With Bannon Gone, Does Trump Turn Full War Hawk?

Trump has now surrounded himself with generals—which doesn't bode well on a foreign policy front

Sat, Aug 19, 2017 | 4907 Comments

With the resignation of Steve Bannon from the White House on Friday questions surround President Trump. His detractors are moving in for the kill, piously over-confident they have him cornered on his lack of moral leadership after the violence at Charlottesville.

And with Bannon returning to Breitbart, theories and scenarios multiply like mushrooms after a hard rain. From a domestic front, Bannon can serve Trump better from there than the White House. And, in my mind, the sequence of events surrounding his departure raise red flags that the game being played is deeper than it may appear at first glance.

But, his departure also leaves a gaping hole in the Administration; a civilian’s perspective. Trump has now surrounded himself with Generals and that does not bode well on a foreign policy front.

This morning I read that Secretary of Defense James Mattis is meeting with besieged Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko this week. They are presumably not going to talk about their handicap.

On August 23, [U.S. envoy Kurt] Volker will also travel to Kyiv, where he will join U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in meetings with senior Ukrainian government officials to discuss "the next steps in diplomatic negotiations to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the department said.

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Will this be the beginning of the end of U.S. support for Poroshenko’s continued aggression on the contact line between the UAF and forces of the LPR and DPR? Or are we looking at the next step to further pressure Russia into allowing NATO troops closer to its border?

Moreover, Trump just got back from a big pow-wow with his military advisors on Ukraine as well as Afghanistan. Decisions on the way forward were reached, we’ve been told by Trump.

Now the Weekly Standard crowd, led by chief Neocon himself Bill Kristol-nacht, is hoping for an added 4,000 troops to be sent to the Graveyard of Empires, but we don’t have any clear picture of that now that Chief-of-Leaks, Reince Preibus, is no longer Chief of Staff.

We know Preibus was the source of the leaks because Bannon resigned two weeks ago, along with short-lived Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, but we only got wind of it for real on Friday.

It seems control of the information flow has been achieved within the Trump White House.

So, looking at the table as it is set now, John McCain is telling everyone who will listen that we’re losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence. After 16 years, I’m hard-pressed to believe anything in that country we’re doing is that urgent, other than McCain’s limited time left to affect what happens there.

U.S. military brass cannot be happy with the stream of news coming out of Syria and Iraq. Turkey meeting with Iranian military leadership, pulling support for Syrian rebels and is sidling up to the Eurasian Economic Union. The Kurds are cutting deals with Russian oil majors while Turkey, Iran and Iraq coordinate policy to contain full-blown Kurdish independence.

Both U.S. and Russian diplomats keep using the phrase ‘territorial integrity’ when discussing these matters. That has become the thing to watch change. The moment someone gives up on that phrase in a theatre of operation, that’s when we’ll know a solution is imminent.

Trump has so far used the military for showmanship and elaborate, if dangerous-looking, bluffs, c.f. North Korea. We know that Rex Tillerson’s State Dept. has been in contact with leaders of the Taliban but for what purpose we don’t know.

If it is to make an end-run around Russia in driving ISIS from Afghanistan and those new troops are in support of that, that would make a mess of things; creating a similar situation to what exists in Syria.

What that would do, however, is placate the neocons and the military hawks for a little while, buying Trump time on other fronts.

If Trump’s bluff on North Korea is any example of how he will conduct foreign policy, we can expect a lot more confrontation up to the breaking point and then a settlement. The worry now is the lack of balancing influences in his inner circle.

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