Trump Has Upended Traditional Foreign Policy. What's In Store For 2018?


Trump has said the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Ailsa Chang talks to Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who served in the Obama and Bush administrations, about what he might do this year.


So where will President Trump take U.S. foreign policy in 2018? Judging from year one, it's hard to say. From announcing he'll pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump has upended tradition. And in recent days, he sent tweets condemning Iran and Pakistan. So to look at what lies ahead, we turn now to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. He's a former ambassador to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria during both the Obama and Bush administrations. Good morning, Ambassador.

RYAN CROCKER: Good morning, Ailsa.

CHANG: So looking back on the whole last year, how might you characterize President Trump's foreign policy strategy. Are there some common through lines we can pick out?

CROCKER: There are. First, the president - President Trump got a good bounce simply by not being President Obama in the eyes of our traditional allies in the area. When he took office, our relations were suffering greatly with our traditional friends like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel. So his first trip out there was, I think, exactly the right thing to do - to say it's a new team, a new president. I'm going to engage with you. And we'll see where we go. The problem is there isn't much of a there there. I don't really see an active foreign policy taking shape. It's all pretty reactive. And the world is a big, complicated place if all you're doing is reacting.

CHANG: Well, I want first turn to Trump's tweet, his first tweet of the new year. He wrote that even though U.S. is giving billions in aid, Pakistan has given, quote, "nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan with little help - no more." What do you think? I mean, is that something you would describe as reactive? And would threats like that be effective in your opinion in shaping Pakistan's behavior?

CROCKER: I'm afraid it will take Pakistan in exactly the opposite direction. You know, look, Ailsa. The Pakistanis have their own narrative about the relationship - that once the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s, we went from being their most allied of allies to their most sanctioned of adversaries. So they tend to be very, very defensive and very worried that the U.S. will walk out on them again. And the president's comments unfortunately are simply going to feed into that.

There's a larger problem here. He has some great people in his administration like H.R. McMaster, like Jim Mattis. These are not people who understand the issue with a perspective on the whole. They know Afghanistan. They've watched their troopers get killed by insurgents who cross the border and then slip back to safe havens.

CHANG: But what do you mean they don't understand things on the whole?

CROCKER: They don't understand the Pakistani side of the equation. To put it as briefly as I can, it's - well, we're glad you're back, you Americans. We're going to take what we can get as long as you'll give it. But we know you're not going to stay the course. So if you expect us to go in full throttle turning the Taliban into an enemy and then leave us with an existential threat, you're nuts.

So the president had an opportunity with his statement on Afghanistan that we're there for - as long as it takes to get what we need to bring Pakistan in as a partner. He's pushing them in the other direction. Nothing good is going to come of that. They will simply dig in deeper and leave us without any good options.

CHANG: I also - if I can move to Iran as well - he tweeted about Iran yesterday, writing that Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama administration. And then he went on to say time for change. Why do you think Trump is lashing out at Iran at this particular moment?

CROCKER: Well, Iran is a huge challenge and problem for us. It was for the previous administration. It is for this administration. But once again, it's complicated out there. Generalities don't work. Be careful with your slogans. It's one thing to say we're going to get tough on Iran. It's another thing to say exactly how we're going to do that.

CHANG: Right.

CROCKER: So again, I'm - I wonder if we're seeing the same phenomenon that we saw with the Obama administration. President Obama talked very tough on Syria. Assad must go. Chemical weapons are a red line. Well, he couldn't back that up. And I'm worried that in the case of Iran, it is going to be the same thing. We don't seem to be fashioning a coherent policy, let alone a strategy. And that's what I mean by reaction.

CHANG: And if I may, turning very quickly to North Korea now, this year began with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unexpectedly calling for direct talks with South Korea. But, you know, over here, the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong Un has been loud and very personal, full of insults in both directions. What do you think? Can President Trump's style achieve things with this regime that previous U.S. leaders have not been able to?

