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The Domino Effect at the South of the Border — A Geopolitical Scenario

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Background

It is December 2017. In six months, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is about to leave office. After the Marihuana regularization revolution, started successfully by President Jose Mujica of Uruguay in 2013 and, out of public pressure in Montevideo, later implemented by Uruguayan President Tabaré Vazquez at the end of 2015.

The marihuana legalization revolution was followed by Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua throughout 2016 and 2017. The aforementioned countries gained an unexpected high amount of fiscal revenue out medical and non-medical marihuana. Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, who were pressured by the American government, because of border proximity, decided not to implement the regularization of Marihuana.

Nicolas Maduro’s regime collapsed in early 2016, giving birth to what political analysts called ‘the new year’s eve coup of state’, which was influenced by the 2015 economic meltdown, and taken over by the American-accused drug lord, Lieutenant. (Ret.) Diosdado Cabello. But out of fear of been invaded, as was the case of Noriega’s Panama, Diosdado Cabello became an American ally. President Cabello imprisoned his ex-Chavistas comrades, exiled Maduro and Cilia Flores to Habana, and brought Caracas into Washington’s sphere of influence.

Nevertheless, in Mexico, after Calderon’s six-year term, the death toll was 120,000, while during the Peña Nieto six-year term administration, the death toll doubled to 240,000. The crime rates skyrocketed stemming from drug-related crimes alongside political kidnappings, making the Iguala case the first one of its kind; for it was followed by an unprecedented wave of massive kidnappings and killings of left-wing oriented political student movement in southern Mexico. These events gave birth to southern Mexico’s guerrilla, a.k.a. PLNM (Partido por la Liberacion Nacional de Mexico—Party for the National Liberation of Mexico), which was based in the mountainous regions of Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacán states. Their policy was bold: the PLNM was anti-Mexican private sector elite and anti-American.

After an imprisoned Julian Assange leaked governmental official documents, protests across Mexico erupted. The United States Government was secretly giving heavy weapons to both the cartels and the newly left-wing guerrilla forces, as part of a DEA-CIA coordinated cover task operation. The American intelligence wanted to uncover a human contraband structure of potential ISIS militants, hiding in Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, and who potentially be smuggled onto American soil by the PLNM armed forces, using the selling of heavy weaponry as a covert operation. The DEA-CIA led operation was a catastrophe. It was leaked. And now the increasingly frustrated Mexican population turned their anger not only against the Mexican government, for its complacency with the American government, but against all of the American consulates and tourists in Mexico, including the American embassy. Washington had never seen such massive and violent protests in Mexico against American interests. As an effect, in March 2018, everything was pointing toward the fact that the Mexican voters would choose an anti-American, PLNM candidate.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras continue to have the highest combined criminal rates per capita in the world. Because of high political corruption and lack of political commitment, Washington, has not implemented its 2015 North Triangle $ 1 billion plan at the frustration of Central American leaders; a dysfunctional Republican-controlled congress continues to have the plan blocked, until Guatemala city, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa, implement tougher strategies against illegal immigration, corruption and organized crime. Central American Presidents were increasingly resentful of Washington policies.

Colombia, despite a tumultuous year-long negotiation, at the end of 2015, President Juan Manuel Santos successfully signed the long-sought peace plan with the FARC and ELN left-wing guerrilla forces; however, a new cartel, funded by unhappy FARC and ELN guerilla commanders, alongside criminal gangs, such as the Rastrojos gang and unemployed ex-guerrilla fighters, gave birth to what would be Colombia’s newest cartel: The Magdalena Valley Cartel, which operates out of the Colombian Cordillera Occidental, ramping up the Magdalena river valley as their main corridor of narcotics and guns, while controlling the ports from Buenaventura to Barranquilla and everything standing west of the Cordillera Occidental. Because of its guerrilla command structure and training, the Magdalena Valley Cartel is powerful enough to combine both guerrilla and cartel textbook style of attacks on the Colombian armed forces.

Colombia, is regaining worldwide attention as it once had during Pablo Escobar and the Rodriguez Orejuela reign of fear. The European Union imposed entry visas in conjunction with many Latin American countries. Additionally, Colombian intelligence suspects there is a drug and weapons contraband structure between the Magdalena Valley Cartel and Mexico’s PLMN guerrilla forces. However, what has President Juan Manuel Santos worried, is that the Central American Northern Triangle governments, through their proxies—MS 13, MS18 and the Zacapa cartel—have facilitated both the Magdalena Valley Cartel and the PLNM their criminal business structure. In spite of this, President Santos, was tired to fight another war against another cartel.

To Washington’s surprise, President Santos, during June 2018, a month before the Mexican presidential elections scheduled on Sunday, July 1st, the Colombian President decided to travel to Mexico to meet the PLNM candidate Rodrigo Juarez Viloria. Surprisingly, Juarez Viloria had lessened his anti-private sector rhetoric, influenced by his Chinese advisors. President Santos learned how Juarez Viloria wanted a politically controlled Mexico, yet with Chinese-like capitalistic policies. But whose main difference from his counterparts was his fierce anti-American sentiment.

Candidate Juarez Viloria had a history of personal tragedy: he lost many of his family members, on the war against drugs, fueling his grief and blaming America, meanwhile, his politically left-oriented eldest son was kidnapped by the Nuevo Jalisco Cartel, bolstering his hatred against the Mexican private sector, who he suspected were behind the massive killing of socialist and communist-inclined students. Juarez Viloria, emboldened by the image and spirit of Pancho Villa, bowed revenge against the cartels, Mexican oligarchs and the United States for its stubbornness of not changing anything related to the war against drugs. Mexico had already surpassed Spain and Brazil as the economic leader of the Hispanic and Latin American world. And Juarez Viloria is keen to fill the leadership power vacuum left in the region with a massive popular support in Mexico and throughout Latin America.

