Category Archives: Neo-Cons

A Permanent Emergency: Trump Becomes Third President to Renew Extraordinary Post-9/11 Powers

Gregory Korte reports for USA Today:

AFP AFP_SB72R A AOT USA DCPresident Trump has become the third president to renew a post-9/11 emergency proclamation, stretching what was supposed to be a temporary state of national emergency after the 2001 terror attacks into its 17th year.

But the ongoing effects of that perpetual emergency aren’t immediately clear, because the executive branch has ignored a law requiring it to report to Congress every six months on how much the president has spent under those extraordinary powers, USA TODAY has found.

Exactly 16 years ago Thursday, President Bush signed Proclamation 7463, giving himself sweeping powers to mobilize the military in the days following terrorist attacks that crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. It allowed him to call up National Guard and Reserve troops, hire and fire military officers, and bypass limits on the numbers of generals that could serve.

Presidents Bush and Obama renewed that emergency each year. And on Wednesday, Trump published a now-routine notice in the Federal Register extending the emergency for the 16th time, explaining simply that “the terrorist threat continues.”

But as Trump extends the emergency into a third presidential administration, legal experts say a review of those powers is long overdue.

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Nikki Haley: Neocon Heartthrob

Jim Lobe writes for LobeLog:

35173842045_4125996723_zWith the eviction of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka from the inner precincts of the White House and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson besieged and taking fire from virtually all sides, neoconservatives – even the NeverTrumpers among them – must be quietly harboring renewed hopes that their restoration may soon be within reach.

And, as should become clear Tuesday, those hopes reside largely with the Trump administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who’s been on a tear against Iran for several weeks now. Her campaign culminated recently in her unsubstantiated claims—in contradiction to the most recent findings of her own State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), not to mention Washington’s P5+1 partners—that Tehran is not in full compliance with the two-year-old Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Why Tuesday? Because Haley will give a formal policy address on Iran policy at Neocon Central, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). That’s the same “think tank” that acted as the Bush administration’s principal cheerleader for the 2003 Iraq invasion and provided the Pentagon with a number of its “scholars” as consultants to put together the totally failed strategy that followed Washington’s conquest of Baghdad. Who can forget the machismo-filled “black coffee briefings”—featuring the likes of then-Defense Policy Committee chair Richard Perle, serially mistaken Iran “experts” Michael Rubin, Michael Ledeen, and Reuel Marc Gerecht (the last two now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies), and former CIA director James Woolsey—that bolstered the propaganda blitz about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to al-Qaeda, his enormous WMD factories, his fast-developing nuclear weapons program, and the gratitude which we should all feel toward the tremendous sacrifices and promise of Ahmad Chalabi as the George Washington of Iraq? If ever there was a highly developed “echo chamber” for going to war in modern U.S. foreign policy, it was AEI that provided the initial shouting points. All of that makes the title of Haley’s impending address, “Beyond the Echo Chamber: Considerations on U.S. Policy Toward Iran,” especially ironic, not to say ominous.

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With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons

Glenn Grenwald writes for The Intercept:

William Kristol, right, answers a question as Leon Panetta and James Carville watch during a forum titled "The Budget Blame Game" at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif. on Monday May 6, 2013. Carville is presidential advisor and political consultant; Kristol is a panelist on Fox News and founder and editor of the Weekly Standard.  (AP Photo/Monterey County Herald, David Royal)One of the most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons.

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Why Paul Wolfowitz Is Optimistic About Trump

Susan B. Glasser writes for Politico:

GP-wolfowitz-main.jpg[…] To liberals and other critics, Wolfowitz would be the last person they want Trump to listen to. Long a lightning rod because of the havoc unleashed by the Iraq invasion, Wolfowitz has never apologized for advocating the war, although he has said—and repeated in our conversation—that it was not carried out as he would have wanted it to be. In recent days he‘s jumped right back into the public debate, nudging President Trump from the pages of the Wall Street Journal to follow up his bombing strike in neighboring Syria with more aggressive action—and, he tells me, privately emailing with Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security advisor H.R. McMaster, both longtime contacts since his Bush days, in hopes they will pursue a U.S. strategy of stepped-up engagement in the Middle East.

