NORTH KOREA: TRUMP’S AND OUR BIGGEST TEST AND DANGER.

By

Harry C. Blaney III

Don’t get it wrong this time! So far both sides both Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have played this most dangerous game of their lives like spiteful boys armed with their most dangerous weapons and their largely untutored and uninformed brains. Thus we are all at risk.

The other problem is simply neither side at this moment seems to have a strategy to get out of this confrontation of existential magnitude. Their egos are bigger than their brains and neither seems to care for others. They live int heir own very selfish worlds. The hope is that one of them might want to survive this cataclysm. Kim for his life and Trump for his presidency. For the latter he even might, in his madness, want to see a war as a distraction from the Russia-Trump Gang collusion and obstruction of justice inquiry. This seems apparent in his crazy “Fire and Fury” statements which indeed did distract us from talking about Robert Mueller III and his investigation.

Today Wednesday, Trump is being tested again by an equally new escalation of invective and outrange from President Kim who has threatened to send four intermediate range missiles towards the American island of Guam where some 160,000 US citizens and military personal inhabit. We have no idea where they might land and no idea whether they contain any weapons. Probably the North Koreans are not even sure that they will be accurate. They will be hard to defend against. They also will have to travel over Japan as well to get to their target.

Kim’s government’s statements seemed almost to try to out “Trumpian” Trump with his invective and threats at a much higher and more specific escalation. But they noted that a war might not be a good idea but made war more likely given Trump’s own combative and instinctive bullying ego. I hope this time Trump’s advisors will push him towards a diplomatic option. Tillerson seems to moderate but supports Trump’s basic stance.

The sad item is that there are some of the usual suspects who are declaring Trump is doing the right thing by playing tough guy and threatening will win by such bombastic tactics. But of course they never mentions the cost of failure of a strategy of “red lines” and extreme threats. In contrast, what President Kennedy did to avoid a nuclear cataclysm was by negotiations and inventive deals. But Trump is no Kennedy for sure.

As Senator Ed Markey said on CNN today, Trump does not even have a plan or strategy and acknowledged what we all know that there is no good solution. One worse case solution is the loss of hundreds of thousands or perhaps many millions of lives. The other better solution for both sides is to back down and start to talk to each other to find common acceptable solutions. We can try what we did with Soviet Union: an effort at “confidence building” strategies and efforts. But that may be too much to ask of leaders that see the world only though a win for me and lose for him lens?

We will see likely in the next few days when Kim’s missiles are scheduled by the North Korea to be launched, as hard decisions by both sides will have to be taken either to reach out or to act with high abandon of rationality and in self-destruction.

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THE TRAJECTORY OF TRUMP’S BEHAVIOR HAS ACCELERATED TOWARDS SELF DESTRUCTION!

By

Harry C. Blaney III

Adding to the commentary of my last post, unbelievably Donald Trump has just doubled down in the last three days or so going yet further towards a very dark zone where our nation’s integrity, constitution and laws are at risk. There seems no ceasing of his aberrant and threatening behavior toward especially the institutions and officials carrying out the necessary requirements of our constitution, the process of justice and laws in America and protecting our security.

Here is a brief list of some of Donald Trump’s actions which reinforce that the man has lost or never had any level of rationality that he might have had before becoming president.

Here is a brief list without any doubt, shows a man with complete disrespect for morals, the rights of others, our laws and most scary tendencies to act as if he were America’s authorized elected dictator:  He has continued an even higher level attacks on AG Sessions and now Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he did with former FBI Head James Comey. He has now threatened “a red line” if Mueller looks at Trump’s financial dealing which he needs to do to see what connection exists with Russian financing and is within his authority of his Department of Justice mandate. Trump and his family have hired a large team of outside lawyers not to just defend Trump and his people but to attack Mueller and his staff, a sign of a desperate man.

