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The inner circle of Trump’s government

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap] s by its fruit you will recognize the tree – as the Gospel reads, by his/her collaborators you will recognize the political leader. The government formed by the President-elect, Donald Trump, include few representatives from the Republican Party, yet another confirmation of the decline and fall of the parties in the West – a structure which, however, will be reborn under other forms. It also includes many military, particularly those most tacitly irritated with Obama’s policies, and many super-rich people.

The only strange presence in Trump’s Cabinet is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, as Chief of Staff.

Hence if the government is in elites’ hands, hence political elites still count.

However, with a view to better understanding the structure and the future decision-making of Donald Trump’s Presidency, we need to delve into the personality of those appointed before January 20, 2017, the date on which he will be sworn in as President.

Michael Flynn who, by no mere coincidence, has been the first of his collaborators to be appointed, will be the Head of National Security.

Flynn has a complex personality: born in 1958, at the end of his career in the military, he was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until August 2014.

It is the primary military foreign intelligence Agency, which supposedly has approximately 17,000 people operating abroad, of whom over 65% are civilians.

In 2010 he published a polemical report on operational intelligence in Afghanistan, “A Blueprint for Making Intelligence relevant in Afghanistan” – a clear sign that the US intelligence services operating in that country were not efficient.

Flynn was also assistant Director of the National Intelligence, as well as senior officer of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Nevertheless he had to retire when he stated, also within the Administrations, that America was less safe than before 9/11 and that President Obama’s narrative of an Al Qaeda virtually reduced to nothing was false and dangerous.

However the real break with Obama’s Presidency took place when Flynn criticized the slow pace with which Obama wanted to support the anti-jihadist opposition in Syria, thus de facto favouring the growth of Al Nusra Front and of many other jihad small groups – in fact, they just had to fight against the “tyrant” Bashar al-Assad.

Exactly the same crazy policy line as Hillary Clinton’s.

After retiring Flynn created a small company, Flynn Intel Group.

Again in the field of intelligence, which rightly ranks first in Trump’s thoughts, unlike our funny rulers who use it for their internal struggles, the President-elect Trump has appointed the Republican Congressman, Mike Pompeo, as CIA Director.

Having clear Italian origins, he is still a member of the Tea Party Movement within the Republican Party and he is also Kansas representative.

He is the usual lawyer, just to reaffirm the witty remark by Alexis De Tocqueville according to which America is a country dominated by lawyers.

He graduated from Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, but he had previously enrolled at the West Point US Military Academy, where he graduated first in his class. While serving as cavalry officer, he patrolled the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His last military assignment was during the Gulf War.

He also founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, later renamed Nex-Tech Aerospace, before becoming President of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment company.

He has promised to the President-elect of “rolling back” the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump rightly knows that nuclear control is essential for any country’s power projection, while we made our excellent nuclear system be taken away through a miserable referendum in the hysterical wake of the Chernobyl events, which had nothing to do with nuclear power but much with the self-destruction of the Soviet system.

The fraud lay in the way and, above all, in the timing.

Furthermore, however, referendums on complex issues having great national relevance must never be held. This applies also to the next reform of the Constitution.

Along with Mike Pompeo, another politician, Jeff Sessions, has been appointed as Attorney General.

He served as Attorney for his home State, namely Alabama.

Certainly Trump has selected him because he was the leading Congressional opponent of illegal immigration.

Supporter of the war in Iraq, he introduced legislation to increase the death gratuity benefit for families of servicemembers to 100,000 US dollars. He is advocate of the most restrictive laws on drug use and believes that sanctity of life begins at conception – which would be obvious, but for many people it is no longer so.

He does not believe – and rightly so – in the rhetoric of climate change, which is the wrong extension, over time, of the particular trends of a climate phase. A mathematical error, over and above an ecological one.

Reince Priebus, the Head of the Republican Party, has been appointed as Chief of Staff.

Let us see why the Chairman of the Republican National Committee who abhorred Trump’s candidacy from the beginning was appointed to such an important position by the first victim of the Party, namely the new President.

