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Trump’s Foreign Policy: An Unwise Inconsistency?
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Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering exactly what kind of foreign policy he would pursue if elected.

The President’s inaugural speech was no different. On the one hand it was very encouraging when he said that under his Administration the US would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He sounded even better when he said that under Trump the US would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” That truly would be a first step toward peace and prosperity.

However in the very next line he promised a worldwide war against not a country, but an ideology, when he said he would, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” This inconsistent and dangerous hawkishess will not defeat “radical Islamic terrorism,” but rather it will increase it. Terrorism is not a place, it is a tactic in reaction to invasion and occupation by outsiders, as Professor Robert Pape explained in his important book, Dying to Win.

The neocons repeat the lie that ISIS was formed because the US military pulled out of Iraq instead of continuing its occupation. But where was ISIS before the US attack on Iraq? Nowhere. ISIS was a reaction to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The same phenomenon has been repeated wherever US interventionist actions have destabilized countries and societies.

Radical Islamic terrorism is for the most part a reaction to foreign interventionism. It will never be defeated until this simple truth is understood.

We also heard reassuring reports that President Trump was planning a major shake-up of the US intelligence community. With a budget probably approaching $100 billion, the intelligence community is the secret arm of the US empire. The CIA and other US agencies subvert elections and overthrow governments overseas, while billions are spent spying on American citizens at home. Neither of these make us safer or more prosperous.

But all the talk about a major shake up at the CIA under Trump was quickly dispelled when the President visited the CIA on his first full working day in office. Did he tell them a new sheriff was in town and that they would face a major and long-overdue reform? No. He merely said he was with them “1000 percent.”

One reason Trump sounds so inconsistent in his policy positions is that he does not have a governing philosophy. He is not philosophically opposed to a US military empire so sometimes he sounds in favor of more war and sometimes he sounds like he opposes it. Will President Trump in this case be more influenced by those he has chosen to serve him in senior positions? We can hope not, judging from their hawkishness in recent Senate hearings. Trump cannot be for war and against war simultaneously. Let us hope that once the weight of the office settles on him he will understand that the prosperity he is promising can only come about through a consistently peaceful foreign policy.

(Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: CIA, Donald Trump 
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  1. That’s why I prefer Hillary. She is a consistent, reliable war pig and no threat to radical Islamic terrorism.

    Also – I guess you missed the money quote in which Trump threatens the fifth column inside the CIA.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-21/speech-cia-trump-offers-build-them-room-without-columns-%E2%80%98do-you-understand-that%E2%80%99

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    I think this illustrates Ron's point: Trump is inconsistent. You choose to believe him when he threatens the CIA but not when he praises them. Which position is more believable? Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?
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  2. Ivan K. says:

    Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering exactly what kind of foreign policy he would pursue if elected.

    Why don’t you say what was that opposite position?

    “The President’s inaugural speech was no different. On the one hand it was very encouraging when he said that under his Administration the US would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He sounded even better when he said that under Trump the US would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” That truly would be a first step toward peace and prosperity.

    However in the very next line he promised a worldwide war against not a country, but an ideology, when he said he would, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” This inconsistent and dangerous hawkishess will not defeat “radical Islamic terrorism,” but rather it will increase it. Terrorism is not a place, it is a tactic in reaction to invasion and occupation by outsiders

    1) So a promise for peace among countries is inconsistent with a promise of eradication of something that is “not a place”?

    2) Ideology = terrorism = tactic in reaction ?

    as Professor Robert Pape explained in his important book, Dying to Win.

    Other learned professors argue radically different views. Hence, referring to just one expert view can’t clinch the matter.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    How is a war on radical Islamic terrorism different from a war on terror more generally? In both cases there is no defined target and no defined goal; it's just a ticket to endless war.
    , @Antiwar7
    Because Pape and his students assembled and analyzed a database of all known suicide terror campaigns from 1980 to 2003. All 18 shared two elements: (1) a foreign occupation (2) by a democracy. Criterion 2) ensures there exists useful public opinion to sway.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. jtgw says:
    @WorkingClass
    That's why I prefer Hillary. She is a consistent, reliable war pig and no threat to radical Islamic terrorism.

