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How Romney Loyalists Hijacked Trump’s Foreign Policy

In 2015, as Trump’s rise in the polls raised alarms among establishment Republicans, notable proponents of the neoconservative foreign policy began hedging their bets. Ready to back anyone but Trump, they laid plans for a fallback position in case their favored candidates, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, failed to stop Trump’s populist insurgency. In public expressions and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, they supported Hillary Clinton over the rising Trump. These were die-hard globalists who had argued for every military intervention in the recent past (Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq 1, Afghanistan, Iraq 2, Libya, Syria, Yemen), and they would become the vanguard of the Never Trump counterinsurgency.

Mitt Romney positioned himself as the standard bearer for the Never Trump forces. As the most recent Republican presidential candidate, he was expected to become an insurmountable obstacle to Trump’s hopes for the nomination with pronouncements such as the following: “Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart….Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.”

Romney then hatched a plan to block Trump’s path to the nomination: “Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”

Within hours of Trump’s emergence as the putative Republican nominee, the Never Trump cadres initiated numerous rearguard actions designed to elect Clinton, whom they correctly saw as the candidate who would implement their neocon foreign policy of regime change, nation-building, humanitarian intervention, meddling in foreign civil wars and domestic affairs, spreading democracy, confronting Russia, maintaining America’s state of perpetual covert and overt war, and requiring the continued presence of hundreds of thousands of troops in every corner of the globe costing billions of taxpayer dollars.  

Romney and his Never Trump network even initiated a last-ditch plan [1] in the event the polls narrowed: throw Utah to an independent candidate. In a close election, they reasoned, neutralizing Utah’s electoral votes could foreclose an Electoral College majority, thus throwing the election into the U.S. House of Representatives. There, establishment loyalists of both parties might throw the victory to Clinton.

It was not to be. Although many issues influenced the race, certainly one was the antipathy American citizens held for the pointless nonstop wars perpetrated by Beltway political elites. To cite just two indicators, among many: South Carolina primary voters selected Trump over Jeb Bush even after Trump’s over-the-top criticisms of his brother’s decision to go to war in Iraq. A recent study described in the Kansas City Star reveals that Clinton could have won the presidency  if the burden of war was lower in key states [2]. The headline: “Higher war casualties in key swing states may have swung November’s presidential election away from Hillary Clinton.”  

Hardly anyone could miss Trump’s style in victory. If he could have had a Triumphal Arch constructed at government expense on the Washington Mall, he would have done so, along with his own version of Hadrian’s wall at the southern border. His ubiquitous post-campaign rallies are modern day equivalents of Caesars’ triumphal processions through the streets of Rome.

And it wasn’t surprising that the unlikely victor would summon the defeated Mitt Romney for what looked like rounds of public submission and humiliation. Romney was all too eager to oblige, proving once again that those who lust for power can be easily manipulated.

But through all of that, in thought, word, and deed, the highly networked neocons demonstrated their fierce devotion to the globalist, internationalist, interventionist cause. No amount of failure, death, destruction, or proliferation of failed states in the wake of their implemented strategies compelled a rethinking of their goals or a modification of their utopian theories.

While prominent neocon and establishment luminaries who derided Trump from the beginning couldn’t expect seats at the Trump table, their lesser known minions infiltrated key precincts of Trump’s transition teams. Their astute sponsors, the neocon bigwigs, knew the neophyte president could not know who was who in the political and policy firmament of Washington. Neocon cadres had had at least a quarter century to embed themselves into every nook and cranny of the federal bureaucracy—at State, Defense, national security agencies, congressional offices, think tanks, nongovernment organizations, and the national media.

Within weeks a pattern emerged in the new administration. Covert Never Trump Republicans were getting hired; proven and loyal Trump supporters were blocked. Of course, notorious neocon Never Trumpers who had signed public letters knew they couldn’t possibly enlist, so they resigned themselves to moving their protégés and acolytes into positions of influence and power. Occasionally they tried for direct access to appointments for themselves, but this was a heavier lift. Elliott Abrams was a case in point.

Rex Tillerson, formidably accomplished in global business, was nevertheless as much a neophyte as his boss when it came to navigating the policy terrain of the D.C. swamp. As is well known, in building his team he relied on those two neocon avatars, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, who had originally promoted his own candidacy for secretary of state. But Rice had been a vocal part of the neocon Never Trump coalition. Her anti-Trump pronouncements included: “Donald Trump should not be president….He doesn’t have the dignity and stature to be president.” The Washington Post greeted her 2017 book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, as “a repudiation of Trump’s America First worldview.”

Thus it wasn’t surprising that Rice would introduce Elliott Abrams to Tillerson as an ideal candidate for State’s No. 2 position. This would have placed a dyed-in-the-wool neocon hardliner at the very top of the State Department’s hierarchy and given him the power to hire and fire all undersecretaries across the vast foreign policy empire. Rice, one of the architects of George W. Bush’s failed policies of regime change and nation building, would have consolidated a direct line of influence into the highest reaches of the Trump foreign policy apparatus.

