Category Archives: foreign policy

The Professor:President Trump and the Russians

The following is a fictional account of the dialogue between a political science professor and the students of an honors seminar in an East Coast liberal arts college. 

“In all my years working in and studying various administrations in the United States, I have never seen the likes of what is happening today,” the professor said as his class filed in and got settled around the conference table. “We won’t have time today to cover all my comments in class, for this is an area I have a great deal of experience in, thus I have a lot to say and to teach you. As a side note, for those of you who will be in the area during the summer, I’m going to offer a course in intelligence management in a six-week summer course. It will be a three-credit course. Many of the comments made in this email will be covered in more depth.

“The leakers in the Trump government are the most impressive part of his team. Within hours of a classified meeting in the White House with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the Russian foreign minister, someone from the intelligence community leaked the content of the meeting to the Washington Post, which decided to publish a portion of the document. Their most probable intent was to further the myth of a sinister link between President Trump and the Russians to destroy the president the people elected and re-establish a socialist/progressive government.

“The charge is that President Trump passed sensitive intelligence information from an allied nation to the Russians on the topic of terrorist plans and capabilities to attack passenger-carrying airliners. Also, the result of the president’s action endangered sources and methods, angered an important ally, and demoralized the hard-working men and women of the intelligence community. The socialist-controlled Democratic Party is now demanding to know exactly what was discussed with the Russians, including any audio tapes and transcripts as if it is their right to know.” The professor paused and shook his head.

“The only crime here is the leaking of classified information to a media outlet. It seems the once-vaunted FBI has lost its ability to find and shut down leakers of classified information. I believe they still have the capability, but no longer have the will or the leadership required to find leakers who may be politically powerful. It is not a hard problem. Most leakers are careless in their contacts with media outlets.

“Neither the media, nor the opposition political party, the public or most members of Congress have any right to the executive’s use of intelligence or the day-to-day conduct of foreign affairs. The reason we collect intelligence at great expense and risk is to use it to protect the nation. The intelligence agencies lean toward safe-keeping all intelligence in their own digital archive under very strict control. The real pros of the intelligence organizations know and understand the need to use intelligence. Nearly all high-level meetings with foreign leaders and foreign intelligence officials result in the use and exchange of intelligence. In most cases, records of what was exchanged or shared are carefully kept. This is a routine process. In most instances, presidents do not know or care to know where the information came from. It is up to the markings on the documents and their national security staff to keep them informed as to the appropriateness of the sharing of intelligence. While mistakes can be made occasionally, no crime is committed. It is a crime for anyone in the intelligence community to leak classified documents, no matter what is their misguided intent.

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Filed under Barry Kelly, Comey, Conservative views, FBI, foreign policy, Intelligence & Politics, Progressives, Russia, Terrorism, trump

The Professor and White House Information Flow

The Professor thought teaching political science at the honors level in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration is more demanding than I remember at any period in the past. Foreign policy, military operations, domestic legislative crisis with healthcare and tax reform. Now we have critics clamoring for more information regarding the President’s plans and intentions in Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan. In addition, the political talking heads are ranting about control of information in the White House. They are all showing they know not what they are mumbling about. But I must write a short note to my students. It will be three days before the next class.

Not to worry class this is only a few thoughts on the by-play of people who should know better. Recently former officials and socialist critics of the current Administration have been raving about the need to have one person in charge of information in the White House. Unless they mean the President and, they don’t, this is an exceedingly dumb and dangerous idea. President Trump maintains personal contact with the outside world, both foreign and domestic, better than any other president in my life time. The office of the President can be and very often is a very isolated position. While it may be difficult to get to the President, it is hard for him to develop and maintain multiple points of access.

If one person controls information flow in the White House, he or she can control the President and have an undue influence on presidential actions. The gate-keeper of the Oval Office can be a very powerful position. So, when you find yourself as a player in presidential politics in a few years, resist the efforts of the former players to control the flow of information in the White House. If the people have elected the right person, that person will be in charge.

My second concern is also directly related to information flow. The President’s opponents in both parties believe they are entitled to a complete plan on everything he has done or is planning to do. ‘Why doesn’t he give us his complete plans for dealing with North Korea, Syria, Russia and others? We in Congress or in the party of opposition deserve to know. It is our right!

No! It isn’t. You do not have the right. Only those with a legal need-to-know the information on a case-by-case basis have that right. While Obama ranted on about his military and foreign policy objectives, he never seemed to realize, or more likely to care, that you cannot tell most of the nation without telling the enemy in the process. For example, a far left socialist Senator demanded to know what foreign policy objective the President was trying to achieve with the cruise missile attack on a Syrian military airfield. How about the message, ‘if you use chemical weapons, again bad things will happen to you?’ Or to ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan. ‘You are no longer safe in caves or tunnels.’ Talking heads, journalist, media anchors on the left and right, senators and congressmen, repress your constant whining about being briefed in greater detail. It won’t make you any smarter or help you serve the people. The only measurable result will be giving our enemies a better chance of getting our secrets.

