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Status Quo Seekers Fear This Senator is Advising Trump

While the Blob freaks out, reports suggest Rand Paul is helping the president keep his campaign promises on war.

The American Conservative

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Via The American Conservative…


Welcome to the world of President Rand Paul,” blared the headline at TheWashington Post. In the piece that followed, columnist Josh Rogin took President Donald Trump to task for reportedly listening to the Kentucky senator too much.

“Several U.S. officials and people who have spoken directly to Trump since his Syria decision tell me they believe that Paul’s frequent phone conversations with Trump, wholly outside the policy process, are having an outsize influence on the president’s recent foreign policy decisions,” Rogin writes. “Officials told me that, throughout the national security bureaucracy, everyone is aware that Paul’s voice is one to which the president is paying increasing attention.”

“The existing concern over Paul’s influence on Russia policy has now boiled over with respect to Syria,” Rogin worries. He also warns, “In the run-up to 2020, Trump should realize that most Republicans—and most Americans—favor a robust U.S. foreign policy.”

This is Washington groupthink disguised as mainstream consensus. Polling this year has showed that most Americans are opposed to “robust” endless wars. Trump shouldn’t fear Republicans becoming disenchanted with his recent foreign policy decisions: according to a recent Morning Consult poll, the president’s support within his party remains sky high.

The idea that promoting a more restrained foreign policy is somehow a political liability reflects more what elites think voters should believe, not what they necessarily believe.

But why let reality get in the way of a good Beltway narrative? “Ideally, Trump will soon realize that adopting Paul’s vision for the future of U.S. foreign policy is not only dangerous for our national security but bad politics as well,” Rogin insists.

Is this even remotely true given what we know about America’s recent foreign policy and political history?

That Trump has now roundly bucked the advice of virtually all of his foreign policy advisors—so much so that his secretary of defense resigned in protest—is certainly unprecedented in modern American politics.

That’s the point.

To date, Trump has agreed to troop commitments in Syria and military build-ups in Afghanistan at the behest of his inner circle. This month, after two years of taking their advice with no endgame in sight, he essentially said “no more.”

This is consistent with what Trump promised during the election. It’s consistent with what Rand Paul has advocated during his time in Congress.

It’s also what Barack Obama once promised.

As The New York Times reported, “However precipitously Mr. Trump acted, he was channeling the same reservations that Mr. Obama had. Both presidents questioned the open-ended nature of these campaigns, pressed their advisers to define success, and faced the problem of ‘mission creep.’”

Obama campaigned on resisting Washington’s longstanding predilection to rush into war, particularly in Iraq, and promised to challenge the status quo. But a main difference between Obama and Trump, or at least Trump’s actions this month, is that Obama was never able to fully break from Washington foreign policy consensus, which some progressives lamented.

Anti-war rhetoric can be tolerated. Following through never will be. “Criticizing past U.S. policy at a campaign rally is one thing,” Rogin observed of Trump’s speechto American troops in Iraq at Christmas. “The commander in chief telling U.S. soldiers in a war zone that he has lost faith in their generals, and is therefore changing their mission, is another.”

“Trump’s Iraq trip moved U.S. foreign policy one big step in Paul’s direction,” Rogin writes.

And why wouldn’t the president move foreign policy in Paul’s direction, considering it is also the direction Trump himself had promised? Trump reportedly seeks counsel from Paul because Paul is one of the few in Congress who agrees with him.

This isn’t crazy or reckless or subterfuge or whatever other barbs foreign policy elites will continue to come up with. Again, it’s consistent.

It’s also rational. “These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them,” Andrew Sullivan writes regarding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. “Trump gave them one last surge of troops—violating his own campaign promise—and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.”

So now, Trump is finally being sane. “Obama was elected and reelected to end the Iraq occupation, and was then sucked back in by the exact same arguments we are hearing today,” Sullivan continues. “Trump was even more adamant in ending imperial overreach, but after two years, guess what? We are still in Syria and we have more troops in Afghanistan….”

In 2007, Obama boasted, “I’m not running to conform to Washington’s conventional thinking—I’m running to challenge it. That’s what I did in 2002. That’s what I did in 2004. And that’s what I will do as president of the United States.”

Right now, the president of the United States is actually, finally, challenging Washington’s conventional foreign policy thinking. Expect the establishment to give him no quarter.

And expect Donald Trump to find every ally—even if it’s just one—that he can get.


Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.