Reince is an attorney and an American politician, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Son of a father of German origin and of a mother of Greek descent, he did not graduate in Law directly, but he previously majored in English and Political Science.

In politics, he tried to reconcile the Tea Party Movement with the majority line of the “old” Republican Party and, before this policy being used by Trump as a winning strategy, he had set the goal of transforming the Party to be a force “from coast to coast” and no longer considering the losing logic of approaching electoral politics from a Red Democratic and Blue Republican State perspective.

A party united even with the Tea Party movement and the traditionally conservative fringes, in line with the current Republicans’ policy.

Stephen Bannon has been appointed as Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor to Trump’s Cabinet. He was executive Chairman of an important website in the American political debate, www.breitbart.com, which has offices in California, London, Jerusalem and Texas.

It is a usually well-informed website, which often deals with issues such as national security and “big government”.

Stephen Bannon is a businessman who has always worked as media executive and became chief executive officer (CEO) of Donald Trump’s election campaign.

In the United States Breitbart has always been considered a “far-right magazine online”, but in fact it appears as a well-informed conservative website.

His current post as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for Trump’s Cabinet has a very wide scope which, however, can guide and direct also the other members of the inner Cabinet.

Bannon had started his career in the Navy, by becoming special assistant to the Head of operations in the Pacific region.

Subsequently Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as investment banker and, later, he and his colleagues left Goldman Sachs to found Bannon & Co. – a “boutique investment bank” specializing in the media sector.

In particular, he negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner.

In 1998, Bannon and Co. was purchased by Société Générale.

Later he produced as many as 18 movies in Hollywood, including a documentary film about Ronald Reagan and he adhered to the Tea Party – yet another member of this movement in Trump’s team.

It is worth recalling that the Tea Party is a movement born in 2009 to defend free market and traditional American freedoms. It harshly criticizes excessive taxation in the country.

Bannon also founded the Government Accountability Institute, which monitors and checks the US governments’ efficacy in implementing the programs announced during the election campaigns.

Later he embarked on the adventure of the website Breitbart.

Trump has appointed him because he wants an integrated communication of his policies, which will be very different from the current US ones, especially as regards the relationship with NATO, which shall be balanced between Europe and the United States, as well as communication about and against the Islamic world.

But the true leader of Trump’s White House team is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the owner of Kushner Companies, who publishes the weekly New York Observer.

Like Trump, Jared Kushner has continued his father’s profession as real estate developer.

He is an orthodox Jew grown up in New Jersey. In 2003 he graduated cum laude from Harvard College in sociology, and then in Law from New York University.

During the election campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump, he was the architect of his digital, online and social media campaigns. He is believed to be responsible for the choice of Governor Mike Pence as Vice-President – in short, he was a perfect advisor for Donald Trump in all the phases of his election campaign.

He will probably be the real insider of his father-in-law’s government. Meanwhile, the White House rooms and kitchens have already been equipped for the kasherut.

The 45th President of the United States has two primary foreign policy goals: to gradually leave Europe to its fate and mend the relationship with Putin’s Russian Federation.

The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the CEO and Chairman of ExxonMobil is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and Suchin, the Head of the former KGB members who have had a career in the Kremlin.

He has signed an agreement to explore and develop oil fields in Kurdistan, even against the Iraqi law, and he is a friend of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s leaders.

He has openly spoke against sanctions on Russia and has strongly supported the trade agreement with the Pacific region (TPP). He is also a prominent member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

He is the man of the great thawing of relations with Russia, the axis of Trump’s next foreign policy, which is counterbalanced by rigidity vis-à-vis China that will probably lead to new agreements on monetary and financial exchange between the United States and China.

The other people appointed are technocrats (with similar political ideas): Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, responsible for Health and Human Services; the millionaire Wilbur Ross, who advocates customs duties for China, as Secretary for Commerce; Betsy DeVos, education activist known for her advocacy of school free choice, as Secretary for Education; Nikki Haley, the Governor of South Carolina, of Indian origin, as Ambassador to the United Nations; Ben Carson, a black surgeon coming from a poor family, as Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. Probably other technocrats will be later appointed.