He has, not least, suggested that he has complete unquestioned rights of pardons….hinting that includes himself. He continues to attack “Fake News” about Russian contacts and still refuses to tell us what he said to Putin in his G-20“solo” meeting. His family has repeatedly held back information on their security clearance application forms on meetings with Russian agents. But now he seems to promise pardons for others like those of his campaign staff, including all those who took part in the June 2017 meeting with Russian agents to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton and meetings with the now-former Russian Ambassador. One must now wonder if this statement is a way of getting silence or inducing lies from these individuals about his own role in all of this which is also being discussed?

Thus it is hard to not interpret these as the acts of a cornered guilty man.

All this, especially the Trump Tower meeting in June, with the background of a promise to tilt the election towards Trump are not going away. That event could raise the specter of possible felonies combined with questions about what secrets or deals he might have again shared with Putin that we know not of.

But also our national security is equally at great risk over Trump’s questionable and poorly thought through dealing with our allies some who he has insulted. The same goes with his approach to North Korea, on climate change, on degrading democracy at home and abroad. This is now old hat but we need to ask how can we repair the damage he has done to our respect and leadership?

In place of reaching out to Russia to restore peace and to reduce the chance of nuclear war, Trump has focused on statements of aggression towards Iran, withdrawing US support for our Syrian allies and ignoring Syrian President Assad and Russian deliberately killing of innocent civilians. He continues supporting the most brutal dictators in the world, and undermining democracy of our allies and our own democratic institutions.

No progress has been made, or it seems even attempted, to negotiate a reduction of nuclear weapons and address the problem of accidental war and use of such nuclear weapons. This should be the main priority of both sides. Some believe our show of “weakness and unilateral gifts’ to Trump will encourage Russia towards further acts of infamy and destruction, and continued efforts aimed at America losing its global influence. But engaging with them in an open way on reducing risks must be tried.

 His recent statements, tweets and further revelations of a number of new areas of possible collusion or shady dealings with Russians reinforce these views. Recently, even against his own views, he has had to accept a just slightly watered down version to get his agreement, of a new Congressional bill that takes some of his power to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia, perhaps for fear that it would be an acknowledgment of Congresses’ lack of trust in him to act in America’s interest.

The totality of Trumps acts and statements and the now unquestionable actual meetings of his people with Russian agents combined with lies about these contacts and their multiplicity may not yet be the last word we will hear. These all have led now to the more often raised questions of possible criminal indictment or even impeachment as now not a totally outlandish outcome.

So much for “making America great.” We need a leader that will move toward a stable and cooperative future for both nations and supporting our democratic allies, not one that is bent on inflecting even more conflict and instability and more authoritarian rule abroad….and even here in the USA.

We welcome your comments

RUSSIA’S PUTIN AND AMERICA’S TRUMP: A DISASTER TRAJECTORY FOR OUR NATION?

By

Harry C. Blaney III

We are coming closer and closer to some kind of determining of the trajectory of both the Trump regime at home and the direction and risks of the inherent divide between Putin’s Russia and its goals and Trump’s own goals or perhaps just incoherent daily utterances and thoughtless unknown schemes. For America this landscape is filled with unknowns and ever growing risks. If we continue as we have with Trump, the ending will likely be danger of more conflicts and with more calamities for both sides and the rest of the world.

For Trump, the world is closing in and his walls of defense are increasingly more desperate and self-contradictory. His efforts to change the direction of attention away from the Trump-Russian contacts and towards diversionary issues confirm his sense of vulnerability. This includes the intensity of his incoherent tweets and acts that indicate at least that he senses serious risk for him, his family and administration. He perhaps sees a point of final dangerous conclusion by the Special Counsel investigation and Congressional inquires.

