Oops - your Trump presidency discussion thread.

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  • No. And the USA is very far from getting a taste of its own medicine.

    State propaganda is just part of the modern world. The breathless amazement at the revelation that the Russian government would do this is dumb.

    I’m not a big fan of the Russian government myself, but maybe some Venezuelan or Cuban interference would do us good.
  • Not Cuban. We'd have something like the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc., all over again.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    No. And the USA is very far from getting a taste of its own medicine.

    State propaganda is just part of the modern world. The breathless amazement at the revelation that the Russian government would do this is dumb.

    I’m not a big fan of the Russian government myself, but maybe some Venezuelan or Cuban interference would do us good.

    This is my basic take on it...

    If Russia tried to influence a US election, good for them. The prootocols of international relations allow countries to do that sort of thing to advance their own interests.

    By the same token, if any US citizens illegally assisted the Russians in doing that, they can and should be dealt with according to US law. Because all nations have internal laws restricting what their citizens can do to advance the interests of foreign powers.

    I know that might sound contradictory, but it's the basic logic of international rivalry. And it applies between allied countries as well: I can still recall the mild shock I received when I read an editorial in a conservative, pro-American Korean newspaper, praising Robert Kim as a hero to Korea. Of course, the Americans considered him a criminal, but what the hey.

  • edited October 2019
    The Kurds. From my listen today of Canadian, various European and middle eastern news. Your president is really doing it.

    When the USA stupidly invaded Iraq, the Kurds were their allies. When they helped the Syrian opposition to challenge another Ba'athist government in that country, the Kurds were their allies. Not that either war was supportable, a good idea, nice, reasonable etc: it wasn't. But Turkey is a target for the Russians as ally. And America as weighed that it is worthy to sacrifice the Kurds to gain favour with Turkey. So the USA's president pulled out its military and the Turks are ready to invade Syria as I type this, the part of it which the Kurds are in.

    Will the Turks bother to tell the difference between Kurdish soldiers and civilians? Will Kurds remember the American betrayal? Was it worth it dear America to have your president pre-approve a probable genocide? The message is that America cannot be trusted, America breaks its promises, America sells out its allies. The Kurds and the world are watching, even if Americans can't find any of these countries on a map.

    I think the USA's president doesn't care about the Kurds. He actually probably wants the likely resurrection of ISIS, if he is thinking that far. Because ISIS is great enemy. No redeeming qualities. And he's creating a new enemy of the Kurds. A nice convenient attack on America to unite its people against another incarnation of a nasty, brown-skinned enemy, that's what's going to happen. And this is going to get your president re-elected.

    CBC had it on "Ideas" this evening that this current president didn't get that NATO and America providing security was a post-WW2 feature. America protected the world in it's sphere of influence so trade would make it rich (note that protection was extended to the predominately white countries, exploitation, dictatorship, and lots of state terror and murder was the protection for countries with predominantly non-white populations). American defence isn't a flaw of the world order, it was a deliberately constructed feature, to make it wealthy. Now with its withdrawing of this, it's just another country playing 19th century nationalistic games. But then America's goodness was an illusion for the non-white countries it dominated. Conclusion: America cannot be trusted, it's pretence of goodness and specialness is ended. It's done-ski.

    We can only hope that whatever happens after trumpy's second term of office has some ideas of stepping back from the brinkmanship, assholery, and the severe degradation of your nation, because he's engineering to be re-elected. Your country didn't think it was possible the first time, but it's not okay to not think that the second time. Is there room for another statue at your Mount Rushmore? A bigly one?
  • Your president is really doing it.

    Would you like all the non-Canadians here to consistently refer on Canada-devoted threads to whoever Canada's Prime Minister of the day is, and irrespective of their misdeeds, as "your" Prime Minister, as though these misdeeds were your personal responsibility, NP? Because your above habit is really tiresome - and I'm not even American.

  • --Thanks for that, Eutychus. :)

    I was trying to think of a non-Hellish response to NP. This is another one of those situations where if an American posted the same sort of thing about a country that was home to Shipmates, there'd be a livid Hell thread and a pond (or other body of water) war.

    It's wearying to be stuck in an infinite loop...

