US to leave 200 ‘peacekeepers’ in Syria

Donald Trump’s sudden announcement in December that the US troops would withdraw from Syria took the world by surprise, and serious concerns were expressed in the Respected US. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis resigned immediately.

Trump said in a video released on Twitter:

“We have won against ISIS. We’ve beaten them and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”

That was questioned and ridiculed as fighting continued against ISIS.

And a  complete US withdrawal would have left Syria, Iran, Turkey and Russia in positions of influence.

The plan has now been adjusted, with 200 peacekeepers to remain.

Reuters:  U.S. to leave 200 American peacekeepers in Syria after pullout

The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.

Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria, saying they had defeated Islamic State militants there, even as U.S.-backed Syrian forces continued a final push against the group’s last outpost.

But Trump has been under pressure from multiple advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces, who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey, and to serve as a bulwark against Iran’s influence.

“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. A White House statement said the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”

Leaving even a small group of U.S. troops in Syria could pave the way for European allies to commit hundreds of troops to help set up and observe a potential safe zone in northeast Syria.

The commander of U.S.-backed Syrian forces has called for 1,000 to 1,500 international troops to remain in the country to help fight Islamic State and expressed hope the United States, in particular, would halt plans for a total pullout.

The decision to retain peacekeepers could help Trump overcome criticism that he had ordered a precipitous withdrawal from Syria that could lead to Islamic State regaining strength.

It would also have left the Kurds, who the US had supported in Syria, in a precarious position with Turkey.

The decision to retain peacekeepers could help Trump overcome criticism that he had ordered a precipitous withdrawal from Syria that could lead to Islamic State regaining strength.

And it would have strengthened Iranian and Russian influence.

US senator Lindsey Graham had been strongly against the announced withdrawal.

Real Clear Politics (20 December 2018) – Sen. Graham: Trump Withdraw From Syria “A Stain On The Honor Of America”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) delivered a fiery speech on the Senate floor Wednesday night blasting President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Graham called Trump’s declaration that ISIS has been defeated “fake news” and leaving the country would be a “stain” on America.

Graham Statement on Syria (11 January 2019):

“From an American point of view, we have strategic objectives that must be accomplished in northeastern Syria.  The Iranians, Russians and Assad should not be allowed to be the biggest winners of our withdrawal.

“The mission in Syria is not yet complete and we must continue to work with our partners and allies to ensure that ISIS is destroyed and never returns.”

ABC News (17 January 2019):  Graham says Trump’s statements have emboldened ISIS in Syria

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top ally of President Donald Trump, expressed concerns on Wednesday that Trump’s comments about withdrawing troops from Syria have emboldened terrorist groups like ISIS, and that he hopes Trump thinks “long and hard” about his next moves when it comes to withdrawing troops from the war torn country.

“My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you have set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we are fighting. You make people we are trying to help wonder about us.”

Task and Purpose (20 February 2019): Sen. Graham tells Shanahan that leaving Syria is ‘the dumbest f*****g idea I’ve ever heard’

“That’s the dumbest f******g idea I’ve ever heard,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.

Later, Graham told Shanahan, “I am now your adversary, not your friend.”

The blow up came during a Feb. 16 meeting in Munich with Shanahan and three dozen lawmakers from both parties, according to Breitbart, the Washington Post, and NBC.

Graham’s spokesman Kevin Bishop did not dispute media reports of Graham’s comments during the meeting, adding the senator declined to comment for this story.

While he rarely criticizes the president, Graham initially called Trump’s decision to pull all U.S. troops from Syria a “huge Obama-like mistake.”

The pressure on Trump to think long and hard – something that seems alien to his personality – seems to have worked.

After the announcement that the US would leave troops in Syria, Graham issued this statement:

“This will ensure ISIS does not return and Iran does not fill the vacuum that would have been left if we completely withdrew. This also ensures Turkey and SDF elements that helped us defeat ISIS will not go into conflict.

“A safe zone in Syria made up of international forces is the best way to achieve our national security objectives of continuing to contain Iran, ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, protecting our Turkish allies, and securing the Turkish border with Syria”.

“With this decision, President Trump has decided to follow sound military advice. This decision will ensure that we will not repeat the mistakes of Iraq, in Syria. For a small fraction of the forces we have had in Syria, we can accomplish our national security objectives.

“Well done Mr. President.”

It still won’t be easy keeping all the different forces at bay and counter the influence of Iran, Turkey and Russia, but at least the US will have a base presence to work from.