To put the situation simply, the Trump “walls” are starting to crack (and we do not mean the non existent one on the Mexican border). All of this is solely due to Trump’s own nefarious behavior, his conflicting lies and those of his family and staff. Now we have proof of real collusion between Russian agents and the Trump family and staff according recent reported news on the now infamous Trump Tower meeting. This meeting was held clearly to work with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

The meeting was with a total of eight persons, some with questionable backgrounds. It was focused much more on helping Trump’s election than Trump Jr. reported to the public or US officials originally. The fundamental question that must be in the minds of those alert to the legal and national security implications is that of collusion. The recent revelation of this meeting and that lies were told about it includes the fact that Trump’s son and people were offered Russian government information as a key inducement. And Trump Jr., in response to the offer said that he would “love it.”  Trump Jr. did not put down initially all the people in the room for his security clearance. That in normal times would bar him from access to high level classified information.

The recent revelation of Trump’s “private” and unannounced meeting at the G-20 dinner for about an hour with Putin with only a Russia interpreter present and no American interpreter, has raised many serious questions, not least about Trump’s primary loyalty and judgement. This is, even more so, as it may have been planned earlier with Putin to assure no Americans would know what was agreed.  And we note that Putin had a briefing paper and pen at hand and Trump had nothing!

We have had no real readout of what was discussed at this lone bilateral. Further we initially had strained obstruction regarding getting information on the heart of this meeting by the White House staff.

I can assure all readers, as a former White House staffer and Member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, this was not normal if substance and deals were discussed and there was no planning or debate by officials on what Trump proposed. Efforts to make little of it only reinforce doubt. This was likely a very BIG DEAL! That there was no serious readout of the meeting only intensifies the feeling America may be sold out by our incompetent and unstable president. Does anyone who should be brief on this discussion really know what was agreed? Perhaps his family knows, or others in the White House or the Secretaries of State or Defense??? Or just the Russians?

One further question: is there other material, likely in the hands of the intelligence community or FBI, which should be shared with Special Counsel Robert Muller? If there is full sharing, we may see the start of far more serious inquires by the Special Counsel who already has asked to interview at least one member of that Trump Tower meeting and reportedly more.

At this time — with the President at the lowest point in public opinion polls and with a history of vitriol and lies in almost all that he does — the question is being asked if this nation can stand and be secure for the next three years with this individual and his “disruptive” family and staff. Not least in this regard Stephen Bannon with his Alt-Right views, seems increasingly to be behind some of the more cruel and hateful policies of this administration.

Some say impeachment is not possible with this GOP dominated Congress which itself says a lot about how our democracy has declined and the integrity of our elected GOP officials  as well. Think what the GOP would do if all this was done by a Democratic president? So many have been bought (literally in many cases), by dark wealthy forces wanting to undermine our democracy’s efforts towards fairness, equality, and justice for all. How many disasters will the GOP accept before acting?

Thus the issue is likely in the brave hands of the Special Counsel, the FBI and our overall justice system.  As Robert Mueller and staff examine the case for civil and criminal action against some in the highest levels in our land we many be able to discern who may have desecrated and shown they are disloyal to our constitution. We also need to thank some in the media who have exposed with courage much of the nefarious dealings of this administration.

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RUSSIA AND THE WEST AND WHERE DO WE GO NOW? AN ADVERSARY AND NECESSARY ENGAGEMENT PARTNER!

By

Harry C. Blaney III

The recent events, including Trump’s Poland speech with its destructive “Clash of Civilizations” and subsequent  meeting of Putin and Trump  has put the world into not only turmoil but towards dangerous trajectories on many levels and into many conflict zones which heighten risks for all. But we still need to talk to Russia but with a lot more focus and sense of the reality of the challenges we face. Some of this due to our own and especially Trump’s foolishness combined with Putin’s malevolent goals which are not helpful to peace or security especially for Europe and Russia’s neighbors and for Western Unity.

The following are among the most serious elements after G-20 and Hamburg meetings that have created high levels of concern by Western governments and people but also even some indicators for worry for some Russians. Even after the Putin-Trump talks the reality remains of a wide disparity between Russian intentions and American values and interests. The simple fact nevertheless is that both the West and Russia have more to gain from cooperation than they have to continue dangerous paths.