Not only was Abrams’ entire career a refutation of Trump’s America First foreign policy, but he had spent the previous eighteen months publicly bashing Trump in harsh terms. Cleverly, however, he had not signed either of the two Never Trump letters co-signed by most of the other neocon foreign policy elite. Abrams almost got the nod, except for a last-minute intervention by Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was armed with every disparaging anti-Trump statement Abrams had made. Examples: “This is a question of character.…He is not fit to sit in the chair of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln….his absolute unwillingness to learn anything about foreign policy….Hillary would be better on foreign policy.…I’m not going to vote for Trump….”

But Abrams’ rejection was the exception. As a high profile globalist-interventionist he could not easily hide his antipathy toward the Trump doctrine. Others, whose track records and private comments were more easily obscured, were waived in by gatekeepers whose mission it was (and remains) to populate State, DoD, and national security agencies with establishment and neocon cadres, not with proven Trump supporters and adherents to his foreign policy.

But how did the gatekeepers get in? Romney may have disappeared from the headlines, but he never left the sidelines. His chess pieces were already on the board, occupying key squares and prepared to move.

Once the president opened the door to RNC chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, to Rex Tillerson at State, to James Mattis as defense secretary, and to H. R. McMaster at NSC, the neocons just walked in. While each of these political and military luminaries may publicly support the president’s policies and in some instances may sincerely want to see them implemented, their entire careers have been spent within the establishment and neocon elite. They don’t know any other world view or any other people.

Donald Trump ran on an America First foreign policy, repeatedly deriding George W. Bush for invading Iraq in 2003. He criticized Clinton and Obama for their military interventions in Libya and their support for regime change in Syria. He questioned the point of the endless Afghan war. He criticized the Beltway’s hostile obsession with Russia while it ignored China’s military buildup and economic threat to America.

Throughout the campaign Trump made abundantly clear his foreign policy ethos. If elected he would stop the policy of perpetual war, strengthen America’s military, take care of U.S. veterans, focus particularly on annihilating the ISIS caliphate, protect the homeland from Islamist radicalism, and promote a carefully calibrated America First policy.

But, despite this clear record, according to Politico and other Beltway journals, the president has been entreated in numerous White House and Pentagon meetings to sign off on globalist foreign policy goals, including escalating commitments to the war in Afghanistan. These presentations, conducted by H.R. McMaster and others, were basically arguments to continue the global status quo; in other words, a foreign policy that Clinton would have embraced. Brian Hook and Nadia Schadlow were two of the lesser known policy wonks who participated in these meetings, determining vital issues of war and peace.

Brian Hook, head of State Department policy planning, is an astute operative and member in good standing of the neocon elite. He’s also a onetime foreign policy adviser to Romney and remains in close touch with him. Hook was one of the founders, along with Eliot Cohen and Eric Edelman, of the anti-Trump John Hay Initiative. Hook organized one of the Never Trump letters during the campaign, and his views are well-known, in part through a May 2016 piece by Julia Hoffe in Politico Magazine. A passage: “My wife said, ‘never,’” said Brian Hook, looking pained and slicing the air with a long, pale hand. ….Even if you say you support him as the nominee,” Hook says, “you go down the list of his positions and you see you disagree on every one.”

One might wonder how a man such as Hook could become the director of policy planning and a senior adviser to Rex Tillerson, advising on all key foreign policy issues? The answer is: the Romney network.

Consider also the case of Margaret Peterlin, assigned as a Sherpa during the transition to guide Tillerson through the confirmation process. Another experienced Beltway insider, Peterlin promptly made herself indispensable to Tillerson and blocked anyone who wanted access to him, no matter how senior. Peterlin then brought Brian Hook onboard, a buddy from their Romney days, to serve as the brains for foreign policy while she was serving as the Gorgon-eyed chief of staff.

According to rumor, the two are now blocking White House personnel picks, particularly Trump loyalists, from appointments at State. At the same time, they are bringing aboard neocons such as Kurt Volker, executive director of the McCain Institute and notorious Russia hawk, and Wess Mitchell, president of the neocon Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). As special representative for Ukraine negotiations, Volker is making proclamations to inflame the conflict and further entangle the United States.

Meanwhile, Mitchell, another Romney alumnus and a Brian Hook buddy from the John Hay Initiative, has been nominated as assistant secretary of state for European and Erurasian affairs. Brace yourself for an unnecessary Cold War with Russia, if not a hot one. While Americans may not really care whether ethnic Russians or ethnic Ukrainians dominate the Donbass, these guys do.

Then there’s Nadia Schadlow, another prominent operative with impeccable neocon credentials. She was the senior program officer at the Smith Richardson Foundation, where her main job was to underwrite the neocon project by offering grants to the many think tanks in their network. For the better part of a decade she pursued a PhD under the tutelage of Eliot Cohen, who has pronounced himself a “Never Trumper” and has questioned the president’s mental health. Cohen, along with H.R. McMaster, provided editorial guidance to Schadlow for her book extolling nation-building and how we can do more of it.

