McMaster Made Bannon Walk the Plank?

McMaster jumps Trump's ship?

Don Rose has an interesting insight into H. R. McMaster’s role in the Trump Administration melodrama.  He seems to have predicted what came soon after his piece below went to press on his blog.  But rather than McMaster having to quit, it was Trump’s so-called “Chief Strategist” who got booted off the National Security Council.  Clearly, McMaster knew he had a strong card in that Trump could ill-afford another mash-up with his National Security Advisor after the Flynn imbroglio. – Ed.

Don Rose

Director of National Intelligence H. R. McMaster, who succeeded the disgraced, immunity-seeker  Michael Flynn, has been strangely silent during the tragic comic-opera about the allegedly exculpatory intelligence brought to the president by Rep. Devin Nunes via what appears to be a three-cushion billiard shot from the White House itself.

Just as a reminder, McMaster, a three-star general, was clearly the most universally lauded and respected cabinet choice, honored for his leadership in Kuwait and Iraq and especially his willingness to speak truth to power. He wrote a book harshly critical of the military handling of the Vietnam War. Immediately after being hired he broke with Trump  by saying that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting Islam, then announced that use of the term “radical Islamic terrorists” was especially unhelpful. (As Obama always said.)

McMaster was also guaranteed the right to name his own staff–something not offered to his predecessor nominees. That guarantee that was recently violated when he tried to fire an underling, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council. Watnick-Cohen’s job was saved through the efforts of son-in-law Jared Kushner and all-powerful guru Steve Bannon.

Here’s where the plot sickens. Cohen-Watnick is one of two (or possibly three) White House figures who summoned Nunes to view the classified intelligence that appeared to, but did not actually, give credence to Trump’s claims of having had his phone tapped or otherwise surveilled by the Obama Administration.

You will recall that Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, did not share the information with his members, but brought it first to Trump, then to the press–a thoroughly inappropriate series of moves that is still being condemned. Oh yes–he was a member of Trump’s transition team, to which he apparently owes first loyalty, rather than to his committee, whose work he effectively sabotaged. That was probably the plan behind that bizarre operation in the first place.

It appears that Cohen-Watnick, a Flynn loyalist, was kept on specifically to participate in the goofy plan to give Nunes the intelligence and then have him bring it back to Trump as a “revelation.”   It further appears that McMaster was left out of the loop, though all intelligence from all federal agencies is supposed to flow through him for evaluation. Had it gone that way, he likely would have laughed it off the page.

That’s why I wonder why he hasn’t weighed in on the mess. If he approved it, that might have given it credence because he is widely respected by all sides. He might easily have said “let’s just turn it over to the FBI and congressional committees that are investigating Russia and surveillance issues.”  His silence speaks volumes.

It is likely he is mightily angered by the double insult–first keeping Cohen-Watnick and second letting this screwball scheme play itself out. If McMaster has not sunk into the swamp himself–not very likely–he may be waiting for the next insult to announce he has decided “to spend more time with his family.”

This post originally appeared on Don’s blog.

40 thoughts on “McMaster Made Bannon Walk the Plank?

  1. I hope McMaster remains in his position because 1) it is comforting to cling to the hope that there is one sane player on the White House/GOP side, and 2) a sane player is desparately wanted the closer the Carl Vinson group gets to tomahawk range of N. Korea.

    • (1) I hope that someone reads McMasters the U.S. law prohibiting active-duty military officers from serving in the civilian government of our country.

      (2) Judging by what the two U.S. Navy destroyers just did once in tomahawk range of Syria, I do not see any reason to depend upon the illegally serving McMasters for sanity once our aircraft carrier “strike force” gets within range of N. Korea — and China.

      In short, I would want to see evidence of past adult sanity — not to mention a respect for U.S. Law — in a person before I would depend upon its future, hypothetical, existence. McMasters, like the also illegally serving James Mattis, will do whatever their “commander in brief,” President Trump, orders them to do, providing he orders them to launch a military attack against a nation not at war with the United States. On the other hand, if President Trump, like President Obama before him, orders the U.S. military to cooperate with either Russia or China in actually fighting “terrorism,” the U.S. military will deliberately sabotage his policy and attack those governments actually fighting U.S. supported terrorists. President Obama caved in to this treasonous insubordination in Syria, and so has President Trump. The U.S. military and C.I.A. will do whatever they wish to do in “service” to their own personal careers and institutional budgetary interests.

      I trust that I have explained how things really work in the U.S. Oligarchic Junta, but in case I haven’t, I suggest reading the following bit of relevant U.S. history, which I very much remember from the days of my youth: JFK vs. the Military, by Robert Dallek, The Atlantic, Special JFK Commemorative Issue (August, 2013). From the Introduction:

      President Kennedy faced a foe more relentless than Khrushchev, just across the Potomac: the bellicose Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for the deployment of nuclear weapons and kept pressing to invade Cuba. A presidential historian reveals that Kennedy’s success in fending them off may have been his most consequential victory.

      The Pentagram and C.I.A. rolled President Obama like soggy sushi. They have done the same to President Trump. That sure didn’t take long. And if the U.S. Navy had a serving officer worthy of his rank and responsibility to ship and crew, he or she would have refused to ostentatiously launch sixty cruise missiles at Syrian and Russian military forces, neither of whom have attacked or harmed the United States. Anyway, given that the five-dozen missiles exploded ineffectively somewhere — only twenty-three of them getting anywhere near their ostensible target — I’d say that the U.S. Navy doesn’t look as daunting as it, perhaps, thinks it does. Nasty surprises always await arrogant and presumptuous military forces who put too much faith in their own “scary-ness” and who fail to grant status and purpose to their erstwhile adversaries. The world has a name for floating airports like U.S. aircraft carriers: “VLT,” namely: “Very Large Targets.” Sail one of those within range of hypersonic anti-ship missile batteries on the China coast and Davy Jones gets to welcome three-to-five thousand dead U.S. sailors to his watery locker room.

      If I had to bet on any “adults” in the room, I’d place my money on the Russians and Chinese, whom I feel certain actually have some. The United States, as presently misgoverned, has already demonstrated — beyond the shadow of a doubt — that we don’t.

      Finally, and meaning no offense or disrespect, but can we please knock off the Military Idolatry crap?

      Warfare Welfare, Makework Militarism, and Parkinson’s Law meets the Peter Principle describe the U.S. military today and for the past several decades. Credulously idolizing that collection of self-tooting fuck-ups really needs to stop.

  2. “Funnily” enough, Bannon’s demotion didn’t keep him out of Trump’s Situation Room where the team viewed live video feed of the (mostly for show, it appears) missile attack on the Syrian airbase. And he may have been seated way in the back of the room simply because he was tardy in arriving (just a quick hypothesis on my part). Trump has been sucking up to the Military Machine since his time on the campaign trail. He is easily blinded by the “fruit salad” of ribbons and medals adorning the chests of the generals and admirals as they strut about the nation’s capital. I don’t know Bannon’s age, but if he was eligible to serve in Vietnam I have a suspicion that he avoided the “call of duty,” like so many of these politicians/propagandists eager to send other folks’ daughters and sons into combat. I’ve been saying for some time that Trump has been itching to “project US military power” around the globe, and the first shots have been fired. I did my time in the Army, and I will accord no “honor” to McMaster or any other wearer of “fruit salad” for their roles in unjust and unjustified US military adventures abroad.

