It is a real war, Mr. President!


As we are writing this column, President Trump just left Rome, after what can be considered a highly successful visit to Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land, as even The New York Times had to acknowledge. The purposeful contrast in his remarkable speech to over 50 heads of states from Muslim majority nations in the Saudi capital of Riyadh from President Obama’s June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, was evident, and confirmed the historical importance of Trump’s election for U.S. foreign policy and America’s standing in the world. Hilary Clinton, most definitely, would not have given this speech!

Rereading Obama’s 2009 presentation immediately after listening to Trump’s talk, we were struck by how differently Trump addressed the basically identical individual building blocks of both speeches: While Obama’s presentation was a series of apologies for alleged past U.S. misdeeds and transgressions, followed by promises of reconsideration and restitution under a new Obama administration, Trump’s presentation in typical fashion was a deal-offer to the Arab-Muslim world, refreshingly and uncompromisingly formulated as “do good for us, and we will do good for you.” He also left no doubt in his speech about his administration’s position on Iran, when defining the country as the principal cause of instability in the Middle East and the primary state-sponsor of terrorism through militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah), in Yemen (Houthis), and in Gaza (Hamas). He only further reemphasized this message in Israel.

Most of the Sunni Arab world and Israel never were happy with Obama’s Cairo speech. Subsequent foreign policy decisions by the Obama administration, peaking with the Iran nuclear agreement, however, produced outright ire. Trump’s success in Saudi Arabia and Israel, therefore, did not come as a surprise. Historians will, likely conclude that Obama’s Cairo speech laid the groundwork for eight years of U.S. foreign policy that led to the destruction of Syria and Libya, the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian lives and the largest refugee migration from the Middle East and North Africa since WWII. In reaching these conclusions, they will point to pronouncements in Obama’s Cairo speech, like: “… that is why I ordered the removal of combat brigades by next August. That is why we will …. remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July and…. all of our troops from Iraq by 2012.”

Historians will also conclude that Obama’s foreign policy, at minimum, represented a realignment of the U.S. interests toward the Shiite government in Teheran, and away from Sunny Saudi Arabia, Golf States and Israel, reaching a climax with Obama’s signing of the so-called “Nuclear Deal” with Iran. Many Middle Eastern political leaders saw it, however, more as a “sell out” of longstanding friends and appeasement of a radical and expansive Shiite Iran.  

Judging by the reception President Trump and his delegation received from Saudi royals, over 50 Muslim government leaders and the Israeli government, sentiments toward the Trump administration are clearly more favorable. The radical pivot in U.S. Middle East foreign policy under Trump is not only remarkable because of its speed but also unprecedented by how quickly it elicited a remarkably positive response from most of the Muslim world and Israel. The last presidential election in the U.S., therefore, very obviously did matter not only for the U.S. but the whole world.

Trump, among the splendor of the royal palace in Riyadh, considering all the heavy gold and marble that also characterizes his buildings, must have felt quite “at home.” He also, likely, was relieved for, at least temporarily, being able to escape the toxic political atmosphere of Washington, D.C., where the “cold war,” the city’s political establishment and media have imposed upon the Trump administration immediately following the election, had, suddenly, significantly gained in temperature with the appointment of a Special Counsel by the Justice Department.

Trump, indeed, left town, leaving important unfinished business behind: One, we consider of utmost importance, was the promised appointment of a new F.B.I. Director before his departure. As sources are telling us, he seemed well on his way in keeping his promise, when letting it be known that former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was his preferred pick. Our sources, indeed, also told us that the President had formally extended the offer and Lieberman had formally accepted the position.

Why the appointment went unannounced, is as of this moment unclear because nobody in the White House really appears to know. The most likely explanations we heard is the engagement by Trump of Marc Kasowitz as outside lawyer vis-à-vis the newly appointed Special Counsel. Kasowitz is the senior partner in the law firm that currently employs Senator Lieberman. Strong opposition from some leading Democrats may also have swayed the President in holding off on the appointment.

