Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Game --A Choice of Theaters and More NSC Shakeups



As the reality show version of Game of Thrones continues to play out in the Oval Office the world lurches ever closer to another world war. Where to even begin keeping score of the incredible developments that have unfolded over the past week? Let's just briefly go over a few of the major headlines that have played out since the end of March:




Item: On March 30 both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made strong comments indicating that the United States is no longer seeking the ousting of Assad in Syria. Naturally, the usual suspects blasted these actions as tantamount to treason, but at the time it appeared as though the Trump administration had renewed its commitment to detente with Russia.



Assad

Item: Around April 3 Susan Rice, Barack Obama's National Security Advisor, was outed for the "unmasking" of several Trump transition team officials who were subjected to "incidental surveillance" by the intelligence community. While this far from vindicates Trump's claims that Obama "wiretapped" him, it implicates a key member of the out going national security team in actions that could be deemed to have been political in nature. Just how far Trump is willing to push this remains to be seen, but it is one more Sword of Damocles hanging over this ever murky fray.


Item: Also on April 3 it was revealed that former Navy SEAL and Blackwater founder Erik Prince had met in the United Arab Emirates with Russian officials allegedly to establish a back channel between Trump and Putin. Supposedly this was to see if Russia could be convinced to withdraw its support from Iran. There is certainly merit to these allegations. Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump's Secretary of Education, and was reportedly acting as an unofficial adviser during the transition period. Prince himself and his family also gave generous donations to Trump's election campaign. It is also interesting to note that Prince is reportedly close to Trump's infamous "Chief Strategist" Steven Bannon. Keep that in mind dear reader.



Item: April 4 witnesses the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun. Almost immediately Assad was blamed for these attacks, with Trump abruptly adopting a more militant line concerning Syria.


Item: Steven Bannon is removed from the National Security Council on April 5. Bannon is regarded as being one of the most dovish members of Trump's administration in regards to Russia. Reportedly, Bannon's power struggle with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was at the heart of Bannon's removal. Bannon has reportedly denounced Kushner as a "globalist" in private and blames him for subverting Trump's policies.



Steven Bannon

Item: On April 6 the United States launched airstrikes against the government of Syria for the first time (all previous strikes were allegedly against "rebel" groups). While the US gave Russian military personnel forewarning this time, Trump is reportedly considering military actions that would potentially lead to the deaths of Russian military personnel.



Yeah, its been that kind of a week. And all of this unfolds against the backdrop of an ever increasing military build up in Eastern Asia while Trump is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time this weekend.




Xi Jinping
Clearly, there has been some type of reversal of fortunes in the Trump administration. In the preceding weeks foreign policy concerns seemed to have shifted to China with Trump's first meeting with the Chinese president looming. The statements made by Tillerson and Haley on March 30 seemed to mark the end of of US efforts to escalate tensions with Russia, seemingly in anticipation of greater hostilities with China. The emerging Susan Rice scandal appeared to give Trump further leverage in his efforts to pursue a different foreign policy with Russia, if he so chose.

But then beginning this week a new offensive was begun by the anti-Russia faction of the deep state. Prince's meeting with Russian officials in January is leaked on Monday of this week and then the highly dubious chemical attack in Syria unfolds on Tuesday.

While the phrase "false flag" has become far too casually used by the conspiratorial right, the fact is there is absolutely no logical reason for Syria or Russia to engage in the use of chemical warfare at this point. Tillerson and Haley had both supported Assad's rule on Thursday, signaling a winding down of US operations in Syria, and then less than a week later Assad decides to gas his own people with sarin gas? What could possibly be gained from such actions?

Then, the day after this absurdity, Bannon is removed from the National Security Council, likely in preparation for the US attacks launched against the Syrian government the next day. Many people will no doubt point to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for this reversal in fortunes. Kushner was reportedly a lifelong Democrat and donor prior to Trump's campaign. He is also reputed to be a Zionist and is Trump's chief liaison to Jewish elites who such played a major role in Trump's campaign.




Jared Kushner
It is no doubt Kushner's Israeli connections that many will point to for the Trump administration's sudden about face and there is some merit here. Israel regards Iran as the greatest threat to its security at present and Iran's involvement in the Syrian Civil War is seen as an extension of this threat. Prominent Zionists have invested a lot in Trump and thus far his administration has abandoned any pretext of the detente begun by the Obama administration.