    • I agree with your assessment of McMaster and his ilk, Gregg, but I’ll say more about that below. In the interest of fairness, though, I think that Steve Bannon served for a time in the U.S. military. According to Wikipedia:

      “He was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as well as at the Pentagon.”

      As a matter of record, then, Steve Bannon served in the U.S. military. So did I. And “So what?” the unimpressed person might — and probably ought to — ask. Military service in and of itself says nothing about how one might function as a civilian employee of the national government. Furthermore, and probably to Bannon’s credit, getting out of the U.S. military as soon as he possibly could, rather than plodding on for twenty years and an early retirement pension, testifies at least to a common-sense understanding of how one might better spend one’s life and energies.

      Now, to the particulars of military lifers like McMasters and James “Mad Dog” Mattis, neither of whom qualify for employment in the civilian government of the United States. Please do not laugh or vomit when I say that the United States has laws prohibiting active-duty military officers (McMasters) or former military officers (Mattis) serving in the civilian government unless a period of five-to-seven years (depending upon their military rank) has elapsed since their retirement. Prior to the nomination of James Mattis for Secretary of “Defense” (i.e., permanent war), only Army General George C. Marshall (who directed the U.S. military to victory in World War II) had ever gotten a “waiver” of these legal provisions. And equating either McMasters or Mattis to George C. Marshall, who served with great distinction as U.S. Secretary of State, has to border on the pathetically ludicrous. Neither man has ever “won” anything, especially a “war,” no matter how many times our government kept sending them back to Iraq and Afghanistan so that they can get more of our enlisted men killed or maimed.

      Doing stupid, murderous things to foreigners who have never attacked or harmed the United States — just because some other lifer with one more stripe on his sleeve says to do so — hardly marks one as either intelligent or moral or “an adult.” Just the opposite. If anything, from the abject — if not insubordinate — fuck-ups already committed by the U.S. military during the Obama administration and first days of the Trump administration, I’d say that prior service in the U.S. military, at least among the top ranks of the officer caste, ought to preclude one from having anything to do with the civilian government of our country. And if the American people any longer gave a shit about what we used to think of as “laws,” then they wouldn’t. But as George Orwell wrote in 1984: “In Oceania there is no law.”

      I don’t agree with Steve Bannon on most things, but if he cautioned against the U.S. military’s latest hare-brained scheme to violate the U.S. Constitution and International Law just to try and scare the Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah with a few badly targeted fire crackers, then I’d say he acted quite “adult” and rational. I have no doubt that this adult rationality might enrage General McMasters and the already defeated (again) U.S. military and C.I.A. in Syria where they have no business. Putting a military uniform on a mental infant like McMasters hardly qualifies as wisdom in my estimation. Just another obvious sign that our erstwhile emperor, President Donald Trump, has no clothes. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to think he needs any. And neither does his courtier Praetorian Guard who look like a third-world banana-republic junta to modern civilized nations.

      • Michael M: I usually agree almost completely with your opinions, but in this case I must demure. McMasters legally should not be able to accept a civilian position with the US government, true, and I would be elated if Constitutional proscriptions like the years of separation requirement was enforced by an attorney general — won’t happen with puke Sessions, of course — and Presidential decree to wage war was aced out and the (spineless) Congress resumed sole responsibility for that decision.

        I don’t think that McMasters is an optimum individual for his advisory position, no, but out of the tragically inept lot of slugs who have no business in the Oval Office yet are there he is, unfortunately, the only one with any degreee of competence, sad as it is to say and tiny as it may be.

        I’m not aware of any other of the jackasses the Jackass in Chief has surrounded himself with who is capable of hearing contrary opinions to the right wing neocon military doctrine presently permeating the administration. Even though he has a record as a HIgh Priest of that doctrine, I fear that McM is the only one of the bunch who might be able to talk President Chump out of seeking more “Good boy!” rewards from stupid American media owners who praise worthless grandiliquose accomplish-nothing gestures like the weekend’s missile launch.

        Bannon disagrees with military adventurism, as do I, but his position is one which is a rigid ideological libertarian belief, essentially religious in nature, as opposed to realistic pragmatism which assesses situations on case by case reality-based calculations/assessments of immediate, short term, and long term cost benefit analysis. His responses to situations are determined before situations occur. Barring an instantaneous total withdrawal of US military from everywhere and back to CONUS/Hawaii/territories — which is absolutely not in the cards — Bannon’s mindset is wrapped hopelessly around his ideological axle and of no use to anyone.

  3. In response to: lsnrchrd1, April 9, 2017 at 4:34 PM

    Thank you for your views, and especially for the well-written manner in which you express them. Nice to read something by an educated and literate person.

    We do agree about some things — like that Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a coterie of “slugs,” as you properly caricature them. Mostly millionaire and billionaire slugs, which does tend to impress your average Republican and DNC supporter of You-Know-Her, but slugs nonetheless. Yet here I think that we do ourselves and our fellow blog-posters a better service by highlighting and exploring our differences.

    First off, you do not seem to place general McMasters among the other slugs who now surround and advise President Trump, whereas, I do. You can put lipstick on a pig or a military uniform on a slug, but you still have a pig and a slug at the end of the day. Military uniforms adorned with rows of gaudy pins, ribbons, stars, and badges do not impress me, especially when worn by a career military minion with no understanding of the U.S. Constitution or willingness to live according to its wise prohibitions. You acknowledge this sense of lawless privilege on the part of McMasters. Fine. But then, unfortunately, you seem prepared to accept his official lawlessness because no one else in the U.S. government seems any more interested in the Constitution than General McMasters. For my part, I do not accept — and will never accept — privileged lawlessness on the part of government officials, especially among those of a military background. Them least of anyone. You know: Caesar. Rubicon. End of the Republic. That sort of thing. The uniformed “Man on Horseback” does not fill me with confidence. Rather, he scares the living shit out of me. I have my reasons: good and numerous ones, based upon my limited understanding of thousands of years of recorded human history.

    In other words: I do not want to see one military officer, current or former, serving in any capacity in our civilian government. I can’t recall one of them, in my whole life, talking an American president out of doing something stupid and disastrous. Quite the opposite. I remember nothing but U.S. military officers demanding that our government do something stupid and disastrous and — most importantly — that our government give them the job of guaranteeing that we do something stupid and disastrous, which they proudly boast as their preeminent field of “expertise” and “competence.” To list only a few supporting examples: I remember President Eisenhower and the U-2 spy-plane fiasco; Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs; Johnson with the Tonkin Gulf “incident;” Reagan at the Beirut Airport; Clinton with his “wag-the-dog” bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Africa and the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia; Deputy Dubya’s WMD and “ties to al-Qaeda” horseshit, et cetera, et cetera. What “competent” U.S. military general prevented any of that? Pretty obvious the answer to that loaded question, right?

    As you can see from the preceding paragraph, I differ with you in regard to general McMasters’ alleged “competence” and “willingness to speak truth to power.” Where has anyone seen this preposterous postulate tested? In Iraq? In Libya? In Afghanistan? In Yemen? In Somalia? Just the other day in Syria? Really? Where?

    I have heard that McMasters once wrote a book about how the U.S. civilian government failed to let the U.S. military kill enough Southeast Asian peasants in order to “win” (something). You know: the standard German-military “stab-in-the-back,” “tied our hands behind our backs” excuses for starting a war and then losing it in spectacular fashion. I’ve read and studied all the better known reference works dealing with America’s War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) but I’ve never heard of anything written by McMasters. Ditto for General David Petraeus who dusted off our old, worthless manuals from counterinsurgency school and pretended that he had discovered some abiding truth about how to actually “win” what the American military always loses. Frauds, both of them.

