intelligence and security, medieval v modern, political absolutism, populism, Trump Administration, United States
To the Side, A Comment on Iran’s Presence in Iraq
After so many years of American investment in trying to build a stable Iraq, the United States has effectively enabled an Iranian takeover of the country. I know, because I was there and saw it with my own eyes. That the Obama administration is not opposing the rising influence of Iran, as the White House prepares a historic deal to leave Iran with nuclear weapons just beyond its fingertips, is especially alarming, and a recipe for increasing regional conflict.
Pregent, Michael. “I Saw the U.S. Hand Iraq Over to the Iranians. Is the Whole Region Next?” The Tower, February 2015.
Across the country, Iranian-sponsored militias are hard at work establishing a corridor to move men and guns to proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon. And in the halls of power in Baghdad, even the most senior Iraqi cabinet officials have been blessed, or bounced out, by Iran’s leadership.
Arango, Tim. “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over'”. The New York Times, July 15, 2017.
An Aside More Front and Center as Regards President Trump’s Now Many “Shake-Ups”
On this day, perhaps especially this one day of the year, September 11, the outside-looking-in assessment of America’s place in the world and its strength becomes of singular interest in light of “East” (Authoritarian-Kleptocratic) v “West” (Democratic and Lawful) rivalry. The departure yesterday of National Security Advisor John Bolton may highlight that issue by leaving in the White House a President surrounded (ah, but perhaps not) by more pliant personalities. Today, the President has in Bolton’s stead yesterday’s “United States Deputy National Security Advisor” who has overnight become the “Acting National Security Advisor” in the figure of Charles Kupperman, a Bolton protege.
Will the political realities — international states of affairs — surrounding President Trump have changed with the exchange of experienced officials?
What may have changed is the gateway given the will of the President to act on his own instincts — coupled with his imagination — less tempered by either the discipline, experience, knowledge, or respect associated with yet another of the nation’s established senior intelligence and security community officials.
Last month —
One of America’s most seasoned intelligence officials is leaving the building. Sue Gordon, who spent more than 25 years in the CIA before becoming second-in-command at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), was confirmed to be departing on Thursday by President Trump.
Gordon was next in line to serve as acting director after current director Dan Coats announced his resignation effective Aug. 15.
Woodruff, Betsy. “Deputy Intel Chief Sue Gordon Is Out After Trump Snub.” Daily Beast, August 8, 2019.
Dan Coats, Sue Gordon, John Bolton — who else experienced in standing behind Presidents (in defense of the Constitution of the United States — see “Basic Training” on this blog) is missing from today’s action and diplomacy with Moscow and Tehran as America’s President appears to prefer standing on his own (elected but less experienced) authority?
BackChannels may here thank God for its not having to reinvent any wheels. By title, publication, and date —
“List of Trump Administration dismissals and resignations”. Wikipedia.
“Who has left Trump’s administration and orbit?” CNN Politics, September 10, 2019.
“The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration.” The New York Times, Updated September 10, 2019.
While perusing the above three web pages, BackChannels came across this gem of a Wikipedia entry: “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity“. The Presidential Commission charged with investigating voter fraud, i.e., Trump’s claims that millions of illegal immigrants had voted in the 2016 election, opened shop on May 11, 2017 and closed without results on January 3, 2018. The following quotation represents the results of a separate study as relayed by Wikipedia:
In an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law looked at 42 jurisdictions, focusing on ones with large population of noncitizens. Of 23.5 million votes surveyed, election officials referred an estimated 30 incidents of suspected noncitizen voting for further investigation, or about 0.0001% of votes cast. Douglas Keith, the counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and co-author of the analysis, said, “President Trump has said repeatedly that millions of people voted illegally in 2016, but our interviews with local election administrators made clear that rampant noncitizen voting simply did not occur. Any claims to the contrary make their job harder and distract from progress toward needed improvements like automatic voter registration.”
America could not and would not — would never — capitulate to Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, nor would it “work with” their cousins in “Islamist” associated crime and mass murder worldwide. Not eighteen years ago; not today; never.
However, here is a different question: would the United States today bend itself toward authoritarian and totalitarian regimes?
Given one singular elected head of state or another, would the United States embark on the discouragement or encouragement of authoritarianism, confusion, corruption, kleptocracy, and related totalitarian political control from within?
With an authoritarian, nationalist, and populist President in the White House and one moving the bodies and minds in, out, and all around (so we do the national “Hokey Pokey”), that question should become (after this Day of Remembrance) of greater general and public national interest.