“I think there is a fantastic opportunity here. It’s only a first step, it’s only an opportunity,” he says of Trump’s surprise decision to unloose an American Tomahawk missile strike in Syria after President Bashar Assad’s regime again unleashed chemical weapons on civilians, a strike that turned Wolfowitz and many of his fellow neoconservatives into unlikely cheerleaders for the actions of an administration they had previously viewed as a threat. “If nothing is done to follow up on it, it will start to seem a little bit silly in retrospect; certainly the enthusiasm will seem silly. But more importantly it will look like a lost opportunity in retrospect.

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Noam Chomsky on the GOP: Has Any Organisation Ever Been So Committed to Destruction of Life on Earth?

Amy Goodman recently spoke with Noam Chomsky about comments he made regarding the Republican Party’s committment to the destruction of life and being “the most dangerous organisation on on earth”. (Noam Chomsky)

Pundits Who Helped Sell NATO’s Destruction of Libya Push for Trump to Lead Syria Regime Change

Ben Norton writes for AlterNet:

Pundits across the U.S. are amplifying the calls for further military intervention in Syria, as the Trump administration indicates regime change may be back on the agenda. The U.S. attacked the Syrian government on April 6, launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a major air base, destroying 20 percent of its planes, according to the Pentagon.

Major media outlets, most politicians from both sides of the aisle and irascible war-hawk writers applauded the Trump administration’s strike with gusto. The uniformity with which the commentariat has embraced the attack hearkens back to six years ago, when many of these same people and publications cheered as NATO overthrew Libya’s government, plunging the oil-rich North African nation into chaos from which it is still reeling.

The 2011 war in Libya was justified in the name of supposed humanitarian intervention, but it was a war for regime change, plain and simple. A report released by the British House of Commons’ bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee in 2016 acknowledged that the intervention was sold on lies — but by the time it was published, the damage was already done.

Today, Libya is in complete ruins. There is no functioning central authority for swaths of the country; multiple governments compete for control. The genocidal extremist group ISIS has, in Libya, carved out its largest so-called caliphate outside of Iraq and Syria.

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Bannon Down, Pentagon Up, Neocons In?

Jim Lobe writes for LobeLog:

170403-D-PB383-001The apparent and surprisingly abrupt demise in Steve Bannon’s influence offers a major potential opening for neoconservatives, many of whom opposed Trump’s election precisely because of his association with Bannon and the “America Firsters,” to return to power after so many years of being relegated to the sidelines. Bannon’s decline suggest that he no longer wields the kind of veto power that prevented the nomination of Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state. Moreover, the administration’s ongoing failure to fill key posts at the undersecretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary levels across the government’s foreign-policy apparatus provides a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for aspiring neocons who didn’t express their opposition to the Trump campaign too loudly.

Ninety days into the administration, the military brass—whose interests and general worldview are well represented by National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster and Pentagon chief Gen. James Mattis (ret.), not to mention the various military veterans led by National Security Council (NSC) chief of staff Gen. Kenneth Kellogg (ret.) who are taking positions on the NSC—appears to be very much in the driver’s seat on key foreign policy issues, especially regarding the Greater Middle East. Their influence is evident not only in the attention they’ve paid to mending ties with NATO and northeast Asian allies, but also in the more forceful actions in the Greater Middle East of the past two weeks. These latter demonstrations of force seem designed above all to reassure Washington’s traditional allies in the region, who had worried most loudly about both Obama’s non-interventionism and Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, that the U.S. is not shy about exerting its military muscle.

