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

Today the first shoe dropped in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments are now public and those involved all have ties to Trump and his campaign. Among the charges are lying, defrauding the government, avoiding taxes, and conspiring against America.

The focus was first on Paul Manafort who was briefly the Chairman of the Trump campaign. The 18 charges focused largely on evasion of taxes and money laundering, but also included the question of Manafort’s years as a political consultant to Viktor F. Yankukovych the pro-Russian former president of the Ukraine.

What may prove equally or more significant the indictment was of George Papadopoulos who it is said to be cooperating with Mueller. He was a volunteer foreign policy advisor to Trump during the campaign. The day after joining the campaign he met the “professor” who had ties to the Kremlin. He to appears to charged with lying to the FBI and has pleaded guilty.

The third person indicted was Rick Gates who is accused lying about transferring $3 million from offshore accounts some in Cyprus. He worked with Manafort.

The media characterized the indictments as “a significant escalation in the special counsel investigation.” But is was more than that as it seemed to be part of a strategy to bring all the threads of possible collusion with Russians together and seems to threaten Trump himself as he attempted today to throw off or deflect the news of the indictments of his associates by saying the government Justice Department should investigate Hillary Clinton, a very tired line from his campaign which given that such action are seen as inappropriate for a president to interfere in any Justice investigation and only showed more his fear of the consequences of the investigation. Trump insisted against all evidence, that no one in his orbit during the campaign colluded with the Russian government. We need to remember that there were indeed undisclosed meetings with Russians by Trump family and staff.

What should we make of these events and news? First, that Mueller appears to be closing in upon the Trump circle and decided to act against the most easily indicted persons with hope in the end of getting at the bottom of Russian efforts to undermine our election and to what degree Trump’s people were involved in illegal activity at high levels.

But in a larger perspective, it shows first that at the moment our laws and democracy works against some great illegal actions to deflect and undercut Mueller and the legal process. What is interesting is that the White House said Trump had no plans to fire Mueller….but my thought is that he may have plans to use another high official to someday carry out that action.

The other question is the future of Trump and of his administration. It gets darker with each day especially as he gets more crazed. What is taking place is a major challenge to the integrity of our justice system, and it is also a test of our political system under stress and especially that of our Congress. This is true for our courts that will have to adjudicate these charges.

All of this will have major international repercussions. First, is it will further undermine foreign confidence in the capability of Trump to act in a rational way with our friends and opponents. Second, it may at last bring light into the public mind the serious nature of what has taken place. And it may move Congress on the full meaning of what Russia has done to undermine our democracy and not least how much the Trump team may have colluded to cooperate in the interference in our political process and elections. Third, it may at last force Congress to rethink their own role in support of Trump’s idiocies and also to act with more authority over our national foreign affairs and national security policies. This is especially true of issues of Western unity, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Finally, Trump has shown every indication of willingness to act in irresponsible ways when he is put into a cornier or feels threaten. The problem is whether he would think that going to war might be a way out for him. His belligerent words and actions with North Korea and Iran as well as escalation of US forces in the Middle East indicates he has no hesitation, or careful thought or assessment before hand, to enter and initiate conflict that can bring disaster to all sides. This is a challenge for those that serve in the White House, in DOD, the State Department, the courts, and not least in Congress to act, within the law, as a check on catastrophic actions by an unhinged myopic president. We are all in this mess together even if we still do not fully recognize this.

We welcome your comments!! (see box below)


By  Harry C. Blaney III

Clips from The New Times editorial May 10th:

“Mr. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president. Though compromised by his own poor judgment, Mr. Comey’s agency has been pursuing ties between the Russian government and Mr. Trump and his associates, with potentially ruinous consequences for the administration.

With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

We have said that Mr. Comey’s atrocious handling of the Clinton email investigation, which arguably tipped the election to Mr. Trump, proved that he could not be trusted to be neutral, and that the only credible course of action would be the appointment of a special prosecutor. Given all that has happened ……. his dismissal of nearly all United States attorneys — the need for such a prosecutor is plainer than ever. Because Mr. Sessions is recused, the decision to name a special prosecutor falls to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose memo, along with a separate one by Mr. Sessions, provided Mr. Trump with the pretense to fire Mr. Comey.

This is a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history. The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the F.B.I.’s ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates…..”

Added to this commentary is the reality that the most serious threat to the security of the United States and indeed the world is Donald Trump. As each day, each week and each month unfolds, this is increasingly apparent.  The cumulative impact of his actions directives, lies, and tweets only reinforce this conclusion. What is even more frightening is that so many of our leaders and institutions are unwilling to speak up or act to mitigate and halt this mortal danger to American security and democracy.

What was said in the NY Times editorial is a what both Democrats and some Republicans are now saying or wondering — most in disbelieve, wonder and yes fearfulness.

There are no better questions for our justice system, Congress, media, and citizens than to ask deep and serious questions about  the “Russia connection.” Getting honest truthful answers from Trump, Flynn, James Comey, and James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and all those associated with and under Trump who had connections with the Russians and a role in the firing of Comey, to wit: what did they know and when did they know it? An ancillary, and just as important, is to find out how dependent Trump, his family and organization are on Russian money, and contacts?

The firing of the head of the FBI who was leading the FBI effort investigating the contacts between Trump’s staff and associates, and, it is assumed, the Russian hacking of American political parties, has all the hallmarks of the Saturday Night Massacre under Nixon.  I witnessed this up front while at the State Department under then Secretary of State Kissinger.  I knew well the integrity of Elliot Richardson who stood with courage. Where now are such men of courage in the Republican Party?

