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Trump To Qatar: ‘Drop Dead’

Down, down, down we go: [1]

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was stunned Tuesday when told by reporters about President Trump’s tweets on Qatar.

Asked for his reaction, Sen. Bob Corker [2] (R-Tenn.) first said he hadn’t seen the tweets.

Told by a reporter that Trump accused Qatar of being a state sponsor of terrorism, Corker responded, in a notably lower register, “The president?”

Reporters responded yes, and five seconds of silence later, Corker followed up: “When did that occur?”

Told that it happened Tuesday morning, Corker stood silent for about another 10 seconds.

Here’s what the president tweeted:

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What the Commander in Chief is doing with his reckless tweeting is putting at risk [7] one of the largest and most important American military installations in the world:

The U.S. has located one of its largest air base operations in the desert outside the Qatari capital of Doha which is home to close to 11,000 U.S. military personnel. However, with the recent visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the Middle East, ties with Saudi Arabia have strengthened.

The Al Udeid U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) military base in Qatar was set up in 2003 after it was moved from the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The base, which boasts a long runway of 12,500 feet, is an important facility for the U.S. as it can accommodate up to 120 aircrafts. The base in Qatar serves as logistics, command and basing hubs for the U.S. CENTCOM area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The day before, Defense Secretary Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson had made public statements trying to calm the waters. This morning, they woke up to this mess from President Trump, who endorses a regional blockade of our ally!

We have a major military base in Qatar that the Qataris could close tomorrow if they wanted to. And Trump is antagonizing them for what? To please Our Friends The Saudis™?

I don’t mind that Trump is being disruptive. I very much mind that he is being stupid about it, and making enemies for our country for no good reason. On the other hand, I suppose there could be a bright side: I suppose that’s one way Trump is getting us out of the Middle East.

Larison says: [8]

The more worrying thing about this statement is that Trump’s opinion of Qatar’s activities seems to be guided entirely by what other leaders told him about their government. Last month in Riyadh, Trump boasted that the U.S.-Qatari relationship was “extremely good” and that he and the emir would be discussing the purchase of “beautiful military equipment” made in the U.S. That was unfortunate in its own way, but it shows how different Trump’s view of Qatar was a few weeks ago. As I said before, Qatar is responsible for supporting jihadist and Islamist groups abroad, but they are hardly the only government in the region that has done so. Judging from Trump’s statement, he is simply taking Qatar’s neighbors at their self-serving word and he is letting himself–and the U.S.–be used to legitimize their vendettas. That bodes ill for this particular crisis, and it also shows how easily regional clients can shape U.S. policies during Trump’s presidency.

All the Saudis had to do was flatter the US President, and he swung their way in an incredibly destructive way — this, without consulting his own national security leadership, and indeed by undercutting them, and indeed by making fools of them. The recklessness is stunning — and frightening. There is no foreign policy stability at the pinnacle of the US government. The word of the Defense Secretary and the Secretary of State is worthless in foreign capitals. What matters are the spontaneous tweets of an President disconnected from a realistic sense of responsibility for his office and the security of the nation he leads.

Sooner or later, Mattis, Tillerson, and H.R. McMaster are going to have to resign to protect their own integrity. And then what?

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88 Comments (Open | Close)

88 Comments To "Trump To Qatar: ‘Drop Dead’"

#1 Comment By Polichinello On June 7, 2017 @ 9:26 am

I doubt Trump could find Qatar on the map, never mind explain who in the middle east supports who.

I seriously doubt many in the Middle East could explain who supports who, as it can change from month-to-month.

As for finding countries on the globe, Trump has dealt with plenty from the region as a businessman.

#2 Comment By Polichinello On June 7, 2017 @ 9:30 am

Noah172 is a true believer, desperately trying to find some way to interpret Trump as a rational human being making defensible thoughtful decisions.

IIRC, Noah didn’t support the Syria strike. I believe argued a bit with M_Young about it as well.

I quite sure he’s unsatisfied with Trump’s actions on immigration to this point, as am I and others who voted for Trump. But, alas, the other candidates were even worse, including Ms No-Borders From the Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego (find that on a map!).