    --NP:

    Newsflash: Most American Shipmates who post about T aren't exactly fans. Even Republican Shipmates--who, BTW, seem able to think and judge for themselves.

    Guess what? The world is complicated. Presuming we're keeping to legal and non-violent boundaries, we can't force the federal gov't to do anything. We can't make Congress critters do the right thing. We can't make the Pentagon tell T to "go pound sand" (in any of its many meanings). We can't make the FBI (or whoever) dump him in Guantanamo. We can't even make doctors take him into care, and do what they can to help him.

    We know he's a walking hot mess, and damages the world every day. We have procedures in place that theoretically should get T out of office...but authorized people have to choose to use the procedures, and complete them successfully.

    And we can't make them do that.

    On the plus side, more of the Congressional Republicans are expressing disapproval of T--particularly regarding abandoning the Kurds.

    What do Canadians do, NP, when there's an extremely bad PM and/or gov't?



  • BroJames wrote: »
    IRA in this context means the “Internet Research Agency” and not (more familiar to UK readers) the Irish Republican Army!

    Thank you for the explanation. I wonder if I was the only one to be really puzzled when the IRA became part of this discussion.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    IRA in this context means the “Internet Research Agency” and not (more familiar to UK readers) the Irish Republican Army!

    Thank you for the explanation. I wonder if I was the only one to be really puzzled when the IRA became part of this discussion.

    No, me too @Robert Armin !
  • Will the Turks bother to tell the difference between Kurdish soldiers and civilians?

    I don't really care, not if the recommended way to curb the Turks is continued American presence.

    If you believe, as I do, that the invasion of Iraq and ongoing US presence in the region is the cause of the problems there, it doesn't really make much sense to say "Well, they shouldn't have gone there in the first place, but now they need to stick around to protect the people who were harmed by their actions." That's just providing a rationale for further American involvement, and all the attendant future awfulness that will result.

    If you are, on principle, against American "interference" in the affairs of other countries, you can't add an "except for..." to your condemnation.



  • State propaganda is just part of the modern world. The breathless amazement at the revelation that the Russian government would do this is dumb.

    Wow. When part one came out three months ago you claimed the Senate were a bunch of filthy liars for saying Russia would ever interfere in an American election. Now they're "dumb" for expressing any kind of concern about Russia possibly installing someone in the presidency because everybody does it. Some would call that inconsistent, but I disagree. You always seem to work your way around to "Uncle Vlad Donny is cool, so don't worry your pretty little head about anything."

    I'd argue the contrary case, that election security is a legitimate concern for the U.S. Senate and the Senate's Intelligence Committee is supposed to worry about foreign intelligence operations in the U.S.
    I’m not a big fan of the Russian government myself, . . .

    Don't be so modest! You've got Russian state media talking points and deceptively misattributed "facts" down pat and can recite them verbatim.
  • I agree that the Americans should not be in Syria. The assumption that the US has some prerogative to occupy another nation's territory over the objections of its government- no matter how we feel about that government- is crazy and yet pretty much ubiquitous in American politics.

    On the other hand I think the US really did wrong by suddenly stepping aside for a Turkish assault (the US troops, as I gather, are actually still in Syria, they're just not in the way). We made certain assurances to the SDF and, because of that, they are much less prepared to defend themselves than they could be. If we were going to leave- as we should- we should have helped the SDF reach a favorable arrangement with the Syrian government and Russia. Assad and the Kurds are not pals but they have a common interest in keeping Turkey out of Rojava. Assad for his part has been warning the Kurds for a long time not to trust the US and he has been sadly proved right.

    In a neighborhood where "good guys" are scarce, the SDF is one group that I would consider unambiguously good guys.
  • For those who can't get enough PDFs of government documents here is the White House letter to Congress saying that they're not going to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. It's drawn a lot of scorn from the legal community for arguments which are tendentious at best. Example from Just Security. The basic argument is along the lines of Congress can't impeach a president for election interference, only the voters can do that in the election he's trying to interfere with.

    Speaker Pelosi's response is here, though sadly not in PDF format.
  • Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump admin. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS ... I urge President Trump to change course while there is still time by going back to the safe zone concept that was working.

