Black Friday Thoughts – 25 November 2016


1.  President's Daily Book Briefings – The notion that a president or president elect is under ANY obligation to sit through a lengthy daily briefing from a team from the Director of National Intelligence office is just wrong.  This system was constructed to meet the perceived needs of various presidents for information on the world.  It is routinely reshaped to suit the desires of the president.  The intelligence guys would dearly love to shape their briefings so as to make them prescriptive, in other words definitive for policy.  They seldom get to do that but they do try.  IMO Trump has policy opinions of his own and is unlikely to be "guided" by the expressed opinions of the DNI or anyone in the intelligence community.  IMO that is a good thing.  Do we want to be governed by someone who yields to the self-important and organizationally "invested" views of the intelligence barons?  If Trump wants Flynn to inform him rather than listening himself to the artful blandishments of skillful briefers, more power to him!  I say that as someone who has briefed the high and mighty many times over many years. 

2.  An emerging ME alliance – Egyptian Air Force fighter aircraft and helicopters have arrived on a Syrian Air Force base in Hama Province.  The media speaks of an emerging axis of alliance among: Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Algeria to combat Sunni jihadism.  I presume that Russia will be very supportive of such an alliance.  At the same time Erdogan's Turkey continues to arrest thousands of opponents and speaks of joining the alignment sponsored by Russia and China even as he continues to support jihadis in Syria. 

3.  The Trump team – In spite of the plaintive bleating of the Democrats about the legally non-existent national popular vote and re-counts that will never happen or will prove nothing but the ability of Stein to raise money, Trump is moving steadily forward with formation of a national security side of his incoming administration.   If I were asked I would advise him to carefully interview people like Mattis, Pompaio, Flynn, Halley and other prospects for nomination or appointment to make sure that these people will follow his foreign policy in both specific and general terms.  Mattis lost his job as CENTCOM commander for crowding the Iranians by sending US warships inshore where they were evidently expected to provoke a fight.  This was contrary to Obama's policy and Mattis was warned about this behavior before he was replaced.  Mattis should be cautioned against exceeding his authorities before being made SECDEF.  Flynn's childish foolishness in going to Moscow at Russian Government expense to attend a conference and allowing his picture to be taken at table with Putin was so indiscreet as to raise questions about his maturity and judgment.  He should be privately cautioned against that kind of self-indulgence>  Pompaio is a tea party congressman from a great plains state who was once in the US Army for a few years and left as soon as he could.   He was first in his class at USMA?  So what?  He was an undergraduate and that was a long time ago.  He appears to be filled with a great belligerence towards Russia, Syria and Iran.  If President Trump orders him to stop all assistance to the "moderate" and jihadi groups CIA has been assisting in Syria, will he carry out his orders or seek to avoid them?  If Romney is made SECSTATE will he follow a policy of detente with Russia, China, etc. or will he try to go his own way?  There are yet more important nominations to be made; DNI, and Ambassador to Moscow among others.  All of these nominees should be interrogated for the same assurances.  If that is done a baseline for performance will be had.  pl

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85 Responses to Black Friday Thoughts – 25 November 2016

  1. Cameron Kelley says:

    Col. Lang, thank you so much for maintaining and energizing this site – it seems to be one of the only places I can go where commentary on foreign events isn’t pulled out of magicians’ hats (or other orifices). My only knowledge of ME is from growing up for few years in Iran and KSA, since my dad worked for Esso/Exxon/Aramco. I wish I could contribute, but am grateful for your insights.

  2. korzec says:

    and now Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland as Deputy to Flynn. Someone who is a lightweight but has a reassuring resume?

  3. kao_hsien_chih says:

    A lot of uncertainties among the names floated: many warmongering hangers on or people with questionable judgments or political careerists in general. Draining the swamp, even if Trump actually means to do it and has the political skills, would not be easy–and his goodwill and intentions are not too obvious just yet. A lot of things remain to be seen next month or two.

  4. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    A week or two ago “Yves Smith” of Naked Capitalism observed, with regard to the personnel churning that was going on in the Trump transition team, that the president elect seemed to be following practice of “Fire, fire, fire” which is a common practice in the NYC real estate business. Continue trying people out until you find ones that do what you want and when. I expect him to continue the practice after his inauguration when someone wanders outside of his or her lane very often.

  5. robt willmann says:

    Trump has named Don McGhan as White House counsel; he was Trump’s election law attorney from early on–
    And as mentioned above, Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland was appointed to be the deputy national security advisor; she ran but lost in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New York state in 2006. She was said to be an advisor to Henry Kissinger from 1970 to 1976 (not good news).
    Several days ago, Trump named Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. She is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater mercenary / security company–
    If Donald Trump was serious about returning public education to the states, he would push to abolish the Department of Education. When I was in the eighth grade, we had to write a research paper. Today, a high school student has to pass a worthless standardized test in order to graduate and claim to have been “educated”.

  6. turcopolier says:

    She is a fan of Petraeus? Now that would be worrisome. pl

  7. Laura says:

    Col., I understand your daily briefings posting and thank you for clarifying the process. But, wouldn’t you feel more confident in Trump’s judgment if he took the time to listen to the daily briefings more often so that he could then assess what Flynn was relating?
    It seems that he is opting out way too soon from his own “gut” oversight and assessment of what he is being told 1) by the intelligence briefers and 2) by his own advisor.
    What is the interplay on this in your experience?