Three weeks before the presidential election, American intelligence services, intercepted a conversation between Rodrigo Juarez Viloria and President Juan Manuel Santos: Should Colombia support him as a presidential candidate, and if elected, the Mexican PLMN candidate would dismantle the PLMN-Magdalena Valley Cartel narco-structure by legalizing not just Marihuana, but the whole drug trade, allowing free mobility of drugs across Mexican territory, and by imprisoning the leaders of the structure—even if it means to imprison members of his own party. Juarez Viloria wanted the Mexican Presidency badly; and Santos was voicing out his support. Washington was now extremely concern of a possible domino effect south of the border.

On the eve of Sunday, July 1st, post-presidential elections, the unthinkable for Washington has happened: Juarez Viloria is proclaimed winner of one of the most contested presidential elections in Mexican history. United States would have to share the border with an anti-American, and potential de-facto leader of Latin America.

It was December, 2018, Juarez Viloria, during his inaugural address, proclaimed a massive fervent, inspiring speech:

“It is on this day that I will bring the sovereign right of Mexico, and sign an executive order, by allowing and legalizing drugs within our territory,officially ending Mexico’s war against drugs. And because I know how Washington will react to this announcement, I hereby declare the DEA A-Sack and the American Ambassador persona non grata. And because, I know Washington will expulse our Ambassador, I recall him right now, telling our Ambassador, that Mexico, as in the times of our great heroes, Benito Juarez and Pancho Villa, will not leave a Mexican son to succumb and be humiliated, as the American Empire always had humiliated the Mexican people. And to this, I only have to say to my countrymen on the other side of the border: No! This time Latin America, and the new global leader, China, stands with Mexico. Come back to Mexico, because I will provide a better future for all of Mexico and for all Mexicans! And will not be humiliated, nor allow Mexico to be humiliated by the Empire, north of our border. Today, I declare our full independence!

The people erupted in joy. It was the first time Mexico stood up against its northern neighbor. And Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia, inspired by his speech, followed the Mexican policy and legalized the free flow and regularization of drugs with presidential executive orders.

American intelligence failed to predict the outcome of Mexico, the Republicans were outraged and the Democrats were shocked: They knew Juarez Viloria was a radical, but for Mexico to go against the geographical and global realities was something Washington did not expected.

Weeks later, following the congressional-approved law, Juarez Viloria’s signed the regularization agreement. The American President held an emergency meeting with its top cabinet members, military Joint Chief of Staff, congress majority leaders, national security advisors, and South Com. General. Kelly.

The White House, with streamlined congressional approval, decides to take emergency prerogatives by signing the domino-effect détente act, implementing the immediate precautionary and preemptive security and economic actions:

 

  1. Reinforcement of the Mexican-American border, with options to militarily intervene Mexican border cities;
  1. The siege and check of the ports of Buenaventura, Barranquilla and Cartagena ports in Colombia;
  1. The securization of the Mexican-Guatemalan border;
  1. Blocking immigrant remittance exports to Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras;
  1. Sanctioning Mexican and Colombian banking, manufacturing and petroleum industries;

 

The American Intervention

With the analogy of the Afghan, Iraqi and Vietnamese foreign interventions, the American Federal Government decides to deploy 150,000 members of the National Guard to the American side of the border—from California to Texas—limiting a full blown invasion of Mexico. Also, the U.S. Navy dispatched three amphibian assault ships (USS America, USS Bataan, USS Boxer), one amphibious transport dock (USS Anchorage), and two destroyers (USS Bainbridge and USS Barry), with the purpose of showing force to the President Juarez Viloria to change his drug policy.

When the Norfolk-based destroyers and the San Diego-outbound amphibian assaults ships were stationed in the outskirts of the ports of Veracruz and Acapulco—nearest entryways into Mexico City—the American President decides to call President Juarez Viloria.

“President Juarez Viloria, good afternoon, this is the President of the United States of America. I congratulate you for a clean, democratic electoral victory. Unfortunately, the impulsive decision you have taken, can have dire consequences for the health of the American people. I had to take preemptive measures, Mr. President. This said, I encourage you to have a thorough and candid talk with our Secretary of State, and who is ready to board a plane towards Mexico City, to find a solution for your new policy. For the moment, our National Guard members have been deployed in our side of the border, enforcing maximum restraint, by not incurring into Mexican border cities, however, if we must incur, we will incur. The sake of the American people’s health is something I will not negotiate. Also, a small maritime force is stationed near Veracruz and Acapulco, holding their position as well. This can be called off, if you decide to repel this law that could affect America as a whole. The decision is on you, Mr. President.” The American President point out.

A furious Juarez Viloria responds:

Mr. President, rather than holding an honest dialogue amongst neighbors, and respecting our sovereignty to enforce the free mobility and legalization of drugs, you indirectly threaten me with the use of military force, so let me tell you this, because I will only say It once: Mexico and Latin America are tired of putting the death. For you it is a matter of healthcare but for us it has been a matter of life and death. However, I can assure you that as long drugs are illegal in your country, I will hem the entry of such into your countr. And concerning our armed forces, should you incur on our side of the border, I can also assure you that our armed forces will have maximum restraint. I will not risk Mexican blood; yet, I can not assure the same from some members of my party who are part of the PLMN defense forces, and have their own ideas of business and governance; and needless to mention the cartels operating on our side of the which I lack control. At this moment, I think it would be counterproductive to engage in a dialogue with your Secretary of State, until you back off from your bullying.”

The American President, unwilling to drop his guard, makes a last remark to President Juarez Viloria.

“I Understand Mr. President. But, as a precautionary measure, I wanted to let you know that today, along members of congress, I have signed the domino-effect détente act, which will compel your government and policymakers, to drop such regulation which can hold an unprecedented healthcare crisis for our American citizens in our soil, and American citizens living in Mexico. 150,000 members of our National Guard, stand combat ready, should they intervene the principal border cities of Mexico in conjunction with army rangers and marine rapid deployment forces. Mr. President, I look forward to work with you and the Mexican people. Good evening, Adios…

Weeks later, following this brief yet striking conversation between the American and Mexican presidents, United States sends a combination of ground military forces to Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Acuña, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Miguel Aleman, Reynosa and Matamoros, with the excuse of containing a potentially massive influx of drugs on American soil. Additionally, vigilante militias organized by Sheriff Arpaio and John McCain, stand prepared to defend American soil from California to Texas. And shoot-to-kill any illegal immigrant, further severing ties between Mexico and United States.

