The Real Reason the US Supports NATO and the EU

And so it begins…

From the Bloomberg reporting:

Trump, in an hourlong discussion with Germany’s Bild and the Times of London published on Sunday, signaled a major shift in trans-Atlantic relations, including an interest in lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia as part of a nuclear weapons reduction deal.

Quoted in German by Bild from a conversation held in English, Trump predicted that Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination designed with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent to whether the EU stays together, according to Bild.

Repeating a criticism of NATO he made during his campaign, Trump said that while trans-Atlantic military alliance is important, it “has problems.”

“It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said in the Bild version of the interview. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.” The Times quoted Trump saying that only five NATO members are paying their fair share.

I’m going to quickly move past the NATO funding issue, as that is both solvable and is actually being resolved.

Of the 28 countries in the alliance, only five — the US, Greece, Poland, Estonia and the UK — meet the target. Many European members — including big economies like France and Germany — lag behind. Germany spent 1.19% of its GDP on defense last year and France forked out 1.78%.

All member countries that fall below the threshold committed in 2014 to gradually ramp up military spending to reach the target within the next decade.

For more on NATO funding, here’s NATO’s explanation of both direct and indirect funding.

Again, the funding issue isn’t really the issue – it’s an excuse. It is resolvable by bringing up the contributions of the member states that are in arrears to the 2% level. The issue here is what is the real purpose behind these two institutions. It is true that both NATO and the EU were created at a different time and for reasons that are only partially why they are important today. The real genius of both NATO and the EU, regardless of how they’ve developed and recognizing that no institution or organization ever develops perfectly and that reasonable, rational adjustments to both institutions should be made as needed, is that they knit Europe together. Despite what the populist-nationalist or national-populists or whatever they finally agree on calling themselves say, the purpose of NATO and the EU isn’t the destruction of sovereignty or national independence. Rather both organizations serve as a forcing function. They force the European member states of both organizations to work together, to cooperate, to recognize that sometimes there are bigger and more important issues than simply national interests.

The proof that NATO and the EU have been successful is that there has not been a war in Europe between European states over national interests, including national pride or economic disputes since the end of World War II. By stitching Britain and France and Germany and Belgium and Denmark and Spain and Portugal and France and Greece and Italy and Iceland and Norway and now all the member countries from Central and Eastern Europe together, NATO has made war in Europe among the Europeans less likely. The same for the EU. When Germany and France have a dispute they and their allies no longer spill blood and treasure across the fields of Belgium. Instead they meet in Belgium and talk it out. The forcing function, forcing these states and societies to work together, means that the uniformed and civilian personnel of all these countries have studied and travelled and worked and vacationed all over Europe. They all have counterparts and colleagues from the other European NATO and EU member states. Their children’s friends are the children of their colleagues from other countries. This is the real, tangible benefit of the EU and NATO. Its not a common market or a mutual defense pact. The real benefit is that the EU and NATO have broken the reality of over a thousand years of conflicts, capped off by World Wars I and II, in Europe and among the people of the nation-states that make up Europe.

Perhaps the biggest failure of the post Cold War period was the US and its allies losing sight of the real value of NATO and the EU. By doing so when NATO and the EU expanded they were unable for a number of reasons to expand to one crucial European nation-state: Russia. As is always the case the decision makers at the time believed they had good reasons for pursuing the policies and strategies they did after the end of the Cold War. Policies and strategies that jettisoned the idea of including Russia within NATO or the EU. And as is always the case, successfully implementing strategy to achieve one’s policy creates new opportunities, challenges, and threats. We are now facing one of those threats: a Russian led campaign to destabilize and break up NATO and the EU through the support of neo-nationalist and anti-EU parties and movements throughout Europe and the US. Regardless of what the foundational documents of NATO and the EU may say, the real purpose, whether explicitly or implicitly stated, has become to bind the nation-states and societies of Europe together to prevent future conflict. It has worked very, very well even as the leaders of NATO and the EU couldn’t bring Russia in from the cold. Now we have to see if it worked well enough for them to survive an active attempt to dismantle them.