  8. turcopolier says:

    I have no confidence in IC briefers. The elected president should make his own judgments. He was elected. They were not and are all to often agenda driven. pl

  9. Luther Blissett says:

    I second the commenter who said this was one of the few blogs worth reading during these strange days.
    Pompeo and Halley are Koch/Adelson creatures and empty vessels to be filled as required. Pence is half Adelson/Koch but has his own evangelical certainty. Session is a Trump loyalist and the AG position where is where you stick your unsightly bible-thumpers these days. Flynn is also a loyalist but with a wild neo-con core.
    Across the board they are all ‘neo-cons’ in terms of Israel and Iran, so watch out if they start doing the old routine about doing ‘inspections’ of Iran nuclear plants.
    Arch-neocon Woolsey hasn’t been so busy in the media since those heady days in the immediate wake of 9-11 when he worked day and night to convince 50% of Americans (and 90% of the Beltway) that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9-11. I sorry if this steps on any toes, but failure to hang Woolsey will come back to haunt us – and he made a mint off of Booz Allen, Paladin equity, Lux, ect….
    Two places to watch:
    *The Treasury is currently investigating Imperial Pacific’s casino in Saipan, this is the new American casino that took over laundering billions in RMBs after Adelson’s Sands Macau came under heavy Chinese intelligence scrutiny. It is run by Trump’s protege, Mark Brown, and took Woolsey on its board just this May to “enhance its integrity”. This might help explain Woolsey’s strange “grand bargain” offer to China right after the election.
    *That intelligence turf war: Rogers unifies operations with NSA21. Clapper and Carter demand the Rogers be fired in October. McCain threatens to veto any nominee who will split NSA and CYBERCOM. Clapper resigns last week for unclear reasons. The next day Flynn is appointed NSA director and Rogers pays a visit to Trump Towers “without notifying superiors.” I have no idea what this all means but it may be more than just a poorly-timed bureaucratic reorganization.

  10. Allen Thomson says:

    Col., have you read Priess’ “The President’s Book of Secrets”?
    It’s a history of the PDB and how various presidents have interacted with it over the past fifty years. It doesn’t drill down too deeply, perhaps because of having to get through security review, but I think it’s worth a quick read.
    Back in the day I wrote/coauthored a handful of PDB articles and had contact with the process, but didn’t know anything about the overall context and history.

  11. robt willmann says:

    Publicizing names to try to influence the game of making new political appointees continues, as the BBC promotes David Petraeus–
    I do not think that Petraeus is going to get appointed, because in his plea bargain involving the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department required that he admit in the “factual basis” for his plea that he had made false statements to the FBI. In the factual basis, on pages 12 and 13 (pdf pages 19-20), in paragraphs 31 and 32, this is laid out–
    He was not formally charged in court with making false statements under 18 U.S. Code, section 1001, which is a felony, because that would have interfered with the misdemeanor plea deal he was given. I think they made him admit to it in the factual basis to reduce his chances of being elected to public office or being appointed to another governmental position.
    Here is more about Don McGahn, whom Trump just appointed to be White House counsel (I misspelled his name earlier)–

  12. Bill H says:

    @PL, Re “the legally non-existent national popular vote.” You have such an elegant way of putting things. Those who are honking about the majority of the popular vote forget that this nation is a federation of states when it comes to matters of federal governance. We do not merely elect our president in that manner, we also create laws by a consensus of states. In the Senate Each state carries equal weight, and in the House each state has the same order of magnitude in terms of weight as it does in the Electoral College.
    The electoral College is not some “outmoded method,” it’s what this nation is. Changing it would not require an amendment to our constitution, it would require a whole new constitution, changing the nature of national governance altogether.

  13. Pundita says:

    Colonel, thank you very much for this. Happy surprise for me that Algeria has joined an anti-jihad coalition and that Sisi is continuing to bite the Saudi hand in spite of Egypt’s severe economic troubles.
    My sense about Trump leans me toward ex-PFC Chuck’s observation. Trump’s cabinet could look very different a year from now, by the time he’s finished firing his way to one he thinks can chew and walk. The trouble is that the security bench is very thin, if he wants to go outside the defense industry picks it’s been stuffed with for years.
    The larger problem he’ll face is that as millions of American jobs washed away, the U.S. defense sector as an employer became incredibly powerful in both Washington and U.S. states that greatly depend on defense jobs; far more, I venture, than when Eisenhower first pointed out the danger during the Cold War.
    This sector won’t take lying down Trump’s “The business of America is business” approach to foreign relations. In their view the business of America is war.
    But this sector and its European cousin are now caught in a pincer movement between American Deplorables and European ones — the latter threatening to relegate the EU and NATO to the dustbin of history. Add to this, the defense sectors on both sides of the Atlantic are by now well aware that Trump plans to stuff Washington with businesspeople who favor negotiation over war.
    The upshot, I fear, will be — war. War, before Trump can carry out his nefarious plan to make America prosperous and Washington sane.

  14. ISL says:

    robt Willmann,
    Probably more important is her husband Dick Devos of Amway and that the Devos family has donated over a billion dollars to charitable causes with most of the funds remaining in Michigan.
    By contrast, many siblings are distant (personal experience) whereas spouses are under a different set of rules.

