migration of fascist Islam comes again at the expense of European Jews.

Mattis also gave the Senate a truncated Russian history tutorial as a closer to his testimony. The self- described student of military history failed to mention the last world war where, without Russian sacrifice, the battle with secular fascism would not have been won. The United States lost less than half a million casualties in WWII. Russia lost more than 20 million souls.

Now that Europe and America are confronted with fascism again, this time religious, General Mattis and other Obama holdovers are still confused or mute about who is a genuine threat in the 21st century.

The best guarantors of civil and human rights are independent, democratic nation states with common cultural and civic values. Monoculture anywhere has always been the enemy of liberty and true diversity everywhere.

All globalist or utopian schemes, now including the EU, have been failures. General Mattis is wrong about NATO too. Sort of nuclear Armageddon, NATO provides little stability for the Mideast, Africa, or anyplace beyond Europe for that matter.

Mattis seems to have misread the Brexit and Frexit graffiti now defacing the walls of the European Union.

Candidate Trump ran on a tougher line with Islamists and a softer line with the Kremlin. Such policies are heresy for the establishment, right and left, in Washington. Any diminution of the Russian threat is a clear and present danger to the DOD budget and legions of Intelligence and defense industry federal contractors.

No big Russian threat, no big funding.

Obama era rear echelon warriors have yet to get the message from Trump or appreciate the angst of “deplorables” in the heartland. Maybe the new commander-in-chief needs to speak louder - or carry a bigger stick

President Trump has few friends in the media, few friends among Obama holdovers, and fewer friends or loyalists midst permanent or deep state government bureaucrats inside the Beltway. Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of nine to one. Those votes, like California, were votes for a deep state where change is “progressive” - or anathema.

And those who claim that establishment apparatchiks, including the Pentagon, are “non-partisan” are delusional. The only currency in the nation’s capital is politics. The most lucrative politics are found now in the defense and Intelligence bowels of the permanent state.

Obama era military relics are no exceptions to partisanship. Outsiders, critics, and reformers are not welcome in Washington. National security and Intelligence Community leaks now underwrite the anti-democratic, anti-Trump resistance on a daily basis.

Donald Trump is trying to reform or change a federal autocracy that is populated with Clinton and Obama loyalists. For a permanent political elite, weaned by a nanny state, reform is just a turd in the punchbowl.

Willingness to serve in government should never be confused with loyalty, especially inside the Beltway. Harry Truman said it best. If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

Categories: national security

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Comments

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 3:43am

While Trump and his merry band have come out massively against illegals mainly Mexicans and against Mexican and Central American crime gangs....

NOTICE how strangely silent he is on shouting against Russian mafia and oligarch crimes being committed in the US...

REMEMBER Trump's very own casino empire before it crashed and he sold was heavily fined for massive money laundering....SINCE Trump had those criminal case files sealed as part of the plea agreement WE do not know if it was Chinese or Russian black money...many assumed Russian....

BUT WAIT...this particular US Federal Attorney had a massive reputation for chasing Russian crime gangs and their money AND Trump actually offered to keep him on and he said yes....

.@PreetBharara, now told to resign by Trump, was going after alleged Russian gangsters tied to the Putin regime...

NOTICE the not so subtle words.."going after alleged Russian mobsters tied to the Putin regime"......

NOW tell me this is not "national security per sec".....

QUOTE
U.S. Prosecutors Are Out to Crack Russia’s Crooked Money Machine
The feds bring an alleged lawyer for the Russian mob before a grand jury in the Magnitsky investigations.

Michael Weiss
09.22.16 8:18 PM ET
U.S. federal prosecutors just won’t let go of their three-year-old criminal action against alleged beneficiaries of stolen and laundered Russian taxpayer money.
It was launched as part of what’s known as the Magnitsky Affair, a contentious story of scandal, cover-ups and smear campaigns that dates back more than a decade. Over the years, the Kremlin has used every tool it can, including the fate of Russian orphans who might be adopted by Americans, as it tries to thwart calls for justice from the U.S. Congress and the administration.
So far, the Kremlin has failed. (Who knows what will happen if there’s a Trump presidency?) And the prosecutors doggedly keep after a tentacular organization, trying to untangle schemes they allege were just about as complicated as they were brazen.
So when Andrey Pavlov arrived at Washington’s Dulles Airport on September 15, expecting to attend an international conference without incident, the U.S. Department of Justice served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 21.
Such proceedings are secret, but Pavlov, described by American officials as the lawyer for a notorious Russian mafia organization, was expected to face tough questioning about his role in what’s alleged to be a far-reaching fraud and money laundering operation in which companies were “stolen”—reregistered without the knowledge of their owner—then used to file lawsuits that were settled for hugely inflated amounts which subsequently had to be paid off with Russian tax money.
Sergei Magnitsky was a tax attorney who discovered and exposed the alleged fraud, only to find himself arrested and defamed by the Putin government before dying in jail in 2009 under suspicious circumstances. Washington responded with the passage of a landmark U.S. human rights law named after the principal victim and designed to sanction and blacklist his assailants.