There is a heck of a lot of sorting out still to do in Syria.

The Syrian civil war started in 2011, with the US getting involved with an international coalition in  2014. It’s been complicated. From Wikipedia:

The Syrian government and Syrian Armed Forces and its international allies, a loose alliance of majorly Sunni opposition rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadistgroups (including al-Nusra Front), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with a number of countries in the region and beyond being either directly involved or providing support to one or another faction (Iran, Russia, Turkey, the United States, as well as others).

Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah support the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian Armed Forces militarily, with Russia conducting military operations since September 2015.

The U.S.-led international coalition, established in 2014 with the declared purpose of countering ISIL, has conducted airstrikes primarily against ISIL as well as some against government and pro-government targets.

Since 2015, the US has also supported the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and its armed wing, the SDF. Turkey, on the other hand, has become deeply involved against the Syrian government since 2016, actively supporting the Syrian opposition and occupying large swaths of northwestern Syria.

Between 2011 and 2017, fighting from the Syrian Civil War spilled over into Lebanon as opponents and supporters of the Syrian Arab Republic travelled to Lebanon to fight and attack each other on Lebanese soil.

Furthermore, while officially neutral, Israel has conducted airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian forces, whose presence in southwestern Syria it views as a threat.

The 200 US troops that will remain in Syria have a few challenges – but will no doubt have a mass of ships and planes and troops not far away in support if needed.

And one of the biggest ongoing battles may be in limiting the damage Trump does with spur of the moment announcements on Twitter that can have serious implications for the Middle East and the world.

I hope Trump has not been given the ability to order nuclear strikes by tweet.

United States update (where to begin?)

There’s a lot going on in US politics around the Mueller inquiry and FBI investigations.

Fox news: FBI Fires Peter Strzok

FBI official Peter Strzok, who played a lead role in both the Russian meddling and Hillary Clinton email probes but became a political lightning rod after the revelation of anti-Trump text messages, has been fired.

Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman said in a statement Monday that his client, a 21-year FBI veteran, was fired Friday afternoon, claiming this was a departure from standard practice and politically motivated. Goelman said bureau Deputy Director David Bowdich “overruled” the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to remove him.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” the attorney said.

President Trump and his allies for months, though, have hammered the former FBI agent and cast him as the poster child for anti-Trump bias within the bureau and Justice Department.

Trump followed up implying he had done the firing:

New York Times: President Escalates Criticism of AG Sessions, Calling Him ‘Scared Stiff’

Mr. Trump’s latest broadside included some of his harshest language yet against Mr. Sessions, whom the president begrudges for recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in 2016.

Washington Examiner: Nunes: Clinton Camp Colluded With ‘Nearly Every’ Top DOJ/FBI Official

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes declared Sunday that Hillary Clinton’s campaign “colluded” with nearly every top official in the Justice Department and FBI.

Nunes, R-Calif., blamed the media for largely ignoring the revelations surrounding the origins of the federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and stressing that the American people “need to know it” called for the declassification of “an unprecedented amount of information.”

RealClear Politics: Graham: FBI/DOJ Investigations Against Trump Corrupt To The Core

Sen. Lindsey Graham calls for a second special counsel to investigate the crimes committed by prior investigations into President Trump.

“The criminal investigation of the Clinton campaign was a joke. When it came to the Trump campaign, it was corrupt, it was biased and I think unethical,” Graham said. “These investigations against Trump were corrupt at the core.”

Politico: Omarosa: Trump’s Mentally Declined

Former White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman on Sunday said top administration officials are deceiving the country about President Donald Trump’s mental state and accused White House chief of staff John Kelly of threatening her when she was fired.

“I was complicit with this White House in deceiving this nation,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.“ “They continue to deceive this nation by how mentally declined he is, about how difficult it is for him to process complex information, how he is not engaged in some of the most important decisions that impacts our country.”

Manigault Newman, who is promoting her new book, also provided a tape to NBC of a conversation between her and Kelly, which she claimed was a recording of her firing in the White House Situation Room. She left the White House in December 2017.

Manigault Newman said it was “obvious” that the reference to her reputation was “a threat.” “He goes on to say that, ‘things can get ugly for you,’” she said. “That’s downright criminal.”

The release of the recording has created a stir.

