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Tracy writes: "On the campaign trail, Donald Trump pitched Americans on an immiscible foreign-policy agenda, combining elements of staunch isolationism and a rejection of Bush-era interventionism with promises to 'bomb the shit out of ISIS.'"

Soldiers in Basra. (photo: PA)
Soldiers in Basra. (photo: PA)

Trump Is Quietly Expanding All of Obama's Wars

By Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair

17 June 17

The president has agreed to increase troops in Afghanistan.

n the campaign trail, Donald Trump pitched Americans on an immiscible foreign-policy agenda, combining elements of staunch isolationism and a rejection of Bush-era interventionism with promises to “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” But in his four months as president, Trump, characteristically, has done something of a 180-degree turn. He turned over much of his military policy and decision-making to the same “embarrassing” generals he previously claimed to know more than; he authorized a missile strike and boots on the ground in Syria, a country he had repeatedly warned against getting involved with; and he increased troop levels in Iraq, doubling down on a tactic he had called “a horrible mistake.”

Now, the Trump administration is considering sending more troops into the war in Afghanistan, which he previously called “a complete waste.” On Tuesday, the president gave Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to determine the number of troops in Afghanistan, The New York Times reports, a rejection of the management levels adopted by the Obama administration.

With the new latitude, the Pentagon is expected to send as many as 4,000 new troops to fight al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to an Associated Press report citing a Trump administration official. But as was the case with Trump’s decision to strike Syria, it is unclear whether the move is part of any broader military strategy. Bloomberg’s Eli Lake reports that while Trump signed off on the cap removal, he has yet to sign off on a plan. The president also has yet to present his strategy to destroy ISIS, which he gave Mattis 30 days to devise shortly after the inauguration. Mattis reportedly turned in his plan on February 27, but Trump has not publicly modified or approved it.

This dynamic has left some lawmakers frustrated. During a meeting last week in which Mattis conceded to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is “not winning in Afghanistan right now,” John McCain derided the delay of a broader strategy. “We are now six months into this administration; we still haven’t got a strategy for Afghanistan,” the Arizona senator said. “It makes it hard for us to support you when we don’t have a strategy. We know what the strategy was for the last eight years—don’t lose. That hasn’t worked.”

Mattis responded, “We are putting it together now, and there are actions being taken to make certain that we don’t pay a price for the delay,” he said. “We recognize the need for urgency, and your criticism is fair, sir.” your social media marketing partner


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+10 # dbrize 2017-06-17 15:40
An ultra serious point which deserves the headlines instead reserved for the nonsensical ongoing soap opera over whether none or one Russian succeeded in voting for Trump.

While neolibs/neocons United for more War continue to implement the hegemic plans of the MIC/national security state under the guidance of global bankers, the attentions of the lumpentariat are to be entertained by sleight of hand soap opera programming.

One sad proof of their success is found at RSN, purported bastion of progressive thought, where bashing Trump with melting snowflakes is far more popular than denouncing the ongoing wars, spying and global policing activities endorsed by both major party camps.

Only two (2) Senators had the wisdom and courage to vote against the new round of sanctions against Russia.

Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul.

If these two can see through the charade it is at least a start. It is past time for antiwar progressives to unite with those on the other side and highlight the serious from the serio-comedy.
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-17 17:42
I think this is a good statement and probably very correct. Trump is delegating the job of war fighting to the generals -- the people he ridiculed during the campaign. It appears that Trump is not going to "bomb the shit out of ISIS." It is more that he just does not give a shit about any of these wars.

Too bad the media is so fixated on Hillary's vengeance. It would be important for Americans to understand the Trump strategy. If it was "just don't lose" for Obama, it seems to be "OK. let's lose" for Trump.

The decisions about war are made at the CIA and Pentagon anyway. Probably they are just not telling Trump what they are doing. But that is a sure recipe for losing. These people could not win a lottery if they were given all the tickets.
+1 # librarian1984 2017-06-18 06:32
Yes, the fact he's just handed it over, bypassing his responsibilitie s as the civilian obersight of the military, seems to indicate he does not care about our military adventures. How unusual for a president! Most of them seem to really enjoy becoming Commander-in-Ch ief, tinkering and butting in.

Trump has a psychological profile very different from any other president, at least in my lifetime.

Does that give him some security? Giving the military free rein rather than attacking them as he does the intel agencies? Do Pentagon interests coincide with CIA interests? Are they working together or at odds?

I agree with you. There is so much going on right now, so much that is unique and unusual, with even more roiling underneath. In the Trump chaos there are undoubtedly opportunists working for power, for themselves or their positions.

How unfortunate that we seem to have run out of real journalists.
+5 # Time Traveller 2017-06-18 06:47
Rodion, you know as well as I that often it's not about WINNING wars. It's about FIGHTING wars. While the Cold War bankrupted the Soviet Union and turned the USA into an unrecoverable debtor nation, the rich in both empires became super rich.

Even the collapse of the Soviet Union was IMMENSELY profitable to your oligarchs and ours. Vladimir Putin's wealth skyrocketed after the collapse, while your families were selling their beautiful, talented, highly educated daughters on the Internet for as little as $5,000.