Relationships beget jobs, which is how Schadlow became deputy assistant to the president, with the task, given by her boss H.R. McMaster, of writing the administration’s National Security Strategy. Thus do we have a neocon stalwart who wrote the book on nation building now writing President Trump’s national security strategy.

How, we might ask, did these Never Trump activists get into such high positions in the Trump administration?  And what was their agenda at such important meetings with the President if not to thwart his America First agenda? Put another way, how did Trump get saddled with nearly Mitt Romney’s entire foreign policy staff? After all, the American people did not elect Mitt Romney when they had the chance.

Trump is a smart guy. So is Barack Obama. But even Obama, Nobel Peace Prize in hand, could not prevent the inexorable slide to violent regime change in Libya, which resulted in a semi-failed state, tens of thousands killed, and a foothold for Al Queda and other radical Islamists in the Maghreb. He also could not prevent the arming of Islamist rebels in Syria after he had the CIA provide lethal arms strictly to “moderate rebels.” Unable or unwilling to disengage from Afghanistan, Obama acquiesced in a series of Pentagon strategies with fluctuating troop levels before bequeathing to his successor an open ended, unresolved war.

Rumors floating through official Washington suggest the neocons now want to replace Tillerson at State with Trump critic and Neocon darling Nikki Haley, currently pursuing a one-person bellicose foreign policy from her exalted post at the United Nations. Not surprisingly, Haley and Romney go way back. As a firm neocon partisan, she endorsed his presidential bid in 2011 [3].

As UN ambassador, Haley has articulated a nearly incoherent jumble of statements that seem more in line with her own neocon worldview than with Trump’s America First policies. Some samples:

“I think that, you know, Russia is full of themselves. They’ve always been full of themselves. But that’s – its more of a façade that they try and show as opposed to anything else.”

“What we are is serious. And you see us in action, so its not in personas. Its in actions and its what we do.”

“The United States …calls for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”

One must ask: Is Ambassador Haley speaking on behalf of the Trump administration when she says it is official U.S. policy that Russia, having annexed Crimea, must return it to Ukraine? Is the Russo-American geopolitical relationship to be held hostage indefinitely because in 2014 the people of Crimea voted for their political reintegration into Russia, which they had been part of since 1776?

Since there is as much chance of Russia ceding Crimea back to Ukraine as there is of the United States ceding Texas back to Mexico, does this mean there is no possibility of any meaningful cooperation with Russia on anything else? Not even in fighting the common ominous threat from Islamist radicalism? Has Haley committed the American people to this dead-end policy on her own or in consultation with the President?

On July 14, the Washington Examiner wrote that “Haley’s remarks…set the tone for Trump’s reversal from the less interventionist, ‘America First’ foreign policy he campaigned on.” Little wonder, then, that in a little-noticed victory lap of her own, coinciding with the release of her book, Condoleezza Rice acknowledged the near complete takeover of Trump’s foreign policy team. “The current national security team is terrific,” she said. She even gave Trump her anointed blessing following their recent White House meeting, during which the septuagenarian schoolboy received the schoolmarm’s pat on the head:He was engaging,” she said. “I found him on top of his brief….asking really good questions.” That’s a far cry from her campaign-season comment about Trump that he “doesn’t have the dignity and stature to be president.”

American foreign policy seems to be on auto-pilot, immune to elections and impervious to the will of the people. It is perpetuated by an entrenched contingent of neocon and establishment zealots and bureaucratic drones in both the public and private sector, whose careers, livelihoods, and very raison d’etre depend on an unchallenged policy of military confrontation with the prestige, power, and cash flow it generates. Those who play the game by establishment rules are waived in. Those who would challenge the status quo are kept out. This is the so-called Deep State, thwarting the will of President Trump and the people who voted for him.

This isn’t merely a story of palace intrigue and revolving chairs in the corridors of power. Brave Americans in the uniform of their country will continue to be sent into far-off lands to intercede in internecine conflicts that have little if anything to do with U.S. national security. Many will return physically shattered or mentally maimed. Others will be returned to Diver Air Force Base in flag-draped coffins, to be saluted by serial presidents of both parties, helpless to stop the needless carnage.

Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War trilogy of movies: Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, Copperhead.

48 Comments (Open | Close)

48 Comments To "How Romney Loyalists Hijacked Trump’s Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By Adriana I Pena On July 30, 2017 @ 10:45 pm

Trump has a foreign policy???

#2 Comment By Andrew On July 30, 2017 @ 11:04 pm

This is all very convincing, but the point remains: Trump won and is the one responsible for allowing all these neocons through the door. Had Pat Buchanan won the nomination and the Presidency back in the nineties, does anyone believe he would make the same blunders, and not be equipped to find the right traditional conservatives instead of the establishment DC neocons that try and swamp every GOP Administration now since Reagan? Trump is simply too naive and doesn’t have any feel for the political ideologies of all of these people, being not much of a political animal himself. And replacing Priebus with General Kelly isn’t likely to change all that. He should be talking to Ann Coulter and Buchanan as unofficial advisers or something.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 31, 2017 @ 12:36 am

Globalism is the twenty-first century euphemism for old fashioned imperialism, now on Wall Street propelled nuclear steroids.

