For a president who won his office by denouncing the Middle East wars into which George W. Bush and Barack Obama plunged the nation, Donald Trump has assembled the most unabashedly hawkish conclave of foreign policy advisers in memory. And he himself seems to concede the point.

If foreign policy were decided by my security adviser John Bolton, the president confided recently, “We’d be in four wars by now.”

It was Bolton who ordered the Abraham Lincoln carrier group and B-52s to the Gulf and told the Pentagon to draw up plans to send 120,000 U.S. troops. It is Bolton who is charging Iran with using mines to sabotage four oil tankers outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Asked for evidence, Bolton barked back at reporters: “Who else would you think is doing it? Somebody from Nepal?”

But if Bolton is first hawk, he is not without rivals in the inner circle of the commander in chief.

At West Point last week, Vice President Mike Pence, after hailing the diversity of a class with the highest number of Hispanic and black women graduates ever, laid out what the future holds in store for them.

“You will fight on a battlefield for America. ... You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.

“Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence.

“Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.

“And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns ... and you will fight, and you will win.

“Put your armor on,” Pence admonished the warriors, “so that when — not if — that day comes, you’ll be able to stand your ground.”

A question: Did not candidate Trump say he would be ending wars and bringing troops home, not plunging into new conflicts in the Mideast, Asia, Europe, the Western Hemisphere and “the Indo-Pacific”?

As for war in our hemisphere, which Pence said was possible, that could come sooner than the graduating cadets expect, if Trump’s confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham has his way.

All last week, Graham beat the drums for an ultimatum to Cuba to get any and all of its troops out of Venezuela. Should Havana refuse, said Graham, Trump ought to “do in Venezuela what Reagan did in Grenada.”

In 1983, Reagan ordered an invasion of Grenada to prevent U.S. medical students from being taken hostage by Marxist thugs who had just assassinated their leader and seized power.

But Grenada is a tiny island roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C., with a population of 100,000, while Venezuela is the size of Texas, with 30 million people and an army of more soldiers than Grenada has citizens.

“I would let the Venezuelan military know, you’ve got to choose between democracy and Maduro,” thundered Graham. “And if you choose Maduro and Cuba, we’re coming after you. This is our backyard.”

Trump may have run as anti-interventionist, but his secretary of state was apparently not closely following his campaign.

Speaking at the West Coast neocon lamasery Claremont Institute last week, Secretary Mike Pompeo said the Founding Fathers “knew peace wasn’t the norm” and “conflict is the normative experience for nations.”

He ripped into the Russians.

Thirty years after the Cold War, said Pompeo, “The Putin regime slays dissidents in cold blood and invades its neighbors,” and, along with China, conducts a foreign policy “intent on eroding American power.”

“We Americans have had too little courage to confront regimes squarely opposed to our interests and our values.”

As for “America First!” Pompeo explained Trump’s signature phrase thus:

The president “believes America is exceptional — a place and history apart from normal human experience.” This recalls Madeleine Albright’s famous formulation: “We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further ... into the future.”

President George Washington would approve of our policies, said Pompeo. Though the Father of our Country may have warned in his Farewell Address against “permanent alliances,” we are “banding together with the like-minded nations like Australia, India, Japan and South Korea to make sure that each Indo-Pacific nation can protect its sovereignty from coercion.”

“American exceptionalism ... will remain alive and well in the 21st century,” concluded Pompeo. “What’s good for the United States is good for the world.”

One wonders: Do the hawks in his inner councils speak for Trump? For they surely do not speak for a nation whose weariness with wars put him into the White House.

On the first day of Trump’s visit to London, Pompeo, who last year issued his 12 demands on Iran, was quoted as saying the U.S. is now prepared to negotiate with Tehran with “no preconditions.”

For now, Trump’s hawks appeared contained. But for how long?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

(27) comments

rikkitikkitavvi

A tenant of fascism is controlling speech. Another is trying to eradicate every single idea that challenges yours. This is what happens when the left owns 95% of the media. I would say grow up, but you never won't. I will continue to watch you play in you liberal (fnp) sandbox and pat each other on the back. You can give each other participation trophies too.That IS almost as much fun as counter-posting on your blatant lies. Not worth popping any corn though. Remember the days at the old school yard. MAGA! TRUMP 2020 in a landslide!

gary4books

Every idea that you do not agree with is not a lie. I would like a good debate. But you do need to update your peeves. "Participation trophies?" Not where I have been. We got good information or we went home.