    Also - I guess you missed the money quote in which Trump threatens the fifth column inside the CIA.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-21/speech-cia-trump-offers-build-them-room-without-columns-%E2%80%98do-you-understand-that%E2%80%99

    I think this illustrates Ron’s point: Trump is inconsistent. You choose to believe him when he threatens the CIA but not when he praises them. Which position is more believable? Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Norumbega
    "Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?"

    To my knowledge there was no such promise - this was only a lying-media-echo-chamber "promise". During the campaign his strong attacks on "crooked Hillary" were followed by chants of "lock her up" from the crowds. Trump invariably reacted to such chants by shaking his head negatively and saying something to the effect that _instead_ she needed to be defeated on November 8. This is something that people who repeat hearsay about Trump's reputed "promise" may not be aware of. Then finally, at the town-hall debate in October, surely the low mark in the history of presidential debates, which really did turn out to be "three against one," and while visibly heated, Trump said he didn't ever want to say this but said that if elected he would instruct his AG to "look into" the allegations surrounding Hillary. So that was not a promise to put Hillary in jail either. Then when Clinton was in the midst of warning about the danger "if someone with Donald's temperament" (or words to that effect) were in office, Trump interrupted with the brief retort "You'd be in jail." This got an immediate loud cheer from a large segment of the audience, but no one serious would regard that as an actual campaign promise.

    So we have many denials during the campaign on Trump's part that he was promising to put Clinton in jail, and one heated statement that he would "look into" Hillary's situation.

    What has happened since? It is clear that the Trump transition and new administration recognize that both President Trump and his AG must not themselves be involved in any future decision by the Justice Department to investigate or prosecute Clinton, because of conflicts of interest that would present.

    , @Difference maker
    You are autistic
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  4. jtgw says:
    @Ivan K.

    Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering exactly what kind of foreign policy he would pursue if elected.
     
    Why don't you say what was that opposite position?

    "The President’s inaugural speech was no different. On the one hand it was very encouraging when he said that under his Administration the US would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He sounded even better when he said that under Trump the US would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” That truly would be a first step toward peace and prosperity.

    However in the very next line he promised a worldwide war against not a country, but an ideology, when he said he would, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” This inconsistent and dangerous hawkishess will not defeat “radical Islamic terrorism,” but rather it will increase it. Terrorism is not a place, it is a tactic in reaction to invasion and occupation by outsiders
     

    1) So a promise for peace among countries is inconsistent with a promise of eradication of something that is "not a place"?

    2) Ideology = terrorism = tactic in reaction ?


    as Professor Robert Pape explained in his important book, Dying to Win.
     
    Other learned professors argue radically different views. Hence, referring to just one expert view can't clinch the matter.

    How is a war on radical Islamic terrorism different from a war on terror more generally? In both cases there is no defined target and no defined goal; it’s just a ticket to endless war.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Simon in London
    He didn't say "war". He said "“unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth”. That does not require war, except in the metaphorical 'war on drugs' sense.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  5. Antiwar7 says:
    @Ivan K.

    Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering exactly what kind of foreign policy he would pursue if elected.
     
    Why don't you say what was that opposite position?

    "The President’s inaugural speech was no different. On the one hand it was very encouraging when he said that under his Administration the US would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.” He sounded even better when he said that under Trump the US would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” That truly would be a first step toward peace and prosperity.

    However in the very next line he promised a worldwide war against not a country, but an ideology, when he said he would, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” This inconsistent and dangerous hawkishess will not defeat “radical Islamic terrorism,” but rather it will increase it. Terrorism is not a place, it is a tactic in reaction to invasion and occupation by outsiders
     

    1) So a promise for peace among countries is inconsistent with a promise of eradication of something that is "not a place"?

    2) Ideology = terrorism = tactic in reaction ?


    as Professor Robert Pape explained in his important book, Dying to Win.
     
    Other learned professors argue radically different views. Hence, referring to just one expert view can't clinch the matter.