Likewise, 10 C-130J Super Hercules land on Tapachula airport containing the drug flow from the Mexican-Guatemalan border, particularly Tapachula and La Mesilla borderlands. Nevertheless, La Mesilla border city was hard to secure since it was located in the heart of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes Mountains, and whose mountains sheltered the PLNM armed forces. As a result, a contingent of US Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Green Berets were dispatched to this particular border city.

Furthermore, the Pentagon decides to send four amphibious cargo ships to the Colombian ports of Cartagena, Barranquilla and Buenaventura, inspecting Colombian shipping vessels.

And to finalize their securization operation, United States, with congressional approval, imposed sanctions on the manufacture, banking and petroleum industries of Mexico and Colombia as well as the flow of remittances to Colombia, Mexico and the Central American North Triangle.

South American governments, except for Caracas and Habana, were furious with United States that, as a sign of protests, recalled their ambassadors, as a protest, to empathize with Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia.

Mexico Strikes Back

President Juarez Viloria was an avid reader of American military history, so thus he knew that one of the least comfortable military scenarios for the Americans was to fight against both urban and mountain guerrillas. Moreover, Rodrigo Juarez Viloria knew that a Pakistan-like scenario would irritate the American military forces, and if successful, he would push for negotiations with the American president. His strategy was clear: a complacent Mexican government with the American forces, but fierce guerrilla warfare, with whom the Mexican government had nothing to do with; Juarez Viloria would play a scenario similar to the one the Pakistani Pashtun tribes and Haqqani network fought the Americans in Afghanistan from Pakistan.

President Santos, in turn, complied with American military forces, up to the point that, the controversial regularization of drugs, was repelled, and the ports of Cartagena, Buenaventura and Barranquilla were liberated, followed by the lifting of sanctions. President Santos felt humiliated by the Americans, and protests through all of Colombia erupted against Santos.

The protests of remittance-dependent peasants was becoming so agonizing for Guatemala City, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa that a decision was made to drop the mobility and regularization of drugs within their territory. Washington lifted the blockage of remittances. However, though economically poor, Guatemala and El Salvador militarily had an average of 30 years of experience combined, in mountainous and jungle terrain. Politically and economically, Guatemala and El Salvador could not stand up to the Americans, not even within Guatemalan territory, but the Guatemalan Kaibil Special Forces and the renewed Atlacatl Salvadorian battalion, were how the Guatemalan and Salvadoran presidents would aide their Mexican counterpart. Honduras decided not to participate.

President Juarez Viloria, with the aide of top Guatemalan Kaibiles and the Salvadoran Atlacatl battalion, decided to give the order through his guerrilla proxies, to conduct small operations of attack on the American station post of La Mesilla and Tapachula, by making hit-and-run type of military operations, with the purpose to drag and fight American ground forces in La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes Mountains of Chiapas and Huehuetenango in Guatemala. A terrain that, in Vietnam and Afghanistan, resulted uncomfortable for American ground forces.

At 3:00 a.m., La Mesilla border post along with the Tapachula airport, which hosted American forces, were attacked by the PMLN death squads, resulting in a low-level casualty attack. American forces stationed in Tapachula and La Mesia would be forced to retaliate in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountains. With a force of three Black Hawk helicopters and ten Humvees, decided to track down the PNLM forces. Because of landmines and IED, Army Rangers, Navy Seals and Green Berets were forced to fled their Humvees, consequently, engaging in a full-flown combat in the mountains; the Black Hawk helicopters, in spite of their shoot and destroy tactics, drastically failed to destroy important targets, finishing their ammo, forcing them back to Tapachula airport to reload, and living the thirty-men special forces squad to their luck in the Sierra. The result was fatal: 25 killed in combat and 5 captured and beheaded. President Juarez Viloria denied involvement, blaming a local drug cartel.

United States, furiously responded by bombing important infrastructure, in cities such as Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Moreover, Chiapas villages in the mountains, where guerrilla forces were hiding, were unmercifully bombed. Also, after knowing the involvement of both Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments, United States sanctioned the Guatemalan and Salvadoran military chain of command, political elite, important private sector oligarchs, by removing their American tourist visas, freezing their assets and bank accounts on American soil. Sanctions would be lifted until Guatemala and El Salvador stopped supporting the Mexican PNLM guerrilla force.

After the bombings, President Juarez Viloria furiously summoned the American charge d’affaire to stop bombing Mexico and to remind him how the 1916 American incursion of Mexico ended badly for American military forces.

As a notable schemer, President Juarez Viloria, unwilling to repel his controversial drug law, organized massive protests held by Mexican immigrants, working in the construction and restaurant industries, and from the cash harvest to the vehicle maintenance industries, Rodrigo Juarez Viloria vigorously appealed to the patriotic sentiment of Mexico. In turn, the Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments addressed their own diasporas living in United States: If they were to stop working for a three months, then, as a result, they would show their true, patriotic character in the defense of their invaded and humiliated countries.

Out of surprise, massive protests took place in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, New York City, Miami, New Orleans, Houston and so forth. The protests by the Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Mexican diasporas, costed billions of dollars to the American economy.

A resentful Santos, convinced the members of UNASUR, to impose an unorthodox sanction, named, similar to the one OPEC had pressed United States during the 1970s, however, this time, using their own resources as economic weapons: A mineral, agricultural and livestock commodity, six month embargo by the members of UNASUR, Central American Isthmus and Mexico. Venezuela decided not participate, since it was still recovering from the 2015 economic meltdown. The goal was clear: To send Washington a clear message: We are all America and we are all intertwined.