246 replies
  1. 1
    Richard Mayhew says:

    Americans in , Russians out and Germans down

  2. 2
    Timurid says:

    I had a hard time re-watching ‘Captain America: Civil War’ last night, knowing that we’re being taken over by HYDRA in real life.

  3. 3
    amk says:

    what WWIII? preemptive surrender.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    That raccoon eyed, butthole mouth motherfucker.

  5. 5
    pattonbt says:

    So how quick before this becomes R dogma? One month max? We have always been at war with Eastasia!

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    To Germany, by Charles Hamilton Sorley

    You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
    And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
    But gropers both through fields of thought confined
    We stumble and we do not understand.
    You only saw your future bigly planned,
    And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
    And in each others dearest ways we stand,
    And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

    When it is peace, then we may view again
    With new won eyes each other’s truer form
    And wonder. Grown more loving kind and warm
    We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
    When it is peace. But until peace, the storm,
    The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    By doing so when NATO and the EU expanded they failed to expand to one crucial European nation-state: Russia.

    C’mon. You should know better than most of us that that intent or goal was always impossible for a workable solution. IMO, that is not a fair critique.

  8. 8
    debbie says:

    What can Congress do to stop this?

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Regardless of what the foundational documents of NATO and the EU may say, the real purpose, whether explicitly or implicitly stated, has become to bind the nation-states and societies of Europe together to prevent future conflict. It has worked very, very well even as the leaders of NATO and the EU decided not to bring Russia in from the cold.


  10. 10
    PhoenixRising says:

    Thank you, will link like crazy. Americans who have not traveled in the EU/Schengen period don’t know *why* NATO and the EU ‘work’. Worse, if they are not also students of history, many don’t understand what they ‘work’ to do.

    ‘Prevent wars between European nations’ is a pretty valuable function, at any price let alone the favorable terms we are getting it for, if you know enough to compare the price and value to a land, air and naval battle set in Belgium–but rarely is the question asked, Is our PEOTUS learning?

  11. 11
    pattonbt says:

    @debbie: Nothing

  12. 12
    Mike in NC says:

    One argument is that Putin initially sought fair treatment by American administrations, but neither Clinton nor Bush (and Cheney) were much I nterested in meeting him even halfway and thus alienated the guy who would go on to set himself up as a new czar.

    Trump may try to ‘reset’ relations with Russia by asking Eastern Europe to revert to the borders that existed in 1946.

  13. 13
    MobiusKlein says:

    @debbie: Impeach the child fucker.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Trump may try to ‘reset’ relations with Russia by asking Eastern Europe to revert to the borders that existed in 1946.

    That would not end well.

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mike in NC:

    One argument is that Putin initially sought fair treatment by American administrations, but neither Clinton nor Bush (and Cheney) were much interested in meeting him even halfway

    I’m sorry. Who is making the argument that there was ever a “halfway” re: Putin’s ambitions?

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I remember duck-and-cover, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and all the assassinations of the 1960s, and I’m more frightened now than I ever was then. The only difference is that I’ve lived almost my three-score-and-fifteen, so if the end comes for me fairly soon, it will be a pity but nothing remarkably untimely. Still, as with everything else, I’d prefer to do things more or less on my own terms, given the choice.

  17. 17
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Clearly Trump is simply freeing Europe from the dead capitalist hand of the EU and ECB, and from the warmongers of NATO, following the excellent example of Russia saving the Ukraine from ultra-nationalist neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, central bankers, etc. Peace and prosperity is coming to the continent after a generation of oppression and anti-Russian aggression.

    (If you don’t see this in either The Nation, or on Jacobin, within a week, I’ll eat this post…)

    What Trump wants is a Zweikaiserbund, where he and Vlad stamp out the entire post-1848 liberal enterprise, with the help of a few friends like Orban and LePen.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Richard Mayhew: You have your morning assignment
    universal health insurance
    Trump’s replacement plan covers everyone, but it’s vague on the coverage.

  19. 19
    Miss Bianca says:

    Of all the things that make me crazy – well, crazier – at the prospect of a Trump presidency, it’s the thought that this ignorant, short-sighted, and deeply ahistorical view of NATO and the EU is going to be driving our foreign policy, that’s up there right at the top of the list.

