Monday, June 12, 2017

Trump's First Foreign Trip

It may be his last!

First, a recap

"A (mostly) presidential Trump on display while abroad" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  May 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — During the first few stops of his nine-day foreign trip, which concludes Saturday, Trump has offered a glimpse of what a more diplomatic version of himself would look like.

The president’s less diplomatic side didn’t surface until Brussels where, in short order, he verbally cudgeled NATO allies for not doing their share, chewed out Germany on trade, and appeared to shove aside the prime minister from Montenegro — the newest member of the alliance — to get to the front row for a group photo.

The public has come to know that version of Trump. The other Trump, with the harshest of his rhetoric sanded down, is newer to the public. But his days overseas revealed that he’s capable of avoiding major gaffes and of sticking, for the most part, to the script.

As reported anyway!

Trump has modulated some of his more extreme positions, and demonstrated that he can be just as flexible in retreating from campaign promises on foreign policy as he has been on the domestic front.

Little did we know at the time that he was setting up the next phase of the wars. Looking back on it now, he was over there to get the Saudis on board with the next phase of the plan.

Investigations are ongoing about the Trump team’s relationship with Russia, and President Trump said he would decide about the US stance on climate change.

Actually, he didn't really get out of it despite the insinuations in the pre$$.

This raises the question: To learn how to be a president, or least bear himself like one, did Trump have to leave the United States?

“When Donald Trump acts like a normal president, I find that soothing,” said Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He said that Trump’s softer rhetoric may be a natural byproduct of learning more about the world.


When he acts like a "normal" president?  

What does that mean, he'll wage wars based on lies? 

That seems pretty normal for the last, well, since damn near the founding of the Republic actually! Back then it was the Indian savages.

Part of the reason Trump seems to be having more success while abroad is that he’s largely avoided the unscripted moments that so often bring trouble.

I'm starting to wonder if those are not in and of themselves scripted to divert attention and sow the chaos amid which the war agenda seems to advance unabated with no one really much noticing.

“We’ve had a sustained period where he has been very disciplined,” observed Heather Conley, a former senior State Department official who is now at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. “It’s a very different approach for the president.”

She noted that Trump has not been sending erratic tweets and has mostly avoided the press — which is atypical for a US president abroad. But the effect has been curtailing the off-the-cuff comments Trump is known for that have often worked against achievement of his policy goals.

“These pictures [of Trump abroad] are just great to watch,” Conley said. “What we’re seeing is when you follow a script, and you do what you agreed to do, leaders know what is going to happen and you can have successes.”

That's what Obama did for eight years, and the nation is now moaning from the neglect.

The images that generated discussion at home were far from the kind that could ruin a trip: a strange image of him clutching a glowing orb along with Saudi leaders, the dismissive nudge to the Montenegrin prime minister, and the footage of his wife seeming to flick his hand away when he sought to hold hers in Israel.

The Saudi thing was spooky, the nudge/push was typical narcissism and not surprising coming from Trump, and the lack of contact from his wife is troubling. What if the guy is feeling isolated, doesn't know whom to trust, and is reaching out for support? I figure she is ticked because she never wanted this, did her wifely duty thinking he won't win, and now unbelievably finds herself here.

One of his few miscues came in Jerusalem on Monday just moments before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Trump addressed questions about whether he improperly shared Israeli-gathered secrets with the Russians during a meeting in the Oval Office.

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel, never mentioned during that conversation. They’re all saying I did,” Trump said to reporters. “So you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

They got over it quick, and I'm convinced it is all part of the charade. You know, the AmeriKan and Israeli administrations argue but the money and weapons still flow while the Israelis build on even more land.

The comments fueled unflattering responses — news reports never said he directly identified Israel — but Trump regained his balance. And for much of the trip, Trump has navigated fairly tight policy U-turns with skill.

During Trump’s swing through Israel, many foreign policy observers watched to see if he would make good on one of his campaign promises: moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he called the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

The move would cause outrage in the Muslim world, a concern that the White House appears to be weighing more carefully. “We don’t think it would be wise to do it at the time,” a White House official said during the trip.

SeeNetanyahu says US embassy ‘needs to be’ in Jerusalem

A striking shift in tone came during Trump’s maiden speech abroad, an address he gave in Saudi Arabia that focused on combatting terrorism.

They made him go.

He avoided the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” — even though in the past he has been critical of Obama and others who avoided the phrase as a needless provocation, a slur on Islam. His prepared remarks referred instead to “Islamist extremism,” which sounds more like condemnation of an ideology, not a religion (he slipped a few times by saying “Islamic extremism” and “Islamic terror,” which a senior White House official attributed to fatigue.

I'm almost positive the official was Gary Cohn!

Even his wife’s wardrobe signaled a change: She didn’t cover her head in front of the Saudis. Foreign women aren’t required to do so, but Trump had been critical of Michelle Obama for failing to honor the local tradition.

Trump’s more accommodating posture in Saudi Arabia and Israel was noted with extreme displeasure by representatives of the alt-right, a class of conservatives, some of whom espouse racist and white nationalist views. The president had significant support from that wing during the campaign.

“We have a president that is under hostage, who is under control by the Zionists,” David Duke said on his radio show Wednesday. The former Ku Klux Klan leader, and onetime Trump endorser, then launched into an anti-Semitic screed about Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who helped plan the trip and is Jewish.

You don't have to agree with Duke (judge for yourself) to know that Trump is one of them. His years in NY real estate and casinos makes him the first Zionist Crime Boss president, and the escalation against Iran after he left the region is damn near proof.

Even though the tone was new, the trip did not serve to shape anything like a cohesive Trump Doctrine on foreign policy — aside from the sense that much is up for negotiation and that “America First” no longer quite describes it. One result of that could be that other regions of the world will work harder to develop their own unified agendas.

The reporters were obviously not told or were keeping the war agenda he was pushing under wraps here.

“It is an opportunity for Europeans to demonstrate they can be cohesive with or without the United States,” said Boris Toucas, a French visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He noted Trump’s silence on whether the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change, as an issue where there’s room for supporters to make their case. “He’s still reflecting on it,” Toucas said. “That means there is room for negotiation. The president is now maybe less vocal and takes more time to reflect on things.”


"By Friday evening, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said Trump’s views were indeed ‘‘evolving.’’ ‘‘He feels much more knowledgeable on the topic today,’’ Cohn said. ‘‘He came here to learn, he came here to get smarter.’’ Cohn told reporters that Trump was struck by ‘‘how important it is for the United States to show leadership’’ and how even in massive international agreements, there’s ‘‘a big gap when you take the biggest economy out.’’ White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster quickly jumped in to assert that Trump would make his decisions based ‘‘on what’s best for the American people,’’ hewing to the ‘‘America First’’ policy that energized the president’s supporters during last year’s election campaign....."

Also see: ‘‘The Germans are bad, very bad,’’ Der Spiegel cited Trump as saying to unidentified participants at a closed-door meeting Thursday with European Union officials in Brussels. ‘‘Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the US. Terrible. We’re going to stop that.’’ Trump’s singling out of German carmakers for contributing to the nation’s lopsided trade surplus follows rebukes of Japan’s Toyota and attacks on America’s own automakers for shipping cars from Mexico. The rhetoric overlooks that BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen operate some of their biggest factories in the world in Southern states, and the impact that putting a stop to imports would have on the thousands of dealers who sell German vehicles. ‘‘The US president doesn’t argue based on facts but instead comes to conclusions based on alternative facts like how many cars are currently parked on a New York road or at the Trump Tower,’’ said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Center for Automotive Research. Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, acknowledged that the president said Germany is ‘‘very bad’’ when it comes to flooding the US with cars, but insisted it wasn’t a dig at one of the US’s most important allies...."

Question: Is Gary Cohn actually the president?

Trump’s rhetoric on NATO, a favorite punching bag during the campaign, was probably modified the least during the trip. In Brussels Thursday, he sternly lectured assembled alliance leaders. European observers had hoped for a more concrete commitment to the mutual defense clause at the center of the treaty — that an attack on one member state is an attack on all. Trump’s staff tried to assuage allies.

It’s unclear how long the new more politic version of Trump will last. He returns to a Washington roiling with investigations and where the Senate Intelligence Committee gained broad powers to issue subpoenas for its investigation of Trump’s campaign’s ties to Russia. And Kushner was revealed as a potential subject of the inquiry while Trump was away.

Was dropped PDQ, too.

Also in this interval, Trump’s team has been filling out a team of lawyers to defend him. That could mean the diplomatic sheen he wore over the past week will soon be gone....



Let's take a peek at the trip, shall we?