    Anyway, judging from the recent U.S. military attack on Syrian and Russian military forces in Syria, McMasters and Mattis had no effect on President Trump’s decision to put on a firecracker show that only exposed how expensively and ineffectively the U.S. Navy shoots at things and people. So now we send a U.S. Navy “strike group” to North Korea? To do what? To “strike” whom? And if the U.S. Navy cannot strike North Korea or China any better than they struck Syria, then what kind of “fear” can one expect the North Koreans and Chinese to feel? If the last firecracker show accomplished nothing but exposing U.S. military ineptitude — as if fifteen years in the Middle East hadn’t already done that — what will another such show accomplish? Has anyone thought about this?

    It does not appear that “generals” McMasters and Mattis have. Which does not surprise me in the least. So much for our Vaunted Visigoths and their oft-alleged “experience” and “competence.” If and when you actually see evidence of this, then let me know.

    Finally, as to Steve Bannon, I have little knowledge of him other than that he seems to have gotten Donald Trump elected President of the United States. If I understand correctly, he did this by advising candidate Trump to promise the downwardly dropping U.S working class jobs, incomes, and economic futures for their families. You can call this “ideology,” if you like. You can assume that it stems from no deep core of reasoned principle, if you like. Personally, I have no way of knowing these things about the man. Nevertheless, none of his appeal to the American electorate has anything to do with Russia or Syria or any sort of foreign military adventurism of the sort that generals McMasters and Mattis favor. This you seem willing to acknowledge but not credit with the possibility that it might motivate a possible turn in America’s decades-long, disastrous foreign policy. If President Trump has forgotten this in a stupid bid to impress the hothouse orchids and special snowflakes of the New-York/Washington chattering class — you know, the ones who all predicted that You-Know-Her would win by “standing up to Putin” — then something very bad may soon happen. To Americans. In America. And no one but the American government will have to bear the blame for that. Steve Bannon and his populist economic appeal does not frighten me anywhere near as much as those a ticket-punching, fuck-up-and-move-up military officers who cannot even abide by the Constitution that they ostensibly swore to “defend.”

    Oh, and in case I haven’t made my position clear by now: I really loathe and despise the U.S. military for what it has done to America and the world during my lifetime. As a matter of fact, the U.S. citizen has no greater enemy than the U.S. military which ravenously feeds on the public purse without providing the least value to anyone but a few extremely wealthy stock-holders and Wall Street casino gamblers — but I repeat myself. When the American citizenry rises up and rids us of these parasitical frauds then and only then will the United States become a “modern” and “civilized” nation.

    So let us disagree, friend. And I thank you for the disagreement. I have enjoyed it immensely.

    • Mike–Thanks for researching Bannon’s background. Sounds like he probably entered the Navy shortly after the deadly US fiasco in Southeast Asia had played out. Of course, as a former enlisted man–like yourself–I do not snap to attention and salute Bannon for his “service” nor respect him for having been a commissioned officer. As for the problem of military officers putting their uniforms aside one day and being appointed to the “civilian” government apparatus the next, yes, we have a major problem here. This issue was pointed out in the mainstream media and then the story conveniently faded away. We have had our fill of arrogant imperial presidents in recent decades, but the current one apparently sincerely believes–very likely the only belief he truly holds–that he literally can do any bloody thing he wishes. Because he’s The Donald, you see! What authority can intervene to tell him he CAN’T put these generals in the positions they’ve been appointed to? I don’t think it’s up to the Attorney General of the US. I think Congress would have to make it a constitutional issue, with possible grounds for impeachment, with SCOTUS likely being the ultimate arbiter. With Gorsuch steamrollered into a seat on that once august body, it’s hard to picture “democratic/Constitutional principles” coming out the winner. Dwight D. Eisenhower did not agree with Gen. Douglas MacArthur that the US should launch pre-emptive nuclear war against the Peoples Republic of China and relieved the latter of his command. Needless to say, Donald J. Trump is no Ike!!

      Again, I’m going a bit out on a limb, not having studied Mr. Bannon in depth, but I get the impression his special role in helping get this president elected was not in the field of economics, but more in the field of hate-mongering. From the moment of that first widely publicized rally at which Trump railed against Mexicans, his campaign caught fire. Can there be a sadder comment on the state of this society?

      • Partly correct about Bannon, Gregg, but only partly.

        Yes, Steve Bannon did convince Donald Trump to exploit “hatred” in order to get elected President. Yes, but the “hatred” stemmed primarily from working class people hating the raw economic deal that the One Percent Oligarchs — who own and operate the U.S. government as a franchise subsidiary — have dealt them. The American electorate did not choose Donald Trump for President because they hated the Russians or Syrians or Iranians or North Koreans. You-Know-Her and the DNC “Democrats” tried to sell them that kind of fear and hatred and they didn’t buy it. Now President Trump has joined You-Know-Her in threatening to bomb the Syrians (you know: the usual powerless Arabs) because his illegally serving generals have bullied him into betraying the economic basis of working-class hatred that got him elected. Both right-wing factions of America’s single Property Party will do anything and everything to keep working-class Americans from focusing their political identities on economics like the One Percent does. Steve Bannon has read his Marx and Lenin. He does know something about the economic roots of anti-imperial revolution. Perpetual war — mostly as seen on television and movie theater screens, not the actual fighting and dying — will provide the necessary distraction from economic concerns, or so America’s generals believe. For America’s generals their cushy military careers (and even more lucrative post-military careers) depend on it. As Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote in his famous book The Imperial Presidency (1973):

        “A first step toward reclaiming the American spirit and restoring the constitutional balance would be to hold down the objectives of foreign policy … To make this stick, it would be necessary to deplete the authority and resources of the main prop and beneficiary of that policy, the military establishment. For, as the Indochina War had shown, the military establishment had become the most powerful pressure for military intervention and escalation. ‘Created by wars that required it,’ Schumpeter had written of war machines of ancient times, ‘the machine now created the wars it required.’ ”

        We cannot emphasize this truth enough: the U.S. military establishment forms “the main prop and beneficiary” of [U.S. foreign ] policy. “The military establishment ha[s] become the most powerful pressure for military intervention and escalation.” Illegally serving generals McMasters and Mattis have only one objective, as do all the others of their kind, namely: to bully every U.S. president into ever more military intervention and escalation. Nowhere do we see even a single one of them demanding a cessation of these murderous, ruinous wars and a return to Peace and prosperity for the American working class.

        So, I say to American generals McMasters and Mattis: “Fuck you and the white pig you rode in on.” Try selling your bogus belligerent bullshit to someone — like Donald Trump — who doesn’t know you as well as I do or as Steve Bannon probably does. As Tom Friedman said to the Iraqi people whom Deputy Dubya and Sheriff Dick had every intention of shocking and awe-ing with their cruise missiles and General David “perception management” Petraeus: “Suck. On. This.”

  4. More food for thought from the always excellent Alexander Mercouris at The Duran (4/10/2017):

    Here’s the 5 reasons why Donald Trump’s missile strike was a massive blunder

    In particular, as concerns Steve Bannon and the electoral demographic that put Donald Trump in the White House:

    (5) By contrast, if the President has not won over his critics, he has beyond question upset and demoralised the most intelligent and vocal part of his own political base.

