Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest

The sheer arrogance and ignorance of some within the Trump regime, including Trump himself, is astounding, jaw-dropping and mind numbing!  Keep in mind that U.S. foreign policy is in tatters at the moment.  Donald Trump is literally despised by all truly democratic nations and loved only by autocrats and strongmen dictators.  Trump has no idea how to conduct foreign relations.  Well, given that he is on wife #3, and has cheated on her at least twice that we’re aware of, I think it’s safe to say he has no idea how to conduct relations.  Period.  However, that doesn’t stop him from sticking his nose into others’ business and telling them how to run their countries.  Three examples in the news just this week …


Dumb

For starters, we have Richard Grenell back in the news.  You may remember the post I did about him last June when he first went to Germany as the Ambassador from the United States.  Grenell is a former Fox ‘News’ commentator, which should tell you something.  When he first arrived in Germany, he made a fool of himself by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel on just about every and any issue he could think of, including immigration.

grenell

Richard Grenell

Grenell is back in the news this week, and at least one German lawmaker is calling for his expulsion, saying he is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.”  In his remarks, Grenell criticized the budget of Germany’s finance minister and said it was unacceptable that the country was once again going to miss its NATO defense spending target.

This is not the role of a diplomat and in fact flies in the face of the very definition of the word ‘diplomacy’!  I hope Germany does send him packing, for he is further damaging relations between the U.S. and Germany that Trump has already rent with his frequent criticisms of Ms. Merkel.  Imagine if Pete Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. tried to tell Trump that, say, he is wrong to declare a state of national emergency just to rob the U.S. of funds to build his ego wall.  Trump would expel him in about 2 seconds flat, right?


Dumber

Then there was Trump himself, who in all his narcissistic arrogance offered President Macron an unsolicited lecture.

“How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France? After 18 weeks of rioting by the Yellow Vest Protesters, I guess not so well!”

After similar comments by Trump last December, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appropriately said …

“We do not take domestic American politics into account, and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump, and the French president says it, too: Leave our nation be.”

It seems to me that Trump’s own nation is in worse shape under his reign than those nations he chooses to criticize and condemn.  Perhaps he should clean up his own house first.


Dumbest

And finally, the very definition of ignominy, is Don Trump, Jr.

Don Trump, Jr., who has proven more than a few times that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and he is truly as much of an idiot as his father, had the unmitigated gall to criticize UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit.  He went so far as to actually write an OpEd piece published in Britain’s The Telegraph, chastising May … taking her to task for not following the advice of his father! It would be funny, except it isn’t.  He claims that …

“… and ultimately, a process that should have taken only a few short months has become a years-long stalemate.”

A ‘few short months’???  And he knows this because …???  Junior’s international experiences are limited to colluding with the Russians to get his father elected and murdering wild animals in Africa! don-trump-junior.pngTrump the Younger went on to inform the land of the Magna Carta, John Locke and Oliver Cromwell that, in his “expert” view, “democracy in the U.K. is all but dead.”  Say WHAT???  Savvy readers will note that it is the U.S. where democracy is ‘all but dead’ and his father is the very one to have pulled the trigger!  This is simply beyond words … this young idiot, this “chip off the old block”, this killer of beautiful animals … has the nerve to give his unsolicited and unwanted opinion on a topic of which he knows nothing!  Junior has no role in our government, is not a member of the cabinet nor the administration … why does he even speak???  My apologies to all my friends in the UK for this abomination … and his father.


Never before has a United States president acted with such reckless abandon, seemingly intent on destroying every relationship the U.S. has worked toward building since it’s founding.  Never before has a president’s family member taken it upon himself to stick his nose into the business of our allies.  Never before has a madman taken the helm, determined to plow into the largest iceberg he can find at warp speed.  To all our allies, on behalf of We the People, I apologize for the terrible behaviour of the ‘man’ in the White House, his family members and appointees, and hope you will bear with us until we are able to rectify this situation.