    That was Senator Lindsey Graham, demonstrating that "thoughts and prayers" aren't just for American mass shootings anymore. If only Senator Graham were in a position of power that could do something. Maybe he could get in touch with someone on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  • At least concede that this administration is giving you virtually unprecedented scope for your particularly acute brand of skewering.
  • "Your president" - I can replace this with "the American president".

    As for bad PMs in Canada, we've had them, but "bad" in this context refers to opinions about policies and not personal conduct, half-cocked decisions, things that may kill thousands. I've disagreed pointedly and intensely with policies, I have never though that any Canadian PM was a failure as a human being. The American president's conduct is unprecedented in what we refer to as First World Countries since the 1930s. PWE - posting while emotional - I do this sometimes, and I really shouldn't. Yes, I know everyone knows that American leadership is a disaster and that many don't approve of him. He's not "your president" he's president of the USA, and somehow the non sequitar of respect for the office of the president and disrespect of the man are tolerated. So I'm an asshole for writing it that way, and sorry for being one on a personal basis to those I've offended. I'm also sorry that the man cannot be separated from the office, because of what appears to have been lack of will. I'll also refrain from "your country".
  • Thank you.
  • I wonder how the Joint Chiefs of Staff can sit at the conference table an hear that the supposed C n C announce he is abandoning our allies and even denigrating the sacrifices our own servicemen have suffered in the region.

    We have a motto, "Leave No One Behind." Well..
  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    I think it bears repeating that Turkey is our ally and has been a very long time. At one point or another the US would have to choose, ie abandon one ally or another, and between NATO’s second biggest military power and a plucky but geopolitically isolated leftist militia, it was bound to be the latter. Ankara was never going to be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in their backyard. That’s why the only realistic option was for the SDF to get some kind of compromise with Assad. But that would mean Assad getting the oil and the US couldn’t stand the thought of the Syrian government having access to its own oil.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    I think it bears repeating that Turkey is our ally and has been a very long time. At one point or another the US would have to choose, ie abandon one ally or another, and between NATO’s second biggest military power and a plucky but geopolitically isolated leftist militia, it was bound to be the latter. Ankara was never going to be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in their backyard. That’s why the only realistic option was for the SDF to get some kind of compromise with Assad. But that would mean Assad getting the oil and the US couldn’t stand the thought of the Syrian government having access to its own oil.

    Yes, Turkey's NATO membership is the elephant in the room amongst all this concern about an impending genocide against the Kurds. The hand-wringing essentially amounts to saying that our NATO ally Turkey is so sociopathic, we have to protect other people in the region from them.

    And this also comes perilously close to saying that the USA and its allies should be on a war-footing against Turkey, which goes against a basic NATO principle. Though I suppose that as long as the US was just deterring the Turks(albeit by pointing weapons in their general direction), rather than fighting them, it wasn't technically a violation.

  • Barnabus, I am so very angry at Trump. I've been walking around shouting and
    "Your president" - I can replace this with "the American president".

    As for bad PMs in Canada, we've had them, but "bad" in this context refers to opinions about policies and not personal conduct, half-cocked decisions, things that may kill thousands. I've disagreed pointedly and intensely with policies, I have never though that any Canadian PM was a failure as a human being. The American president's conduct is unprecedented in what we refer to as First World Countries since the 1930s. PWE - posting while emotional - I do this sometimes, and I really shouldn't. Yes, I know everyone knows that American leadership is a disaster and that many don't approve of him. He's not "your president" he's president of the USA, and somehow the non sequitar of respect for the office of the president and disrespect of the man are tolerated. So I'm an asshole for writing it that way, and sorry for being one on a personal basis to those I've offended. I'm also sorry that the man cannot be separated from the office, because of what appears to have been lack of will. I'll also refrain from "your country".

    Good on you NP. I was ready to blast you with one of those mega slime guns they use on some modern kids programmes. I too have been quite emotional about the Kurds, especially on Tuesday morning. The news this morning that the Turks are on the move is causing me some grief too. I too am very prone to PWE.

  • As for bad PMs in Canada, we've had them, but "bad" in this context refers to opinions about policies and not personal conduct, half-cocked decisions, things that may kill thousands.