    Because Pape and his students assembled and analyzed a database of all known suicide terror campaigns from 1980 to 2003. All 18 shared two elements: (1) a foreign occupation (2) by a democracy. Criterion 2) ensures there exists useful public opinion to sway.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ivan K.
    I'm going to look into Pape. I am also reminded that foreign occupation by a democracy was absent in the case of Brigate Rosse (unless one counts some US base in Italy as proof of occupation, a view which produces analytical issues of its own). ... There is a problem with talking about terrorism in that the relevant terms are so debatable. If there has ever been a single state engineered terrorist attack perpetrated by agents aware of what they're doing, that, too, would be enough to say that some terrorism is different from Pape's theory. In any case, thanks for the interesting reply.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  6. I continue to respect Dr. Paul and lament that he could not become our president. However, I am not as troubled as he is by the inconsistencies of Trump’s positions. Trump is a negotiator, and negotiators do not voice fixed positions. As long as the desired outcome of a deal is held firm (internally), positions can vary wildly. Those may not be the tactics of a politician or a statesman, but they certainly are those of a businessman.

    So, I am trying not to get my hopes raised too high by the things he says that excite me or let my hopes be dashed by the things he says about our “special” relationship with Israel. I will, however, be watching, perched at the edge of my seat, the actions that unfold in the months ahead and the results to our nation.

    I believe that Trump has no fixed plans or strategies, but he does have an intent. It will be interesting to see how concrete plans form around those intangible intents.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    It seems to me that Ron Paul is also trying to strike a balance between optimism and pessimism. Trump has certainly said some welcome things from a non-interventionist perspective and has angered a lot of interventionists, but we can't allow that to obscure many of the aggressive interventionist positions he's also voiced. We just don't really know what will happen.
    , @Ivan K.
    Those may not be the tactics of a politician or a statesman, but they certainly are those of a businessman. .... I believe that Trump has no fixed plans or strategies, but he does have an intent. It will be interesting to see how concrete plans form around those intangible intents.

    1. Yes.

    2. I've come across many arguments that a country should not be run like a business
    (http://www.bing.com/search?q=can+country+be+run+like+business )
    If DJT continues with his business-like approach, it's possible that he'll prove them wrong ... which makes his presidency all the more interesting!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  7. @jtgw
    How is a war on radical Islamic terrorism different from a war on terror more generally? In both cases there is no defined target and no defined goal; it's just a ticket to endless war.

    He didn’t say “war”. He said ““unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth”. That does not require war, except in the metaphorical ‘war on drugs’ sense.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    If it's going to be like the war on the drugs, I can't say I'm too hopeful for the outcome, either.
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  8. aeolius says:

    I am not suggesting that Trump is doing this. But there is some merit in talking out of both sides of your mouth.
    It may be unsettling for a listener whom is used to believing that he has the right to a clear message for his own sense of direction. And that you have a right to ask another person to reduce your anxiety by being clear. Sort of an intellectual’s comfort animal.

    Most politicians come from a legal background. Where there is a need on the one hand to present an argument cogent to a certain perhaps artificial logic. And at the same time having to use this to please the minds of a certain person or persons.
    Trump comes from an entirely different background. Where there one’s words are closely watched by a hostile other. And communication is one weapon used to keep the enemy off balance. Its all out of the “Art of War”

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  9. Ivan K. says:
    @Antiwar7
    Because Pape and his students assembled and analyzed a database of all known suicide terror campaigns from 1980 to 2003. All 18 shared two elements: (1) a foreign occupation (2) by a democracy. Criterion 2) ensures there exists useful public opinion to sway.

    I’m going to look into Pape. I am also reminded that foreign occupation by a democracy was absent in the case of Brigate Rosse (unless one counts some US base in Italy as proof of occupation, a view which produces analytical issues of its own). … There is a problem with talking about terrorism in that the relevant terms are so debatable. If there has ever been a single state engineered terrorist attack perpetrated by agents aware of what they’re doing, that, too, would be enough to say that some terrorism is different from Pape’s theory. In any case, thanks for the interesting reply.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  10. jtgw says:
    @Cloak And Dagger
    I continue to respect Dr. Paul and lament that he could not become our president. However, I am not as troubled as he is by the inconsistencies of Trump's positions. Trump is a negotiator, and negotiators do not voice fixed positions. As long as the desired outcome of a deal is held firm (internally), positions can vary wildly. Those may not be the tactics of a politician or a statesman, but they certainly are those of a businessman.