"Saudi Arabia will give Trump a royal welcome, ignore his slights" by Ben Hubbard New York Times   May 18, 2017

BEIRUT — When President Trump heads to Saudi Arabia on Friday for his first trip overseas since taking office, it will be for much more than a run-of-the-mill state visit.

The Saudis have internationalized the event, organizing a sprawling “Arab Islamic American Summit” with leaders from dozens of Muslim countries, as well as talks with the king, the inauguration of a counterterrorism center, public forums for business executives and young people, and a country music concert.

It's gonna be fun, fun, fun until your daddy takes the T-bird away!

Saudi Arabia, home to some of Islam’s holiest sites, will be pulling out all the stops for a man who has declared “Islam hates us” and said the United States is “losing a tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.

But Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies were so angry over former president Barack Obama’s policies toward the Middle East that they appeared prepared to dismiss Trump’s remarks as campaign rhetoric, and to see in him a possibility of resetting relations.

The grandiose reception seeks to convince Trump that his priorities are theirs, too, and that they are indispensable partners in fighting terrorism, in confronting Iran, in bolstering US businesses, and perhaps even in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“This administration has vision that matches the view of the kingdom with regards to the role of America in the world, with regards to getting rid of terrorism, with regards to confronting Iran, with regards to rebuilding relations with traditional allies, with regards to trade and investment,” Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, told reporters Thursday.

The number of events scheduled throughout the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday and Sunday is staggering, as the Saudis seek to project their country as a dynamic place, a leader in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and a close ally of the United States. The Stars and Stripes are flying in Riyadh’s streets, intermixed with Saudi flags.

There are three summit meetings planned: between Trump and King Salman, the Saudi monarch; between Trump and the leaders of a Gulf coalition, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates; and between Trump and more than 50 leaders and representatives from across the Muslim world.

Apparently, the meeting with Bahrain went up and down, and Qatar has to feel like they were duped by the two-faced Trump.

Expected to attend are 37 heads of state and at least six prime ministers, said Osama Nugali, a spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

Among the invitees is President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes including genocide, although it remains unclear whether he will attend or, if he does, whether he will meet Trump. “He is invited definitely because it is an Arab and Muslim country,” Nugali said.

Can't even remember the last time I saw Sudan in my Globe.

Also reported by local news organizations to be attending are President Fuad Masum of Iraq, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan.

Not on the guest list are Iran, the Saudis’ regional nemesis, and Syria, whose president, Bashar Assad, is at war with rebels who have received support from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other countries that will be in Riyadh.

How about Yemen?

“Historic Summit. Brighter Future,” declares an official website for Trump’s visit, counting down the seconds until it all starts.

The exuberant reception for Trump reflects how differently Persian Gulf leaders see him, compared with how they saw Obama.

Many of Obama’s Middle East policies angered the Saudis, including what they saw as his giving up on President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a longtime US ally, during the Arab Spring protests; his hesitation to intervene directly in the Syria conflict; and his pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.

The distaste for Obama grew so strong that when he visited the kingdom last year, only a small delegation met him at the airport and state television did not broadcast his arrival.

“Any new president has to be better than President Obama, because no one was worse for us than Obama,” said Salman al-Dossary, a writer for the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

In Trump, many Saudis see a decisive, business-focused leader, who they say shares their goals in the region.

Meaning the Saudis wanted the Qatar crisis.

They applauded his military strike on a Syrian air base after Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, and they have noted his tough talk on Iran. They hope he will increase support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen against rebels — aligned with Iran — who have seized the capital, Sanaa. And they see a role for US investment in efforts to shift the Saudi economy from its dependence on oil.

“This administration is very clear, not just with Saudi Arabia but also with Turkey and other traditional allies, that the idea is to double down on existing relationships and to put allies first,” said Mohammed Khalid Alyahya, a Saudi political analyst and nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a policy research organization.

I thought it was America First.

Saudi Arabia has also pitched itself as a Muslim ally against Islamic State militants, and Trump’s desire to moderate his stance on Islam was among the reasons he chose Riyadh as his first stop overseas as president, according to administration officials.

Yeah, the ones they don't fund, staff, and direct.

The Saudis have spent a fortune on US weapons over the years, and a series of new deals that could be worth more than $300 billion over the next decade are close to completion, Reuters reported this month.


Trump also hopes Arab states like Saudi Arabia can play a role in brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians — an idea some Persian Gulf leaders have privately entertained, if Israel were to offer certain concessions.

That is a non-starter.


"Foreign leaders will make an effort to keep Trump comfy" by Julie Pace Associated Press  May 19, 2017

When President Donald Trump sits down for dinner in Saudi Arabia, caterers have ensured that his favorite meal — steak with a side of ketchup — will be offered alongside the traditional local cuisine.

No, no, no, ketchup is bad (might explain a lot though)!!

At NATO and the Group of 7 summits, foreign delegations have gotten word that the new U.S. president prefers short presentations and lots of visual aids. And at all of Trump’s five stops on his first overseas trip, his team has spent weeks trying to build daily downtime into his otherwise jam-packed schedule.

It’s all part of a worldwide effort to accommodate America’s homebody president on a voyage with increasingly raised stakes given the ballooning controversy involving his campaign’s possible ties to Russia. For a former international businessman, Trump simply doesn’t have an affinity for much international.

Even before Trump’s trip morphed from a quick jaunt to Europe into a nine-day behemoth, White House aides were on edge about how the president would take to grueling pressures of foreign travel: the time zone changes, the unfamiliar hotels, the local delicacies. Two officials said they feared that a difficult trip might even lead the president to hand off future traveling duties to Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump’s final itinerary hardly eases him into the delicate world of international diplomacy on foreign soil. After departing Friday on an overnight flight on Air Force One, Trump will hopscotch from Saudi Arabia to Israel to the Vatican. He’ll close his trip with a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, often-staid affairs that require leaders to be locked in lengthy plenary sessions.

The trip marks the first time since taking office that Trump has spent a night away from the White House at a property that doesn’t bear his name. And it’s not just the bragging rights Trump gets when he goes to his own properties: Staffers know his meal preferences and the exact temperature he likes a room set at. He’s often surrounded by long-time friends and acquaintances who have memberships to the commander in chief-owned retreats. He’s the first president since Jimmy Carter to not travel abroad during his first 100 days in office. 

The obsessive-compulsive stuff is starting to worry me.

Foreign travel has never been high on Trump’s list of priorities. During his first marriage, he usually stayed behind when wife Ivana took his children for visits to her home country, the former Czechoslovakia. He’s made the occasional stops to meet business partners abroad, but most of his travel has been to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and other U.S. properties.

The one trip Trump took abroad as a candidate was to mark the opening of a new golf resort in Scotland. He led journalists on a roving tour of the course and said his property would benefit if Britain’s currency tanked following its decision to leave the European Union. He also made a day trip to Mexico....


C'mon, let's hit the road:

"Saudis welcome Trump’s rebuff of Obama’s views" by Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker New York Times  May 20, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Donald Trump announced a nearly $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia as evidence of a renewed U.S. commitment to the security of the Persian Gulf region.

How much are the Israelis going to get to keep their qualitative advantage? That's the fir$t thing I thought.

A forum bringing together U.S. and Saudi corporate executives Saturday also produced a series of multibillion-dollar deals. Among them: Lockheed Martin signed a $6 billion letter of intent to assemble 150 Black Hawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, and General Electric announced a series of projects it valued at $15 billion.

Is that why Immelt is leaving

And correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't seen one word regarding the atrocious Saudi policies regarding civil rights or women yet. It's all superficial and shallow fluff and reads like a Saudi PR handout.

During two days in Saudi Arabia, the president is set to meet with dozens of leaders from the Persian Gulf and the wider Muslim world as he seeks to shape a new Middle East coalition.

Trump is the first sitting president to make Saudi Arabia the first stop on his first foreign trip. The visit is the first of a nine-day trip that will also take the president to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily. On Friday, Trump announced the nomination of Callista L. Gingrich, the wife of Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, to be his ambassador to the Vatican.

The first stop being Saudi speaks volumes, as does the second stop. That's your regional axis right there.

Air Force One landed in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, after a flight from Washington that took 12 hours and 20 minutes. Aides said Trump spent most of the flight meeting with staff members, reading newspapers and working on his speech. He got very little sleep, they said.

The president and his wife, Melania, emerged from Air Force One against a stark desert backdrop Saturday morning and were greeted on a long red carpet by King Salman, who was leaning on a cane, and other members of the Saudi royal family.