CNBC: Trump Fights Back, Launches Twitter Attack on ‘Wacky’ Omarosa

  • Trump attacks Omarosa Manigault Newman on Twitter shortly after the former White House aide revealed that she had surreptitiously taped the president in 2017.
  • Earlier Monday, NBC’s “Today” played a recording that appeared to show Trump getting caught off guard by the news of her firing in December.

The whole situation in the US looks wacky, with Wacko in Chief Trump leading the charges.

Trump accuses China of sabotaging North Korea ‘deal’

Donald Trump and Kim Yong Un made a fairly vague agreement in Singapore a month ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just visited North Korea and the outcome of that meeting looks shaky, despite Pompeo’s positive report:

“We had many hours of productive conversations. These are complicated issues, but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress. Other places, there’s still more work to be done.”

See North Korean denuclearisation talks with US Secretary of State – “regrettable”. It has also been reported that North Korea accused Pompeo of acting like a gangster.

Since then Trump has tried to blame China, and added trade to the mix of rhetoric.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has also accused China of interfering: China Sabotaging North Korea Nuclear Talks Over Tariff Trade War

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I see China’s hands all over this. We are in a fight with China. We buy $500 billion worth of goods from the Chinese. They buy $100 billion from us. They cheat and President Trump wants to change the economic relationship with China.

So, if I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We’ve got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade. We sell them $100 billion, they sell is $500 billion, we can hurt them more than they will hurt us. And all we’re looking for is for them to stop cheating when it comes to trade.

There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the Chinese pulling a North Koreans back. And to our North Korean friends, can’t say the word friend yet. You asked Pompeo, did he sleep well? If you knew what I knew about what we could do to the leadership of North Korea, you wouldn’t sleep very well.

Threatening words from Graham on top of Trump’s Twitter bombast.

China and North Korea border each other and have been closely connected politically for a long time. China supported the north in the Korean war in the 1950s.

Kim visited China before his summit with Trump, and he has been back to China since.

So of course China has some sort of influence in North Korea. Are they “exerting negative pressure”? I guess that depends what side of the political and international fence you are on.

Threatening “more bullets” in the escalating trade war with China and threatening “If you knew what I knew about what we could do to the leadership of North Korea, you wouldn’t sleep very well” could be  interpreted as a bit of negative pressure too.

I just hope trade and military relations don’t go into a negative spiral that ends up in a crash and burn.

Trump backs off joint cyber security suggestion

Another example of changing stories with Donald Trump, this time after he suggested a joint Cyber security unit with Russia. On Sunday Trump tweeted:

President Trump tweeted Sunday evening that a proposed “Cyber Security unit” operated by the U.S. and Russia “can’t happen,” an apparent reaction to criticism of the idea by Democrats and Republicans.

Trump tweeted:

A bizarre suggestion given all the claims of Russian hacker interference in the US election last year.

Fox News: Trump appears to back off joint ‘Cyber Security unit’ with Russia after criticism

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election campaign. Russian state actors have been linked to Wikileaks, which published stolen emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The cybersecurity unit drew widespread ridicule from lawmakers, including two of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination last year.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham on NBZ’s Mett The Press:

“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close”.

Graham also said that Trump has “a blind spot” when it comes to Russia, “and to forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyberattacks is to empower Putin and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Senator Marco Rubio:

Partnering with Putin on a “Cyber Security Unit” is akin to partnering with Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit”.

We have no quarrel with Russia or the Russian people. Problem is with Putin & his oppression, war crimes & interference in our elections.

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter…

…said the move was “like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic Party member of the House intelligence committee…

…told CNN’s “State of the Union” that expecting Russia to be a credible partner in any cybersecurity initiative “would be dangerously naive for this country.”

“If that’s our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow”.

Trump staff tried to defend his suggestion.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley…

…stood up for the initiative, arguing that working with Russia on cybersecurity “doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia. We can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia. But you keep those that you don’t trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on `em and keep them in check.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin…

…defended the plan on ABC’s “This Week,” calling the initiative a “very important step forward.”

“What we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia, that we’re focused on cybersecurity together, that we make sure that they never interfere in any democratic elections or conduct any cyber security. I think is a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.”

Stuff: Russia confirms Putin-Trump talk on joint cyber security unit

Russia confirmed that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had discussed forming a joint Russian-US group on cyber security, an idea that has provoked uproar in Washington, but said it was only a tentative proposal.

“The heads of state did talk about such a possibility,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters on Monday (Tuesday NZT).

“Nothing was promised to each other. What is positive, they stated their readiness to work in this direction.”

