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Did Kushner Keep Tillerson in the Dark on Saudi-Lebanon Move?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has accomplished the impossible: he’s actually united Lebanon, though perhaps only briefly.  

The tale of how the 32-year-old bin Salman (or MbS, as he’s called), accomplished this is a tad complex, but it’s worth the telling. Earlier this month, on November 2, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the scion of the wealthy Hariri family (and the son of the much-admired Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005), received a telephone call in Beirut from a senior Saudi official directing him to fly immediately to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi Crown Prince. Hariri could hardly refuse: a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, Hariri’s family fortune (and funding for his Lebanese political party, the Future Movement) depended on Saudi largesse—so off he went.

The next day, Hariri cooled his heels for four hours waiting for MbS to meet with him, before being ushered into His Presence, where he was peremptorily directed to read a television statement announcing his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister and blaming Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, for plotting to destabilize his country and murder him. This was high drama, but lousy theatre: Hariri’s eyes shifted uncomfortably during his address, as if seeking approval from off-camera handlers that he was performing as expected. Hariri then popped up in Abu Dhabi, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, before returning to Riyadh, where he reassured the Lebanese public that he was sincere about resigning, hadn’t been detained against his will by the Saudis, and would soon return to Beirut.

Unfortunately for the Saudis, no one in Lebanon was buying it.

Within hours of Hariri’s address, officials of his Sunni-dominated Future Movement speculated that the prime minister was being held against his will, expressed doubts that his resignation was voluntary and pushed for his return. Several days later, Lebanese President Michel Aoun (a Maronite Christian), said that he believed the Saudis had “kidnapped” Hariri while Hassan Nasrallah, the Shiite leader of the Iranian-aligned Party of God (Hezbollah), publicly described Hariri’s resignation as a “Saudi-imposed decision.” Banners began appearing in Beirut (“We Want Our PM Back”), and festooned the jerseys of runners participating in a Beirut marathon: “Running For Hariri.”

Hariri was suddenly Lebanon’s poster boy, a martyr-in-the-making. Which is to say that, within days of his resignation, it was clear that Saudi Arabia’s attempt to paint Hezbollah as “destabilizing Lebanon” had backfired: Mohammad bin Salman’s insistence that Hariri take a tougher stance against Iran and Hezbollah had made unlikely allies of Lebanon’s squabbling factions. Those plotting against Lebanon weren’t in Tehran, the Lebanese public decided, they were in Riyadh. But the Lebanese weren’t the only ones who weren’t buying the Saudi line. Neither was the U.S. State Department.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was accompanying the president during his Asia tour at the time of the Saudi-engineered initiative, was “completely blindsided” by the move, as several senior Middle East diplomats confirmed to TAC. While Tillerson would later be accused of being “totally disengaged” from the crisis, several former and current U.S. diplomats have told us that just precisely the opposite was the case. Tillerson, they say, had a “long and pointed discussion” on the Hariri situation with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on November 7, after having directed Acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, David Satterfield, to “walk point” on the issue. Satterfield talked with Hariri’s aides in Beirut and told Christopher Henzel, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Saudi Arabia, to meet with Hariri in Riyadh. In Beirut, meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard was gathering information on the crisis from Lebanese officials and passing it back to Washington.

Tillerson’s initial reaction to the Hariri resignation was in keeping with his low-key approach. He gathered the facts, solicited advice, advised calm and held his temper. In private, however, Tillerson was seething. This was the second time in six months that the Saudis had taken a major diplomatic initiative without issuing a heads-up to the U.S.—a violation of the unwritten “no surprises” rule that is standard courtesy among close allies. The first surprise had come in June, when the Saudis broke off relations with Qatar and placed it under an economic embargo. The anti-Qatar move embarrassed the U.S., split the Gulf Cooperation Council and shattered U.S. efforts to forge a united anti-Iran Sunni bloc. And, as was the case with the Saudi-engineered Hariri resignation, the Qatar crisis had come with nary a warning from the Saudis to their most important ally.

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But according to a senior Middle East diplomat with whom TAC spoke, Tillerson wasn’t only angered by Saudi Arabia’s failure to give the U.S. a heads-up on their Lebanon plans, he suspected that the White House knew of the plan for Hariri ahead of time, but failed to tell him. The culprit, as had been the case of the Qatar crisis, was Jared Kushner, the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law, whose official role in the White House is described by an avalanche of titles that rivals anything given a Saudi royal: Senior Advisor to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, and Special Representative for International Negotiations. More crucially, Kushner is close to MbS, who Kushner had met with (ostensibly about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process), during an under-the-radar trip to the region at the end of October.