    One of the most interesting facts about the events of the last few days is that whilst Barack Obama’s liberal supporters continued to back him even as he went back entirely on the anti-war stance he appeared to hold before he was elected, Donald Trump’s supporters take their anti-war and anti-interventionist position extremely seriously, and are not prepared to compromise on it.  The result is that far from defending the President for what he has done, they have turned on him and feel betrayed. [emphasis added]

    Turning on Steve Bannon and offering him as a sacrifice to the illegally serving generals McMasters and Mattis may cost President Trump more than he ever thought possible.

    Personally, having had the Clintons and Barack Obama betray me and the anti-war movement for some big bucks from their corporate donors, if it takes a “white nationalist” like Steve Bannon to put an end to these filthy murderous wars-of-choice, then more power to him. If President Trump does not reconnect with the working-class that — perhaps foolishly — put their economic futures in his hands, then he has a very short and dark period in office ahead of him. And “followed by what?” does not seem like a pleasant thought at the moment.

    • Mike–Surely these folks who believed Trump an “isolationist” are a minority, and probably a small one at that, among The Great Man’s followers. The majority of those to whom Trump appealed, to whom I’ve referred in the past as “Joe Six-Pack” (hardly original, I know), are those who will be flying US flags from their SUVs and pickup trucks, chanting “USA! USA!” etc. as soon as anything major breaks out. The missile attack on the Syrian airbase was over so quickly these “super-patriots” didn’t really have time to react. Except I understand some of their ilk attacked anti-war demonstrators over the weekend. Shades of Nixon’s “hard hats.”

      • Greg,

        Speaking of people chanting “USA! USA!” etc., I seem to recall a mob of You-Know-Her’s supporters at the Democratic Nominating Convention shouting down anti-war Bernie Sanders supporters with just those words (or duckspeak quacking noises). Not exactly the “Joe Six-Pack” crowd to whom you refer. As you may have observed — others certainly have — You-Know-Her thought that she could outflank the Orange Man by running to his right and picking off Republican votes while Trump, for his part, noticed that the center of the country had moved left and so he ran that way. As for the question of who and how many voted for whom, I suspect a great deal of organized Republican lying to pollsters. I say this because I remember George Gallup with egg all over his face one election night when he swore that arch-conservative Orange County voters had told him in exit interviews that they had voted for (1) a black man, (2) a Democrat, and (3) a mayor of Los Angeles. Sure they did. Just ask California Governor Tom Bradley. You-Know-Her believed the pollsters who believed their own corrupted data, too. Hence her present status as the first woman President of the United States.

        Additionally, the over-used “isolationist” canard may mean something in the Washington D.C. swamp, but it means absolutely nothing to the devastated working-class communities who want work and incomes and who cannot afford a new pick-up truck, SUV, or even gas for the broken-down pieces of junk they have to drive because they can’t afford anything better. As the Vietnamese immigrant author Linh Dinh told Chris Hedges in a recent interview: “The United States is one of the poorest countries in the world, but you can’t see that from San Francisco or Manhattan.” But, of course, Sarah Palin (and now, one must suppose, You-Know-Her) can see Russian President Vladimir Putin “entering our airspace” from her home in Alaska (or the Clintons’ twin mansions in New York and Washington, D.C.). Damn! Those Russians have just gotten into everything! Just ask Mark Shields and David Brooks of the PBS (i.e., Pure Bull Shit) Newshour.

        At any rate, getting back to General McMaster and his assumed “adult” influence on Donald Trump the infantile narcissist, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has a few words on that. See Donald Trump, Al Qaeda’s Useful Idiot: Wag The Dog — How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump And The American Media, Information Clearing House (April 10, 2017). A key passage regarding the recent ineffective cruise-missile firecracker show:

        That President Trump could be susceptible to such obvious manipulation is not surprising, given his predilection for counter-punching on Twitter for any perceived slight; that his national security team allowed him to be manipulated thus, and did nothing to sway Trump’s opinion or forestall action pending a thorough review of the facts, is scandalous. History will show that Donald Trump, his advisors and the American media were little more than willing dupes for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, whose manipulation of the Syrian narrative resulted in a major policy shift that furthers their objectives.

        Some “adults.” Some “supervision.”

        Finally, if any “adults” had anything to do with running U.S. foreign policy, a U.S. Navy “strike group” would find itself heading back to home port in the U.S. rather than steaming towards North Korea and China — to do precisely what? Send a “message”? I remember when the U.S. military sent quite a few of those “messages” to the North Vietnamese, who promptly shot them from the skies and took the “messenger” pilots (the ones who survived) prisoner. Unfortunately for the United States, those North Vietnamese bastards released one of our worst war-criminal pilots, John McCain, and sent him back to plague us for decades in the U.S. Senate. I have never forgiven the North Vietnamese for that. I realize that since we Americans killed three-million southeast Asians (Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians) that the Vietnamese and others might want to exact a degree of justifiable revenge upon us. OK. I get that. But John “Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain? That goes beyond understandable revenge. That’s just mean!

      • Sorry for not concluding my quote of Scott Ritter baove with the proper closing HTML tag. I did not mean to suggest that Scott Ritter said the following. I did.

        Some “adults.” Some “supervision.”

        Finally, if any “adults” had anything to do with running U.S. foreign policy, a U.S. Navy “strike group” would find itself heading back to home port in the U.S. rather than steaming towards North Korea and China — to do precisely what? Send a “message”? I remember when the U.S. military sent quite a few of those “messages” to the North Vietnamese, who promptly shot them from the skies and took the “messenger” pilots (the ones who survived) prisoner. Unfortunately for the United States, those North Vietnamese bastards released one of our worst war-criminal pilots, John McCain, and sent him back to plague us for decades in the U.S. Senate. I have never forgiven the North Vietnamese for that. I realize that since we Americans killed three-million southeast Asians (Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians) that the Vietnamese and others might want to exact a degree of justifiable revenge upon us. OK. I get that. But John “Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain? That goes beyond understandable revenge. That’s just mean!

  5. First, I believe McMaster is national security advisor, not DNI. Right now there is no DNI since Jim Clapper stepped down.

    Second, I’ll settle for “better” in any Trump appointment. McMaster is less crazy than Flynn, the lunatic he replaced. Don’t let the pursuit of perfect preclude progress towards better.

  6. I think that Lewis Carroll famously debunked this whole “Syria/Russia/Iran/Korea must have done something bad (because our genius generals say so) therefore let’s punish them” thing a long time ago:

    ‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

    ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’

    ‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’

    ‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

    ‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

    ‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

    ‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’

    Somebody sure disappeared down the rabbit hole in a hurry. I wonder if he (or they) will ever find his (or their) way out again.

  7. An excerpt from an analysis by The Vinyard of the Saker blog:


    My son perfectly summed up what Trump’s actions have resulted in: “those who hated him still hate him while those who supported him now also hate him“. Wow! How did Trump and his advisers fail to predict that? Instead of fulfilling his numerous campaign promises (and his own Twitter statements) Trump decided to suddenly make a 180 and totally betray everything he stood for. I can’t think of a dumber action, I really can’t. I have to say that Trump now appears to make Dubya look smart. But there is much, much worse.

    The worst aspect of this clusterf**k is how utterly immoral this makes Trump appear. Think of it – first Trump abjectly betrayed Flynn. Then he betrayed Bannon.