This outcome had a dire affect for the American economy. Wal-Mart, Publix, Whole foods, Chipotle and especially Starbuck’s, , were amongst some of the most important corporations suffering greatly. The American economy suffered billions in losses and thousands of direct and indirect jobs as a result of the Latin American-led embargo. Oil prices were staggering and increasingly dependent upon the Middle East and Canada; Africa and South East Asia could not keep up in replacing both soft and hard commodities; Automobiles and clothing produced in Latin America, increased the prices for American retailers; and the American Chamber of Commerce, in addition with the support of 40 states—especially Colorado and Washington, were marihuana was legal and were looking forward to commerce with Latin America—were starting to feel the economic pressure and local protests of increasing prices. The Mexican economy was on its knees alongside most of the South American economies. Beijing had provided enormous bailouts to most of the Latin American economies.

Mexicans living in the borderlands were started to violently resist and push the American forces back, while the American ground forces started the use of force more violently. Washington was risking sending more troops to Mexico and, more importantly, could risk a full-blown war in northern and southern Mexico, between government, cartel and PNLM forces. A nightmare neither Mexico City nor Washington would of wanted.

Washington and Mexico City had to reach a deal to overcome this cold war.

The Mexican-American Deal

After a year and a half of the known Mexican-American cold war, UNASUR members were poise to end the war on drugs: They were ready to legalize the rest of the drug trade. Following Brazil’s lead, an emboldened Colombia and Central America, in the 2020, CELAC summit, officially legalized drugs.

Washington was completely overwhelmed that it would have to politically and economically declare war on the rest of Latin America. However, policymakers and the IRS chief decided that, perhaps, it was time for Washington legalize and regularize Marihuana.  

In the summer of 2020, Habana and Caracas acted as mediators between Mexico City and Washington. As a result, in August of 2020, the Mexican minister of foreign affairs in coordination with the Secretary of State happily informed the press on the agreement both parties have reached.

The deal followed as:

  1. Mexico could only legally trade with American states that had legalized medical and non-medical Marihuana, if caught in the act of selling illegal drugs, sanctions would be imposed to the Mexican government and private corporations who sold it;
  1. The PLNM guerrilla forces commanders would face American extradition and justice and would be dismantled by the Mexican, Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments, while supervised by the U.N. Chiapas Mission;
  1. Mexico would comply to dismantle and/or fight the remaining drug cartels under the supervision and help of the DEA;
  1. United States would pay war reparations to the villagers that died during the drone strikes of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Michoacán and Guerrero;
  1. United States would provide aid to repair civilian infrastructure that was bombed during the short-lived conflict between Mexico and United States;
  1. Mexico and the rest of Latin America would pay economic damages to American corporations for violating in forced free trade agreements;

After this tumultuous epoch, Latin America and United States became closer than ever before. And now, President Juarez Viloria and the American President, were drinking tequila celebrating the new deal…

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Americas

When Democracy Becomes the Problem: Why So Many Millions Still Support Donald Trump

Prof. Louis René Beres

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“Who is to decide which is the grimmer sight: withered hearts, or empty skulls?” -Honoré de Balzac

For understanding the context of social life, Honoré de Balzac was a master. Minutely analytic in his scrutiny of society, he delicately lay bare every stratum of culture with the precision of an archeologist. Brushing the “dirt” from every “artifact,” his books combined (as Victor Hugo remarked at his funeral) “observation and imagination.”

It was an ideal but too-rare combination. Still, desperately, America needs another Balzac today. Despite so much apt criticism of an incoherent US presidency, millions of Americans continue to regard Donald Trump as an acceptable or even exemplary leader.

How can this be happening in a presumptively informed and democratic American society? In response, we could very easily throw up our hands and exclaim (together with ancient philosopher Tertullian), Credo quia absurdum,  “I believe because it is absurd.” For a more serious response, however, we should first examine the wider American society from which this relentlessly conning president was drawn.

To fruitfully extend the illuminating Balzac metaphor, it is high time to “brush the dirt” from all still-revealing “artifacts.”

What might we expect to discover? At a minimum, the results of any such examination should be decipherable and straightforward. If  properly executed  (that is, if carried out with proper attention to the long-settled criteria of scientific investigation), we could quickly discover that Americans all-too-frequently abhor any genuine learning. Although this nation surely does place a very high value on every manner of “practical” achievement  (e.g., smart phones, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, self-driving cars, automatic guns, etc., etc.), it is only because these diverse products are expected to enhance the banal circumstances of American “mass.”  

In essence, before learning and intellect can ever be valued for themselves in the United States – a condition which is so clearly required for proper governance –  Americans will first need to think far beyond glittering and distracting technologies.

What else might be learned from a “Balzac-like” assessment of dissembling US presidential moments? In some respects, the “Trump Phenomenon” is not utterly unique. Although less rancorous, cantankerous and blatantly foolish, more than a few incapable and dishonest US presidents have been endured during America’s endlessly acrimonious past. At the same time, especially because his own conspicuous debilities are  coupled with a “nuclear button,” Donald Trump is more tangibly dangerous than any one of his injurious predecessors.

Vastly more dangerous.[1]

Soon, however, we must  return to deeper explanations. In all likelihood, almost by definition, a contemporary Balzac would look more closely at the broader society from which this American  president was drawn and from which he was catapulted to nuclear command authority. Here, soberly, all must finally confront a cheerlessly trivialized social order, a generally dumbed-down amalgam of individual citizen souls yearning to “follow the crowd.”

Ever yearning.

Even in this pervasively anti-thought society, the core problem is not that the “average American” knows too little about matters of consequence.

Rather, it’s that he or she wants to know very little.

Incontestably, these same limiting traits are characteristic of Donald J. Trump. Expressed in more axiomatic mathematical terms, one is the inevitable reciprocal of the other.

Not by happenstance did Trump rise to power in a country so flagrantly proud of its historical and cultural illiteracy. The fact that this US president never reads anything – literally, never, ever – is not widely taken by Americans as a significant liability. On the contrary, the obliging American mass reserves notably few intellectual expectations for its leaders. Indeed, for many voters, ostentatiously, any obvious intellectual disinterestedness  is taken as an enviable presidential asset.

Credo quia absurdum, said the ancient philosopher.  Once upon a time, when some calculable number of Americans still sought to read challenging books and consider variously complex ideas, Ralph Waldo Emerson urged his fellow citizens to embrace “plain living and high thinking.” Today, this earlier American  plea for improved personal and social equilibrium has been casually cast aside. If it were more widely recognized, Americans would then be “assured” that any well-reasoned pleas for consequential reform should only be ridiculed.