#3 Comment By FL Transplant On June 7, 2017 @ 9:44 am

1. One of the large motivations for the 9/11 attacks was the US presence in Saudi. After the attack among other actions we took we reduced our in-Kingdom presence. We moved much of our forces in theater from Saudi into Qatar. Please note, for a few of the commentators who blamed the Carter or Onama admins for this move, who was POTUS during that period.

2. Could Qatar kick us out and close the base? Yep, in a heartbeat if they want to. It’s their soverign land. We didn’t invade them.

3. One of Trump’s biggest “accomplishments” in his recent trip to Saudi was the $110B in military sales to the Kingdom. Turns out the actual amount is 0–nada, zilch, nothing. What he waved around was a Saudi wish list of stuff they might want to buy someday, if they have the money and we’re willing to sell it to them. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the jobs to materialize.

#4 Comment By russ On June 7, 2017 @ 10:00 am

Some strong, emotive shrieking present in these comments, as usual with Trump. Skipping this one.

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 7, 2017 @ 10:01 am

In general, the Trump presidency is taking shape more and more as a divine punishment of the hubris of technocratic expertise.

That’s a good way to think about it. Now, the hard part is getting rid of Trump’s heedless narcissism without bringing back the rule of technocratic elites.

That base is what’s keeping Saudi from invading Qatar right now.

Point. After the clouds and dust of perfunctory apologies dies down, its realpolitik that determines these decisions.

You never get Trump, do you? I got him much better, because, well you know, we had Ahmadinejad!

Good comparison. We Americans must remember that.

#6 Comment By CharleyCarp On June 7, 2017 @ 10:06 am

Rod, I assume these threads will be preserved so that scholars of the future can study them. There are undoubtedly at least several PhD theses worth of material in the Trump supporters’ comments here.

The internet winning headline yesterday was: Trump Is Not Playing Ten-Dimensional Chess; He’s Not Even Playing Checkers; He’s Barely Playing Peekaboo

#7 Comment By Aaron Kulkis On June 7, 2017 @ 10:16 am

We all know the Saudis have a terrorism-funding issue.

By picking on Qatar first, President Trump sets the precedent for later going after the Saudis themselves.

Can’t you Trump-hating people think beyond 1 move in advance? There’s a reason you idiots lost — you have perpetually lost to a Democratic party that is full of people who are literally not even in touch with reality.

[NFR: It’s almost touching that you believe this about Trump’s strategery. — RD]

#8 Comment By icarusr On June 7, 2017 @ 10:24 am

Wes:

“Trump seems to be siding with the Arabs over Iran. This is debatable among reasonable people without all the hysteria.”

Sigh. Qatar and Oman are both Arab countries that have very good relations with Iran, for historical, economic and strategic reasons. Trump is “siding” with the Saudis for reasons – TERRORISM – that have nothing to do with the facts on the ground.

#9 Comment By collin On June 7, 2017 @ 10:26 am

Yes, these actions are increasingly following the 1914 host of game theory errors that got Europe into WW1. And our dear leader stupid tweets is just anything Brink In The Wall of stupidity here.

Judging by the Saudia Arabia demands, their government are screaming Fake News against Al-Jazeera.

#10 Comment By icarusr On June 7, 2017 @ 10:28 am

Patrick:

“This is a bad thing? Our “allies” taking responsibility for their own security?”

Sigh. The base in Qatar is the forward US position in the Persian Gulf in defence of US interests – read “oil” – in the region. Qatar has good relations with Iran and so the base is not relevant to its defence; the only threat to Qatar right now comes from the Saudis.

So your point, besides being a non-sequitur to the bigger point Dreher is making, is actually based on incorrect information.

#11 Comment By collin On June 7, 2017 @ 10:37 am

Sooner or later, Mattis, Tillerson, and H.R. McMaster are going to have to resign to protect their own integrity. And then what?

Isn’t the biggest problem with Tillerson, what the heck he is doing in this administration? I see very little leadership here and the administration does not view diplomacy as possible solutions here. (I blame Tillerson and Trump leadership here.) And is Tillerson flying to the Middle East to promote diplomacy between these bickering nations.

#12 Comment By Tony D. On June 7, 2017 @ 10:53 am

Between this mess and what’s sure to follow from this week’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, all I can say is: MORE POPCORN!!