    “[Sidebar: I mostly liked Flynn. I had no use for Bannon at all. But the fact is that they were not my best friends, they were Trump’s best friends. And instead of standing up for them, he sacrificed them to the always bloodthirsty Neocons in the hope of appeasing them. This is what I wrote about this stupid and deeply immoral betrayal the day it happened:”

    “Remember how Obama showed his true face when he hypocritically denounced his friend and pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.? Today, Trump has shown us his true face. Instead of refusing Flynn’s resignation and instead of firing those who dared cook up these ridiculous accusations against Flynn, Trump accepted the resignation. This is not only an act of abject cowardice, it is also an amazingly stupid and self-defeating betrayal because now Trump will be alone, completely alone, facing the likes of Mattis and Pence – hard Cold Warrior types, ideological to the core, folks who want war and simply don’t care about reality.”

    “The worst aspect of that is that by betraying people left and right Trump has now shown that you cannot trust him, that he will backstab you with no hesitation whatsoever. Would you ever take a risk for a guy like that? Contrast that with Putin who is “notorious” for standing by his friends and allies even when they do something really wrong! There is a reason why the AngloZionists could not break Putin and why it only took them one month to neuter Trump: Putin is made of titanium, Trump is just an overcooked noodle]”

    And now Trump has betrayed HIMSELF by turning against everything he, himself, stood for. This is almost Shakespearean in its pathetic and tragic aspects!

    [end quote]

    What he said …

    • Shakespearean?? More like Orwellian, wouldn’t you say? 1.) But really, what did Trump ever stand for?; 2.) What are his current core beliefs? The answers, in my observation, are: 1.) The furtherance of the “Trump brand”; 2.) He sincerely believes he is The Greatest Historical Figure to Ever Walk the Earth, and thus he can do whatever he wishes, with no checks or balances. Yes, rather like the Red Queen in the Alice stories. As was well stated long ago, “The United States has no permanent friends. It only has permanent interests.” Likewise, I think Trump has no permanent stance on issues domestic or foreign. He could flip-flop on any question in a microsecond. I seem to recall that once upon a time he hinted he was pro-choice, but that had to go out the window to please the GOP base. And now his team has triumphed in filling the vacant SCOTUS seat with a gentleman who is surely anti-women’s rights. Because, you see, he’s a “strict constructionist,” and when the US Constitution was being crafted women had virtually no rights at all!

      • Definitely Orwellian. Pure duckspeak, blackwhite, crimestop, doublethink, and prolefeed. But still, Shakespeare wrote about everything and better than most others. As T. S. Eliot once said: “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” In the present context, I would submit one of my favorite passages from the Bard’s Measure for Measure, where Isabella pleads with a judge for her brother’s life:

        But man, proud man!
        Dressed in a little brief authority.
        Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
        His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
        Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
        As make the angels weep; who with our spleens,
        Would all themselves laugh mortal.

        See the ignorant, angry ape cavort and dance about for the adulation of the Corporate Media shills who only a day or two before nearly died laughing at the fantastic tricks he played on Twitter and other “social media,” a.k.a., “heaven” to the functionally illiterate in America. Somehow I think that the ape’s authority just got a little more brief.

  8. For what it’s worth, TCP featured an article on McMaster when he wore only two stars, in response to an Op-ed he wrote for the New York Times. See this link:

    In his op-ed, McMaster argued the U.S. military had learned from its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here was my response to that (2013):

    “Articles like McMaster’s suggest that our military can always win future wars, mainly by fighting more intelligently. These articles never question the wisdom of American militarization, nor do they draw any attention to the overweening size and ambition of the department of defense and its domination of American foreign policy.”

    “Indeed, articles like McMaster’s, in reassuring us that the military will do better in the next round of fighting, ensure that we will fight again – probably achieving nothing better than stalemate while wasting plenty of young American (and foreign) lives.”

    “Is it possible that the best way to win future wars is to avoid them altogether? As simple as that question is, you will rarely hear it asked in the halls of power in Washington.”

    A big problem with putting generals in charge is — well — they’re generals. Lifetime military men. Trained to see the world as a reservoir of war. And when you see the world in terms of military conflict, anywhere and everywhere, you often get exactly what you’re most ready to see.

    Once again we seem to have forgotten the wisdom of the saying that war is far too important to be left to generals. And with Trump professing his love for WWII generals Patton and MacArthur: well, I don’t like the combination of “blood and guts” Patton with “let’s fight a colossal land war in Asia” MacArthur.

    • Well said, Bill. And the only thing that’s changed since your 2013 comments is, indeed, the number of stars on the general’s epaulet. (Which, in theory, hangs in his closet gathering dust?) The notion that the US should project military power (translation: death and destruction for those on the receiving end) all over the globe, wherever it damn well pleases, is STILL the dominant thought (among these alleged thinkers) in the military-industrial complex. And therein lies our problem, and the problem for the vast majority of humankind who truly desire to live in peace.

      • Oops, a too-hasty typing job. It should have read “…it damn well pleases, because it CAN, is STILL…”

    • Thanks for the reference, Bill. A very good article with much to recommend it.

      Personally, though, whenever I hear unconfirmed reports that the U.S. military has “learned something” about winning wars in the future, even while they keep losing them for decades in the present, I think of my childhood cartoon hero, Bullwinkle Moose, attempting to pull a rabbit out of his magic hat. When his sceptical sidekick, Rocky the flying squirrel, would ask: “What, again?” The Moose would always exclaim confidently: This Time for Sure!.

      No doubt about it. We’ve just got to get ourselves some new generals. Or — the wiser choice, I think — do without them entirely. Let the colonels have a chance. They couldn’t do any worse.

      • Come to think of it, I did this whole Bullwinkle Moose thing in verse ten years ago during the ruinous reign of Dubya the Dimwit, now revealed as Donald Trump’s smarter brother. Talk about praising with faint damnation!

        This Time for Sure

        See him as he spits and splutters
        Hear him as he tries to speak
        None can parse the noise he utters
        Most just think him lame and weak

        See him flail about and flutter
        Grasping at each passing straw
        Drowning in his sewer gutter
        Going down in shock and awe

        Calling for a czar to salvage
        Failure. No one? Change the name!
        Now solicit one to “manage”
        “Execution” of the blame

        Magic phrases are not working
        Far too many now we’ve heard
        Still his own chain he keeps jerking
        Looking only more absurd

        See him glower; see him threaten
        Hear the hippies laugh and sing
        How can this vain Texas cretin
        Hope to frighten any thing?

        I know what: let’s blame Jane Fonda!
        How about we take a poll?
        Blame Mercedes or blame Honda!
        Our own virtues, let’s extol

        Let’s impregnate Gail and Trisha
        Let’s shout “We are number One!”
        Let’s “bear arms” in our militia
        Let’s sell crazy kids a gun

        Whoopee! Ain’t this empire crumbling?
        Haven’t we made one fine mess?
        Still, who dares decry our bumbling?
        Who expects us to confess?

        Think of Cheney in his bunker
        Knock on Dubya’s wooden head
        See Alberto cringe and hunker:
        Can’t recall a thing he said

        Thus spake Bullwinkle, the genie,
        Cartoon prophet; antlered freak:
        “Teeny Weenie Chili Beanie!
        Spirits are about to speak!”