RUSSIAN-UNITED STATES RELATIONS AND FUTURE TRAJECTORY:

There is a great debate going among engaged American  experts and citizens over the short and long-term implications of an America headed by Donald Trump and Russia headed by Vladimir Putin.  Both have values and a world view that is detrimental to their own country and to world stability and security. The flaws of each indicate truly dangerous scenarios are likely to be forthcoming. Yet we should seek accommodations that make for a safer world but not be lured to act against our values and strategic interests. The ending of the bilateral meeting did not signal that Putin has changed in any way his efforts to undermine democracy in America, Europe, or disparage Western values or give up any of his Ukrainian taken territory. The denial by Putin that he interfered with our 2016 election only reinforces the deceit and cunning by Putin which also was shown by his further denial of any Russian troops in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.  These Trump did not challenge.

THE MIDDLE EAST, TERRORISM, ISIS, SYRIA AND IRAQ & TRUMP – PUTIN MEETING

Some have thought especially in the Middle East we could engage in a military clash between the US and Russia.  Both sides seem to recognize that possibility.  But a question is whether military deescalation was fully addresses in Hamburg at the key meeting with Putin and Trump which took place over two hours with the presence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The outcome as much as we can see was a nebulous, “ defined agreement” using Sec. Tillerson’s words, on lowering violence in southwest Syria which is not the center of much of the brutal fighting.  In principle,this is a good idea. But the lake of some of its specifics, and given that past agreements on cease fires by Russia and Russian ally the brutal Assad have failed.  Thus, we need to have a bit of skepticism. Possibly too optimistically, Tillerson also said re the accord, “This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together.” Forgetting how many such accords were agreed in the Obama administration and then immediately broken by the Russians.

There are reports that the Russian military will be the force on the ground to police the “cease fire” or safety area, but they are partisan combatants on the side of Assad and his Sunni forces and not a neutral party. One must ask what these forces might do to American supported anti-Assad forces also fighting ISIS, and civilians who are majority Shia seeking safety from Assad’s mass killings and bombing? Will there be UN observers to monitor this zone, will humanitarian groups be able to provide assistance, food and shelter and protection? In the past these safeguards were denied by Assad and Russia. Were they even fully thought  about when they created to this “accord?” The stand down is supposed to start on Sunday. I hope there is more substance to and oversight of this “agreement” than meets the immediate eye.

There are other antagonistically “hot spots” that are not likely to go way soon unless both sides change their behavior and adjust their goals and agree that cooperation is in both country’s interest. At the moment, Putin is clearly not standing down in some key areas and Trump is almost impossible to predict given lies and often acts in contradictory ways given individual contexts. Has he for example, given up Assad on the butcher of his Syrin people? There was some talk that Assad might not be there forever. That makes for a very confused situation.

The problems of Syria are complex with Russia, Iran and the U.S. and others involved militarily. The Ukraine problem still festers with continuing conflict in the East with Russian backing of the rebels. There are increasing tension also on the military side with Russia reinforcing their armed forces close to their borders with NATO countries. NATO allies are doing the same to reinforce the commitment to defend them. Trump finally acknowledged in his Poland visit the NATO commitment to come to the aid of an attacked party.  Did also Trump bring up violations by Russia of our treaty with them on intermediate nuclear force basing in Europe?  It was not mentioned in the debriefs.

MORE FALL OUT FROM PUTIN-TRUMP MEETING:

The most simple assessment would be that Putin won and Trump capitulated to him on interference in our election. There remains much ambiguity about the specifics of a still undefined or “shadow” cease fire in a non-key area where Russia will, by plan, be made more dominant in Syria. Was there, hopefully, a long term strategy to stop the carnage or bring real peace but keep for now Assad in power?

Afterwards, Tillerson also said in a press briefing that the Syrian agreement was a “defined agreement” and could be a precursor to further cooperation in Syria.”  Secretary Tillerson added that “This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria.” Remarkably he also stated they had a lengthy discussion of other areas in Syria where we can work together. Let us hope it will lead to progress, but the odds seem very high against it if Putin does not change his strategic objectives.

