Archive for the ‘TRUMP’ Category

Trump 1 Putin 1 (After extra time)

July 16, 2018

The guy who used to sweep the yard outside our Sadova-Samotechnaya apartment in Moscow would listen to the news on the portable I gave him, shake his head and mutter Nichevo, nichevo, nichevo, spit into the leaves and carry on sweeping. Best hear nothing then there’s no need to believe.

Nothing nothing nothing. I got through to his son (who now employs 200 to sweep) and asked him about Putin and Trump. That’s right: before we stumble across all the experts, analysts and think tankers let’s put a bit of Russian realism into Helsinki: Nichevo, nichevo, nichevo, he said.

Great story about Putin being late. Great story about Trump dumping on his Intelligence people. But just think about it. Putin keeps everyone except the Chinese waiting and Trump has been fanging his Intelligence people on a regular basis for months.

And we all know Trump does it differently. So nothing, nothing, nothing new.

Then how come the news analysts wont sleep for days. How come grizzled correspondents are putting that news conference close to the end of the Jurasic reel? They are, we are, because we still find it difficult knowing Trump (rubbishes NATO, bad mouths May but doesn’t mean it – but of course he does) and not clear about Putin (says nothing but does it – ask the Syrians).

In other words, we are still looking for the predictability we were used to in Clinton-Bush (1&2) -Obama decades. In times past we were predictable because they only talked nuclear warhead numbers and verification processes. These were the processes of the Cold War. Today even the concept of war has changed. We go to other people’s wars.

Thus, a whole lot of issues that once were urgent, are no long so important. You can go to a bi-lateral Helsinki and all the issues on the editor’s desk are no longer important. They become less relevant when the American President no longer sees them as issues and doesn’t understand what the hell they’re about anyway.

Supporting Russia’s re-entry to the G7 is all that is needed for everyone to smile when the deal is tied.

A done deal is when you’re making 2 cents on the dollar said the New York numbers man, Willy Griesman. In other words, try for too much and the whole street wants some. And as his great buddy the Yankees catcher Yogi Berra joined in with a hotel story “The towels were so thick I could hardly get them into my case.” Meaning? Everyone on a trip gets something different out of it.

That’s what’s happened this time. Trump should have stuck to another round at Turnberry and Putin just went home – he’s already got a 86% rating.

What they said in Helsinki was gosh and golly stuff. When these two guys who run most of the world got home what was said did not change the world, did not explain anything about anything. Nice cars. Putin needs a new suit. And what was with the football thing? Nichevo, nichevo, nichevo

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The North Korea Nuclear Launch Sites are Closed – But Kim Keeps the Key

April 21, 2018

Christopher Lee

21 April 2018, London

Kim Jong-un says North Korea has developed ‘weaponisation” so from this passing weekend, North Korea will stop testing.

Nuclear weapons engineers will say this is nonsense. The job of being a nuclear weapon state has only just begun.

But for the moment at least, North Korea has reached the goal of its leader, that of a state able to put even a small nuclear warhead on a long range missile, fire that missile into outer space and then guide its return into the earth’s atmosphere, release warheads and direct each one onto targets that include the United States, certainly China and certainly Japan.

That makes North Korea a member of an exclusive club that somewhere has a technology base that can return to production and ever be in scientific and technological research state to bring the missile and the guidance and launch systems to a longer range and higher readiness, the re-entry process more reliable and the delivery systems more accurate and threatening.

President Trump should not need to be told this.

The series of North South and East-West meetings begin this coming week. North and South Korea meet openly, US-Korean officials meet quietly and then, perhaps as early as June, President Trump meets President Kim.

At that point, Kim Jong-Un achieves that which has eluded himself, his ancestors and something which is not always understood in Western capitals. President Kim has yearned for respect as a ‘proper’ leader of an important country. He reads the progress in international recognition achieved by Pakistan when it became a nuclear weapons power and immediately a state able to kill millions of its decades old enemy India at the press of half a dozen buttons.