“Kushner and MbS aren’t just close, they’re very, very close,” the senior Middle East diplomat told TAC. “I suppose there’s an outside possibility that Kushner was as surprised about the Hariri move as Tillerson, but I really doubt it. It’s unimaginable that bin Salman didn’t tell Kushner what he was planning.” But this same diplomat dismissed the notion that bin Salman asked for Kushner’s approval of the Saudi initiative—that Kushner “green lighted” it. “That’s not the way this works,” he said. “I doubt that the Saudis needed a green light. They don’t think they need anyone’s permission to do what they want, they take it for granted that Kushner supports them. Their calculation is that he has more influence with the president than Rex Tillerson.”

In truth, this diplomat says, neither the U.S. nor Tillerson should have been surprised by the Saudi move—or MbS distaste for Saad Hariri. Tensions between the Lebanese prime minister and the Saudis had been festering since mid-May, when a Hariri-backed delegation of bankers arrived in Washington to lobby the Congress against imposing tough new sanctions on Lebanese financial institutions suspected of being affiliated with Hezbollah. Lebanese officials told members of Congress that increased regulatory pressure would damage Lebanon’s fragile banking sector and endanger its financial stability. Hariri himself appeared in Washington in July to buttress these efforts. As a result, Congress carefully dampened the impact of the proposed sanctions, fearing that any attempt to target Hezbollah would undermine the fragile Lebanese economy.  

“That was a final straw for the Saudis,” this diplomat says. “They were absolutely disgusted. As far as they were concerned, Hariri was caving in to the Iranians.” By the end of the summer, the Saudis were determined to get rid of the prime minister and replace him with his older brother, Bahaa, a Saudi resident and Saad competitor who has long wanted to replace his brother as head of the Future Movement. “This was a plot and months in the making,” a senior aide to Lebanese President Michel Aoun told The American Conservative in an email. “Saad refused to fall in line with Saudi Arabia’s plan to confront the Iranians. So MbS decided to make him pay.”

But Hariri had not only run afoul of Mohammed bin Salman, he’d also crossed Thamer Al Sabhan, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Gulf State Affairs, a fervid, and MbS partisan. At key points in the crisis, and even as Mohammed bin Salman remained silent, Al Sabhan had issued threats against Iran, Hezbollah—and Saad Hariri. His most outspoken public statement came in the midst of the Hariri crisis, on November 7—and was aimed at the Lebanese prime minister.

“We will treat the government in Lebanon as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia due to the aggression of Hizbollah,” Al Sabhan told Al Arabiya, the Saudi owned news channel. It was an astonishing statement, and read in Washington as an “or else” threat against Hariri—he would resign his position and tow the Saudi line, “or else.” The problem for Al Sabhan, and for the Saudis, is that the more reckless their rhetoric became, the more the Lebanese dug in their heels. “The Saudi mistake was in thinking that we’d roll over,” this officials says. “We didn’t.”

Nor did Rex Tillerson. On November 10, the State Department issued a press statement under Tillerson’s name (“On The Situation In Lebanon”), supporting Hariri (“We respect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri as a strong partner of the United States.”), at the same time that it took a swipe at Iran—and the Saudis. “The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon,” the statement read, “using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country.”

November 10, as it turns out, marked the most significant moment in the Hariri crisis. On the day the Tillerson statement was issued, Tillerson’s point man on the issue, David Satterfield, had a meeting with Thamer Al Sabhan at the State Department. Al Sabhan was in Washington for meetings, which included one at the White House. The Satterfield-Al Sabhan meeting did not go well, according to the senior diplomat with whom we spoke. In fact, the description is an understatement.

“The meeting was ugly, confrontational,” a former ambassador who received a “read out of the meeting” explained to us. “Satterfield laid down the law—the U.S. did not support the Saudi initiative, thought that what the Saudis were doing was destabilizing, wanted Saad to remain as prime minister and would not support Bahaa as his replacement.” This senior diplomat says that Satterfield was “dismissive” of the Saudi attempt to shift the mantle of the Future Movement onto Bahaa’s shoulders. “Satterfield made it clear that the U.S. didn’t think that Bahaa was up to the job,” then added his own judgment: “He’s unpredictable, lazy.”