#4 Comment By KaneV On July 31, 2017 @ 1:15 am

Good God how shallow is the Trump foreign policy bench that the American Con has a director writing in its defense?

#5 Comment By reelectclaydavis On July 31, 2017 @ 4:43 am

Interesting argument, though you ignore other factors besides the conspiratorial-sounding “Romney network” that account for American interventionist neo-conservatives finding their way back into power: 1) that they are by far the largest group of people available to staff the government because of a) the dominance of aggressive liberal internationalism over more restrained realism in graduate schools which educate these foreign policy specialists; b) an inherent bias of these specialists not to admit that America cannot influence world events (that would be like a social worker who didn’t believe s/he could usually mediate conflicts). Also, 2) Trump’s alleged non-interventionist beliefs are less well-formed than you imply, you just project on him what you wish to see; a) you ignore his comments about taking the oil of other countries, an idea the neo-conservatives had as a way to pay for operations in Iraq; and b) Beliefs closer to Trump’s core: that others not paying their fair share and that America is being taken advantage of, are not incompatible with the American interventions you oppose.

#6 Comment By polistra On July 31, 2017 @ 8:13 am

You can’t hijack an executive’s policy unless the executive is either hopelessly weak or a faker. Doesn’t matter which.

The only good part is that the fake image of a somewhat less warlike “Trump”, stirred up by the media to destroy Trump, is actually DOING what a real non-interventionist Trump would have done. EU is breaking away from US control, just as a real antiwar Trump would have ordered it to do.

#7 Comment By Dan Stewart On July 31, 2017 @ 8:23 am

Great piece. Thank you, Mr. Maxwell.

Reading this, I burn with anger — then a sense of utter futility washes over me.

I think history will show that the Trump era was the moment the American people realized that the Deep State is more powerful than the presidency.

#8 Comment By For Virginia On July 31, 2017 @ 8:23 am

It’s good to see Ron Maxwell published in these pages. I watch Gettysburg at least once a year. And don’t think Virginians aren’t grateful for Maxwell’s role in helping put paid to Eric Cantor’s political career.

The rogues’ gallery of neocons and apprentice neocons described above is really disturbing. We didn’t vote for this. And we don’t want it.

Re Nikki Haley, she’s already an embarrassment, an ignorant neocon-dependent. She’s dragging us down the same old road of anti-Russia hysterics and Middle East meddling. The best that can be said of her presence at the UN is that by putting her there Trump promoted one of his allies into the SC governor’s mansion. I don’t think he was under any illusions as to her foreign policy knowledge, competence, or commitment to an America First policy. But she’s become a vector for neocons to reinfect government, and she needs to be removed.

#9 Comment By Johann On July 31, 2017 @ 8:27 am

Neoconism and neoliberalism is like a super-bug infection. None of the anti-biotics are working. We have only one hope left. Rand Paul, the super anti-neocon/neoliberal.

#10 Comment By SDS On July 31, 2017 @ 8:46 am

“Trump is a smart guy”…..
??
If so; why does he not see this happening all around him?
Except for his pompous, ignorant, hands-off method of governing, that is….

The Emperor has no clothes…but doesn’t seem to know, nor care that he doesn’t…

#11 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 31, 2017 @ 9:03 am

Christopher Layne, Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security, Texas A&M at the American Conservative Conference “Foreign Policy in America’s Interest” (Nov 15 2016) said:

“In this country we can talk about resenting elites all we want, but when it comes to making American foreign policy there still is an American foreign policy elite – and it’s very powerful. Why has there been no debate? Actually, Michael Mandelbaum, an author with whom I seldom agree on anything, but in his book “The Frugal Superpower” he actually tells you why there’s no debate in the foreign policy establishment. You see, debate is – basically goes from here to there [Dr. Layne puts his two index fingers close together in front of his face], like from the 45-yard-line to the 45-yard-line. And why does it stop there? Because people who try to go down towards the goal line have their union cards taken away. They’re kicked out of the establishment. They’re not listened to. They’re disrespected. And to be part of the establishment you have to buy into it – to its ideology, to its beliefs system, and that is a very hard thing to break. And so before we all jump up and down and say, “Wow! Donald Trump won! NATO is going to be changed. Our commitments in East Asia are going to change. The Middle East may change!” We’d better take a deep breath and ask ourselves, and I think Will Ruger raised this point on the first panel, where is the counter-elite? Where is a Trumpian counter-elite that not only can take the senior positions in the cabinet like Defense Secretary and Secretary of State, but be the assistant secretaries, the deputy assistant secretaries, the NSC staffers. I think that elite doesn’t exist right now, and that’s a big problem, because the people who are going to be probably still in power are the people who do not agree with the kinds of foreign policy ideas that I think most of us in this room are sympathetic to. So, over time maybe that will change. Over time maybe a counter-elite will emerge. But in the short term I see very little prospect for all the big changes that most of us are hoping to see, and so for me the challenge that we face is really to find ways to develop this counter-elite than can staff an administration in the future, that has at least what we think are the views that Donald Trump holds.”

