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Not so fast! Trump says we’re leaving Syria, deep state says no

The fight against terrorism isn’t real issue with all of this, but merely the premise used to justify American empire building

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The US and its coalition, numbering the in dozens, have been involved in numerous military operations, including thousands of military personnel, in Syria on the premise of eradicating ISIS from the Middle Eastern country, albeit without the consent of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad or the UN Security Council.

Last week, US President Donald Trump proposed pulling out of the conflict on the basis that the US has dumped a massive amount of resources into these and other operations in the Middle East, with costs exceeding $7 trillion, with no recognizable benefit to the US or its citizens, let alone to those of the country that the US military is conducting these active operations in, who have only witnessed massive death and destruction.

President Trump’s proposal, however was short lived as the new US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, together with special envoy to the US-led coalition Brett McGurk, Defense Secretary James Mattis,  and director of the US Joint Staff, Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie on Tuesday quickly and vehemently advised against an immediate withdrawal of forces on the ground in Syria, on the basis that such a move would be contrary to America’s national interests.

Military Officials advise continued active leadership in campaign to eliminate ISIS 

Brett McGurk stressed that the coalition was not through with its mission to, and that the US should continue active leadership in the campaign until ISIS is defeated. Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted that, should the US withdraw from Syria, that there would be a resurgence of the terrorist group, undoing all of the progress that the campaign has thus far achieved.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Dana White announced that the mission in Syria will continue and that the policy on the matter remained unchanged. In addition, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie revealed to reporters at the Pentagon that Washington would only adjust the level of the troops in Syria once ISIS has finally been eliminated.

Egypt today reports:

WASHINGTON – 5 April 2018: The U.S. military policy towards fighting Islamic State militants in Syria remains the same following discussions with President Donald Trump this week and the military has not been given a timeline for withdrawing troops, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Trump agreed in a National Security Council meeting this week to keep U.S. troops in Syria a little longer to defeat Islamic State but wants them out relatively soon, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Trump had signaled his desire to get U.S. forces out of Syria in a speech last week, and officials said he had privately been pressing for an early withdrawal in talks with his national security aides.

“We’ve always thought that as we reach finality against ISIS in Syria we’re going to adjust the level of our presence there, so in that sense nothing actually has changed,” Marine Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie told a Pentagon briefing.

McKenzie said Trump has not given the U.S. military any timeline.

“We think as we go forward one of the things that we haven’t been given is a timeline and that is actually very effective… (The) President has actually been very good in not giving us a specific timeline, so that is a tool that we will use to our affect as we move forward,” McKenzie said.

The United States is conducting air strikes in Syria and has deployed about 2,000 troops on the ground, including special operations forces whose advice has helped Kurdish militia and other U.S.-backed fighters capture territory from Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The Pentagon and State Department have said a longer term U.S. effort would be needed to ensure that Islamic State’s defeat is a lasting one.

Essentially, without a real timeline of withdrawal, and with the interest of removing Assad remaining one of the key goals to be accomplished in Syria, McKenzie’s statement that the number and amount of American assets and troops on the ground would only be “adjusted” once ISIS is eradicated in Syria is really quite telling.

Basically, as far as America is concerned, Syria is just like another Iraq for America. They will not rest until they have ousted Assad, set up a puppet government, and redrawn the map in Syria. Of course, with all of the international interest and involvement in these campaigns, that’s not all there is to the story. America’s allies in the region each have interests that they want to see advanced, and, for that reason, they will continue to lobby for the US’s involvement in Syria, so that we may never actually see the conflict reach a conclusion under present circumstances.

American Strategic Interests Served

When Trump complained about the sheer amount of resources that have been expended on America’s involvement in its ongoing campaign in Syria and Iraq, his military advisers immediately pointed out that a sudden withdrawal could not only undo America’s efforts to defeat ISIS, which is apparently quite close, or so they argued, but that other nations active in the region, such as Russia, Iran, and Turkey, would be totally free to go about pursuing their own interests in Syria, which runs totally counter to America’s interests, and those of its allies in the region. CNN reports:

“As far as Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIS. We have almost completed that task, and we will be making a decision very quickly — in coordination with others in the area — as to what we’ll do,” Trump said.

“Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision. And I said, ‘well, if you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay,'” he continued.

“But a lot of people … we do a lot of things in this country … we do ’em for a lot of reasons. But it’s very costly for our country, and it helps other countries a hell of a lot more than it helps us.”

“Think of it — $7 trillion over a 17-year period and we have nothing, nothing, except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing. So, it’s time. It’s time,” Trump concluded.

However you parse these words, they are not flattering to America’s sacrifice in the region over nearly 16 years. (The 17 years he references would have to include the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, which isn’t in the Middle East).

According to Trump, not only has the US lost thousands of soldiers — and led a war that caused the deaths of tens of thousands more — for “nothing” but “death and destruction.” He is also willing to contract their services out as a regional enforcer, putting more American lives at risk, if the Saudis pay up. To many observers, these words would have been staggering.

So what are US troops doing in Syria? In February they gave us a tour of their secretive bases. There are small pockets of ISIS they are still hunting on the Iraqi border and in the wide expanses of desert.

The US presence can also be felt west of the Syrian Kurdish-held area known as Rojava, where US forces patrol the borderline between these US-backed Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters and the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels who want to take territory back from them. They are, in effect, peacekeepers.

To the south of Rojava, US troops have a similar role in keeping the Syrian regime and its Russian backers at bay. When some regime-loyal militias, aided by Russian contractors, tried to seize an oilfield in February, they were met with intense US firepower, killing dozens.

The short-term argument for keeping US troops in Syria is about supporting these Kurds, both as an unspoken mark of gratitude for their sacrifice in nearly defeating ISIS and as a bulwark against the group’s re-emergence.

But there is a broader, more strategic picture here, which serves far more than Saudi Arabian interests.

Iran is using its strong presence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to secure its growing dominance in the region. US forces in Syria, while limited in capacity, can at least keep an eye on — and act as a speed bump for — that Iranian influence.

This suits the Saudis, who are Iran’s regional nemesis. But it also suits Israel, another US ally, who is becoming increasingly aligned with Saudi Arabia in its regional goals. It also suits Jordan, and the Gulf states, yet more US allies who would prefer to see Iran held in check.

While Turkey — another long-term ally of the US currently at odds with Washington — publicly despises the US support of the Syrian Kurds (whose Turkish brethren it calls terrorists), there must be a recognition in Ankara that if nothing else, the American presence in Syria can at least keep the Kurds there in check.

In short, a lot of interests are served by the US presence in Syria, which used to be part of an age-old game called “US strategic or regional interests.”

In short, America’s active involvement in Syria is far from over, and will not end any time soon. In reality, if America were to withdraw from Syria, the coalition would follow suit, and the conflict would be left up to Russia and Assad’s forces.

Such a maneuver, however, would not suit Israel, Jordan, the Saudis, or the Gulf States as the sheer amount of money and manpower that they have invested in the campaign would be totally lost as Assad regains control over his nation’s territory and a stronger relationship with Russia and Iran, meaning that they won’t get to come away with a piece of the action if the Coalition were to succeed in its endeavour and get a chance to redraw the map and set up a new regime friendly to their own interests.

Lastly, Assad’s government reestablishing control over all of its territory would also thwart Turkey’s activity in its attempt to gobble up parts of Syria. Syria will remain a central focus of international activity and interests likely for many years to come as the situation will only yield more conflict until someone is able to establish a high degree of stable, long term, control. Of course, with all of this considered, it is apparent that the fight against terrorism isn’t the real issue with all of this, but merely the premise used to justify the Western coalition in its empire development.

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FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Washington Examiner

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Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

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Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

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Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

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Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

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