In the days following the Satterfield-Al Sabhan meeting, the Hariri crisis has subsided.Denying that he was detained against his will by the Saudis, Hariri arrived in Paris on Saturday, where met with French President Emmanuel Macron, then made his way to Beirut via Cairo on Wednesday. His return was triumphant. He appeared at a military parade marking his country’s independence, spoke to cheering crowds outside of his home – and all but renounced his Riyahd decision to resign as Lebanon’s prime minister. “I offered my resignation to President Aoun and he asked me to delay presenting it, to allow for more consultations and deliberations, and I agreed to his request,” Hariri said.

The unlikely hero in all of this might well be Rex Tillerson, who quietly engineered a U.S. policy at odds with the views of Donald Trump—and his son-in-law. The exact details of how Tillerson pulled this off remain unknown (“I think Tillerson just told Trump what he was going to do,” the senior diplomat with whom we spoke speculates, “and then just did it.”), even as the odds against him mount: he remains the target of former and current State Department officials for failing to fill empty Foggy Bottom offices, remains the object of rumors that he will be replaced, is widely disliked by reporters covering the State Department for his detachment (and for refusing to approve reporters’ requests to travel with him), and is regularly dismissed in the diplomatic community for his style—for what is described as his “vanishing act” on foreign policy issues.  

More crucially, Tillerson’s views are sharply at odds with a White House that has shown a willingness to take Saudi claims at face value. Which means that what was obvious in June, when the Saudis purposely shattered the Arab world’s united Sunni front against Iran, is even more obvious now—in the midst of the Hariri crisis. “The U.S. is running two foreign policies in the Middle East,” the senior diplomat with whom we spoke says. “There’s a White House foreign policy that’s in the hands of Jared Kushner and another that is being engineered by Rex Tillerson.” And which foreign policy will prevail? The question brought a laugh from the senior diplomat. It’s not really that hard to figure out,” he said. “Rex Tillerson will be secretary of state until he decides not to be—or gets fired. But Jared Kushner will probably be the president’s son-in-law forever.”

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a regular contributor to The American Conservative and the author of The Pentagon’s Wars, which was released in October. He tweets @markperrydc [1]

38 Comments (Open | Close)

38 Comments To "Did Kushner Keep Tillerson in the Dark on Saudi-Lebanon Move?"

#1 Comment By watchers On November 26, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

Kushner is an embarrassment to America. Trump should never have let his daughter marry such an patently obvious creep. I voted for Trump. I can’t believe that he has not only maintained some of Obama’s stupidest and most destructive Middle East and Africa policies, he has actually made some of them even worse. And most of them are the fruit of this jackass Kushner and his thug friends in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

#2 Comment By Youknowho On November 26, 2017 @ 11:25 pm

Does anyone have the feeling that the White House is being run by Curly, Larry, and Moe?

#3 Comment By Whine Merchant On November 27, 2017 @ 12:29 am

B’but…but…Benghazi!!

#4 Comment By Johnny F. Ive On November 27, 2017 @ 2:14 am

If this is true then if Kushner & Saudi Arabia succeed in making a mess of Trump’s presidency family holidays will become very icy.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 27, 2017 @ 6:48 am

I can understand Sec. Tillersons irritation. If Mr Kushner knew in advance and the claims that he did sound a bit ‘stretchy’ to me, then as a matter of protocol and jurisdictional share or common courtesy he should have passed that information along. They are on the same side, US interests first. It’s not impossible for me to imagine this oversight as, just that an organizational oversight.

As for Saudi Arabia, she is a sovereign state. And while a “head up” is always nice, I am not sure we have much in the way of demand. A sovereign state is going to act in her best interests, She is not going to be seeking permission or a thumbs up for every move he makes as a sovereign state.

Sec Tillerson’s response appears to have been prudently wise.

#6 Comment By Thaomas On November 27, 2017 @ 9:03 am

It seems strange that Tillerson would be wreaking the State Department at this time if will need to rely on it to help him resist Trump’s polities.

#7 Comment By Sworn To Protect And Defend On November 27, 2017 @ 9:21 am

Can someone tell me again what credentials Kushner has for doing ANY of this? Other than the fact that he’s Trump’s not particularly intelligent Jewish son-in-law?

