END OF YEAR ASSESSMENT OF 2017 AND RISKS IN 2018: Calamity or Peace, Stupidity or wisdom?


Harry C. Blaney III


No 2017 was not a fun year, in fact our nation and our planet are now more at risk than anytime since the Cuban nuclear missile crisis in 1962 and it was almost all thanks to one man Donald Trump.

Long ago I did a book with the title “Global Challenges: A World at Risk” That was in the 1970s and I did not contemplate an American president, let along a corrupt GOP Congress, would make our world not only filled with great dangers and risks but these would be accompanied by a serious threat to our own democracy.

This may seem strange that I assess that Trump after the antics of 2017 is now one of our major risks both now and likely in 2018. The reason is very simple, in every new encounter, in every crisis, and even when there is no immediate crisis, his acts aim for the creation of even more upheaval and conflict. Thus the unilateral actions so far by Trump point toward even greater dangers for us all.

On key factor in assessing dangers is the rationality and the goals and the temperament of those that are the decision-makers in any given crisis….and that means for most of the world Donald Trump, who stated main goal is “deconstruction,” (read creating chaos and harm), and that applies to almost every past great creation by the US to maintain the peace, democracy and cooperation. Note Trump’s deliberate destruction of our diplomacy tools and institutions and especially the gutting of the Department of State.

The madness will end either when the GOP sees Trump as a liability and not an asset and the GOP billionaires agree and send that signal. Or perhaps Mueller finds the smocking gun? Otherwise they are tied to him and he is tied to them. The GOP created Trump knowing his craziness and, with malice aforethought, put him in a position to be president and supported his destructive agenda. And they took the money from the super Alt-right-wing rich and large corporations and stuck it to the rest of America.

The GOP shut their eyes to all the horrors and nasty acts he undertook abroad that made others fear us and are now repulsed by America’s “new dictator.”Democracy is a risk as commentators Paul Krugman and Martin Wolf have already noted and many others. There is no shame in the Republican caucus in Congress. The battle for our nation’s values is also a battle for America role in the world.


We will be reviewing in following forthcoming posts each of the key challenges that likely confront America and provide some insight into both likely added dangers and avenues of progress that hopefully we should take.

Looking at come of the critical points of crisis and threats in forthcoming issues we will examine Trump’s impact and ask if there re more constructive options for 2018:


Trump was against the Iran nuclear deal and he decertified the accord and left the use of sanctions to Congress but one motivation may have been to get others to take dangerous action that would have taken the blood off his hand in case of war. that would have moved the Iranian government to withdraw from the accord and certainly then justify using a military option with Israel with us taking the brunt of the action. As I have written and many other who are experts on Iran and on nuclear strategy and risks know tht the “nuclear deal” is in fact getting Iran to sand down on production of nuclear weapon was a major gain which safeguarded as most former Israeli security senior officials agreed made their nation safer. It is clear the rest of the key world’s leaders and military share that view including our close allies.

Where in 218 will we see change and what should we do. First and foremost we should not pull out of the Nuclear Deal accord that would not only harm the security of Israel but involve us unnecessarily in a major conflict involving Iran and most of the Middle East with great damage to a vast array of American interests and with catastrophic deaths of innocent people and exacerbate the existing conflicts of the region.

The last thing the Middle East needs is even more bloodshed. In this connection we need to change course entirely and pull back from a partisan position of favoring the Sunni position with Saudi Arabia in the lead and return to our effort to fine avenues of cooperation and reconciliation between both Sunni and Shia. That will not be an easy task and will need the cooperation of the few wise leaders in the region and others  outside. But for the long-term it is a necessity.

The most recent unrest and protests in Iran is an indicator of much sense of isolation and economic decline by the poorer sector and even some disaffection by the  middle class educated for reform and especially the need to share in any prosperity. Ironically these protects threaten both the old guard regime of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei plus his Revolutionary Guards who have now been called out according to recent reports. But the upheaval also threatens as well the somewhat more moderate and modern government of President Hassan Rouhani and most experts seem to accept the outcome will be bad in that the Revolutionary Guard, that as reportedly has now been deployed  to put down the unrest with what can only be a disaster for all. When will the leaders in the Middle East recognize that their religious and power conflicts will only result in all sides paying a very dear price?

Trump efforts, in fact are not likely done to support democracy but rather to stimulate added instability and cause as he has done elsewhere chaos which is his signature accomplishment. America must do better than that and work as we have for decades seek peace.



Harry C. Blaney III

There is deep concern at home and abroad that America has lost it way and its values. The process of “de-construction” or really just destruction of our federal government is real as it seems that we are witnessing major attacks on a broad range of vital and needed programs that have been at the heart of decent and caring government that saves lives, provides for the “common good” and protects our nation from enemies within and without in a very high risk world made even more so by indifferent, spiteful and unbalanced president.