[4]

We’re in a new period – a period of learning for President Trump and for those in the administration who back his anti-establishment foreign policy view. And while it is true that (as Chris Layne said) “in the short term I see very little prospect for all the big changes that most of us are hoping to see,” as we move into the medium and long term, many of us are hopeful that these big Trumpian foreign policy changes can begin to be made.

#12 Comment By Kevin On July 31, 2017 @ 10:13 am

Shorter Ron Maxwell: good tsar, evil advisors !

#13 Comment By Bill Smith On July 31, 2017 @ 10:24 am

This article is sharply contradicted by an earlier and more informed article in Conservative Review, an outlet with a considerably larger audience than American Conservative. You might want to read that as a corrective to this one. You can find it here: [5]

Money quote:

A senior administration official familiar with the work of Nadia Schadlow, a national security expert brought on to help draft the National Security Strategy, tells CR that she will attempt to produce an NSS as “iconoclastic as our new commander in chief,” adding, “the era of milquetoast boilerplate is over.”

#14 Comment By Henri James On July 31, 2017 @ 10:44 am

I do love that in all of these scenarios, Trump is just some innocent moon-eyed man child who can’t possibly be expected to think on his own.

#15 Comment By nick On July 31, 2017 @ 11:07 am

Trump had/has a foreign policy? Man, I’m getting tired of all these “backstabbing” excuses for Trump’s ineptitude.

#16 Comment By Deggjr On July 31, 2017 @ 11:18 am

If the Czar only knew!

Perhaps Trump can staff State with Anthony Scaramucci types. The well qualified Scaramucci is off to a memorable start as communications director.

#17 Comment By Charlie On July 31, 2017 @ 11:27 am

The problem with the neocons is that their ambition vastly exceeds their ability. Neocons developed their minds in the Cold war dealing with a western power, the USSR. The problem is that once one enters the Middle East and Asia one is dealing with languages and cultures of which they next to nothing. How many speak Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Urdu such that they understand every nuance of what is said and unsaid?

When dealing with the arabs and many in Afghanistan everything is personnel and this can go back 5 generations and includes hundreds if not thousands of people.

Trump has the common sense not to become involved in that he does not understand.

#18 Comment By David Skerry On July 31, 2017 @ 11:51 am

They come back in boxes while those who sent them to their deaths remain in the bags of the “America Second” group which highjacked our Congress.It’s no longer “God Bless America”; it’s “God Help America.”

#19 Comment By Milton Prescott On July 31, 2017 @ 11:56 am

How do we get Trump or Scaramucci to read this? This is huge.

#20 Comment By Bob On July 31, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

One point left out. The “administration” meaning President Trump is getting things done. No matter who he is surrounded with “everything” he promised is being accomplished. The professor of THE art of the deal has a unique quality to make you feel like the other guy is winning and or making the decision while in fact President Trump is ruling his roost like a maestro. No and I mean no one is pulling Trumps strings, he is the string puller, and if people don’t do EXACTLY as he want they are gone. Unlike any government official in the past Trump will get rid of dead weight of unloyalw people at the drop of a dime. He’s not bling, and he see who is with him or against him because a leopard can’t change his spots, and these military pukes can’t wear enough camo to hime their allegiances.

#21 Comment By TR On July 31, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

I publicly announce that I am going to steal Fran Macadam’s aphorism at 12:36 a.m.

#22 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 31, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

It is true that there are fewer US foreign policy specialists who are realists or anti-interventionists than there are those who are part of the foreign policy establishment and neocon elites.

In other words, there are fewer foreign policy specialists who supported most of Trump’s campaign foreign policy positions than there are establishment/neocon specialists who opposed those positions. This is just a reality.

But there is also a second reality that is not often discussed in polite realist/anti-interventionist circles: Namely, that many foreign policy specialists who agree with most of the Trump foreign policy positions taken during the campaign — and who could quite likely serve in some capacity in the new Trump administration — have not stepped up and offered their services. They have not offered their services for any number of reasons, but two reasons cause me to comment:

(1) Even though they agree with most of Trump’s stated foreign policy positions, they fear that joining the Trump administration might damage their long-term career aspirations in academia, the media, the foreign policy intelligencia/think-tanks, or elsewhere.

(2) A particularly fearful subset of the first group are those who not only have criticized Trump when they differed from him (a perfectly reasonable position to take), but have actively sought every available opportunity to push an almost entirely anti-Trump line — complete with ridicule and attempted demonization. During the election and since this subgroup has worked in de facto tandem with anti-Trump and never-Trump voices trying to undermine the Trump presidency. In so doing they made themselves ineligible to serve in President Trump’s administration – and I judge that they did this deliberately.