        Now you see our situation
        If you understand at all
        Wonder not then that our nation
        Had a choice and chose to fall.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2007

      • Mike: Predictably, those who were right about the Iraq and Afghan wars are ignored, and those who were wrong retain their influence in the corridors of power. As the saying goes in Washington, D.C., “the anti-war crowd was right for the wrong reasons, and the pro-war crowd was wrong for the right reasons.” The “right” reasons being a preference for appearing tough, for being willing to kill, for putting on the “big-boy” pants, for “standing tall” in the war on terror.

        It’s “wrong,” of course, to seek to avoid war, even a calamitous one, because one might look “weak” as a result; one might be stuck in little boy pants instead of the “big boy” ones.

        Forgive me for citing my own article again, but consider this:

        Here’s the text: Jeremy Scahill is a reporter for whom the word “intrepid” may have been invented. He’s been remarkably bold in covering the creation of private mercenary forces in the United States (as documented in his bestseller, Blackwater) as well as America’s “turn to the dark side” after 9/11/2001, which led to “wars of choice” in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with interventions in Somalia, Yemen, and across the world in the name of combating terrorism. Indeed, the subtitle of Scahill’s new book is “The World Is A Battlefield.” And since there’s always a terrorist organization at large somewhere in the world, we are ensured of a forever war, a grim prospect on this Veterans Day.

        I’ve written an extended review of Scahill’s Dirty Wars at Michigan War Studies Review, edited by the incomparable Jim Holoka. An aspect of this review I’d like to focus on is the use of macho language by Bush Administration operatives soon after 9/11. A strength of Scahill’s account is his ear for the tough talk of civilians within the administration, most of whom had no military experience.

        In the days and weeks following 9/11, L. Paul Bremer, later to become the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, wrote of the Clinton’s Administration’s “limp-wristed” approach to terrorism. Cofer Black, Bush’s head of counter-terrorism, talked of “taking the gloves off” as well as of “unleashing the junkyard dog” of CIA and special operations forces against terrorist networks. Perhaps the most telling attempt at tough-talk came from the lips of Jose Rodriguez, Director of Operations at the CIA, who said it was time for “everybody in the government to put their big boy pants on and provide the authorities what we [the CIA] needed [to take action].” [Emphasis added.]

        The worst fear of these men seems to have been of appearing weak. They didn’t want to be caught wearing little boy pants; they didn’t want to fight with gloves on; and they certainly didn’t want to appear to be limp-wristed. No — these were REAL men. They wanted to put on big boy pants; they were ready for bare-knuckle brawls; no limp-wristed wimps need apply.

        Here Scahill quotes Malcolm Nance, a career counterterrorist expert for the U.S. Navy, as describing Cofer Black and his fellow tough-guys as “civilian ideologues” who embraced “Tom Clancy Combat Concepts” that consisted of “going hard, … popping people on the streets, … dagger and intrigue all the time.” Tom Clancy might make for decent Hollywood action movies, but it’s never a good idea to confuse fantasy with reality.

        There’s much more to Scahill’s book (and the documentary that accompanies it, also named “Dirty Wars”) than this, and I urge you to read it. Its major theme is the abuse of power by the U.S. government and the erosion of Constitutional safeguards and freedoms, all justified in the name of “keeping us safe.” But one of its minor themes is the macho posturing of men with little or no experience in the military who were all too willing to order others to fight in their name.

        Yes, they all put on the “big boy pants” — figuratively speaking. They sat in offices and ordered young troops into battle. And I’m sure they signed those orders with bare knuckles and firm wrists. In so doing they risked nothing and gained, at least in their own minds, a reputation for toughness.

        Far too often in the history of war have old men believed that, by sending others off to fight and die, they were putting on the big boy pants. The costs of such macho posturing have been, and continue to be, far too high.

      • You want machismo? Good grief, look at what we’re now saddled with at 1600 Pennsyl…I mean, Mar a Lago, Florida!…for, in theory, four years!! Is he the proverbial Man on the White Horse? Oh hell no, he slew the horse and ate him, uncooked, for breakfast!! And the tragedy for the whole world is that Trump apparently truly believes he can do whatever he wishes with no checks or balances–trivial matters like the Constitution he swats away like pesky gnats. Remember his vow to obliterate the so-called Islamic State? Well, he can’t tick that off his To-Do List just yet, but in the effort who knows how many civilians will die? And when the blowback reaches our shores, as it inevitably will, US citizens are going to die. As for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, things are still unfolding. Obama goes down in history as the guy who finally “got” bin-Laden. Trump wants to be the guy who “removed” a “bad actor” from the part of Korea that isn’t occupied by foreign troops. I guess we’re expected to stand up and cheer but I suggest not inhaling too deeply while the clouds of radioactive dust are still adrift. Which could be for some time.

  9. Greg.. You got it all wrong. Everyone knows that Trump can’t do it but he has that wiz of a son in law, Kushner who is now in charge of cleaning up all the messes that Obama left for the Trump business empire, as we are now called. Jared Kushner, with his many years experience using his fathers money to build a business empire will take care of all of these things after he has solved the Palestine-Israel problem, which will be a shoo in since he is good friends with Netanyahu and the extreme right wing Israelis. Then he will take on Iraq, Afghanistan, and all those other messy things. But he has a very competent helper in Ivanka, who I saw today was the one who advised the orange haired one to bomb the shit out of a Syrian airfield. You see this family is talented. They need no outside advice from experienced people that’s why they have put on the public payroll inexperienced people like themselves to run the former USA ( now known as a subsidiary of The Trump Hoidings Empire) into the ground.

    • It’s amazing how many “porfolios” Kushner has. When he’s not solving the Israeli-Palestinian issue or stabilizing Iraq, he’s reinventing government, stimulating trade, and advising his father-in-law on attacks against Yemen and Syria, joined by Ivanka, naturally. How quickly we’ve descended into a nepotistic quasi-dictatorship!

      The smartest one is Melania, who’s doing her best to stay away from the White House. Can we put her in charge?

  10. I think it somewhat exaggerates things to attribute the collapsing American empire to less than a hundred days of Donald Trump’s frenetic bungling. The rot and decay of the Imperial Presidency set in long ago — about the middle of 1945 — and what we now see in the Orange Man with the Yellow Hair best qualifies as simple inertia fagged out and gasping, approaching its overextended limits, not any new change of direction. I remember when the Kennedy crowd came into power in early 1961, so anxious to prove their “toughness.” The CIA and Pentagram promptly bullied JFK and his brother Bobby into the Bay of Pigs from which they barely extricated themselves (and the world) from thermonuclear war. A few years later, Lyndon Johnson took over the U.S. Presidency, determined to continue FDR’s domestic legacy. He promptly found himself bullied into escalating in Southeast Asia, which doomed not only his own presidency, but that of his successors, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, as well. American presidents trying desperately to prove their “toughness” never works out very well. The Pentagram and CIA will allow Donald Trump to play “tough guy” on TV as long as he gets down on his knees and opens his mouth, which he now seems abjectly eager to do. Potty training The Donald didn’t take long. McMasters and Mattis saw to that. CNN and MSNBC will now provide the awestruck adjectives exalting our suddenly “Presidential” puppet and his “beautiful” missiles.

    I’ve seen this tawdry little daytime drama play out so many times now, that I find it difficult to care. It almost seems ritualistic in its rigid repetitiveness, like those “horse race” elections that only have two bedraggled rats running in them. “Choose” your preferred vermin, proles. You’ll get the same plague either way.