The Russian press spin on the meeting was the leaders discussed the situation in the Ukraine and Syria, the fight against terrorism and cybersecurity. Putin’s own take on the talk was more general and he said: “I had a very lengthy conversation with the president of the United States, there were a lot of issues such as Ukraine, Syria other problems, some bilateral issues.” The Russian Foreign Minister said that Trump had accepted the statement that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 election!

All of this on the surface seems positive until we remember that under Obama and Kerry we came to many “agreements” about cease-fires in Syria and even Ukraine that fell apart as Russia and its allies violated them in both cases a number of times.

One disturbing element of the outcome of the talks is that a Russian representative, as we noted above, said that Trump “accepted” Putin statement that he did not interfere with US elections, while an unnamed US official said he did not accept that statement. Thus at the end of the meeting there was already a major conflict in how both sides see or interpret what happen in the meeting on the a vital issue of Russian interference in the US election. Both leaders clearly wanted to get rid of this “bothersome issue.” But it will not go away in America as it is fundamental to our democracy and security.

On the North Korea threat, which was also a side issue in this bilateral context, albeit an important one, it was reported that Russia pushed back on more economic sanctions on North Korea even after the recent missile test which is banned by the UN Security Council. Which raises another example of Russia trying to undermine American action, security interests and influence across the global space.

The harsh reality is that there is not likely yet any change in Putin’s strategic stance regarding Russian dominance in the region they call “The Near Afar” which includes the old Warsaw Pact nations, like Ukraine, the Baltics, etc. And now beyond, to areas that Putin considers constitute regions of new interest and new suitability to influence including Syria, Iran, China and Eurasia and elsewhere.

G-20 GROUP MEETING:

This platform largely served as a way for global leaders to meet their piers and hash out the key problem areas and find some consensus and solutions. They talked to one another most likely of how bad Trump is for the global order and despaired over what they experienced.

There were sidebars with the heads of China, South Korea, and Japan and with the key European leaders. In these meetings the Paris Agreement, global trade, and sanctions on Russia came up. There was deep anger at Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord. 

Basically, on the question North Korea, a key focuses of the G-20 nations, the key unsolved problem was how to initiate strong diplomatic pressure with the key actors and possible added sanctions. Clearly this problem has no simple solution. And clearly the key actors have different views and interests which make a concerted response to solve this challenge highly problematic.  Back of the mind of all leaders was the danger of the unacceptable option of taking the various paths that can only lead to catastrophic conflict.

THE UNITY OF THE WEST, “COMMON VALUES” AND INTERESTS THREATENED:

Perhaps sadly, the best statement coming out of the G-20 Meeting was by President Emmanuel Macron when he said: “Our world has never been so divided.” He added “Centripetal forces have never been so powerful. Our common goods have never been so threatened.” There was overwhelming consensus among most G-20 leaders that Trump was directing a deliberate effort to divide the West and demean the EU and the idea of international common cooperation or multi-lateralism. They saw him trying to destroy the post WW II framework that America established to unify the global democracies.

Trump made no real effort to help unify the West, just the opposite. In keeping with the ideas of his top strategist the far Alt-Right Stephen Bannon, who holds that one needs to destroy or “deconstruct” our global institutions and recreate a world of what one can call “Trumpism.” Or better described, “the survival of the fittest” with the key element being hatred of “the other” including immigrants, and supporting super authoritarian nationalism.  These account also for Trump’s support of European neo-Fasists parties who share the same prejudices and racism.  As a result, the meeting was adding to disunity, a result that Trump seemed to take pride in.

In keeping with these views, the decision to pull out of the Paris Accord was one of the most stupid destructive acts by an American president in our history. I think it was a deliberate effort to sow disunity. Trump also took the occasion to threaten global trade including with Europe on steel exports. This did nothing to heal any of the wounds he already had caused.