What’s is wrong with short policy statements like destroying ISIS, stopping North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons they can deliver to America, pushing NATO members to pay their obligated military investments, reduce funding to the UN, protect our borders, renew our traditional relationships with Sunni Arabs, standby Israel,  pressure Russia to stop its aggressive acquisition of territory from other sovereign nations, and get better foreign trade deals?

What was the George Kennan policy during the Cold War? A single word, Containment. How, is what was done in secret with a strict need-to-know.

 

 

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The Professor, Syria, and cruise missiles

The Professor liked to walk up the two flights of stairs to his office and adjoining classroom. He had used the elevator for the last month but feeling stronger today he took the stairs. At the top, he had to stop for a few minutes to catch his breath. Certainly, didn’t want to walk into his class until he could say a hearty ‘good morning’ to his honors students.

The students were all seated and talking about the airstrike on a Syrian airport used in a sarin gas attack a few days ago when he entered.

“Well, I see you are all into current affairs. With a little luck and hard work some of you will be part of future discussions and planning that go deciding to use lethal action in support of national subjects.

“Let’s continue with the discussion. Edward, what is your take on the president’s decision?”

“After seeing the images of the gas attack victims, I don’t see how President Trump could continue with his predecessor’s example of non-involvement or leading from behind. Strong words were not going to prevent Assad from committing more atrocities that are clearly war crimes or crimes against humanity. Add to that the fact that Assad and the Russians signed an agreement that guaranteed Syrian stocks of poison gas would be destroyed and a few days ago Russian supplied planes dropped poison gas bombs on civilian targets. That signed agreement turned out to be false and some decisive action had to be taken. Obviously, both the Syrians and Russians knew about the poison gas attack and didn’t believe there would be an American military response. I fully support the cruise missile attack.”

Several hands went up, and the Professor said, “Who wants to present a different argument? Okay Carlos, the floor is yours.”

“I don’t believe the Trump national security team was thinking beyond the mechanics of the airstrike. What happens now? Do they know what the Russians or Syrians will do in response? I don’t think so. Putin is not likely to give up his warm-water sea port at Tartus. Getting an ice-free sea port for their war ships has been a Russian national security objective for a few centuries. He will take more chances to keep Tartus. After all, he believes he is Russia’s latest czar.”

“Whose wants to go next? Alice, you’re up.”

“I want to put this airstrike in a larger context. For eight years, America has perfected the use of words in place of actions. Our military has been severely underfunded. Our traditional allies don’t trust us to break out of our isolation. What’s worse, our enemies no longer respect us. We can be good at the use of diplomacy but without the resolve to use force when necessary, diplomacy is ineffective. North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran do not believe we have the will to use military force. The cruise missile strike last night has changed the rules. Our enemies must reconsider their aggressive actions and our allies can take heart that we now have competent leadership who will protect American national interests. Was it not noted that powerful Sunni Arab leaders came for a visit and went away with new hope for American backing against Iran? Do you not think those fearful of Russian and Chinese aggressive actions now have new hope that America will again be a force for peace?”

The Professor smiled at Alice’s comments then said, “Divide yourselves into two groups, one pro the cruise missile strike and one against. I’ll give you ten minutes to get organized for the team debate. I know from personal experience that people like us can’t function without fresh strong coffee. While you’re sorting yourselves into opposing groups, I’ll arrange for coffee and doughnuts.”

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The Professor – Fundamentals of Trump’s Success

the-new-yorker-who-is-donald-trumpThe students trooped into their 11 o’clock political science honors class looking like they all needed at least a week of beach time. As they slouched into chairs around the conference table, the Professor said, “Well, I guess you didn’t get much sleep last night. I was up until well after 4:00 AM. The election was truly historic. I feel like a mantle of freedom and hope has settled over the land. Let’s talk about what happened. First, any questions?”

Alison raised her hand and the Professor nodded in her direction. “You told us two weeks ago that Donald Trump would win the election when all the polls were pointing clearly to Secretary Clinton. What was the reason you were so confident of a Republican victory?”

“First, I wasn’t talking about a Republican victory. The traditional Republican party is now part of history. It will never be the same. And for the nation, that is a good thing. Its time had passed. The victory I spoke about was only about the Trump movement. The Trump victory has given me a perfect ‘teaching moment.’ We are here to learn how to think about how humans govern themselves and that requires us to learn how to sift information.