A government created to last, which really represents the professionals of the best “civil society”, as we call it – unlike “I Moribondi del Palazzo Carignano”, just to use the beautiful title of the memoirs of one of the first members of Parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, Petruccelli della Gattina.

It should be a model also for Italy.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Americas

Will Geneva Be Any Different Than Helsinki?

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Any meeting between the leaders of Russia and the U.S. is inevitably an important international event. At some point in history, such summits decided the fate of the entire world, and the world held its collective breath as it followed Kremlin-White House talks on strategic arms or the two sides seeking agreements on urgent regional problems or any political signals coming from the superpower capitals prior to another round of negotiations.

The bipolar era has long been gone, and the Russia-U.S. relations are no longer the principal axis of international politics, although the suspense over bilateral summits remains. As before, the two countries are engaged in “top-down” interaction. Summits give the initial impetus to Moscow and Washington’s cumbersome bureaucratic machines, then diplomats, military personnel and officials start their assiduous work on specific issues, collaboration between the two countries’ private sectors and civil society perks up, the media gradually soften their rhetoric, bilateral projects in culture, education and science are gradually resumed.

Still, there are annoying exceptions to this general rule. In particular, the latest full-fledged Russia–U.S. summit in Helsinki in July 2018 failed to trigger improvements in bilateral relations. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital aroused massive resentment among the anti-Russian Washington establishment. Ultimately, on returning home, the U.S. President had to offer awkward apologies to his supporters and opponents alike, and relations between the two countries continued to rapidly deteriorate after the summit.

Surely, nobody is willing to see another Helsinki scenario in June 2021, this time in Geneva. Yet, do we have good reason to hope for a different outcome this time? To answer this question, let us compare Donald Trump and Joseph Biden’s approaches to Russia-U.S. summits and to bilateral relations at large.

First of all, in Helsinki, Trump very much wanted the Russian leader to like him. The Republican President avoided publicly criticizing his Russian counterpart and was quite generous with his compliments to him, which inevitably caused not only annoyance but pure outrage in Washington and in Trump’s own Administration. Joe Biden has known Vladimir Putin for many years; he does not set himself the task of getting the Russian leader to like him. As far as one can tell, the two politicians do not have any special liking for each other, with this more than reserved attitude unlikely to change following their meeting in Geneva.

Additionally, in Helsinki, Trump wanted, as was his wont, to score an impressive foreign policy victory of his own. He believed he was quite capable of doing better than Barack Obama with his “reset” and of somehow “hitting it off” with Putin, thereby transforming Russia if not into a U.S. ally, then at least into its strategic partner. Apparently, Biden has no such plans. The new American President clearly sees that Moscow-Washington relations will remain those of rivalry in the near future and will involve direct confrontation in some instances. The Kremlin and the White House have widely diverging ideas about today’s world: about what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, what is fair and what is unfair, where the world is heading and what the impending world order should be like. So, we are not talking about a transition from strategic confrontation to strategic partnership, we are talking about a possible reduction in the risks and costs of this necessarily costly and lengthy confrontation.

Finally, Trump simply had much more time to prepare for the Helsinki summit than Biden has had to prepare for Geneva. Trump travelled to Finland eighteen months after coming to power. Biden is planning to meet with Putin in less than five months since his inauguration. Preparations for the Geneva summit have to be made in haste, so the expectations concerning the impending summit’s outcome are less.

These differences between Biden and Trump suggest that there is no reason to expect a particularly successful summit. Even so, we should not forget the entire spectrum of other special features of the Biden Administration’s current style of foreign policy. They allow us to be cautiously optimistic about the June summit.

First, Donald Trump never put too much store by arms control, since he arrogantly believed the U.S. capable of winning any race with either Moscow or Beijing. So, his presidential tenure saw nearly total destruction of this crucial dimension of the bilateral relations, with all its attendant negative consequences for other aspects of Russia-U.S. interaction and for global strategic stability.

In contrast, Biden remains a staunch supporter of arms control, as he has already confirmed by his decision to prolong the bilateral New START. There are grounds for hoping that Geneva will see the two leaders to at least start discussing a new agenda in this area, including militarization of outer space, cyberspace, hypersonic weapons, prompt global strike potential, lethal autonomous weapons etc. The dialogue on arms control beyond the New START does not promise any quick solutions, as it will be difficult for both parties. Yet, the sooner it starts, the better it is going to be for both countries and for the international community as a whole.