    But I dunno, Adam – do you really think that expanding NATO membership to Russia would have helped to forestall the situation we see ourselves in now?

  20. 20
    Matt McIrvin says:

    debbie: Why would Congress do anything to stop this? It’s controlled by Trumpists now.

  21. 21
    Gin & Tonic says:

    People in Ukraine have given their lives for the simple goal of joining the EU. This motherfucker spits on their graves.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @Corner Stone: Someone should point out to Putin that California’s economy is thriving, and btw larger than his. Actually, someone should tell Trump, and he could have bragging rights as president. That might be all he needs.

  23. 23
    Lyrebird says:

    @Mike in NC: One of my relatives was saying she’d read that the Russian dictator offered assistance after 9/11, the offer was rebuffed, and that’s when we were put on the s#_t list. Who knows…

    ..I thought the whole intent of NATO had been to oppose Russian power? And PEOTUS has just proven that such an intent is not nearly as obsolete as it had seemed…

  24. 24
    debbie says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I just don’t get the feeling that most of them would follow him over a cliff.

  25. 25
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Mike in NC: Where, in that argument, does the border of Latvia fall between here and halfway? In other times, such as with incoming POTUS who is not owned by Putin, that would be an interesting idea to bat around. Today, not so sure that spreading the blame for Putin’s intransigence (which just happens to match Russia’s historic goal of Moscow controlling as far as the eye can see) is smart.

    So the second half of your comment is the outcome Clinton & Bush didn’t want to meet halfway to, is what I’m trying to suggest.

  26. 26
    TriassicSands says:

    Despite what the populist-nationalist or national-populists or whatever they finally agree on calling themselves…

    May I suggest “fascists?”

  27. 27
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    What Trump wants is a Zweikaiserbund, where he and Vlad stamp out the entire post-1848 liberal enterprise, with the help of a few friends like Orban and LePen.

    I don’t know what that word means but you said ‘1848’ and the duck came down out of the ceiling so you’re the winner. (Seriously though, you nailed it.)

  28. 28
    HinTN says:


    broken the reality of over a thousand years of conflicts

    but it matters not to them what seek immediate, short term gain.

    Well written and thank you!

  29. 29

    Having been involved in some of the events following the breakup of the Soviet Union, I’ll say that for a while there was quite a bit of enthusiasm for including Russia in NATO. There was a range of opinion, as there is always going to be on such things, but there was serious thought about how to do it. Ultimately, it couldn’t be made to work because Russia wanted to be more equal than other members.

    It can be argued that the existing NATO members weren’t willing to change enough. I’ll leave the details to the historians. But it wasn’t simply a decision on the part of the US to keep Russia out.

  30. 30
    Peale says:

    @Mike in NC: well at least Poland and Germany can agree that they don’t look back at 1946 as the golden age of peace.

  31. 31
    debbie says:


    I cannot believe Trump has anywhere near this kind of knowledge of European history. The only source for this kind of thinking is Putin.

  32. 32
    HinTN says:

    @Miss Bianca: I do not. Mother Russia will be Mother Russia for millennia.

  33. 33
    JPL says:

    @debbie: This is from robert costa

    In Q&A w @costareports, Trump warns GOP: splinter or slow his agenda he will use his presidential power and Twitter

    They are on notice.

    My concern is how long Trump will keep General Mattis, if he is confirmed. Mattis has a long history of supporting the NATO Alliance.

  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @debbie: You don’t need a lot of history under your belt to follow someone who does.

    If Vlad says “How’s about we carve the Western world up into two, and no one gets to say ‘boo’ unless we give permission”, that’s all Trump needs to hear.

  35. 35
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You did a thing on Twitter last week that explained the history of the country we presently know as ‘Russia’, in context since the 11th century AD.

    It was super-useful for those of us who were not taking good notes while Condi Rice workshopped her ‘What International Relations Will Be When You Graduate (Now That My Specialty Is Outdated)’ material in the early 90s. (I’m dating myself, I know.)

    Any chance of a link, or a comment, or a guest post?