Under the aegis of President Trump’s continuously “rotating” senior appointees, matters will only get worse. Nonetheless, growing legions of US citizens acknowledge no real problem with their overtly anti-education president, even one whose proposed “solution” to gun violence in the schools is to randomly arm teachers (because they are “more loving” than police) and to “fight back” with still more guns. In part, at least, such an ominous indifference to intellect and science can be traced to America’s unrelieved barrage of crude and voyeuristic entertainments, many of which center on sadism, torture, murder and (these days especially) a cheerlessly corrosive public discourse.

Always, in the Trump Era, this discourse is laced with utterly baseless rancor and with conspicuously  dreary profanity.

Always, in this American White House, science and reason represent merely an annoying impediment to free-floating human hostilities.

 It’s time for candor. Earlier, Donald Trump had promised, at one of  his more hideous Goebbels-style “rallies,” to protect a nonexistent Article of the US Constitution. Even then, however, his  unhidden historical ignorance was glossed over by supporters as unimportant.  Still, it represented another humiliating Trumpian symptom of America’s much wider and more deeply insidious national “pathology.” While his followers were generally correct that this president was entirely willing to “speak his mind,” they seem untroubled by the too-obvious corollary.

There was no underlying mind for him to speak.[2]

“What the mob once learned to believe without reasons,” queries Friedrich Nietzsche in the Fourth Part of his Zarathustra, “who could overthrow that with reasons?”

Nietzsche, as usual, had understood splendidly, deeply. He reflected (also in Zarathustra) that “When the throne sits upon mud, mud sits upon the throne.”  Disregarding the millions who (“with reasons”) still refuse to renounce a glaringly unhinged presidency, Donald Trump never ever attempts to understand that American history deserves its proper pride of place.

This is because the American president is himself  utterly ignorant of America’s history and founding principles.

How many Americans who energetically champion “gun rights” have paused to consider that the Founding Fathers were not expecting automatic weapons? How many can sincerely believe that the Founders would have wanted 350 million privately-held weapons, including huge private arsenals that can kill hundreds in minutes and are sometimes in the hands of citizens living with variously advanced stages of dementia?

Could any argument for “Second Amendment Rights” be more starkly disingenuous than those that put literally unimaginable sentiments into the mouths of 18th century revolutionaries?

Can anyone reserve a legitimate intellectual right to believe that the Second Amendment embraces originally-inconceivable sorts of firearm? How many “educated” Americans bother to learn that their early eighteenth-century Republic was the direct religious heir of John Calvin and the lineal philosophical descendant of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes? How many can appreciate that the fearful Hobbesian “state of nature” described in Leviathan – a “state of war” or “war of all against all” (bellum omnium contra omnes) – was deemed insufferable by the seventeenth-century English philosopher because there “…the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest.”

Hobbes strongly cautioned against any social order that might wittingly or unwittingly create this “dreadful equality.” After all, following such creation,  “…the life of man (would necessarily be) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Evidently lost on this president, too, is the ongoing relevance of Hobbesian thinking to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Why else would Trump be actively undermining the already-fragile nuclear arms control regime, even to the extent of abrogating critical US treaties with Russia?

One still-whispered explanation is that this US president is a real-life “Manchurian Candidate,” but a more plausible answer is that he has no intellectual grasp of how best to support American survival in the steadily nuclearizing state-of-nature.

None at all.

For Trump, going back to “nature,” both nationally and internationally, could represent a positive or welcome development. More exactly, in this president’s alarmingly disjointed views of the world, (ones wherein “might makes right”)  regression could sometime become an agreeable part of  “making America great again.”

Credo quia absurdum.  “I believe because it is absurd.”

There is more. This is hardly the first time in modern history that a “crowd” has loved to chant gibberish in belligerent chorus. For a particularly worrisome example, we need only recall the ritual cries of Joseph Goebbels at the Nuremberg Rallies before the War. What Goebbels did expertly instruct, with a shrill and perverse genius – an instruction now capably learned by Donald Trump – is that the bigger the lie, the more believable it can become. At first, the lie doesn’t seem to make any sense. But if one leads chants often enough against some “crooked” opponent or another, fewer will expect to find any “crookedness” on the chanting side.

Such devious  “logic” makes no discernible sense. Still, it continues to work well for US President Donald Trump. Absurdly well.

“Intellect rots the brain,” warned Goebbels.

“I love the poorly educated,” echoed candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

Not much calculable difference here. Both Goebbels and Trump were effectively on the same page.

In the past, Mr. Trump, with nary a hint of painstaking analysis, blithely encouraged more countries to acquire their own nuclear weapons (e.g., Japan and South Korea).  Immediately, this incomprehensible urging should have signaled a too-willing incapacity to figure out certain complex strategic problems. At a minimum, the president’s earlier encouragements were spawned by his apparent unawareness that possession of nuclear weapons does not ipso facto create credible nuclear deterrence postures.

Not at all.

In the pertinent language of nuclear strategic theory – a language with which I have personally been intimate for over fifty years – in Princeton, Washington and Jerusalem – the Trump fallacy has a specific name.

It is referenced by specialists as the “porcupine theory.”[3]

This prickly metaphor obtains because these violators of strategic logic falsely equate nuclear weapons states with porcupines, presuming that just as the quill-endowed critters will leave each other alone in the forest, so too would nuclear weapon states steer clear of each other in the unsteady interstices of anarchic world politics.[4]

In the end, US presidential selections are too often shaped by primal disfigurements. Many of America’s cumulative political ambitions remain integrally bound up with distressingly embarrassing simplifications and with resoundingly stupefying clichés. The elaborately welcomed appearance of Duck Dynasty as a principal “speaker” before Mr. Trump’s Republican National Convention should already have represented the reductio ad absurdum of a declining civilization.

Yet, it was not generally criticized. Not at all.