  15. Tyler says:

    Foreign Policy – Trump seems well aware that NeoCon foreign policy got us into this mess (see his attacks against GWB). Furthermore, I’m sure he is pretty cognizant that for the most part, NeverTrump and the neocons were the same animals. So there is that personal dimension that is never good to have when dealing with Trump. I doubt he will elevate them and their policies, especially not with Bannon there to whisper “Memento Mori” into his ear.
    Haley is one of those 3D chess moves only makes sense down the road. He gives a nothingburger position to a double box minority, elevates one of his earliest supporters to the governor’s mansion, and brings her into his administration. This last is likely the biggest advantage, as she is going to have a hard time being the McCain with two X chromosomes that she was already shaping up to be. In other words: the media darling given fawning praise and used as a club so journalists can quote a “Republican” who would likely wave around her story as an “immigrant” to try and stymie Trump’s mandate to deal with illegal immigration. I’m sure she is looking at Samantha Power and thinking she’s going to get the same leeway with policy that Power did, and is going to be bitterly let down when Trump gives her word for word marching orders.
    I think Romney as SoS is false flag and the media speculating. I think Trump does want him out of the country, and he’ll likely get a position as Ambassador to France or some other European country. Romney will have to apologize first though.
    Honestly, Mattis might be brought on…but as SoS is my thinking, with him following orders regarding relations with Russia and Syria contingent on whether or not he gets to be SoD. Undoing the SHARP/EO
    I think it was no accident that AG Sessions was one of the first picks out of the administration. I’ll talk about those ramifications last.
    Betsy DeVos – Here’s a pretty amazing exchange where facts are dismissed by the ‘reporter’ as “well that’s like, your opinion man” so she can push a “the Evangelicals are coming!” narrative to scare goodwhites.
    DeVos’ has been non-committal in the past to CC, seemingly going with the flow depending on the position she’s in. Her reliability comes in school choice programs. She’ll not rock the boat with Common Core and will undo the “Dear Colleague” letters that said you’re going to let boys piss next to your daughters if they’re having a “girl day” or we’ll sue you into compliance.
    Dr. Ben Carson – Carson is there to undo Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which is less of a mouthful than “Shipping poor black Democrats to Republican suburbias in order to make them competitive to Democrats through Section 8”. Something that has flown under the radar here but is more talked about in other places, and no less totally evil in that it crashes housing prices as feral ghetto dwellers hit these suburbias like locusts and white flight begins anew.
    AG Jefferson Sessions – This is the big appointment you should have been paying attention to. If Trump doesn’t get that he needs to begin going at the “long march through the institutions” that the progs have engaged in for the last fifty years, then Bannon, Sessions, and Miller all do. That’s why Sessions is here. One of the only things I can thank Obama for is deciding that the Democrats were guranteed the Executive Branch for perpetuity because of the Electoral College, and therefore he had no worries about ruling like a king.
    To quote one black Union soldier: “Bottom rail on top now, boss.”
    Trump, if anything, has proven adept at using a devil’s own tools against him. Day One, you have the Law by Fiat rescinded. No more DACA, no more immigration law from wholecloth, and Sanctuary Cities are in the crosshairs. Immigration Judges and US Attorneys are going to be given marching orders. No more days of anything under 500lbs of marijuana smuggled being a “simple possession” charge. No more three pages of guidelines for “prosecutorial discretion’. Trump is going to hammer “Criminal Aliens” and make the Democrats look like the traitors they are as they choose to side with foreign criminals over US citizens.
    Sessions, who has the chops to be a federal judge in the 80s (back when it was more about the Law and less about the Feelz), knows that he doesn’t have to pass a whole bunch of laws to get the result he wants. He only needs to enforce the laws on the books.
    TLDR: Flynn and Pompaio will play from the sheet music that Trump gives them, which is not going to be neoconnish, or out they go. Haley was given a nothing position to get her out of the way. Romney will make a fine ambassador to a NATO country, if he sees the light. My SWAG is that Mattis will be SoS to deal with the Syrian issue, and if he does well there Trump will give him a free hand to unf-ck the military after the Ash Carter years.
    DeVos and Carson will enact Trump’s respective agendas in their wheelhouses. Sessions is the biggest hint we’ve gotten to where Trump’s Administration is going, and if you thought the temper tantrums after the election were amazing, wait until you see Sessions lay down some 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii)on a few sanctuary city mayors pour encourager les autres, especially in a Kate Steinle situation with that life imprisonment clause when the alien kills someone.

  16. Fred says:

    I think the NEA is in terror that Trump will move to abolish or at least cut major funds from the Department of Education. He should direct an audit of all the grants made to universities from all the various federal programs. “Lock her up” will take on some additional meaning.

  17. Tyler says:

    As an aside, Romney as SoS isn’t my first choice, but he has the potential to be another Pence in that the hard populists (Coulter, the AR) wig out and then something happens and everyone has an “Ahhhhh” moment and see what Trump did.

  18. BraveNewWorld says:

    Al Masdar is reporting that the report of Egyptian fighter jets in Homs is false. Shame. But the rest of your assessment as to the changing alliances lines up with every thing I am reading and at least to me feels like the first signs that things are going to get at least modestly better in the Mideast over the short term.
    A mega rich business man like Romney is sniffing around for a government post after running for president twice for one reason and one reason only. “Romney 2020!!!!”. I know I don’t want to believe it either. Because of that there is little chance he is going to swallow Trumps policies, he is going to run his own play book if he gets the gig. Trump should call him a LOOOSER and then flush him as soon as possible.

  19. At this point, I can’t get excited about the Trump transition. It’s still two months before he’s actually President and he can change things up many times between now and then. That’s his proven nature. Nothing he’s said in the past can be construed as a promise. I do think his most formidable opposition with be the entrenched Republicans. If he keeps them “handled,” he can do what he sets out to do, whatever that is, for good or bad. A foreign policy concern I have is that Trump and many of those who might be in his cabinet, have a serious problem with Iran. Aggression against Iran is only a shade different from an “Assad must go” policy. Both could lead to a confrontation with Russia. We’ll see how it all develops.

  20. Macgupta123 says:

    Per Marc Thiessen, ““During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent.”