Nor could it be lost on many observers that Bannon’s expulsion from the NSC took place immediately after Jared Kushner returned from his surprise visit to Iraq hosted by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford—reportedly the culmination of a calculated strategy of seduction by the Pentagon. Kushner has emerged as the chief conduit to Trump (aside, perhaps, from Ivanka). The timing of Bannon’s fall from grace—and Kushner’s reported role in it—was particularly remarkable given that Kushner and Bannon were allied in opposing McMaster’s effort to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick from the NSC just a week before Kushner flew to Baghdad.)

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Profits Can be Made from Catastrophes With Disaster Capitalism

Gregory Wilpert speaks with Antony Loewenstein, author of Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe, who says companies that make profits from disasters around the world also have a vested interest in maintaining these disasters. (The Real News)

Trump’s Syria Strike Inspired by Dangerous Vision of ‘Cauldronising’ the Middle East

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

“I really believe that we should have and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

Those were Hillary Clinton’s words just hours before her nemesis, President Donald Trump, ordered air strikes launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airfield in the southeast of Homs, Syria.

The Trump administration described the strikes as a “one-off” and insisted there were no plans for escalation. But an escalation is rapidly underway. Russia, despite being given advanced warning of the bombing from the US, has suspended an agreement with the US to avoid mid-air collisions in Syrian airspace.

The US government’s goals for the Syria strike can be deduced from the background role of one the most powerful diplomats in American history: Henry Kissinger. The former secretary of state, once accused by the late Christopher Hitchens of complicity in US “war crimes” in Latin America and south-east Asia, has been a key advisor to Trump in negotiating US relations with Russia and China.

Kissinger was previously a secret national security consultant to President George W Bush, and under Obama was directly involved in the US National Security Council’s chain-of-command. He also frequently advised Hillary Clinton during her term as secretary of state.

His influence in the Trump administration is also visible through his former acolyte, KT McFarland, who is now Trump’s deputy national security advisor, and who previously served under Kissinger in the 1970s in his National Security Council.

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The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

The Pentagon’s statement said the attack was “in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.” Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian military used chemical weapons.

When asked about this yesterday by the Globe and Mail’s Joanna Slater, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged an investigation to determine what actually happened before any action was contemplated, citing what he called “continuing questions about who is responsible”.

But U.S. war fever waits for nothing. Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).

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This Isn’t the Foreign Policy Trump Campaigned On

Robert W. Merry writes for The American Conservative:

It may be too early to tell for sure, but Donald Trump is looking more and more like a phony. He’s also looking like a weakling. And a political ingrate. All this is coming into stark relief with accelerating events involving Syria. The United States launched dozens of missiles against Syrian military installations to retaliate for the chemical attack on rebel-held territory. Thus did Trump demonstrate that, to the extent that his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor, it is more aggressive and adventuresome than Obama’s. That’s the opposite of how he campaigned.

So let’s start with the crucial civic adhesive of political gratitude. This is the virtue that impels politicians to give special consideration to the people who put them in office. That can generate anger and frustration on the part of people on the other side of the major issues in play, but those people have to accept that they were on the losing side. The winning side sets the agenda, based on the political conversation of the last campaign. That’s how democratic politics works.

Thinking back to the political conversation of the last campaign, we recall that Trump attacked the Iraq War as a mindless foreign adventure with bitter and ongoing consequences, including ongoing Mideast chaos. He said he certainly wouldn’t make the same mistake in Syria and that joining the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would put the United States on the side of the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in the region. He said that, if Assad were deposed, the country likely would fall to unsavory elements that hate the West—in other words, some of our worst enemies. He touted his oft-expressed desire to develop better relations with Russia, an Assad ally, and said he would work with Russia toward an end to the horrendous Syrian bloodshed.

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Will Washington’s Hawks Get the Syria War They’ve Always Wanted?

Ted Galen Carpenter writes for The National Interest:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment that it must be up to the Syrian people to determine whether beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad stays in power signaled a significant change in Washington’s Syria policy. The Obama administration had consistently maintained that no settlement of the Syrian civil war was possible if Assad remained in power. Only the timing of his departure was deemed a pertinent issue for negotiation—and Obama’s foreign-policy team made even that concession grudgingly.

