Moving Backwards Monday: US Diplomacy and Military on the RunPosted: October 14, 2019
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
The Acting President* of the United States has just handed a military and diplomatic win to Russia’s Putin, the Iranian Regime, and Putin’s murdering hand puppet in Syria the brutal dictator Assad.
ISIS and former Al Quaeda fighters for Turkey are committing war crimes galore as they slash and murder their way south into Syria in a land grab we haven’t seen for some time. The Assad government is now moving into the area to back up their new allies the Kurds. Did I mention they’re Russian-backed? So, our dumped allies the Kurds are now going to try to stop Turkey who is still a NATO member.
Meanwhile, our troops are in the process of retreating from a hot war in relatively small numbers and scattered in various pockets where they’ve been in embedded with the Kurds with Assad Regime and Russian Forces headed straight at them from one side and Turkey on the other.
From Foreign Affairs and William Burns: “The Demolition of U.S. Diplomacy. Not Since Joe McCarthy Has the State Department Suffered Such a Devastating Blow.”
Our diplomacy is longer carried out by a dedicated, trained and skilled corps of career diplomats, but by the gut feelingd of an autocracy-curious madman.
That Senator McCarthy’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, was also Donald Trump’s lawyer and mentor is one of history’s sad ironies. Trump’s scorched-earth tactics, casual relationship with truth, and contempt for career public service bear more than a passing resemblance to the playbook that Cohn wrote for McCarthy. And when Trump cried out for a “new Roy Cohn” to replace the late original, it was hardly a surprise that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared—or that he dove into the muck of the Ukraine scandal and agitated for the removal of a career ambassador whose integrity and expertise proved to be an obstruction.
One might imagine that the State Department’s leadership would stand up to the president and for its personnel—so many of whom are doing hard jobs in hard places around the world. If only that were the case.
Instead, today’s leaders have shown no more spine than Dulles did. Secretary Pompeo apparently worked around the embassy in Kiev to advance the president’s private agenda, allowed specious opposition research about Yovanovitch to circulate around the department, and sat on his hands as Trump slandered Yovanovitch on the infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and warned ominously that “she’s going to go through some things.” The ghost of Roy Cohn was smiling somewhere.
Even before the Ukraine mess, the Trump administration had been waging a war on diplomacy for nearly three years. The White House regularly pushes historic cuts to diplomacy and development spending, which is already 19 times smaller than the defense budget. Career diplomats are sidelined, with only one of 28 assistant secretary-rank positions filled by a Foreign Service officer, and more ambassadorships going to political appointees in this administration than in any in recent history. One-fifth of ambassadorships remain unfilled, including critical posts.
Not coincidentally, applications to join the Foreign Service have declined precipitously, with fewer people taking the entrance exam in 2019 than in more than two decades. The pace of resignations by career professionals is depressing, the pernicious practice of retaliation against individual officers just because they worked on controversial issues in the last administration is damning, and the silence from the department’s leadership is deafening.
This is news analysis from the New York Times and David E. Sanger.
President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.
Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.
But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.
Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.
One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.
Mr. Erdogan just kept going.
Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.
The drama is nowhere near over.
The use of the word ‘drama’ here is probably one of the most serious understatements I’ve ever read as I now wake up and go to bed watching mass slaughter that appears to be part of a planned Genocide of the Kurds. It hearkens back to Turkey’s approach to Armenians in the 1920.
Well, it looks like if Trump won’t do it, Putin will.
Moving us out of its client state, Syria, has been a Russian objective for some time. Trump has given him this deliverable.
Key Takeaway: Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment formerly commanded by Syria. Russia can use these capabilities to mount a long-term strategic challenge to the U.S. and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East. Russia is currently positioned to disrupt the U.S. Anti-ISIS Coalition, constrain future military options for the U.S. in Syria, and increase the cost of deterring future malign action by Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Jackson Diehl of WAPO writes “In a month, Trump has destroyed ‘America First’.”
I have one more story that I’d like to highlight with a lot of righteous anger and grief. A young Fort Worth black woman was murdered in her home while babysitting her nephew when a policeman called to make a wellness check open fired with no reason. This is–once again–the dangerous intersection of poor police training, ineffective screening before hiring, and institutional racism. Did I also mention this horrifies me?
From the Dallas Morning News: ; “The outrageous death of Atatiana Jefferson: What was Fort Worth cop possibly thinking when he shot?. It’s a decision that ripped an innocent woman from her family and one that will forever scar her 8-year-old nephew who was with her at the time.”
Atatiana’s life MATTERS and we must work as a country to hold our police to higher standards and to accountants for the number of black lives they take needlessly and without regard.
Video from the cop’s body-camera as he roamed the backyard with a flashlight at 2:30 a.m captures him hollering “Put your hands up. Show me your hands” and then — almost immediately — firing his gun into Jefferson’s window.