  21. johnf says:

    I would like to make an official complaint!
    Today the valiant, ever-vigilant “Washington Post” has linked to a list of American websites which it claims are controlled by The Kremlin. These include The Drudge Report, The Ron Paul Institute, ZeroHedge, Naked Capitalism, consortiumnews, moon of alabama, and numerous others, all apparently stooges of Evil Vlad.
    Where is SST? Here I have been reading SST all these years expecting to be getting the latest news hot from Moscow and it turns out to be some banal lackey of the MSM and Neo-Cons-R-Us. I demand an immediate refund of all the contributions I have not been paying.
    Meanwhile, it seems Ivan’s Insidious Tentacles have even reached CNN:
    “CNN Accidentally Airs 30 Minutes Of Hard Core, Transsexual Porn.”
    Living as I do in the remote depths of the countryside I have not yet worked out what exactly a transexual is. I presume the film consisted of a man who used to be a woman making love to a woman who used to be a man. A deep thank you to Putin for keeping us rustics up to date with this sort of thing.

  22. turcopolier says:

    I have a rubber stamp that marks documents for final disapproval in 90 days. Send me your list of requested refunds. pl

  23. Fred says:

    “Haley is one of those 3D chess moves only makes sense down the road…… I’m sure she is looking at Samantha Power and thinking she’s going to get the same leeway …”
    You are incorrect my friend. The Democrats thought the game to play was 3 card Monty while the true American game is poker. Nikki Haley is looking at Hilary and thinking “If I play my cards right I could be the first female president of the USA”.

  24. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “Rogers unifies operations with NSA21.” From my viewpoint, NSA21 has been a big mess. One GS-15 with 27 years experience told me it’s the worst re-organization he’s ever seen. According to him, in the old days before CYBERCOM, the “three-star” was more a figurehead and the Deputy ran the show while the “three-stars” cycled in and out. Not any more.

  25. LeaNder says:

    Today, a high school student has to pass a worthless standardized test in order to graduate and claim to have been “educated”.
    I never completely understood what high school means in the States. In Florida it looked a lot closer to our European Baccalauréat or our Abitur, for that matter.
    A friend once upon time told me, he was a student of medicine, that he hated the introduction of multiple choice into his field. On an university level, that is.

  26. Pundita says:

    Voltaire Network has an article on General Michael Flynn that contains information I found surprising. Meyssan’s analysis of Flynn flies in the face of the MSM portrayal of him.
    Re Flynn’s paid junket to Moscow — those are SOP for journalists and other foreign invitees of the Kremlin, according to what Russia expert Steve Cohen told John Batchelor on last Tuesday’s JBS show. Steve also said that he and his wife always refused the perk and paid their own way.
    I don’t know why Flynn accepted the invitation; if he did it for fun, good for him, but if was an act of defiance, bad judgment in my view. This said, i don’t think Flynn or anyone else could have imagined at the time that Trump would be President.
    Well who is supposed to be SecDef while Trump is seeing how Mattis does as SecState before making him SecDef? You lost me at one point or dropped a sentence.

  27. LeaNder says:

    Trump seems well aware that NeoCon foreign policy got us into this mess (see his attacks against GWB)
    first of all, congratulations, Tyler.
    I may have missed this attack. You have some type of evidential link?
    All I got, from my limited acknowledged nitwit-foreigner reading, was that Obama somewhat fucked up matters. If I may put it into everyday slang: more or less created ISIS.

  28. Tyler says:

    The Rust Belt, the San Berdoo terror attack, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Dallas police shootings, the Podesta emails…
    All Russian propaganda! Created by the Russians in a Moscow studio!
    Jokes aside, they’re going to keep losing big because the other side refuses to recognize reality.

  29. turcopolier says:

    I have not seen AMN denying the presence of Egyptian air force in Syria. link? Al-Ahram is denying it but the Egyptian penchant for secrecy would make them do that in any case. pl

  30. turcopolier says:

    Someone wrote today to say that he thought I had lost my mind because I am “supporting” Trump. I am not supporting Trump. I am accepting reality. another someone thinks I believe that Mattis will be made SECSTATE. I have no idea how he got that idea. Mattis is likely to be SECDEF. pl

  31. Tyler says:

    Lets say we are both right in that it won’t be the springboard she imagines.

  32. Valissa says:

    I hope you are right about Romney ending up with an ambassadorship. Not keen on him as SoS, and given how anti-Russian he is it doesn’t seem a good fit. Getting him out of the country to neutralize him is a great plan 🙂
    As for Haley, I’m guessing she’s ambitious and is using the Republican party to advance herself more than she is some type of ideologue. if that’s true, she will readily follow Trumps lead, since doing that is what will get her ahead in the new version of the Republican party.
    Question for you Tyler… how do you think Trump will handle Paul Ryan, who is probably planning on obstructing much of Trump’s plans? Does Ryan have enough of his own cronies in the house to go against Trump?

  33. Tyler says:

    Debates before the SC primary. Told Jeb! that GWB going into Iraq was a huge mistake. Pundits declares for the 7th time Trump’s campaign was finished as they hyped stories of how popular the Bushes were in the state.
    And then Jeb got blown out so badly he quit the race.

  34. Tyler says:

    Senator Jim Webb.

  35. Tyler says:

    Poor reading comprehension on their part. I think Mattis might be in the running for SECSTATE.

  36. Chris Chuba says:

    KT McFarland
    I hate this appointment just going by what I have heard her say on James Dobbs’ program. Her views on Russia are antithetical to Trump’s. She talks like an old school Cold Warrior, ‘Russia is testing us’ as if Russia is some disobedient school bully that needs to be taught to behave rather than a country that is rationally looking after their own interests. I am going to guess that she carries this over to every country that is on the wrong side or our ledger.
    Propaganda Or Not?
    1. Read this before a meal if you are dieting, it will help suppress your appetite.
    2. I’m grateful for the list of forbidden websites because now I can explore new websites that are likely worthwhile to read.
    3. I love the feature the browser extension they offer that will warn you if you accidentally come across one of these dreadful websites, talk about being the thought police as well as the contact link to turn in suspected commies. Sadly, these people probably are adults and not 13yr old pranksters. In the FAQ, they claim that they are non-funded but cling to anonymity while condemning websites that fully document who they are. This is kind of like people in black hoods condemning public citizens. They did say that some of them were Ukrainians, that I believe.