At issue is the legal concept of “obstruction of justice” which should apply to all citizens including the president. There is a growing consensus that Trump’s aim is to demolish the FBI investigation and put in place in the Justice Department those who would stop or impede any further effort to fairly determine the truth  about Trump and his associates’ role in possible collusion with Russia — especially before he become president, and now after.

Each day there appears to be much more to the Russian influence story and Trump’s role than has so far surfaced. The recent White House Trump Meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the U.S. in closed doors adds to the perplexity. The odd truth is that Trump’s own actions and words tend to confirm that there is more to learn — perhaps not comforting for the security and well being of our nation. Clapper’s statement that he could not comment on the investigation of Trump regarding Russia was not a clearance of him. It was rather the opposite, it is that indeed Trump was an object of interest, given some of the evidence as part of the larger inquiry. And Clapper under those circumstances could not comment.

There is one simple assertion one can make: the appearance is an effort by Donald Trump to again squash and divert possible investigation of the “Russian Connection.“ To fire James Comey is clearly an act to set up a barrier in the Justice Department against any further action to investigate Trump and his team.  This includes if Trump was involved in initiating or knowing about, before he was president, the contacts with Russian agents and officials — especially aimed at making “deals” on withdrawal of sanctions and on collusion of hacking of Democratic files. There is also the question of the lies by Flynn about his contacts when he headed of the NSC. To this day Trump defends Flynn.

Another key question is Trump’s strange urging during the campaign of Russia to continue to hack the Democratic Party and Hillary and if that statement was a “signal” to the Russians to continue their efforts.

The revelation that Comey, before being fired asked for additional resources for the Russian inquiry and that Trump was informed about it,  and first said it was a decision based on the “recommendations” of AG Sessions (who should not have been involved,) and his deputy Rod J. Rosenstein. This has now been proved false. Recently, the Senate testimony by the now Acting FBI head Andrew McCabe, rejected Trump’s rationale for firing Comey. He defended the agency’s “significant” Russian counterintelligence investigation, and praised his former boss as a respected FBI leader contrary to the criticism of Trump that called him a a “showboater” and “bad” and not respected at the FBI. All lies.

In short, it sounds like Trump is trying to obstruct the process of justice to protect his associates and perhaps even himself from legal action prosecution, or impeachment. There are a number of serious questions about the corruption of the legal process by recent events. Our allies and Russia and others are looking at this with either dismay or rejoicing.  For friends hopes its America coming out of this still a cooperative and constructive democracy, for our  adversaries its pleasure seeing the dismemberment of Western law based justice, morality, and a further fracturing of Western unity and resolve and America in disarray.

We welcome your comments!!! (See section below for space to give your views.)




Harry C. Blaney III

In the days following the announcement on April 27th of the activation of clause 50 of the EU foundation law by Prime Minister Theresa May we have seen again as much mendacity as I observed earlier in the depressing debate London during the fateful referendum last June.

It is with great sadness is that these issues of what a exit from the EU will really mean and these impacts have been little discussed and addressed. This includes in Wednesday’s Commons debate and in Prime Minister May’s statements and her restricted letter to the EU where there was little recognition of these major internal and external dangers. There were and no concrete or specific ideas on how to minimize the wider destruction that this act will entail. It is not enough to say that “It is time to come together” or speak about “liberal democratic values,” while acting in ways that counteracts those values. I heard voices of narrow nationalism and myopic perspectives when Britain and the EU needs badly more enlightened leadership and courage.

Brexit is for Great Britain, for Europe and not least for America’s interest  in an Europe where for we had a collective decades old goal that Europe be “whole, free at peace and secure in unity.” Now we are face with an enormous set of threats by common myopia on both sides of the Atlantic about our larger interests and indeed on our security.

On the side of disunity is Trump, Mrs. May, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, and not least Putin. These together represent a threat to a peaceful and democratic Atlantic community. We need now a sense of common interests and goals. We are headed on a trajectory towards even greater disunity that weakens the fabric of collective security in the face of multiple attacks to institutions that came out of the post WW II. I am not sure that when we see Theresa May and Donald Trump both on the same side with glee at the sight of a weakened Europe including the EU and NATO that one can sleep easily.

What is happening day by day and I expect week by week, month by month the reality of how truly difficult will be the reality of the final break. Just the effort to pass legislation which will for the transition period put all the EU rules and legislation into the employees framework of a UK Parliament legislation is an almost impossible task. And on top of that Scotland’s government has requested a vote to exit Great Britain and wants an early vote before the final Brexit date, and Northern Ireland is quite upset over the danger of Brexit creating some barriers on the North Ireland-Republic of Ireland border. Also already some businesses have indicated that the exit will create major problems for their industries including staffing of a number in business sectors where EU nationals make up 20%-45% of their base employees.

On the EU side more and more the EU governments do not want Britain to have the same or better terms by leaving than they have as a full members.

In discussions here in Britain and especially among the people that want to get out of the EU there is no acknowledgment of the larger strategic risks. Their response is simply they want freedom to run their own country, and keep the “foreign” immigrants out and preserve their “way of life.”

The EU is still taking a somewhat hard line on the coming negotiations and want the terms of leading first to be addressed and then what the relationship would look like after that. Hard months ahead for both sides. But British leaders are still taking unrealistically too much of a better life after Brexit.
Finally, the downward trajectory towards even greater disunity weakens the fabric of collective security in the face of multiple attacks to institutions that came out of the post WW II that have kept the peace in Europe and beyond – institutions that hold “the center” together.”

In the meantime newspapers and other media here in London are reporting on the Trump-Russia collusion issues and the wonder at what former NSC head Lt. Gen. Flynn with say before congressional panels and indeed asking what Donald Trump is hiding.

We welcome your comments!