But here's the thing: Many pro-Russian Trump officials such as Bannon and former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn are as anti-Iran as it gets. Reportedly Erik Prince's visit with Russian officials was to convince Putin to withdraw support from Iran for further US actions. Prince may even have made head way in this regard as Russia had agreed to assist the US and Israel in expelling Iranian influence in Syria on March 25, days before the pro-Assad proclamations made by Tillerson and Haley.




Erik Prince
Will Israel ultimately then benefit from the present escalation? Possibly not, as the current events feel like they have a lot more to do with Russia than Iran. If anything, efforts to topple the Iranian government may move to the back burner if tensions with Russia continue to escalate.

Is the anti-Russian faction that backed Hillary making a comeback then? Most likely, and Kushner may only be playing a side role in helping them change the agenda. The leading role may in fact being played by a man Hillary backers in the intelligence community have reportedly considered staging a coup for. It may even be a fear of this coup that forced Trump's recent actions in Syria.

But what could be forcing Trump's hand? Well, remember, Trump has been linked to billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein along with Bill Clinton. One of Trump's early mentors was attorney Roy Cohn, a man long linked to sexual blackmail operations run by the CIA that may have involved pedophilia.




Roy Cohn
Meanwhile, there are wide ranging reports that some 1500 pedophiles have been arrested since Trump took office. And it just so happens that Seattle mayor Ed Murray, who has gained fame of late for defying Trump's Justice Department concerning illegal immigration, was named in a lawsuit alleging the sexual abuse of a minor just yesterday.

Even more interesting is the fact that the man heading Trump's Justice Department happens to be a member of the same secretive network as the man Hillary backers have considered staging a coup for. Even Hillary herself is a "friend" of this network.

Ah, but surely all of this is a coincidence.






Update 4/9/17

As can be expected, Trump's decision to bomb Syria has generally received positive reactions from across the political spectrum, with even the mainstream media and Democratic Party grudgingly offering up support. As the great Glenn Greenwald has pointed in his latest must-read column, the Democrats really have no choice after their transformation in the 1950s McCarthy-era Republican Party over the past year:

"Democrats have spent months wrapping themselves in extremely nationalistic and militaristic rhetoric. They have constantly accused Trump of being a traitor to the U.S., a puppet of Putin, and unwilling to defend U.S. interests. They have specifically tried to exploit Assad’s crimes by tying the Syrian leader to Trump, insisting that Trump would never confront Assad because doing so would anger his Kremlin masters. They have embraced a framework whereby anyone who refuses to confront Putin or Assad is deemed a sympathizer of, or a servant to, foreign enemies.
"Having pushed those tactics and themes, Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. How could they possibly do anything but cheer as Trump bombs Syria? They can’t. And cheering is thus exactly what they’re doing.
"For months, those of us who have urged skepticism and restraint on the Russia rhetoric have highlighted the risk that this fixation on depicting him as a tool of the Kremlin could goad Trump – dare him or even force him – to seek confrontation with Moscow. Some Democrats reacted with rage yesterday at the suggestion that their political tactics were now bearing this fruit, but that’s how politics works." Still, that's hardly stopped the dissemination of Russian conspiracy theories from certain quarters. Greenwood goes on to note:

"Already, the most obsessive Democratic conspiracists have cited the fact that the U.S. military advised Russia in advance of the strikes – something they would have been incredibly reckless not to do – as innuendo showing that Trump serves Putin. If Trump tomorrow bombed Red Square, Democrats – after cheering him – would quickly announce that he only did so to throw everyone off the trail of his collusion with Putin."

Still, there is something curious about all of this. The attack on a Syrian airbase was so effective that fighters were scrambled from said base only hours after the attack. And while many hawks from either party are hoping this is the beginning of a new offensive, Rex Tillerson has been vague on how committed the US is to further escalating things against Assad.

Reportedly, the Prussian element in Trump's administration personified by Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis is the faction most likely to have pushed for this strike. This is interesting as both Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford (such as here and here) have expressed reservations over escalating the conflict in Syria.




Mad Dog
And all the while the situation in Eastern Asia grows more and more tense with each day. Today it was announced the U.S Navy would deploy a strike force to South Korea.