  37. doug says:

    Back in the 60’s Soviet propaganda was swallowed whole by much of the Left. The gnashing of teeth when Communism proved nonviable and the USSR devolved in the 80’s was quite something to see.
    There’s still a lot of cognitive dissonance associated with it across the political spectrum.

  38. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I am interested in your source regarding how and why General Mattis left his job as CENTCOM commander. Mattis was in that job for two years and eight months. The average tour length at CENTCOM for Commanders was two years and nine months not counting Acting Commanders Dempsey and Allen who were only in the job for a short time. That average of would have been a lot shorter except for General Abizaid who spent 45 months on the job. Plus at the time Mattis left CENTCOM he had served 44 years in the Marine Corps. IMHO he was not relieved early, rather it was his time to retire.
    Also as I recollect back in 2012 during Mattis’s term at CENTCOM it was Iranian Army Chief and Minister of Defense that admonished any and all foreign Naval ships in the Persian Gulf, not just US ships. They tried to block the Straits of Hormuz and threatened the carrier USS John Stennis if she re-entered the gulf.
    It was truly ironic that while those threats were going on, the Stennis helped the USS Kidd to rescue an Iranian ship and in the Gulf of Oman that had that had been taken over by Somali pirates. There wasn’t much coverage. MSM was too busy chasing stories of Gingrich’s ‘great experiment’, Michelle Bachmann’s drop-out after the Iowa Caucuses, and specualtion about the New Hampshire primaries. I originally heard the stories much later when the Stennis returned to her home port in Bremerton. But there was some press coverage:

  39. turcopolier says:

    mike Allen
    Mike. Mike. I thought we had got past the Army/USMC thing. I can’t find the exact link but there was a story in one of the major newspapers that Mattis and whoever was NS Adviser had a telephone confrontation over what Mattis wanted to do with US Navy vessels to confront Iran and that at one point Mattis told the man “you are not in my chain of command. The president would have to call me himself.” Supposedly the civilian told Mattis “you don’t want to get that call…” IMO Mattis would make a good SECDEF but I think he should be cautioned about exceeding his authorities. The foreign policy that the country follows is the president’s foreign policy, not that of any cabinet secretary. BTW the woman who is going to be Deputy National Security adviser is a neocon in all but name and IMO is dangerous. Here is a link about Mattis’ problems with the Obsama Administration over Iran.

  40. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I consider all who served as my brothers, regardless of the color of their uniforms. What did I say in my comment to make you believe otherwise?
    PS – the Daily Beast link appears not to work on my end.

  41. turcopolier says:

    Mike Allen
    Good! I consider Marines to be fine soldiers. Try the link without the pl at the end. Somebody find the newspaper story. Comparing Marshall and Mattis’ legal situations is specious. Marshall was a General of the Army, the US equivalent of a field marshal. They are never retired. pl

  42. turcopolier says:

    I guess I am just dense. I don’t see it. pl

  43. Tyler says:

    I think Pence gave Ryan his Last Chance letter and he is fully cognizant of the fact that Trump can bully pulpit him into the ground if need be, and that other House members are waiting in the wings as willing executioners. Ryan’s district might be full of cucks who will pull the lever for him every two years, but that doesn’t mean he will be speaker. There’s also the salient fact that WI went for Trump, and Ryan’s footing might not be so stable. The cuckservatives in Congress are playing a dangerous game standing up to Trump.
    The other issue is that so much of what Obama did was through executive fiat, and that all Trump has to do is reverse signing statements and enforce the law. Ryan doesn’t really have a say in that. As far as the fence goes, its already law, just needs to be funded, and a simple majority in Congress is all one needs to pass the budget.

  44. Tyler says:

    My thinking on Mattis as SECSTATE is that, to borrow a term from The Godfather, is that Trump wants a “wartime consligerie” to finish things in Syria and then get us out of there and anywhere else we have forces. Then he can get to fixing DoD and unf-cking a military that seems more interested in being a job program for single minority moms, pushing women through Ranger School, and being a center for mentally ill people to mutilate their bodies with sex change operations.

  45. alba etie says:

    Col Lang
    Whilst out working the usual very busy 2016 retail runs to the ABIA airport in my passenger van I had a conversation with a former USG State Dept group – they all were going to Maine for the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend as they do every year for the past several years – and in conversations the general group consensus about Egyptian military assets in Homs Province Syria was that they were there to support civilian relief going to Aleppo first , and then Raqqa after it was retaken by the R + 6 forces . The group also thought that the YPG would be used to ‘fix ” all the LOC ‘s in and out of Raqqa only and not ‘go downtown ‘ , and that there would be an independent Kurdish federated state that the R + 6 would be prepared to actively defend once Assad consolidated Syria post caliphate . And that Putin had already told Erdogan that this was a done deal- paraphrasing now –‘see ya and wouldn’t want to be ya ” . Meanwhile the US Military is coordinating much more with the R +6 in Syria , and with a much more success then is being reported by Mrs Greenspan and the rest of her IO MSM operation .(And the group also mentioned a Green Beret had been killed recently by an IED in Syria I had not heard or read that- we wish his family well & God Speed ). Finally the group consensus was that Algeria is already an integral part of the R + 6 intelligent structure – with the express purpose of hunting down wahabbi salafist leadership all across the ME and North Africa.
    Then we got to the airport I unloaded the luggage like I do every year and wished them all Safe Travels to Bangor and points north & east … This is I guess all should filed under see what sticks to the wall later mullings .. Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas y’all ..

  46. Tyler says:

    Let us never forget the NYT “fake news” about how the Gulag System and the famines were totally made up and fake.