A Tale Of Two Mikes — Part II

World leaders, ministers, diplomats, military officers and policy experts gathered over the weekend for the annual Munich Security Conference, the premier global forum on foreign, defense and security policy.  Luckily, Donald Trump did not attend the conference … he was too busy at home playing golf, criticizing Saturday Night Live, and defending his indefensible declaration of emergency from the week before.  Also unfortunately, Mike Pence did attend, and therein lay the problem.Merkel-MunichAngela Merkel spoke before Pence, and resisted Pence’s earlier calls in Poland for the EU to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, which according to experts and analysts, is achieving its goals.  She also criticized the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Syria. “Is it a good thing to immediately remove American troops from Syria, or will it not strengthen Russia and Iran’s hand?”  At the end of her speech, she received a standing ovation.  Ivanka Trump, who was in the audience for some reason that is beyond my comprehension, refused to stand or even applaud.  The grade-school mentality must run in the family.Pence-MunichAnd then, Mike Pence began his speech by saying …

“I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.”

And he waited for the applause.  But the room remained silent.  Dead silent.  He waited.  Nobody clapped, apparently not even Ivanka.  See for yourself …

But Sarah Huckabee Sanders later found a way to put a spin on the humiliating moment:

“It was out of respect for our President that world leaders observed a moment of silence during Vice President Pence’s speech in Munich.”

I think not, Sarah, but nice try.  Now go rinse your mouth to get that nasty taste of the lie out of it.

But back to Pence’s speech.

“We came here to reaffirm our commitment that ‘America First’ does not mean America alone and tell leaders, allies and countries around the world that America is stronger than ever before and America’s leading on the world stage once again.”

The reality is that we ceded our leadership role early in Trump’s tenure.  We are not even good allies, let alone a good leader.  You cannot be isolationist and also a global leader, for to be all about “America First” means to put the rest of the globe somewhere below your own interests, and that is not how alliances and friendships work.

Pence credited Trump with spurring NATO allies to spend more on defense but insisted that they are still not spending enough. He also reiterated the ‘demand’ he made on Thursday in Poland regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

Silence.

As a long-time student of international relations, I cannot think of another time in the history of the United States that we have ‘demanded’ our allies act in accordance with our wishes.  This is being a bully, not an ally and certainly not a friend.

Pence ended his speech with a most inappropriate …

“God Bless the United States of America.”

As Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at Brookings Institute said …

“It sounded more like he was speaking to a Trump rally than to transatlanticists in Europe.”

Pence’s speech was met with disdain by European officials who say they have no intention of abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and felt his aggressive tone would only stir up more opposition.  For the record, Pence’s speech ended with a smattering of light applause, but no standing ovation, other than Jared and Ivanka.  I ask again, why were they even there?

The Munich Security Conference report said the Trump administration displays an “irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe” and “disdain for international institutions and agreements.”

Several hours after Merkel’s and Pence’s speeches, former Vice President Joe Biden was at the podium, and his message was a ray of light after that of Pence.

“The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world or our closest allies. The America I see cherishes a free press, democracy, the rule of law. It stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen.”

And Biden ended with …

“As my mother would say: This too shall pass. We will be back. We will be back. Don’t have any doubt about that.”

The applause for Biden was significantly more enthusiastic than for Pence.

The Munich Security Report, which is downloadable in .pdf format,  is titled, The Great Puzzle:  Who Will Pick Up The Pieces?  That says it all, doesn’t it?  One of the key points in the report is about a previously unpublished opinion poll by the Pew Research Center showing that traditional allies of the United States perceive America’s power and influence as a major threat to their country, even when compared to China and Russia.

I may write more about the Munich Security Conference and the affiliated report once I finish reading the report, but for now, suffice it to say that the United States is not stepping up to the plate to work with our allies, but rather is becoming more isolationist, more self-serving, and there will be a price to pay for that.  Globalization is the reality, and no country can stand on its own without allies, without friends.  But in order to have a friend in times of trouble, one must first be a friend, and we are not.  As Joe Biden said, “This too shall pass” … but will it pass before the U.S. becomes a true pariah?

Shame On You, Donald Trump …

Once again, I find myself wanting to apologize for our ignorant, crude, ignominious, arrogant, brash, narcissistic so-called ‘president’ after he made a fool of not only himself, but of us all, when he was mistakenly allowed to travel to the EU over the weekend.  To all my friends & family across the pond … please forgive us for sending him, for we knew not what we were doing.