Fort Worth police acknowledged Sunday that the cop never identified himself as a police officer before he fired. Along with the video, police released a fuzzy photo of a gun, apparently found in a bedroom, but did not connect it to Jefferson’s death. Their reason for releasing that photo without context provides no confidence in the department’s credibility.
The episode began when James Smith, a concerned resident who, in the middle of the night, spotted open doors and lights on, called the police nonemergency number and asked an officer to check on the household.
The well-meaning Smith is just the sort of neighbor we all would like to have nearby. He followed the common sense that crime watch groups and law enforcement repeat again and again: If you see something, say something. Smith simply wanted the cops to do a “welfare check” to ensure that the family was safe.
A person shouldn’t die as a result of a caring neighbor. In a killing that is sickeningly similar to the one for which fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was just sent to prison, the Fort Worth cop seems to have acted without thinking first. In the Dallas case, Guyger killed Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own and thinking he was an intruder.
I awake daily to thinking that we keep going backwards to days that should be well behind us. I will leave you with a bright spot. There are so many ways that we are reminded that people of color are still provided second class citizenship. Montgomery, Alabama–the city at the very root of the Civil Rights Movement–elected its first black mayor with a plurality that should uplift us all. CNN’s Faith Karimi and LaRell Reynolds write “Montgomery elected its first black mayor in 200 years. This is why it matters”. The struggle continues but it achieved something special with this.
In the two centuries since its founding, Alabama’s capital of Montgomery and the birthplace of the civil rights movement has never had a black mayor.
That changed Tuesday when Montgomery County probate judge Steven Reed won a runoff election to become the first black mayor of the city founded in 1819. He defeated television station owner David Woods by more than 16,000 votes.
“Let the record show tonight, above all … what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity, around opportunity, and all the things that tie us together versus those things that keep us apart,” Reed told supporters at a rally turned victory party.
Alabama’s second-largest city is a city of contrasts. While it’s the birthplace of the civil rights movement, it was also the first capital of the Confederacy early in the Civil War, and many streets and schools still bear Confederate names.
Montgomery later became the site of Rosa Parks’ famed bus boycott in 1955 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist church, as well as the destination of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery protest marches that were met with brutal police violence and led to the Voting Rights Act.
On Tuesday evening, 67 percent of voters backed probate judge Steven Reed, who was up against David Woods, a white television station owner, according to unofficial results. In August, the two received the most votes in the city’s mayoral election (Reed was one of 10 black candidates), but neither candidate captured a 50 percent majority, leading to this month’s nonpartisan runoff election.
Reed will be sworn into office in November, replacing current mayor Todd Strange, who has held office since 2009 and did not run for reelection. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, prior to the October election, Montgomery was one of three cities with a population over 100,000 in the Deep South that had never elected a black mayor.
During his mayoral campaign, Reed said he plans to help Montgomery’s poorest communities by addressing issues like food deserts and poor water quality. Reed also wants to improve economic conditions in the city in the hopes of making Montgomery more attractive to younger people and businesses. Montgomery is also currently dealing with a limited city budget, and city officials have dedicated resources in recent years to reduce crime rates in the city.
Reed’s historic win has drawn national attention and praise from civil rights groups. Other politicians have also praised Reed’s victory, with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris tweeting, “The birthplace of the civil rights movement has a new era of leadership for the first time in its 200-year history.”
Another Democratic Candidates debate is open us with a significant number of women and POC still standing and in good position to take the lead.
Here’s hoping we can still make progress eve though I have a feeling that those Trumpers HateFests are going get worse and the news from Syria will be gruesome. Here’s some news that may or may not shorten it.
On Tuesday night, the top dozen Democratic candidates are set to appear at the party’s fourth 2020 primary debate, set at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, starting at 5 p.m. Pacific. The debate, co-hosted by CNN and the New York Times, will be broadcast on CNN and streamed online at http://www.cnn.com and http://www.nytimes.com, as well as on the outlets’ apps.
Still going, stay with us …
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar … and (deep breath) businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.
We will have a live blog and I’m certain BB will have some pre-debate news for us. Frankly, I plan to sip my well iced white wine every time I hear some one say “Impeach him”!!! My glass will first be raised to a toast to whoever!
So, let’s keep keeping on and tell me, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
And I’ll end by sharing the words of the late Great Curtis Mayfield who wrote and recorded this while I was in high school living the Watergate hearings reality and watching the Vietnam carnage on the nightly news. Still rings true, sir …
I’ve only got one
Don’t run from the burdens of women and men
Continue to give, continue to live
For what you know is right
Withdraw from the darkness and look to the light
Where everyone’s free
At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be
We just keep on keeping on
But they too will soon admit
That there’s still a lot of love among us
When we keep on keeping on
When you have your young, remember this song
And our world surroundings, its leaps and bounds
Ups and downs, is reality