Really disgusting nepotism and abuse of power here. Most real Americans thought that Hillary’s barging into White House councils was outrageous back when Bill Clinton was President. But Trump is taking corrupt nepotism to a whole new level.

#8 Comment By neutral On November 27, 2017 @ 9:58 am

The worst thing with this is the fact that kidnapping a head of state is accepted by a lot of the Western establishment types as being no big deal, as if Saudi Arabia meant well but it was just a poorly executed idea. The starving Yemen action is bad enough, tolerating this increasingly aggressive Saudi regime is simply not acceptable.

#9 Comment By John Mann On November 27, 2017 @ 10:44 am

“The worst thing with this is the fact that kidnapping a head of state is accepted by a lot of the Western establishment types as being no big deal . . . ”

Well, if Iran had done it, the nukes would already have been launched.

#10 Comment By Interguru On November 27, 2017 @ 11:36 am

I have seen simpler Rubik Cubes.

#11 Comment By balconesfault On November 27, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

If Tillerson were retaining the competent, knowledgeable diplomats he inherited as Sec State … perhaps he’d be less left in the dark as others in the administration (including the President himself) conduct foreign policy independent of the DOS?

#12 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On November 27, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

How do we know it was Trump’s idea to hire Kushner? Maybe he was told he had to hire him. Why did Obama do a 180 on his foreign policy? Maybe when he got to the White House he found out who was really in charge, and it wasn’t him. Who gave him his orders? If you see puppets on a string, then their must be a puppeteer, right?

#13 Comment By balconesfault On November 27, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

@Chris in Appalachia

Why did Obama do a 180 on his foreign policy?

What 180 are you talking about?

In 2008, Obama repeatedly stated that our big mistake was in invading Iraq, rather than using our troop strength to stabilize Afghanistan, and pledged that he’d withdraw from Iraq (as opposed to McCain, who talked about remaining in Iraq for 100 years) and would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan.

I’ll certainly grant that there were flaws in Obama’s foreign policy … but there wasn’t a 180.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 27, 2017 @ 3:22 pm

“I’ll certainly grant that there were flaws in Obama’s foreign policy … but there wasn’t a 180.”

Ohhh wow. An opportunity to defend Sen McCain. That’s reality of transforming a nation from the ground up. That’s the level of commitment and I think Sen McCain is spot on as was Pres Bush. But then it was the the prev. admin which opened the door for an early exit.

And you are dead wrong — the incoming executive made a point to say he intended to change our mideast policy. He went so far as to give speeches to that effect. It was on that premise that the peace prize was awarded.

I suggest that his all too generous donars, and Sec Clinton and her establishment professionals in state, the DIA, the Pentagon and the CIA make the point otherwise and that is exactly how we get Syria, Libya, the Ukraine. Wow, an opportunity to defend the previous executive — Pres Obana had no intention of engaging in military operations in those states, but he was hamstrung by the ties to myths about being the first one and needing to go slow for the next potential dark skinned executive. Had he stood his ground and forced a public reckoning he would have been more than the nice brown guy who inhabited the WH minus any personal scandal who maintained the worst of our foreign policy behavior. A foreign policy he abhorred, as colonialist with similar consequences.

Imagine the shock of Libyan Pres Qaddaffi, one of the father of Arab self determination in the modern era as the US led by Sec Clinton brought out the long knives to take his life. Please no nonsense about genocide.

Middle East experts indeed. Good grief. Pres Trump is not the father of the stitch and sewn tattered quilt that represents our ME policy.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 27, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

When you do the exact opposite of what contend you desire to or will do — it’s called a 180 degree turn. The previous behavior in the region is just that.

That betrayal fed Sen Sander’s bid against change you can believe in”

#16 Comment By Jackrabbit On November 27, 2017 @ 7:05 pm

Obama DID do a 180.

Despite his campaign promises HE WANTED TO STAY in Iraq. And he would’ve except that Iraq refused to continue to give US troops immunity. THAT is why Obama pulled the troops out, not because he was honoring his campaign pledge.