The occasion, for any who may not know, was to honour those who died in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.  It was a solemn occasion, a time to set aside differences and come together to remember …

Trump started his trail of terror before even leaving Air Force One, when he tweeted an attempted insult toward Emmanuel Macron, President (in good standing) of France.  But it got worse.  His alleged purpose for traveling to Paris on Friday was to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The reality, as is always the case with Trump, was something else altogether, but that was his stated purpose.  But guess what?  It rained.Trump-rain-WWIIt rained.  Trump was afraid of a little bit of water.  I’ve often said I don’t think he bathes regularly, and this proves it!  All the other leaders who had gathered in Paris for the occasion attended …Prince Harry rainAngela Merkel braved the elements, as did Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Harry, Spain’s King Felipe VI … even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin found time to attend, despite the rain.  Trump later claimed that the only reason he didn’t attend was that his motorcade would have disrupted roads.  SO WALK, YOU F***ING MORON!!!

General John Kelly and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joe Dunford attended instead – apparently they didn’t need a ‘motorcade’. France WWI Centennial

Representative Don Beyer of Virginia hit the nail on the head:

“Millions died to protect the free world during WWI, and Trump can’t be bothered to honor their memories. Instead, he’s chosen to sit in a hotel and live-tweet Fox News. Just imagine if President Obama sat out a Veterans Day ceremony because of the rain …”

Just imagine, indeed.  But then, President Obama was … well, you know … African-American, and thus his every move was placed under a strong microscope and picked apart like the Christmas turkey.  Trump, on the other hand, is ugly white with layers of fat, acne, and a bad toupee, so he can do no wrong!  (Yeah, I’m pissed – what tipped you off?)

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.” – David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush

Even Winston Churchill’s grandson, British Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, joined in the rebuke, saying, “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” and adding that Trump is “not fit to represent his great country.”

“President@realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow — & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.” – John Kerry, Vietnam War veteran and former Secretary of State

Macron-MerkelHowever, the best rebuke came from none other than French President Emmanuel Macron in this one sentence that is bound to become iconic …

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ‘our interests first, who cares about the others’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Ooooohhhh … good one, Mr. Macron!!!  And then he went on …

“I do defend my country. I do believe that we have a strong identity. But I’m a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples, and I’m a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody, where the nationalists are sometimes much more based on a unilateral approach and the law of the strongest, which is not my case.”

But at the end of the day, Trump did manage to find time for one world leader … his ol’ buddy …trump-putinPerhaps this, then, was his sole reason for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to travel abroad for the weekend?  Or perhaps it was to seek a relief from the heat of last week’s mid-term elections?  Either way, he once again wasted huge amounts of our money in order to do nothing more than embarrass us.  Shame on you, Donald Trump … Shame on you.

Friend or Foe???

Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Foe: an enemy or opponent.syp-v-spy


Shouldn’t be too hard to tell the difference, should it?  Sure, sometimes we think somebody is a friend, only to learn later that they weren’t at all, but most of us are pretty fair judges of character and we don’t often make serious mistakes in choosing our friends.  Donald Trump is the exception to that rule.  But then, Donald  Trump is the exception to most every rule in the book, so why are we surprised?

On Saturday, Trump was interviewed by CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland.  The full interview will be broadcast on Monday, but a few snippets have been released. Asked who he thinks is the biggest foe the U.S. has right now, he replied …

“Well I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.”

President of the European Union Donald Tusk had a good comeback: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

I imagine Trump considers Canada and Mexico among the other foes. Lest you fall into the trap of believing a single word this man says, allow me to clarify.  The European Union and the countries that comprise it are our allies – our friends.  The UK is also our friend and ally. North Korea, China and Russia are not.  They are foes.  They are our antagonists.  They do not seek an alliance where both sides stand to gain.  Russia, in particular, has a goal, an endgame in mind whereby Russia dominates a large portion of the globe, and because of the ignorance of Donald Trump, Russia – specifically Vladimir Putin – views the United States as a pawn in their game.

Typically, a president has many advisors, each an expert in his or her field, and the smart president will listen to those advisors, process the information they are given, then make what seems the best decision at the moment.  By ‘best decision’, I mean that which will keep the world safest, and benefit the citizens of the U.S.  That style of leadership went out the window the day Trump took office and because of it, the world becomes a little less safe every day.