CROCKER: Let's see what happens now, Ailsa. It is interesting. We don't know anything really about North Korea or its leader. It may just be that the difference in tone that President Trump has existed may do something down the line there. So let's see if this goes somewhere different or better. What we have to do is stay in incredibly close contact with our allies, Japan and South Korea. And we need to be listening to the Chinese, not just lecture them.

CHANG: All right. Ryan Crocker is the former U.S. ambassador. Thank you very much.

CROCKER: Thank you.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the version of this story that was broadcast, we say that President Trump named Jerusalem the capital of Israel. In fact, he didn’t name it as the capital, he said the U.S. would recognize it as the capital.]

Copyright © 2018 NPR.

Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (/ˈtʌkmən/; January 30, 1912 – February 6, 1989) was an American historian and author. She won the Pulitzer Prize twice, for The Guns of August (1962), a best-selling history of the prelude to and the first month of World War I, and Stilwell and the American Experience in China (1971), a biography of General Joseph Stilwell.[2]

Tuchman focused on writing popular history.

Early years

She was born January 30, 1912, the Jewish daughter of the banker Maurice Wertheim and his first wife Alma Morgenthau. Her father was an individual of wealth and prestige, the owner of The Nation magazine, president of the American Jewish Congress, prominent art collector, and a founder of the Theatre Guild.[3] Her mother was the daughter of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., Woodrow Wilson's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.[3]

Wertheim was influenced at an early age by the books of Lucy Fitch Perkins and G.A. Henty, as well as the historical novels of Alexandre Dumas.[3] She attended the Walden School on Manhattan's Upper West Side.[4] She received her Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College in 1933, having studied history and literature.[3]

Tuchman favored a literary approach to the writing of history, providing eloquent explanatory narratives rather than concentration upon discovery and publication of fresh archival sources. In the words of one biographer, Tuchman was "not a historian's historian; she was a layperson's historian who made the past interesting to millions of readers".[6] Tuchman's storytelling prowess was rewarded in 1963 when she received the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Guns of August, dealing with the behind-the-scenes political machinations which led to the eruption of World War I in the summer of 1914.

Tuchman's Law

In the introduction to her 1978 book A Distant Mirror, Tuchman playfully identified a historical phenomenon which she termed "Tuchman's Law," to wit:

Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening — on a lucky day — without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman's Law, as follows: "The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold" (or any figure the reader would care to supply).[14]

Tuchman's Law has been defined as a psychological principle of "perceptual readiness" or "subjective probability".[15]

The City In The Sea - Poem by Edgar Allan Poe

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters he.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 is a 1966 book by Barbara Tuchman, consisting of a collection of essays she had published in various periodicals during the mid-1960s. It followed the publication of the highly successful The Guns of August. Each chapter deals with a different country, theme, and time (although all relate to the approximately 25 years preceding World War I). Two chapters are about British governments in 1895 and 1910; one chapter is dedicated to the Dreyfus Affair in France; and another is nominally about the Wilhelmine politics of late 19th-century Germany, but is really about German music and culture in that period. Other chapters cover the United States (particularly the efforts of Thomas Reed, Speaker of the House, to overcome the tyranny of the absent quorum), the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, the anarchist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the activities of the Socialist International and trade unions.

The title of the book is derived from the 1845 Edgar Allan Poe poem "The City in the Sea". Two lines of the poem are used as the epigraph for the book: "While from a proud tower in the town/ Death looks gigantically down."

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,


Alan Dershowitz and Steve Bannon Offer Trump Advice on Crippling Mueller


Alan Dershowitz and Steve Bannon. Photo: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

With his legal team in tatters and his advances to high-profile Washington, D.C., lawyers spurned, President Trump is growing increasingly desperate for advice on how to fight back against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into 2016 election interference. So desperate, Politico reports, that he’s asking for advice “from virtually any attorney who calls him up,” including Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and his preferred talking head of the moment, Alan Dershowitz.

