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4 possible explanations for Trump’s mysterious foreign policy

Does Donald Trump have a concrete foreign policy, and is it really all that new?




When asked to comment on Russia’s position in the Second World War, years prior to the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, Winston Churchill, replied, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest”.

Increasingly, this can be said of Donald Trump. With every pundit in the world trying to guess, second-guess and analyse Trump’s next move, such endeavours remind one of gazing at a chess board, trying to anticipate the move of a player who isn’t there.

It is difficult to say with any certainty where this all might end up. By contrast,Obama’s foreign policy went from saying one thing and doing another in his very early months, to a presidency that said all the wrong things and then did them.

It didn’t take long to predict what Obama’s next move was. Just imagine the worst case scenario combined with sophomoric rhetoric about Russia and Assad being the worst thing since un-sliced bread and PRESTO, you’ve got your own Obama State Department memo.

By contrast Donald Trump is someone who says increasingly little on foreign policy and apparently does even less.

But then events happen like the escalation of bombings in Yemen and the US Marine build-up in Syria. It leaves one wondering just what the hell is going on.  Through all of this, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and to a lesser but still notable extent, James Mad Dog Mattis at the Pentagon, have all the presence of a black cat in a black room.

With that in mind here are the possibilities of what might be going on

1. A Promise Kept 

During the campaign and even after winning the election, Trump lamented the lack of surprise in Obama’s Middle East strategy. Trump pledged to develop a full plan to ‘knock the hell out of ISIS’ and he further promised to keep this plan a secret. The movement of US troops into Kuwait and illegal presence of new US Marines in Syria, may be an indication of such a plan in action.

It can be said with some measure of certainty that under Trump, America has quietly stopped arming Salifist jihadists and has concentrated their efforts on the Kurdish forces. Whether this is part of a grand plan or not is still a surprise, but perhaps that is Trump’s goal?

2. A Hostage To Misfortune 

While the surprise ISIS policy may still be waiting to pop up, there also remains the possibility that Trump is either unable or unwilling to execute his stated foreign policy goals. Here are some things he promised to do, followed by a remark on whether he has done them or not.

–Restore good relations with Russia (NOT DONE)

–Cooperate with Russia against ISIS (NOT DONE)

–Cease the Assad must go rhetoric (kind of, but he’s still invaded Syria illegally..just like Obama did with proxies and special advisers)

–Take a tough line on Iran (DONE, but with a measure of blatant amateurishness, even by the standards of his predecessors)

–Be a steadfast ally of Israel (DONE)

–Challenge NATO members to pay up (NOT DONE,  but too be fair, it is still very early days for such a thing).

With all this in mind, it may be that the internal struggles Trump is facing in Congress, the mainstream media and members of his own administration, have tied his hands in foreign policy. Under this scenario, the delays in Trump’s ability to achieve something substantial may be temporary. If Trump needs to do a slow purge of Washington, it may take years before a cohesive foreign policy, mirroring his campaign promises, is able to solidify. If not, this hypothesis would lead to permanent foreign policy attrition.

3. Miscommunication In Paradise  

While Donald Trump may prefer the proverbial Jimmy Buffett ‘cheese burger in paradise’, he may be finding that ruling the world is not as easy as the power suggests.

Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley continues to read from Samantha Power’s script. Her latest unfounded and confounding remark is that “We can never trust Russia”. It seems every time Trump emerges on Twitter to castigate the Russophobes in Washington as ‘losers’ who cannot accept defeat, one of his own appointees comes out with a ludicrous Russophobic statement. This of course came after the US refused to condemn the recent bombings in Damascus as terrorist attacks. This is frankly the equivalent of refusing to acknowledge that China is an economic superpower.

During the early days of the confirmation process of his appointees, Trump said that he is exercising a free speech policy among his cabinet in which each man and woman can publicly state their views even if they are views he disagrees with. He went on to assure the public that the buck stops with him.

This kind of policy is admirable in a way, but at some point, Trump ought to realise that he is running a government and not a debating club. With his sworn enemies united against him, Trump ought to tighten his grip on those who are supposed to be articulating his official policies.

4. Business As Usual 

Between Trump’s positive meeting with the Saudi Defence Minister, threats to Iran, US troops illegally invading a secular Arab country and poor relations with Russia, maybe Trump was never who he claimed. Maybe the whole thing was  calculated contrarianism during a difficult campaign.

I personally find that hard to believe, as foreign policy issues are never big winners or losers during US elections. Going after Hillary Clinton’s identity politics/sectarian campaign would have been more than enough. He would have even got less flack from the anti-Russian Democrats had he gone along hating Russia and sticking to the issues most voters are exorcised about, such as whether or not someone in possession of a penis can enter a female lavatory.

Trump has stuck his neck out calming that he wanted a new foreign policy, including in his recent address to Congress. The whole thing could have been a hoax to win the support of people like me. But I refuse to flatter myself. I think the first three options are more likely.

When all is said and done, these are mere possibilities. Trump’s foreign policy remains a Churchillian enigma. Maybe Trump is a Russian agent after all.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch



The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.



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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou



UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology



The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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