In the past week, Trump has been rude & crude – his trademark – to the Queen of England, to Prime Minister Theresa May, and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – all are leaders of nations that are our friends, our allies.  On the flip side of that, he has praised DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, saying, “He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator.”

And, of course, he is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, just three days after indictments were handed down for 12 of Putin’s henchmen who are accused of having acted as agents to sway the 2016 election in favour of Trump.  Many things are concerning about his meeting with Putin, not the least of which is his insistence that the meeting take place without advisors, staff, note-takers or other witnesses.  This is highly unorthodox and should not be allowed.  Presidential conversations are a matter of record – documented.  Period. One might speculate that Trump has an agenda for the meeting that is not in the best interest of the U.S.  Yep … one might just speculate that …

Trump is very angry over the indictments of the 12 Russians on Friday … angry, but not at Putin, not at Russia … no, he is angry with his own people, angry with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  He says he may ask Putin about the data theft conducted by the 12, but will absolutely not ask for their extradition to the U.S.  Ask yourself “WHY?”

Trump claims the data theft was solely the fault of the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

“I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”

Oh yes, I forgot … the democrats are also a foe.  And it was all Obama’s fault for letting it happen.  Barack Obama is also a foe.

The world should be concerned about the Trump-Putin meeting without credible witnesses or documenters.  Trump says he has low expectations for the meeting, but that nothing bad will come of it.  Sorry, folks, this man’s ‘word’ has about as much value as the rotten milk in my refrigerator.  He cannot even tell the difference between a friend and a foe, and in truth, the U.S. may not have many friends left after the past week.  Think about it.

Protest ahead of Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki

Protesters in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of Putin-Trump ‘summit’

Trade War Without Ammo

Donald Trump has started a full-blown trade war with his tariffs on both allies and others. He claims that “a trade war is easy to win”, but nothing could be further from the truth, and frankly Trump’s simplistic view is tiresome and dangerous. I have a good grasp of what the short-term effects of this trade war are likely to have here in the U.S., but beyond that, my understanding of macro-economics is sketchy. Fellow blogger Erik Hare, on the other hand, is an economist and therefore understands far better than I what is likely to happen on the global scene. Please take a few minutes to read Erik’s assessment of the current situation. Thank you, Erik, for your keen insight and for allowing me to share this post.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The trade war is definitely on, no matter how Wall Street wants to deny it. Serious investors have downplayed recent events as part of a grand strategy, a negotiating tool that will all work out in the end. The reality, that there isn’t really a good strategy in place here but simply petty tactics, has not sunk in yet, at least in America. But the rest of the world knows better.

For the purposes of this discussion, the European Union will be diminished to Germany. After all, this is the economic engine that powers the continent right now, and Merkel’s leadership is critical. Where is Germany going? The long and short of it, the strategic and the tactical, is to the east. This response is proof enough that there is no US strategy which makes any sense.

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The Bully Goes To NATO 😱

Consider this:  you have a child who is cruel and a bully, the one who kicks sand in all the other children’s faces and shoves them off the swings.  Now, he is invited to a birthday party … not because anybody wants him there, but because the parents of the ‘birthday boy’ felt it was the right thing to do.  You understand all too well the dangers of your son attending the party, you realize he could spoil it not only for the ‘birthday boy’, but for every child in attendance.  Do you allow your son to go to the party, or do you do the right thing and keep him home, perhaps spend some time explaining why he isn’t being allowed to go?

We the People unfortunately have just such a bully, and later this month he will be attending an event that he seems prepared to ruin: the annual NATO summit.  Remember the last such event he attended, the G7 hosted by our close friend and ally, Justin Trudeau of Canada?  Remember how he insulted every one of the other 6 leaders there and demanded that Putin/Russia be allowed back into the group?  And remember how he insulted Trudeau after leaving the meeting, refusing to sign off on the joint communique?  Remember the 2017 NATO summit where he refused to endorse the collective defense clause and then … then in order to be first in front for a group photo, he shoved Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro?

There is every reason to believe that this year’s NATO summit will turn into an even bigger disaster, for he has already laid the groundwork.  Last week Trump sent letters to eight of the 29 NATO members criticizing and threatening them for not yet having met the guidelines of defense spending.  Donald Trump has either no concept or an erroneous concept of how the NATO collective defense program works, and he sees his own role as being considerably larger than it is.