Second, Trump never liked multilateral formats, believing them to be unproductive. Apparently, he sincerely believed that he could single-handedly resolve any burning international problems, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.

Biden does not seem to harbor such illusions. He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of multilateralism, and he clearly understands that collaboration with Russia is necessary on many regional conflicts and crises. Consequently, Geneva talks may see the two leaders engage in a dialogue on Afghanistan, on the Iranian nuclear deal, on North Korea, or even on Syria. It is not at all obvious that Biden will succeed in reaching agreement with Putin immediately on all or any of these issues, but the very possibility of them discussed at the summit should be welcomed.

Third, Trump was not particularly fond of career diplomats and, apparently, attached little value to the diplomatic dimension of foreign policy. The Russia-U.S. “embassy war” had started before Trump—but not only did Trump fail to stop it, he boosted it to an unprecedented scale and urgency.

Sadly, the “embassy war” continues after Trump, too. Yet President Biden, with his tremendous foreign policy experience, understands diplomatic work better and appreciates it. Practical results of the Geneva summit could include a restoration of the diplomatic missions in Washington and Moscow to their full-fledged status and a rebuilding of the networks of consular offices, which have been completely destroyed in recent years. Amid the problems of big politics, consular services may not seem crucial but, for most ordinary Russians and Americans, regaining the opportunity for recourse to rapid and efficient consular services would outweigh many other potential achievements of the Geneva summit.

From our partner RIAC

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“Choose sides” is practically a bogus idea for US military partners

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“Choosing sides” is practically a non-starter for US military allies such as Japan and South Korea. These nations, first and foremost military allies of the US, are forging cordial and productive ties with other countries based on military alliances with the US. The nature and level of partnerships varies greatly from those of allies, despite the fact that they appear to be quite heated at times.

Military concerns have been less important in the postwar period, but economic concerns have been extremely heated, social and cultural interactions have been close, and the qualitative differences between cooperative relations and allies have gotten confused, or have been covered and neglected.

Some unreasonable expectations and even mistakes were made. In general, in the game between the rising power and the hegemony, it is undesirable for the rising power to take the initiative and urge the hegemony’s supporters to select a side. Doing so will merely reinforce these countries’ preference for hegemony.

Not only that, but a developing country must contend with not only a dominant hegemony, but also a system of allies governed by the hegemony. In the event of a relative reduction in the power of the hegemony, the strength of the entire alliance system may be reinforced by removing restraints on allies, boosting allies’ capabilities, and allowing allies’ passion and initiative to shine.

Similarly, the allies of the hegemonic power are likely to be quite eager to improve their own strength and exert greater strength for the alliance, without necessarily responding to, much alone being pushed by, the leader. The “opening of a new chapter in the Korean-US partnership” was a key component of the joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States following the meeting of Moon Jae-in and Biden. What “new chapter” may a military alliance have in a situation of non-war?

There are at least three features that can be drawn from the series of encounters between South Korea and the United States during Moon Jae-visit in’s to the United States: First, the withdrawal of the “Korea-US Missile Guide” will place military constraints on South Korea’s missile development and serve as a deterrence to surrounding nations. The second point is that, in addition to the Korean Peninsula, military cooperation between the US and South Korea should be expanded to the regional level in order to respond to regional hotspots. The third point is that, in addition to military alliances, certain elements in vaccinations, chips, 5G, and even 6G are required. These types of coalitions will help to enhance economic cooperation.

Despite the fact that Vice President Harris wiped her hands after shaking hands with Moon Jae-in, and Biden called Moon Jae-in “Prime Minister” and other rude behaviors, the so-called “flaws” are not hidden, South Korea still believes that the visit’s results have exceeded expectations, and that Moon Jae-in’s approval rate will rise significantly as a result.

The joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States addresses delicate subjects such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Of course, China expresses its outrage. It is widely assumed that this is a “private cargo” delivered by Biden’s invitation to Moon Jae-in to visit the United States.