The apparent shift in policy has triggered outraged responses from the usual flock of hawks in the United States. Their fury intensified when just days after Tillerson’s comment, another chemical attack took place in Syria, killing dozens of civilians. As with the Sarin gas attack in 2013, Western officials and news media were quick to put the blame at the feet of Assad’s government. They did so even though the actual source of the 2013 attack remains uncertain, and even though some evidence pointed to a “false flag” operation by Islamist rebels with the covert assistance of Turkey’s government.

American hawks who demonize Assad exhibited no uncertainty about the perpetrator of either incident. Sen. John McCain railed against the Syrian dictator. “As we once again bear witness to innocent people writhing on the ground and gasping for breath, we know Assad not only disregarded his chemical weapons commitments, but continues to carry on mass atrocities with impunity,” McCain said in a statement. “Unless and until Assad pays a price for his brutality, the slaughter and destruction in Syria will go on.” Instead of backing off on demanding Assad’s ouster, the Trump administration must “take action to address this strategic and humanitarian disaster, which has led to more than 400,000 Syrians killed and six million displaced,” McCain said. Sen. Marco Rubio asserted that it “was no coincidence” that the gas attack took place right after Secretary Tillerson and other administration officials indicated a softened policy toward Assad.

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Trump Nixes Elliott Abrams for State Deptartment Job

Justin Raimondo reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Elliott AbramsDespite a media campaign trying to offload neoconservative Elliott Abrams onto the Trump administration, and considerable pressure from within the cabinet to appoint him Deputy Secretary of State, President Trump has decided against including the controversial interventionist and Iraq war supporter in his administration.

Like virtually all of his fellow neoconservatives, Abrams disdained Trump’s unwillingness to kowtow to our alleged “allies” and sneered at him for his supposed “ignorance.”

Media accounts – see here and here – attribute this to Trump being “thin-skinned” – Abrams was highly critical of Trump during the presidential campaign, as I pointed out on Twitter. But this is a remarkably superficial analysis of what really went on, for Abrams’ critique of Trump was that of a globalist who is unalterably opposed to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy views.

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Reports Suggest Elliott Abrams Will Be Deputy Secretary of State

Daniel Larison reports for The American Conservative:

There are reports that Elliott Abrams [Right Web Profile] will be Rex Tillerson’s deputy at the State Department.

Abrams’ name had been mentioned before, but it seemed hard to believe that Trump would want one of his most vehement critics in his administration. The “good” news is that Bolton won’t be getting the job after all, but in his place will be someone with an equally awful foreign policy record and similarly warped judgment. Abrams is a Bush administration veteran and one of the most committed Iraq war dead-enders. He has the added distinction of having been involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, and withheld information from Congress when they were investigating it. Putting him in an important foreign policy position gives us strong evidence that Trump and Tillerson both have poor judgment, and it tells us that we should expect that the administration’s foreign policy will become even more aggressive and meddlesome than it already has been.

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Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, writes for The Intercept:

We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

Speculation is unnecessary. All that’s required is a little knowledge of recent history. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” a history of the ways in which crises have been systematically exploited over the last half century to further a radical pro-corporate agenda. The book begins and ends with the response to Hurricane Katrina, because it stands as such a harrowing blueprint for disaster capitalism.

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Trump Is Refilling The Swamp With Bush-Era ‘Crazies’

Robbie Martin, director of A Very Heavy Agenda, writes for Mint Press News:

President-elect Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

[…] Even though Trump never used the term “neocon” in the course of bashing U.S. foreign policy, his fanbase likely assumed that part of “draining the swamp” consisted of kicking the “crazies” out of Washington. Unfortunately, this was merely a fantasy on par with Obama’s “Hope” and “Change,” but on the opposite end of the spectrum.