Melania Trump stood near her husband with her hair uncovered, as is common for visiting American first ladies. The country’s tradition is for Saudi women to cover their heads in public. (In 2015, Donald Trump criticized Michelle Obama on Twitter for not wearing a headscarf during an official visit here. Hillary Clinton and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany also did not cover their hair during trips to the country.)

Yeah, that turned a lot of heads.

After a ceremony at the Royal Court Palace, King Salman bestowed the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal, the nation’s highest honor, on the new president, draping the gold medal and chain around Trump’s neck. Later, after a luncheon, the president met with the king before signing the arms deal in an elaborate ceremony.

Previous recipients of the award include Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.

(Blog editor throws up hands and will just leave you with your thoughts)

A television microphone picked up the king’s remarks to Trump. “Syria, too, used to be one of the most advanced countries,” the king said. “We used to get our professors from Syria. They served our kingdom. Unfortunately, they too brought destruction to their own country.”

“You could destroy a country in mere seconds,” the king told the president, “but it takes a lot of effort.”

No offense, but the king sounds demented.

Last year, Obama visited Saudi Arabia for meetings with King Salman and gulf leaders, but the king did not meet him on the airport’s tarmac. Obama’s aides later played down the king’s decision, but it was broadly portrayed in news accounts as a snub.

At the airport when he arrived, Trump and the king exchanged a brief handshake and a few pleasantries.

That will be a ma$$ media obsession throughout the trip.

“Very happy to see you,” the king said.

“It’s a great honor,” Trump replied, before he was offered a bouquet of flowers from Saudi girls....

Why did thoughts of elite pedophilia just spring to mind?


"Trump basks in lavish Saudi welcome, escaping troubles in DC" by JULIE PACE and JONATHAN LEMIRE, Associated Press  |   May. 21, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Donald Trump basked in Saudi Arabia's lavish royal welcome Saturday as he left behind, at least temporarily, the snowballing controversies dogging him in Washington. Trump rewarded his hosts with a $110 billion arms package aimed at bolstering Saudi security and a slew of business agreements.

It's the first down payment on arming them for the war on Iran.

"That was a tremendous day, tremendous investments in the United States," Trump said during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

I was kind of hoping they would invest in something more productive and conducive to life, not weapons of death and the global killing machine, sir.

The visit to the kingdom's capital kicked off Trump's first foreign trip as president, an ambitious, five-stop swing that will take him through the Middle East and into Europe. He is the only American president to make Saudi Arabia — or any Muslim-majority nation — his first overseas trip. Escaping Washington for the embrace of the Saudi royal family appeared to give Trump a boost.

Trump's warm welcome reflected the degree to which Saudi Arabia had become disillusioned with Obama. The Saudis deeply distrusted Obama's overtures to Iran and were frustrated by his restrained approach to the Syrian civil war. As Trump arrived, Iranians had just re-elected Hassan Rouhani — one of Obama's partners in the landmark accord aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions — for a second four-year-term as president, validating his push for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

RelatedHassan Rouhani is re-elected president of Iran by wide margin

I'm told middle class Iranians are happy (you know, the same people that supported the attempted coup in 2009), as the society has changed radically over the past decades. Influenced by satellite television, cheaper international travel, the Internet, waves of migration to big cities, and access to higher education, most of Iranian society now adheres to middle-class values. The middle-class Iranians in the Tehran neighborhoods who brought Rouhani his victory, often by waiting for hours in long lines at polling stations, drove their cars and played loud music in jubilation, often stopping to get out and dance, ignoring a ban on such gatherings. Police officers simply stood by, often smiling. Pumping their fists in the air, the group — including middle-class families pushing baby strollers, hipster youths wearing John Lennon-style glasses, and unemployed men with holes in their shoes — snaked through the streets.

The big question now is whether Rouhani will push through social reforms.

The most tangible agreement between the two leaders was the $110 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia that is effective immediately and could expand up to $350 billion over 10 years. The deal includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology. The State Department said the agreement could support "tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States."

Yes, war is good for bu$ine$$. 

Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major U.S. companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis. Among them was a $15 billion arrangement with GE focused on power, oil and gas, and health care.

Still waiting for any inkling of human rights criticism.

The president was trailed on the trip by a large number of advisers, including Tillerson, chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Trump's son-in law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka, both senior advisers, were also part of the official delegation.

The Saudis' warn welcome appeared to lift the spirits of Trump's beleaguered staff, ensnared in a seemingly endless cycle of negative stories. After a lavish lunch with the Saudi delegation, Kushner high-fived national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

That's the moment when the Saudis said, "yeah, we are on board."

On Sunday, Trump and the king were to join more than 50 regional leaders for meetings focused on combating the Islamic State group and other extremists. Trump planned to urge unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a "battle between good and evil" and appealing to Arab leaders to "drive out the terrorists from your places of worship," according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.

Oh, no, another G.W. Bush.

Related"The plan to add the Islamic State’s Saudi affiliate to a UN list of terrorist groups was quietly killed two weeks ago in a bureaucratic maneuver at the Security Council, records show."

Then they must be "good," huh?

The draft also notably did not contain the words "radical Islamic terror," a phrase Trump repeatedly criticized his 2016 president rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for not using during last year's campaign.

After two days of meetings in Saudi Arabia, Trump was scheduled to travel to Israel, meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and attend a NATO summit in Brussels and join the world's major industrial nations at a Group of Seven gathering in Sicily....


"Trump softens tone on Islam but calls for purge of ‘foot soldiers of evil’" by Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear New York Times  May 21, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Trump, in a cavernous hall filled with heads of state eager to find favor with the new president, said, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people, all in the name of religion, people that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.”

You realize there are people standing under all the bombs and missiles you are throwing around, right?

Trump said the battle should be fought by “decent people” of all religions. He said the United States is willing to help in the effort, but he added that it would be mainly up to Muslims themselves to purge their societies of extremists.

Looks to me like he means your sons and daughters, Amurka.

Trump also used his speech to denounce Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying he committed ‘‘unspeakable crimes’’ during the country’s civil war, with help from Iran. He also said the Iranian people have ‘‘endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.’’

The president’s overall tone in Saudi Arabia was a far cry from his incendiary language on the campaign trail last year....

Well, that was all a great con job, nothing but red meat for idiots.


Also see:

Trump urges Mideast nations to drive out 'Islamic extremism'

The value of Trump’s vow with the Saudis to battle extremism

"Saudi Arabia reportedly arrests bombing suspect; Blast in ‘96 killed 19 US airmen at Khobar Towers" by David D. Kirkpatrick New York Times   August 27, 2015

CAIRO — A senior US official in Washington who was briefed on the matter said Wednesday that it was “likely” the suspect, Ahmed al-Mughassil, was in Saudi custody after apparently being seized in Lebanon.

Mr. Mughassil’s arrest, nearly two decades after the bombing, was a vivid reminder of the longstanding animosity between Washington and Tehran at a time when the Obama administration is seeking congressional approval of an agreement to lift international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

Some analysts and US officials had suggested that Al Qaeda, a Sunni terrorist group, played a role in the Khobar bombing. But in 2006 a US District Court in Alexandria, Va., citing classified evidence compiled in an investigation by the FBI and the CIA, concluded that Iran was responsible. The court found that Iran, which is predominantly Shi’ite, had worked through a proxy — Hezbollah al-Hijaz, a Saudi militant group affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah. The court said Mughassil was the ringleader in the attack.

Khobar is on the Persian Gulf coast near Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province, home to many Shi’ite Muslims who often complain of neglect and discrimination in the Sunni-majority kingdom....


At least Trump saw the Toby Keith show (amongst other notable faces in the crowd).

Meanwhile, back at home the writing is on the wall. There are calls for his impeachment from all parts of the country, bringing about celebrations cheering the dismantling of democracy. Just waiting for the tolling of the bell and it will be President Pence.

Oh, yeah, back overseas Turkey declared permanent martial law while Trump stayed silent, and North Korea fired off another missile as China steps into the void. The game in Spain falls mainly in the -- what's Spanish for losing the war in Afghanistan and Syria anyway?

Time to grab some sleep on the trip to.....



Next stop for Trump is Israel, in pursuit of ‘ultimate deal’ Trump has handed son-in-law Jared Kushner and longtime business lawyer Jason Greenblatt the assignment of charting the course toward a peace process.

I'm not going to prejudge them.

President Trump warmly greeted as he arrives in Israel

Even though I'm told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to force his cabinet ministers to attend, and that seems like something the Saudis would do to Obama, no?