    Well, actually, Canadian PMs do send troops overseas, which results in people dying. Justin even said he "celebrated" one of those deaths, a Canadian sniper hit on an ISIS operative in Iraq.

    And then, of course, you have things like those armoured-vehicle sales to the Saudis, negotiated by Harper but unopposed by any of the major parties.

    Granted, Canada being a smaller country, our contribution probably doesn't result in "thousands" of deaths. And I suppose there is the defense that we don't really like doing any of this stuff, we're just trying to get by in a world that others have made.



  • edited October 2019
    #KurdishGenocide
    #TrumpGenocide
    #TrumpBetrayedTheKurds

    These are all trending on Twitter. Comments include analysis of the Trump business holdings in Turkey. Apparently there's something profitable for the american president in facilitating the invasion and killing. Sounds about right.

    Apropos: The song is about Guatemala, but it could be about this. "Here come the helicopters, second time today.... How many kids they've murdered...I don't believe in guarded borders. I don't believe in hate... If I had a rocket launcher...".

    We're on the cusp of something very bad. Very very bad. The world will cry. Then someone's going to retaliate. And it won't be in a desert nation in the mid-east.
  • I think it bears repeating that Turkey is our ally and has been a very long time. At one point or another the US would have to choose, ie abandon one ally or another, and between NATO’s second biggest military power and a plucky but geopolitically isolated leftist militia, it was bound to be the latter. Ankara was never going to be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in their backyard. That’s why the only realistic option was for the SDF to get some kind of compromise with Assad.

    It is left as an exercise for the reader's imagination why it's "realistic" to think that Assad would be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in his breakfast nook*, especially given that he's already fighting a civil war against several other quasi-states operating within Syrian territory.
    stetson wrote: »
    Yes, Turkey's NATO membership is the elephant in the room amongst all this concern about an impending genocide against the Kurds. The hand-wringing essentially amounts to saying that our NATO ally Turkey is so sociopathic, we have to protect other people in the region from them.

    And this also comes perilously close to saying that the USA and its allies should be on a war-footing against Turkey, which goes against a basic NATO principle.

    It should be noted that NATO doesn't necessarily stand together on each other's foreign adventures. An obvious case is the U.S. standing against France and the UK during the Suez Crisis, or most of NATO (with the exception of the UK) taking a "don't be a fucking idiot" position on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. I'm not sure the fact that Syria and Turkey share a land border really changes anything. Just because Turkey feels the need to invade Syria to engage in some ethnic cleansing, the existence of the NATO alliance doesn't mean automatic support from all the other members.


    *I wasn't sure what metaphorical space to use for the SPF presence in northern Syria. If northern Syria is Turkey's "backyard" then the SPF-controlled areas would have to be somewhere inside Syria's house. I vacillated between "pantry", "guest bedroom", and "foyer" before finally settling on "breakfast nook", though I won't insist on it if you all prefer some other metaphorical space within Syria's "house".
  • Croesos--

    Hmmm...guard house? Gate house?
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    I think it bears repeating that Turkey is our ally and has been a very long time. At one point or another the US would have to choose, ie abandon one ally or another, and between NATO’s second biggest military power and a plucky but geopolitically isolated leftist militia, it was bound to be the latter. Ankara was never going to be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in their backyard. That’s why the only realistic option was for the SDF to get some kind of compromise with Assad.

    It is left as an exercise for the reader's imagination why it's "realistic" to think that Assad would be okay with the Kurds running a quasi-state in his breakfast nook*, especially given that he's already fighting a civil war against several other quasi-states operating within Syrian territory.

    It’s not hard to understand for people who have actually been following the war and for whom it is not just another shiny object to stimulate Trump hysteria. The SDF (not “SPF”) is qualitatively different from the jihadists in ISIS or Idlib. Despite some major differences they and Damascus share a non-sectarian, multiethnic political vision. Would Assad be okay with a Kurdish quasi-state? Of course not. Would he prefer an autonomous or semi-autonomous region, still incorporated somehow with his government, and which allowed his government access to Syrian oil, to a Turkish sponsored jihadist zoo like Afrin and Idlib? Yes. If the Americans gave two shits about the Kurds, they should have done everything in their power to work with the Russians and help the Kurds get the best possible deal with Assad, because anyone who was thinking past the next 6 months at any given time knew that American troops couldn’t stay in Syria forever.

