Last week, The Washington Post reported that President Trump was suspending covert aid to Syrian rebels in their efforts to topple President Bashar al-Assad. While the White House has provided no official comment on the matter, since it’s a classified program, this move had been several months in the making as removing Assad was no longer a priority for the administration. They recognized that continuing to arm the rebels was unlikely to yield any significant results. This is a rare moment of sanity in the American approach to the Middle East, where the government admitted to limitations on its ability to engineer a positive solution out of a highly complex and volatile problem. The harsh reality is that some geopolitical problems don’t have solutions––the Syrian Civil War is a prime example of this.
Read the rest at: Counter Punch
In a late-June session of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) successfully added an amendment to a Defense Appropriations Bill that would repeal the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF).
The passage of this amendment sent a positive signal that America’s war-making capabilities will finally be the subject of a debate, at least on the House floor. On July 12, Lee even met with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the matter. Unfortunately, it appears that Lee’s amendment is being threatened by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who has offered up a replacement bill that, instead of repealing the 2001 AUMF, would ask Congress to clarify war powers and goals.
Read the rest at: The American Conservative
President Trump has been a wildcard president so far — easily irritable, unpredictable and often openly defying norms of governance. But, his foreign policy has largely continued the status quo.
Writing in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues the Trump regime is “not a revolutionary administration.” In fact, he believes, “The broad lines of its policy fits easily within the last few decades […] his foreign policy has been remarkably unremarkable.” Everything from his cabinet appointments and his backtracking on NATO, to his attitude on China and his missile strike in Syria, points to an abandonment of his anti-establishment rhetoric from the campaign.
But there’s another trend at work in the Trump administration, too: decision-making at the Pentagon has been pushed further down the chain of command to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the military commanders below him. In a break from liberal tradition, power is actually being shifted away from the president. This not only has bad practical consequences, but risks setting a precedent that could change the nature of our institutions. The military could end up as essentially an autonomous agent, setting policy without public debate. This means military actions would be free of any political accountability.
Read the rest at Rare