  47. Valissa says:

    Dana Rohrabacher is another possibility for SoS. He was an early supporter of Trump and is a realist regarding Russia.
    Calif. rep says he’s under consideration for secretary of State
    He is chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think you appreciate the extent and depth of the educational shell game.
    A local school is supposed to educate – instill a certain level of minimal competence on minors before promoting them to the next level.
    That has not been done consistently – schools promote failed students and the result is that there are many with HS diploma but with the 6-th grade competency of lower.
    Industry cannot employ them.
    Then there is a little matter of finances: student fails subject A, is repeating the class again during summer, and still fails and is graduated nevertheless to the next grade.
    Much later, in his or her 20s, having suffered in the school of hard knocks (with a couple of illegitimate children for many of the females) she returns to schools – for a GED or for remedial classes in state-funded community colleges.
    So, in effect, the state is paying 3 or 4 times for the same educational results. Someone is benefiting from all of these.
    Since the state are unwilling or unable to address these issues, DoE steps in to impose a certain national standard on these unruly districts.
    By the way, Algebra II is the gateway out of poverty.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, you want to have Trump create problems by terrorizing universities?
    To what benefit?
    Yes, there is corruption there – like everywhere else. But does its cleanup necessitates him picking a fight there?
    And then there is the little issue of stable funding for research and development – which currently is supplied by the US Federal Government.
    Who is going to provide that R&D funding over coming years, decades, and centuries? Private industry – who dismantled their R&D 20 years ago?

  50. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In rich places, it means something almost like a gymnasium education, and other places a poor imitation of an intellectual education.
    You only can form an opinion on the basis of the wealth of the city or educational district; that is the only reliable yardstick in US.

  51. Chris Chuba says:

    TTG – “Aggression against Iran is only a shade different from an “Assad must go” policy.”
    You are 100% correct. I find it striking how many people are supporting the rebels just to hurt Iran. They are obsessed with this notion that Iran will have a land bridge to the Mediterranean. Okay, so we are going to burn down Syria and topple Assad just to inconvenience Iran. I can’t wrap my head around this. Even without this vaunted land bridge, Iran is able to fill both Syria and Lebanon with as much IRGC forces they want as well as arm Hezbollah with many thousands of missiles. They can reach Lebanon with airlines, by sea through the Suez Canal, and if they had to, they could go around South Africa and through Gibraltar. I’m certain they have all kinds of ways to get to Lebanon without this so-called land bridge that I haven’t touched on.
    Trump is picking people who are at the most extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to Iran.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iran did not try to block the Straits of Hormuz. From time to time the various Iranian leaders have made such threats.
    In regards to the irony of US ships saving Iranian fishermen:
    US, France, UK, New Zealand, Italy and others are patrolling in the Gulfo di Persicos to protect the funders and enablers of the Jihadists from the evidently 10-feet tall giants called the Iranians.
    At the same time, there has been jihadist attacks in US, France, Spain, UK, and other places.
    So, actually, US saving Iranians makes eminent sense, it is the first step in the right direction, in my opinion.
    Perhaps irony is the not the right word; “madness” perhaps?

  53. kooshy says:

    FYI, as far as I Know at least the last 3 Iranian ministers of defence come from IRGC, and not regular Army which is called Artesh. You must mean IRGC general Vahidi (09-13). According to Iranian defence division The security of Persian Gulf is handled By IRGC= Sepah. The regular Navy is responsible for the Sea of Oman, Arabian Sea and Indian ocean or High Seas/open water.

  54. LG says:

    Thank you Tyler for your analyses re: the Trump presidency. As others here have pointed out, Trump and all he has chosen are uniformly belligerent on Iran, which the claim is the largest sponsor of state terror. This goes contrary to his otherwise non-interventionist stance. Can you Pl throw some light on how this will play out?

  55. Fred says:

    “Terrorize universities”? Give me a break. Many are little more than failure factories that encourage debt loads of up to $100,000 for a degree of marginal economic value – other than to subsidize the employment of administrators and staff for four years. They should be audited as a matter of course. Then there are the abuses of power in violation of the Constitution starting with all the sexual assault allegations. See the UVA rape hoax as an example.
    “Who is going to provide that R&D funding over coming years, decades, and centuries?”
    “Centuries”. Is that how long the American taxpayer will be shackled with the academic aristocracy that has brought us safe spaces and a registry of personal pronouns and “1 in 5 women” sexually assaulted? We went a couple centuries without government subsidies to universities. Don’t fear though, the glorious intellectual institutions of the MENA will prove a shining light to the world. I for one can’t wait to see how the LGBT students do at King Saud University.

  56. Fred says:

    Florida must really have improved their schools since I graduated. When I transferred into one upon moving there from Virginia I effectively sat on my hands for six months because they were so far behind where Fairfax Country had been.

  57. Fred says:

    You left out any mention of race or the political power of teachers unions. DoE steps in because the left wants to increase federal power at the expense of the states. “Cultural Marxism” in action. I believe Tyler has commented on that at length.

  58. kooshy says:

    Actually Hormuz shipping lines are very easy to block, especially the inbound which passes through Iran’ territorial waters near qeshm island, you can actually see the tankers, this is not only for Iran but I think also from the oman’s Musandam peninsula which is closer to outbound,artillery alone can do it.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Support for Israel is a religious article in both Republican and Democratic parties. Belligerence to the sole Knight of Palestine that remains standing is a corollary to that.

