EASTSIDER-Donald Trump became President in part because he promised to end the endless wars in which the United States has become permanently embroiled.
Then he became captive to the Bobbsey Twin Warmongers, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. What the hell happened?
Donald Trump has a consistent “negotiating style,” although it doesn’t resemble The Art of the Deal very much. First, he chooses a target, goes in and blows something up with an outrageous unilateral action. Like withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Then, he offers to negotiate with his counterpart to get a “really big deal,” and sets up a head of state to head of state confab. At the meeting, he develops a special relationship with his “newest bestest friend,” and they have a secret talk, no reporters.
Finally, he announces some vague marginally different agreement that comes out of his wireless for everyone.
Problem is, this isn’t real negotiations, and it often may rely on under-the-table bribery enriching the President’s businesses.
Bigger problem: This technique doesn’t work with theocracies. Like Iran.
So it would seem that President Trump really doesn’t want a war, but he has a problem: the two warmongers that are in charge of our military, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. Two of the few who actually somehow passed Senate Confirmation.
Lessons from Vietnam?
I know that half my current friends weren’t even born during the Vietnam war era, so a quick recap. There were some important lessons learned by us, and you would think even Donald Trump got it, since he’s of that generation:
1) Never assume that our government won’t get us embroiled in a truly stupid war, for internal political reasons, with no exit strategy, and with us as the cannon fodder.
2) If you look at who goes to war, it was not the 1%. And it never will be. They can and will buy their way out of anything, including military service. How about those “bone spurs,” Mr. President? I don’t see you having any problem walking up and down the ramp of Air Force One.
3) Never again will the Congress initiate a draft. The Vietnam War came unwound for two reasons. First, television, where the graphic pictures proved beyond a doubt that the war was ugly and endless, as opposed to the BS media coverage put out by the government. Second, and equally important, when middle-class America saw their sons being slaughtered in the swamps and rice paddies of Vietnam, that was it.
It was those middle class and affluent sons’ protests, and the outright rebellion of their parents when they discovered their children were being sent back to the U.S. in body bags -- supposedly to “win” against Communism -- that shut this travesty down.
So now we have a “volunteer army,” which simply means that the elites of America will be safe from military service unless they want to go for some personal reason, and conflicts will be handled by people with little voice or visibility.
John Bolton is close to a caricature of a warmonger. Originally appointed as a “recess appointment” by President Bush, he was so hawkish that he had to go bye-bye after his one year was up, because there was no way he could have been confirmed. In a group of hawks who lied about WMD to go to war, that’s saying something.
As Wikipedia puts it:
“Bolton is a foreign policy hawk and is an advocate for regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea. He has also repeatedly called for the termination of the Iran nuclear deal. He was an advocate of the Iraq War and continues to support the decision to invade Iraq. He has continuously supported military action and regime change in Syria, Libya, and Iran. A Republican, his political views have been described as American nationalist, conservative, and ‘neoconservative.’ Bolton rejects the last term and uses the term ‘pro-American’ instead.”
But the real deal in this hot mess is one Mike Pompeo. This guy is the ultimate slime, and I think they hired Bolton to draw attention away from him. Remember, he was a West Point U.S. Army Captain, and a Harvard lawyer via Southern California. In 2010, he became a Kansas politician (Tea Party), fueled by Koch Industries.
In 2017, the Trump Administration got him confirmed as Director of the CIA, proving what we always thought about the Agency spying on everyone for their own benefit. Capping it all off, he became Secretary of State as well, bringing his thirst for war in the Middle East full circle. And at the same time, the Department of Defense is leaderless, since Patrick Shanahan (Acting) withdrew his name from nomination as permanent Director.
One big way that the current military/industrial complex has learned to hide the extent of our military involvement in something like 170 countries (thank you Barack Obama), is to subcontract the dirty work. They couldn’t have a better ally with skin in the game than Pompeo, and there’s always Bolton to dump if things go to hell, and part of the military industrial complex. Check out his ownership of Thayer Aerospace and ties to our country’s war machine companies.
Groovy. Not only is he a stone warmonger, his wife travels around with him on our dime acting like a Rock Star, only without any portfolio or function.
That’s Trump’s team. Makes Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the gang look like petulant choirboys, sniffing for WMD in an empty desert.
El Jefe’s Iran ‘Policy’
So what does the President do when his Art of the Deal goes to hell in the face of Iran?
Here’s the Administration’s two-step. First, the U.S. unilaterally pulls out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, to which we are a signatory. Second, the U.S. then turns around and blackmails the other signatories to the agreement. That’s right, blackmail.
Here’s how it works. The other signatories to the Nuclear agreement should be free to buy Iranian oil, right? After all, they are still signatories to the nuclear deal. No. If they buy Iranian oil, even though the U.S. is the country who has reneged, then the United States will deny them access to our international financial system, which is based on U.S. dollars.
So, the President not only reneged on a signed agreement, we punished all the other countries if they chose to buy Iranian oil, and then threatened them with war if they fight back. Here is how it works:
On August 6, 2018, the administration says it expected Iran’s oil buyers to begin winding down their oil purchases. Oil companies had until November 4 to cut 1 million barrels per day. But China, India, and many European countries won't cut their imports. The European Union pledged to create a payment channel to allow its companies to continue trading with Iran.
On November 2, the administration granted waivers to eight countries that had cut back on Iranian oil imports. They included South Korea, India, Japan, and China. It did not grant a waiver to the EU.
The United States also prohibited the sale of U.S. currency to Iran’s government and the purchase of Iran's sovereign debt. It sanctioned Iran's automotive sector and trade in gold and precious metals.
Then, just to top it all off, we send our chief warmonger, Secretary of State Pompeo, over to Iran’s religious and political enemy: Saudi Arabia. Just so they get the message.
So where are we with the President who promised to get us out of all those nasty forever wars? Well, so far, he’s ok’d chopping up journalists as long as you give him enough money. And in case it wasn’t clear, the word of the President is worthless, since he reserves the right to throw written agreements into the trash, be it with Congress or another country.
In terms of Iran, the likely outcome couldn’t be clearer. As the saying goes, even a trapped rat will bite. And the President and his advisors have clearly backed Iran into an impossible corner. Not to mention alienating our allies by threatening them if they dare buy Iranian oil, even if they have a written agreement to do so.
Here’s my news flash: The Trump administration has no B Plan. Heck, they don’t even have a real Cabinet.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.