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Making Sense of Trump’s Foreign Policy

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Written by Federico Pieraccini; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

As was to be expected, the announcement that the US was withdrawing troops from Syria has served to provoke numerous reactions in the Middle East and beyond. Following the removal of Mattis, Pompey and Bolton embarked on a whirlwind Middle Eastern tour of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait to reassure regional allies.

Making Sense of Trump’s Foreign Policy

The idea of withdrawing US troops from Syria was based on Trump wishing to fulfil one of his most important electoral promises. Trump knows that he needs to demonstrate to his electoral base that he has kept the most significant promises he made during his 2016 election campaign in order to have any chance of being reelected in 2020. People voted for change, and that includes preventing new wars and getting out of the ones the US is already embroiled in, especially in the Middle East.

If Trump betrays his constituents by not delivering on his campaign promises, then he would simply be like any other politician who, upon being elected, soon forgets about those who put him in office. Trump is aware that such a perception would cost him the possibility of a second term.

We live in a time where Western elites completely ignore the consequences of their actions, manipulate information, lie to their citizens and spread fake news. While we may not always believe what Trumps says in his bombastic remarks, we can rest assured that MSNBC/CNN are even less reliable in terms of facts and unbiased news. Keeping oneself correctly informed is a difficult and demanding task, involving the constant comparison and weighing up of a lot of different sources and constantly researching and learning through the process. Most people do not have the time for this and usually do not care, preferring to rely instead on the mainstream media. This obviously exposes such people to manipulation, lies and distorted facts, clouding the truth and making it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fake. Alternative media — the real media — are riding to the rescue, but the overhauling process will require a full generation or even two.

This is why it little matters whether the wall will really built or whether it will only start to be built as a PR stunt or whether it even makes sense in the first place to build it or not. Democrats watching MSNBC/CNN will agree that it is a dumb idea and should not be funded. Republicans watching Fox News will call it a brilliant idea and demand a government shutdown (as Trumps is doing) to force the Democrats to concede. The point is that Democrats or Trump supporters, feeding on news sources based on propaganda and lies, will only have their respective biases confirmed without the need for any real debate.

What is important for us to understand is how Trump operates in order to gain the support of his base. That is what guides him in domestic, foreign and economic affairs. In the case of the wall, Trump’s battle is against the Democrats, and the actions he has taken to fight his opponents is by using the government shutdown to provide himself with a win-win outcome. If the Democrats fund the wall, they lose in the eyes of their voters, as Trump ends up getting his wall. If the Democrats do not fund the wall, Trump will blame them and point to the government shutdown to demonstrate how he valiantly struggled against the Democrats in an effort to keep his promises.

The same is the case with the economic warfare employing the US dollar and imposing tariffs and duties on allies and enemies alike. MSNBC/CNN will tell you that this is damaging the American economy. The Democrats will say that it is a failed strategy, without admitting that they hate Trump’s “economic war” because it undermines US dollar hegemony and thereby their ability to prosecute the neoliberal imperialism to which they are so addicted.

Fox News, on the other hand, will spin the news to show how Trump is battling against Xi Jinping and China in the interests of American farmers. Self-proclaimed experts will go on about the success of the White House’s economic strategy, declaring it a brilliant idea. Trump voters will enjoy the coverage of Fox News and accordingly praise the “commercial war”. Democrats will love the coverage of MSNBC/CNN and will worry about how various policies will either restore or further diminish US global leadership.

The announcement of the withdrawal from Syria follows the same logic as the examples given above. Trump announced the withdrawal only in order to keep an electoral promise. The entire Washington foreign-policy establishment is opposed to Trump’s decision. The purpose of the announcement was to convey to his voters a simple but clear message: I am trying to do what I promised you, but I have everyone against me in Washington as well as in the media.

The same logic is employed with the government shutdown in order to fund the wall. Whenever Democrats, Republicans or talking heads condemn Trump’s withdrawal from Syria/Afghanistan, his effort to build the wall, his imposition of tariffs and duties, his sanctions on Iran, they reinforce the beliefs of Trump’s supporters, showing that Trump is really trying to keep his promises in the face of tremendous opposition.

Every time they bash him they provide free advertisement for Trump and his political line, and this has been going on from the first time he announced he would run in the primaries in 2015. It is a win-win situation for him, even if he does not really build the wall, pull out of Syria, or effectively reduce the trade imbalance between China and the US. If he succeeds, he can declare that he has kept his promises. If he fails, then he can lay be blame squarely at the feet of his political opponents. People elected him on the basis of his words and promises. If he can demonstrate that he at least tried to keep his promises (even if he never actually does), then that should be enough to give him a second term.