In the lead-up to the visit:

Israeli leader delays West Bank annexation vote
With Trump now in office, Israel pushes ahead on settlements
Despite White House warning, Israel pushes bill to legalize settlements

"In a separate development, Jordan said it carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in southern Syria, hitting barracks used by the extremist group, an arms depot, and a bomb factory. The state news agency Petra quoted the military as saying drones and precision-guided munitions killed and wounded an unspecified number of ISIS militants. It said the Friday strikes also targeted an ISIS-held former Syrian army post. Pro-Western Jordan has carried out such strikes before as part of a US-led alliance against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  On Saturday, the leader of the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen released an audio recording in which he describes Trump as the ‘‘White House’s new fool’’ and says a recent US raid against the group killed 25 people, including 11 women and children. The Pentagon has acknowledged that some civilians were killed but has not said how many. A Navy SEAL also died in the attack. The latest attacks came after King Abdullah II held high-level meetings in Washington about a possible US shift in Syria policy. President Trump has raised the possibility of safe zones in Syria...."

Jordan is an ally, and they are also discussing what to do about Iran and whether the United Kingdom would join in (Russia already declined).

So, has Operation Inherent Resolve started yet? 

I would say that it has.

Israel passes provocative law to retroactively legalize settlements The vote came on the same day as a rocket fired from Gaza landed near the Israeli city of Ashqelon. No one was hurt. The Israeli military responded with artillery fire and airstrikes in northern Gaza. 

Strange how the Gaza rocket squads always go into action at just the right time for Israel, huh?

Netanyahu’s meeting with Trump to set tone for US-Israel relations

Trump softened after hosting Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and close ally of Netanyahu, and his wife for dinner at the White House on Thursday night, along with Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser.

Netanyahu turned down peace offer

The picture is worth a thousand words.

"Netanyahu vowed to change a street name in an Arab town honoring the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Netanyahu said before the Cabinet meeting that he won’t allow streets ‘‘named after murderers of Israelis and Jews.’’ In separate developments Sunday...."

You pass the peace pipe to Israel and they always say no.

US warning to Israel signals new backpedaling by Trump

Don't worry, he has done that to everyone.

Israel imposes entry ban on foreign boycott activists

I suppose it is okay for them to do it because my pre$$ doesn't makes as much of a fuss as they do regarding Trump's travel ban.

"In the latest development, an Israeli air force official said a joint US-Israeli missile interceptor will be operational soon, completing Israel’s multi-layer defense system. The official, who spoke anonymously, said David’s Sling, meant to counter medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, will be operational in early April, marking the completion of the system. That includes the Arrow, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere with an eye on Iran, and Iron Dome, which defends against short-range rockets from Gaza. The official spoke anonymously in line with protocol. Israeli deployed its Arrow system Friday when Syria fired a missile at its jets after they carried out airstrikes targeting a weapons convoy bound for Hezbollah. The official said the missile was identified as a ballistic threat and had a heavy warhead that could have landed inside Israel if not intercepted. David’s Sling was developed by Israeli defense firm Rafael with American defense company Raytheon. In a separate development Monday, Trump appeared to assuage some Palestinian fears about being isolated in the region as Israel appears to be growing closer to some Arab nations....."

Israel plans mass evacuation if war erupts again

They know how to get to the enemy, too. 

Two and a half months later, the war with Iran has begun!

"Trump tells Israel deal with Palestinians is crucial" by Peter Baker and Ian Fisher New York Times  May 22, 2017

JERUSALEM — President Trump, in effect tying the future of the anti-Iran coalition to the Palestinian issue, said, “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran — and it is indeed a threat, there’s no question about that.”

Trump arrived on what was believed to be the first open, direct flight to Israel from Saudi Arabia — then became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site for Jewish prayer, where he donned the traditional skullcap and left a note in a crevice.

All U.S. presidents must swear fealty to their Zionist masters.

On Tuesday, Trump is to travel the short distance to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Trump is then scheduled to return to Jerusalem to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center, and to deliver a speech at the Israel Museum.

He went to give Abbas his orders:

"Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will temporarily shelve his long-standing demand for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction in order to revive peace talks under the Trump administration, a top adviser said. The 82-year-old Palestinian Authority president also would tone down his campaign to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes and to rally condemnation of the Jewish state at the United Nations, said Mohammad Mustafa, Abbas’s senior economic adviser. President Trump says he can broker the Mideast peace agreement his predecessors failed to secure. Since taking office, he has hosted Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House and visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem on his first foreign trip as president. Even if Trump can get the two sides back to the negotiating table, the differences between them on core issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees are immense. Moreover, the new US administration hopes to position Israeli-Palestinian peace as part of a broader process of reconciliation between Israel and the Sunni Arab world....." 

The Palestinians being used as pawns, and it's a total betrayal by Abbas, why Qatar needed to be cracked down upon now, and the byproduct is war with Iran. You talk about fulfilling the Zionist War Agenda! 

On Monday, Trump sought to showcase his friendship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two shared dinner with their wives and called each other “Donald” and “Bibi,” the prime minister’s nickname.

But neither publicly cited any concrete steps in pursuing a peace agreement. Trump did not formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as some Israeli officials hoped he would do since he had already shelved for now his promise to move the US Embassy here from Tel Aviv.

The Israelis really don't care about that. It's just smoke, sound, and fury to make it seem like there is tension. As you can see from the dinner, there is not. It's all narrative dished to you bye the Zioni$t War Pre$$.

Nor did he publicly press Israel to curb settlement construction in the West Bank as Palestinians hoped.

Meaning he tacitly approves.

Netanyahu offered nothing more than a few modest gestures such as extending the hours at the border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, recycled from previous moments in the long-running dispute with the Palestinians.

During his most extended comments, toward the end of the day, Netanyahu skipped right over the Palestinian question to focus on Iran.

As Trump and Netanyahu talked, the pressures that underscore the complexities of any negotiation were evident.

More than 1,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank marched to the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah, carrying posters of Palestinian inmates on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, and setting off clashes with Israel soldiers who fired tear-gas containers, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.

I'm sorry, what was that last one? 

On the first day of Ramadan, too.

In a separate incident, Israeli authorities reported that a Palestinian teenager who tried to stab police officers near a Palestinian town on the outskirts of Jerusalem was shot to death.

No previous US president has come to Israel this early in his tenure. Bill Clinton visited in his second year in office and Jimmy Carter in his third. Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all waited until their second terms to make the trip. But a visit that was once anticipated as an expression of solidarity between two like-minded leaders, Trump and Netanyahu, has become more complicated.


Among other things, Trump last week disclosed to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador some classified information that came from Israel about an Islamic State plot, potentially jeopardizing the Israeli intelligence source and deeply angering some Israeli security officials. Netanyahu had resolved not to mention the intelligence breach publicly.

Trump, who said last week that he had every right to disclose the information, denied identifying Israel as the source. “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” he said.

The news stories did not report that he had mentioned Israel by name. Instead, they quoted current and former intelligence officials as saying that he had mentioned enough details about the intelligence to potentially expose the source....

That as all crap.

Same as this:


Think I've hit a wall:

"Trump administration flip flops on location of Western Wall" by Vivian Salama and Josef Federman Associated Press  May 22, 2017

JERUSALEM — As President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the hallowed Western Wall on Monday, it remained unclear whether his administration was changing longstanding U.S. policy by declaring the wall’s location to be Israel, versus Jerusalem.

Heading to Israel on the second stop in the president’s nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed questions over whether the administration is considering a change in policy, after top officials offered conflicting views.

‘‘The wall is part of Jerusalem,’’ he said, declaring an undeniable fact accepted by all sides. He didn’t elaborate on the more delicate question: whether the administration would change U.S. policy over the status of Jerusalem.

The president arrived at the wall Monday afternoon, donning a yarmulke, as is the tradition at Jewish holy sites. His wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, accompanied him. Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism to marry Kushner, an orthodox Jew.

Trump pressed his right hand against the wall and closed his eyes, seemingly in prayer. He called it a ‘‘great honor’’ to be the first sitting president to visit the holy site.

Israel captured the Old City, home to important Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious sites, along with the rest of east Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The U.S. has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over territory occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem. For this reason, U.S. officials refuse to say that the wall is part of Israel.

Israel, which previously controlled west Jerusalem, claims all of the city as its eternal capital and this week is celebrating the 50th anniversary of what it calls the city’s ‘‘unification.’’ The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Given the competing claims, the U.S. says the city’s fate must be worked out through negotiations and like most countries, it maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. During the campaign, Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but has since walked back that promise.

The latest controversy stemmed from a dust-up last week between American and Israeli officials planning for Trump’s visit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked to join Trump on his visit of the Western Wall, but was rebuffed. An Israeli TV station quoted an American as telling the Israelis that the wall is not in Israeli territory, enraging Trump’s Israeli hosts.