Do not plead ignorance of Machiavelli advising princes who want more wealth and power, "If a prince has no enemy, he must CREATE one, for war and preparation for war is the most profitable enterprise."
+3 # futhark 2017-06-18 09:16
The last thing the MIC wants is to actually "win" one of the ongoing brush fire wars in the Middle East. If this happened, they would have to cast about to find or manufacture an new threat to our "liberty" or "national security" or whatever, just they did when they discovered that Saddam Hussein was a real threat immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Not very many kind words have be said on RSN for Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, but I am glad he is getting some credit here for standing firm against the Trump administration' s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and for being outspoken against the continuing American military involvement in the Middle East.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-18 06:27
The really disturbing thing is that Trump has so little knowledge and experience in foreign policy, especially in the nations where the US is conducting war (this is about 100 nations), that he almost has to give over responsibility to the generals. These are the people with bombs and guns and everything they see looks like a chance to kill to them.

Gen Mattis, sec. of defense, said recently about the seige of Raqqa and Mosel that the US has moved from a strategy of pushing ISIS out and into other areas to a strategy of "annihiliation. " He followed that statement with one that said civilian casualties are part of the reality of war. This is a war crime. The Geneva Conventions require armies to cease combat when civilians are in the way.

Mattis should never be given full responsibility for anything.

Trump is or maybe was malleable on the issue of war. In the campaign he recognized that the Bush/Obama wars were losing propositions. Too bad democrats and the peace movement in the US and world did not get behind Trump and push him toward ending the wars. Much of his base wanted to end the wars. Probably it is too late now. The generals have taken over.

So impeach Trump for war crimes. That's something he deserves. The Russia-thing is fake news.
+1 # librarian1984 2017-06-18 08:42
Mattis is said to hate the nickname "Mad Dog", but he sure lives up (down?) to it.

Yes. Where is the peace movement?
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-20 10:29
All the big movements have been broken up into smaller ones with so many fires to put out, and so all have list their former clout.
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-18 12:32
For all our ranting about the Deep State, in the governance of an EMPIRE, which America is, a PROPERLY RUN Deep State is a necessary evil. Anyone with eyes and a brain can look around today and see that, "We aren't in fucking KANSAS any more, Toto!"

THIS is why approximately 400 career functionaries, with an average career lifespan of 26 years traditionally occupy positions in the White House and related Executive Branch offices, regardless of which party is in power.

THESE are the Deep State Executive Branch folks that, like it or not, actually have some EXPERIENCE in running an empire. It is easy to put all Deep State functionaries into a basket and condemn them all... I have often done that myself, and many are evil fucks who deserve our scorn and resentment.

But along came clueless Dump with his little clown car of brain dead idiots who spend as much time as possible at Mar a Lago so they can dream up tons of incredibly stupid shit without oversight of career White House PROFESSIONALS.

Like it our not, and while it looks like we are heading for a fall, we are a fucking EMPIRE; and we need REAL ALPHAS in charge if it. I am NOT talking about generals. I am talking about the 1 in 1000 adults that Abraham Maslow would consider SELF ACTUALIZED.
+2 # futhark 2017-06-18 20:14
Donald Trump is the living manifestation and incarnation of Karl Rove's maxim “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Creating new realities often involves creating the perception of a new reality, aka fake news/vicious propaganda.

Speaking of Kansas, I see that the Kansas state legislature has had enough of Republican governor Sam Brownback's "trickle down" program for creating prosperity though tax cuts for the wealthy, leaving the state high and dry for needed revenue. Kansas is now an economically failed state.
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-20 07:01
Great post, futhark. I think you might enjoy my Godot article here:
+1 # goodsensecynic 2017-06-18 08:13
Nothing Mr. Trump says can be taken seriously as a guide to anything that Mr. Trump may do.

He has no coherent policy on anything, other than a primordial desire for wealth and power and a clinical disorder that is complex but boils down to narcissistic infantilism.

He does, of course, have certain material interests including maximizing his personal wealth and promoting his billionaire friends. How these interests and commitments will play out in terms of either domestic or foreign policy, however, is unpredictable for the simple reason that his reflex responses are irrational and thoughtless.

Accordingly, Trump's "malleability" does not imply an "open mind," but merely as an "empty head."

What to do?

Organize, inform and educate the American people. Resist where effective and make optimal use of whatever American institutions are still able to check and balance the White House.

2018 will be an opportunity to reclaim Congress. 2020 will see an end to this charade - if the end (one way or another) does not come sooner.
+1 # ojkelly 2017-06-18 08:30
First point. RSN needs eyeballs and Anything that involves Trump is bad yields eyeballs.
Afghanistan give people headaches. How do we leave?

Trump doesn't have enough Beltway Vig to have any "intelligence" official note that it's highly unlikely that there's anything to "Russia gate", even as a leak.People don't get upset when a media opportunist who is making a fortune off the fake news calls him a cock holster for Putin. So how is he going to dismantle the Secret Empire. I don't think Lockheed or the Carlyle Group is worried about Trump.
Let the mad dog of the Empire figure it out. Can you blame him?
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-19 17:20
oj -- sadly you are probably right. All of the media is making hay out of the Russiagate and GetTrump scandals. It gets eyeballs. Everyone is waiting for the final shoe to fall. We all like to see a billionaire get it is the ass.

Meanwhile, the world collapses. The CIA's mercenaries (ISIS, al Nuara, al Qaeda) are on the march, moving into Asian nations like the Phiiippines. No one in Amerikkka can pay attention because Trump might tweet someone and the Wapo will go ape-shit over it.

I did see that the grown-ups newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, is reporting that Israel and Saudi Arabia are supporting ISIS in Syria. We all have known that for 6 years, but it is finally making it into the mainstream. And the kiddie-zines, the NYT and Wapo, they are reporting that Trump might fire someone -- anonymous sources said this to them.


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