    At any rate, as concerns this latest round of America blowing up some buildings and killing a few hapless foreigners to “send a message,” Alexander Mercouris of The Duran (4/9/ 2017) boils the tiresome charade down to its essence. See: A counter-productive and murderous gesture: Tillerson’s and McMaster’s reason for missile strike.


    The Russians intervened in Syria legally – upon the invitation of the legitimate government – and with a clear objective: to preserve the Syrian state and to defeat the various Jihadi terrorist groups operating in Syria.  It is precisely because the Russian intervention in Syria is carefully judged and carried out to further a specific objective that it has up to now been so successful.

    By contrast the US all too often seems to undertake military action for frivolous reasons, without thinking through its implications, and without any clear objective other than a desire to look ‘strong’ and ‘tough’. This happens all the time and the missile strike on Sharyat air base is simply a case in point.

    Now, back to generals (and former generals) McMasters and Mattis dressed up like native-American Indians, dancing around a campfire, whooping it up, waving blankets over the flames and sending puffs of smoke up into the air. Surely the “evil ones” will see the message, decode the dots and dashes, understand, tremble, and obey … Surely.

    • Steve Bannon may have read his Lenin, but he seems to have overlooked Machiavelli:

      It must be realized that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more uncertain of success, or more dangerous to manage than the establishment of new order of government; for he who introduces it makes enemies of all those who derived advantage from the old order and finds but lukewarm defenders among those who stand to gain from the new one. Such a lukewarm attitude grows partly out of fear of the adversaries, who have the law on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men in general, who actually have no faith in new things until they have been proved by experience. Hence it happens that whenever those in the enemy camp have a chance to attack, they do so with partisan fervor, while the others defend themselves rather passively, so that both they and the prince are endangered.

      Retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, in his book The Limits of Power, updates Machiavelli’s thesis about “change” and those who promise it to American voters in the current age of imperial decline [emphasis added]:

      The quadrennial ritual of electing (or reelecting) a president is not an exercise in promoting change, regardless of what candidates may claim and ordinary voters believe. The real aim is continuity, to keep intact the institutions and arrangements that define present-day Washington. The veterans of past administrations who sign on as campaign advisers are not interested in curbing the bloated powers of the presidency. They want to share in exercising those powers. The retired generals and admirals who line up behind their preferred candidate don’t want to dismantle the national security state. They want to preserve and, if possible, expand it. The candidates who decry the influence of money in national politics are among the most skilled at courting the well-heeled to amass millions in campaign contributions.

      It looks like Steve Bannon the avowed Leninist has lost and the self-interested greasy-pole climbers — especially the careerist military caste — have won. Again. Now for some more of those “message” bombs and late night visits from the Seal Team Six assassins with their attendant overkill air cover. The Syrians, Iranians, Russians, Hezbollah, Chinese, Taliban, and North Koreans may not even bother trying to read these crude forms of “communication,” having long since memorized their real import, but holders of Raytheon stock surely know what all the “beautiful” vapor trails in the night sky really mean. More money for them. “Roger that.”

    • Mike..You said: “I’ve seen this tawdry little daytime drama play out so many times now, that I find it difficult to care. It almost seems ritualistic in its rigid repetitiveness,”

      That may be but this “drama” is playing out with a guy who has the megalomaniacal focus of a real honest to god dictator. the others did not have. Even Nixon, as power hungry as he was, did not have the overreaching ambition that Trump has and who s being supported by a rather stupid bunch of Republicans who have no sense of history beyond their own reelection and is weak opposition party financed by the same oligarchs.
      This may be our last real election unless the citizenry recognizes the danger and rises up to stop it. It doesn’t look to encouraging at this time. But first the citizens must see that this time it may not ” play out” as it has in the past.

      • Message received and understood, traven. And don’t get me wrong. I believe in taking action: specifically I would support making wholesale citizens’ arrests of our criminal political and military “elites,” holding mass public trials, followed by conviction and sentencing, stuffing the last four U.S. presidents and their Joint Chefs of Stuff into a single cell with one orange jumpsuit and one toilet between them. Like the village Sheriff said in the movie Young Frankenstein: “A riot is an ugly thing. And I think is about time that we had one.” You just can’t talk sense to these arrogant and “entitled” sons of bitches. So, no, I do not believe in just laying down and taking this shit from our “upper class” for one moment more.

        Still, I don’t think we can repeat often enough that the puppet in the White House, or Trump Tower, or Mar-a-Lago, or wherever the Orange Man travels, has no real say in what happens, anywhere, except perhaps in his own luxury hotel business. I mean, we hear now from our television “news” readers that this recent cruise missile attack on the Syrian military in Syria constitutes “the first time” that America has attacked Syrians in Syria. Bullshit! The United States and the Apartheid Zionist Entity bomb Syrian soldiers and infrastructure assets all the time — just like Bill Clinton did to the Serbs in Belgrade, Yugoslavia — with complete impunity, and have for the last six years. Last year, President Obama and his Secretary of State made an agreement with Russia and Iran to fight ISIS — the announced goal of American foreign policy — only to see the Pentagram and CIA blow it up by attacking a Syrian military base, killing 62 soldiers and wounding over a hundred. Even more egregiously, I remember one of America’s top generals openly claiming that he would have to wait and see whether or not he would follow any orders resulting from that agreement. I’ve never seen a more naked case of insubordination, if not treason. President Obama, naturally, just kept on with his “legacy” tour: a grinning, hapless lawn jockey for the One Percent. I could go on citing chapter and verse from my seventy years on this planet, but Donald Trump looks like one of the easiest “commanders” that our stuffed shirt generals have ever had to roll over and put in his place. This time around, they didn’t even have to break a sweat.

        The Ruling Corporate Oligarchy and its military Junta enforcers will decide what happens in the United States. They’ve made that “crystal clear,” as Richard Nixon used to say. President Donald Trump will read dutifully from the script that McMasters and Mattis hand him, not the other way around. I’ve heard some people refer to this arrangement as “adult supervision” but I see it more as “Lord of the Flies.” Nothing but orphaned kids fighting it out with bigger, meaner orphaned kids because all the adults died in a plane crash. Some sort of dystopia clearly awaits us. I just can’t figure out precisely which one.

    • Channel-surfing a bit this evening (April 12), I stopped for a spell on Don Lemon on CNN. The talking heads panel included the usual suspects, i.e. former National Security Advisors, etc. Didn’t jot down any names; these folks are largely interchangeable. Some of them disagree with Trump, but all are solidly in favor of imperialist hegemony over the globe. So tonight we viewers were informed that the Russians are A PROBLEM because they have undertaken actions in various sectors of the planet that are inimical to US [corporate–the unspoken word] interests. This simply translates to the same old “American exceptionalism” garbage: USA somehow has a God-given “right” to remain Top Dog, and how dare anyone try to assert otherwise? Or, as the spoken-word geniuses The Last Poets once so accurately declared: “‘Cuz da white man’s got a God complex”!!

  11. You will never find such analysis in the NY Times as at the link below.

    A detailed analysis of the Ghouta deception by a former producer of BBC current affairs programs. And now we have another deception in Khan Shaykhun and McMaster is playing his part in this deception. The much vilified Steve Bannon was the only voice counseling the President to wait until further investigation and not become the airforce of Al Qaeda in Syria. He was opposed by the warmongers McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson, and Nikki Haley. Wasn’t it interesting to note the cheering by Hillary, Pelosi, Schumer, McCain, Graham, etc of Trump’s decision to launch missiles on Syria on the basis of a false pretext?