Thus, while it true that there are in absolute numbers fewer foreign policy realists and anti-interventionists to help staff the Trump administration, many of the realists and anti-interventionists who might have made themselves available refused to step us and help and instead joined the opposition forces bent on discrediting and taking down President Trump.

#23 Comment By Ellimist000 On July 31, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

“Had Pat Buchanan won the nomination and the Presidency back in the nineties, does anyone believe he would make the same blunders, and not be equipped to find the right traditional conservatives instead of the establishment DC neocons that try and swamp every GOP Administration now since Reagan?”

Exactly. This would be equally true of Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, probably even Dennis Kucinich. Even Nadar and Goldwater would have gotten their act together.

Has Buchanan even gotten a phone call from Trump? Since there has been some collusion with #NeverTrumpers, why not Larison? Why not the genrals that singed an anti-war letter to Obama regarding Iran? Of course, they would be fools to go work with Trump after all that has happened, but still, Trump ought to understand that simply publicizing the ATTEMPT to get non-warmongerers in his office would do him good.

#24 Comment By Ellimist000 On July 31, 2017 @ 3:04 pm

“I do love that in all of these scenarios, Trump is just some innocent moon-eyed man child who can’t possibly be expected to think on his own.”

And yet, “Trump is a smart guy” according to the author. This unyielding cognitive dissonance Trumpers have is so unnerving and far beyond the devotion that Obama ever had.

#25 Comment By Mary Myers On July 31, 2017 @ 3:11 pm

Scaramucci is out!

#26 Comment By Thaomas On July 31, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

Apparently some Trump supporters are so horrified at his foreign policy they’ve com up with the defenses that it really is not HIS foreign policy.

Even Putin seems to be giving up on his Presidential pick. He’s shocked, shocked that Trump cannot politically overturn Obama’s sanctions for interfering in the election. What good is loyalty if he can’t deliver?

#27 Comment By GodzillaFeet (@GodzillaFeet) On July 31, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

How is Trump supposed to improve any staffing anywhere when congress (and the HR guy) refuses to give him even those he’s already asked for? One rep said it’d take 11 years to staff as needed at the rate they’ve moved. Gowdy said they’re making 5 minutes of questions take 8 hours to slow things down. Nearly all the major DOJ positions are still open, not to mention massive numbers of everything everywhere else, not to mention all the judges for appointing — how is he supposed to do this when there’s still over 200 bills sitting nearly motionless in the parking lot of congress?

Trump was voted for by a lot of people who didn’t even like him. They just hated the nightmare of the permawar and deep corruption we’ve had for so long — and a dozen other critical things most of which were his platform talking points. He was the one guy who wasn’t either of the predictable sides. Better a jerk who can run a company than Orwellian Evil who will continue the utter destruction of our entire form of government. But I don’t think anybody, certainly not me, realized that so many congress people are corrupted vermin working against him not for him; that the media wasn’t just biased but is literally the political arm of agents some foreign attempting to psyop destabilize the country (it’s working really well); and that his ability to hire/fire as he gets a feel for things and sees results is massively impacted by the fact that he can’t fire people easily when he can’t hire anyone to replace them because congress can’t muster the votes, or improve the process, to get bills passed to put the people in place.

I thought watching C-Span videos of the last 8 years of horrible corruption in every fed agency and several sitting polis was bad. But watching what I consider treasonous mutiny, both covert and overt, on the part of the entire congress but for a few, is nauseating and enraging. These people should be tried and hung in some cases, and imprisoned for sedition in many of the others. They don’t want to give Trump a chance to rule because they know that a/ it might expose the profound widespread corruption existing, and b/ because he might succeed, which would ruin a lot of their plans.

And as the article noted. Who would he hire? The people with credentials/experience are part of the existing status quo. People without it might not be qualified, and would need to get in line for congress approval which at this rate is sometime in 2024, and unlike hiring from other companies you can’t hire from other countries in gov’t.

Now they’ve figured out a way to drive our country further toward war, while weakening not only Trump’s executive powers, but his ‘face’ with allies and enemies since it’s obvious even much of the GOP is more against than for him. In business you’d fire their asses and get people worthwhile. Not an option in politics.

#28 Comment By John S On July 31, 2017 @ 5:27 pm

Cool story, bro. When does Deep State, the Movie come out?

#29 Comment By Dan Green On July 31, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

Seems only the Deplorable’s have that swamp figured out.

#30 Comment By Conewago On July 31, 2017 @ 5:57 pm

Trump’s foreign policy is like Maxwell’s movie ‘Gods and Generals’: It has a few catchy quotes, but ultimately it’s a tedious clunker that botches good material, falls back on tired formulas, and spreads the blame for resultant failure to subordinates and the public.

#31 Comment By sglover On July 31, 2017 @ 6:19 pm

So all those saps who apparently believed that Trump was something other than a rudderless opportunist got burned, eh? Golly, what a surprise!

Anyway, at least there are gallows laughs to be had, as the Trump saps get introduced to external reality for what seems to be their first time.