The dispute deepened the following day when Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, declined to say whether the Western Wall is in Israel, dismissing the question as ‘‘a policy decision’’ that he would not answer.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer, later asked about McMaster’s comments, said ‘‘It’s clearly in Jerusalem.’’ He said the issue would be discussed during Trump’s trip.

But hours later, Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, asserted that the wall is part of Israel.

‘‘I don’t know what the policy of the administration is, but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how, you know, we've always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it,’’ she told the Christian Broadcasting Network.


"Speaking in Jordan, host to some 660,000 Syrian refugees, Nikki Haley, who is touring refugee camps and cross-border aid missions on a trip to Jordan and Turkey, said she planned to work on changing the situation when she returns, starting at a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She said she would press countries to provide more money directly to Jordan, rather than funneling it through aid organizations. The ambassador’s call for reform reflected the unpleasant reality that after years of bloodshed, Syria’s civil war shows few signs of ending. Neighboring countries that have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis had hoped the situation would be temporary and that peace would allow Syrians to return home. Now these governments are confronting the possibility of hosting hundreds of thousands people for the extended future and what that would mean for strained health care and education systems, and transportation and electric grids. In a separate development Monday, UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council in a video briefing from Geneva the ‘‘not-so-good news’’: continuing hostilities and bombings involving the government and some opposition groups in areas, including Hama, Homs, and Damascus, which appear to be outside the de-escalation zones established by the three guarantors. ‘‘Our goal is not just de-escalation but the realization of the nationwide cease-fire,’’ de Mistura said...."

In fact, it is getting worse.

Also see: 

"President Trump’s UN envoy set foot Wednesday in the no man’s land between Syria and Turkey, witnessing the precarious transfer of aid supplies into a seemingly interminable conflict. That reality is far removed from America’s years-old hope for President Bashar Assad to leave power and speedily end the civil war. Beyond the frontier, Ambassador Nikki Haley confronted a human reminder of the world’s failure to resolve the war: About 8,400 Syrians in a Turkish refugee camp, some there for more than five years. Trump says he is increasing engagement. The administration said it will arm Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State group, a step the Kurds long implored Obama to take. And Trump ordered strikes on a base belonging to Assad’s military after accusing it of using chemical weapons, but the United States has spearheaded no new peace effort, and Trump’s overall approach has not deviated dramatically from Obama’s. Trump’s administration has struggled to decide whether to embrace a deal struck by Russia, Turkey, and Iran to create four safe zones in Syria. At the Syrian border, Haley helped pack lentils and sugar, and at the Altinozu Refugee Camp, she took to the soccer field with young Syrians. Haley said the United States will ‘‘look at the opportunities’’ in the Russia-led deal, but...."

Last word says it all. 

For Jews, the Western Wall, a retaining wall from the biblical Jewish Temple, is revered as the holiest site where Jews can pray. Israel controls the wall, the nation’s top tourist site, and treats it like Israeli territory, routinely holding solemn state ceremonies there.

It is widely assumed that Israel would retain control over the site under a potential peace deal. But complicating any deal is the adjacent hilltop site revered by Muslims as the ‘‘Noble Sanctuary’’ and Jews as the ‘‘Temple Mount.’’ The compound is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and is where the Jewish Temple once stood. It is considered the holiest site in Judaism.

The competing claims sometimes spill over into violence, and the U.S. has withheld recognition of Israeli control of the area until there is a deal.

Both sides have been intensively lobbying Trump. At an airport greeting ceremony, Israeli Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the religious nationalist Jewish Home Party, asked Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The White House tried to play down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump’s stop, casting the visit as symbolic.

A screen on the official White House website previewing upcoming statements by Trump and Netanyahu noted the location as ‘‘Jerusalem, Israel.’’ No explanation was given for the dateline.

The Trump administration had said before the president’s trip that he wouldn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a pledge he had made during the campaign.

But people familiar with Trump’s plans said officials might offer a subtler gesture to recognize Israel’s strong feelings about Jerusalem being its eternal capital.


The coverage seems one-sided to me.

Related: "Pressure has been mounting on the Trump administration not to let the violence on US soil go unpunished...."

They didn't mean the cop shootings.

Melania refuses to hold Trump’s hand a second time

That's cold.

"Trump makes personal appeal to both sides for Mideast peace

JERUSALEM (AP) — President Donald Trump made a personal appeal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, calling on both sides to put aside the “pain and disagreements of the past,” as he closed a four-day swing through the Middle East Tuesday.

But Trump departed for Europe having offered no real indication of a path forward on one of the world’s most intractable disputes. He pointedly sidestepped any mention of the thorny issues that have stymied all previous attempts at a peace deal, including the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlement construction and the Palestinians’ demand for a sovereign nation.

Trump’s vagueness on one of the region’s central issues did little to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding his visit, particularly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister, who had a frosty relationship with Trump’s predecessor, heaped praise on the president throughout the two-day visit, declaring: “We understand each other.”

Of course. They are perfectly happy with the status quo.

During his quick stop in the region, Trump met with both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Speaking at the Israel Museum, he declared both sides ready to move forward, though there were no tangible signs of the dormant peace process being revived.

“Palestinians are ready to reach for peace,” Trump said. Turning to the prime minister, who joined him for the speech, Trump said, “Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace.”

A longtime businessman, Trump has cast Middle East peace as the “ultimate deal” and has tasked son-in-law Jared Kushner and former real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt with charting a course forward. Still, White House officials had downplayed the prospects for a breakthrough on this trip, saying it was important to manage their ambitions as they wade into terrain that has tripped up more experienced diplomats.

Trump’s caution showed. He did not weigh in on Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem or even whether the U.S. would continue to insist on a two-state solution giving the Palestinians sovereign territory.

What did he do other than fawn over Bibi?

From Israel, Trump headed to Italy for an audience with Pope Francis. He’ll close his ambitious first foreign trip at a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, where his reception from European leaders may be less effusive than his welcome in Israel and Saudi Arabia, his opening stop on the trip.

Trump and Netanyahu in particular lavished praise on each other during their multiple meetings. The prime minister, who repeatedly butted heads with President Barack Obama, leapt to his feet when the president declared Tuesday that his administration “will always stand with Israel.”

He certainly made himself perfectly clear.

Yet some Israeli officials are less certain of Trump. In statements leading up to the trip, he’s taken a tougher-than-expected line on settlements, saying he doesn’t believe they help the peace process, though he’s stopped short of calling for a full construction freeze. He’s also backed away from his campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, bending to the same security risks as other presidents who have made that promise.

At the same time, Abbas and the Palestinians have been pleasantly surprised by their dealings with Trump. On Tuesday morning, Trump met with Abbas in Bethlehem, traveling across the barrier surrounding much of the biblical city.

Abbas said he was keen to “keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors.” He reiterated the Palestinians’ demands, including establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, territory Israel claims as well, insisting that “our problem is not with the Jewish religion, it’s with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine.”

See above for the fraudulence of his statements.

After his meeting with Abbas, Trump returned to Jerusalem for a solemn tribute to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. On a visit to the Yad Vashem memorial, the president and first lady Melania Trump laid a wreath on a stone slab under which ashes from some of those killed in concentration camps are buried. They were joined by Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as daughter Ivanka Trump and Kushner.

The White House said Trump was being updated on the attacks in Manchester, England, by his national security team. More than 20 people were killed by an apparent suicide bomber. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Monday blast, which also left 59 people wounded, though a top American intelligence official said the claim could not be verified.

“So many young, beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life,” Trump said, echoing the theme he presented during his meetings with Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The White House said it was Trump’s idea to use the term “evil losers.”

Another W. Bush. Great.

Trump declared that he would not call the attackers “monsters,” a term he believes they would prefer, instead choosing “losers,” a longtime favorite Trump insult and one he has directed at comedian Rosie O’Donnell, Cher and others. 

Look, I'm not a fan of either -- although I do like Rosie for stepping out on Bush and WTC 7 before getting smacked down. They accused her of pedophilia at one point, that is the level to which they will stoop to cover up the greatest crime in history -- but equating them with the terrorists?

Trump’s visit to Jerusalem has been laden with religious symbolism. He toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which by Christian tradition is where Jesus was crucified and the location of his tomb. Wearing a black skullcap, he became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, the most holy site at which Jews can pray.

The visit raised questions about whether the U.S. would indicate the site is Israeli territory. The U.S. has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over parts of the Old City seized in the 1967 war.

The White House struggled to answer the question. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared the site part of Israel, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday dodged the question. Trump himself never commented.

My pre$$ sure is obsessed with certain things, like walls.  

