Understanding Trump’s Foreign Policies

Eric Zuesse

According to both the Washington Post and Politico, U.S. President Donald Trump is now in the thrall of the U.S. military-industrial complex, because he was trained at a military high school (the New York Military Academy) during his formative early years, and his being in their thrall might salvage his Presidency, by replacing its former chaos with order.

The Washington Post headlined on August 22nd, “Military leaders consolidate power in Trump administration” and reported:

“This is the only time in modern presidential history when we’ve had a small number of people from the uniformed world hold this much influence over the chief executive,” said John E. McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who served in seven administrations. “They are right now playing an extraordinary role.” …

President Trump has surrounded himself with generals. …

Trump has revered military brass since his youth, when he attended a New York military academy. He holds up generals as exemplars of American leadership and views them as kindred spirits — fellow political outsiders.

“To some degree, Trump is playing president, and I think the whole idea of being able to command a group of warriors is deeply satisfying to him,” McLaughlin said.

Robert M. Hathaway, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said: “It should not surprise us. Candidate Trump suggested he would defer to the people he called ‘my generals’ on a whole host of issues, and they are doing just that.”

Trump idolizes swaggering commanders, such as the cinematic portrayal of George S. Patton Jr., the World War II general. …

Together with other allies in the administration, Kelly, Mattis and McMaster see their roles not merely as executing Trump’s directives but also as guiding him away from moves that they fear could have catastrophic consequences, according to officials familiar with the dynamic. …

William S. Cohen, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, said that Trump “came in with virtually no experience in governance, and there’s no coherent strategic philosophy that he holds. There has been a war within the administration, and that has yet to be resolved. . . . The military has tried to impose some coherency and discipline.” …

At the core of Trump’s circle is a seasoned trio of generals with experience as battlefield commanders: White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The three men have carefully cultivated personal relationships with the president and gained his trust.

Critics of the president welcome their ascendancy, seeing them as a calming force amid the daily chaos of the White House.

“They are standouts of dependability in the face of rash and impulsive conduct,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “There certainly has been a feeling among many of my colleagues that they are a steadying hand on the rudder and provide a sense of consistency and rationality in an otherwise zigzagging White House.”

That’s bipartisan support (“Critics of the president welcome their ascendancy”) for this militarized White House, sources who were selected by the Washington Post to quote — support is quoted not only from Republicans, but also from Democrats, such as William S. Cohen and Richard Blumenthal, welcoming a “steadying hand on the rudder.”

Critics also are quoted against the military’s takeover of the White House, but only from well-recognized far-right Republicans, such as “Commentator and Trump ally Ann Coulter tweeted Monday, ‘The military-industrial complex wins.’” In other words: critics of Trump’s turn toward neoconservatism, are marginalized — not presented as being bipartisan — in this news-report.

The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon corporation provides the cloud computing service that the Pentagon and CIA use. His newspaper is considered by some commentators to be a propaganda-sheet for the U.S. military-industrial complex, of which Amazon corporation is itself a prominent part. In fact, Amazon relies upon the U.S. Government (those government contracts) to provide Amazon’s profits, because Amazon’s far more famous sales-operations to the general public haven’t yet been reliably profitable. So, his newspaper flatters the Pentagon and CIA, and it reports very favorably upon them, which also (and especially) means reporting with great hostility against the leaders of nations that the Pentagon and CIA (and the entire U.S. national ‘defense’ community, and the entire U.S. intelligence community) are institutionally hostile against and want to overthrow.

Consequently, the newspaper reports favorably upon Trump’s being extremely reliant upon, and reflective of, the U.S. military-industrial complex, including Amazon corporation.

Two days later, on August 24th, Politico bannered “Kelly moves to control the information Trump sees” and reported that:

Kelly initiated a new policymaking process in which just he and one other aide — White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a little-known but highly regarded Rhodes scholar who overlapped with Jared Kushner as an undergraduate at Harvard — will review all documents that cross the Resolute desk. … Porter, a Harvard Law graduate, has assumed a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the administration, working even before Kelly’s arrival to create form from chaos and to serve as an honest broker between the competing factions that populate the Trump White House. He’s no stranger to the GOP’s vast ideological spectrum, having served as chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and before that as counsel to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), an Ivy League blueblood and George H.W. Bush partisan, as well as to tea partier Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Former President Barack Obama’s staff secretary prepared briefing books for the president that he took home each evening, making sure to incorporate competing viewpoints. “We really worked hard to limit the extent to which he would see anything outside of that channel,” said Doug Kramer, Obama’s staff secretary. “People are constantly trying to circumvent the process because they want to get to the president.”