But it was consistent – and without causing any electoral disadvantage – with Donald Trump’s terminally proud aversion to refinement, syntax, intellect and meaningful learning. At even much deeper levels,  it was expressive of America’s general celebration of low-level and degrading public distractions. For this US president, whose crude sentiments were unhidden, there was more palpable instructional value in television’s Roseanne than in Homer or Shakespeare.

Shouldn’t this illiterate judgment have been a sufficiently worrisome “early warning”?

 Accordingly, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his learned generation of American Transcendentalists would have done more than winced. America’s earliest presidents, after all, were individuals of recognizable accomplishment and original thought.

In July 1776, over one short Philadelphia weekend of dreadful heat and no modern conveniences,  a then-future American president composed more infinitely valuable prose than America’s current president (with all modern conveniences at his ready disposal) could produce in several contiguous lifetimes. Thomas Jefferson did not arrive at his presidency with a well-honed expertise in “branding,” but instead with the much more appropriate understanding that an American
“brand” should be based upon certain authentic qualities of accomplishment.    These traits are inherently true, honorable and correspondingly valuable.

“One must never seek the higher man,” warned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Zarathustra, “at the marketplace.” Years ago, America  still stood for something more than buying, selling and grievously raw commerce. Years ago, the country’s national debates did not yet center on mass killing and the right to arm oneself with military-style  assault weapons.

It may well be that America has never been quite ready for Plato’s “Philosopher King,” but there were at least some recallable times in its national past that philosophical debates would sound more like a mind-expanding university seminar than a self-defense course on tactical weapons.

 Assuredly, American s remember their earlier presidents not for their transient commercial successes in the frenetic marketplace of goods for sale and purchase, but for their auspicious presence in an enlightening marketplace of  ideas. For these still-enviable presidents, it was much more important to build a leadership legacy upon wisdom and learning than on the incessantly demeaning symbols of conspicuous consumption.

It’s not complicated. The full horror of the Trump presidency – a horror still energetically accepted by millions – begins with the intellectually unambitious American citizen; with the insistently flawed individual “microcosm.” The American electorate, the macrocosm, can never rise any higher than the amalgamated capacities of its separate members. As Nietzsche could easily have predicted, the whole of the American polity is more starkly despoiled than the aggregate sum of its component “parts.”

 Ultimately, for better or for worse, every democracy comes to represent the sum total of its constituent “souls,” that is, those still-hopeful citizens who would seek some sort or other of personal “redemption.” In the deeply fractionated American republic, however, We the people – more and more desperate for a seemingly last chance to “fit in” and to “get ahead” –   inhabit a vast wasteland of lost human and intellectual opportunity. Within this desiccated amalgam of cheap pleasures and abysmal entertainments, of political leaders without even a scintilla of courage or integrity, millions of “hollow men” and women remain chained to exhausting cycles of meaningless and repetitive work.

There are manifold ironies here. While generally unrecognized, this de facto servitude is sometimes felt in the United States by the very very rich as well as by the very very poor. This paradoxical “artifact” of American privilege is based upon entire lifetimes spent on grimly sterile forms of pointless personal accumulation.

 Now, our most spirited national debates continue to be about guns and killing  not about history, literature, music, art, philosophy, or beauty.[5] Within this vast and predatory nether world, huge segments of our unhappy population  drown themselves ritually in vast oceans of alcohol and drugs. Whether incremental or sudden, this intractable submersion is now becoming deep enough to swallow up whole centuries of national achievement and entire millennia of a once-sacred poetry.

At its core, the American “opiate addiction problem” is not fundamentally about drugs. It is, rather, the symptom of rampant individual unhappiness and an intractable social despair. The most tangible residue of this unrelieved problem can be found scattered as toxic litter over thousands of America’s beaches and playgrounds. In the end, this litter can be taken as the materially squalid overflow of a nation’s much larger social disintegration.

This coming-apart is destroying a US society that has become complicit in its own manifestly unheroic demise.

 Small wonder that so many millions of Americans cling desperately to their smart phones and related electronic devices. Filled with a deepening and ultimate horror of ever having to be left alone with themselves, these virtually connected millions are visibly frantic to claim some recognizable membership in the public mass. Earlier, in the 19th century, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard had already foreseen this omnivorous mass, even before the rise of social media.

“The crowd,” opined the prophetic Danish thinker, “is untruth.”

Later, in the twentieth century, in a portentously similar insight, Spanish existentialist Jose Ortega y’ Gassett  foresaw the uniquely perilous consequences of “mass,” a term also resembling Sigmund Freud’s “horde” and quite nearly identical to Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung’s “mass.”

Whether one speaks of  a “crowd,” “horde,” or mass,” the selected noun can speak volumes about how a non-reading and non- writing President Donald Trump remains able to claim the enthusiastic support of millions. In brief, while seeking such support, there is never any compelling reason for Mr. Trump to bother reconciling his policies with verifiable facts. In proudly announcing his “Made in America Week” some time back, this president took no pains to justify that his own family businesses were continuing to rely heavily on foreign-made goods and workers.

Always, in this gravely pernicious presidency, hypocrisy is undisguised.

Is this a sign of virtue?

Hardly.

Although virtually all respectable academic economists are convinced that Trump-generated tariffs will have deleterious effects on each American’s individual family pocketbook, this president continues to plan for some sort of “victory” in his indecipherable trade wars.

 Conceptually, for this president, it’s not a difficult reconciliation to make. In any such calculations, full speed ahead, facts and logic be damned.

 For the moment, at least, we Americans remain grinning but hapless captives in a deliriously noisy and airless “crowd” or “herd” or “mass.”  Disclaiming any residual interior life, we proceed tentatively, and in almost every palpable sphere, at the lowest common denominator. Expressed in more annoyingly recognizable terms, even our vaunted American “freedom” is becoming a contrivance.

Once again, it’s time for candor. Our simplifying American context offers a regrettable but ubiquitous “solvent.” This caustic solution dissolves almost everything substantial of  intellectual or analytic consequence. In education, the once revered Western Canon of literature and art has already   been replaced by more generalized emphases on “branding.” Already,  apart from their pervasive drunkenness and enthusiastically tasteless entertainments, our once-sacred spaces of higher education have been transformed into a steadily rusting pipeline to ritualistic jobs and sterile vocations.