Except, of course, for Israel's wall of apartheid. Like the Saudi excesses, they remain unmentioned in the reporting. I guess the pre$$ wouldn't want to spoil the trip.




"For Trump, who came here after stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the visit to the Vatican capped a tour of the ancestral homes of three of the world’s great monotheistic religions....."

"Trump Expected to Endorse NATO Mutual Aid Pledge, Ending Silence" by Michael D. Shear and Mark Landler New York Times   May 25, 2017

ROME — President Trump is expected to publicly endorse NATO’s mutual defense commitment at a ceremony Thursday at the alliance’s headquarters, an administration official said, breaking months of silence about whether the United States would automatically come to the aid of an ally under attack. 

That was how WWI started.

Trump will make the promise in Brussels at the start of three days of meetings with European heads of state, according to the official, who was briefed on the president’s planned remarks. The speech will come as Trump unveils a memorial to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the only time in the 28-nation military alliance’s history that the mutual defense pledge, known as Article 5, has been invoked.

Since his inauguration, Trump had repeatedly refused to endorse Article 5, a thunderous silence that rattled U..allies and raised fears about NATO’s future at a time of increasing tension with Russia and terrorist attacks like the one in Manchester, England, on Monday.

Even before taking office, Trump expressed skepticism about NATO’s role in ensuring security on the European continent, and the financial costs that the United States bears in maintaining the alliance’s military might, but the administration official said that Trump now appears ready to reassure NATO allies that the United States will not place conditions on its adherence to Article 5, which states the principle that an attack on any one member is an attack on all.

European leaders have feared a historic US retreat from the collective defense pact that created the NATO alliance, signed by President Harry Truman 68 years ago in the wake of World War II. They worried, in particular, that Trump’s silence on Article 5 was inviting further aggression from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whose troops seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and have helped destabilize eastern Ukraine since then.

OMG, now it isn't even annexed!

I'm sorry, readers, but it is difficult to continue when the paper just flat out lies with its distortions. Nothing but pure, 100% BS propaganda, and compare it to the coverage of the ongoing Israeli seizure of Palestinian land.

“It could raise grave doubts about the credibility of the American security guarantee and provide Russia with an incentive to probe vulnerable Baltic states,” Thomas Wright, a Brookings Institution scholar, wrote this week, before Trump began his first foreign trip as president.

Trump is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon at NATO’s new headquarters, a gleaming $1.2 billion facility that he will help dedicate with a part of the World Trade Center in New York that was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack.


"President Trump chastises fellow NATO members, demands they meet payment obligations" by Philip Rucker, Washington Post  May 26, 2017

BRUSSELS — President Trump exported the confrontational, nationalist rhetoric of his campaign across the Atlantic on Thursday, with an attempt to shame European leaders for not footing more of the bill for their own defenses and lecturing them to stop taking advantage of US taxpayers.

Speaking in front of a twisted shard of the World Trade Center at NATO’s gleaming new headquarters in Brussels, Trump upbraided America’s longtime allies for ‘‘not paying what they should be paying.’’ He used a ceremony to dedicate the memorial to NATO’s resolve in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States as a platform from which to exhort leaders to ‘‘focus on terrorism and immigration’’ to ensure their security.

And he held back from the one pledge NATO leaders most dearly wanted to hear: an unconditional embrace of NATO’s solemn treaty commitment that an attack on a single alliance nation is an attack on all of them.

That means the story the day before by the NYT was a lie! Or the source that leaks to the NYT is out of the loop. Or the source wanted to screw the NYT and make them look bad. Ha-ha-ha-ha!

Instead, European leaders gazed unsmilingly at Trump while he said that ‘‘23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying,’’ and that they owe ‘‘massive amounts’’ from past years — a misstatement of NATO’s spending targets, which guide nations’ own domestic spending decisions.

The harsh tone had a toll, as Trump was left largely on his own after the speech as leaders mingled and laughed with each other, leaving the US president to stand silently on a stage ahead of a group photo.

That had to have hurt.

The long day of gruff Brussels meetings was a contrast from his friendlier Middle East encounters, where Trump embraced the authoritarian Saudi monarchy and said he had been wowed by Saudi King Salman’s wisdom.

In Brussels, Trump sat in a morning meeting with top EU leaders, where one emerged to say there were deep differences between them about whether the West can work with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president lunched with French President Emmanuel Macron, where the two leaders shook hands in a tense, white-knuckled embrace.

See: Holy Macron! 

He might be gay, and here is his new lover.

And he sped across Brussels to NATO, where British Prime Minister Theresa May, the leader of Washington’s closest ally, buttonholed him about her anger over intelligence leaks following Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester. 

Should have been worrying about the campaign.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, traveling with the president, downplayed the absence of Trump’s formal commitment to security guarantees during the speech, saying that there was no question of US support for NATO and all of the obligations that are entailed in membership.

Even the reporters felt bad for Spicer, and why the snub?

‘‘Having to reaffirm something by the very nature of being here and speaking at a ceremony about it is almost laughable,’’ Spicer said after the speech.

Leaders offered modest applause at the end of a speech that he began by asking for a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England, that killed 22 and wounded many more.

Addressing the British, Trump said, ‘‘May all the nations here grieve with you and stand with you.’’ The attack, he said, ‘‘demonstrates the depths of the evil we face with terrorism.’’

Trump’s speech likely disappointed leaders who had hoped for a public commitment from the US president to NATO’s security guarantees, which he called into question during his presidential campaign last year when he said he would check a country’s defense spending before coming to its aid.

Trump’s Cabinet officials have made the direct pledge in recent months, but top officials of other NATO allies said that Trump’s personal guarantee would eliminate any lingering doubts....


Related: "Trump sped through meetings in Europe last week and appeared to leave a trail of bruises in his wake....."

Also see:

The report card on Trump’s foreign travels

Trump embarrasses the US overseas

Doesn't mention Saudi Arabia or Israel. It's all NATO.

"Merkel signals new era for Europe" Associated Press  May 28, 2017

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Sunday, speaking at a campaign event held in a Bavarian beer tent to a crowd of some 2,500, Merkel suggested that the G-7 summit in Italy that ended Saturday had served as something of a wakeup call. She said the continent’s traditional alliances are not as strong as they once were. 

Yeah, the last guy who rose from the beer halls, well, you know.

‘‘All I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,’’ she said, according to the dpa news agency. Merkel emphasized the need for continued friendly relations with the United States and Britain and stressed the importance of being good neighbors ‘‘wherever that is possible, including with Russia, but also with others, but we need to know we must fight for our own future, as Europeans, for our destiny,’’ she said.

Sig Hei.... OOOPS!

Despite the Trump administration’s talk of an ‘‘America first’’ policy and ongoing criticism of Germany for its massive trade surplus, the G-7 leaders in Sicily did vow to step up pressure on North Korea, to forge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia over role in the conflict in Ukraine....



"Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, said Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.” Her strong comments were a further indication that Trump’s trip did not go down well with major European leaders and seems to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminished them. “This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former US ambassador to NATO and head of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading,’’ he said. “Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.” Merkel seemed to be calling for German voters to get accustomed to a more active European role — and to more involvement by Berlin in crises on the Continent as well as global ones affecting Europe’s future. German parliamentary elections, in which Merkel is seeking a fourth term as chancellor, will be held in September. Merkel, who did not mention Trump by name, also spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which means the bloc will lose its second-largest economy and one of its two nuclear powers....."

Did you know the new leader of the free world happens to be a woman, and it is not Theresa May?

Now they have only France on whom to turn:

Macron confronts Putin on Syria, rights, elections 

Yeah, Putin looks real worried.

Then there is more hot air regarding the "climate diplomats" -- sounds $elf-$erving to me -- but I say fine. Go your own way, we will go ours. No hard feelings, right?


Finally home:

"Trump mulls staff changes as Russia crisis deepens" by John Wagner, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker Washington Post  May 27, 2017

President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a ‘‘war room’’ within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

Following Trump’s return to Washington on Saturday night from a nine-day foreign trip that provided a bit of a respite from the controversy back home, the White House plans to far more aggressively combat the cascading revelations about contacts between Trump associates, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Russia.

White House aides are also trying to find ways to revive Trump’s stalled policy agenda in Congress and to more broadly overhaul the way the White House communicates with the public.

That includes proposals for far more travel and campaign-style rallies throughout the country so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters, as well as changes in press briefings, likely including a diminished role for embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

While much remained fluid Saturday, the beefed-up operation could include the return of some of Trump’s more combative campaign aides, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was fired nearly a year ago, and former deputy campaign manager David N. Bossie, who made his name in politics by investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton for two decades. Both of them have already been part of ongoing discussions about how to build a ‘‘war room,’’ which have been led in part by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. 