While most Trump supporters had their attention turned to Clinton’s brash hawkishness, they failed to notice that some of the craziest of the neoconservative Bush-era war hawks in Washington had split off from the pro-Clinton neocon consensus and favored Trump. Some examples of this include Michael Ledeen, Bill Bennett, Frank Gaffney, John Bolton, and James Woolsey, signatories to the Project for the New American Century, a think tank co-founded by Kagan during the Clinton administration. PNAC is widely known for developing the roadmap for George W. Bush’s foreign policy agenda that led to the illegal Iraq War and the invasion of Afghanistan. A total of 17 PNAC signatories assumed official positions in the Bush administration.

After Trump’s shocking win on Election Day, the media started heavily focusing on the more cartoonish side of Trump’s rumored transition team leaders, like Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee. It became clear almost immediately that while the people generally known as the “crazies” might be gone, the “even-craziers” — specifically, Bolton, Gaffney, and Woolsey — were waiting in line for their Trump Cabinet appointments.

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#NeverTrump Neocons Try to Make Peace With “Unfit” President

Zaid Jilani reports for The Intercept:

Related imageNeoconservatives spent months attacking Donald Trump, arguing that he has been insufficiently supportive of overseas military intervention. But the news that he is considering a former Bush administration superhawk to lead the State Department is persuading some that Trump is willing to give war a chance.

It is heavily rumored that former Bush U.N. Ambassador John Bolton — a man who has been a vocal advocate of attacking Iran — may be picked as Trump’s nominee to head the State Department. Bolton was critical of some of Trump’s remarks earlier in the campaign, but later came to his side.

Some of Trump’s loyal supporters reacted to the rumor with outrage. Longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone Jr., who has in the past served as a sort of confidante for Trump, noted that the candidate defeated the neoconservatives and thus advised him to repel them from their attempts to join the team.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who supported Trump as part of his pledge to support the GOP nominee, wrote an opinion piece on Rare headlined “Will Donald Trump betray voters by hiring John Bolton?” that “one of the things I occasionally liked about the President-elect was his opposition to the Iraq war and regime change.” But, Paul wrote, “At a time when Americans thirst for change and new thinking, Bolton is an old hand at failed foreign policy. The man is a menace.”

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Muslim-Hating Conspiracy Theorist Frank Gaffney Advising Trump’s Transition Team

Jon Schwarz reports for The Intercept:

Image result for frank gaffneyAccording to the Wall Street Journal, Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, has joined Donald Trump’s transition team to work on national security issues. Trump’s campaign has denied that Gaffney is officially part of the transition, and the New York Times is reporting that Trump is merely relying on “advice” from Gaffney.

Either way, this is an extremely bad sign. Every society has people like Gaffney, but in healthy, functioning democracies they live quietly in their parents’ basements, free to play with action figures and construct intricate fantasy worlds without hurting anyone else.

In 2016 America, however, Gaffney is now sitting at the right hand of the president-elect.

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Trump Could Return Iraq War Boosters To Power

Warren Strobel and John Walcott report for Reuters:

Image result for james woolsey john boltonDespite his professed opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, President-elect Donald Trump is considering several of the major advocates of that war for top national security posts in his administration, according to Republican officials.

Among those who could find places on Trump’s team are former top State Department official John Bolton and ex-CIA Director James Woolsey. Both men championed the Iraq invasion, which many analysts have called one of the major U.S. foreign policy debacles of modern times.

Also involved in transition planning for Trump’s presidency is Frederick Fleitz, a top aide to Bolton who earlier worked at the CIA unit that validated much of the flawed intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

Although it is impossible to predict how a Trump foreign policy might evolve, one U.S. official who has served in Iraq said advocates of the 2003 invasion might be more inclined to commit additional U.S. forces to the fight against Islamic State there, despite the absence of a status of forces agreement that protects Americans from Iraqi legal action.