The conversation had been “about the possibility of forming such a group”, he said.

Svetlana Lukash, a Russian official who was at the Hamburg summit, told a news conference earlier on Monday (Tuesday NZT), Putin and Trump’s discussion of cyber security had taken up 40 minutes of their meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

“President Putin proposed creating a working group,” she said. “This does not mean it should start working immediately, virtually tomorrow.”

She added: “The main thing is, this matter was discussed, the United States is ready to consider cooperation in this sphere, and then we will see.

“Maybe this will be a working group, maybe this will be cooperation on the floor of the United Nations. But in any case, our two countries will need to discuss these questions. This is namely what the presidents agreed upon.” She said of the landmark talks between the two men in Hamburg: “Nobody, except the participants of that meeting, knows how that proposal was formulated and how President Trump reacted.”

But Trump seems to have changed his mind. He has at least changed his tune.

So why did he tweet what he did without qualification?

Why did Mnuchin and Haley defend and support his original tweet?

Why trust anything Trump tweets or says? His staff have been embarrassed by his changing ideas many times.

US government “under assault and eroding”

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, says that America’s founding fathers created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Fox News: Clapper: US govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

…Clapper on Sunday described a U.S. government “under assault” after President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey, as lawmakers urged the president to select a new FBI director free of any political stigma.

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” Clapper said. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Politicians from both sides also have concerns.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the new FBI director should certainly be someone “not of partisan background” with “great experience” and “courage.” He left open the possibility that Democrats might try and withdraw support for a new FBI director unless the Justice Department names a special prosecutor.

Under rules of the Senate, Republicans could still confirm an FBI director with 51 votes. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber to Democrats’ 48.

A new FBI director without wide support from both parties would add to the current problems and concerns.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said promoting an FBI agent to lead the agency would allow the nation to “reset.”

“It’s now time to pick somebody who comes from within the ranks, or is of such a reputation who has no political background at all who can go into the job from Day 1,” the South Carolina Republican said.

“The president has a chance to clean up the mess he mostly created,” Graham said, adding, “I have no evidence the president colluded with the Russians at all, but we don’t know all the evidence yet.”

Only the FBI know all the evidence they have at this stage.

It is certainly very messy, but what are the chances that Trump will tidy up the mess rather than make it worse?

Trump is even blaming his own press team now.

Wall Street Journal: Trump Weighs Shake-Up of Press Team

President blames team for failing to contain Comey controversy and hasn’t ruled out replacing Spicer

President Donald Trump is considering broad changes to his communications team and strategy, which he blames for failing to contain the controversy surrounding his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to multiple administration officials.

Among other moves, Mr Trump is again weighing replacing Press Secretary Shaun Spicer.

I’m not sure there will be many people willing to volunteer to take over from Spicer.

Trump has also suggested he may scrap the daily press briefings and hand out a two weekly printed statement instead. The press briefings have been done for about a century and it will raise eyebrows if they are scrapped, but currently they are of little use given how uninformed Spicer and his deputy have been, and/or how quickly the White House story keeps changing.

Bizarre Trump-Russia-Assange situation

President-elect Donald trump is in a bizarre situation, appearing to support (via Twitter) Russia, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and appearing to ridicule the US intelligence community.  Some believe this is at least in part an attempt by Trump to try and legitimise his election victory.

Amongst others Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have expressed concerns, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to have rebuked Trump.

Politico: Trump sides with Assange, Russia over U.S. intelligence

Ahead of his briefing on allegations of Russia election-season hacking, Trump mocks the intelligence community.

President-elect Donald Trump is freshly questioning U.S. intelligence assessments of election-season hacking, appearing to side instead with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Russia in comments that are rattling the American spy world as well as many of his fellow Republicans.

The billionaire real estate mogul late Tuesday and early Wednesday used Twitter to once again cast doubt on intelligence community deductions that Russian government-affiliated entities tried to tip November’s election in Trump’s favor.

In one tweet, Trump expressed suspicion about a supposed delay in an intelligence briefing he was due to receive about the suspected Russian interference.

“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” Trump tweeted.

A U.S. official immediately fired back, insisting the briefing had always been set for Friday.

In a separate tweet, Trump noted that Assange has “said Russians did not give him” leaked emails from the DNC and other prominent U.S. political leaders. Trump also pointed out that Assange, who is holed up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid sex assault charges in Sweden, said “a 14 year old” could have been the hacker. It was a remarkable vote of confidence in Assange considering that Trump, according to newly uncovered material by CNN, called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” in 2010 and suggested its actions should face the “death penalty or something.”