I think he has returned to Bannon somewhat due to his dropping poll numbers.

Other Trump players who have drifted from his orbit in recent months, such as Sam Nunberg, are also being courted to play more active roles, either officially joining the White House or in an outside capacity, working through confidants of the president.

White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has been involved in related discussions, including with prominent Trump backers outside Washington and on Capitol Hill, and has contacted people from Trump’s campaign network, asking them to be more highly involved in supporting the president, according to three GOP consultants working with the White House.

Kushner has played an active role in the effort to overhaul the communications team, improve the White House’s surrogate operation, and develop an internal group to combat the influx of negative stories and revelations over the FBI’s Russia probe, said someone with knowledge of the coming changes.

‘‘The bottom line is they need fresh legs; they need more legs,’’ said Barry Bennett, who served as a political adviser to Trump during the general election. ‘‘They’re in full-scale war, and they’re thinly staffed.’’

My legs are fresh!

As Trump has participated in meetings with world leaders in recent days, senior aides -- including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon and Kushner -- have met in the White House to discuss a potential reshuffle.

Kushner’s own role has emerged as a particularly sensitive topic of discussion within the White House, as his actions have come under increasing scrutiny in the FBI investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

The Washington Post reported Friday night that Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.

Who can blame him knowing what we now know regarding Obama's spying on the campaign and transition?

Some White House aides have discreetly discussed among one another whether Kushner should play a lesser role -- or even take a leave -- at least until the Russia-related issues calm, but they have been reluctant to discuss that view with Kushner himself, and Kushner’s network of allies within the West Wing has rallied behind him.

The fact is, he has retreated into the background, at least regarding the amount of pre$$ he has been getting lately.

Those close to Kushner said he has no plans to take a reduced role, though people who have spoken to him in recent weeks say that he is increasingly weary of the nonstop frenzy.

In recent weeks, the White House also brought on Josh Raffel as a spokesman to handle many of the issues in Kushner’s broad portfolio, and he works out of a shared office in the West Wing, though also has space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Problem is he is one of the few people Trump trusts.

During a lunch on Friday, Kushner and Priebus talked about how Trump’s foreign trip had gone and began outlining what’s coming up in the weeks ahead. Earlier in the day in Kushner’s office, the two briefly discussed the stories involving Kushner and Russia.

Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have even been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece -- his mother is of Greek descent -- as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility on Saturday. 

Rumors are they want to replace him but no one wants the job.

The president has expressed frustration -- both publicly and privately -- with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.

Though no final decisions have been made, one option being discussed is having Spicer -- who has been parodied on NBC’s ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ to devastating effect -- take a more behind-the-scenes role and give up his daily, on-camera briefings.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the podium, and is likely to appear on camera more often in coming weeks. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the press, a group that could also include officials like National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Having several aides share the briefing responsibilities could help prevent Trump -- who has a notoriously short attention span -- from growing bored or angry with any one staffer.

I can't wait for the books about this administration.

The White House has already been testing this strategy, sending Spicer to the podium along with another top staffer to talk about the news of the day: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on budget issues, for instance, or McMaster on questions of national security.

On his foreign tour, Spicer conducted only one briefing, an informal gaggle with the small, traveling press pool. Otherwise, he served more as an emcee, introducing other senior administration officials at more formal briefings.

On Saturday, it was Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director, and McMaster who headlined the U.S. news conference at the conclusion of the Group of 7 summit in Taormina, Italy. Spicer introduced them and then retired to the corner of the room to watch McMaster and Cohn parry questions from journalists. 

The REAL president of the United States.

The episode highlighted how difficult it is to drive Trump’s agenda with Russia so prominently in the news. The briefing grew testy after several questions related to Kushner’s activities were posed to McMaster, who largely deflected them.

The expected revamp in White House operations comes at a key juncture in Trump’s presidency, as his job approval ratings continue to sag and he presses for progress on several marquee campaign promises -- including revamping the Affordable Care Act and tax reform -- before Congress takes its August recess.

A White House aide said Saturday that Trump is now also considering pushing some more modest initiatives in Congress that would stand a better chance of quick passage.

The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, said that could include measures on immigration or infrastructure-related initiatives that are well liked by most Republicans.

‘‘They need accomplishments on issues that affect jobs,’’ said one Trump adviser. ‘‘If the White House and Congress have nothing in hand to tout by this summer, members of Congress are going to come back after their August recess freaking out.’’

Conversations about what some are calling a ‘‘war room’’ have focused on a model similar to what emerged during President Bill Clinton’s tenure to cope with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and other crises. Clinton pulled together a team of lawyers, communication and political aides to deal with those issues apart from the regular White House structure, with the aim of letting other business proceed as normally as possible.

Aides and allies of Trump say they have come to the realization that unflattering stories about Russia will be part of the daily conversation for the foreseeable future and acknowledge that the White House has been ill-equipped to handle them.

Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend, said the White House has been caught flat-footed on many of the Russia stories. ‘‘Because they did not believe there’s anything to it, they’re playing catchup to get their side of the story out,’’ Ruddy said.

‘‘At first, I thought the president was fretting too much about this,’’ said Ruddy, who is chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. ‘‘But it keeps growing like a bad fungus, even though there’s nothing there.’’

‘‘The deep state and the swamp and many in the media are never going to let up,’’ added Jason Miller, who served as Trump’s senior communications adviser during the campaign and remains close to the White House. He is not expected to come back in a formal role.

The White House has also been pushing the Republican National Committee to play a more active role in defending the president.

Members of the Trump family outside of the White House have also been ramping up their engagement in the president’s political operation, eager to contribute and guide the party.

On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Eric’s wife, Lara, participated in a two-hour meeting at the RNC headquarters in Washington, according to three people familiar with the session who were not authorized to speak publicly.

RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney declined to address the specifics of the meeting but said the RNC is stepping up efforts to bolster Trump.

‘‘The RNC’s role is to support the president,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re focused on creating as much content as possible to ensure we’re messaging effectively and doing so quickly in order to promote and defend this administration. It’s our top priority. ‘‘


"Amid mounting questions at the White House about Russia, three prominent members of President Trump’s family — his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Eric’s wife, Lara — have ramped up their engagement with the Republican Party’s national political operation, having met privately with GOP leaders to share their concerns and outlook. Their most recent effort came Thursday, when the president’s eldest sons and Lara Trump visited the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington. Those three family members, who were invited by the RNC, stayed for about two hours, according to four people who were not authorized to speak publicly. Their appearance at the RNC irked at least two prominent Republicans who were briefed on the session, who wondered whether it was appropriate for the president’s sons, who run the Trump family real estate business, to be highly involved in discussing the party’s strategy and resources. Eric and Donald Jr. run the Trump Organization and manage its numerous properties and branding projects. Lara Trump is now a political operative, following her hire earlier this year as a consultant for a Trump-affiliated digital company. A number of RNC figures and Trump allies also attended the Thursday meeting...."


Aides say they think Trump’s agenda will be boosted by making more targeted appearances around the country to tout it.

And several advisers are pushing Trump to do more of the campaign-style rallies like the one he had planned in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday night. It has since been postponed but will be rescheduled soon, according to Trump’s campaign.

Being outside of Washington among his supporters, particularly in a state he won last year, energizes Trump and provides a way for him to communicate without the filter of the media, his advisers say.

‘‘The conventional ways of communicating are not working for them,’’ one adviser said, adding that Trump should consider Facebook Live sessions and get out on the road ‘‘as frequently as possible.’’

‘‘They have to get the campaign brand back,’’ the adviser said.

Several Trump advisers cited the president’s recent interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, in which Trump made clear it was his idea to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, as the kind of thing to avoid going forward.

‘‘I hope he’ll travel more and do these rallies once a week,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘You get to say whatever you want to say, and you don’t have to take questions.’’

As the White House tried to bolster its operations, some staffers who once fell out of favor with Trump have been brought back into conversations.

Lewandowski, who was fired from the campaign amid serious clashes with Kushner and the president’s daughter, Ivanka, has also been suggested as an effective messenger -- either from inside the administration or from his current perch outside -- to push back on the Russia controversy.

Nunberg, who was fired by the Trump campaign in 2015 and has been hostile to Lewandowski ever since, is now working with Ruddy. At a recent breakfast in Washington, D.C. with Ruddy, Lewandowski, and Alexandra Preate, a close ally of Bannon, the trio discussed whether Lewandowski and Nunberg could put aside their differences to again rally behind Trump, according to three people familiar with the conversation.