Moon Jae-in stated that he was not pressured by Biden. If this is correct, one option is that such specific concerns will not be handled at all at the summit level; second, South Korea is truly worried about the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns and wishes to speak with the US jointly.

South Korea should be cognizant of China’s sensitivity to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns. When it comes to China-related concerns, the phrasing in the ROK-US joint statement is far more mild than that in the ROK-Japan joint declaration. Nonetheless, the harm done to South Korea-China ties cannot be overlooked.

South Korea highlights the “openness” and “inclusiveness” of the four-party security dialogue system, which allows South Korea to engage to some extent. South Korea will assess the net gain between the “gain” on the US side and the “loss” on the Chinese side. China would strongly protest and fiercely respond to any country’s measures to intervene in China’s domestic affairs and restrict China’s rise.

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Political Violence and Elections: Should We Care?

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The next Sunday 6th of June, the Chamber of Deputies along with 15 out of the 32 governorships will be up for grabs in Mexico’s mid-term elections. These elections will be a crucial test for the popularity of the president and his party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). They currently hold majority in the Lower Chamber of the national Congress, and these elections could challenge this.

Recent national polls indicate that the ruling party, MORENA, is still the most popular political force in Mexico, and they are poised to win not only several governorships, but also several municipalities. They are also expected to maintain control of the Lower  Chamber, although with a loss of a few seats. In order to ensure MORENA keeps its current majority in the Congress, they have decided to pursue an electoral alliance with the Green Party (PVEM) and the Labout Party (PT). It is expected that with this move, they will be able to ensure the majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the Congress.

There is, however, another aspect that is making the headlines in this current electoral process: The high levels of political and electoral violence, The current electoral process is the second most violent since 2000. The number of candidates that have been assassinated is close to 30% higher than the mid-term electoral process of 2015. More than 79 candidates have been killed so far all across the country.

Insecurity in Mexico has been an ongoing issue that has continued to deteriorate during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). AMLO has continually criticised his predecessors and the valid problems of their approaches to insecurity in Mexico along with the War on Drugs policy. However, to date, he has yet to offer a viable alternative to tackle the security problems he inherited. During his campaign, AMLO coined the phrase “abrazos no balazos” (hugs not bullets) to describe his approach toward improving security in Mexico. He believed that to successfully tackle the worsening crisis of insecurity, the structural conditions that forced people to commit crimes had to be addressed first: Namely inequality, poverty, low salaries, lack of access to employment etc. To date, insecurity in Mexico continues to worsen, and this had become evident during the current electoral process.

This nonsensical approach to insecurity has resulted in the first three years of his government reaching over 100,000 murders, along with the nearly 225,000 deaths as a result of the pandemic.

What should be particularly worrying in this spiral of violence, is the prevalence of political and electoral violence during the current process. Political violence represents not only a direct attack on democratic institutions and democracy itself, but it also compromises the independence, autonomy, and integrity of those currently in power, and those competing for positions of power. It affects democracy also because political violence offers a way for candidates to gain power through violent means against opposition, and this also allows organised crime to infiltrate the state apparatus.

Political violence is a phenomenon that hurts all citizens and actors in a democracy. It represents a breeding ground for authoritarianism, and impunity at all levels of government. This limits the freedoms and rights of citizens and other actors as it extinguishes any sort of democratic coexistence between those currently holding political power and those aspiring to achieve it. Political violence also obstructs the development of democracy as it discredits anyone with critical views to those in power. This is worrying when we consider that 49% of those assassinated belong to opposition parties. This increase in political violence has also highlighted AMLO´s inability to curtail organised crime and related violence.

Assassination of candidates is only the tip of the iceberg. Organised criminal groups have also infiltrated politics through financing of political campaigns. Most of electoral and political violence tends to happen an municipal levels, where it is easier for criminal groups to exert more pressure and influence in the hope of securing protection, and perpetuate impunity, or securing control over drug trafficking routes. This should be especially worrisome when there is close too government control in certain areas of the country, and there is a serious risk of state erosion at municipal level in several states.

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