  • Turkey isn't going to be able to deny this one, like the Armenians, is it? Too many people watching.
  • I don't think Turkey can credibly deny that genocide either Penny, but they do try.
  • Unfortunately Kurds played a role in the Armenian genocide. To their credit, Kurds today generally own up to it and denounce it.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Croesos wrote:

    It should be noted that NATO doesn't necessarily stand together on each other's foreign adventures. An obvious case is the U.S. standing against France and the UK during the Suez Crisis, or most of NATO (with the exception of the UK) taking a "don't be a fucking idiot" position on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. I'm not sure the fact that Syria and Turkey share a land border really changes anything. Just because Turkey feels the need to invade Syria to engage in some ethnic cleansing, the existence of the NATO alliance doesn't mean automatic support from all the other members.

    But in neither of those instances, as far as I know, was there a question of NATO nations turning their guns against one another. Ike thwarted the Brits and the French by ordering a run on the pound(or some such), and France and Germany vetoed the US in the Security Council over Iraq, but it never gor to the point of armed conflict.

    Whereas to say that the US needs to stay as a buffer protecting the Kurds from Turkey is to implictly state that the US military has so far been functioning as a military threat against the the Turks.
  • Ask some Greek people what a fine friend Turkey is.
  • Well, if the argument is that NATO doesn't really make sense as an alliance anymore... *laughs sovietly*
  • Ask some Greek people what a fine friend Turkey is.

    Yeah, but again, Turkey's record of rabid anti-hellenicism never seemed to be much of an issue for its NATO allies back during the Cold War.

  • Despite some major differences they [ the SDF ] and Damascus share a non-sectarian, multiethnic political vision. Would Assad be okay with a Kurdish quasi-state? Of course not. Would he prefer an autonomous or semi-autonomous region, still incorporated somehow with his government, and which allowed his government access to Syrian oil, to a Turkish sponsored jihadist zoo like Afrin and Idlib? Yes.

    And yet this assessment doesn't address the real question of why these are assumed to be Assad's only two choices, especially if you're looking forward from 2015 (or 2011) rather than backward from 2019? "Neither" would seem to be a fairly desirable and obvious option for Damascus to prefer. What's the logic, from Assad's point of view, that makes "the Kurds running a quasi-state" within the borders of Syria a desirable thing, let alone "the only realistic option"?
    . . . anyone who was thinking past the next 6 months at any given time knew that American troops couldn’t stay in Syria forever.

    Well, "forever" is a pretty long timeframe. Americans like sending troops all over the place and a lot of times they stick around until forced out. American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly two decades after first arriving. They're still in Cuba over a century after the invasion. So I'm not sure "American troops can't stay in X forever" is as automatic an assumption as you seem to indicate.

    It should also be noted that American troops still seem to be* in northern Syria, they just seem* to have moved out of Turkey's way.
    stetson wrote: »
    But in neither of those instances, as far as I know, was there a question of NATO nations turning their guns against one another.

    As @Pearl B4 Swine already noted, that is also not unprecedented. Turkey and fellow NATO member Greece turned their guns against one another in Cyprus.


    *It's hard to tell from news reports or press releases because "tell us exactly where your troops are right now" is a question most militaries regard with a high level of suspicion and are very reluctant to answer.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Despite some major differences they [ the SDF ] and Damascus share a non-sectarian, multiethnic political vision. Would Assad be okay with a Kurdish quasi-state? Of course not. Would he prefer an autonomous or semi-autonomous region, still incorporated somehow with his government, and which allowed his government access to Syrian oil, to a Turkish sponsored jihadist zoo like Afrin and Idlib? Yes.

    And yet this assessment doesn't address the real question of why these are assumed to be Assad's only two choices, especially if you're looking forward from 2015 (or 2011) rather than backward from 2019? "Neither" would seem to be a fairly desirable and obvious option for Damascus to prefer. What's the logic, from Assad's point of view, that makes "the Kurds running a quasi-state" within the borders of Syria a desirable thing, let alone "the only realistic option"?