In just a decade of fast technology he’s made the US take him seriously. Rocket Man is not a joke Trump lyric.

He may tell us that North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions are over, but like the rest of the black mushroom growers, the genii is out of the bottle. His people know how to do it and, who knows when the disappointment of international treatment and recognition will mean a return to the test sites.

And to test the value of his new position, remember that Mr Kim will be receiving Mr Trump, not the other way round. Mr Trump has to go to him. Mr Kim will step his own higher ground.

What would they want? An official end to the Korean War. That is an easy found formality. A recognition that North Korean is an equal partner in the strategic balance of the Korean Peninsular, Eastern China and Japan for starters. That is status worth having. It will also be a process that leads to the true lessening of conflict: sign a contract with a potential enemy that boosts its economy and allows the country to grow for a fat enemy rarely goes to war.

The bringing about of this summit, if it happens, will be largely the work of President Moon of South Korea with the nitty sorted by the three heads of Intelligence of America, South Korea and North Korea.

Mr Kim will get his respect and will settle some of the uncertainties of the ruling North Korean families who are saying the Mr Kim must change his ways if the country is not to fold economically and collapse. Mr Moon will sweep aside the continued feeling that he could fall at any moment. And Mr Trump?

In America, even senior politicians have never heard of any efforts other than the tough-talk of their President. If it works, he will be the man who brought 60 years of crisis to an end and made Kim Jong-un close down his nuclear threat.

The tailpiece in Washington to this is an irony: undoubtedly, if a June meeting is the type of success we imagine, then there will a strong movement for a Nobel Peace Prize. So? So there is no way the FBI could file against a Peace Nobel Laureate Trump.

Could anything spoil what is possible? Yes.

Whatever agreement between North Korea and the US, it is extremely likely that Congress will not ratify any treaty on the grounds of it being impossible to verify North Korea keeping the test sites closed.

In other words, June’s not far but there are years to go before Mission Accomplished make sense.

 

Korea: A Nobel for Trump?

April 18, 2018

by

ChristopherLee

http://www.foreignpolicy.org.uk

 

For those who said a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un was straight out of the La La Land handbook of the pursuit of dreams, then maybe a re-read of the script is worth a while.

 

President Trump this morning Tweeted in his own La La manner that his CIA director Mike Pompeo was back in Washington after a trip to North Korea during Easter for a meeting with Kim Jong-un. The idea is to fix a summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jung-un, probably in June.

 

Why would the director CIA be used in this role? Answer: he is Mr Trump’s choice as his next Secretary of State, his foreign minister.

 

The published hope is to get some deal whereby the North Koreans will give up their nuclear weapons programme in return for a treaty officially ending the 1950-1953 war between North Korea supported by China and South Korea supported by a UN force led by the United States. When fighting stopped, an armistice was declared not an official end to the conflict. Under a new agreement, North Korea would expect sanctions against its economy to be lifted.

 

This sounds and is all too simple a way to resolve a 65 year-old strategic conundrum that could even now lead the world into nuclear war. A few months ago Trump and Kim Jong-un were openly insulting each other in some Mediaeval pre-war pageant. Trump was threatening to rain down fire and fury. Kim was telling the world Trump needed a brain fix. Today the two men are clearing the diaries for what would be one of the most significant political summits since Reagan met Gorbachev in 1986.

 

Given this importance, there’s more to it that time clear up a bit of history with a wrong ending and, it goes much wider than Trump doing business his way and Kim Jong-un wanted the status of an international leader with an arsenal of nuclear warheads. It is the story of three, not two ambitions. For Europeans keen to live in a world without black mushroom clouds, then the political tact of Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President should be understood.

 

Mr Moon is the person who has persuaded Kim to at least publicly murmur that getting rid of nuclear weapons is in the deck of negotiations the three leaders are now shuffling. Six months ago when North Korean were doing a missile or warhead test every couple of weeks, such language was unknown never mind expressed. Moon moved on the real politik. While most watched Washington and Pyongyang for signs of coming together, it was Moon who spotted hesitations and repeats of key words in statements and knew when to nudge the discussions into apparently harmless areas of agreement that a meeting might be possible. There is no point in a meeting unless agreement is possible, otherwise it is a major failure of diplomacy.