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Thomas MalthausMurieltherevolutionwasPlatonTjoe Recent comment authors
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Olivia Kroth
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Every president deserves good advisors. All the better if President Trump has one who is effective and peace-loving.

Donna
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Donna

The fact that Josh Rogin can write that “most Americans—favor a robust U.S. foreign policy” and not have any push back from either the political class or the grassroots speaks volumes. However much the neocons and neolibs are responsible for the humanitarian disaster in the Middle East, it is also true that ALL Americans have enabled their leaders to get away with murder…just by their silence.

therevolutionwas
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therevolutionwas

It’s not silence the American citizens are at fault for, it’s what Paul Craig Roberts calls insouciance. They don’t care. Well, 2/3rds don’t. They will only wake up when the stuff hits the fan…too late.

pogohere
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pogohere

“Obama promises 10,000 more troops for Afghanistan”

7-14-08

Barack Obama yesterday pledged to increase US troops in Afghanistan by a third if he becomes president, sending 10,000 more to reinforce the 33,000 already there.

He was speaking after the US lost nine soldiers at the weekend in the deadliest attack on its forces in the country since 2005.

Obama has promised, soon after becoming president in January, to begin scaling back the 156,000 US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, and to shift the focus to Afghanistan.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/15/barackobama.usa1

Platon
Guest
Platon

Bardak and Michael Obama, a lovely couple but proof that a bit of Black Blood does not mean you are not a Zionist and a total incompetent.

Regula
Guest
Regula

The reason the pundits squirm is that they know full well that the people agree with Trump’s move to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan; that this move will prevent their agenda and leave them nothing to promise voters in 2020. All of which increases the chance for a Trump second term. So how could that not be bad for “national security” alias their privileges and money?

Tjoe
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Tjoe

I supported Paul wholeheartedly until he worshiped a wall and wore a beanie. That changed everything. I still think he has the best foreign policy, but I question who even HE was working for when he went to Israel.

Platon
Guest
Platon

Rogin is a dual citizen and should be removed to his first nation of choice.

Muriel
Guest
Muriel

Rand Paul offers sane, realistic and pragmatic advice. Trump could do much worse than trust what Rand Paul opines. Rand Paul has courage, heart and integrity. He realizes that the majority of American people are sick and tired of endless war, endless costs of war, endless injuries of war. I’m glad Pres. Trump is finally listening to his advice and will continue to do so.

Thomas Malthaus
Guest
Thomas Malthaus

I would say that if anything, the president is getting more accurate (honest) information from Rand Paul than he ever received from Mattis, Pompeo, and Bolton.

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Putin’s State of the Nation Part III – Raising Russians

President Putin’s State of the Nation talk began with the most important element of any society – the family.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Parts I and II of this series outline much of Russia’s “face towards the world” in terms of both economic / trade and military matters. Part III actually comprises the great majority of what President Putin addressed in the Russian State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, 20 February. As he pledged upon his re-election to his fourth presidential term, the 66-year old leader focused primarily on domestic affairs within the Russian Federation.

The whole speech is available at Kremlin.ru, and by following this hyperlink.

We have selected excerpts along the reasoning of illuminating those parts of domestic policy in Russia that reveal why the globalist and secularist elíte in the West are so determined to block Russia’s success as a nation, even to isolate it and destroy it if possible. We will emphasize and comment on various points from the speech.

One of the biggest differences in Russia from the US is the centrality of traditional families, with children. Children are wanted and needed in the Russian Federation, and President Putin started his speech by addressing the matter of raising new Russians:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, citizens of Russia,

Today’s Address is primarily devoted to matters of domestic social and economic development. I would like to focus on the objectives set forth in the May 2018 Executive Order and detailed in the national projects. Their content and the targets they set are a reflection of the demands and expectations of Russia’s citizens. People are at the core of the national projects, which are designed to bring about a new quality of life for all generations. This can only be achieved by generating momentum in Russia’s development…

Therefore, the work of the executive branch at all levels should be coordinated, meaningful and energetic. The Government of Russia must set the tone.

At the same time, I would like to emphasise and repeat: our development projects are not federal and even less so agency-based. They are national. Their results must be visible in each region of the Federation, in every municipality. It is here, on the ground, that the majority of specific tasks is implemented.

Here, President Putin seems to be alluding to the importance of nation. While Russia has a much more openly socialist style government than the US does, it is nonetheless also much more efficient in its work in many ways. Communism failed, but it did teach some lessons about how to do a lot of work with few resources. There is a reason the largest nation on earth does not have to go into huge debt year after year.