Soon, even if we should manage to avoid nuclear war and nuclear terrorism – an avoidance not to be taken for granted in the rapidly unraveling Trump Era – the swaying of the American ship will become so violent that even the hardiest lamps will be overturned. Then, the phantoms of great ships of state, once laden with silver and gold, may no longer lie forgotten. Then, perhaps, we will finally understand that the circumstances that could send the compositions of Homer, Maimonides, Goethe, Milton, Shakespeare, Freud and Kafka to join the disintegrating works of forgotten poets were neither unique nor transient.

In an 1897 essay titled “On Being Human,” Woodrow Wilson inquired thoughtfully about the authenticity of America. “Is it even open to us to choose to be genuine?” he asked. This earlier American president had answered “yes,” but only if we first refused to stoop to join the threatening and synthetic “herds” of mass society. Otherwise, as Wilson had already understood, our entire society would be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty demise of broken machinery, more hideous even than the unstoppable decompositions of each person.

 In all societies, as Emerson and the other American Transcendentalists had also recognized, the scrupulous care of each individual”soul” is most important. There can be a “better”American soul,[6] and also an improved American politics,but not until we are first able to acknowledge a more prior obligation. This is a far-reaching national responsibility to overcome the staggering barriers of a Kierkegaardian “crowd” culture, and to embrace once again the liberating imperatives of Emersonian “high thinking.”

In the end, the Donald Trump presidency is “merely” the most debilitating symptom of a much deeper American pathology. In this country, the underlying disease is rather a far-reaching national unwillingness to think seriously. Left unchallenged at this rudimentary level, such reluctance could eventually transform us into the finely-lacquered corpse of a once-promising American Civilization.

Naturally, if this president should ever authorize the use of American nuclear weapons, such transformation could become instantaneous.

 More than likely, the Trump presidency will notend with the bang of a catastrophic nuclear war, but even that “happy ending” could represent little more than a temporary reprieve. Accordingly, unless Americans begin to work much harder at halting their society’s steep indifference to both intellect and reason, we will recurrently have to face the ominous kinds of metamorphoses that Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once famously termed a “sickness unto death.” As Americans who can still understand more than the embarrassingly empty witticisms stitched into red baseball caps, the truest work should begin not with politics directly (all politics are ultimately just reflection), but with very deliberate and purposeful fixing of their private “selves.”

The American democracy, as we may yet learn from Thomas Jefferson, a US president of true intellectual accomplishment, was never expected to flourish without an informed citizenry. Once this is finally understood and accepted, an imperiled nation could more properly guard itself against another patently unfit American president. It follows that there could not possibly be any more important “brand” of national awareness.

Recalling classic French author Honoré Balzac, “withered hearts” and “empty skulls” need not be mutually exclusive. Rather, most notably in the scarcely hidden case of a now- deteriorating American polity, the first can flow lethally and directly from the second. Moreover, the impacted ambit of corollary suffering could quickly extend far beyond US borders to other and distant countries, and include major wars or genocide.

Such would be a plausible legacy of a declining American democracy increasingly detached from reason and learning.


[1] There are many compelling components to any such allegation, but the most serious of these concerns an American president’s authority and capacity to initiate nuclear war. In this connection, several recent articles by the author expressly deal with this overriding concern. See, for example, Louis René Beres,  http://www.jurist.org/forum/2017/08/louis-rene-beres-trump-nuclear.php  See also:  https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-05-11/possible-trump-presidency-showcases-fatal-flaw-in-nuclear-command-safeguard. Professor Beres is the author of twelve published books dealing with nuclear command decisions, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (The University of Chicago Press, 1980), and, in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: https://thebulletin.org/2016/08/what-if-you-dont-trust-the-judgment-of-the-president-whose-finger-is-over-the-nuclear-button/

[2] At the July 4 2019 celebration in Washington, this president promised “brand new Sherman tanks” and instructed that in the 18th century the Revolutionary War army had “taken control of all national airports.” (No Sherman tanks have been built in  the last seventy years).

[3] A somewhat analogous fallacy in domestic politics is revealed in the recommending of easy private access to guns, and, correspondingly, of arming teachers to deter school shootings. To be sure, it makes little sense to argue (as does Donald Trump) that a determined and deeply disturbed individual with access to multiple firearms would be best deterred by a “loving teacher” with a handgun concealed in her/his desk drawer or pocketbook. It is also worth noting that in several thousand years of western philosophy, a key hallmark of a civilized society has been the “centralized force monopoly of the community,” not the “every man for himself” vigilante system now seemingly favored by a sitting American president.

[4] One of this writer’s first scholarly assessments of the “porcupine” fallacy was published in Parameters: The Journal of the US Army War College (Department of Defense) in September 1979. See; Louis René Beres, “The Porcupine Theory of Nuclear Proliferation: Shortening the Quills,” Parameters,  Vol. IX, No. 3, September 1979, pp. 31-37. More recently, see also Louis René Beres, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (New York and London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 2nd edition 2018.

[5] On US President Donald Trump’s ideas of art and beauty, see: Louis René Beres at Oxford University Press:  https://blog.oup.com/2017/09/aesthetics-politics-donald-trump-beauty/https://blog.oup.com/2017/09/aesthetics-politics-donald-trump-beauty/

[6] However ironic, Sigmund Freud had maintained a general antipathy to all things American. In essence, he most objected, according to Bruno Bettelheim, to this country’s “shallow optimism,” and its seemingly corollary commitment to a disturbingly crude form of materialism. America, thought Freud, was very evidently “lacking in soul.” See: Bruno Bettelheim, Freud and Man’s Soul (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), especially Chapter X.

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A self-inflicted wound: Trump surrenders the West’s moral high ground

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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For the better part of a century, the United States could claim the moral high ground despite allegations of hypocrisy because its policies continuously contradicted its proclaimed propagation of democracy and human rights. Under President Donald J. Trump, the US has lost that moral high ground.