 

Moon became the arch diplomat in praise of famous men only. He said Trump deserved huge credit for almost everything. Mr Trump was pleased. He said Mr Kim was wise. Mr Kim was pleased. So this week the two Korean leaders meet for the next move towards a summit and the CIA director reports back to the Oval Office that everything looks in good-fix mode. June could be summit month.

 

Or could it? Kim Jong-un is likely to be playing a harder game. Above everything he wants to be treated with respect. He could blow the world in half and would be willing to do so his people in the alleys of South Korea say. Trump could fires someone and pull out of a summit on instinct. Moon could loose his own people in the dangerous political gambit he is playing. But if they pull this June meeting and with it the nuclear agreement and the distinction of affording respect then the most dangerous arc on the globe could become something quite different.

 

And here is something: if the trio hold this together, what’s the betting there’s a joint Nobel Peace Prize. Who would have thought that in January 2017.

OK Mr Trump Bomb Syria – Then What?

April 12, 2018

Christopher Lee Says – wwwforeignpolicy.org.uk

13 April 2018

Why would President Trump risk starting WWIII because 50 people were killed in a place in Syria most of us had never heard of? The answer is because those men, women and children were killed, apparently, with chemicals.

About every couple of weeks half as many again Syrians – say 75 – are killed when a 500b bomb is dropped on them. Also, the bomb creates more chaos and maims more Syrians. The logical behaviour pattern of war is cock-eyed. Downing Street and the White House declare that the use of chemical weapons in Douma must not go unchallenged.

Chemical weapons kill far fewer than conventional ordnance. The arithmetic of war is unsound this week.

There is too a well-known wonkiness in Trump-speak when maybe emboldened by the consequences of the North Korean affair, he tells Russia and Syrian to look out — the smart missiles are on notice to go.

The rhetoric even winds up America’s allies. The British Prime Minister for example, immediately calls Washington and assures President Trump that she is making sure Britain is right behind him. Alongside rather than behind might be a better reassurance, but never mind. The mood is fine and Mrs May is reassured that the UK and not France is America’s Number One Ally.

More importantly, Mrs May’s reason for seemingly without any strategic military understanding of the consequences proposed by President Trump feels forced into an instant declaration of loyalty to Trump Cause because her single most important ambition is to guarantee special trade status with the USA after March next year. Who would have thought the deaths of 50 in Douma had a Brexit connection?

And then his generals go into the Oval Office and ask him what he plans to do when a miscalculation means one of those American smart missiles kills another 50 Syrians and perhaps does it again and again during the first night’s salvo.

Moreover, what will he do when Russians in an armoured vehicle or a command centre are blown away and Moscow presses the revenge button. And how many letters in his Tweet does he need to explain to even the people of Lake Wobegone Minnesota that rather than pulling out of the Middle East (as he promised two weeks back) America is now in a powerful war that can probably only end in America’s humiliation.

In other words, it’s not the shock’n’awe of the missile strikes but the what-happens-next that matters. Given that the chemical warfare inspectors are going into Syria this weekend an attack is unlikely during the coming 48 hours. Perhaps Trump’s generals can use the time to really get him to answer the question: Okay Mr President we can put 1200 missiles into Syrian by next Friday. But then what would you have us do? Time to Tweet a different crisis Mr Trump?

Could be, the generals might argue with spirit and could be that the Russians are already sending private signals to this end.

Last night, the emergency lines between Russian and American commands were switched on. There are there to avoid miscalculation. They do not always work. Fingers crossed.

 

Syria: Iran holds the answer, not Russia

April 11, 2017

Christopher Lee

London11 April 2017

The White House is confused about Syria. It does not know what it is supposed to think which, is a difficult position for President Trump having ordered the cruise missile strike.