    So, I am trying not to get my hopes raised too high by the things he says that excite me or let my hopes be dashed by the things he says about our "special" relationship with Israel. I will, however, be watching, perched at the edge of my seat, the actions that unfold in the months ahead and the results to our nation.

    I believe that Trump has no fixed plans or strategies, but he does have an intent. It will be interesting to see how concrete plans form around those intangible intents.

    It seems to me that Ron Paul is also trying to strike a balance between optimism and pessimism. Trump has certainly said some welcome things from a non-interventionist perspective and has angered a lot of interventionists, but we can’t allow that to obscure many of the aggressive interventionist positions he’s also voiced. We just don’t really know what will happen.

    Read More
    • Replies: @WorkingClass
    I supported and defended RP when he was a candidate. I now support and defend Trump. RP could have been helpful in the defeat of Hillary but he chose instead to be consistently critical of Trump. I respect Ron Paul. But I would prefer that he support President Trump or at least resign from the Trump resistance movement led by the Neocons and the SJW's.
    , @Cloak And Dagger
    @jtgw

    No disagreement from me about Dr. Paul trying to be balanced - he has always abhorred demagoguery, and he is too wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also agree that in expecting perfection from Trump we may damage the many good actions that come our way.

    This used to be my argument against all those who would not support Dr. Paul because they had some reason to disagree with some of his economic policies, while completely ignoring that his foreign policy would end wars and would have saved trillions of dollars in the intervening years. The same people who were anti-war, and wanted Israel out of our government, decided not to vote for him.

    Go figure.
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  11. jtgw says:
    @Simon in London
    He didn't say "war". He said "“unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth”. That does not require war, except in the metaphorical 'war on drugs' sense.

    If it’s going to be like the war on the drugs, I can’t say I’m too hopeful for the outcome, either.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  12. Norumbega says:
    @jtgw
    I think this illustrates Ron's point: Trump is inconsistent. You choose to believe him when he threatens the CIA but not when he praises them. Which position is more believable? Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?

    “Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?”

    To my knowledge there was no such promise – this was only a lying-media-echo-chamber “promise”. During the campaign his strong attacks on “crooked Hillary” were followed by chants of “lock her up” from the crowds. Trump invariably reacted to such chants by shaking his head negatively and saying something to the effect that _instead_ she needed to be defeated on November 8. This is something that people who repeat hearsay about Trump’s reputed “promise” may not be aware of. Then finally, at the town-hall debate in October, surely the low mark in the history of presidential debates, which really did turn out to be “three against one,” and while visibly heated, Trump said he didn’t ever want to say this but said that if elected he would instruct his AG to “look into” the allegations surrounding Hillary. So that was not a promise to put Hillary in jail either. Then when Clinton was in the midst of warning about the danger “if someone with Donald’s temperament” (or words to that effect) were in office, Trump interrupted with the brief retort “You’d be in jail.” This got an immediate loud cheer from a large segment of the audience, but no one serious would regard that as an actual campaign promise.

    So we have many denials during the campaign on Trump’s part that he was promising to put Clinton in jail, and one heated statement that he would “look into” Hillary’s situation.

    What has happened since? It is clear that the Trump transition and new administration recognize that both President Trump and his AG must not themselves be involved in any future decision by the Justice Department to investigate or prosecute Clinton, because of conflicts of interest that would present.

    Read More
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  13. @jtgw
    It seems to me that Ron Paul is also trying to strike a balance between optimism and pessimism. Trump has certainly said some welcome things from a non-interventionist perspective and has angered a lot of interventionists, but we can't allow that to obscure many of the aggressive interventionist positions he's also voiced. We just don't really know what will happen.