This week’s US sanctioning of 28 Chinese government entities and companies for their involvement in China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the first such measure by any country since the crackdown began, is a case in point.

So is the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention and human rights abuses of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.

The irony is that the Trump administration has for the first time elevated human rights to a US foreign policy goal in export control policy despite its overall lack of concern for such rights.

The sanctions should put the Muslim world, always the first to ring the alarm bell when Muslims rights are trampled upon, on the spot.

It probably won’t even though Muslim nations are out on a limb, having remained conspicuously silent in a bid not to damage relations with China, and in some cases even having endorsed the Chinese campaign, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history.

This week’s seeming endorsement by Mr. Trump of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds, who backed by the United States, fought the Islamic State and were guarding its captured fighters and their families drove the final nail into the coffin of US moral claims.

The endorsement came on the back of Mr. Trump’s transactional approach towards foreign policy and relations with America’s allies, his hesitancy to respond robustly to last month’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, his refusal to ensure Saudi transparency on the killing a year ago of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his perceived empathy for illiberals and authoritarians symbolized by his reference to Egyptian field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”

Rejecting Saudi and Egyptian criticism of his intervention in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the United States and Mr. Trump a blunt preview of what they can expect next time they come calling, whether it is for support of their holding China to account for its actions in Xinjiang, issues of religious freedom that are dear to the Trump administration’s heart, or specific infractions on human rights that the US opportunistically wishes to emphasize.

“Let me start with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Erdogan said in blistering remarks to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Look in the mirror first. Who brought Yemen to this state? Did tens of thousands of people not die in Yemen?” he asked, referring to the kingdom’s disastrous military intervention in Yemen’s ruinous civil war.

Addressing Mr. Al-Sisi, Mr. Erdogan charged: “Egypt, you can’t talk at all. You are a country with a democracy killer.” The Turkish leader asserted that Mr. Al-Sisi had “held a meeting with some others and condemned the (Turkish) operation – so what if you do?”

The fact that the United States is likely to encounter similar responses, even if they are less belligerent in tone, as well as the fact that Mr. Trump’s sanctioning of Chinese entities is unlikely to shame the Muslim world into action, signals a far more fundamental paradigm shift:  the loss of the US and Western moral high ground that gave them an undisputed advantage in the battle of ideas, a key battleground in the struggle to shape a new world order.

China, Russia, Middle Eastern autocrats and other authoritarians and illiberals have no credible response to notions of personal and political freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

As a result, they countered the ideational appeal of greater freedoms by going through the motions. They often maintained or erected democratic facades and payed lip service to democratic concepts while cloaking their repression in terms employed by the West like the fight against terrorism.

By surrendering the West’s ideological edge, Mr. Trump reduced the shaping of the new world order to a competition in which the power with the deeper pockets had the upper hand.

Former US national security advisor John Bolton admitted as much when he identified in late 2018 Africa as a new battleground and unveiled a new strategy focused on commercial ties, counterterrorism, and better-targeted U.S. foreign aid.

Said international affairs scholar Keren Yarhi-Milo: “The United States has already paid a significant price for Trump’s behaviour: the president is no longer considered the ultimate voice on foreign policy. Foreign leaders are turning elsewhere to gauge American intentions… With Trump’s reputation compromised, the price tag on U.S. deterrence, coercion, and reassurance has risen, along with the probability of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”

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Trump’s effects on diplomacy

Irfan Khan

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No longer has Trump’s haphazard behaviour persisted, more will be easy for his administration to enact actions against China, Iran and Taliban. The state department is in a quandary because of it, on each front. Trump’s entrenched eagerness to remain “great” and “first” on the chessboard of International power, could damage the world more ahead than before.

Following the Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia’s oil infrastructure, US wanted to deploy troops to the Kingdom. It is primarily a justification for why the US has been imposing sanctions over Iran. Is troops deployment a solution? Or will it provide safe horizon to Kingdom oil’s installation? Or will it be revolutionary in oil diplomacy? Or is it the only target retaliated on, by Iran. However, such kind of engagement has short term beneficiary spots, while in broader perspective it has consequential effects for all stakeholders. The episode of nuclear deal has, as a factor of quid-pro-quo, been further dramatised by the state department, withdrawing from. Notwithstanding, the deal has advantageous prospects for the Middle East, and an exemplary for rest of nations, has been further dramatised by the US, in order to seek its diplomatic wins. What significant at this point, is an agreement to reback to the deal.

Embracing a different economic model, China, is plausibly on a runner-up position to the US. Whether it’s 5G tech. Or leading status of green energy, or ultra-scales exports or its leading developments for the nations having indigent economies, is a source of chaos for US administration. The current trade war is an antidoting tool for the whole scenario. The US should, I assume, eye China’s hegemony a piece of cake, and welcome its come out while securing its interests under the umbrella of cooperation. This logic, while posing no threat, seems to be long term functional. Is it?

Trump, according to many native writers, is psychologically unfit, unstable and fickle, however have had strong narrative to prevent America’s engagement into “useless wars” and end “endless” wars. Following this token, Trump announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan put the world politics and even his administration into chaos. This divided strategists and Washington security officials, which was underpinned by the resignation of James Mattis and recently John Bolton. The ten months of peace process which followed the US’s announcement of troop withdrawal, precipitously ended, putting once again the international and national politics into chaos. Trump, grandiloquently fired a tweet that talks with Taliban are dead and futile. The argument he contended was the Attack in Kabil, where one American soldier with 12 other people were lost. The policymakers and high officials in Washington who already negated the policy of troop withdrawal and then after peace deal. They, of course are winner in this policy discourse, have staunch beliefs in their opinion, who may make Trump’s change of heart. The Kabil attack was given, probably, an agent of resurgent for Obama’s approach. However, Trump’s administration had already scripted their policy framework for the region, and pretending Kabul attack was perhaps a way of redemption from the peace talk.

Trump’s factor in US foreign policy was chaotic to his subordinates for which, he attempted to compensate by cancelling peace deal with Taliban. However , on the domestic front, it is likely to be more pluses than on diplomatic front given to Trump in next year’s presidential election. Let’s see which side the wind blow. 

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