The appointment of Robert S. Mueller, the former F.B.I. Director, as Special Counsel for the investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential election and “related subjects,” was clearly a new low for the Trump administration. A not unexpected consequence of an undisciplined president and, so far, poorly managed White House, this appointment makes an already difficult situation even more challenging. Even a successful administration after a landslide election victory, like in Ronald Reagan’s second term, was almost derailed by an “independent prosecutor” when the Contra Affair broke.

President Trump would be well advised to recognize how few real political friends he has in Washington, D.C., including in his own Republican Party. It’s time to stop acting like a spoiled brat, responding to every perceived insult with Twitter blasts and personal indignation, and accept the fact that, more than ever before, politics in Washington has become a blood sport with clear intent to kill. The president also must understand that the initial “cold war” is over and a really “hot war” has started.

For President Trump this means that he must fight back, making use of his position, and start hurting his enemies. Like in real war, there is no alternative to winning or, at least reaching  honorable peace. The position of F.B.I. Director is crucial for fighting back, especially with a politically weakened Attorney General and an apparently strongly independent Assistant Attorney General.

The only way Trump can fight back against leaks, innuendo and unsupported rumors, mostly the product of Obama administration remnants in the administration, and willfully distributed by hostile media, is by making sure that serious F.B.I. investigations into Obama administration conduct, that really matters to the public, are initiated. None of the not-for-profit organizations discriminated against in the IRS scandal were ever even interviewed by the F.B.I. In contrast to the Trump administration, the Obama administration had no problem in suppressing unfriendly investigations, even if guilt, as in this scandal, was freely admitted by the IRS. There, of course, also was no investigation of the Benghazi scandal, the sale of significant amounts of U.S. plutonium to Russia with help of the Clinton Foundation, the unmasking of Republican presidential candidates, including members of the Trump campaign, for political purposes. We, indeed, could go on and on.

And the F.B.I. Director, who did not pursue any of these potentially damaging scandals for the Obama administration, later also absolved Hillary Clinton from indictment over her private server. But, as we now know, he did initiate an investigation of Trump and his campaign regarding potential collusion of the Trump campaign with Russian government agents; yet also, apparently, never initiated an investigation into the flood of leaks, directed against President Trump and his administrations and over the unwarranted unmasking of political opponents by the Obama administration. Rumors have it that former F.B.I. Director James Comey that an investigation was never started because the F.B.I. was, itself, leaking like a thieve. No wonder, Trump fired him!

To facilitate the serious investigations of the Obama administration, Obama needs the right F.B.I. Director. Only once Democrats and the Trump-hating media will no longer be able to deny the corruption and illegal conspiracies during both Obama administrations, and the world recognizes the depth of constitutional maleficence during the Obama years, will Trump be given a chance to recover.

With currently only few friends in Washington’s political establishment, press and other media, likely even a majority in his own party would prefer a President Mike Pence. Though impeachment as of this point appears unrealistic, if Trump continues to twitter maniacally, and remains undisciplined in recorded talks with foreign dignitaries and network television interviewers, he may very well create majorities in House and Senate for his impeachment.

The accomplishments on his first overseas trip as president well demonstrate how to manage the presidency, – even when at home. Trump cannot allow the appointment of a Special Counsel to detract from his commitments to health care and tax reform legislation. Defaulting on these two promises (both much more important than “the wall” or moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem), would, likely terminally wound his presidency.

Like other presidents before him, Trump to a degree must learn to be feared. Friends and foes alike, whether in the House of the Senate, must know that they can rely on help from the President when needed but will be punished if they oppose his initiatives. Therefore, a president’s approval ratings and general popularity with voters are of considerable importance, – even in off years for elections, as this year. In the end, only popularity with the public gives presidents an electoral coattail, translatable into political power.