These destructive acts are now on going in our departments and agencies Clear existential dangers that have solutions are instead made worse deliberately by people who have no interests in the common good but very much have the aim to make the rich even richer at the expense of the middle class and poor. We see this in the destruction and non-enforcement of environmental laws and regulation at EPA, we see it at the Energy Department with the gutting of clean energy programs, and we see it in HHS with the forceful effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act which means that thousands of people will lose their life earlier and suffer from sickness than would be the case with decent medial care. The planed Trump efforts to decimate our National Monuments will destroy the beauty and grander of many of America’s key great natural wonders.

Globally, millions of our most vulnerable fellow inhabitants of this earth will die because of Trump brutal and mindless cuts in our assistance programs for food, Health care, medicine and clean water and education efforts to the most needed. This is like committing mass murder!

Undercover the GOP, with encouragement of the right wing media, the GOP Congress has largely gone along with these cuts like climate change research, new clean energy technologies, funding for adequate IRS oversight, massive cuts to EPA and for childhood education in public schools (where 90 of our children go), and on and on. But now we have attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and putting more burdens on retired Federal workers by increasing their health contributions, retirement and other benefits and many other destructive goals. The decimation of our civil service is going on massively as part of a White House  and GOP strategy to eliminate any programs that actually do good for our citizens while expanding those that hurt our citizens.

A key problem is we need our citizens to have better education in order to tell lies from truth, science-based confirmed knowledge from denial of science truth. We also need a media that tells the truth and not repeats Trump’s world of lies and hates without question.

This however is all part of a larger far right or Alt-Right effort to destroy government for the people and by the people to make it a government that protects the very rich. How else can you assess the nefarious tax bill? For the State Department the cuts and gutting of its professional core reflect the desire to run our foreign policy only from the White House where “transactional deal”s can be made to benefit Trump, his family and his rich supporters. This has cost us the respect of the rest of the world. And provides crazily aid and support for some authoritarian states and our opponents.  But not of course help the American people or strengthen our national securit,y or friendship with our allies.

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Harry C. Blaney III

As I listened to the speech by Trump that was billed as a serious national security statement, it became very soon a nasty partisan campaign speech of self justification and harsh criticism of every one and especially our allies and those that did so much good for out nation in the past. It sounded a like he was taking revenge on all the wonderful things that were accomplished by others for our nation.

I wanted to run and hide and cringed as so many misstatements and the kind of half crazy petulance that only added to the fear and worry of those who looked for us to lead our international community towards solutions. But he has mostly increased even more to our dangers. Trump’s demand for more money from our allies, while cutting us off from trade and cooperation with others, along with belittling of international institutions that were the great creation after WW II for a more decent world, were signs of a bitter man doing harm to our constructive leadership.

Cooperation for him was simply grabbing all for us, and nothing for them. Not win-win but you lose was his byword. More hostility or “America First” rather than we are here on this common earth to make the entire world better.

Today’s so-called “National Security” speech by Donald Trump was plainly an embarrassment from start to finish. It was an irrational and nasty rant at the rest of the world. It was a denouncement of all that was good that other US leaders did, an attack on our allies, and not least a set of lies about all the wonderful things he has done to make “America great again.”

There was a glaring difference in both tone and substance between the official national security written strategy of 55 pages and much of Trump’s statements in his speech. The document contains some areas of serious policy analysis while Trump’s speech was often much like is irrational tweets and filled with self-praise for things he had no influence upon and just for his own greetness.

He ignored the issue of Russian interference in our elections. Indeed he had praise for Putin and what he call his help in sharing intelligence with Putin on possible terrorist attacks in St. Peterburg.

The document and to a degree Trump acknowledged the “great power rivals” and that Russia and China challenge “American influence, values, and wealth.” But his policies and words in his campaign and in office contradict that phrase regarding values. He had no specific understanding about what needed to be done about these difficult issues. Indeed his “destructive” approach at home and abroad have only exacerbated these potential challenges and lead to more conflict than cooperation.

The disconnects were bizarre with castigating of our friends and allies while the document acknowledges the value of working with our allies. Further, the main document was short on specific solutions often just pointing to problem areas or goals. His language seemed like an off the top confused campaign speeches and having little that is coherent, practical or even beneficial. Trump defaulted to more hate towards his critics and opponents….except for Putin. On China and Russia the document saw them as “strategic competitor.” But no solution for interfering in our elections.