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‘Never Trump’ Becomes ‘Maybe Trump’ in Foreign Policy Sphere

Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti report for The New York Times:

Like no other part of the Republican establishment, the party’s foreign policy luminaries joined in opposition to the idea of a Donald J. Trump presidency.

Loyal Republicans who served in the two Bush administrations, they appeared on television and wrote op-eds blasting him. They aligned under a “Never Trump” banner and signed a letter saying they were “convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

For his part, President-elect Trump has maligned them as bumbling and myopic, architects of “a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.”

The coming weeks will determine whether both sides decide they need each other.

On the establishment side, the opposition is now softening for some — driven either by a stated sense of patriotic duty to advise a new president with no foreign policy expertise, or a somewhat less noble motive to avoid years of being excluded from Washington power circles.

“Never Trump” has become “Maybe Trump.” But whether he would have them is another matter.

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Trump Victory Signals a Repudiation of Clintonian Politics

Founding editor of Jacobin Magazine Bhaskar Sunkara and Paul Jay discuss what could happen during a Trump presidency, the consequences of the election for the Democrats and the possibility of a reinvigorated Sanders-like insurgency in 2018. (The Real News)

Obama Has Handed a Surveillance State and War Machine to a Maniac

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Image result for trump surveillance dronesIn a little over two months, Donald Trump – after his shocking victory last night – will control a vast, unaccountable national security and military apparatus unparalleled in world history. The nightmare that civil libertarians have warned of for years has now tragically come true: instead of dismantling the surveillance state and war machine, the Obama administration and Democrats institutionalised it – and it will soon be in the hands of a maniac.

It will go down in history as perhaps President Obama’s most catastrophic mistake.

The Obama administration could have prosecuted torturers and war criminals in the Bush administration and sent an unmistakable message to the world: torture is illegal and unconscionable. Instead the president said they would “look forward, not backward”, basically turning a clear felony into a policy dispute. Trump has bragged that he will bring back torture – waterboarding and “much worse”. He has talked about killing the innocent family members of terrorists, openly telling the world he will commit war crimes.

Now that Trump will take the reins of our various Middle East wars in January, who’s going to stop him from following through on his heinous proposals?

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Neocon War Hawk John Bolton Previews Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy

Neocon war hawk and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton previews the foreign policy of a Donald Trump administration. (Fox News)

Is Mike Pence the Next Dick Cheney?

Paul Jay speaks to news reporter from Indiana Amber Stearns and investigative journalist Allan Nairn. Stearns says that Pence is allied with the religious right in Indiana and is a climate change denier, while Nairn says that Trump’s VP Pence was a close ally of Cheney in Congress and holds the same foreign policy views. (The Real News)

Mike Pence: I’d Model My Vice Presidency After Dick Cheney

Maxwell Tani reported for Business Insider in September:

mike pence martha raddatzIndiana Gov. Mike Pence said his vice-presidential role model would be Dick Cheney.

“I frankly hold Dick Cheney in very high regard in his role as vice president,” Pence said when asked in an interview with ABC that aired on Sunday who his vice-presidential role model would be.

Donald Trump‘s running mate asserted that he would be “a very active vice president” like Cheney, who served under President George W. bush.

[…] Cheney is largely regarded as one of the more powerful vice presidents in recent history. He played a prominent role in reshaping America’s national-security apparatus and foreign-policy vision following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, but also fleshed out the details of many of Bush’s domestic-policy initiatives, occasionally without his knowledge.

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Paul Wolfowitz: ‘I might have to vote for Hillary Clinton’

Louis Nelson reports for Politico:

140617_paul_wolfowitz_ap_328.jpgThe former George W. Bush administration official who is often referred to as the “architect” of the Iraq War says he will likely end up voting for Hillary Clinton for president this fall.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense under President Bush from 2001-2005, told the English-language version of the German newspaper Der Spiegel that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump represents a security risk for the U.S. and that his praise for strongmen like Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is “pretty disturbing.”