Let me now share some specifics on our objectives. I will begin with the key objective of , which means providing all-around support to families.

Family, childbirth, procreation and respect for the elderly have always served as a powerful moral framework for Russia and its multi-ethnic people. We have been doing everything in our power to strengthen family values and are committed to doing so in the future. In fact, our future is at stake. This is a task shared by the state, civil society, religious organisations, political parties and the media.

This, while states in the US are trying to pass radical abortion laws to even be able to kill babies who survive abortions.

Russia has entered an extremely challenging period in terms of demographics. As you know, the birth rate is declining…

We succeeded in overcoming the negative demographic trends in the early 2000s, when our country faced extreme challenges. This seemed to be an impossible challenge at the time. Nevertheless, we succeeded, and I strongly believe that we can do it again by returning to natural population growth by late 2023 – early 2024.

Today, I wanted to talk about a new package of measures that has already been prepared to support families.

First: It is important that having children and bringing them up do not put families at the risk of poverty or undermine their wellbeing. As you know, we have already provided for the payment of subsidies for the first two children until they reach 18 months…

Starting January 1, 2020, I propose raising the bar to two subsistence wages per family member. This is what people have requested and these requests come directly into the Executive Office. This measure will increase the number of families entitled to additional benefits by almost 50 percent. Some 70 percent of families with one or two children will be able to benefit from help from the Government.

Second: At present, carers looking after children with disabilities and people disabled since childhood receive an allowance of only 5,500 rubles. I suggest increasing this to 10,000 rubles, starting July 1. Of course, I understand that it is still a small amount. However, it will be an additional measure of support for families with a child who needs special care.

Third: The income of Russian families must, of course, increase. This is a serious task that requires a comprehensive solution. I will speak about this in greater detail later. But we need direct measures. First of all, the tax burden on families needs to be relieved. The approach should be very simple: the more children there are, the lower the tax. I propose increasing federal tax relief on real estate for families with many children. I also propose lifting taxes on 5 square metres in a flat and 7 square metres in a house per each child…

Fourth: The Government and the Central Bank need to consistently maintain the policy to lower mortgage rates to 9 percent, and then to 8 percent or below, as stipulated in the May 2018 Executive Order. At the same time, special measures of support should be provided for families with children, of course… A family making a decision to buy housing certainly makes plans for a long or at least medium term, a lasting investment. But with this [present] programm, they take out a loan, start paying the installments, and the grace period ends. The interest is actually subsidized only for the first 3 or 5 years. I propose extending the benefit for the entire term of the mortgage loan.

Yes, of course, it will require additional funding, and the cost will be rather high: 7.6 billion rubles in 2019, 21.7 billion rubles in 2020, and 30.6 billion rubles in 2021. But the programme is estimated to reach as many as 600,000 families. We certainly need to find the money. We know where to get it. We have it, and we just need to use it in the areas that are of major importance to us.

And one more direct action solution. Considering the sustainability and stability of the macroeconomic situation in the country and the growth of the state’s revenues, I consider it possible to introduce another measure of support for families having a third and subsequent children. I suggest paying 450,000 rubles directly from the federal budget to cover this sum from their mortgage. Importantly, I propose backdating this payment starting January 1, 2019, recalculating it and allocating relevant sums in this year’s budget.

Let us see what we have. If we add this sum to the maternity capital, which can also be used for mortgage payments, we will get over 900,000 rubles. In many regions, this is a substantial part of the cost of a flat. I would like to draw the attention of the Government and the State Duma to this issue. If need be, the budget will have to be adjusted accordingly. An additional 26.2 billion rubles will be required for this in 2019. The relevant figures for 2020 and 2021 are 28.6 billion rubles and 30.1 billion rubles, respectively. These are huge funds but they should be allocated and used in what I have already described as a very important area.

There is a great deal more detail on the notion of various tax breaks for families with children. It is worth a read, and it is also worth noting the very clear language set forth here. It appears rather refreshing to hear these ideas laid out in such a blunt fashion.

 

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Pressure mounts on Theresa May to agree to 3 month Brexit extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 181.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at how the EU, in coordination with forces inside the British Parliament, are pushing for Theresa May to agree to a three month “Brexit day” extension.

