A State of Confusion

With the seemingly endless amount of news tumbling out of the administration orbit, it’s hard to keep things straight.  This could be because we seem to be headed in two directions at once on so many things.  A terror nerve gas attack takes place in the United Kingdom that is traced back to Putin’s Russia.  While officially we backed our NATO ally , our President called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election that virtually everyone saw as rigged.  Trump never even mentioned the attack to Putin.  When pressed, the administration fell back on the old saw “we need good relations with Russia.”  Surely the leader of our close ally Theresa May wasn’t amused. While his administration takes some actions against Russia, Trump himself refuses to take Putin to task.  Down deep, what is our real policy towards Russian aggression?  Our allies must be wondering, especially, those on the front lines.  Of course, when you threaten your allies with stiff tariffs at the same time we’re telling them you’re with them all the way you can understand their confusion. Wars often start with miscalculations, think August 1914.

The recently passed Omnibus Spending  Bill tossed the idea controlling our national debt out the window.  The credit people at Moody’s and economists from all sides warn this irresponsibility can’t go on forever. Some small government  and/or fiscally conservative Republicans were appalled and even the President threatened to veto it at the last-minute. Trump caved, saying he had to sign in order to get desperately needed money for our military.  So what do hear now? He wants to take money from the military to build his wall.  With estimated to cost over $25 billion that’s quite a few planes , tanks and ships. Maybe we didn’t need these after all.  Is the military budget there to protect us or is it a Presidential slush fund?

The actions Republicans and business leaders have most loudly applauded the Trump administration are in the areas of regulations and taxes. Apparently there are limits for Trump even in these, especially if he happens not to like you.  Offend him and the taxes you pay and the way you conduct your business are brought into question.  If you’re Jeff Bezos and you own a newspaper editorially critical of the President your other business, Amazon, finds itself subject to veiled threats.  Rather than operating in on open and level playing field, this suggests pleasing the President should be uppermost in your business plan. Trump’s fact challenged attack on Amazon sounded more like a 16th century monarch. Instead of a  modern non-interventionist free marketer you get a merchantilist.  The President may not like football players taking a knee but apparently business leaders are a different story.

The pursuit of ISIS by both Presidents Obama and Trump has reduced the group to a few small tracts.  With our mainly Kurdish allies we have victory in sight.  Suddenly, Trump says he will soon bring  our troops home from of Syria handing that county over our good friends Iran and Russia.  This just might inspire even greater determination on the part of Sunni Islamist terrorism.  After all ISIS is just one Islamist terror group and the next one may be even worse.  More importantly, how does giving Russia and Iran a big victory further our interests and peace in the world?  Already, Israel has threatened action and Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a proxy war in Yemen. Trump is threatening Iran with pulling out of the Nuclear treaty with nation because he feels it  makes Iran stronger.  Yet leaving the area puts the Iranian coalition right on Israel’s border and an opening on the Mediterranean. This would put this coalition in a dominant position.  Is this our policy?  This is why we have advocated a US presence in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Rather than just thinking of ourselves in the narrowest terms, we might think of our friends.  We just might need some in the future.

We don’t want to seem focused only on the confusing actions of the administration.  The opposition even if not in power can make their contributions to our bewilderment.  In order to have any chance to control the Senate  they have to retain seats they hold in Red States.  These are states where not only is gun ownership popular but it is a single issue that brings its adherents to the polls.  Democratic candidates have largely poo pooed the idea they want to take people s constitutional right to own guns in hopes that many wouldn’t be roused to vote in the 2018 off-year elections. Then out of nowhere retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes a New York Times OP-ED calling for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. Just because  97-year-old might think this was a good idea, the Times was under no obligation to print his views so prominently.  If the editors wanted of the Times wanted the Democrats to control the Senate, they have an odd way of showing it.  Republicans using the Steven’s OP-ED across the board might even foreclose their winning the house.  We expect leaders on opposite sides to take opposing actions.  We don’t expect them to take opposing positions with themselves.  How is this supposed to work for the Trump administration or its opposition?

The worst confusion, however, has to be our Far East Policy.   We will devote our next post entirely to that ominous situation.

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