"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

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“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Diplomacy, Trump Style (Update)

Apparently Fearless Leader had a busy day on the phones. First, he threatened to invade Mexico:

President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop "bad hombres down there" unless the Mexican military does more to control them itself, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpt of the call did not make clear who exactly Trump considered "bad hombres," — drug cartels, immigrants, or both — or the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's response.

Be it noted that the Mexican government has issued a response to the story, saying it is "based on absolute falsehoods."

Then he accused the Prime Minister of Australia of sending us "the next Boston bomber":

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday refused to talk about a report that a weekend call with President Donald Trump came to a blistering head after Trump attacked a plan to resettle refugees in the U.S. as “the worst deal ever.”

The conversation between leaders of the two longtime allies quickly devolved into Trump accusing Turnbull of trying to send the “next Boston bombers” to America, according to a report published Wednesday night by The Washington Post. Trump, who told Turnbull he had spoken to other world leaders earlier Saturday, said the interaction was his “worst call by far” and hung up more than a half-hour early, the Post reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

They were discussing an agreement, concluded in November, between the two countries to resettle refugees who have been confined to one of Australia's offshore camps.

So of course, Cheeto-in-Chief tweeted about it:

"Illegal immigrants"? From Australia"? So now refugees, who go through an eighteen-month to two-year vetting process, are "illegal immigrants." One wonders if this is deliberate misrepresentation, or if he's just not intelligent enough to be able to discern the difference.

And now, through his equally deranged national security adviser, we've put Iran "on notice":

The Trump administration has said it was “officially putting Iran on notice” in reaction to an Iranian missile test and an attack on a Saudi warship by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen but gave no details about how Washington intended to respond.

The threat was made on Wednesday by the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in his first public statement since taking office.

Speaking in the White House briefing room, Flynn said a missile launch on Sunday and a Houthi attack on a Saudi frigate on Monday underlined Iran’s “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”

Flynn did not specify how the new administration would respond. Asked for clarification, the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said the president wanted to make sure the Iranians “understood we are not going to sit by and not act on their actions”.

At a White House briefing, senior administration officials repeatedly refused to rule out any options for a US response, including military intervention.

I'm reminded of the accounts of the beginning of World War I, which was sparked by a particular incident but might have been avoided except for bad communications, bumbling incompetence, and over-reliance on inflexible plans.

One can hardly wait for the next diplomatic initiative.

Update: And from Reuters, Trump's first military venture:

U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.

As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.

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