NATO is based on the principle of collective defense: an attack against one or more members is considered an attack against all. So far that has only been invoked once — in response to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. To make the idea work, it is important for all members to make sure their armed forces are in good shape. So NATO sets an official target on how much they should spend. That currently stands at 2% of GDP. The 2% target is described as a “guideline.” There is no penalty for not meeting it. It is up to each country to decide how much to spend and how to use the money.

A few things are worth noting:

  • Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO, not Donald Trump
  • The 2% target is a ‘guideline’. Many countries are not in a financial position to be able to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on military, and at least one nation, Germany, has other reasons for not being able to spend 2%
  • The agreement was that member nations would work toward the goal of spending 2% of GDP on military/defense by 2024! This is only 2018
  • European members of NATO are spending more on defense than in the recent past. Most have increased spending as a share of GDP since 2014, and in economically difficult times
  • Nations do not pay this 2% to NATO and no nation owes any portion of it to the U.S.
  • Thus far, the U.S. has been the only nation to receive the benefits of this program

Trump is a bully, and the letter he sent to several nations was a thinly veiled threat.  Here is the letter he sent to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada:NATO letter-Canada

He was also particularly contentious toward Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, that letter said to contain the harshest language of the eight letters, though I am unable to find a copy of the letter to Merkel.

Chancellor Merkel backs plans for Germany’s defense budget to eventually reach 2 percent of GDP. However, her Christian Democrats’ junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, are against massive defense spending increases and demand funds be used more efficiently.  I would note here that the U.S. Congress should also be demanding that our own funds be spent more judiciously, for we have a ridiculously and unnecessarily burdensome military budget, while we are cutting safety net programs for the poor, ignoring infrastructure needs, and making health care unaffordable to all but the wealthy.  Our own priorities are truly skewed, and Trump reminds me of a little boy playing with his army soldiers.NATO defense spendingNote that there are only five nations that are currently able to meet the 2% defense spending goal, yet Trump singled out our closest allies for his letter-writing campaign. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, pulled out of the Iran deal, criticized our allies at the G7 summit, and harshly imposed unwarranted tariffs on our European allies, and now he is bullying them ahead of the NATO summit.  What could go wrong, eh?

“Why the president would find it necessary to send a letter like this in advance of the NATO summit is a mystery. It shows a lack of understanding … and sets the wrong tone in advance of an important summit in mid-July. This isn’t how you ‘prep’ for a NATO summit. Letters like this will only backfire.”  — Julie Smith, a Europe expert with the Center for a New American Security.

International relations are difficult at best when the parties involved have a full understanding of the issues.  Trump has no understanding and does not listen to those who do. He is a loose cannon and stands to do even further harm to our relations with our allies, making this nation far less safe than it has ever been perhaps since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I do realize that nobody has the power to stop Trump from going to Brussels on July 11th, but I certainly wish there were a way to keep him home.  I’m thinking duct taping him to the potty?

 

No Way To Treat Our Friends …

grenellRichard Grenell is yet another slap in the face by Trump to our European allies, particularly Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Before I delve into his most recent faux pas, let me tell you a bit about Mr. Grenell.

First, he was nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to Germany by Donald Trump in October 2017, although he was not confirmed by the Senate until late April 2018.  Why, you may ask?  Because the democrats in the Senate had concerns over his fitness for the position.  Turns out, they were right to be concerned, but I will get to that in just a moment.

Grenell once served as an aide to John Bolton, the recently named national security advisor and a known warmonger famous for his desire to bomb both Iran and North Korea.  Grenell is also a contributor to Fox News.  As a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, Grenell worked on sanctions and restrictions against Iran in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, Grenell has been an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal … you know … the one that Trump reneged on last month.

But all of that aside, the democrats had another good reason for concern where Grenell was concerned:  he is a xenophobe … an outspoken critic of women, especially those who hold power in government.  As a commentator on Fox, he has mocked Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and others.  During his confirmation hearings, he was asked about his seeming aversion to women in politics.  He pulled a Roseanne Barr and said …

“There are times where what was intended to be humorous turned out to be not so humorous.”