    I supported and defended RP when he was a candidate. I now support and defend Trump. RP could have been helpful in the defeat of Hillary but he chose instead to be consistently critical of Trump. I respect Ron Paul. But I would prefer that he support President Trump or at least resign from the Trump resistance movement led by the Neocons and the SJW’s.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. Ron has a hard-earned reputation for principle and not subordinating his philosophy to the goal of winning an election or of campaigning for someone else. I don't see how Ron could keep that reputation while staying silent on those issues where Trump deviated from libertarian or non-interventionist principles. Note that Ron has been willing to defend Trump against the demonization of him as a Russian agent and has offered cautious support of his non-interventionist positions. But the fact is that Trump has also espoused interventionist policies at various times.
    , @DES
    Agree. Ron Paul could have been a more effective candidate if he had been both non-interventionist and pro-military.
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  14. jtgw says:
    @WorkingClass
    I supported and defended RP when he was a candidate. I now support and defend Trump. RP could have been helpful in the defeat of Hillary but he chose instead to be consistently critical of Trump. I respect Ron Paul. But I would prefer that he support President Trump or at least resign from the Trump resistance movement led by the Neocons and the SJW's.

    The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. Ron has a hard-earned reputation for principle and not subordinating his philosophy to the goal of winning an election or of campaigning for someone else. I don’t see how Ron could keep that reputation while staying silent on those issues where Trump deviated from libertarian or non-interventionist principles. Note that Ron has been willing to defend Trump against the demonization of him as a Russian agent and has offered cautious support of his non-interventionist positions. But the fact is that Trump has also espoused interventionist policies at various times.

    Read More
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  15. Ivan K. says:
    @Cloak And Dagger
    I continue to respect Dr. Paul and lament that he could not become our president. However, I am not as troubled as he is by the inconsistencies of Trump's positions. Trump is a negotiator, and negotiators do not voice fixed positions. As long as the desired outcome of a deal is held firm (internally), positions can vary wildly. Those may not be the tactics of a politician or a statesman, but they certainly are those of a businessman.

    So, I am trying not to get my hopes raised too high by the things he says that excite me or let my hopes be dashed by the things he says about our "special" relationship with Israel. I will, however, be watching, perched at the edge of my seat, the actions that unfold in the months ahead and the results to our nation.

    I believe that Trump has no fixed plans or strategies, but he does have an intent. It will be interesting to see how concrete plans form around those intangible intents.

    Those may not be the tactics of a politician or a statesman, but they certainly are those of a businessman. …. I believe that Trump has no fixed plans or strategies, but he does have an intent. It will be interesting to see how concrete plans form around those intangible intents.

    1. Yes.

    2. I’ve come across many arguments that a country should not be run like a business
    (http://www.bing.com/search?q=can+country+be+run+like+business )
    If DJT continues with his business-like approach, it’s possible that he’ll prove them wrong … which makes his presidency all the more interesting!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  16. Marcus says:

    His belligerence to Iran really bothers me, hopefully just a ploy for Jewish support.

    Read More
    • Agree: jacques sheete
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  17. DES says:

    There’s an old saying: Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds (no offense intended, Dr. Paul). I thought Trump’s visit to the CIA on his first full day in office was potentially brilliant. First, he went to see “the enemy” on their own turf, rather than summoning their leaders to the Oval Office. He loses nothing by showing that he respects them. There are undoubtedly some decent, honest people working in the CIA; I suspect the problems of political interference and massaged assessments emanate from the upper echelons. Second, if he fact intends to clean house, it doesn’t hurt to have the rank and file, if not on his side, at least somewhat favorably disposed to him.

    We’ll see what happens. Trump may sometimes operate by indirection–head fakes–rather than giving his enemies a clear and consistent picture of his intentions and methods.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ivy
    Trump's messages about the CIA seem aimed at the top. When Panetta and others are dragged onto CNN they keep trying to say that he was aiming at the whole organization. Those people at the top seemed far more likely to have manipulated or bungled, while the field ops guys were doing their jobs. How much of that top deflection was to resist a divide and conquer or decapitation strike?
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  18. DES says:
    @WorkingClass
    I supported and defended RP when he was a candidate. I now support and defend Trump. RP could have been helpful in the defeat of Hillary but he chose instead to be consistently critical of Trump. I respect Ron Paul. But I would prefer that he support President Trump or at least resign from the Trump resistance movement led by the Neocons and the SJW's.