Trump understands very well how the media works and how much Washington detests him. He does not want to change the status quo and revolutionize Washington. He does not want to openly challenge the foreign-policy establishment by following a realist-isolationist policy. That was what he said in 2015/16 during the campaign trail, but his presidency has been much different from what he promised, especially in foreign policy. Nevertheless, Trump seeks re-election, and he cannot entirely break with the Washington establishment if he hopes to succeed. Indeed in 2016 he demonstrated this by appointing a staff of generals whose credo over the span of several decades has been that of American exceptionalism, the governing religion of Washington. He used the military to protect himself from the media-intelligence community, shielding himself with four generals (Kelly, McMaster, Mattis and Flynn), in the full knowledge that none of them would support a realist-isolationist policy.

For this reason, the ructions that have followed the announcement of the withdrawal from Syria are part of normal US political theater, such as was the case with the resignation/dismissal of Mattis. It is no surprise that the deep state immediately dispatched Bolton and Pompey to sooth the concerns of dozens of US allies, in particular Israel and the Arab states. It was a PR exercise to reassure them of the real intentions of the US in the area (i.e., enduring imperialism).

In practice, it makes little difference whether the US has 2,000 or 200 men in Syria. They will not be able to change the course of the war of aggression against Damascus in their favor. It is therefore not surprising that Bolton was not fired for publicly contradicting Trump on the question of withdrawing troops from Syria. Such contradictions play in Trump’s favor. His supporters will say that Trump is so anti-establishment that even his closest collaborators are against him.

If Trump were to fire Bolton as he did Mattis, none of his faithful voters will remember the ill-considered choice to appoint him in the first place, and will be struck instead by Trump’s determination to stick to his guns and rid himself of internal saboteurs who stand in the way of his electoral mandate. As long as Trump, in our scenario, were not to name someone worse than Bolton, the imperialist wheel will continue to turn.

Just look at North Korea as an example. Trump threatened to destroy Pyongyang, even knowing the US could not really do so. Then he meet with Kim, did an epic PR exercise that presented Trump as solving a major international problem that had eluded all his predecessors. After conveying this triumph to his base, he simply forgot all about Kim, Pyongyang and Seoul. In the meantime, the two Koreas are nonetheless speaking, advancing reconciliation and preparing for historical changes. As for Trump, he has already moved on, North Korea no longer holding his interest, the drama having served its purpose for a certain time but no longer being of relevance. (This, thankfully, is to the benefit of the Korean people.)

It seems the same playbook is being employed in Syria. Trump announced the withdrawal, while leaving a few hundred soldiers behind who continue to be unable to change the situation on the ground; Bolton and Pompeo are dispatched to reassure allies/financiers, though Trump cannot wait to forget about Syria, proclaiming the falsehood that US, under his leadership, defeated ISIS (thereby fulfilling one of his electoral promises).

As I wrote following Trump’s election, The Donald’s victory only served to accelerate the transition to a multipolar world, as we saw in the first two years of his presidency, with Trump’s focus on his base translating into a perennial electoral campaign that uses all the tools at his disposal (domestic, foreign, economic, financial, and currency policy). This creates distrust and concern amongst historical allies and pushes Washington’s enemies closer together, serving in the process to smooth out any tensions that may have hitherto existed between these countries.

Just think of the Astana format of Turkey, Iran and Russia concerning Syria, Inter-Korean talks in Asia, a peace treaty to be signed between Russia and Japan, Indian-Iranian cooperation on trade in oil, a European stance against Iranian and Russian sanctions, and, to top it off, coordination between the Russians and the Chinese on almost everything. All this is in the name of opposing US imperialist policies or trying to directly score a political win against Donald Trump and his policies.

Trump’s enemies have learned to ignore US decisions, which have now become irrelevant in certain parts of the globe. America’s historical allies cling hopefully to the words of Bolton and Pompeo, well aware that the US will not soon change their basic neoliberal and imperialist approach towards the world. Nevertheless, Washington is losing military and economic influence due to the transition into a multipolar world order, where power is shared among multiple countries (China, Russia, Iran, India). The unipolar moment is over and is not coming back, especially not with Donald Trump as president. And that is a good thing for the rest of the world.

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  • RichardD

    Becoming an interstellar space faring civilization in a safe and peaceful manner is a two step process. The first step is getting the planet’s security situation stabilized. The simplest and most effective way to do this is via extinction grade planetary dejudification to remove humanity’s primary cause of war and conflict. Which is Jews, Judaism and Israel. And ending the Jew world order permanent war state hegemony project centered in the US with it’s me to UK and France tag alongs.

    This doesn’t require genocide or violating the human and civil rights of the current crop of evil Jew blood sucking baby raping pedophile mass rape cultists. Outlawing Judaism as the malicious criminal organization that it is and closing and demolishing the synagogues and yeshivas so that there are no more Jews should be sufficient.

    The second step is transportation and diplomatic and security initiatives. There is sequestered technology in existence that can help with this. And correcting Christendom’s and places like Iran’s Jew infestation problem will remove impediments to off planet technology import licensing that is currently not available due to our planet’s Jew infestation. No Jews means a better future for everyone. Even former evil Jews.