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 31, 2017 @ 6:19 pm

“How do we get Trump or Scaramucci to read this? This is huge.”

I am still forging through this article. Mr trump’s error is really either a lack of self confidence or an unwillingness to take responsibility for his position(s).

He didn’t need this article this article to determine which people to hire. Certainly no one who whose agenda he defeated in the election. Nor should he hire anyone closely linked to them in any way.

It’s as simple as that. And that includes the new chief of staff. If he was or is a promoter of interventions without cause, Russia baiting, and good grief – homeland security an interventionists tool for manufacturing fear and needless scare mongering. If he really wanted to test the veracity of their chief. He should have audited how may illegals are in the country and better yet, how many work for the Dept of Homeland Security.

It’s fine to be impressed with Marines when they are marines, doing marine business —

But the US is not governed by the USMC. Mr Trump’s affinity for rich people and generals based on the assumption that either rank or wealth are indicators of success is a mighty shallow bar.

Given the illegal population in the US and the numbers that actually are employed by US businesses, Cheif of Staff gets and “F”.

#33 Comment By Whine Merchant On July 31, 2017 @ 6:51 pm

The generic fall-back on TAC is becoming “Deep State” for all woes and ills. This is Brietbart / Murdoch conspiracy thinking. Washington and Wall Street are far too self-serving and short-sighted to get a successful conspiracy off the ground and keep it in the air.

When there is a choice between conspiracy and incompetence, which do you really think is more likely??

#34 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 31, 2017 @ 7:44 pm

L’est there be any hesitation about the duties and responsibilities of DHMS.

[6]

#35 Comment By jon On July 31, 2017 @ 8:21 pm

Trump should have brought in the Paleocons. Who would have told him who to stay away from. Instead, we’ve got Jews. Again.

All of this media garbage that’s going on is middle eastern goals to topple Assad. Trump bombs Assad, the very same Jews who are *still* running an insurgency declare Trump “presidential”.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t like this on the Conservative side of aisle. Neoconservative Jews entered the party relatively recently. They just attacked and expelled anyone who didn’t submit. Those poor old guys didn’t fight as vicious as those attacking them.

#36 Comment By Strained Relations On July 31, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

You need to keep them out or the ones who get inside will bring in others. Like termites. Or chain migration.

The Haley hire is especially appalling, but I’d reserve judgment on Schadlow. At least on paper she seems more in line with what we’re looking for – someone who thinks military solutions are overrated and overused and wants more effective soft power. That Eliot Cohen oversaw her dissertation may be bad luck. Smith-Richardson’s not a very good omen though.

#37 Comment By Mac61 On July 31, 2017 @ 10:50 pm

MIlton:

Trump doesn’t read. But he will retweet it if it comes on FOXNews. Shouldn’t be too hard to arrange.

#38 Comment By Kitty Lenoir On July 31, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

I read Nikki Haley is being considered for SOS. If you’re active on social media, express your thoughts. My vote is NO.

#39 Comment By Harold Smith On August 1, 2017 @ 11:12 am

Trump is a liar whose whole campaign was a fraud from the beginning. The whole sanctions legislation nonsense proves it beyond a reasonable doubt. I wish people would stop trying to make excuses for Trump, the shameless scumbag that he is.

The sanctions legislation is completely unconstitutional. If Trump was an honest person he would send it back to congress unsigned withing 10 days, while publicly making it known that it is not only bad policy, but an unacceptable infringement of his presidential authority to conduct foreign relations. He would make it publicly known that if congress overrides the veto, he will simply ignore the legislation.

But Trump will do nothing of the kind because he’s a willing participant in the scam, and the legislation is intended to give political cover to his calculated betrayals.

#40 Comment By Joseph D. On August 1, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

President Trump has shown his willingness to a sane foreign policy by establishing a positive relationship with both President Putin and Xi, and has done so under unprecedented obstruction from both parties, It has already led to a partial cease fire in Syria and an end to the CIA support for terrorist factions. The ongoing attempt at ousting his administration, led by an insane and morally depraved vote for increased sanctions is based on the fraud of “Russian interference,” and the lie of Putin’s invasion or annexation of Crimea. The V.I.P.S. have given us the irrefutable basis for exposing the truth about the “hacking” which can shut down Russia-gate and prosecute those responsible for the great lie. [7]

#41 Comment By Dieter Heymann On August 1, 2017 @ 5:19 pm

There are only three logical conclusions.
One: Trump is not a neocon but does not realize that he is conned into neoconnism.
Two: Trump is not a neocon but he collaborates with neocons to advance his own programs.
Three: Trump has always been a neocon himself.
Faites vos jeux!