It gives every indication that the President of the United States knows nothing about the Syria Situation and cannot measure up to being a real President – one at whom the buck stops. He can be briefed. But he does not understand power beyond running Trump Property Development.

Here then is a simple briefing for the man who has everything but displays nothing.

The Trump Administration (and it seems the British Foreign Office run by Boris Johnson also) believes that the way to fix Syria is to hammer the Russians and then bring them on board.

Wrong.

The people to be sorted are first the Iranians, then the Saudis. It is true that the Russians appear to be the muscle in President Assad’s punch against the rebels. But the real and long term allies are not the Russians. They could change sides any day. The real war chums are the Iranians.

The Iranians are Shias. Assad through his Alawite family are Shias. Iran is the proxy war fighter of the Middle East. Iran sees the battle with the rebels as a battle with Sunnis – therefore this is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia (Sunni ruled) and Iran.

So how do you fix it?

America has to deal with Iran by saying Assad can stay but must run elections with Iran providing security.

A deal has to be done with Russians to maintain its port, the only constant access it has in Med. That is not difficult. Apart from anything else militarily, satellites can have a permanent watch on the Russians alongside and produce on-the-hour Intelligence of capabilities.

Also, by leaving the Russians in Syrian (they were there anyway) America would be tacitly accept that the theatre map of today is the one to work. A treaty would be produced involving Gulf Council. Syria, Iran, Russia and US and it will reviewed in 2 years.

All sounds simple and of course it is not. It could take another couple of years to fix and the real hope of a solution – a palace revolution in Assad’s own house – has to be hoped for. It is the only chance of a long lasting peace.

There is one simple fact that fed to Mr Trump may give a thought to play with: he believes the sarin attack was bad news. Yes. But every day there is worse. Conventional weapons kill more and maim more than a chemical attack.

Last month the Syrian airforce dropped 495 barrel bombs and killed more Syrians doing so than died in the gas attack. Last year the Syrian airforce delivered 12,958 barrel bombs. Mr President ask why the US (and the rest of us) did nothing.

Why Trump Bombed Wrong Bomb

April 7, 2017

 

Christopher Lee

London 7 April 2017

President Trump called Prime Minister May and said this is what we have in mind. Prime Minister May said Go for it.

Defence Secretary Fallon took a call from Defense Secretary Mattis who said he was putting 59 cruise into the Homs air base. Defence Secretary Fallon said Have a good one.

President Putin sat by the phone. No one called.

This morning (Friday) it was all done. The newly shaped National Security Council of generals in Washington (McMasters, Dunford, Coats, Mattis) had a good day.

The President needed to respond to the gas attack on Kahan Sheikhoun. He needed to back away from Obama policy of do nothing. Mr Trump was, maybe still is, an ideal man in charge on the day for the generals.

Donald Trump suddenly had his top people asking Mr President, what do you want us to do?

Man alone eats hog, was how Willie McCobb used to say it when he ran the Mississippi Delta. Big appetite for power but it fades when you’re the only one at the hog roast. In crude terms that’s what has happened.

So two questions: who gets what out of the US response? What happens next?

Syria: The destructive power of that attack could destroy President Assad’s palace and bunker in Damascus. Assad knows now that Russia cannot be guaranteed to defend him. There were Russian anti-missile systems at the Homs air base. No attempt was made to fire them. The US isn’t afraid of Russia.

Russia: They read Trump wrongly. His policy on Syria has not changed. Still no boots on ground. But his readiness to do something Obama would not do (one-shot game changing) they never anticipated. Putin will need revenge and that can only be diplomatic and he has no options.

Iran: In the Middle East Iran is the most feared state after Israel. Iran controls or backs policies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and threatens others in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iran is protective military cousin to Assad. Iran has failed on this one. It has lost image among other countries. It will try to freeze on bi-lateral agreements with the United States, but Trump is now a tried and tested arse-kicker.

UK: Other NATO and European countries did not get the calls from Washington. The past 24 hours showed Washington regards London as people on-side, trustworthy. Downing Street matters. Mrs May did well to be the first into Trump’s Washington. It rings Thatcher-Reagan times.