Meeting with other leaders especially of Europeans were not happy affairs including with Angela Merkel who must have wondered how he picked a similar key Nazi phrase in his campaign that Germans know only too well. In the end, Trump’s “America First” did not go over and people, including the protesters in Hamburg, saw it as a threat to global economic, European unity and democracy.

Finally, the winner in all this is Putin as planned.  He help create “destructive Trump” and all he had to do is shake hands, make some gestures of friendship, and continue his aggressive actions at no cost. Trump was doing it for him.  He gained recognition as a big global player. Trump got the spotlight of the media and loathing by most of the world. He got nothing not, even a promise  to work towards more nuclear arms control agreements, stop violating treaties,  decrease major military threats, build new confidence building efforts, and move towards reducing especially hair trigger nuclear weapons.

In sum, a bad two days for the world’s population. More on the significance of the meetings and analysis on follow-though  and impact in our future posts.

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DONALD TRUMP ABROAD: MORE DANGEROUS AND AN UNGUIDED MISSILE ABROAD AS AT HOME

By

Harry C. Blaney III

Donald Trump is soon again going abroad and if this trip is like that of his earlier Europe trip this Spring with considerable maladroit and indeed dangerous statements and behavior with our allies not least at NATO, then the coming journey seems to be not much better. As others have commented, Trump seems increasingly detached from reality and rationality and taken a turn towards irrational bullying and acting beyond normal. The leaders abroad have taken note!

This has already alarmed many Americans according to a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll and another by Pew. One shows alarming lack of trust in Trump by Americans and another show decrease of respect by people abroad for America likely due to Trump’s behavior.

These polls are confirmed by a recent Quinnipiac University poll, where respondents were asked what word immediately came to mind when they thought of Donald Trump: The No. 1 response was “idiot.” This was followed by “incompetent,” “liar,” “leader,” “unqualified,” and finally, in sixth place was “president.” In addition, superlatives like “great” and a few unprintable names came down on the list.

Looking at his behavior and his words and impulses and the mean spirit that is behind his actions, raises questions of Trump’s stability which in turn diminishes America’s leverage abroad and respect.

Looking at the forth coming trip to Europe there are many pit falls and areas of sensitive issues and concerns in Europe. To say that Europeans are looking at this visit with some disturbing thoughts is an understatement. The key problem is some think Trump’s efforts will be to divide Europe and thereby strengthen Putin and Russian power in the region.

The first reason for this concern is that the initial meeting in Europe, little recognized by much of the media, is to an Easter European bloc of nations under the invitation largely of the far right wing and authoritarian and anti-EU government of Poland rule by the infamous Law and Justice (PiS) party.

In this First part of Trump’s trip is a meeting with a gathering of political leaders from Central Europe, Baltic states and the Balkans that has been called the “Three Seas Summit” which indicates the geographical range of its participating nations. While billed as an event convened by Poland to bolster regional trade and infrastructure within the group, others see it as a mechanism by Poland to create an Eastern Europe bloc against the Western European EU leadership and to weaken EU ties and unity and gain support against EU efforts to signal out Poland for its anti-democratic and human rights violations.

Brussels leaders view the July 6 meeting as a Polish bid to increase its influence vis-a-vis the European Union. The nationalist government has repeatedly clashed with the EU and Germany.. One report has a quote from a Brussels diplomat saying “One cannot but feel a bit suspicious if it isn’t an attempt to break up European unity”

 

So the Poland visit is filled with traps for long held American interests in keeping Europe united and committed to the EU, NATO and democracy and human rights. If Trump take this meeting as another opportunity to criticize the EU or NATO members over added payments for defense, it could end up being, as the earlier trip to Europe, becoming a new Trump debacle. His support for right wing racist and Fascists parties that oppose the EU is part of that concern.

The meeting in Hamburg Germany of the G-20 group of major nations this coming week is another opportunity for Trump ideally to unite the G-20 nations towards cooperation on trade and international financial issues and affirm American engagement towards co-operation. But much of the focus on the Hamburg visit is the side-bar meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin which as both American officials and the public are much concerned that Trump will act irrationally and with views against American security interests.