#13 Comment By BradD On June 7, 2017 @ 10:59 am

Here is how the Qatars can ‘close’ the US military base: stop all contract deliveries. Do you honestly think that the military base is self sustaining? Most likely they get all of their food trucked in and possibly water and sewage as well.

In terms of food if you have an average meal weighing say 2 pounds, then you have over 60,000 pounds of food being trucked in a day. Think they have MREs? Maybe a few, but not enough to feed 11,000 for more than a week.

Can we airlift food? Sure, but it is expensive and not sustainable.

What if they base is connected to the power grid or sewer lines?

Essentially a blockade of Qatar is a blockade of our own military members.

#14 Comment By sophistry On June 7, 2017 @ 11:09 am

Re: Obama’s cultural taste.

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You really see zero CMT people on there. Now, I barely know the CMT scene myself, but still. As for Terri Gross’s country music taste, that is a certain kind of country that isn’t popular at all with the CMT set. Living in red country, there is a difference universe in culture. For jobs which require endurance, which are the soldiering jobs, the field jobs, the nuance of the NPR country music isn’t really welcome. Dwelling on darkness is a waste of time.

Looking back Obama is like a wet-dream for the NPR set, and that is what contributed to the current schism we have.

#15 Comment By AJ On June 7, 2017 @ 11:30 am

But Rod, Qatar, the rest of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are all state sponsors of terrorism and exporters of Wahabism. The Saudis are much more concerned about Iran and the Shiites than their ISIS Wahabi co-religionists. Who cares if the military base in Qatar is the most important one in the world? All we have done in the Middle East is bring death and destruction and create the right conditions for ISIS to flourish. Close the base, bring the troops home. In fact, close all the foreign bases, in their hundreds.

It is admittedly difficult to get at the facts sometimes in this day and age. We all need to read news articles critically. We need to learn a new skill, that of being our own news editors.

#16 Comment By AJ On June 7, 2017 @ 11:34 am

Furthermore, in fact the USA is a state sponsor of terrorism, or haven’t you heard that Al Qaeda in Syria is a CIA asset? Yes, that Al Qaeda, that jet bombed the Twin Towers.

Stop relying on the mainstream news. Be your own news editor.

#17 Comment By MikeCA On June 7, 2017 @ 11:49 am

Alex,I’ve often said that when (not if) the Saudi monarchy falls it will be far worse than the fall of the Shah. I share your concern.
No one who has voluntarily aligned themselves with Trump will emerge unscathed from this unmitigated ongoing disaster. Sadly the rest of us will also bear the consequences.

#18 Comment By Wes On June 7, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

“”[NFR: Of course it’s a reasonable debate. What is not reasonable is to signal a major change in US policy via tweet, and in so doing put a) a major US military base at risk, “”

Qatar is putting its US military base at risk. How do you envision this happening..Trump tweets condemnation upon Qatar and they close up their base and kick us all out??

#19 Comment By Noah172 On June 7, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

Jeremy 2 wrote:

Trump still listened to them on both anyway. It can’t always be someone else’s fault, you know

Palace gossip stories (nobody quoted by name, as usual) had McMaster wanting an Iraq-sequel regime change in Syria. Trump hasn’t done that. As for Afghanistan, Mattis and McMaster want more troops and a broader focus than just ISIS/AQ (nation-building). So far Trump has agreed only to more airstrikes and spec ops raids against ISIS/AQ.

FWIW. Not my ideal call, but not as far as the hawks want.

#20 Comment By Noah172 On June 7, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

Our best choice in the ME would be to cement an alliance of Kurds-Putin-Shiites-secular juntas against jihadis and all their patrons (all the Gulf monarchies and Erdogan). Such an alliance has the least internal contradiction, and includes the most consistent and effective fighters against our true threat from the region, international Salafist jihad.

Trump, instead, is angling for an alliance of Kurds-Putin-Gulf monarchs (excluding Qatar)-Sisi-Jordan against jihadis-Iran-Muslim Brotherhood-possibly Erdogan (ally of Qatar and MB, frenemy of jihadis). This is not the best choice because of internal contradiction (Putin is Iran’s patron and a rival to the Gulf in the energy market) and Team Saudi’s untrustworthiness on fighting Sunni jihad. Nevertheless, there is some logic to it:

Team Saudi are the patrons of Sisi, Abdullah (Jordan), and Haftar (Libya), who do genuinely wage war on jihad.