The specific case in question here is against Prevezon Holdings Ltd., a Cyprus-registered company.  According to U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara, $14 million of its allegedly  ill-gotten gains wound up in Bank of America accounts and Gotham real estate, including condos in the Financial District and Midtown whose market prices were in the low seven figures.
As laid out in the so-called Magnitsky Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2011, tax attorney Magnitsky had uncovered an elaborate $230 million tax scam perpetrated using stolen and re-registered subsidiary companies belonging to a client, the investment firm Hermitage Capital, which was co-founded by British financier Bill Browder.
Officers of Russia’s Interior Ministry and Moscow tax bureaus, Magnitsky found, were actually hirelings of the Klyuev Group, which Sen. John McCain has since described as a “dangerous transnational criminal organization.”
Instead of thanking Magnitsky for his dot-connecting sleuthing, however, the Russian authorities first ignored his disclosures, then arrested him on the pretext that he was the perpetrator of the tax fraud himself. He was denied urgent medical treatment during his year-long pretrial detention and was physically tortured for a brief period in a Moscow prison isolation cell where he was left to die in 2009. 
In 2011, in Russia’s first and only posthumous trial, Magnitsky was found guilty of tax evasion.
Monitors ranging from Amnesty International to the European Union to Russia’s own Presidential Human Rights Commission have characterized Magnitsky as a victim, even as the Kremlin insists he died of a “heart attack” and was himself a financial criminal.
UNQUOTE

THIS IS THE KEY SENTENCE:
So far, the Kremlin has failed. (Who knows what will happen if there’s a Trump presidency?) And the prosecutors doggedly keep after a tentacular organization, trying to untangle schemes they allege were just about as complicated as they were brazen.

Check the date of the article.....SEPT 2016....

NOW we see exactly what Trump did.....he fired one of the most respected US Attorney's who has been chasing Russian mobsters daily...weekly and all year long AND Trump and his merry band has done what against Russian mobsters?

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 1:33am

Noticed that the author failed to mention this about Flynn....

1. Flynn had his General's career held up for over a year for his serious security violation when he revealed CIA humint info to the Pakistani ISI causing three Americans to be killed....

2. This though was only one of a number of "small security violations" during his intel career...

3. Flynn was fired "for cause" for his poor management skills at DIA

4. Flynn lied concerning his conversations with the Russian Ambassador...remember he told us he was wishing him a "Merry Christmas" until the truth was revealed by a NSA monitoring of the Russian Embassy told us differently

5. Flynn did not register as a "foreign agent" for his lobbying efforts fro Erdogan....that alone if a major Federal violation AND both Trump and the Trump campaign knew about this as far back as JUL 2016 when journalist/social media s asked them about the conflict of interest...

6. Flynn got from the 300% Russian propaganda media outlet Russia Today 50K just to attend a RT celebration and sat near Putin on the same table...

7. Flynn's speech at the Russian GRU Headquarters was not cleared as required by DoD and as an senior intel officer he knew the regulations/requirements for this visit...

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 5:44am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

This might in fact be the core reason for the sudden firing of the Manhattan US Federal US Attorney who Trump actually asked to stay in place since he had a solid corruption fighting reputation....

http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/watchdogdonald-trump-probe-jeff-ses…

After watchdog asks U.S. attorney to launch Donald Trump probe, Jeff Sessions fires him

By Bill Palmer | March 10, 2017 SHARES

Two days ago, an ethics watchdog group formally asked U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to launch an investigation into Donald Trump’s financial ties, which are in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Today, in what it highly unlikely to be a coincidence, Attorney General has asked Preet Bharara to resign.

In fact Sessions is now pushing out dozens of Bharara’s colleagues in a seeming attempt at ensuring no one is left to investigate Trump.

The political ethnics watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington sent a letter to Preet Bharara on Wednesday, which was reported at the time by NPR. Bharara was appointed by President Barack Obama. And now, according to a report from the LA Times today, Jeff Sessions is asking for all forty-six U.S. Attorneys appointed by Obama to immediately resign.

This is a staggering break from protocol, as new presidents have generally handled these things in a staggered manner to ensure that enough U.S. Attorneys remain on the job at any given time. The timing is also highly suspicious. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General more than a month ago, yet he saw no urgency in pushing out holdover U.S. Attorneys until one of them was asked to investigate his boss Trump – and now Sessions suddenly wants them all gone.

This stands out as even more suspect in light of the Donald Trump administration’s inability to staff up the federal government with its own people on any level. Hundreds of key federal government positions are sitting vacant because Trump hasn’t nominated anyone to fill them. He’s filled virtually none of the U.S. Ambassador positions. And the State Department in particular has no current leadership team in place at all.

And yet Jeff Sessions woke up today and suddenly decided to simultaneously create forty-six new high level vacancies within his DOJ that he’ll have great difficulty filling.

If he tries to argue that he didn’t make the brash and reckless move as a last ditch effort at protecting Donald Trump’s increasingly obvious financial violations of the Constitution, he’ll look foolish doing so

Outlaw 09

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 1:23am

Before I post later a longer repudiation of this rambling and long article..just a simple statement of fact for the author reference Putin and Russia...whom he appears to be actually supporting...