Sorry, but not good enough.  Remember, if you will, that he was nominated to be the Ambassador to Germany … the most populous nation in the EU, and also a nation who just happens to have a female chancellor.  To add insult to injury, Trump has more than once criticized Chancellor Merkel and has made clear his disdain for her.  Ultimately Grenell was confirmed by the Senate, sworn in and traveled to Germany to begin his new job.

Now, let’s clarify for just a brief second what, exactly, the job of an ambassador is.

“All ambassadors officially represent the U.S. government on behalf of the president in treaty negotiations, immigration discussions, foreign aid projects and humanitarian aid programs. Ambassadors supervise and lead all foreign service employees in the country where they work. As the chief executive of the U.S. embassy, an ambassador also monitors the activities of all U.S. personnel who work for any federal agency in their jurisdiction. The ambassador and his/her staff also aid Americans traveling in the country and provide security for U.S. citizens during emergencies and natural disasters.”

The starting salary for U.S. ambassadors, by the way, is $126,148, and the maximum is $189,600.

Richard Grenell arrived in Germany to take up his post on May 8th, just under a month ago, and already he has stirred ire and contention on both sides of the pond.  So far, he has criticized Germany’s NATO spending, calling it ‘woeful’, and criticized Chancellor Merkel’s immigration policy.  But the worst was his interview a few days ago with … of all things … Breitbart!  And here is what he said that has stirred the political pot …

“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on.  I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left.”

WittigTo put it into context, consider if Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, when he first came to the U.S. in 2014, had said that Barack Obama’s policies were failures and that he was looking forward to helping more republicans win congressional races.

Ambassadors are intended and expected to be completely neutral in the domestic politics of the countries in which they serve.  Period.  We do not send ambassadors to other nations to choose sides and campaign for candidates or policies.  They are there to represent the U.S.

Grenell didn’t stop there, though.  Grenell named immigration, tax cuts, and cutting red tape as major conservative issues to focus on as part of a winning strategy. He then went on to say he’s a “big fan” of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has sharply criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies. Last year, Kurz’s party also formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, which was founded by Nazis.

It almost feels as if Trump has planted a ticking time bomb in Germany.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said yesterday that Grenell would have to “explain what he meant” during his first official visit on Thursday. One German politician, Lars Klingbeil, tweeted to Grenell …

I know you are still quite new at your post, but it is not part of the job description of an ambassador to interfere in the politics of his guest country, Mr @RichardGrenell #thankyou — 6:00 AM – Jun 4, 2018

Another, Omid Nouripour, said Grenell’s comments “give the impression that the new US ambassador still hasn’t adjusted to his new role. At least the Russians make an effort not to be seen to be meddling in other countries’ affair. [sic]

trump-merkelTrump has already created an atmosphere of distrust among our allies by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, pulling out of the TPP, reneging on our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, criticizing our allies, and just last week placing unwarranted tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU.  He has insulted Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on more than one occasion.  And now the ambassador he sends to Germany has offended at least half the nation.  I have to ask … is total mass destruction of planet earth his intent?  He loves to take credit for things, especially big things.  Does he figure to start WWIII and then take credit for having had the biggest button?

Two Western Leaders came to Washington

Last week, the U.S. hosted the leaders of France and Germany. Our friend Keith has written an excellent post, assessing those visits and how different the current U.S. policies are from those of Macron & Merkel. Please take a few minutes to read and think about the direction we are heading, as opposed to most of the rest of the Western nations. Thank you, Keith, for this thoughtful post.

musingsofanoldfart

Last week, the two leaders of the western world met with the US President, who has ceded the US role in the world. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany visited with Donald Trump.

Of course, the US has the most powerful military in the world. We’d better as we spend far more than other countries. Yet, with our pulling back on diplomacy and the number of diplomats, with our imposition of tariffs on even our allies, with our retrenching from global agreements and with an unprecedented level of untruthfulness, we have ceded our global leadership role to China, overall, and Germany and France in the western world. And, while the UK remains important and formidable, I am sad to say Brexit will precipitate its decline from these ranks.

Macron and Merkel beseeched the US President to remain in the Iran Nuclear deal signed…

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The ‘Grown-ups’ Speak???