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Miss Bianca: This is the problem. Donald has zero, zilch, nada knowledge of European history. He’s unspeakably ignorant about these things, stupider than Sarah Palin was depicted in Game Change.

  37. 37
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @JPL: “I am the state”, in other words.

    How is this not an incipient dictatorship?

  38. 38
    Timurid says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    It would have been a very heavy lift in Russia as well.
    After decades of living with NATO as the Enemy, any alliance would seem to many people like a defeat or a hostile takeover.

  39. 39
    Miss Bianca says:

    @JPL: Ooh, he will use his “presidential power and Twitter!”

    Jesus wept.

    And what the hell IS his agenda, anyway? The one that the GOP would be trying to splinter or slow? The man has the attention span of a crack-addled squirrel. His “agenda” seems to change minute by minute.

  40. 40
    Chet Murthy says:

    Brad Delong has written eloquently about this

    In the section “III. The Necessity of Political Union in the Dark Continent

    Was it 111 BC that the Kimbri and the Teutones … Ever since then, by my count, it is every thirty-seven years that a hostile army crosses the Rhine going one way or the other bringing fire and sword. The original Swiss–the Helvetii. Julius Caesar. All of those who claimed to be Julius Caesar’s adoptive descendants. The Visigoths heading for Andalusia. Louis XIV commanding his armies to make sure that nothing grows in the Rhinish Palatinate so that his armies attacking Holland have a secure right flank. And, last, Remagen bridge in 1945. Every thirty-seven years, with increasing destructiveness as time passes.

    Thirty-seven years after 1945 carries us to 1982. Thirty-seven years after 1982 will carry us to 2019. By 2019 we will have missed two of our appointments with slaughter. We desperately need political union in Europe lest the bad old days from 111 BC to 1945 come again as we once again fall victim to the tragedy of great power politics10.

  41. 41
    debbie says:

    Assuming this isn’t fake news, TV Guide won’t take Trump’s Twittering without a fight!

  42. 42
    TriassicSands says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I think of Trump as knowing almost nothing about almost everything.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Lyrebird: While NATO was formed as the Cold War was getting started, and to block Stalin’s perceived ambitions, it was also, as Adam outlined, a means to bring Europe (read: Germany and France) together in the face of a common foe but also to heal the wounds that each had inflicted on the other since the 17th Century.

  44. 44
    Timurid says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I wasn’t kidding. This really is HYDRA in real life.

  45. 45
    debbie says:

    I think all of the European members of NATO should kick all of Trump’s businesses out of their countries.

  46. 46
    HinTN says:

    By 2019 we will have missed two of our appointments with slaughter.

    This is an appointment I hope not to keep.

  47. 47

    @PhoenixRising: I would be glad to do something, a guest post if others think it appropriate. That tweetstream was pretty truncated, but I think I got in most of the high points. I’m glad you found it helpful.

    I have been going crazy lately trying to get stuff written. The depression all of us have been feeling since the election and the constant uproars from the Great Orange One that seem to call for comment. Plus some personal issues. I was just about to work on a post tonight when the Times of London and Bild interviews appeared. It’s partly done – maybe tomorrow…

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @pattonbt: I think there will be a major split. You’ll see capitulation by some of the members of Congress, especially leadership though they’ll try to finesse it, as well as Trump’s solid core of supporters, which never amounted to more than about 38% or so of registered/likely Republican voters (and that was the ceiling), and among the alt-right, which is now trying to rebrand itself, again, as national-populists. The conservative foreign, defense, and security policy community, realists, neo-Cons, idealists will all not support this shift.

  49. 49

    @Timurid: Very true, and part of the resistance from Russia.

  50. 50
    HinTN says:

    @efgoldman: He can’t find his ass with both hands.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: It was considered for a while and then abandoned. In its abandoning there was an absence of planning and consideration for what abandoning it might lead to.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Adam L Silverman: “Conservative” as in the original meaning of conservative (all those groups you mentioned in your last sentence), not as in the heresy called “movement conservatism”, which actively denies the word that it is derived from.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Technically they control the powers of the purse/funding, as well as oversight and investigatory power, and, of course, the ultimate Congressional ammunition: impeachment. The real question is: what will Congress do. With the current majorities, and even more so the current leadership of those majorities, I expect not much.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    He can’t find his ass with both hands.