#42 Comment By Eileen Kuch On August 1, 2017 @ 9:54 pm

Everyone here nailed it perfectly in his/her own way, and I agree. We all said that Donald Trump’s naive when it comes to foreign policy .. After all, he was in the world of Big Business, having been CEO of both real estate and casino corporations for 40 years. What he’s failed to see is that a country’s not a corporation, wherein foreign policy consists only of trade negotiations with other corporate CEOs. National foreign policy consists of not only trade, but also territorial integrity and other nations’ sovereignty.
National sovereignty’s the enemy of the Trotskyites aka Neocons. They’re Globalists, and Globalists hate national boundaries and sovereignty. It’s been that way for decades, if not generations. One has to go back a century to find the rise of the Bolsheviks, led by both Lenin and Trotsky, along with their plans for world revolutions. After WWI, they seized power in Russia, then began spreading their agenda into Hungary, Slovakia and Germany.
Within the last 25 years, the Trotskyites launched wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. They’re now setting their sights on North Korea and Iran, with China and Russia next.

#43 Comment By Greg M On August 2, 2017 @ 2:38 am

All of the people in this article are indeed bad people. That said, all Neocons are not in lockstep opposition to Trump, and I think that there is a false perception that Trump is opposed to all foreign interventions when I do not believe that this is the case at all. Look no further than Iran, where Trump (backed by Steve Bannon among others) was ready to rip up the Iran deal until he was talked out of it at the last minute by Tillerson. [8] [9]. The much respected Philip Giraldi linked to this article on his Facebook page, writing that he fears that Trump is trying to get America into a war with Iran. [10] Say what you want about the people profiled in this article, and there are a LOT of bad things to be said about them, but It’s not McMaster and Tillerson who are working to rip up the Iran deal, in fact they appear to be the ones fighting to keep it in place while “non interventionists” such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka work to destroy it and further set back relations with Iran.

#44 Comment By David Harrell On August 2, 2017 @ 9:30 am

It would be unfair to call these neocon artists “trash.” What did trash ever do to deserve such a comparison?

The Utah candidate was CIA’s, or rather Deep State’s own Egg McMuffin, aka Evan McMullen, the eggheaded joke who posed as a “principled conservative” alternative for the sole purpose of siphoning votes from Trump– parallel to the Clintocrats’ vote fraud schemes; two moves which they assumed would clinch the victory for the Evil One.
Despite that, such was the mood of the American people, the astuteness of Donald Trump, and the hubristic miscalculation of the schemers, that their best-laid plans failed.
Still (probably with nightmares of indictments and prison bars spurring them on in addition to their usual visions of swimming pools full of money) they soldier on with their fraudulent political / psychological ops against America, peace, liberty, justice, and all that is decent. They just don’t quite realize yet that their forces are outflanked.
Or, to put it another way, Wile E. Coyote is hovering obliviously between the moment he runs off the cliff and the moment he happens to look down.

#45 Comment By c matt On August 2, 2017 @ 4:21 pm

I feel for our cannon fodder enlisted. But then, who forced them to enlist? Anyone voluntarily joining the US armed forces today, if not out of purely mercenary motives, is simply a fool.

#46 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 2, 2017 @ 7:45 pm

It is true that there are fewer US foreign policy specialists who are realists or anti-interventionists than there are those who are part of the foreign policy establishment and neocon elites.

In other words, there are fewer foreign policy specialists who supported most of Trump’s campaign foreign policy positions than there are establishment/neocon specialists who opposed those positions. This is just a reality.

But there is also a second reality that is not often discussed in polite realist/anti-interventionist circles: Namely, that many foreign policy specialists who agree with most of the Trump foreign policy positions taken during the campaign — and who could quite likely serve in some capacity in the new Trump administration — have not stepped up and offered their services. They have not offered their services for any number of reasons, but two reasons cause me to comment:

(1) Even though they agree with most of Trump’s stated foreign policy positions, they fear that joining the Trump administration might damage their long-term career aspirations in academia, the media, the foreign policy intelligencia/think-tanks, or elsewhere.

(2) A particularly fearful subset of the first group are those who not only have criticized Trump when they differed from him (a perfectly reasonable position to take), but have actively sought every available opportunity to push an almost entirely anti-Trump line — complete with ridicule and attempted demonization. During the election and since this subgroup has worked in de facto tandem with anti-Trump and never-Trump voices trying to undermine the Trump presidency. In so doing they made themselves ineligible to serve in President Trump’s administration – and I judge that they did this deliberately.

Thus, while it true that there are in absolute numbers fewer foreign policy realists and anti-interventionists to help staff the Trump administration, many of the realists and anti-interventionists who might have made themselves available refused to step us and help and instead joined the opposition forces bent on discrediting and taking down President Trump.

#47 Comment By SteveK9 On August 2, 2017 @ 8:47 pm

For Neocons, Russia is a new toy. Neocons originated with Jewish Democrats, who wanted to use American power to protect Israel. Over time that morphed into using American power to do whatever we want, but destroying Israel’s enemies is still a core goal.

#48 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 4, 2017 @ 7:09 am

“Anyone voluntarily joining the US armed forces today, if not out of purely mercenary motives, is simply a fool.”

Or maybe they just have a desire to serve. Due to some loyalty to the country as personal obligation and w be fools who take such service for granted.