Aides to Trump say they’re pleased with both the substance and the optics of his nine-day foreign trip, the first time he’s traveled abroad as president, and hope that it could generate some momentum for his agenda back home. Others aren’t so sure.

‘‘He was given the chance to look presidential and change the pictures on our television screens,’’ said Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University. ‘‘But it will be harder for him to manage news back at home than abroad. . . . The worries he had when he left have not gone away. They’ve only gotten worse.’’


All that print, and not one change in staff in two weeks. Looks like WaPo got played that time.

Trump seems powerless to stop leaks

Maybe that is because he and they are the leakers?

"Trump promised big foreign policy changes — it isn’t going to happen" by Andrew J. Bacevich   May 26, 2017

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake during then visit to the Israel museum in Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/)
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shook hands duringTrump’s visit to Israel (Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press).

A picture is worth a, well, you know.....

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S first overseas trip has greatly clarified his approach to foreign policy. Critics fearing that Trump’s election heralded the onset of full-throated isolationism can rest easy. Those who saw in Trump’s revival of the phrase “America First” an implicit promise of policies based on modesty and restraint may well feel a sense of buyer’s remorse. They are fully entitled to do so.

As for the national security establishment, well, in those quarters, it’s time to break out the bubbly.

Trump dared to say out loud as a candidate what everyone knew but few in Washington had the gumption to acknowledge: that protracted military campaigns undertaken in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere had produced little of value. Rather than reducing terrorism, US military efforts were causing it to metastasize. The time had come, Trump suggested, for the United States to tend to its own needs.

In the wake of 9/11, by toppling regimes said to be in cahoots with violent jihadists, the United States inadvertently created a regional power vacuum that terrorist groups were quick to fill. Over the next decade, US forces sought with limited success to destroy entities such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. Now, rather than addressing the implications of that failure, Trump has simply redefined the problem. Iran, he now charges, fuels “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” across the Persian Gulf. In the war on terrorism, it turns out, Iran has all along been the real enemy.

Of course, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Israel enthusiastically endorse this position, which accords with their own oft-expressed views. Fingering Iran as the bad guy allows Saudis to deflect attention from their own richly documented role in promoting intolerant radical Islamism, not to mention their abysmal human rights record. Doing so also meshes neatly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s need for a dire external threat to maintain his governing coalition and to deflect attention from Israeli actions that undercut prospects of creating a viable Palestinian state, the pieties of the so-called peace process notwithstanding.

Yet note the implications. Trump, the supposed “America Firster,” thereby makes the United States party to an Arab vs. Persian, Sunni vs. Shia conflict that is at best tangential to the well-being and security of the American people. And he affirms the complicity of the United States in Israeli policies that condemn Palestinians to perpetual subordination.

Where this pro-Saudi, pro-Sunni, pro-Israeli posture will ultimately lead is difficult to say. One thing alone is certain: Ganging up on Tehran won’t eliminate terrorism. Blaming Iran for terrorism is akin to blaming Trump for the political, economic, and cultural upheavals within the United States that led to his election. Doing so ignores root causes.

So what’s actually going on here? Apart from the Saudi royal family and the Netanyahu government, who stands to benefit from boosting Iran’s ranking on Washington’s official enemies list? To answer that question, follow the money.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump inked an arms deal worth $110 billion, with more likely to come — up to $350 billion over 10 years. Couple that with the $3.8 billion worth of military hardware that the United States provides annually to Israel and you start to get a sense of what is really afoot.

To sustain itself, the national security apparatus and its beneficiaries need threats and emergencies. As memories of 9/11 fade, the rationale for exertions undertaken to “keep America safe” needs refreshing.

He has really hit on something there.

So what is next, a mushroom cloud over Chicago?

Who better than Iran to fill the bill, especially given that Iran’s existing adversaries have an insatiable appetite for acquiring American arms? For US weapons manufacturers, a windfall of monumental proportions beckons.

In the months ahead, Americans on food stamps or enrolled in Medicaid may have to tighten their belts. The military-industrial complex, along with its network of clients and auxiliaries, will do just fine. For that they will have Trump to thank....



"How do we encourage terrorism? Let us count the ways" by Jeff Jacoby Globe Columnist  May 31, 2017

At least 80 victims were murdered in Kabul on Wednesday morning when a suspected car bomb blew up in a diplomatic area of the Afghan capital. As many as 350 people were wounded, most of them civilians.

In Baghdad late Monday night, 27 people were killed when ISIS detonated two car bombs in busy commercial districts. One of the bombs exploded outside a popular ice cream shop, engulfing the building in a massive fireball and leaving the scene strewn with blood and severed limbs.

In Egypt last Friday, a bus filled with Coptic Christians on their way to pray at a nearby monastery was stopped by Islamic State gunmen. They forced the passengers off, then opened fire, murdering 28 men, women, and children.

In the southern Philippines one day earlier, Islamist killers rampaged through Marawi, beheading the police chief, torching buildings, and abducting a Catholic priest and 10 worshippers from the local cathedral.

It’s been only a week and a half since the savagery at Manchester Arena, and already that atrocity is old news. The global terror wave continues unabated. So far this year, more than 510 terror episodes have been reported worldwide.

Plainly, the perpetrators of terrorism have not been deterred. And why would they be, given all the things we do to encourage them?

We encourage terrorism when we funnel money to regimes that pay for the recruitment and arming of extremists. That is what the United States and its allies did when they agreed, as part of the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, to unfreeze tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian assets. Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror. Besides its own lethal Quds Force, it funds the Hezbollah terror network and Shiite death squads in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Last year the United States secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Tehran just as four American hostages were released — a payment that emitted more than a whiff of ransom. No wonder Iran brashly asserts that funding for its homicidal proxies will continue.

We encourage terrorism when we lavish foreign aid on the Palestinian Authority, which uses the money to pay handsome bounties to terrorists convicted of deadly attacks on Israelis. In 2016, those payments constituted more than 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority budget. Yet that budget continues to be heavily underwritten by foreign aid from the United States and other Western nations.

We encourage terrorism in other ways, too.

The forces of terror are reinforced when terrorists are lionized in the media and treated as legitimate public-policy interlocutors. For years, terrorists have been hailed as celebrities, fawned over by journalists, and deferentially received in the halls of power.

Examples could fill a dozen columns. The United Nations invited Yasser Arafat, gun on hip, to address the General Assembly. The New York Times published — on Sept. 11, 2001, no less — a flattering profile of former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers. The Metropolitan Opera staged “The Death of Klinghoffer,” an opera rationalizing the hijacking of a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and the murder of an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jew.

At the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York on June 11, the guest of honor will be Oscar Lopez Rivera, an unrepentant member of the FALN terrorist group who spent 35 years in federal prison for plotting to overthrow the government.

When convicted terrorists are treated to parades on Fifth Avenue, it encourages more terrorism everywhere.

This, too, encourages terrorism: the rush after each atrocity by those eager to condemn the victims. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, former London mayor Ken Livingstone went on Iranian TV to explain the bloodshed as an understandable reaction to “the torture at Guantanamo Bay.” In an article for Foreign Policy Journal, Richard Falk — a UN official and Princeton professor — attributed the horror wrought by the Tsarnaevs to America’s “fantasy of global domination.”

When the global jihad will end, none of us can say. But this much, at least, is certain: The more we encourage the killers, the longer the killing will go on.


Looks like Jacoby got the war with Iran that he wanted.


President Trump’s use of a private cellphone is raising security concerns

The notion of world leaders calling each other up via cellphone may seem unremarkable in the modern, mobile world. But in the diplomatic arena, where leader-to-leader calls are highly orchestrated affairs, it is another notable breach of protocol for a president who has expressed distrust of official channels. The formalities and discipline of diplomacy have been a rough fit for Trump — who, before taking office, was long easily accessible by cellphone and viewed himself as freewheeling, impulsive dealmaker.

The caution is warranted even when dealing with allies. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel learned in 2013, when a dump of American secrets leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the US was monitoring her cellphone, good relations don’t prevent some spycraft between friends. 

Somehow, Obama's spying on her has been forgotten.

The practice opens Trump up to charges of hypocrisy. Throughout last year’s presidential campaign, he lambasted Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state, insisting she should not be given access to classified information because she would leave it vulnerable to foreign foes.

Under Barack Obama, the first cellphone-toting president, worries about cyber intrusions — particularly by foreign governments — pulled the president’s devices deep into the security bubble.

Just another way of distancing, isolating, and controlling the guy.

Mark Zuckerberg 2.0 — the road to the White House

After he avoided all those taxes? I don't think so.