“The only way you can be comfortable about Trump’s foreign policy is to think he doesn’t really mean anything he says. That’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be in,” Wolfowitz said. “Our security depends on having good relationships with our allies. Trump mainly shows contempt for them.”

Because he is so uncomfortable with Trump, Wolfowitz said he would likely vote for Clinton, albeit grudgingly.

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Hillary Clinton’s Syria War Plans

Kelley B. Vlahos writes for The American Conservative:

Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper / FlickrIn a seemingly full-throated promise to voters in Scranton, Pa. on Monday, Hillary Clinton said adding “American ground troops” in the war against ISIS in Syria “is off the table.”

But every message coming from her surrogates in the media and in the Washington defense establishment has been that she will “lean in” harder in Syria, and whether you want to call it “added ground troops” or something else, everyone in her orbit is calling for expanded U.S. intervention—including personnel and firepower—in the region, even at the risk of confrontation with Russia.

For weeks, a parade of high-stepping national-security officials—some barely out of government service—have been rattling their sabers passionately for a Hillary Clinton presidency. From Michael Vickers, a former intelligence official most celebrated for his promotion of hunt-to-kill operations in the War on Terror, to (Ret.) Gen. John Allen and ex-CIA Chief Mike Morrell, there is a growing backbench of Washington establishment macho men—and women—who testify to Clinton’s “run it up the gut” security chops, and more than one has noted her well-publicized break with President Obama on Syria. She, of course, having been more hawkish than the other from the start.

Her advisors say Syria will take top priority in her first days in office, and, in addition to ISIS, President Bashar Assad must go. So it is important to examine what a real Clinton Syria policy might look like despite her rhetoric on the campaign trail.

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Why Neocons Are Now Supporting Hillary Clinton

JP Sottile writes for AntiMedia:

Bill Kristol is downright despondent after his failed search for an alternative to Donald Trump. Max Boot is indignant about his “stupid” party’s willingness to ride a bragging bull into a delicate China policy shop. And the leading light of the first family of military interventionism – Robert Kagan – is actually lining up Neoconservatives behind the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

At the same time, the Democrats have become the party of bare-knuckled, full-throated American Exceptionalism. That transformation was announced with a vein-popping zeal by retired general and wannabe motivational screamer John Allen at the Democratic convention in the City of Brotherly Love. During his “speech,” a few plaintive protests of “no more war” were actually drowned-out by Democrats chanting “USA-USA-USA!”

This is the same Democratic Party often criticized by Kagan & Co. as the purveyors of timidity, flaccidity, and moral perfidy. It’s not that Democrats haven’t dropped bombs, dealt arms, and overturned regimes. They have. And they’ve even got the Peace Prize-winning Obama-dropper to prove it. But unlike enthusiastically belligerent Republicans, the Dems are supposed to be the party that does it, but doesn’t really like to do it.

But now, they’ve got Hillary Clinton. And she’s weaponized the State Department. She really likes regime change. And her nominating convention not only embraced the military, but it sanctified the very Gold Star families that Neocon-style interventionism creates. It certainly created the pain of the Khan family who lost their son in the illegal war in Iraq. But the Dems didn’t mention that sad fact as they grabbed the flag away from the Republicans.

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Robert Kagan and Other Neocons Are Backing Hillary Clinton

Rania Khalek reports for The Intercept:

As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war-hawks firmly behind her.

“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, and insisted for years afterwards that it had turned out great.

Despite the catastrophic effects of that war, Kagan insisted at last week’s fundraiser that U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years has been “an extraordinary success.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s know-nothing isolationism has led many neocons to flee the Republican ticket. And some,like Kagan, are actively helping Clinton, whose hawkishness in many ways resembles their own.

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Will Trump Policy Unravel Traditional Neocons?

Sharmini Peries speaks to economist Michael Hudson who says Donald Trump’s divergence from the conventional Republican platform is generating indignant punditry from neocons and neoliberals alike. (The Real News)