#17 Comment By Taras 77 On November 27, 2017 @ 7:51 pm

I am having difficulty getting too worked up about the serious reductions of career foreign service officers. To my mind, it is long past due.
When one looks at the previous eight years, with susan rice, samantha power, clinton, and what they have wrought, it is astonishing. I was particularly disgusted, aside from the disaster that was libya, syria, iraq, at the irrational anti-russian rhetoric and policy day after day with respect to ukraine, a situation that nuland, et al created.
I believe the infestation of state by the neo cons was/is extremely dangerous and counter productive and we are still paying the price. The sooner we can get a clean crew in state, the better the world and the us will be.

#18 Comment By Ernest Miller IV On November 28, 2017 @ 6:10 am

Read Jeff Gates series of books, Guilt by Association and Criminal State. Great work as always guys. Can’t TiLAP be he here yet!?

#19 Comment By Emmanuel Moyana On November 28, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

If i was Rex I would have left by now

#20 Comment By balconesfault On November 28, 2017 @ 4:13 pm

@Jackrabbit Despite his campaign promises HE WANTED TO STAY in Iraq. And he would’ve except that Iraq refused to continue to give US troops immunity. THAT is why Obama pulled the troops out, not because he was honoring his campaign pledge.

Amusing … Obama has been attacked from the right for years now by Conservatives claiming that the SOFA was negotiable, and Obama most definitely could have kept troops in Iraq if he’d wanted to, and that his desire to pull out is what allowed portions of Iraq to destabilize and led to the rise of ISIS.

Now the claim that Obama really wanted to keep a large garrison in Iraq all along, and it’s only Iraq’s refusal to renegotiate certain terms that forced his hand in troop withdrawal?

Sometimes the truth lies between two polar opposite claims. In this case, I think that the truth exists completely skew to whatever line connects these two positions.

@Elitecomm That betrayal fed Sen Sander’s bid against change you can believe in”

Except that Sanders talked almost not at all about foreign policy during the campaign. His thrust against Hillary wasn’t mainly based on her overly hawkish positions … but on he being too chummy with Wall Street, and too unwilling to promote a far more socialist agenda (single payer healthcare, $15 an hour national minimum wage, free college tuition).

the incoming executive made a point to say he intended to change our mideast policy.

And he did. Just ask Israel, for starters.

And I’m really not sure what to make of your “nice brown guy” stuff…

#21 Comment By William On November 28, 2017 @ 6:12 pm

Thomas Friedman is an extreme lightweight, and he, along with Jared Kushner, are blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 28, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

“Except that Sanders talked almost not at all about . . . $15 an hour national minimum wage, free college tuition).

I don’t think he needed to do any such thing. They thought they were getting a serious change in policy, most dramatically demonstrated by a withdrawal from Ira and even Afghanistan . . . they got neither until SOFA and that only because he could hide behind the agreement. I am not in the corner of anyone who notes the violence started after SOFA. The violence began and was in effect from the moment we invaded, exacerbated by invading forces being told to stand down to the civil war breaking out right in from them, exacerbated further by disbanding the party . . . sOFA anticlimactic. Then the admin moved on to Iraq, Syria, the Ukraine(we just fomented and encouraged that violence). The million of voters who voted for change were deeply disappointed. On the home front, the bail out were another afront – full on slap in the face. The current executives weak endorsement of OWS didn’t help his case in healing the would.

By the time Sec Hillary got around to campaigning, I just don’t think they bought it. Her covert and overt complicity in foreign policy wars or aggressive behavior, her embrace of WS, everything about her rang hollow. And when it came to light that she was actively seeking to sabotage a candidate — the Sanders voters were all the more eager to see her go and usher him in. In the end — even he betrayed them.

Sec Clinton was a supporter of free college tuition and a single payer system — as I say, they just thought she was untrustworthy.
______________

“the incoming executive made a point to say he intended to change our mideast policy.”

The context here is the incoming executive in 2008. He didn’t change our position on Israel either though he wanted to . . . which brings us to the comments about skin color.

This executive was for practical purposes save on one issues a token used for agendas he did not support as noted in my comments. The assumption was made that merely his presence was a historical shift, but once in office, he found the chains of history bound him to policies and idea he thought he could transcend —

Reality: it’s a tough lug to change 400+ years of identity crammed down your being in one election or eight years in office, especially if you can’t openly and forthright address by policy the issues that make your election historic. Historic for black people, but for whites, a stepping stone to electing a woman — preferably a white women.

But a dark man who got through the WH minus any personal scandal is the achievement african americans must accept, the epitome of an “uncle tom”. I say that with a good deal of pain, but I certainly grasp the situational reasoning or should I say politically correct identity polity.