    Again, if you've actually been paying attention to the war (wars?) in Syria for the past few years, this isn't hard to understand. Turkey has been spoiling to attack the Syrian Kurds since 2011, since, yes, they are obviously connected to the PKK. At first Turkey was hoping their proxies (ISIS, Al Nusra, etc) could do the work for them. Turkey was basically cheering for ISIS during the siege of Kobane in 2014 and freaked out when the Kurds won (with help from US airstrikes). The American and, later, Russian protection was all that kept Turkey from invading Rojava. When Turkey was preparing to invade Afrin in 2018, Assad and the Russians offered the Kurds there a deal- accept Syrian government control and we will protect you. The Kurds wanted to preserve their autonomy and preferred to surrender Afrin to Turkey rather than accept a deal with Assad. They may have hoped this would strengthen their position in future negotiations for the remaining cantons. So the Kurds have been offering Assad a choice- give us some measure of autonomy, or Turkey will grab the territory. Pro-Damascus people are lambasting the Kurds for being naïve but IMO Assad could just as well be blamed for his inflexibility.

    "Neither" is not an option since the Syrian army has its hands full; even with their allies the SAA is not strong enough to simply retake their remaining territory. The battle for Idlib is their priority. Turkey claims they will eventually cede their landgrabs back to Syria, the Hatay precedent notwithstanding. But even if they do they will dictate terms.
    Well, "forever" is a pretty long timeframe. Americans like sending troops all over the place and a lot of times they stick around until forced out. American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly two decades after first arriving. They're still in Cuba over a century after the invasion. So I'm not sure "American troops can't stay in X forever" is as automatic an assumption as you seem to indicate.

    Big difference from Cuba, Iraq, or Afghanistan is the presence of a powerful, very important ally on the border who really, really resents that we are there protecting "terrorists" and has been foaming at the mouth about it non-stop. And yes, the troops are still in Syria- the bases and airports built there aren't something that can just be folded up and taken home. But that's not helping the Kurds at the moment. Eventually the US will have to talk to someone about those bases, and it will be Russia and Syria, not the Kurds.
  • Ultimately, who stands to gain from the Turkish incursion? (Hint: which country supplied Turkey's new anti-aircraft missile system.)
  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Russia does not stand to gain from Turkey further weakening Syria, no. Unless Turkey’s aggression results in their expulsion from NATO, which it won’t. Putin is not some super-genius Bond villain playing 4-dimensional chess all the time.
  • So to summarise:

    We now seem to have reached the point where impeachment in the House is inevitable.

    So we all look at the Senate and conclude what?
    a) as we have all thought for three years, they'll never convict
    Or b) he's gone soooooo far, even this Senate might.

    Currently, I'm halfway between a) and b) but really important I think is the F*x News poll (yes, Fox!) that shows 51% in favour of impeachment and removal.... Nixon only got to that point once the investigation was completed...

    AFZ
  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    I don’t think 20 GOP senators will do it. But if 10 or even 5 do it might be quite a bruise. Or not. Honestly I think the Syria thing will be forgotten in a few weeks except as one more talking point on the laundry list. American politics has a very very short memory and shorter attention span.
  • Busy day in Trumpworld yesterday.

    First off, for those of you who had "Rick Perry" in office next-to-be-subpœnaed pool, go collect your winnings. The Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight Committees are once again triple-teaming to demand documents [PDF] related Trump's infamous call to Zelensky as well as documents related to efforts to make changes to the board of directors of Ukraine's state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz.

    Next, apparently the author of the overbroad political satire we're all living in apparently decided they were going to write a spy thriller instead.
    President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

    Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

    <snip>

    Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. He had hired former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, who has said he reached out repeatedly to U.S. officials to seek a diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts.

    Is it just me or does "Iranian-Turkish gold trader" sound like a character out of a John LeCarré novel? Anyway, another alleged attempt at obstructing justice for reasons that remain, at the moment, opaque.