rikkitikkitavvi

Questions for Mueller What witnesses did you interview and what evidence did you collect in an attempt to exonerate Trump or prove him not guilty? (I believe the answer would be, “None. It’s not the job of a special counsel or prosecutor to do so.†Therefore, was Mueller’s comment appropriate?) Does it concern you that the FBI claimed “collection tool failure†in stating that 19,000 text messages between former FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strozk had been deleted and were unavailable for review by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general? Is it worth investigating how the inspector general was able to recover the messages, when the FBI said it could not? Does the FBI lack the technical expertise, or the will? Isn’t it a serious issue that should be addressed, either way? Along the same lines, do you think it strange or inappropriate that the DOJ wiped text messages between Strzok and Page from their special counsel cell phones? The deletions happened shortly after they were ejected from the team and before the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General could review them — at a time when all had been informed that their actions were under review. Did technicians attempt to recover the messages? Were the circumstances of the deletions thoroughly investigated? When did you first learn that the FBI and DOJ signed off on and presented unverified, anti-Trump political opposition research to a court to get wiretaps on an innocent U.S. citizen? Doesn’t this violate the strict procedures enacted while you were FBI director, intended to ensure that only verified information is seen by the court? Who will be held accountable for any lapses in this arena? Do these issues point to larger problems within our intelligence community, in terms of how officials operate? Does that put you in a position where there’s a conflict of interest since you were in charge of the FBI when prior surveillance abuses were identified by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? Did you consider disclosing this potential conflict and stepping aside, or referring any issues that overlap with your interests? What steps did you take after Strzok and Page were exposed, to try to learn if other investigators on your team likewise were conflicted? Did you take action to segregate the work of these agents and any potential biases they injected into your investigation and team? Wasn’t their behavior a beacon to call you to follow an investigative trail in another direction? Did you become concerned about foreign influence beyond Russia when you learned that a foreign national, Christopher Steele, claimed to have obtained opposition research from Russian officials connected to Putin — and that the FBI and DOJ presented this material to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain wiretap approvals? Were you aware that some Democratic Party officials acknowledged coordinating with Ukraine in 2016 to undermine Trump and his associates and to leak disparaging information to the news media? Is it true that you applied for the job as FBI director but Trump rejected you, the day before then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed you as special counsel to investigate Trump? Does that put you in a potentially conflicted position? Do you think Donald Trump is guilty of a crime? If so, then do you believe he is perhaps the most clever criminal of our time since he was able to conceal the evidence despite all the government wiretaps, investigations, informants, surveillance and hundreds of interviews spanning several years?

public-redux

Rule number 4 right out of the Alinsky playbook. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.†You are a fine acolyte, rikkitikkitavvi.

shiftless88

rikki; here is a question. Do you believe that LEOs are able to carry out their duties without bias even if they have specific political beliefs? If you believe that people with strong political beliefs cannot operate without bias, then what good were the Benghazi/email Hillary committee investigations since they were carried out by Republicans who did not like Hillary? What good is an investigation led by Barr who clearly has political beliefs? Basically you are saying that no political investigation is ever possible. Which is interesting.

DickD

Shift, you might also add what Rick states is ridiculous, it is part of the Trump cult. Yo believe without question and protect the ridiculous, same thing happened in Germany, under Hitler.

gary4books

There might be interest in this argument if we did not have such a long history of knowing the FBI did honest investigations. Even Hoover, who had his quirks was in trouble for his use of information, not for making it up. The trump model is to disrespect all authority and if 2 plus 2 means four and they are out, they question the math. "Liberal mathematics can not work." Just as Hitler did not trust "Jewish physics" and missed out on the atom bomb.

DickD

Ric, you do know Mueller is a Republican and highly regarded, which Trump is not! MAGA dump Trump!

Dwasserba

[thumbup]DickD Mueller's had gnats buzzing his head before. The gnats think it's important work they're doing.

besmartten

OK I will ask , what the heck are you talking about Dwass?

awteam2000

Rikki, Didn’t Trump say that the report exonerated him? No collusion? 144 interactions between the Russians and the Trump campaign, 77 times they lied about the interactions. 10 examples of Trump’s obstruction. In the report, Mueller says he was not looking for collusion but conspiracy, which is criminal. While collusion may be unethical but not a crime. See for yourself. My favorite part is when Mueller was appointed special prosecutor by Rosenstein, Trump told McGahn I’m f**k*d. Read the report I think a lot of your questions are chronologically dated. It s pretty clear and not hard to read or understand. Attached report: https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf

awteam2000

Rikki, my bad 🤗- Sorry, I meant, special counsel, not special prosecutor. As Mueller states in the report, he research whether he could bring charges, but he found that he didn’t have the legal authority over the presidential office, it was up to the congressional body to bring charges.