A face to face meeting could amount to nothing and be just pro-forma, but it could also be historic if dangerous “deals” are made without consulting his expert officials and without consultations with our allies. The background of this meeting is the investigation of Trump’s campaign associates in what may be collusion with Russia on sanctions over Ukraine or even the hacking of American election documents and efforts to push Trump for president and against Hillary Clinton as found by our intelligence agencies. In any case the meet is filled with foreboding.

One of the problems will be how the leaders of the Group of 20 will be looking for leadership from America and Trump. Will it be a stable leader with intent to share efforts that are beneficial for all sides or a confronting “America First” tawdry president who will only further the de-stabilization of our globe by his challenging sands and rejection of decades of coordination and shared interests with our friends or strange actions that further hurt American leadership?

Some have suggested that this trip is an effort to create a distraction (as some think is the case with the Trump effort against MSNBC’s Morning Jo affair), from the congressional and inquires into Trump and his associates dubious connections with Russian agents, lying under oath, and possible obstruction of justice. All of this seems to have unhinged Trump and made him vulnerable in the planned meeting with a more knowledgeable and experienced Putin. At this moment we do not know exactly the context or the issues they will discuss, but likely Syria, Iran, disengagement, North Korea, Ukraine, sanctions and efforts at disruptions of our elections and democracy.

Keep tuned and pray!

We welcome your comments.

CUBA AND TRUMP: MISGUIDED, VINDICTIVE AND DANGEROUSLY WRONG!

By,

Harry C Blaney III

There are few worst things that a president can do and it is to act out of personal spite and racist motivations, listen not to experts in the field, and not care if it hurts our nation or the real chances of moves towards a more opened and democratic society.

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a rollback of his predecessor’s policy engagement and seeking warming relations Cuba. Trump in a meeting said at a boisterous Miami crowd that “our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.” In fact it is the worst deal, with few remaining key elements of Obama’s initiatives that would provide progress for people on both sides.

Cutting some key ties to Cuba is not the first action which has all these hallmarks sadly. Nor will it likely be the last since all decisions are made based on Trump’s basic stupidity and it seems desire to hurt others that do any good verses. Instead we see his own destructive acts to help a broad grouping authoritarian regimes and hurt our allies and mutual cooperation to make our world just a bit better.

One added cost is the further lost of respect and cooperation with Latin American nations.

But the one constant of much of his acts is his desire to undo anything that President Obama did that is good, helps our country, and contributes to the security and peace of our world. He wins the award for “The World’s Most Dangerous Man.” without much doubt.

In the case of Cuba Trump’s actions will not help democracy or justice in that nation more likely the opposite. Most Cuban Americans want to keep ties to Cuba. Those that are saying it did no good to open our links forget that we did not expect immediate change in the regime in Cuba, but already we did see more engagement and getting to know more about each other. The Cuban people are those that will lose the most from his blind action by Trump which is no more than petty vindictive. In any case our past policies of isolation and antagonism for decades were clearly counterproductive.

One irony is that there are far worse brutal dictatorships that Trump is happy to admire, welcome to the White House, and give assistance to. Our readers could easily name them! In reality it is called dirty narrow politics, in bending to the far right and vindictive Cubans, and not caring about the majority of Cubans that want badly more contact with family and recognize that change will come from contacts. It hurts American long term interests. Its name is hypocrisy and is also self-destructive.

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COMEY TESTIMONY AND MULTIPLE INQUIRIES MAY SPELL TRUMP’S SELF DESTRUCTION.

By

Harry C. Blaney III

          On Thursday we heard former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony which highlighted a possible effort to obstruct justice or at least efforts by Trump to hide something which he feels threatens his presidency or worse. We can expect over time additional hearings and witnesses of other participants in this sad and tawdry story tell their own story. Further the work of the new Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III seems to be focused on a wide range of issues related to the Trump Camp-Russian connection and they have the authority to find criminal actions and prosecute which Congress can’t.