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    At one time, 18 months ago or so, Iranians made an offer to split the Middle East with US in terms of sphere of influence; “so that we do not work at cross-purposes with each other” as Admiral Shamkhani stated.
    That offer went nowhere, the United States, as a matter of state policy, does not recognize others’ spheres of influence – one has to look no further than the fight over the carcass of Ukraine.
    I also further think the war in Syria as a way to wound Iran has failed. I also think that the Russian intervention has narrowed Iran’s interest is any type of substantive dialogue with the NATO states on the disposition of Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.
    I cannot see any settlement – no one is interested in it. If you listen to Gulfies, they are also asking for their own sphere of influence; in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But they want the United States to push Iran out on their behalf and then turn it over to them to propagate neo-Salafism etc.
    This last offer was also declined by US until now.
    In my opinion, neither the United States nor anyone else in NATO can adjudicate among Islamic sects. Russians are not doing so either; they are aligning themselves with legitimate state authorities in Syria, Iran, and Iraq; wisely leaving the adjudication of intra-Muslim fights to the Muslims themselves.

  61. Origin says:

    You greatly underestimate the general quality of American public school high school education and seem to misunderstand that it is already a state function, primarily run by locally elected boards of education. The primary function of the U.S. Department of Education is to provide supplementary funding for poor schools in poor communities, to promote special education for handicapped children and to be a target of ignorant talk show hosts who care little for the future prospects of the nation.
    While there are some really poor schools; overall, the public education system does a pretty good job. Where do you think all of the college freshmen come from?
    I give you a dare. Go visit a public high school classroom for a few hours. Even better, go to a high school calculus or chemistry class and see if you can understand the lesson. You will be pleasantly surprised. While you seem to have had to write a research paper in eighth grade, many schools now require students to write one for most classes every semester in courses where research papers are appropriate. It is a standard requirement.
    The public school system is functioning and does not need to be destroyed by being gutted and privatized so that private companies can get a slice of tax money as profit.
    Post back when you have visited a high school in your neighborhood and share your experience.
    By the way, the public schools are already run by the states, usually run by local elected boards of education, and do not need to be “returned” to the states. If you abolish the Department of Education, the poorer schools in poorer communities will lose badly needed funding their communities cannot provide. If you want more poor, undereducated children from poor communities who will mature to be poor, undereducated and unemployable adults, then support abolishing the U.S. Department of Education.

  62. Origin says:

    There is variety in what an American high school teaches. Wikipedia has a fairly accurate description.
    Many schools have an International Baccalaureate curriculum that is base upon the similar European model.

  63. Tyler says:

    A good question. How much of that is the flip side of “Death to America” (I.e. domestic agitprop), but I don’t foresee a lot of Great Game maneuvering or a ground war with Iran.
    Over a year ago Putin was always referenced as a “KGB thug” and now Sean Hannity of all people is giving him tempered praise. This might be Trump’s “Nixon goes to China” moment. As far as the others go, the neocons ruled the FP for about 14 of the last 16 years. Who’s dyed in the wool neocon and who was mouthing platitudes will come out. How much is naked careerism and how much was living by the wisdom of the dove and cunning of the serpent to be able to strike when the iron was hot remains to be seen.

  64. Pundita says:

    Taylor, thanks for the clarification but Jim Webb strikes me as the Disappearing Man — even while I was looking at him I couldn’t remember what he looked like. Yet considering his nice CV I’ad say assistant yes, boss no.
    As for Mattis, if the Wikipedia article on him is correct this man wouldn’t be advisable in either SecState or SecDef position. He tends to look at entire populations as pawns to achieve a greater objective. Maybe a good way of thinking for a general but not for big input in American foreign or defense policy.
    One Zbigniew Brzezinski type every 1,000 years is more than enough, in my view. Brzezinski, you might recall, saw nothing strange in wanting to use the entire population of the Muslim Middle East as a pawn against the Soviets.
    Let us have done with chessboard foreign policy experts.

  65. Pundita says:

    Casual conversation can produce the best intel!! Well, we’ll see, as you say, but still interesting….

  66. LG says:

    Thank you. May your words prove true again.
    We truly live in the Kali yuga- where we have to chose between dissemblers and fanatics. Trump seems like a honourable man. May God give him strength

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, you have a beef with universities and research funding.
    Yes, if citizens – taxpayers or not – wish to have a steady improvement in their quality of life, they will have to provide funding for useless research for decades and centuries.
    If your criteria is outcome, them, please, abolish the Federal Government of the United States – like Trump said: “With 6 trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country twice over.”

  68. Fred says:

    Next you’ll be telling me if we want are we need to continue funding the NEA and giving tax breaks to Hollywood. Fraud in Universities? Why we can’t investigate that because all human progress will stop!!!! I’m sure the 3rd degree crowd can put their immense intellects together to find some oligarch somewhere who would endow a research program.

  69. LeaNder says:

    PA, I was hesitant for a long time now about Hillary, more or less. … But I do not understand your point. At last I don’t think I doubt I do.
    The coup in Honduras was organized by the IRI – McCain and Negroponte
    McCain surfaced for me quite early in the Ukraine. Please forgive if I am unable to connect the dots you may have in mind concerning Honduras. McCain was active in and on Honduran matters too? Via ISI? Would that be the International Republican Institute?
    I am obviously more familiar with Ms Nuland, Robert “Kagan’s wife”. If that is the correct wife? 😉

  70. LeaNder says:

    Ok, thanks, Tyler.
    At that point it no doubt was the best of all strategy to deal with the third Bush in the series. 😉

  71. Tyler says:

    I think the “vanishing man” argument is a perfect one for a man who’s there to right the ship and start the work that Mattis is going to finish.
    Furthermore, I think any article, especially a wikipedia article, is a poor scryer for a person’s motivations, especially a career official. Around here, George Marshall is the yardstick for a public official. Fine and well, except that Marshall was a one of a kind individual and its more than a little unfair to demand that out of everyone and dismiss anything else as “unfit for service”. I’m a GS 12, and I’m sure if my resume were picked apart by a third party you could claim I’m a careerist!
    The proof will be in the pudding. Just keep in mind the next SECDEF’s will have to fight their war against the social justice warriors that have entrenched themselves in the military in order to right the ship.