The retired Harvard law professor has endeared himself to Trump by going on TV and saying things such as: “There never should have been a special counsel appointed.” This week, he’s twice met with the president. Though his public comments make it clear he has many opinions on the Mueller probe, Dershowitz insists that he hasn’t offered Trump legal advice in private. Politico hears otherwise, reporting that Dershowitz has advised Trump on his “escalating legal troubles,” despite not being on the payroll.

On Wednesday, after another trip to the White House, Dershowitz was a guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, an appearance that Trump teased in a tweet.

“I don’t give advice to the president, except on television,” Dershowitz told Hannity. And then he gave some of that advice, suggesting that Trump’s lawyers move for the recusal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“If I were a lawyer for Donald Trump, and I am not, I am just saying what I would say about anybody, I would be making a motion in front of a judge,” he explained. “First I’d make it in the Justice Department, to recuse Rosenstein. Then I’d make it in front of a judge. You cannot be a prosecutor and you cannot be a witness in the same case.”

While Dershowitz plays coy about advising Trump, Steve Bannon is hoping to slither his way back into the president’s ear. Trump’s former senior adviser has a plan for kneecapping Mueller that he’s currently pitching to White House aides and congressional Republicans, the Washington Post reports. The plan calls for Trump to fire Rosenstein, end his cooperation with Mueller, and assert retroactive executive privilege in an attempt to invalidate the interviews Mueller’s team has already conducted with White House officials.

That last suggestion drew heckles from some legal experts. On Twitter, University of Texas Steve Vladeck called it “stunningly incoherent.” Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal wrote that Bannon’s idea proves he’s an “even worse lawyer than he is a human being.”

Bannon, who hasn’t been welcomed back into Trump’s orbit, is reportedly pitching this plan to those close to the president. It’s unclear, the Post says, whether Trump had been made aware of Bannon’s plot. Or at least it was until someone leaked it to the Post, where Trump will see it on the front page Thursday morning.

Fritz Haber (German: [ˈhaːbɐ]; 9 December 1868 – 29 January 1934) was a German[4] chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber–Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. This invention is of importance for the large-scale synthesis of fertilizers and explosives. The food production for half the world's current population depends on this method for producing nitrogen fertilizers.[5] Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid.

Haber is also considered the "father of chemical warfare" for his years of pioneering work developing and weaponizing chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I, especially his actions during the Second Battle of Ypres.

World War I

Haber greeted World War I with enthusiasm, joining 92 other German intellectuals in signing the Manifesto of the Ninety-Three in October 1914.[19] Haber played a major role in the development of the non-ballistic use of chemical warfare in World War I, in spite of the proscription of their use in shells by the Hague Convention of 1907 (to which Germany was a signatory). He was promoted to the rank of captain and made head of the Chemistry Section in the Ministry of War soon after the war began.[7]:133 In addition to leading the teams developing chlorine gas and other deadly gases for use in trench warfare,[20] Haber was on hand personally when it was first released by the German military at the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April to 25 May 1915) in Belgium.[7]:138 Haber also helped to develop gas masks with adsorbent filters which could protect against such weapons.

A special troop was formed for gas warfare (Pioneer Regiments 35 and 36), under the command of Otto Peterson, with Haber and Friedrich Kerschbaum as advisors. Haber actively recruited physicists, chemists, and other scientists to be transferred to the unit. Future Nobel laureates James Franck, Gustav Hertz, and Otto Hahn served as gas troops in Haber's unit.[7]:136–138 In 1914 and 1915, before the Second Battle of Ypres, Haber's unit investigated reports that the French had deployed Turpenite, a supposed chemical weapon, against German soldiers.[21]

Gas warfare in World War I was, in a sense, the war of the chemists, with Haber pitted against French Nobel laureate chemist Victor Grignard. Regarding war and peace, Haber once said, "During peace time a scientist belongs to the World, but during war time he belongs to his country." This was an example of the ethical dilemmas facing chemists at that time.[22]