“All of us were bombarded with polls, the analysis of pundits, party propaganda, government leaks, thousands of hacked emails from behind the scenes actions of the Democratic party and the Clinton campaign. Some of it was ugly, but it was all revealing and intriguing. Some of it was relevant, but mostly it was distracting. Many analysts thought the deluge of emails revealing the naked ambitions of Secretary Clinton trying to hide her efforts to balance her sworn duty as American’s Secretary of State with her drive to amass personal wealth and power would destroy her campaign.

“Instead of waiting anxiously for the next dump of emails that would dominate the news, journalists, commentators, analysts and political talking heads should have focused on the fundamentals. Instead, they couldn’t get past the day-by-day exposure of  the Democratic National Committee, debate stumbles, and Donald Trump’s off-message comments and his need to defend himself from every attack. All of this was exciting and made the grist for hundreds of TV comments, newspaper columns, attack ads and maps of shifting electoral votes state by state.

“The fundamentals I focused on were the dynamics of the primary process of both parties, the gradual metamorphosis of Donald Trump from a flamboyant TV star and successful billionaire real estate tycoon to a disciplined politician who could sound and look presidential and the gap between the governing elite of the Progressive Party and the needs and hopes of the people. My most important indicator was the disparity between the polls and the energetic masses of people who attended Trump rallies. If you listened carefully, you could hear the rumblings of a revolution in the heartland of America.

“How could you miss Mr. Trump’s success after success in the primary campaign? Remember when he carried every county in several states late in the primary campaign? He felt and listened to the message coming from the forgotten citizens of the ‘rust belt’, those hunting a job where none existed, the citizens who wondered how their leaders could ignore the flood of people and drugs pouring across our open borders, the silent suffering of America’s veterans, the chaos of the Middle East and the failure of trade, the decades of wage stagnation and the total lack of a foreign and economic policy to deal with the realities of terrorism and increasing debt.

“Donald Trump and his campaign leaders heard these cries for help and crafted their message to respond. No one else did. The only missing ingredient was finding the right messenger with sufficient political maturing to talk to the people instead of at them and the unbelievable energy required to take this fresh message throughout the land.  Donald Trump was the right messenger. In the future, if another messenger is required, I hope the people will find another Donald Trump.

“Your assignment is to predict who President-Elect Trump will select for his cabinet.”
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The Professor – What is Freedom?

The Professor was going over his file of past lectures and editorials to get ready for his next honors class. He felt that he had to get the class thinking in more basic terms. The hubris dominating this political campaign was driving out the discussions on basic issues that are critical to the survival of democracy, much the same way “Gresham’s Law” states that “bad” currency of questionable value will drive ‘good’ currency out of circulation. Certainly old and alleged sexual charges and published purloined emails have dominated this campaign, he thought.

If citizens do not know what freedom is, how can they protect it or even know if they have lost it? Freedom is the existence of individual choices. Without individual choices, there is no freedom. Those who have lived seven or eight decades have seen, sometimes up close and personal, societies in which the basic choices Americans exercise every day were unheard of or imagined. Current Russia and the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and some South American nations have tried various far-left ideologies. In every one of them, individual choices vanished.

North Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, probably the best political organizer of the 20th century, had the North Vietnamese people organized into to a cascading staircase of political, economic, and social organizations. Everyone belonged to a peer organization with each peer group sending a delegate to the next higher group. There was no real individual choice.

Progressives and communists hate what capitalism and the free market stand for. They do not believe the forces of the free market are real and think greed is the only driving force of capitalism. Progressives will not believe the infinite number of choices made by a free people in a free competitive economy will result only in chaos. Instead, a small group of progressives can make decisions that will produce a vastly more efficient economy and much fairer distribution of wealth.

When you think about freedom, think about if the right of making choices is being taken from you and your family. Don’t be taken in by the words. They don’t mean anything. Look for the signs of freedom being eroded. Do government spokespeople tell the truth, or is their intent to mislead the people? Are there attempts to label dissenters as dangers to be silenced?

A few examples: The Clinton/Obama Administration’s desire to label people who do not believe manmade carbons cause climate change as “climate deniers.” The Administration is reported to have asked the Department of Justice to see if citizens who disagree with the cause of climate variations could be prosecuted.  The Benghazi talking points, the benefits of the Iran deal, the claims for Obamacare, the misleading unemployment numbers, and the optimistic reports of the demise of ISIS are other examples of a government that is devoted to managing reports to the citizens.

The very essence of progressivism is to control choice because the political left believes it is chaos when people are free to choose their life’s occupation, their education, reading material, TV programs, news, religion, ways of raising children (including the choice to have children or not), health care, and the people who govern them. The current struggle in America between conservatives and liberals (the far-left liberals are progressives who now control the Democratic Party) is not over some obscure political difference. It is over who makes life’s choices, you or a progressive elite.

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