The post-Obama world

In business, it would be called “on spec” how Europe, already in 2009, shortly after being elected and ahead of any major foreign policy decisions, awarded President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. In doing so, “Europa got the kind of transnational American president it wanted,” The Wall Street Journal recently noted in a commentary. After almost eight years of Obama foreign policy, one, however, must wonder how much regret the selection committee may now experience about its decision.

It was President Obama, himself, who after his election made the point that “elections do have consequences.” While his comment was made about domestic politics, U.S. presidential elections, of course, always also have worldwide consequences. It now appears that the awarding of Nobel Peace Prizes “on spec” may also have (unforeseen) consequences.

In Obama, the country elected not only the least qualified and least informed president in foreign affairs in recent memory but, in addition, also an individual whose very limited knowledge of world history had been formed based on extremist anti-colonial and anti-imperialistic indoctrination from childhood. Under this worldview, the U.S. and most of the Western White World were the bad boys of history, while the mostly brown and black Third World, as victims of Capitalism, Colonialism and Imperialism, were the good guys.

Removing Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office, therefore, became a very symbolic first foreign policy act the new president took after moving into the White House, since Churchill, of course, represented British Colonialism at its best, which Obama’s father, Barak Obama, Sr., had so valiantly fought in his home country Kenya. That this world view would affect all of Obama’s foreign policy decisions, therefore, was not only predictable but, simply for psychological reasons, likely unavoidable. Add to this psychological predilection, the overconfident self-appreciation of a highly intelligent, yet severely egomaniacal personality, who in addition, just based on his rhetorical representations, is awarded the Peace Nobel Prize, and a historical constellation of personalities and circumstances becomes apparent, which explains why even Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a committed Liberal and strong former supporter, recently concluded that history will view Obama as one of the country’s worst presidents in executing foreign policy.

Being awarded the Nobel Prize so early in his presidency, and only based on expression of his obviously deviant political world views from those of his predecessors, undoubtedly, further strengthened Obama in his political convictions and, at least in part, explains his practical unprecedented audacity in making major foreign policy decisions in complete isolation and, often, against the expressed recommendations of his national security staff and military leadership. These decisions then often led to disaster, nowhere more obvious than in Iraq and Syria, with over half a million dead and millions of refugees in camps in neighboring countries and flooding Europe.

After his reelection, the need to obfuscate his ideological background further diminished. His national security team was increasingly made up of individuals with similar ideologies or with yes-man and women, who only further strengthened him in his political convictions. Consequences were the Iran deal, the normalization of relations with the Castro brothers’ Cuba, cordial and rather uncritical relationships with Socialist regimes in Venezuela and elsewhere in South America and persistent outreach to the Muslim world while, at best, demonstrating benign neglect of friendly Western countries but, often, indeed, hostility to traditionally friends, like the state of Israel.

How much the world has changed in eight years of Obama presidency is, indeed, almost impossible to comprehend. Whatever one may think about the preceding Bush years, Obama inherited a relative stable world order. In eight years of Obama foreign policy, the world order established after WWI appears completely uprooted, and the incoming Trump administration, likely faces the most complex and dangerous security situation in the world since the 1930s and start of WWII.


Like in the 1930s, we here at The Canary, once again, consider Europe to be the most dangerous flashpoint. With the European Union facing an existential crisis, Western Europe being overrun by Muslim migrants, and several central European countries facing Muslim majorities within just a few short decades, with Russia again pursuing an expansive foreign policy in efforts to reconstitute the geo-political power base of the old Soviet Union, Europe appears a powder cake, ready to explode.

No easy solutions are apparent. The most likely solution is contraction of the European Union back to a smaller but economically and politically more cohesive union of states, with other former member states in looser affiliated positions, and, potentially serving as buffer states between Europe and Russia. This core group of countries making up the United States of Europe (USE), in analogy to the U.S., must be able to function as one federally governed country of individual states, with its own border security and military, capable of defending itself against Russian expansionism without being dependent on the U.S. Despite BREXIT, we can see the United Kingdom as a cornerstone of such a USE, joined by Germany, Austria, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and, possibly, other countries.