Trump is deeply averse to the notion that his victory on Nov. 8 was tainted.

He appears to be putting his own ego ahead of his country’s intelligence agencies. Cross party criticism is growing.

Politico: Democrats, intel chief lament Trump’s ‘disparagement’ of spies

Minority members on the Senate Armed Services Committee turned Congress’ first hearing on Russia’s alleged election hacks into a platform to strike at the billionaire businessman and try to drive a wedge between him and GOP leadership — with even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham joining in the criticism.

Even Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to implicitly rebuke Trump’s ongoing refusal to believe the government’s assessment that senior Moscow officials orchestrated a cyber campaign that roiled the Democratic Party in last year’s election.

“I think there’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” said Clapper, who leaves office on Jan. 20, in response to McCaskill’s speech.

Later, Clapper — who strongly defended the government’s assessment that Moscow directed the election-season hacks — told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that Trump’s rhetoric about intelligence agencies is alarming American allies.

“I do think that public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial,” he said. “And I’ve received many expressions of concern from foreign counterparts about, you know, the disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community, or I should say what has been interpreted as disparagement of the intelligence community.”

Trump has repeatedly accused the intelligence officials hawking false narratives in an attempt to undermine his incoming administration. Most recently, Trump cited as evidence WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s repeated insistence that his organization did not receive the emails from the Russian government.

Clapper and NSA chief Adm. Michael Rogers also denounced Assange at Thursday’s hearing, when McCain asked if “any credibility” should be “attached to this individual,” given WikiLeaks’ record of leaking materials that put U.S. lives “in direct danger.”

“Not in my view,” Clapper replied.

“I’d second those comments,” Rogers answered.

Graham later crossed the aisle to join the Democrats in their condemnation, addressing his remarks directly to Trump.

“What I don’t want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this area until you’re absolutely certain they need to be undermined,” Graham said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted that he trusted Clapper and the intelligence community to carry out the election-season hacking review and brief lawmakers on its findings.

Senior Republicans concerned at Trump’s siding with Russia and Assange, and supporting their own intelligence.

And it appears that there are differences over Russia in the team Trump is putting together.

Politico: Trump’s team tries to stifle rift on Russia

A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open.

As the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open.

As the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

And Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), tapped to head the CIA, has said the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 has been “far too weak.”

I wonder how quickly Trump will learn that owning and running a company is much different than being President.

“Unhealthy dislike” of opposing leaders

Does this sound familiar in a New Zealand context – an unhealthy dislike of the country’s leader?

US Senator Linsday Graham calls out GOP for ‘unhealthy’ dislike of Obama (Politico).

Lindsey Graham may not approve of everything President Barack Obama does, but he believes there is an unhealthy dislike of the president within his party.

The South Carolina senator was asked on CNN’s “New Day” if he is worried that his comments last night about Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims will harm his standing with Republicans. Graham during the undercard debate on Tuesday night apologized to America’s “Muslim friends” for Trump’s inflammatory proposal.

“To those people that believe Obama is a Muslim and was born in Kenya I’ve lost ya a long time ago,” Graham said before continuing, “There’s a dislike for President Obama in my party that’s unhealthy. There was a dislike for President Bush in the Democratic Party that was unhealthy.”

Graham said that Obama is “my president” and that the two talked Tuesday about how they could work together to help the new prime minister of Iraq.

“I think he has screwed this up 10 ways to Sunday, but Bush made his fair share of mistakes too,” Graham said.

Western leaders have been screwing up in the Middle East for centuries. And tried things in good faith that have backfired, or would never have worked.

Disagreeing with what a leader does, opposing what a leader does, is a normal part of politics in a democracy. But this often goes too far, and somes to an absurd degree.

There are plenty of signs in opposition parties of an unhealthy dislike of John Key. And especially from left wing online activists.

And the same for right wingers versus Helen Clark – Clark still gets ridiculous and over the top criticism and vitriolic personal attacks from the likes of Kiwiblog and Whale Oil.

Greater access to means of being heard (via the Internet) reveals the more extreme and intolerant sides of politics, albeit to small niche audiences.

Expending so much time and effort on attacking their opponents is counter-productive – most will see it for what it is, ranting and raving, sometimes amounting to blind hatred.

Those efforts would be better spent trying to do something positive for their own side of politics, but some people are political paranoids hell bent on destruction.