Thewheelone

[offtopic], Rikki

olefool

Yada, Yada, Yada, Yada........ Not a single word of rikki's feckless meandering's above alter the plain, simple and clarified fact that Trump is in fact, among others (in a few words) a rogue, vagabond, grifter, pathological liar, detestable, horrible, horrid, unpleasant, awful, nasty, disagreeable, despicable, objectionable, insufferable, revolting, rotten, loathsome, abhorrent, abominable, damnable, execrable, odious, repugnant, repellent, repulsive, disgusting, distasteful, obnoxious, offensive, foul, vile, and heinous. It's not complicated, unless your name is Bill Barr and/or you're an acolyte of the demons.

DickD

Gee, olefool, I thought you were going to run out of adjectives. Not sure that I can add to those. Let me see, how about lower than whale poop on the bottom of the ocean? That is what our Marine Corp drill instructors used to use (slightly altered). Sociopath, how did you miss that? Poor excuse of a man? Devin incarnate? How about just plain crooked? Deceptive, underhanded, stupid, treasonous, yellow belly, draft dodger, bone spur advocate, chicken, ego maniac or any of a thousand other names for the worse POTUS ever. I thought George Bush was the worse we would ever get, Trump proved me wrong!

awteam2000

Trump sure does tweet a lot. Insults, lies, even uses Twitter to carry out state acts. The ‘Twitter President’ is definitely unique but not in a good way. Who does that?

threecents

Trump has no foreign policy. He just hires people, and the loudest wins. We know he does not get the daily briefings that Obama - and probably most other presidents - used to get. We also know he gets most of his news from FOX TV anyway.

threecents

Basically, the White House is run like The Apprentice. As a producer on his reality TV, he still sets the narrative, whether or not it is real. The more conflict, the better the TV ratings, and the better to test his power and the contestants' loyalty.

des21

I think you're a good, smart person 3 but we all have our areas of expertise right? While many here (not you) claim to know the "real" story behind the Russian collusion that never was, you have never been one of them. Nevertheless you know how the White House runs? Since 9/11 our foreign policy has remained fairly consistent now under our 3rd president- all of who's rhetoric on the issue was quite different before they became president. Reality (not tv) will do that. You see Trump as unique? I don't.

DickD

Dave, you were the one that chastised me for calling the Russians, the enemy. A political PHD wasted.

des21

The Russians are far less out enemy than the Chinese Dick. (Or so Barry said right?)Sorry, but most people get that. SMH

olefool

Just curious des... On what evidence do you rely on to make the statement "the Russian collusion that never was"?? Have you read the entire Mueller Report? Do you have another source of verifiable evidence?

threecents

True, part of what I wrote was just a rant due to my TDS. When a agree with Pat Buchanon, then probably I need to check myself. Some parts of Trump's foreign policy have remained consistent - always pro-Israel, anti-Iran, anti-Muslim, anti-Latin American, pro-North Korean, pro-Putin autocracy, anti-China trade, pro-China autocracy, pro-Hungarian autocracy, pro-Brazilian autocracy, pro-Philippine autocracy, pro-Turkey autocracy, pro-Egypt autocracy. You are also right on my collusion opinions. Though I think Trump obstructed justice and I know Russia did a lot to help Trump get elected, and I know Trump and his campaign people failed to follow required security protocols when dealing with Russians, I do not know that Trump colluded with Russians. It seems to me that House Democrats should be focusing more on other charges against Trump, including tax fraud and emoluments violations.

DickD

It was not a matter of whom was worse, Dave. You simply missed the boat.  Yes, the Chinese are bad, always had the potential to be bad, but we never came close to fighting them after WWII. They did intervene in Korea. And it was our large corporations, the ones Trump gave tax breaks to, that has helped the Chinese economically.

threecents

Dick[thumbup] Despite Russia's precarious economy and relative lack of people, I think their military capabilities and inclinations make them more dangerous than China.

hayduke2

Rather conDEScending comment...

des21

You get what you give Hay.

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