Saudi allies host US troops, for those who care about maintaining a US presence nearby.

Saudi and Erdogan are rivals for leadership among local Sunnis, and undermining the latter would help our Kurdish friends (the best Muslims in the region) and might be the catalyst for ejecting Turkey from NATO (or convincing Erdogan to quit voluntarily).

MB is a disruptive force in the region, while the Gulf monarchs are the devil we know.

Trump is chasing the pipe dream of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Backstabbing Qatar means undermining Hamas (Qatar’s client and an MB branch). Hamas is an obstacle to Abbas cutting some deal-of-the-century with Bibi. (I don’t think a peace deal is possible, but tweaking Hamas might get Trump some Strange New Respect from Israel’s American minions, which would help him domestically.)

#21 Comment By Philly guy On June 7, 2017 @ 1:08 pm

“Maybe Warren Buffet should buy twitter and close it down” Warren Buffet is a guy who put slot machines in the hall way outside his children’s bedrooms to reclaim some of their allowance. He would monetize twitter further than it already is.

#22 Comment By Will Harrington On June 7, 2017 @ 1:44 pm

The bright side. Saudia Arabia’s drive to form a Sunni block against Iran has been thrown off track and, yes,maybe the base will be closed and some troops will come home. We can only hope. I have marvelled at this administration and the results they have gotten. Either Trump is very smart and wants to be seriously underestimated, or he is a very lucky fool. I really don’t know which. One thing I do know. We can’t disengage from our interventionist positions without offending our allies and many of our own less than stalwart governing class. Given that fact, it will be better for America in the long term if that offense is blamed on the clumsy machinations of a fool rather than the deliberate and carefully considered actions of a president working to carry out the will of the American people who elected him.

#23 Comment By Rusty On June 7, 2017 @ 2:59 pm

Serious question: when faced with a conflict between what Mattis/Tillerson/etc. say, and what Trump tweets, why would world leaders will believe the latter over the former?

Serious answer: because Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States, and Mattis/Tillerson/etc. are not.

#24 Comment By mayflies On June 7, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

“Sooner or later, Mattis, Tillerson, and H.R. McMaster are going to have to resign to protect their own integrity. And then what?”

I wish McMaster and Mattis would resign anyway. They’re trying to get Trump to put boots back on the ground in Afghanistan. With “adults” like that running around you don’t need juvenile delinquents. One might add that with judgment like that, their “integrity” is sort of beside the point.

Trump to one side, we should junk most of our incoherent, irresponsible, corrupt foreign policy establishment. There are very few “names” who have any credibility left, and, sadly, most of those who do will be fluttering off to their eternal reward fairly soon.

#25 Comment By Matth On June 7, 2017 @ 3:33 pm

[NFR: It’s almost touching that you believe this about Trump’s strategery. — RD]

Isn’t it strategfefe?

#26 Comment By M_Young On June 7, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

“The generals can’t resign without risking their careers in the military.”

Well, that’s certainly true.

#27 Comment By M_Young On June 7, 2017 @ 3:41 pm

“This is small potatoes since Trump, by virtue of expelling the Messicans and preserving Our Heritage, is well on his way to becoming what regular commenter unironically described as the greatest president in American history and perhaps the greatest leader the West has ever seen.”

If he were doing that, he would be the greatest leader we’ve seen in a long while. He still has a shot on that front. And he certainly is still better than Clinton.

Seriously, who cares about Qatar? Is the Quatari military going to capture out personnel? Once upon a time we had two huge and, allegedly, really really important bases in the Philippines. And then we didn’t. And it was okay.

#28 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 7, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

Warren Buffet is a guy who put slot machines in the hall way outside his children’s bedrooms to reclaim some of their allowance.

He did so, not because he’s a cheapskate who wanted to rip off his own kids, but to teach them a lesson about gambling.

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[NFR: What a clever idea! — RD]

#29 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 7, 2017 @ 3:54 pm

You really see zero CMT people on there.