While Trump and the bulk of his minions communicate their madness via Twitter, last week (30 May), two of his advisors decided to play at a more ‘grown-up’ table and communicate via an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Presumably, either they do not have twitting machines, do not like the constraints of speaking in 140-character spurts, or wanted to ensure that their audience was intelligent enough to actually read.  Either way …

McMaster

H.R. McMaster

When H.R. McMaster was confirmed on 15 March to fill the position of National Security Advisor, a position recently vacated by Michael Flynn who had resigned in shame, I knew little about McMaster.  However, my research led me to believe that he would be a good fit for the position, and had the backbone to do what he believed was right, rather than simply following Trump into the pits of hell. Today, I no longer believe that.

At the end of Trump’s fateful nine-day tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe last month, it was obvious to most sensible observers both in the US and the EU that Trump had ceded all rights for the US to be called the leader of the free world any longer.  We held the title since 1945 and though there have been many disagreements among western nations during that time, the US has never stepped away from the responsibilities that accompany that designation.  Until last month.

Those of us who are capable of thinking more globally were appalled and deeply shamed when he cuddled with Saudi Arabia, one of our chief antagonists, while berating our friends.  Further shame came when he rudely shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside during a NATO photo shoot.  And then he refused to commit to NATO Article 5 that calls for mutual defense of NATO nations in the event any one is attacked.  This, despite the fact that such language was in his prepared speech that had been approved by national security advisors. And then, the final blow, his announcement that he intends to retract the US’ commitment to the Paris Accords on climate change.

When General McMaster and chief economic advisor Gary Cohn wrote a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, they undertook to mitigate some of the damage Trump caused during his overseas jaunt.  They failed miserably.

According to McMaster and Cohn, the presidential trip was nothing less than “historic” and represents a “strategic shift”: “America First signals the restoration of American leadership … to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.” In sum: America First means America First, and not just in America, but everywhere on the globe. It is akin to me saying that I am the head, not only of my own household, but of yours, also.

The US is one of 195 or 196 nations on the globe.  Nobody died and left us boss of the world.  It is no surprise that Donald Trump entertains such delusions … we already knew that.  But it is not only a surprise, but also a major disappointment to find that H.R. McMaster, who we all hoped would bring a bit of oversight into the administration, is also a party to these delusions.

McMaster and Cohn continue …

“The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations … engage and compete. …Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.” Translation: Might Makes Right.

“In Saudi Arabia, President Trump helped facilitate $110 billion in defense investments that will strengthen regional and American security and create American jobs.” Turns out this is not exactly true, but that is a topic unto itself.

“We are asking a lot of our allies and partners. But in return America will once again be a true friend to our partners and the worst foe to our enemies.”  Our allies are smarter than McMaster/Cohn give them credit for.

I seriously doubt that either McMaster or Cohn actually wrote the op-ed  but since their names are on it, they approved it and the words are theirs, whether they created them or not.  (If you cannot view the op-ed on the WSJ site, let me know and I will email you a transcript) 

No, Mr. McMaster and Mr. Cohn … Trump’s trip abroad was neither historic, at least in the traditional sense, nor was it a success.  It was a disastrous journey that set us back more than 70 years and stripped us of any right to be considered the ‘leader of the free world’.  The most likely candidates for that title are now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, both of whom have shown compassion, intellect, and good sense. And with your defense of Trump’s words and deeds, you have cost yourselves whatever respect the thinking public may have had for you.

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday – a few random thoughts

I always enjoy blogger-friend Keith’s random thoughts, and he has some good snippets today, mostly about people who we need to recognize for ‘doing the right thing’. Thank you Keith for this post, and for permission to re-blog … you do good work, my friend!

musingsofanoldfart

With due credit to the Rolling Stones, we approach the end of a gem of a Tuesday. We are celebrating our daughter’s 20th birthday at her favorite restaurant. It is a joy to see the woman she has become, with her sense of purpose, humor and morality.

With the latter in mind, let me speak to those who are our moral compasses during these much needed times. The first shout out goes to Angela Merkel who has now become the leader of the free world. She has taken the mantle that the current US President has ceded with his retrenchment mindset and fondness for authoritarian leaders. She has a better grasp of right and wrong than our leader and sees the advantages of mutual trade and trust.

Another shout out goes to the three men in Portland who interceded to protect two Muslim American women from the verbal abuse of…

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