The Trump twitter may continue but the drum beats are for a reckoning while that may up set Trump’s presidency as vulnerable either for impeachment or self disintegration or severely injured. There are some signs that GOP lawmakers are concerned of what they see at the White House, but there is a great reluctance to jump ship for a host of reasons, most dealing with saving their own careers.

More and more of leaders of both parties are worried, the media of all stripes paying more attention, and the well informed public are increasingly fearful and concerned that our nation is in a dangerous downward cycle within and abroad. For example, according to a recent poll the percentage of Americans who “strongly” approve of the president has continued to go down – from 30 percent this spring to about 20 percent now. Many polls show opposition to Trump’s actions notably rejection of the Paris Accord.

Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee largely corroborated much of what is known about the relationship between Trump and Comey and highlighted a key reason why he was fired, namely he would not bow to Trump’s intimidation for dropping the Flynn-Russian investigation.

There is no doubt that Trump tried several times to demand “loyalty” and sought to close down the investigation which, while aimed publicly at former NSC head Mike Flynn, likely involved other members of the Trump team. There reality also is that during the campaign and after the election but before Trump was president, about seven of Trumps associates were in some contact with Russian agents according to press reports. The question is whether they were acting on Trump orders or that of his family or high level staff.

Comey made clear in his testimony that Russia had hacked into our election process, that they had a long history of such activity and likely will continue, and it was vital that America protect itself against such action that impact our democracy. He accused President Donald Trump of lying when he said in the aftermath of Comey’s firing that the bureau was in disarray and that its agents had lost confidence in its leader. “Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey said to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey in giving an account of his dismissal and said there was “no doubt” that he had been fired “to change the nature of the Russia investigation,” of the FBI’s investigation of Kremlin-backed meddling in the 2016 election.

That probe’s key element includes an examination of whether Trump aides colluded with the Kremlin campaign to hack into American political organizations and leak stolen documents. On Thursday, while Comey refused to say in an open hearing whether he believed Trump colluded with that effort, the weight of reported evidence of broad active efforts by his associates and family to make these contacts and keep them “secret” from our key agencies, and in the case of Jared Kushner suggesting using Russian communication modalities for contacting Putin increasingly moves into dangerous territory and wide implications.

My own feeling given the pressure Trump applied, his own statements, not least the words “fake news” and disparagement of Comey before the Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, where he indicated that the action would take the pressure off of him. Further, his irrational and counterproductive tweets, efforts to pressure intelligence agencies heads to influence Comey, plus his demands that top Justice Department officials provide some pretext for reasons for the firing of Comey, all raise doubts about his motives and actions which in the end he acknowledged were also due to the Russian probe. Important also is that Trump felt investigators would get too close to himself.

Comey made the point that the bureau’s investigation of Flynn was criminal in nature and focused on Mike Flynn’s statements regarding contacts with Russian officials. Trump fired Flynn allegedly because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but continued to seek a halt of the investigation of him by the FBI.

Based on these factors, it is my view likely that the inquiry could lead in some way to Trump himself. I sense that neither Michael Flynn, nor especially Jared Kushner would have undertaken, or kept to themselves and from Trump, such communications with the Russian agents on highly sensitive matters. They clearly wished to keep this activity from the public and especially other US officials including our intelligence agencies. It reaffirms the high likelihood that Trump either knew about these activities or ordered them. That could be the “smoking Gun.” The other “smoking guns” are a proved effort at obstruction of Justice, or proof of nefarious collusion with the Russians.

The question in open and unclassified session gave some insights on Comey’s thinking and concerns, it also give insights on how the Senate Committee might behave as they proceed to look into the classified data in closed session and demand to see FBI and intelligence agency documents. What is unknown is how far has the FBI probe under now Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller gotten and what is yet to be found out. Certainly, the Trump people have been or will be questioned under oath and there my likely be some revelations from this process.

Finally, what we have seen today probably is just the tip of the iceberg and there may be very much more known to the government agencies involved and more perhaps yet to be found out.

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