“I think there is a fantastic opportunity here. It’s only a first step, it’s only an opportunity,” he says of Trump’s surprise decision to unloose an American Tomahawk missile strike in Syria after President Bashar Assad’s regime again unleashed chemical weapons on civilians, a strike that turned Wolfowitz and many of his fellow neoconservatives into unlikely cheerleaders for the actions of an administration they had previously viewed as a threat.
The apparent and surprisingly abrupt demise in Steve Bannon’s influence offers a major potential opening for neoconservatives, many of whom opposed Trump’s election precisely because of his association with Bannon and the “America Firsters,” to return to power after so many years of being relegated to the sidelines. Bannon’s decline suggest that he no longer wields the kind of veto power that prevented the nomination of Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state. Moreover, the administration’s ongoing failure to fill key posts at the undersecretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary levels across the government’s foreign-policy apparatus provides a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for aspiring neocons who didn’t express their opposition to the Trump campaign too loudly.
“I would say in some ways it reminds me of 1995 in Bosnia. After three years of dithering by both U.S. administrations, President Clinton finally took military action that opened the door to a Dayton Agreement. You couldn’t have said right after that military action what shape the agreement would take. That’s diplomacy. It’s unpredictable. But I think it doesn’t happen without leverage, and we now have leverage.”
The report concludes that Howard joined US president George W. Bush in invading Iraq solely to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the US. Howard’s – and later Kevin Rudd’s – claims of enforcing UN resolutions, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism, even rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, are dismissed as “mandatory rhetoric”.
Such is the Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria that US troops there would be at serious risk should the situation escalate beyond breaking point in Yemen. Short if invading Iran itself, there is not much anybody can do to leverage those asymmetric assets the Iranians now firmly hold in their hand. As for full-on invasion, a prospect that would be dear to the few the Neo-Cons who made it into the Trump administration, it would probably make “Operation Iraqi Freedom” look like the cakewalk Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said it would be !
Some rebels called him the CIA’s man in Syria. Now, he struggles to get his calls returned. “We used to joke, ‘If you want something from Barack Obama, call Abu Ahmad,’” another CIA-backed rebel commander recalls. “If someone in the opposition wanted to meet the Americans, they went to him. Now, guys like us, we’re headed to the rubbish bin of history.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has nixed Elliott Abrams for the No. 2 position at the State Department after learning that the Republican foreign policy veteran had criticized him during the 2016 election campaign, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.