    Moving on to more stuff in the LeCarré style, Rudy Giuliani has been using two gentlemen of Ukrainian background (though they're old enough that when they were born it was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) who currently reside in Florida as go-betweens with the Ukrainian government. Allegedly this involved things like trying to discover or manufacture political dirt on Joe Biden, removing American diplomats who won't play ball with this agenda, and other assorted Trumpian shenanigans.

    At any rate Giuliani had lunch with these two gentlemen (Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman) at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC yesterday, because where else would they go to eat? Anyway, a couple hours later Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport after having each bought a one-way ticket to Vienna. (Not a euphemism.) According to the previously sealed indictment [PDF] the two men, along with two others also charged, were involved in funneling foreign money into various Republican campaigns and PACs, including Donald Trump's, in violation of campaign finance laws. The money allegedly originated with someone only identified as "Foreign National-1" who is described in the indictment as "a foreign national Russian citizen and businessman who, at all relevant times, was not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States".

    According to various news accounts prosecutors weren't ready to unseal the indictment just yet but had to move their schedule up when they discovered that two of their four suspects were at the airport with one-way tickets out of the country. As an aside, and IANAL, I'm pretty sure that attorney-client privilege doesn't cover advising clients to evade the law in illegal ways, such as fleeing the country. Interestingly enough Giuliani was supposed to follow Fruman and Parnas to Vienna the next day according to an account by Elaina Plott.

    So who were the alleged recipients of this illegal largesse?

    These last two (Laxalt and Duncan) seem to be in pursuit of cornering the newly legal marijuana market in Nevada and probably not related to Trump, but you never know!

    In an added wrinkle apparently Attorney General Bill Barr has known about the investigation into Parnas and Fruman since February, making the question of how they knew to flee that much more interesting.

    And in Kurd-related news, Trump's most fervent Senate lackey got prank-called by a couple of Russians pretending to be the Turkish Minister of Defense. Apparently when he thinks he's talking to Turkey's Defense Minister Senator Graham is much less outraged by the fate of the Kurds.
    But Graham also expressed sympathy for Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” and described the Kurds as a “threat.” Those private comments appear to contradict his public statements this week, in which he criticized Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria because it’s “wrong to abandon the Kurds, who have been strong allies against” the Islamic State.

    “Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham told the pranksters. He was referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, a group that began fighting ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015 — with support from the U.S. — but is considered a terrorist group by Turkey because of its push to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border.

    “I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds,” Graham continued. “Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly.”
  • Russia does not stand to gain from Turkey further weakening Syria, no.

    Someone should tell the Russians that.
    EU diplomats stood alone against the US and Russia on Syria at the UN on Thursday (10 October), painting a bleak picture of transatlantic relations.

    EU envoys to the UN Security Council (UNSC), from Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, and the UK spoke to press in New York after the US and Russia blocked an EU-drafted UN resolution on the conflict.

    <snip>

    Russia, wielding its 14th UNSC veto to date on the Syria war, said it did not endorse the EU statement because it did not "speak about the illegal military presence in that country and the need to terminate it immediately", referring to European and US coalition forces.

    The Kurds had fought against Isis alongside Western special forces and air power. They had also fought against the Russia-backed Syrian regime.

    Breaking out the UN veto over a statement of condemnation doesn't sound like the Russians think they have nothing to gain.
  • The cui bonosuggestion that Russia masterminded the US withdrawal of troops from the border is dumb.

    Russia has been courting Turkey for a while to pull them away from NATO- their relationship became very tight after Russia helped Erdogan defeat the 2016 coup attempt. But it wasn’t always so cozy. In 2015 Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi and Russia was furious. They intensified strikes on Turkish-backed jihadists and started arming the SDF and supporting them with air strikes. Now Russia and Turkey are on much better terms but that doesn’t mean they see eye-to-eye on everything- see Idlib. Trump’s sudden caving to Erdogan probably caught Putin by surprise as much as everyone else.

    Both the Russian and Syrian governments have made it clear for years that they don’t want US troops there; that doesn’t mean that they want Turkish troops or their jihadist proxies there. The Syrian government issued an unequivocal condemnation of the invasion but offered no sympathy to the Kurds.

    Also it’s not really the case that the SDF and SAA fought each other. Apart from some minor clashes they mostly ignored each other or, in some places, cooperated.