  72. Tyler says:

    You know how you get a bit scornful when people try to tell you how life is where you live without them ever visiting there?
    What you are doing here with Fred is the flipside of that.

  73. turcopolier says:

    “I seem to remember, Colonel, that hundreds of years ago there were “rules of war” that constricted the use of infantry when applied in Europe” No idea what you are talking about. pl

  74. turcopolier says:

    your comments are driven by fantasy, something like a description of a herd of hippos written by someone who has never seen one. pl

  75. turcopolier says:

    “I’m not sure what the precise reasoning given at the time was – I presume something like “the free market does things more efficiently and cheaper”, but certainly the end result was to remove a lot of those activities from oversight by Congress and the White House” That is absolutely incorrect. Contract activities of the IC are just as subject to oversight and the normal chain of command as ones done “in house.” In fact, functions perfomed on contracts are MUCH cheaper than those dome by permanent staff because here is no downstream cost in retirements, etc. I find the level of ignorance of the real world such as to make your comments the kind of thing one receives from grad students. You have seen too many Bourne movies. You are on probation. pl

  76. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In Law, one is cognizant of a hierarchy of crimes.
    You seem to be saying that if a professor uses research funds to travel back and forth between his home institution and his domicile, then he is corrupt and US Government should throw the book at him.
    But, if an officer of the United States lies to US Congress, misleads the sitting president, causes the Honor of the United States to be dragged through blood and mud, then, that is of less consequence.
    Or, if several hundred thousand denizens of NYC indulges for decades in fraudulent practices that brought the world economy to the verge of collapse, and has caused a massive problem of unemployment across the globe – they ought to given yet another public subsidy; instead of being send to that nice island in Northern Michigan – to grow potatoes for a few decades.
    In Law and in Religion, normally a hierarchy of crimes and sins are recognized.

  77. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Consider the following from Politico on Sunday, 11/27:

    [Kellyanne] Conway also questioned [Mitt] Romney’s credentials for the job [of Secretary of State].
    “Gov. Romney in the last four years, I mean,
    has he been around the globe doing something on behalf of the United States of which we’re unaware?
    Did he go and intervene in Syria,
    where they’re having a massive humanitarian crisis?” Conway asked.
    “Has he been helpful to Mr. Netanyahu?”

    With respect to Syria, that (the R2P argument) seems to be exactly the position of Hillary,
    while her boss’s campaign position on Syria seemed to be that
    our main, essentially sole, job should be to neutralize ISIS,
    and that if that meant working with Assad and Russia to achieve that goal,
    that was fine with him.
    In fact, he made the very valid point that you never know what the alternative to Assad might turn out to be,
    it could very well be far worse for both Syria and the US than the status quo.
    On Israel, so Conway is an Israel-Firster?
    We knew Jared Kushner was that,
    but were there signs Kellyanne was?
    The question, in my mind anyhow, is
    who will Trump side with, in his policies and appointments,
    between yet more Israel-Firsters versus the America-Firsters.
    Does he, will he, acknowledge that those two positions are irreconcilable?

  78. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ah yes, and the Right wants to increase the power and authority of the states. You cannot be serious.
    As far as I can tell, there is not a single politician that suggests increase power to the states. May be they are afraid that the old CSA is going to resurrect herself and walk out of the Union.
    I have watched under the Left and the Right governments – whatever those terms mean in US – the size of government increasing.

  79. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I am familiar with the locally funded model of school funding; it results in discrimination against children of poorer families since their quality of education suffers.
    It is like a soccer team-mate, who hailed from a wealthy suburb of NYC in Connecticut, once told me: “All the children are very good looking since the wives are all beautiful; that is what money buys.”
    I think the situation in California is much much worse that you describe; the well-to-do and the not-so-well-to-do have taken their children out of public schools; not just due to the abject levels of academic rigor but also due to moral turpitude among the student-body.
    I recall that Ronald Reagan gutted NPR and its news programs; it was very good indeed. I believe that he would have wrecked the School System in California as well; discarding that old Yankee motto: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  80. J says:

    What do you know of K.T. McFarland that POTUS Trump plans to install as one of his close national security advisor under Flynn? What disturbs me is that McFarland’s appearance is that of a globalist, who is a life member of a globalist 5th column operating on American soil, namely the CFR. The CFR’s objectives and agendas from what I’ve been able to ascertain are defiantly NOT in U.S. interests. That the organization is nothing more than a Globalist 5th column, much like AIPAC is an Israeli 5th column operating on U.S. soil.
    Will or would Ms. McFarland be willing to cancel her CFR membership and renounce its globalist agendas which have been ripping our U.S.’s underpinnings apart?
    With Ms. McFarland a life member of the CFR, is she not a ‘lobbyist’ for the globalist CFR organization?

  81. turcopolier says:

    I know nothing of her but am apprehensive. pl

  82. Sam Peralta says:

    PA seems to write long posts of drivel with no facts to back any of his assertions. And when others post facts he has this very condescending style of labeling it “complete nonsense”.

  83. Luther Blissett says:

    I refereed to Sessions as a “bible-thumper” in my comment, he is actually a United Methodist Sunday school teacher.
    I was confusing Sessions with Pompeo who has been attending the “Capitol Ministres” evangelical Bible study for members of Congress where members are taught the Bible teaches that “there is no way America or Israel should tolerate uranium enrichment programs in any theocratic Muslim country.”
    So the “bible-thumper” is running the CIA not the AG, my mistake.
    Also, thanks for the insight into NSA21, I have been trying to figure out what is happening at the NSA but I do not have the background.

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Here is she, on how to deal with Middle Easterners, especially with Iran:

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