According to a Bloomberg, Theresa May must resign as British prime minister and Conservative leader later this year after delivering Brexit, according to politicians at the highest levels of her own government.  May has promised her party she will stand down before the next general election, slated for 2022, but she’s likely to face pressure to go within the next three months. Once the U.K. is out of the European Union, and local district elections on May 2 are over, the premier will have no reason to stay in office, one senior minister said, speaking privately. Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc on March 29.

A person familiar with another minister’s views agreed with the timescale, arguing that the prime minister should leave in the summer, so a new leader can be in place in time for the party’s annual conference in October. A third senior member of May’s administration pointed out that Tories had no way of formally seeking to remove May before December under the party’s internal leadership rules. May will never voluntarily resign, despite her previous pledge, the person said.

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Via Zerohedge

Theresa May once again failed to extract concessions from the EU27 on Wednesday after yet another meeting with Juncker (surprise, surprise) as the Continent refuses to budge on May’s demands for “legally binding changes” to the deal – specifically to the troublesome Irish backstop, which many Brexiteers fear could result in the UK being reduced to a “vassal state” of the EU by becoming interminably trapped in the customs union, with zero say over its rules. Talks between Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and EU27 chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday were similarly inconclusive.

And with only 36 days left until “Brexit Day”, it’s becoming increasingly clear that May will need to ask her EU colleagues for an extension to the two-year negotiating period, something that would cut against her commitment to take the UK out of the EU “as scheduled”, though she has never explicitly ruled it out. According to Bloombergthe EU expects May to request a 3-month “technical extension,” which would be the first, and hopefully only, delay, (because anything further would ratchet up the pressure for the UK to participate in the upcoming European Parliament elections…an unnecessary complication).

Still, without meaningful concessions on the backstop, it’s difficult to see a way forward. Rebellious Tories and the “Independent Group” have so far focused their efforts on securing a legally-binding commitment to take a “no-deal” exit off the table. And with the deadline unlikely to be extended past this point, if a deal isn’t reached during the March 21-22 UK-EU summit, he way forward will appear impossibly vague.

But with dozens of Tories reportedly ready to rebel unless the PM offers concrete reassurances that ‘no deal’ isn’t an option, and that rebellion will likely take the form of support for an amendment tabled by former minister Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper to give Parliament the power to delay Brexit Day if no deal is reached by mid-March.

Meanwhile, thanks to the latest round of defections, the “Independent Group” has become the fourth-largest party in Parliament.

But all of these threats likely won’t take on real significance until the March summit with the EU, thanks to the Continent’s reputation for holding out until the last minute. Meanwhile, MPs have told the media that a vote on May’s Brexit “Plan B” deal – which had been set for next week – is unlikely.

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Trump’s Syria military pullout, not under John Bolton’s watch (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 89.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the announcement from the Trump White House that the United States has decided to station a ‘peacekeeping group’ of roughly 200 US soldiers in Syria for a ‘period of time’ after the much hyped withdrawal.

Once again we see that once the US enters a country for a regime change mission, it becomes nearly impossible to fully disengage, ultimately leaving America in the role of invader and occupier, for an indefinite amount of time.

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Via RT…

Despite President Donald Trump’s promises to withdraw American troops out of Syria, the US intends to maintain presence on the ground with a “small peacekeeping group” for an unspecified “period” of time, the White House said.

“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement without elaborating.

Trump took the world by surprise back in December, when he announced the US withdrawal from Syria without specifying a timetable. The initiative was not well received in the Pentagon, even forcing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign after clashing with Trump, as both the generals and politicians have been claiming that US presence in Syria is vital and that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group would inevitably reemerge if all of some 2,000 Americans leave.

The US withdrawal is being stalled by concerns about potential Turkish incursion into the territories currently controlled by the US-backed Syrian Kurds. On Thursday, Trump had another phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the issue. Washington wants Turkey to agree to a buffer ‘safe zone’ in northeastern Syria and is also contemplating arming the Syrian Kurds, despite Ankara’s strong opposition.

While the US continues its diplomatic maneuvering, some noted the irony, wondering if the White House was using the term ‘peacekeeping’ correctly or was even aware of what it actually means. Others questioned the logic and the motive of maintaining such a contingent on the ground, noting that 200 troops could serve as a human shield, but is unlikely to really sway the outcome of the conflict.

Traditionally, the term peacekeeping has been used to describe the UN Blue Helmets whose missions are strictly mandated by the Security Council. American troops, however, hardly have any legal basis to remain in Syria, as they had never been invited by the official government in Damascus.

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