Haber was a patriotic German who was proud of his service during World War I, for which he was decorated.[23] He was even given the rank of captain by the Kaiser, which Haber had been denied 25 years earlier during his compulsory military service.[24]

In his studies of the effects of poison gas, Haber noted that exposure to a low concentration of a poisonous gas for a long time often had the same effect (death) as exposure to a high concentration for a short time. He formulated a simple mathematical relationship between the gas concentration and the necessary exposure time. This relationship became known as Haber's rule.[25][26]

Between World Wars

From 1919 to 1923 Haber continued to be involved in Germany's secret development of chemical weapons, working with Hugo Stoltzenberg, and helping both Spain and Russia in the development of chemical gases.[7]:169

In the 1920s, Haber searched exhaustively for a method to extract gold from sea water, and published a number of scientific papers on the subject. After years of research, he concluded that the concentration of gold dissolved in sea water was much lower than those reported by earlier researchers, and that gold extraction from sea water was uneconomic.[6]:91–98

By 1931, Haber was increasingly concerned about the rise of National Socialism in Germany, and the possible safety of his friends, associates, and family. Under the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of 7 April 1933, Jewish scientists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Society were particularly targeted. The Zeitschrift für die gesamte Naturwissenschaft ("Journal for all natural sciences") charged that "The founding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Dahlem was the prelude to an influx of Jews into the physical sciences. The directorship of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical and Electrochemistry was given to the Jew, F. Haber, the nephew of the big-time Jewish profiteer Koppel". (Koppel was not actually related to Haber.)[7]:277–280 Haber was stunned by these developments, since he assumed that his conversion to Christianity and his services to the state during World War I should have made him a German patriot.[12]:235–236 Ordered to dismiss all Jewish personnel, Haber attempted to delay their departures long enough to find them somewhere to go.[7]:285–286 As of 30 April 1933, Haber wrote to Bernhard Rust, the national and Prussian minister of Education, and to Max Planck, president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, to tender his resignation as the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and as a professor at the university, effective 1 October 1933. He said that although as a converted Jew he might be legally entitled to remain in his position, he no longer wished to do so.[7]:280

Haber and his son Hermann also urged that Haber's children by Charlotte Nathan, at boarding school in Germany, should leave the country.[7]:181 Charlotte and the children moved to the United Kingdom around 1933 or 1934. After the war, Charlotte's children became British citizens.[7]:188–189

Haber defended gas warfare against accusations that it was inhumane, saying that death was death, by whatever means it was inflicted. During the 1920s, scientists working at his institute developed the cyanide gas formulation Zyklon A, which was used as an insecticide, especially as a fumigant in grain stores.[27]

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Comment by mary gravitt on April 13, 2018 at 11:04am

We are moving backwards into our history caught between the 1930s and 1890 toward perhaps the final war for Western Civilization.  No other historian ward US of this as Barbara W. Tuchman.  And now Ryan Crocker has sound his jeremiad.  However, a Narcissist sits in the White House with the ego of Mussolini and Hitler combined cannot be persuaded by law or lawyers to change his ways because he is a god.

But it seems that the former champion of liberalism and the Traditionalist that was/is Trump's brain have combined to plot with the made monarch of D.C. to plot against the people and democracy itself.

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 13, 2018 at 5:40pm


Many of us have the future insight,Mary.
That you soon be as profitable
as the bottled water industry!
Superb journalism!

Comment by mary gravitt on April 17, 2018 at 1:17pm

Fascism can only last 12 years.  We are perhaps in the third year.  Madaline Albright's new book Fascism is very interesting as is Comey's book and his interview.  We seem to be moving backwards in time.  This is really due to Trump's study of Musselini and Hitler.  He has studied these guys and knows them very well.  We have not studied them enough.

Like Comey, I don't want Trump impeached.  I want him voted out so that his entire Kitchen Cabinet including Pence can be sweeped out with him.  And we as American Citizens must take on the Kochtopus and get the Supreme Court to revisit Citizens United, or we are just spinning our wheel and replacing one shit head with another.


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