There was also no acknowledgment of the need to act on climate change and none to deal with Russian political interference in US elections. And the repetitive statements of “America first” only increased the sense of our nation being sent off the rails on the global stage.

In reality he has made us a laughing stock. In my 50+ years of following national security statements and polices (and contributing to them), this was the worst ever and shows again Trump ignorance and that of his far right partisan supporters. They are a major danger to America’s constructive leadership and proved e confusion to the rest of the world.

In short, his speech gave no indication that he had learned anything in his time in office.



Harry C. Blaney III

One of the most idiotic event of my lifetime happen just the past week when it was reported that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC) what words they could not use. This immediately set of alarms both triggered by history and by understanding what is the basics of true national security for a democratic nation.

The “bad’ or forbidden words were:

“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

I think you get the drift of what was intended. It was to politicized our language, get it written into our budget process words with malevolent ideological intent.

Worst was the substitute words or phrases that were suggested by the Trump overseers they were: Instead of “science-based” or -“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” In short, the local village idiot like Roy Moore or climate deniers would be equal to science based facts. Is it because the Republicans on the Hill are equally dense on science and facts, or are they influenced by the likes of the Koch Brothers, billionaires who have written the tax for the rich bill, the lobbyists for the oil and coal industry and their big fat checks for reelection or the treats of withholding money if they are not obedient?

Think of the implications for our health, for honest and tested science, and for free speech and implications for such an action in our America. Also it is reported that other agencies including the Department of State also received limitation on words they could use which is un-presidente. Further, the Trump people even gave misleading and insulting and politicized new words to use in the same way that Hitler did.

It is just the most recent signs of authoritarian rule and of the simple fact we are being led by both a man of deep ignorance and one who has demonic and dangerous tendencies that threaten in a fundamental way American democracy and frank and open and free debate.

My fears go back to a lecture I heard from the great Christian and controversial theologian Paul Tillich in the 1950s at a college conference in Ohio. He said that one of the great crimes that the Nazis committed was the destruction of the German language by changing the meaning of past words that were commonly understood among thinkers and philosophers into words that aimed to take new meaning to support Nazi rule and propaganda lies and rid the thinking by Germans of words that had real meaning supporting humane values. I have never forgot those thoughts.

The second example that I studied intensely was the Soviet revolution and likewise the period in Germany that lead to Hitler. Both were regimes where words were used to spread hate and as ways of limiting free speech. They used the banning of words and phrases that threatened recognition of true freedom of thought, tolerance, and speech. Now we have in full view the exact same methods of coercion and same methods to destroy truth and fact based discourse.

This move is as dangerous as any act of terrorism and Russian plot against our elections…it is now the deep mad “enemy within” the White House and the GOP that is trying and could caused us to fear the truth and have forced upon us a lexicon of hate, lies and falsehoods.

Efforts to “wash our minds” and silent those who are our truth tellers is as un-American as any external act and leads to a darkness that many of have seen in the past and is appearing in many authoritarian states like Egypt, Turkey, Russia, China and many more.

Words matter and the truth matters and we need the right words to tell the truth.

We Welcome your comments.



By Harry C. Blaney III

I have studied and been involved for decades on the relationship of America and Europe, and not least the US-UK ties. Both sides have been at pains to keep the “special relationship” firm and very close and with many special elements of cooperation on very sensitive issues. It has been to the benefit of both sides over decades. Trump via his recent tweets has now acted to massively undermined that mutual respect and cooperation.

That relationship has been a linchpin of American policy, values, and security that Europe remain peaceful, united, and democratic. That meant supporting the EU as a key element to bring to Europe an end of internal warfare. Those goals have been strengthened via NATO a unified and strong defense. Now sadly needed given Russia under Putin and also in defense of democracy.

Trump has time and time again made a deliberate effort to harm those ties and been active in malicious interference on very sensitive debates in Europe before and after he took office. He embraced the far tight racist and nationalistic xenophobic beliefs which are now being played out against our American values and interests.

Trump recently retweeted a vulgar, insulting and hate filled tweets emanating from a far right racist British group to which Prime Minister Theresa May made a critical response to these Trump anti-Muslim videos. Prime Minster May said the videos source was a “hate group” and the one thing that is needed is to establish in all our democracies a unified stance again such groups as they are a threat to democracy and decency and tolerance.”

The negative fallout in Britain now swells from these anti-Muslim videos. In response Trump said in an insulting tone: “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”

One result is new efforts by British citizens to cancel the planned state visit by Trump.

There is a report on the web in the Washington Post that has the headline “Britain Furious, Trump defiant….”

Some examples of the reaction in the UK to Trump’s racist tweets were:

— Tory Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the president had “endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organization.”

–Right Wing and anti-EU said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted that Britain First had “no place” in British society.

— Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn characterize the retweets as “abhorrent” and “dangerous.”

— Speaking in the Commons, Labor MP David Lammy accused Mr Trump of “promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group.”

That about covers how many other decent citizens of Britain now feel about Trump and also their wonder at the hateful role America is playing on the world as well as domestic stage.

Equally negative for informed world opinion was the image of GOP and Trump in tandem working on the Tax bills going through Congress that will make the rich richer and the middle class and poor more even more desperate on many levels, not least on existing tax and social benefits for the middle class and poor including taking away woman’s choices, cutting food and care to the most vulnerable among our children, and helping to destroy the Affordable Heath Care Act and the impacting some millions of the 32 million people who benefit from it, cutting vital aid for the world most desperate people, and much much more.

Now Trump, without any real word of criticism from the GOP leaders, is seen as indifferent to American ordinary citizens and continues playing to his base these ugly tweets encouraging the most racists groups like the KKK and other bigots. All this is giving us and the world a true picture of the darkness that Trump and now the GOP has brought to our nation and to the world at large.

This reveals a man without a moral center and filled with a major destructive bent. That motivation, anger, and mental imbalance is a danger to American democracy and economic and civil rights, and a sense of commitment to world peace and stability.

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By Harry C. Blaney III

Another strong voice against the gutting of the Department of State, diplomacy, and our Foreign Service Dan Rather.  Dangerous is not strong enough to describe what is taking place. It is a crime and we all need to say so to our representatives and ask their help to stop it. I have never is over 50 years of active foreign affairs engagement have I seen America so weakened and counterproductive abroad and indeed destructive of all that is good than under Trump. This must stop. Dan Rather says it all and to the point!

Dan Rather (Post on his Facebook page):

I try to stay steady. I try to remain calm. But of all the things stuck in my craw these surreal days, the willful and deliberate decimation of the United States Department of State by President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a turn of events that is both bewildering and so obviously dangerous that it begs for reason in an age already plagued by a striking lack of reason.

This is an attack on the very health and security of the United States. It undermines our political, cultural, economic, and moral power around the globe. Yes our military forces are important and yes the aircraft carriers and fleets of tanks and airplanes are impressive. And yes the courage and dedication of our fighting men and women are impressive. But so too is the courage and dedication of our diplomatic corp who wield words and the power of persuasion to further our national interests, along with the aspirations of peace and justice. Their budget is but a fraction of our defense budget, but dollar for dollar they do more than almost anyone I can think of to make America what it has been, what it is, and what I believe we hope it to be.

There should be a bipartisan outcry against this undermining of American values. We have had strong diplomats from across the political spectrum. And as the world becomes ever-more complicated and difficult to navigate, we need leadership not empty rhetoric.

Make no mistake, our allies are watching with great unease. And our adversaries are salivating at our shortsightedness, and frankly, stupidity.




Harry C. Blaney III

Trump’s trip to Asia already has all the signs of a semi-fiasco with foreign policy public statements that appeared like they were written by a six year old for a class project. His unabashed self praise for his discussions with the Japan Prime Minister along with his continue bragging about what will happen to North Korea are all classic efforts to cover the fact that he has no deep and informed understanding of the complete and high risk issues at hand and thinks that just bragging, bulling and self-praise will save him from failure.

Further, he still does not realize that diplomatic agreements require both sides gain — called a win-win outcomes. These are the agreements that last.

The most chilling news on the North Korea front is that while Trump is pushing a more military solution, the US military leaders have stated in a letter to Congress that says that the only way to take out North Korea’s nuclear program with — quote — ‘complete certainty’ would be a ground invasion to secure and locate all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons sites ‘with complete certainty. They added in the event of conflict, Pyongyang could use biological and chemical weapons, the Pentagon told lawmakers in their current, candid assessment of what war on the Korean Peninsula might look like. We already know that various assessments of such a war would like mean the loss of millions of lives on all sides.

In this context, to show the absurdity of Trump focus’s, he is even encouraging the Japanese to buy billions of US manufactured weapons, which in my poor eyes amounts to asking them to send troops to fight a battle that Trump himself my have by his bellicose statements and actions only made sadly more likely. The Japanese know they are within striking distance of North Korea’s missiles.

There is urgent need for not only our more responsible leaders but also the heads of our Asian allies also to urge a diplomatic approach but the time is drawing short and risks rise as time goes by. In time talks with China, Russia, and South Korea leaders will indicate if we will go towards diplomacy to high risk options.  Trump still has no concept of or it seem desire to try to see that a peaceful resolution is in everyone’s best interest. Hope that is wrong! Congress also has to step in and there are moves in that direction.

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