Again — here at Politico — this military takeover of U.S. foreign policies is presented as being a good thing, which will produce better policies than Trump had been promising in his election-campaign. And, again, the commitment to a militaristic thrust is presented in a bipartisan light, and “GOP’s vast ideological spectrum” is represented by that “Harvard Law graduate,” so it obviously has even Ivy-League appeal. And the idea of shutting out the opinions of outsiders has even the imprimatur of Trump’s Democratic predecessor: “Former President Barack Obama’s staff secretary prepared briefing books for the president that he took home each evening, making sure to incorporate competing viewpoints. ‘We really worked hard to limit the extent to which he would see anything outside of that channel,’ said Doug Kramer, Obama’s staff secretary.” That’s clearly bipartisan support, coming even from Obama’s former White House.

The day prior to that, on August 23rd, Politico’s magazine headlined a lengthy article, “Here’s What Russia’s Propaganda Network Wants You to Read”, and the writer was J.M. Berger, who was identified only as “a fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy”. That link there was uninformative, but Wikipedia’s article “Alliance for Securing Democracy” is informative, and opens by saying:

The Alliance for Securing Democracy is a transatlantic project that states its mission as countering what it describes as an “unprecedented attack” on United States democracy by Russia.[1][2] The alliance is chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials.[2] Its daily operations are led by Laura Rosenberger, a former senior State Department official in the Obama administration, and Jamie Fly, former national security counselor to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).[2] The initiative is housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, in the United States and Europe.

The Wiki article lists twelve “Advisory Council Members,” all of whom are neoconservatives who focus especially against Russia.

Politico did not mention that the author of this feature-article, in their magazine, was written by someone who is in the pay of an anti-Russia-propaganda operation.

The Wikipedia article “German Marshall Fund” indicates that the organization was founded in 1972, and lists their “Trustees” (and I make additions to it in [ brackets ]):

Michael J. Ahearn, chairman & managing partner, True North Venture Partners

Bob Bennett, former U.S. Senator from Utah.

Margaret Carlson, journalist and columnist for Bloomberg News

Greg Craig, Former White House Counsel

• Guido Goldman [ here ], Founder and Chairman Emeritus

[ “says Goldman, ‘We wanted to make Americans aware that we belong in Europe.’” ]

Marc Grossman, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2011-2012).

John F. Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Politico

When that organization, the German Marshall Fund, was founded during the Cold War as a PR agency for NATO, in order “to make Americans aware that we belong in Europe,” this meant excluding Russia from Europe; and the present Trustees all reflect that same objective, even after the end in 1991 of the USSR, and of communism, and of the Warsaw Pact military mirror-image against America’s NATO — the end, in other words, of all the things against which the U.S. government had supposedly been waging its side of the Cold War. So, those Trustees can be considered to be the principals in whose pay Mr. Berger is — Berger is their agent. But he’s also directly in the pay of one of them in particular, John F. Harris, because Harris is the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine in which Mr. Berger’s article is published. Harris is also the author of books favorable to Bill and Hillary Clinton, but he is supposed to be bipartisan about President Trump, and he shows that impartiality here by propagandizing in favor of Donald Trump’s now carrying out Hillary Clinton’s foreign policies.

And, if one clicks onto another of the Trustees there, “Mark Grossman,” one sees this:

Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan[edit]

Grossman was lured out of retirement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to become the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, an appointment he received following the death of the first Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.[1][2][8] He began his role on February 22, 2011 and concluded his tenure on December 14, 2012.[9]

Private sector career[edit]

In January 2005 Grossman resigned from his position and joined The Cohen Group. Grossman serves as Vice Chairman of the Cohen Group.[10] The Cohen Group has close ties to the Turkish military and represents some of the US’s largest weapons manufacturers, companies that stand to benefit from weapons sales: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Sikorsky Aircraft among others, and their list of clients includes controversial companies such as DynCorp International, a major national security contractor with the US government, charging billions for overseas military and police training. Through their strategic partnership with DLA Piper, the Cohen group also serves foreign clients such as the Turkish government and business interest groups, United Arab Emirates, India and Australia’s scandalous AWB.[11][12] In late 2005, Grossman also joined Ihlas Holding, a Gülen-linked Turkish conglomerate which is also active in several Central Asian countries. Grossman is reported to receive $100,000 per month for his advisory position with Ihlas.[13][14]

That “Cohen Group” is founded and led by the same William S. Cohen who was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense and who led in 1999 to bring into the NATO military alliance, three countries — Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland — which had previously been allied with Russia against NATO. When the Cold War ended in 1991, George Herbert Walker Bush’s agents promised to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would move “not one inch to the east” (i.e., toward Russia), but what Cohen and other subsequent U.S. administrations have been doing is exactly the opposite of that promise. And now, Russia is being presented as the ‘aggressor’, and the NATO countries are ‘defending’ themselves against Russia, after NATO’s having expanded right up to Russia’s borders — which NATO had promised not to do. Here’s how the Middle East fits into that picture. Though the Cold War ended on Russia’s side, it continued and continues on America’s side; and American journalism, such as in the Washington Post and Politico, is now praising Donald Trump for continuing further, the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama anti-Russia policy, which also is heading in the direction of war against Syria, and against Crimea, etc.

Finally, it seems that Trump might be gaining respect from the bipartisan Establishment.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.