I have a IT company that specializes in collection and analysis of the dark net here in Berlin and related dark net criminal activities...we are currently at 87 and I am adding another 30 in the coming weeks because of Russians...

THAT is exactly how much Russian activity there is on the dark net... activity that is both Russian criminal and Russia Intelligence Service driven because right now... I challenge the author to tell me where one stops and other begins..he cannot...RIS and criminal activity are one and the same...

I would even challenge the author to reach out to me and I will walk him through a 250,000 twitter botnet we have been monitoring that generated a total of 36% of all proTrump tweets during the election as proof of the old saying..."where there is smoke there is indeed a fire"...

AND yes you can in fact conduct network link analysis on tweets and who is driving that particular info war narrative....

BY the way if the author thinks we do not have a serious Russian crime problem in the US and it is only the illegal Mexicans behind the gangs..drugs and crime....he really does need an education in Russian criminal activity in the US WHO ALL are holding US Green Cards BTW...

NOW check this....

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/11/russian-oligarch-or-fb…

Russian Oligarch or FBI Rat?

A U.S. attorney claims a Russian oligarch tried to offer up some countrymen and criminals to the FBI in exchange for a sweet deal for his son.

THE US Attorney who drove this court case has a hard nosed reputation for fighting corruption and was well respected from the left and right because of this reputation...

WHO was told directly by Trump that he wanted him to remain in place in Manhattan...after the election...

BUT suddenly yesterday he was fired........and there is no connection????

So there is no Russian "connection"..Think again....it is there in ways many Americans and the author cannot even begin to comprehend....

He is right though it is time to wake up and smell the coffee as Americans were sold a bill of goods without knowing what those goods were....

Another saying...from Europeans who are now rejecting virtually anything that smells like populism since Trump...in a series of Europe wide polling.

"People love populists until they are elected...then"......

Today, one must come at the question of "threats" from the perspective of U.S./Western post-Cold War national security goals; specifically, the goal to transform outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.

It is in this exact context, I suggest, that we might weigh, for example -- and re: our such exact national security goals -- who is most threatening to the U.S./the West:

a. Such great nations as Russia, China and Iran? Or

b. Such violent global extremist organizations as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State?

But such questions may miss the point; this being, that it may be the U.S./the West itself, and re: our own -- unorthodox -- efforts to transform, more along modern western lines, the outlying states and societies of the world; that it may be THIS, our very own such actions, that have most compromised U.S./Western national security and, indeed, the security of the entire world, and even the international system itself. In this regard, consider the following:

BEGIN QUOTE

The regime governing and determining the degree of stability and peace in the international system of nation-states was built upon the principle of nonintervention into the internal affairs of sovereign territorially defined nation-states as well as the inviolability of a state’s territorial borders short of self-defense or United Nations Security Council mandate. Particularly since the end of the Cold War in 1991, alternative norms and principles -- which not only provide rationales for foreign intervention into the internal affairs of a sovereign state but also increasingly mandated and required such intervention against states on behalf of national or individual human security concerns -- have competed with these governing principles. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s intervention in Libya, during the Arab Spring, epitomized this tension.

The United States, by leading the Westphalian international system both in word and more importantly in action, has had a significantly disruptive impact on the stability of the world system -- either directly through the negative externalities caused by military intervention -- or indirectly by providing the justifications (and precedent) used by gray-zone states to rationalize their own military interventions. Russia routinely uses this logic to defend its role in Crimea and in the ongoing conflict in Syria. ...

(Seen in this light), The Pentagon’s top gray-zone threat concerns -- the 4 + 1 revisionist states of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, as well as the non-state threat of violent global extremist organizations, such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State -- are not simply happenstance. (The item in parenthesis, here in this paragraph, is mine.)

END QUOTE

http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/issues/Winter…

Thus, now today -- due to our such folly and our own such bad example -- we now have "destabilized" (by our own hand) the international system to such an extent that we now find both great nations and small, and both state and non-state actors, standing against us; all of whom saying that, based on the above-U.S./the Western example, they can, just like the U.S./the West, (a) intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign territorially defined nation-states and (b) physically violate any such state's territorial borders.

Thus, as to the question what/who is the greatest threat to our national security -- and our goal of transforming the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western lines -- might we forgo, for a moment, the seemingly less critical Russia v. Islamist debate. And, in the place of same, offer the "Pogo" critique, to wit: "We have seen the enemy and he is us?"

(And Trump? He is simply the one left holding this bag of crap? Thus, "Job One" is neither Russia nor the Islamist -- but U.S. foreign and national security policy activities themselves -- such as [a] are described in the quoted section above and such as [b] Mattis, McMaster, et al., want to see continue?)

Bottom Line:

Thus, as to the title question -- "National Security in the Trump Era: Business a Usual?" -- to ask if the U.S./Western "expansionist," "interventionist" and "universalist" national security and foreign policy activities, outlined in the quoted section above; whether these will continue under the Trump Administration?