    The world is a complicated place and not everything revolves around Russiagate conspiracies.
  • The Russians always stand to gain from any division within NATO. Besides, the most aggressive rebellion against Assad has been by the Kurds. With the Turks pushing south from the northern border, and the Russian backed Syrian forces pushing North, the Kurds have no place to go.

    Hear those cries? It is called ethnic cleansing, Russian-style.
  • Where are you getting your information? The Kurds and Syrian government rarely fought- more often they cooperated. The most dangerous rebels were the jihadists backed by the US, Turkey, Qatar, etc. who were openly committed to exterminating the Alawites and Shia (and the leftist Kurds).
  • There has been long standing conflict between the Kurds and the Syrian regime, though in the current Syrian civil war they have largely avoided conflict. Nevertheless, Assad needs to deal with them eventually. Here is a Reuter's Report on their involvement in the civil war
  • Have Kurds historically been oppressed by Syria and every other government in the region? Yes. But they were never “the most aggressive rebellion against Assad.” Before the war there were even moments when Assad quietly supported the PKK against Turkey.

    The Kurds have a saying- Our only friends are the mountains. Unfortunately not many mountains in Rojava.
  • Trump’s sudden caving to Erdogan probably caught Putin by surprise as much as everyone else.

    I see we've moved on to phase 2 of the Trumpian excuse-making, going from actually Russia really hates this latest thing to yeah, well, I bet Russia was probably surprised by this latest thing even if it's something they favor.
  • {Raises hand in the back of the class.}

    Putin seems to want to reconstruct Mother Russia and be her czar, if not in name. Add in that he's ex-KGB, and that he's been in various forms of power for a long time.

    I have no problem believing that he might be a prime mover behind all kinds of things. Does messing around with Turkey and Syria fit in with his "I must restore Mother Russia" narrative? Is it simply about reminding the West that it's not the "be all and end all"? Or are there historical reasons that make Turkey and Syria special targets?

    Thx.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    I know beans about their relative politics currently, but if Mr. KGB is indeed trying to resurrect some version of the Russian Empire (1721-1917), that august entity once included the Ottoman (aka Turkish) Empire within its borders.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited October 2019
    Golden Key wrote: »
    {Raises hand in the back of the class.}

    Putin seems to want to reconstruct Mother Russia and be her czar, if not in name. Add in that he's ex-KGB, and that he's been in various forms of power for a long time.

    I have no problem believing that he might be a prime mover behind all kinds of things. Does messing around with Turkey and Syria fit in with his "I must restore Mother Russia" narrative? Is it simply about reminding the West that it's not the "be all and end all"? Or are there historical reasons that make Turkey and Syria special targets?

    Putin's Russia seems to be pursuing two main foreign policy ends: 1) the restoration of Russian Greatness and 2) weakening the Western Alliance. I've always thought that Putin's vision of "Russian Greatness" fell more along Soviet lines rather than Czarist ones, though they often pursued similar foreign policies due to dealing with similar geographic and political challenges. Turkey has been a frequent adversary of Russia's as far back as when it was Czars vs. Sultans. (See Crimean War for an example.) The fairly obvious reason for this is Turkey's control of the only outlet from the Black Sea.

    Syria was an important Soviet client state during the Cold War, hosting the only Soviet naval base in the Mediterranean. (This is more of a "repair and resupply" kind of base rather than a "station your ships here" base.) The current relationship between Russia and Syria seems to be an extension of this past relationship and is a good explanation of why Russia supports Bashar al-Assad the same way the Soviets supported his father, Hafez al-Assad.

    So while I don't think the current Turkish offensive was something engineered by Putin (it's probably more a factor of the White House letting Trump talk to Erdogan unsupervised) it's something that contributes to both of Russia's strategic goals.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Trump’s sudden caving to Erdogan probably caught Putin by surprise as much as everyone else.

    I see we've moved on to phase 2 of the Trumpian excuse-making, going from actually Russia really hates this latest thing to yeah, well, I bet Russia was probably surprised by this latest thing even if it's something they favor.

    And once again you resort to smears when confronted with a topic you know nothing about.

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