Next? We are to believe this was a one-off. It happened because Assad, or whoever in his bunker ordered a gas attack and the way the Western world reacted. This in itself compares ideologies.

A gas attack kills fewer people and cause less long term wounds than a 500lb conventional bomb raid.

Yet in the West, still with images of World War One, gas is a far more sinister weapon. It is illegal whereas a conventional warhead that can cause far greater catastrophe is polished and sold to anyone at public annual exhibitions.

Therefore, logically, America should be cruising every Syrian bomber airbase. But warfare obeys made-up rules.

The world doesn’t think about the gassed child who got a shot of atropine in time and will be back at school next week.

The world doesn’t compare that poor wretch with the kid in the conventional and legal bombing raid with both legs blown off for the rest of his or her life and a demolished hospital that cannot save the rest of the family. This is really the story of the past 24 hours. We all got mad with Assad for using a wicked weapon whereas the bigger killer goes unpunished. Trump has not got that far in the moralist’s warfare manual. There may be worse to come.

Trump wanted power. How to respond to the sarin attack was his first experience. It is hoped he did not like it.

A Grotesque Trump:Will he take us to war?

November 9, 2016

christopher_lee180-11

Christopher Lee

9 November 2016

London

Is President Elect Trump as grotesque as he appeared to the rest of the world? So megalomanic that he could press The Button just to prove he could?

Before the pomp and ceremony let is not forget that Trump is still the man who called Hilary Clinton a crook and promised to have her jailed, who called US military losers, who made crude jokes about women, who said Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals.

Is that man also more than half of modern American?

We should answer these questions ourselves because almost all the experts got it so wrong.

When America votes for a President it votes on our behalf because we are tied into every issue faced by the White House. Trump is de facto President Elect of the the lot of us.

So what might he have in mind for us all?

Our first concern is security on its grandest scale. Mr Trump says NATO is a failure against modern security threats and that the majority of member states do not follow the 2pc of GDP defence budget guidelines. He is saying what most US Presidents have said since NATO was formed in April 1949. He is right. If an Alliance territory were to be threatened it would take ten to fourteen days to get a decision on what to do and even then any NATO decision would have to ratified by individual legislatures.

Promises of high ready state for 30 divisions is fine if you have the organisation to make it work and then command it.  NATO does not have that.  Score 1 for Trump.

Vladimir Putin? Mr Trump’s view is that you have to get along with Putin especially in the Middle East.  So watch for an easy photo-call after inauguration day on 20 January next year to say Trump & Putin have a plan to sort the remainder of ISIS. As for the situation in the Baltics? Not many Latvian votes anticipated in 2020 Presidential. Score 1 for Trump.

Big Business? Not surprisingly, Trump’s plans to scrap trade deals unfavourable to the US could have a longer term situation for the rest of the world. He will find that many of the trade deals he dislikes are so tied up that he is not going to get into them apart from a couple of headline incursions but none that will reduce, say, Chinese investments without which many US (and the rest of us) projects would sink.

The fact that stocks throughout the world fell on the news that he had won, can be dismissed.  Anyone with any money should buy all the stock they can today – at rock bottom prices.  By next week they will be where they were so profits all round and even bigger ones on the day after inauguration.

The are two truths to keep in mind: no US president since Lyndon Baines Johnson has made a huge difference to the way in which America is and its relations with its allies. The most important difference most presidents can attempt is the membership of America’s Supreme Court. That is the real guardian of American thought and persuasion and not the incumbent president.

The second truth is a reminder that in spite of headlines about the prospect of Trump’s finger on the nuclear button the Congress (now controlled by Republicans as will be the Supreme Court) can stop a president taking the US to war – and maybe therefore the rest of us.

Here is the warning: Congress has the authority.  The President Elect has just shown us all, including his own Republican Party who did not want him, that Trump does not do authority – other than his own.  A scary time to come especially from pundits who got it so wrong about Trump.

And the most scary question? What sort of America has voted for such a man?

Best go out and by some stock.