President Trump’s foreign policy should be strongly supportive of such a USE, which could become a strong economic as well as military ally of the U.S. if relationships are properly managed.

The Middle East

This region of the world is characterized by the largest number of failed states. Moreover, since this is the center of the Muslim world, everything is linked to religion. Developments in Turkey, which by the West was considered the example how Muslim countries could evolve as liberal secular democracies, have, unfortunately been regressive, as Erdogan has been concentrating power in his hands, democratic freedoms are receding and a national policy of secularism is replaced by religious Islamism.

Though Sunnis, it appears increasingly likely that, out of a common fear that the Kurds in their countries may form a new continuous state of Kurdistan, Turkey will continue developing closer relationships with Shiite Iran. Though for the longest time a primary foe of Syria’s Assad, this coalition may, in the end, also include Syria and Iraq since these two countries also contain major Kurdish minority areas, and have close relationships with Iran. Finally, because of Iran’s influence, Lebanon can also be expected to join this coalition of states which, of course, will have strong political and military support from Russia

The rest of the Arab Sunni world, from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates to Egypt and the North African Muslim countries of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, appears less united than in the past. Disappointed by U.S. policy under President Obama, these countries in recent years have for the first time in decades again developed relationships with Russia. The whole region has remained a minefield of danger, at any given moment subject to a new political disruption.

This, of course, also includes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which since 1967, now for almost 50 years, includes Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory on the West Bank (in Biblical terms, Judea and Samaria) and of the Golan Heights from Syria. Though in view of recent events in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, this conflict has lost its centrality, it, nevertheless, cannot be overlooked because it no longer is only a conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. It for many years has become a proxy-war between Iran and Israel, with the Iranian goal being to encircle Israel from the north (Hezbollah in Lebanon) the west (Hezbollah and Iranian Quds forces from Syria and Hamas from the West Bank) and the south (Hamas in Gaza)

Publicly sworn to the destruction of the state of Israel (the only United Nations member state that expressed publicly its desire to destroy another U.N. member state), Israel, not surprisingly, therefore views Iran as an existential threat. In contrast to President Obama’s administration, the incoming Trump administration appears to share this opinion. Moreover, since Obama has, unopposed, ceded so much influence to Russia in the region, Israel has, strategically, become even more important to U.S. national interests as the only truly politically stable state which, in addition, also maintains the strongest and most sophisticated military in the region.

We, therefore, anticipate from the Trump administration a more forceful and open military and political affiliation with Israel, either as direct pact between the two countries or, if not opposed by other member states like Turkey, possibly even including the NATO alliance.


U.S. relations with Russia have reached the lowest nadir since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This is a remarkable development, considering the “reset” of relations Obama and Hillary Clinton had been striving for. Who, indeed, can forget the live microphone that allowed the world to hear President Obama telling, then Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, that he ”would have more leeway after his reelection in dealing with Russia.”

Things quite obviously did not work out as expected! As in so many other political hotspots around the world, the Obama administration viewed the Russian – American relationship through pink rather than realistic geopolitical glasses, completely misreading Putin’s intent on “making Russia great again.”

President Elect Trump’s approach to Russia will be interesting to watch. His selection of Rex Tillerson, who is known to have a personal friendship with Putin, as Secretary of State, can be a double-edged sword. It may not hurt to develop a better relationship with Putin; though “trust but verify” (ala Ronald Reagan) must be a guiding principle in dealing with Putin and his former KGB colleagues.

Here at The Canary, we are rather skeptical that one can do business with people who murder their opponents, deny the obvious (i.e., shooting down of airplanes, and use of their military in the invasion of Ukraine and other neighboring countries) and have turned their country back into a dictatorship; but who knows; maybe, Trump and Putin will succeed in reestablishing detente. It, certainly, would help in stabilizing a very unstable world.