And he never expressed his anger in a manner unacceptable to whites — he was cautioned plenty. Meanwhile the policies of “whites” were wrecking the middle east, stealing hand to fist, establishing a boondoggle mercantile healthcare system and ensuring no one was held accountable for any of it.

Imagine a constitutional lawyer having to subvert the constitution because he embrace policies he wanted to remove or diminish.

That’s a man in turmoil.

#23 Comment By posa On November 28, 2017 @ 10:54 pm

All’s well that ends well. The stupidity and incompetence of all the parties in this sordid affair aborted any attempts to instigate a new round of devastating wars in the ME. That’s a good thing.

The unspoken participant is, of course, Israel which is salivating at the prospect that they’ve found another stooge in the form of MbS willing to do their dirty work and start a war with Iran. Kushner serves as the direct conduit directly to Bibi.

the sands are rapidly shifting … Israel and the KSA are finding themselves isolated and without a strong Washington hand ready to bail out their perfidy. Russia and China want no party of more war and can deter any hostilities…

#24 Comment By Adam Smith On November 29, 2017 @ 12:31 am

Kushner a dual citizen of Israel and America should not be representing America because he does not have America’s best interest at heart. Israel is the reason that American boys and girls are my dying in these wars. Americans should vote out any senator,representative or anybody representing Israeli interest or any foreign agent who does not have American interest at heart. Next time you vote make sure you do your homework and not vote for Israeli agents who constantly vote to send hardworking American tax money along with bombs and planes to Israel. Don’t take my word for it. Look at voting record of your senator and representative in this matter and make your own educated decision.

#25 Comment By You’re Kidding On November 29, 2017 @ 3:49 pm

“Kushner a dual citizen of Israel and America should not be representing America because he does not have America’s best interest at heart.”

Is that really true? Is Kushner really an Israeli? Jesus Christ Almighty … what the HELL is going on down in DC?

#26 Comment By Whine Merchant On November 30, 2017 @ 1:52 am

EliteCommInc & Jackrabbit: I am not sure how you do it, but somehow everything is the fault of President Obama. I am offended by your not-so-veiled racism; it belongs at NR and Faux, where there are mentions of the ‘mulatto mafia’ in the White House in 2008 – 2016 and Netanyahu’s “make the White House white again” remarks.

Please remember that this is TAC, a site for grown-ups.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 30, 2017 @ 10:11 am

“EliteCommInc & Jackrabbit: I am not sure how you do it, but somehow everything is the fault of President Obama.”

I can only speak for myself here. Your statement is categorically false.

Pres Obama is only responsible for his actions and decisions while in office. He inherited the messes of Iraq and Afghanistan and I acknowledged as much repeatedly in other discussions.

On the matter of color. My comments reflect what I believe took place in light of his color among both parties as to color politics and social expectation. An there is nothing veiled about my view. I did not say, I applauded, approved of that environment. But it is as plain as day, nonetheless. I do press it to underscore the deep hypocrisy among liberals on the issue of color politics. Given that, the manner in which they used color to hamper the Pres. agenda to espouse that of Sec Clinton is in the fact the “racist” colorist”, “white supremacists” and sexist dynamic in play — by democrats.

Millions and millions of people voted for the executive because he was black. In doing so they thought they could end 400+ years of color discrimination polity and practice. First in voting based on color — they defeat their own case and second they revealed an environment wore than imagined as both parties (even women – there’s a shock) leveraged his color against him and the vision he had for the country — if he had one.

I have been at times unduly harsh — for clearly he not only inherited wars hr opposed, he inherited an environment so loaded against his skin he advance more policies he had no intention of bearing fruit to.

Frankly the country would have been better off had he been stronger. I say that even as his political opponent.

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 30, 2017 @ 10:15 am

“Millions and millions of people voted for the executive because he was black.”

I use the term with some hesitation, it is merely my choice to be politically correct — and only that.

#29 Comment By TR On December 1, 2017 @ 9:24 am

Comments on side issues are a distraction from a really fine article which shows the complicated nuts and bolts operation that diplomacy is.

My congratulations to the author.