    Agree. Ron Paul could have been a more effective candidate if he had been both non-interventionist and pro-military.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    RP actually did very well among the military. If by "pro-military" you mean more belligerent and interventionist, I'm not sure that would have translated into better success among those would be ordered into harm's way.

    http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/jul/23/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-members-military-have-given-him-far-/
    https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/soldiers-choice/
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  19. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Trump just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

    Read More
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  20. Ivy says:
    @DES
    There's an old saying: Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds (no offense intended, Dr. Paul). I thought Trump's visit to the CIA on his first full day in office was potentially brilliant. First, he went to see "the enemy" on their own turf, rather than summoning their leaders to the Oval Office. He loses nothing by showing that he respects them. There are undoubtedly some decent, honest people working in the CIA; I suspect the problems of political interference and massaged assessments emanate from the upper echelons. Second, if he fact intends to clean house, it doesn't hurt to have the rank and file, if not on his side, at least somewhat favorably disposed to him.

    We'll see what happens. Trump may sometimes operate by indirection--head fakes--rather than giving his enemies a clear and consistent picture of his intentions and methods.

    Trump’s messages about the CIA seem aimed at the top. When Panetta and others are dragged onto CNN they keep trying to say that he was aiming at the whole organization. Those people at the top seemed far more likely to have manipulated or bungled, while the field ops guys were doing their jobs. How much of that top deflection was to resist a divide and conquer or decapitation strike?

    Read More
    • Replies: @jtgw
    That actually makes sense. The top brass are political appointees.
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  21. jtgw says:
    @DES
    Agree. Ron Paul could have been a more effective candidate if he had been both non-interventionist and pro-military.

    RP actually did very well among the military. If by “pro-military” you mean more belligerent and interventionist, I’m not sure that would have translated into better success among those would be ordered into harm’s way.

    http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/jul/23/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-members-military-have-given-him-far-/

    https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/soldiers-choice/

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  22. jtgw says:
    @Ivy
    Trump's messages about the CIA seem aimed at the top. When Panetta and others are dragged onto CNN they keep trying to say that he was aiming at the whole organization. Those people at the top seemed far more likely to have manipulated or bungled, while the field ops guys were doing their jobs. How much of that top deflection was to resist a divide and conquer or decapitation strike?

    That actually makes sense. The top brass are political appointees.

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  23. @jtgw
    It seems to me that Ron Paul is also trying to strike a balance between optimism and pessimism. Trump has certainly said some welcome things from a non-interventionist perspective and has angered a lot of interventionists, but we can't allow that to obscure many of the aggressive interventionist positions he's also voiced. We just don't really know what will happen.

    No disagreement from me about Dr. Paul trying to be balanced – he has always abhorred demagoguery, and he is too wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also agree that in expecting perfection from Trump we may damage the many good actions that come our way.

    This used to be my argument against all those who would not support Dr. Paul because they had some reason to disagree with some of his economic policies, while completely ignoring that his foreign policy would end wars and would have saved trillions of dollars in the intervening years. The same people who were anti-war, and wanted Israel out of our government, decided not to vote for him.

    Go figure.

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  24. Arrkk says:

    yep, you can’t wage a war against a ghost you cannot see, it’s impossible, the only thing that will stop islamic terror aimed at the west is for the west to disengage militarily in the middle east, this will cause support to dry up for the islamists, “drain the swamp” of support, if you will.

    post 9/11 idiotic US policy has helped legitimise crazies like bin laden in the eyes of many muslims, it underscored everything he had spouted, all Trump has to do is stop doing what they want.

    there may be some residual things Trump needs to do to ensure isis don’t regain a foothold in Syria, but after that he should pass the baton to Russia and Syria, let them deal with it and get out, no more interventions, period.

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  25. @jtgw
    I think this illustrates Ron's point: Trump is inconsistent. You choose to believe him when he threatens the CIA but not when he praises them. Which position is more believable? Remember when he promised to put Hillary in jail? What happened to that promise?

    You are autistic

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    • Replies: @jtgw
    Wow, devastating comeback. I'm crushed.
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  26. jtgw says:
    @Difference maker
    You are autistic

    Wow, devastating comeback. I’m crushed.

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  27. post 9/11 idiotic US policy has helped legitimise crazies like bin laden

    Bin Laden was crazy? What are your sources?

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