Trump: Apparent backtracking and real-politik in trade.

So far Trump is playing it straight down the line. His much touted backtracking on Chinese currency manipulation is not quite as straight forward as the MSM makes it out to be. Big surprise.

 

Trump

On April 14, the U.S. Treasury Department released its semiannual report on the currency exchange policies of major U.S. trading partners. The report found that currently no country’s policies could be considered manipulative within the context of both current definitions and past practices. However the US kept China, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea and Switzerland on the list of countries to monitor. The current reported findings are in contrast to Trump’s campaign rhetoric on China, but they are in line with current economic thinking and legal definitions regarding currency manipulation.

Trump’s administration is being constrained by the current legal definitions, case law and by past practice criteria — bilateral trade balances, current account balances and currency intervention policies — used in previous reports to determine which countries should be monitored. Nothing has changed so it’s no wonder the US bureaucracy had the same opinions that they’ve held for the past 8 years.

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The ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ in the Syrian cruise missile strike

The current information war, that is raging globally, makes it difficult to assess which description of the Trump Tomahawk strike on the Syrian airfield at Shayrat is closest to the facts. Even the facts as to whether there was actually a chemical war-gas attack was being called into question. Emerging facts seems to reinforce that indeed there had been a release of war-gas in Khan Sheikhoun Syria and that people had died. Other than that probability we have to enter a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’ where truth is a very slippery commodity. As Churchill was reported as to have said,” In war the first casualty is the truth”.

USN

At first blush three possible scenarios come to mind:-

#1 Assad launched an aircraft bombing raid carrying Sarin gas munitions and attacked civilians in Khan Sheikhoun killing many innocents.

#2 The Syrian air force bombed a rebel / islamist logistics installations in Khan Sheikhoun using conventional bombs. Secondary explosions suggested that a major rebel munitions and possibly a manufacturing facility had been hit, releasing stored Chlorine & Sarin war-gasses, killing many innocents.

#3 This was an inside job by rogue US security services to tear the initiative from Assad’s grasp and forestall his victory in the Syrian Civil War. Collateral damage saw the killing many innocents.

Occam’s Razor suggests that either scenario #1 or #2 as most probably likely scenarios, with #2 shading scenario #1 based on current information.

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Yemen : US Mission Creep

The chance of US military Mission Creep in Yemen as well as Iraq and Syria appears to be ratcheting up with the departure of the Obama Administration. The further deployment of US Forces in both Iraq and Syria, aiming to destroy ISIS in the Levant and support Syrian rebel forces, has seen a constant incrementalism over the past 2 years as numbers grow. Now the US forces  deployed in Yemen also appear to be ratcheting up, as the US is drawn deeper into the stalemated Yemeni civil war. Comparing Yemen’s belligerent forces over the past two years shows almost no movement in core territorial gains for any side.

Stratfor

YEMEN :March 30, 2017

Stratfor

The US Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between the US and Iran by the outgoing Obama administration, to reduce the chances of direct US-Iranian armed altercations in the Middle East, was part of the de-escalation process that also saw the roll back in US sanctions against Iran. The obverse of this policy was a rise in Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concerns about US future commitment to their defence. Especially so after the recent meeting between the Iranian Quads Force Commander Qassem Soleimani with rebel Houthi forces in Yemen. The Yemen Civil War has reached stalemate with both the Yemeni  forces under President Hadi, the al-Houthi rebels in the NW and the al Qaeda/ AQAP / ISIS aligned bedouins holding almost the same regions today, as at the outbreak of the civil war. Meanwhile the ‘peace talks’ in Switzerland drag on with no side in any hurry to compromise.

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NS Advisor Mike Flynn’s departure: Combination of NSA ‘bear trap’ and personal failure to tell the whole truth

National Security Advisor Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) — who resigned Monday — was the victim of a “hit job” launched by intelligence operatives, Obama government holdovers and former Obama national security officials, according to former intelligence officials who spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.Flynn didn’t help himself much either when he foolishly failed to fully brief VP Mike Pence and thereby exposed him to ridicule in the partisan media who played their part in this staged managed soap opera. 

PA
The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.
“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.
Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”

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INTEL Wars: The CIA under Brennan was out to get General Flynn

Writing in Bloomberg News today, Eli Lake comes to a similar conclusion and adds a good deal of background in a fine piece of reporting. Flynn, he concludes, was just the appetiser: the knives are now out for President Trump. The fake news media is in a feeding frenzy, including this attack on Kellyanne Conway and this bill of indictment of the Trump Administration from the Washington Post. Without full access to all of the facts one can’t evaluate the White House decision to let Flynn go, but the practical result of the decision will be to escalate attacks on the Trump White House, not reduce them. The Elitist Establishment, of the DNC, Beltway pundits and elements of the RNC, is a wounded beast fighting for its existence in the era of the ‘non-politician. This is a take-no-prisoners, no-quarter-asked-or-given war.

AP

How come no-one is accusing NSA Director Michael Flynn of taking bribes from Turkey’s dictator Recep Erdogan? Not long ago, they did. Last November 18, Commentary Magazine’s Noah Rothman called Flynn a “dubious choice” for the National Security Council because his consulting company had a Turkish client, adding that Flynn’s views on Turkey raised a “conflict of interest.” Flynn had published an article in The Hill on Nov. 8 warning that America’s dalliance with the messianic Turkish Islamist and alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen might undermine the country’s relationship with NATO, at a time when Russia was giving Turkey the full-court press.

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