This week, U.S. Mainstream Media across the spectrum ran a story that Trump is going to shift more of the drone operations to CIA control. Seems like an odd choice given that he has a noticeably bad relationship with the CIA, but I guess that could mean is his decision is just a cynical manipulation. This was at one time a point of contention. Who is responsible for the drone program? Under a great deal of political/popular pressure, Obama promised to take the CIA out of the loop – basically to give the appearance of doing something. But I doubt if he could have done more then shift the balance a little. Now, perhaps Trump has done something to shift it back. But, as David Swanson pointed out, the Air Force was flying the ‘CIA’ drones and they continue to fly them now. Trump is continuing the policy that was in place before there was a public outcry that caused Obama to take a step back. But it isn’t a new idea or practice and which brutal agency controls the drones is irrelevant to the victims.
The subject of these articles is typical of those that I find myself unable to take seriously no matter how distasteful I find Trump and what my concerns are about his policies. It displaces public attention from the real problem – what he is actually doing (which is just fine with his opponents in the government) onto the in-house power-struggle. Instead of foreign policy, we have a sports league kicking the globe around for power and glory and people rooting for their team rather than examine the events in play.
Trump has approved far more drone strikes in a short time than Obama and he has done so with no permission from congress or the judiciary, and with very little publicity. I’m not so sure Obama got permission from congress either, Now, he’s discussing putting Americans on the ground in Yemen. Obama had a surge in Afghanistan and spent a lot of effort producing new interpretations of international law to cover the drone program. He did balk at putting soldiers on the ground in Syria.
Unfortunately, also with very little publicity or intra-government discussion, he has also doubled (at least) the number of US soldiers in Syria to at least 1000 and maybe more. News coverage of this event has been light. No major issues have been raised. There appear to be 2 goals, first, the original one to keep Erdogan from occupying Kurdiish territory in northern Syria. And then towards a more nefarious one, they have invested more men to ‘assist’ the ‘liberation’ of Raqqa. This is an old US trick for ‘winning’ a war that others have fought at great cost. There is reason for deep concerns that the US military is preparing to get there ahead of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies and occupy the city with a compliant contingent of ‘moderate’ Rebels – ISIS(?). What are the odds they would hand it over if they can take it?
Some place this in the context that the US has lost its seat at the negotiating table where Syria’s fate will be decided. Well, they had to work very hard at loosing their spot, The last straw was when they killed nearly 100 Syrian soldiers protecting Deir Ezzor and allowed ISIS to take the high ground outside the Deir Ezzor airport which they had been using to provision the population, What will they use their seat to ask for? Here is Russian Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2015 trying to explain to an Australian interviewer what is wrong with the US approach: Russia Opposes Intervention in Syria.
Anyway you look at it, trying to dig your way out of a hole is a mistake.
Meanwhile the pundits are busy discussing the change in who flies the drones as a Trump ‘atrocity’.