Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/12/2017

The TrumpRussia investigation seems to have stalled. This is in part due to two factors:

1) The SSIC and HPSCI do not have meetings scheduled. The HPSCI distraction via Chairman Nunes has worked.  This needs to play out because otherwise there is no way to secure an independent prosecutor's appointment.

2) Donald Trump seems to be allowing the NSC to be run by professionals. This is a subtle shift which has significant implications for the future.

This latter part needs to be given a more thorough examination. There are always two perspectives within any national security community. The first perspective is invested in the present and the second in the future.

When Trump entered the WH, there was a totally reasonable concern that he would simply fail spectacularly at running the most rudimentary aspects of the NSC. That turned out to be 100% accurate. Trump had a reputation for not being able to manage anything properly and losing money in a casino - turned out that was well deserved. He tried to disable the NSC by appointing two foreign agents (Flynn and Bannon) to try and run it. Now both are out - and the NSC is back in the hands of people who know what they are doing. This allows for a relatively small relief.

As you may be aware there are two pressing national security issues on the board - things that will literally explode in two weeks or less - North Korea and Syria. As things stand little to no resources are available to keep these conflicts at a manageable level. The RU mobilization has strapped DOD resources. It is not clear if there are enough resources to manage DPRK and Syria going critical at the same time as holding the wall against RU forces in Ukraine, Baltics and Scandinavia.  Despite Trump's abysmal handling of NATO - somehow we are still able to get NATO to take a stand against RU aggression in Europe.

In the intermediate term the professionals at the NSC have to coordinate a response to the DPRK nuclear emergence and the Syria Assad collapse at the same time. This would have been extremely hard even with President Obama in the oval office - this will be nearly impossible with Donald  Trump in there. I will be very surprised if we come out of this without a major theater conflict on our hands. Given how Trump and his team shoot their mouths off at the slightest perception of an insult and all the Trump Russia pressures on them, it will be a full time job for the professionals to keep the escalation lid tamped down.

The Syrian situation has been handled well last week. The NSC deliberately put a low escalation option in the mix presented to Donald Trump and when he chose it - the NSC proceeded to leverage their deep knowledge of RU involvement in the CW attack on Khan Shaykhoun to cause a fissure inside the Assad-RU alliance. Given the threat posed by the Assad regime's continued access to CW to Israel - it came as no surprise that the Trump admin distanced itself from Assad. What the RU gambit was in backing Assad's CW misadventure is unknown at this time, but it seems to have failed and Putin will likely have to sacrifice Assad at a time that is not of his choosing.

The Chinese are reluctant to let go of DPRK. They do not love Kim Jong Un much but as long as he is a greater pain in the rear for the US than he is for them they will support him. Removing Kim Jong Un from power would be ideal, but since so many Chinese backed soft-coups have failed - the only option left on the table is a hard coup. Such a coup could naturally precipitate if DPRK to master a Sloika or to develop a "Third Idea"/Ulam-Teller assembly fail spectacularly and cause Kim Jong Un to lose face inside the KPA General Staff. At that point KJU will have to purge the KPA General Staff and hope to survive the coup that inevitably follows. A US led aerial bombing campaign lined up to coincide with the failed test may be sufficient to selectively strengthen the KJU opposition while ensuring that a roll-back can be initiated to appease Chinese interests. Without carrying the Chinese along on this however - the entire mission would quickly escalate into a major theater conflict. For this scheme to work, the Chinese have to support it, and everything has to go down in a week or so. Beyond that it will be too expensive and dangerous to maintain a massive strike force so proximate to DPRK. There is a tiny window and the plan once set in motion will not be possible to recall for something like 48-72 hours. In the simplest scenario - a provocation will convince KJU that he needs to test a bigger nuclear device immediately. As he proceeds to the test, the task force will covertly disable it and trigger a KPA backed coup. From that point on a aerial bombardment will commence leading to a situation where the KJU faction cannot prevail. The wider realignment of DPRK may takes months or years but the first 48-72 hours will make the difference. I do not understand how Donald Trump will be able to action this initiative without taking permission from Congress.

The longer timescale perspective of the NSC embraces the need for immediate control over time sensitive issues, but likely feels that the needs of justice must be served. This means that the Trump Russia investigation must proceed unimpeded to its evidence driven conclusion.

I can't disagree with this kind of thinking, if crimes of the magnitude I suspect have been committed, then it does not make sense to me to let them go unpunished but we should keep the situation under control so as to avoid obvious pitfalls.

The biggest wild card in the entire situation is DJT himself. If he decides to derail the NSC with an insistence on a phony war with Russia - it is likely that the NSC will have no choice but to comply. Under such circumstances, one will have to write off the DPRK and Syria situation and default to a long term perspective on national security issues.

As things stand gaping holes have opened up inside the House of Trump. An attempt to get Steve Bannon to back off on his not-too-covert attacks on the Trump bloodline have failed. The inevitable firing of Steve Bannon is in the air. A section of Steve's internet Troll, Bot, & Cyborg army are moving on their own accord to settle personal scores with Kushnerites like Cernovich et al, While Breitbart News have been issued a gag order against writing articles critical of Jared Kushner - they are indicating that they have no interest in obeying the order. They remain loyal to Steve Bannon. So most likely the truce brokered between Kushner and Bannon by Donald Trump will fail and a major crack in the House of Trump will be visible.

The results for Kansas 04 are in. The voting totals are down (as is common in a special election), but the GOP lead in district has reduced from +31 to +7. This is a 24 point change in just 5 months. It appears that despite high level commitments from DJT, Pence and Cruz - the GOP voters stayed home. That is actually saying something.

I am expecting significant developments on the  DPRK and Syria front in the next two weeks.

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