    Eliminating Jews from our planet is the best thing that could happen to humanity since the invention of the wheel.

    • RichardD

      Eliminating Jews from our planet is the best thing that could happen to humanity since the invention of the wheel. 99% of Jews live in Christendom. Over 90% of the planet’s Jews live in just 5 countries, the US, Israel France, Canada, and the UK., 83% in just Israel and the US.

      Jew tolerance is a flaw of Christianity stemming from the old testament nexus, and a curse that Christians bring to humanity that needs to be corrected. The non Christian world figured out long ago that Jews are a menace to society, and rightly doesn’t tolerate their crime and evil. Christ was a vocal anti Judaic. The laws in Christian nations and the few non Christian nations that allow Jews should be changed to extinguish Judaism on our planet.

  • Garga

    It’s a bit long rant, so bear with me please:

    I have a theory about recent developments. I should say it’s all speculations and my own analysis of the situation, probably confirmed or proven wrong in a month or so.

    Trump paid a visit to an American base in Iraq on Christmas eve. An unplanned and secret visit and Iraqi officials were not notified in advance, it wasn’t a continuation of an ongoing tour. Trump directly went to Iraq from DC, been there a couple of hour of which, he spent less than an hour in public view and returned states-side via a refueling stop in Germany.

    Trump announced the US withdrawal from Syria on Dec., 19th, 2018 and since then almost either everybody in his administration confronted him on this decision or changed his words and said it won’t be a complete withdrawal, some troops will remain and so on. This bunch included his Pentagon chief, his advisors, his envoys and his secretary of state, Fat Mike.

    A few days ago Pompeo paid a visit to Iraq, again an unplanned and unexpected visit. It was after this trip which he changed his position and “vowed” that US troops will definitely leave Syria.
    There was also a John Bolton visit to the region which sparked a war of words between him and Turkish officials. President Erdogan not only refused to meet him, but also spoke against him and US policies in the Turkish parliament and later criticized him for what Bolton said in Israel.

    While I was initially sure there won’t be a US withdrawal from Syria because from a US stand point there no sense to it. Why would Americans do something which will help to have peace in the ME? My understanding was that it’s a move designed to put Turkey against Syria, Russia and Iran which of course did not happen so far, heck even Turks said they will coordinate with Iran and Russia! My interpretation of later talks about delay or cancellation of withdrawal was that it failed to achieve it’s goal so there’s no need to pretend any more.

    Another matter is Kurds fighting remnants of ISIS in the last ISIS pocket on eastern Euphrates bank, while there’s a threat of a Turkish attack on their positions up north. If they thought the threat is real, they would move all their assets north and stopped any operation in Deirezzour, which they initially did. What happened that convinced them to return and finish the job? I’d say they got assured that Turks won’t attack by BOTH parties.

    I think Trump and Pompeo met some Iranian envoys while in Iraq and there’s some sort of deal between the US and Iran. Iranian officials do not trust the US in the slightest and therefore require a show of good faith from the American side and at the same time, a point that the US does not directly give to Iran to save face in this stage. That’s why neocons, Israelis and Bolton freaked out.

    Trump’s visit to Iraq does not make sense. He doesn’t care about the US troops to go visit a cemetery near Paris while in Paris. Why should he choose to leave his comfort in Christmas Eve and spend almost 24 hours in an airplane for a quick round-trip to Iraq? Unless there’s something important enough, like meeting a representative of Iranian leader (and not the Iranian president or foreign minister or even general Soleymani).

    Trump doesn’t have much of a legacy or achievement so far, all he has is blunder after blunder. He very much needs something to show and making a deal with Iran is something very big after the whole world short of Saudis and Israelis criticized him for what he did to JCPoA.

    If my speculation is true, the withdrawal is the first step for making peace with Iran and I expect Trump to fires Bolton in the next coming weeks. Then we’ll hear about a US-Iran talks, meaning the Empire wants to make sure about Iran while shifts it’s attention towards confronting China.

    I may be wrong, let me know what you think?

    • RichardD

      Trump is trying to wrest control of the US government from that evil Jew cult that you’re so fond of lying for and supporting with your hypocritical two faced comments cheerleading the pedophile rape of Iranian children.

    • Bob

      There was also some speculation that Trumps’ trip to Iraq was a form of self protective isolation in wake of Syria withdrawal Tweet announcement. While on Air Force One international flight to Iraq Trump was distanced and removed from immediate Neo-Con/Pentagon backlash in US and from any potential open mutiny against his decision.

  • Snowglobe

    . “People voted for change, and that includes preventing new wars and getting out of the ones the US is already embroiled in, especially in the Middle East.”

    Trump is attempting to accomplish this, and is obstructed every step of the way. Both Bolton and Pompeo have to go….and maybe Pence too.

    • Master Oroko

      Pence has none of Trump’s goals in mind. Give him the boot.

  • Master Oroko

    Trump must first have more control to do what he wants.