Just where all of this is heading is difficult to say. Next week Tillerson will reportedly visit Russia, the first time a Trump administration official has ventured into Mother Russia. This may provide some crucial insight into the level of commitment whomever is driving Trump's foreign policy has to the escalation with Russia. The possibility that this is some elaborate feign on the part of the Pentagon as it continues to build up its forces in Eastern Asia can not be dismissed. But policymakers will no doubt being playing their cards close to the vest as the final decision over what will be the primary theater of the next world war are hashed out.

China had their say this week, now its Russia's turn. The Pentagon is certainly doing all it can to be perceived as being in a position of strength.







Update II

Talk about being lost in a hall of mirrors. The Trump administration continues to sow confusion in regards to their end game in Syria. Recent comments made by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley indicate the US is committed to regime change while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once again hinted that Assad's future would be decided by the Syria people, echoing the more dovish comments he made on March 30th (noted above). National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster indicated the United States' principal interest in Syria is still the defeat of ISIS, but was vague on whether the involved the removal of Assad or not.

Even more interesting is another shakeup at the National Security Council. This time its veteran foreign policy pundit K.T. McFarland being given the boot, a decision apparently driven by McMaster. Bloomberg notes:

"K. T. McFarland has been asked to step down as deputy National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump after less than three months and is expected to be nominated as ambassador to Singapore, according to a person familiar with White House personnel moves.
"The departure of the 65-year-old former Fox News commentator comes as Trump’s second National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, puts his own stamp on the National Security Council after taking over in February from retired General Michael Flynn.
"McFarland proved not to be a good fit at the NSC, the person said, adding that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was involved in the decision as well."


K.T. McFarland
Just how close McFarland is to former NSA General Michael Flynn is debatable. McFarland has no doubt forged ties to the far right over the years as evidence by her time serving on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she worked directly with longtime American Security Council luminary Senator John Tower. On the other hand, she was brought into the foreign policy field by Henry Kissinger, whom she is regarded as a protege of and served with on the NSC during the 1970s. While not an Ivy Leaguer, she has been educated at the closely related Oxford and MIT. She's also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

As such, she appears to be very close to the Rockefeller faction of the old traditional conservative establishment. Her removal, which appears to have been driven by McMaster and General John Kelly would indicate that the generals and the evangelicals are increasing their strange hold on the NSC. For me information of the forces vying for power on Trump's National Security Council (and as a result, his foreign policy), check here.



Some Additional Thoughts:


An absolutely spot on analysis by Christopher Knowles of The Secret Sun.
Henry Kissinger, a total creation of the Rockefeller family, has been one of the only members of the traditional conservative establishment to support Trump on Russia. While Kissinger no doubt still has a line to Trump, the removal of McFarland largely leaves him on the outside looking in at the NSC. This further muddies the waters concerning Russia, but Tillerson's current posturing indicates improved relations with Russia are still possible, if not a given
Rick Perry's elevation to the NSC is interesting in the context of Bannon and McFarland's removal. Perry is close to the fanatical New Apostolic Reformation movement, which gives the Evangelical faction another key alley on the NSC. This is yet another sign our foreign policy is being totally directed by a combination of the Pentagon (and most assuredly not the civilian branch) and various Christian cults








China Games?

Increasingly, it looks like this weekend's posturing was primarily for China's benefit. Consider these latest developments:

"China will offer the Trump administration better market access for financial sector investments and US beef exports to help avert a trade war, according to Chinese and US officials involved in talks between the two governments.
"US President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, decided at their first meeting in Florida last week that they needed rushed trade negotiations to produce results within 100 days. The two concessions on finance and beef are relatively easy for Beijing to make.
"At present, foreign investors cannot hold a majority stake in securities and insurance companies in China. The country’s largest companies in these sectors, such as Citic Securities and China Life Insurance, have achieved enormous scale in the 15 years since the world’s second-biggest economy joined the World Trade Organisation, making them formidable competitors for new entrants to the market...
"China is also willing to end a ban on US beef imports that has been in place since 2003, officials said, and buy more grains and other agricultural products as it seeks to reduce tensions stemming from the $347bn annual trade surplus in goods that it enjoys with its biggest trading partner." The financial sector concessions are the big one. By opening up their securities and insurance companies to foreign ownership via majority stakes, China is setting up this part of the financial sector for a takeover by their US counterparts. This is no small pivot and may lead to unparalleled foreign influence on China's economy during the PRC era.

It would appear Trump's deployment of shock and awe sent the deserved message to its intended target.