The Trump Administration has concretized into an enormous wrecking ball, with a combination of incompetence, maliciousness and geo-strategic intent to dismantle the current world order, with abandon. This is so central to our reality that we would be remiss not to start to catalogue this global wreck of a Presidency. The green, in this case, refers to $$… both the personal financial implications to White House principals, but also to the broader theme of “following the money”…
1) Central to all topics going forward: A full on Russian intelligence operation
It is increasingly clear that the peculiar profile of some individuals selected for leading roles in the Administration, combine to create a full on Kremlin Presidency.
- Paul Manaford, a key strategic consultant during much of the campaign, resigned abruptly when it information surfaced to show incriminating financial links making any pro-Russia narrative impossible to disentangle from his private interests.
- Retired General Flynn, a long term intelligence professional, was caught engaging with Russian intelligence, then lying about it, repeatedly, even after the intelligence community briefed Trump about the dangerous exposure to Russian undue influence.
- President Trump himself has a long history of reliance on Russian money (possibly Russian mafia), to emerge out of financial collapse at Trump Organization
- Secretary of State Rex TIllerson, a 40 year executive at Exxon, the largest US Industrial group, has deep and long history of engagement with Russia, and currently is sitting on the opportunity to remove sanctions placed by the Obama Administration upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The $$ potential is a massive $500Billion oil field development.
2) Dismantling / disrupting Europe and NATO
One of Russia’s primary foreign policy goals is the dismantling of NATO and the implosion of European institutions. A united Europe, an economic block larger than the US Economy, that shares a continent with Russia and has created a strategic alternative for a slate of former “east european states” previously tethered to the Soviet Union. The “no big deal” message sent by Candidate Trump, when addressing Crimea and the Russian invasion, was chilling not only in the Ukraine, but anywhere in Europe where the prospect of an un-checked expansive Russia has very real and tangible consequences.
There are two $$ dimensions here. The first of course is to curry favors from Russia, an understandable objective for an administration deeply indebted to Russia. And the second is a more appropriate policy orientation, to seek to negotiate a higher level of financial contribution by NATO members, so as to reduce the US’ burden on NATO. And this last part is fair game.
But what is NOT fair game is the damage that this negotiating position is doing to the credibility of NATO itself – an institution that managed to deliver a 60 year peace in the European theater. Inherent in NATO is the concept behind “article 5”, namely that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on ALL NATO members. In fact, and ironically, the only time that article 5 was exercised was… by the United States after 9/11, when the US called in its NATO chips and asked for a multi-national effort to respond and join the new “War on Terror”.
3) Bravado, posturing, and folding: South China Sea
While the extent of the “Kremlin Presidency” is the primordial topic for its all encompassing implications, lest we forget, the administration’s wrecking ball started with a casual cast away of a delicate diplomatic balancing act revolving around Taiwan. With one phone call from the Taiwanese President and a string of follow on “what’s the big deal” type Presidential tweets, US policy vis a vis China shifted momentously toward accelerated conflict.
Those inclined to view Trump’s ad hoc, shoot from the hip, diplomacy (if it can be called that), suggested it was a sign of strength and an opening move toward complex, multi-dimensional negotiations. But it was not. No sooner was Trump advised, post facto, of the implications of his random tweets, unsupported by substantive briefings and intelligence assessments, Trump essentially backed down. Instantly. Restating that “One China” was in fact the continuing US policy vis a vis China. Why this matters is that there is now a discernible pattern of bluster (for domestic consumption), chaos (resulting from untempered tweets as US Foreign Policy), and reversal to appease pissed off allies.
This tale of bravado + chaos + reversal can also be seen in unfiltered comments by the President about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem (in direct contradiction of pre-existing international consensus), from which they are now back pedaling, or the Administration’s comments about supporting further Israeli construction in the Palestinian territory (from which they are now back pedaling)…
There are, of course, many, many additional topics that point to chaos (purposeful or resulting from managerial incompetence): most curious amongst them is the US Government’s position vis a vis the US $. Some say it needs to go up (“a strong dollar is good for America”), and some say it needs to go down (“the Euro, the Yen, the Yuan are currency manipulated and intentionally deflated”).
What results is a global wreck of unimaginable consequence. We now witness a new US Presdiential Administration that is staffed with neophytes in governing or the management of enormous bureaucracies, uninterested in the detailed substance of policy and historic precedent, casual about coordination with governmental sources of expertise and functional execution, and, above all else, compromised by financial ties (and probably blackmail) with the Kremlin.
And this is not even the end of Month one. A green global wreck indeed!