    Obama and Hillary got the ball rolling in Syria by creating a faux “civil war” by backing Islamic jihadists under various banners including Al Qaeda in Syria to overthrow a secular, multi-confessional, government in Syria. The US foreign policy establishment have become a tool for Saudi, Qatari, Turkish and Israeli machinations in the ME. Just follow the money into all those DC “think-tanks” and the revolving door between military/intelligence/foreign policy personnel and the Beltway Bandits and the outsized role played by AIPAC. The net result is that Christians have been assaulted, beheaded and driven from the land of its birth. How will history judge all the Christian nations – US, UK, France, Germany, Italy – who were directly responsible for the destruction and practical elimination of Christians in Iraq & Syria?

    • Ah yes, some of us remember the famous vetting dance for Officially U.S.-Approved Anti-Assad Rebels in Syria. (This farce took place under Obama.) I believe the process coughed up about a half-dozen of these sterling specimens, at the cost of a million dollars per head. Boy, Uncle Sam sure nows how to get bang for the buck, don’t he?!!? [Picture me grinning most sardonically.]

      • Dang it, did it again! Of course that should read “…sure knows how…” Well, maybe I shouldn’t be commenting at 2 A.M. at all!

    • Tunis…Thank you for the links. the middle east is where the Great Game is now being played out.. At the risk of the rest of the world. Tragic!

      • Add my thanks, too. traven. I make it a point to visit Moon of Alabama on a regular basis but I only visit Sic Semper Tyrannis (retired Army Colonel Pat Lang’s blog) occasionally. Still, the other day I found an interesting background article there on general H. R. McMaster: namely, McMaster and Russia by Willy B Worth a read, I think.

        Also, I never heard of Breitbart News or Steve Bannon before last year when the Orange Man with Yellow Hair decided — correctly, as it turns out — than even a raw political rookie and carnival showboat could beat perhaps the worst candidate for President ever fielded by the Democratic Party. I won’t mention any names because my tongue would cleave (i.e., “stick to”) to the roof of my mouth if I did, but, you know … her. Anyway, although I try never to waste my time reading right-wing trash (which now includes stuff from MSNBC and PBS along with the Huffing & Puffing Post, and Saloon websites — they all hate Russia for some reason) I innocently followed some links from another site and wound up reading America Last?, by Ron Maxwell, (8 Apr 2017 ). It looks like some of President Trump’s true-believer shock troops have begun to grow a bit demoralized as their former hero looks more and more, every day, just like … well .. You know … her>/b>

  12. It looks like generals Mattis, McMaster and the rest of their uniformed fruit-salad crowd have truly come into their own now that they don’t have any civilian babysitters to take away their toys. Another “message”? More “progress” in the Graveyard of Empires? Honest Injun, fellow Crimestoppers, you can’t make up this kind of shit:

    US Drops Largest Non-Nuke Bomb in Afghanistan – Attack Targeted Nangarhar Province ‘Tunnels’, by Jason Ditz, (April 13, 2017).

    Check it out:

    For the first time ever, the United States has used the GBU-43 Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, a 21,000 lb conventional bomb, in a non-test environment in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. Officials say they are still assessing what the attack did.

    The MOAB, which officials also call the “Mother of All Bombs,” is the largest conventional (non-nuclear) bomb in the US arsenal. Dropped in the Achin District, it was said to have been dropped on a system of caves and tunnels that are used by ISIS forces.

    Whether that’s going to be effective or not remains to be seen, as the MOAB is not designed to penetrate underground positions. It is as yet unclear why they decided to use the MOAB in this case instead of something more commonly used.

    OK. I think I get it. Our genius generals — after fifteen years of ineffectively bombing barely armed goat-herders in the foothills of the Hindu Kush — have figured out a way to blow up underground targets by blowing up the air above them. Steve Bannon had many faults, but those military “adults” he used to supervise sure didn’t wait long after he left the room to empty their toybox. A “decent interval” after Bannon’s departure might have left some room for doubt (the prerequisite for thinking), but given the immediacy of this infantile impulse, all the messaging-with-missiles stuff sure does look like a long-planned program suddenly “unleashed.” Still, I have no doubt but that when this latest Ordnance Expenditure Expedition fails, too, we proles will have to endure hearing — once more and repeatedly — the plaintive wailing of endless excuses for how our Vaunted Visigoths would have won if only those civilian supervisors hadn’t “tied their hands (i.e., “bombs”) behind their backs.” But as I prefer to say of our genius generals:

    If they knew what to do, they’d have done it already. If they could have, they would have; but they didn’t, so they can’t. Time’s up.

    No more time, blood, and money for these pompous, preening asshats. Give them anything and they’ll waste it to no good purpose. Way past time for a good RIF (Reduction in Force). We have many, far more important places to spend our time, energy, and money than blowing up some air on the other side of the globe. And now we have former General David “perception management” Petraeus and Thomas “Suck. On. This”) Friedman (of the infamous “Friedman Unit”) advising us to ally ourselves with Al Qaeda (who bombed us on 9/11) and then wait “generations” for their long-promised-but-never-demonstrated “military competence” to reveal itself. Pure insanity, and I say: Piss. On.That.

    • Yes, the “Air Burst” part of “MOAB” is the giveaway that this device was not a “bunker buster,” but designed to destroy “things” (structures and, most importantly, living, breathing things) on the surface. Nevertheless, any tunnels not deep down more than likely would be at least partially collapsed. Afghan authorities at this point claim that this is the case. The US says they can’t come up with a figure for casualties (not surprising, given the circumstances). NBC News trotted out retired Gen. McCaffree (former Brilliant Czar of The War on Drugs!) to declare that the purpose of this attack was to send shockwaves of awe at US firepower. Yeah, that’s worked splendidly elsewhere in the world, huh? I continue to hold to the position that this exercise was a message to “north” Korea. Those folks will be attempting, under the escalated threats from the US, to celebrate this weekend the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-Sung. The latter is being misidentified (naturally) in the media as “the founder of North Korea.” Well, no, ladies and gents of the media. Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of the current leader, stood at the head of the anti-Japanese resistance during World War Two and would have led the Korean nation had the US not insisted on occupying the southern half of the peninsula after Nippon’s defeat. This tactic would be repeated in Viet Nam, of course, to deny Ho Chi Minh the leadership of a united country. Because, you see, Socialist regimes simply can’t be “allowed” by the USA. And now Trump claims the “right” to launch a pre-emptive attack on the northern half of the peninsula if his psychic powers tell him the regime there is about to test another nuclear device. This is straight from Trump’s lips (well, except an assertion he actually possesses psychic powers!), whereas he says the MOAB operation in Afghanistan was decided on by the Pentagon, with his implicit but not actually “signed” approval. Unleash the ‘Mad Dog[s]’ of war! This sick delusion, that the big bully can attack anyone, anywhere “pre-emptively” rages on in Washington DC. While stuck as a US citizen for the foreseeable future, I washed my hands of this notion decades ago. I know I’m not alone in this stance, but it does feel kind of lonely here at times.

  13. It should also be noted that the congressional “Leaders” of the Democratic Party, Schumer and Pelosi, couldn’t wait to nod their approval of this illegal test firing of MOAB over someone else s territory.

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