Trump’s Making a Big Strategic Mistake on Human Rights

It's one thing to work with Erdogan, another to praise him for destroying Turkish democracy.

President Trump, mercifully, has not carried out most of his campaign promises. But in one area Trump has been turning out to be exactly as expected — and that is in his disdain for human rights in foreign policy. To be sure, Trump is so erratic and inconsistent that even this statement needs to be caveated in light of his April 6 cruise-missile strike against Syria, which he ordered after being shocked by the gassing of “beautiful babies.” This is exactly the kind of humanitarian intervention he once campaigned against. But Syria aside, with the honorable exception of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the president and most of his aides are displaying a marked indifference verging on contempt for what an earlier Republican president called the “freedom agenda.”


Sound and Fury

When I read of the United States forces’ dropping of the second-largest non-nuclear explosive in their arsenal — the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) — in eastern Afghanistan, I am reminded of what John Paul Vann, the legendary Army officer and civilian adviser during the Vietnam War, said about the right way to fight guerrillas: “This is a political war, and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife, but I’m afraid we can’t do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worse is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle — you know who you’re killing.” An Israeli general made a similar point to me after the defeat of the second intifada, saying, “Better to fight terror with an M-16 rather than an F-16.”


The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

The president has officially reserved the right to use military force when he sees something that outrages him on TV.

Of all the reactions to President Donald Trump’s cruise missile strike on Thursday, the least convincing was the impulse by supporters such as Sen. Marco Rubio and John Bolton to label this a “decisive” act. Hardly. In fact, Trump’s strike was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Bill Clinton favored against Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan — and that Republicans mocked for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. After 9/11, you’ll recall, President George W. Bush vowed, in a swipe at his predecessor, “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”


Let’s count the ways Donald Trump has gone where no president has gone before

We are not yet 100 days into the Trump presidency, but already the president has clocked one unenviable milestone after another. It’s all too easy to take for granted the broken norms that characterize this administration. So it’s important to pause and consider just how unprecedented the craziness has been. Herewith, a partial list of the myriad ways in which Donald Trump has already gone where no president has gone before.


Is Trump Russia’s Useful Idiot, or Has He Been Irreparably Compromised?

That’s the question that needs answering. Everything else is a distraction.

Every day seems to bring fresh news in the Kremlin-gate scandal about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Just a few highlights from the past week:

—CBS News reports that the FBI is investigating whether “Trump campaign representatives had a role in helping Russian intelligence as it carried out cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee” as far back as March 2016.

—The BBC reports that one of the key allegations in the dossier on links between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin compiled by a former British intelligence officer has been “verified.”


Why Didn’t the U.S. React More Forcefully to the DNC Hacking?

Because We Haven't Yet Defined the Rules of Engagement in the Cyber Age

Last year, Russian intelligence mounted an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the U.S. election. Russian hackers broke into the email of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, and released the stolen documents strategically via the website WikiLeaks to help Donald Trump. Or so the U.S. intelligence community found in a “high confidence” assessment that was partly declassified in early January.


The Russia Scandal Has Reached the Trump Family

And only a special counsel can find out how deep the rot goes.

These have been a choice few days for aficionados of scandal. Washington hasn’t seen their like since the heyday of Whitewater, Iran-contra, and Watergate — in other words for nearly two decades. And in many ways “Kremlin-gate,” the burgeoning scandal over Team Trump’s connections to Russia, is in a class by itself.


Trump’s Worst Enemy Is His Own Big, Lying Mouth

The FBI, NSA, Germany, Britain, Australia: Is there anybody America's dissembler-in-chief can't alienate?

Those worried about the trajectory of the Trump White House — and these days, who isn’t? — could take some comfort from the news last week that two well-respected professionals were joining the National Security Council. Former George W. Bush aide Dina Powell, a fluent Arabic speaker and Goldman Sachs alumna, will become deputy national security advisor, and Nadia Schadlow, an expert on military affairs, will leave the Smith Richardson Foundation to take charge of strategic planning. They are welcome additions to the Axis of Adults that must compete for influence in this administration with the Cabal of Crazies, whose ranks include Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, and Sebastian Gorka.