#30 Comment By b. On December 1, 2017 @ 12:03 pm

It is telling – and detestable – that the Democrats and – initially, until Trump aligned – the neocon/neolib “deep state” at “State”, CIA and DoD have been beating the “Russia!” hysterics about implied and unproven “influence” on Trump& Co. since before the election and inauguration, yet we will never hear a comparable expression of “concern” regarding “Israel!” or “Saudi Arabia” and their outsized, possibly illegal influence on US executive and legislature.

As the body count in Yemen increases – hanging chads, for all The People care – it is hard to see the harm implied by even the worst libel regarding Russian “influence” to measure up against the willful corruption that Obama, Trump, and their predecessors and hanger-ons have made their own without a moments hesitation.

#31 Comment By Go Back To Manhattan, Creep On December 1, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

It seems that Kushner’s the “senior transition staff member” that Flynn’s going to rat out. That may relieve some of the pressure on Tillerson.

(And if it means the end of Kushner’s short, chaotic, and destructive turn in the limelight, so much the better. He’s much more likeable and believable as a failed New York real estate developer.)

#32 Comment By Now THAT’S what you call “collusion”! On December 1, 2017 @ 8:21 pm

@Go Back to Manhattan etc :

Looks like you’re onto something. It’s not about collusion between Trump and Russia. The real collusion appears to be between Kushner and his Israeli handlers, who used Flynn to do Israel’s dirty work:

” This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U.N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution. Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member stats to support the resolution with the Trump transition team.”

#33 Comment By Khan On December 1, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

Kushner’s only loyalty is to Netanyahu and the Likud Bloc and it is so clear that he wants to take American into another disastrous war of aggression-this time against Iran. When will the American people remove these AIPAC war criminals and their fanatical Armageddon Evangelical allies like Tom Cotton and Mike Pompeo from power?

#34 Comment By Not Again On December 2, 2017 @ 9:39 am

“It’s not about collusion between Trump and Russia. The real collusion appears to be between Kushner and his Israeli handlers, who used Flynn to do Israel’s dirty work”

I’m not in the least surprised. Israel often seems to be involved in these kinds of scandals. It’s because of the way Israel rolls — sneaking, bribing, corrupting, blackmailing, disinforming decision-makers, behind the scenes pressure, always operating beneath the surface, so that the American people don’t see how it meddles in our political process.

It is shocking that our national security apparatus failed to flag an obvious security risk like Kushner, that he was able obtain the clearances he must have to sit in on White House councils. It raises basic questions about national security.

How did someone with his history pass even a cursory background check? Did he lie or withhold information? Did Trump personally exempt him from it?

#35 Comment By Whack-a-Mole 2017 On December 2, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

“It’s not about collusion between Trump and Russia. The real collusion appears to be between Kushner and his Israeli handlers, who used Flynn to do Israel’s dirty work”

Too much! We should have known or suspected that Israel would be involved, if for no other reason than that the Israelis meddle in US politics far more than the Russians ever did. It just didn’t hang together before. But when you throw into the mix the reports of Netanyahu ordering Kushner to undermine US policy by pressuring the Russians to scrap the UN vote on Israeli West Bank settlements, everything fits.

#36 Comment By Faux Moses Screws The Pooch On December 3, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

Sorry, but I really had to shake my head and laugh in rueful wonder.

All this crap, all this mind-numbingly incoherent, wasteful, self-destructive crap with Mueller goes back to Israel giving orders to Kushner.

People warned Trump about Kushner from the outset. But the jerk wouldn’t listen. Instead of devoting his presidency to “America First” he made it about himself, his New York cronies, and his family. And now his Israel-fanatic son-in-law, who has already damaged him, may bring down his presidency.

When o when will we learn?

#37 Comment By Wait Til 2018 On December 3, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

To answer the question the article asks, the answer is probably “yes”.

Similarly, Kushner seems to have kept Flynn in the dark about the direct role played by Israel in getting Kushner to arrange for him contact the Russians.

In general Kushner has earned the reputation of being a sneak. It’s not the best reputation to have if he’s really going to be Trump’s point man on renewed Middle East peace negotiations. (I don’t know why they bother with those any more. All that happens in the end is that America gets ripped off by the other parties.)

#38 Comment By Geddes On December 3, 2017 @ 9:29 pm

Kushner is doing what he was taught to do. Protecting Israel. Bibi has known him since he was only as high as a half grown bulrush on the river bank. If Kushner had any decency he would resign or renounce one of his citizenships and get onside with the remaining one. Loyalty is deep down and ingrained. Two master and you hate one?