Trump’s readiness to engage in another nuclear proliferation race with either Russia, China or whoever challenges the U.S., should be viewed as a positive statement. As the multiple diplomatic disasters of the Obama administration so well demonstrate, diplomacy can only be effective from a position of strength.


Considering how messy a world the Obama administration is leaving behind, we, despite the obvious danger a nuclear North Korea with intercontinental ballistic capabilities represents, consider Asia the least threatening part of the world to U.S. national security. China’s saber-rattling in the South China Sea is, of course, disturbing but, very obviously, is again to a large degree a product of foreign policy weakness of the Obama administration. President Elect Trump has been sending the correct messages to the Chinese leadership when taking the congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s president.

The message is loud and clear; when the U.S. agreed to a one-China policy under Richard Nixon, there was also a clear understanding about mutual political behavior of both parties. Trump is absolutely correct in pointing out to the Chinese that agreements go both ways; If they want the U.S. to adhere to the agreement, then the U.S. can expect appropriate behavior from the Chinese in return. In other words, building artificial island in the South China Sea is not appropriate; refusing to take tough actions against a rogue North Korea is also unacceptable; stealing billions of dollars in intellectual property through hacking and other illegal measures every year is also unacceptable behavior for a nation that wishes to assume a leadership position in the world; and, finally, trade agreements between nations need to be fair.

We also trust that Trump’s comments about the potential nuclearizing of Japan and South Korea were not only empty threats. Those are, indeed, the logical next steps if China continues its aggressively expansive policy in the South China Sea and refuses to help in the denuclearization of North Korea.

Trump is also correct that China is economically more dependent on the U.S. than the U.S. is on China. As a senior government official once noted to The Canary, “China is not a country of 1.3 billion citizens, as is widely believed. It is more a country of ca. 300 million citizens (like the U.S.) with the additional burden of 1 billion peasants, the Chinese leadership must bring out of poverty to maintain the current government structure.”

Though there may be hiccups on the way, we, therefore, are confident that a usually highly rational Chinese leadership will in a Trump administration conclude that, considering the alternatives, it behooves them to step back from the kind of aggressive posturing we have seen over the last few years.


After Europe, Pakistan is, likely, the most dangerous spot on the globe, considering that this is a Muslim country with usually unstable governments. The good news is that the country just underwent a completely uneventful change in military command, with a highly regarded and militarily successful commander stepping down at the end of his term. While nothing unusual in Western democracies, this unchallenged change of command represented a big step forward for Pakistan, where the military is the real power behind the civilian government, and controls the nuclear hardware of the country.

The country’s nuclear arsenal is especially dangerous for the world because Pakistan is, likely, the most unstable nuclear power in the world. The risk that nuclear material falls into the hands of terrorists is, therefore, always substantial. Because of its financial problems, North Korea, of course, represents similar risks since it, in the past, has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to supply weapons and know how to whoever is willing to pay.

A new world order

Post WWI, the world established a new world order, based on two principal power centers, the Soviet Union and the U.S. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. remained the sole super power, and learned the hard way that this is not necessarily as good as it sounds, comes with considerable responsibilities and becomes politically as well as financially overbearing.

President Obama recognized this but decided on categorically incorrect solutions. Instead of trying to establish a new power balance between the strongest economic (U.S., China and European Union) and military powers (U.S., Russia and China), Obama decided to retreat and “lead from behind.” Instead of a rational new order, what evolved was then the chaos around the world we just described.

A new worldwide foreign policy strategy, which we believe Trump has in mind, must attempt to return the world from a unipolar, U.S.-driven to a multi-polar balanced world, in which the U.S., Russia and China (and, if not dissolving, the European Union or its successor), combined, assume responsibility for a balanced tri- or quatro-polar world. In other words, the only chance of cleaning up the mess left behind by eight years of Obama foreign policy, is a balanced “Kissinger world” and this, we believe here at The Canary, is why President Elect Trump has spent so much time with former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.