Good Lord, why do you care if Barack Obama is personally a fan of country/western music? I like a bit of it, consider much of what Nashville puts out to be slop, and prefer many of the older bluegrass/folks forms (to say nothing about the numerous African influences on CW–where do you suppose banjos come from?) to the modern pop format that seemingly owes as much to The Eagles as to any traditional musical forms. 🙂

I’m far less a fan of hip/hop.

But that’s my own tastes, and my musical preferences don’t terribly inform my politics.

At any rate–do you consider any politician who doesn’t evince a genuine taste for “both kinds of music” to be someone who is out-of-touch? This sort of criticism sounds to be little more than “he ain’t one of us”.

(Captcha just supplied me with roadsigns from Eugene. Eww.)

#30 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 7, 2017 @ 3:58 pm

In general, the Trump presidency is taking shape more and more as a divine punishment of the hubris of technocratic expertise.

It may be divine punishment, but it’s also a shining example of why, contra Buckley, putting random guys from the Boston phone book in charge is not a good idea.

That said, Buckley’s criticism wasn’t of elites in general–he was an elite his entire career, after all–but of the elites of the opposite camp. And in the case of Trump, I’m sure ten random Bostonians would be far preferable.

#31 Comment By Renee On June 7, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

Re Terri Gross country music: What passes for country music on CMT these days isn’t really country music. It’s pop-rock music with fiddles and steel guitars. Do you really think people who still remember what REAL country music is prefer that? I lived in flyover Texas for 25 years, and I can tell you the answer is no. The fact that real country music is now also a critical darling among the liberal set is simply a coincidence.

#32 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 7, 2017 @ 5:38 pm

Secular juntas Noah 172? You mean like the Baath Arab Socialist Party?

For jobs which require endurance, which are the soldiering jobs, the field jobs, the nuance of the NPR country music isn’t really welcome.

Its not enough to be country music… it has to be politically correct country music.

#33 Comment By Muse On June 7, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

The Qataris should kick the US out and immediately invite either the Turks or Russians to come in to fill the void…

#34 Comment By David M On June 7, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

One note on the idea that “yes, Trump is mishandling the Qatar situation horribly, but maybe it will mean we become less involved in the middle east”.

Not a chance. That isn’t Trumps goal, and counting on Trump to stumble into a good result is the height of foolishness.

#35 Comment By sophistry On June 7, 2017 @ 8:46 pm

“Good Lord, why do you care if Barack Obama is personally a fan of country/western music? I like a bit of it, consider much of what Nashville puts out to be slop, and prefer many of the older bluegrass/folks forms (to say nothing about the numerous African influences on CW–where do you suppose banjos come from?) to the modern pop format that seemingly owes as much to The Eagles as to any traditional musical forms. ?”

Well, if you were paying attention, you would see that I myself barely know anything about CMT…or BET…music.

I’m actually speaking about what I have observed about working class whites around me (and I”m not white). They are the majority. They make decisions based on emotions and intuitions. Country music symbolism is a large part of this, a missing ingredient. Howard Dean remember said that he wanted to attract NASCAR people? He didn’t say he wanted to attract single-payer people or people making $35k a year. He wanted to appeal to NASCAR people. And based on my limited experience, the vast majority of the front-line infantry are going to be white CMT and NASCAR people. They might not draw the highest paychecks but they do uphold the nation in many unspoken ways I believe.

#36 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On June 7, 2017 @ 9:43 pm

MikeCA,

Well, the House of Saud had already been doomed long before Trump became the president. It had been even before they started their war on Yemen. I don’t know whom they wanted to damage with lowering the oil prices – US fracking, Russians, some other players in the Middle East, Galactic Empire from Star Wars – the fact is they damaged themselves. Fatally.

#37 Comment By Liam On June 8, 2017 @ 10:44 am

“The Qataris should kick the US out and immediately invite … Russians to come in to fill the void.”

Thereby short-circuiting centuries of world politics designed to prevent such a thing.

The USA would be far from the only power to regret that result.

#38 Comment By Kevin On June 8, 2017 @ 1:22 pm

Hey, I just have a quick question: did the fact it took Trump 24 hours to reverse course is fake news, or another proof of his Metternichian genius?
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