    And a compass.

  56. 56
    JPL says:

    Ben and Jerry should release a new favor.. death by tweeting

  57. 57
    HinTN says:

    38% or so of registered/likely Republican voters (and that was the ceiling)

    I’m betting that translates to 27% in some reasonably straightforward math.

  58. 58
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:


    Someone should point out to Putin that California’s economy is thriving, and btw larger than his. Actually, someone should tell Trump, and he could have bragging rights as president. That might be all he needs.

    Again, does Trump get he the president of the United States now and that sole super power thing?

  59. 59
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I’d be happy to see a guest post on the subject!

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: Yep. Though I think the reality is more complicated. Ultimately there is enough blame to go around if we decide we want to start a blame checklist on this.

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Adam L Silverman: For one thing, Ryan is a sniveling coward. He’s demonstrated that with his own constituents and with the teabagger asswipes.

  62. 62
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Miss Bianca: Da.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    HinTN says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: He don’t have no clue how to read a compass.

    ETA: Little boy lost

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: I don’t know. I hate doing counterfactuals. The simple reality is we will never know. But I’m reminded of something I heard the Chief of Staff of the New Zealand Army once say to an American audience: “China only has to be an enemy if you make it one”. I’m not sure we made Russia an enemy in the post Cold War world, but we sure didn’t make it a friend. It may be that nothing we could have done would have made a difference.

  66. 66
    HinTN says:

    @Miss Bianca: Me too, please

  67. 67
    Another Scott says:

    Thanks for this. I agree with much of it.

    I may have some of the timeline wrong, but doesn’t the example of the reunification of Germany show the huge difficulty of trying to bring Russia into NATO (and the EU)? Kohl basically bought East Germany. Germany spent roughly 2T€ over 20 years to integrate the East with the rest of the country. The cost to bring Russia in (when the economy was flat on its back after the collapse of the USSR, and with the kleptocrats and the mafia starting to steal everything) surely would have been much, much more than $100B a year.

    Would GHWB and Bill Clinton (and the Congress) have been willing to spend that kind of money, and help our new allies take on their security challenges (e.g. the Chechen civil war), when there was so much pressure to collect the “peace dividend” and spend the money here? It’s hard for me to see that happening even if there were the political will to do the integration, but our leaders didn’t even try to make the case (IIRC).

    Moving Russia into NATO and the EU when she wasn’t able to meet the commitments and pull her weight would eventually have been a disaster even bigger than Greece’s collapse. (Just imagine all the US oil and mining companies rushing to invest in Russia, the rush to modernize the cities, etc., etc.)

    I’d like to think that when Putin is finally gone there will be a reassessment of his policies in Russia and an opportunity to do a true “reset” of relations and revisit expanding NATO and the EU eastward. But so much depends on what he (and Donnie and his minions) do in the meantime.

    I’d like to think that Trump is just rattling on and the people in authority aren’t actually going to rush to implement things like he’s talking about. That Donnie is still in his “art of the deal” mode and he really isn’t going to, say, pull out of NATO, or drop the sanctions on Russia in return for some nuclear reductions when Obama already negotiated New START with ongoing reductions over the 10 years until 2021. But we don’t know.

    Thanks again.


  68. 68
    debbie says:

    Now he’s going off on Fox News as fake news for quoting Brennan’s statement about the danger of Trump’s Putin crush. I don’t think he’ll make it to Friday without an aneurysm.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TriassicSands: I’m a big fan of whackadoodles.

  70. 70
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Has anyone checked on John McCain? Are Cindy and the servants hiding in the pool house?

  71. 71
  72. 72
    HinTN says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Adam, the same is true of Iran. They should be our greatest friend in that region…

  73. 73
    Yarrow says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    How is this not an incipient dictatorship?

    In no ways. It is a dictatorship just waiting to take over in a few days.

  74. 74
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Senate has a to ratify treaties.

    I still think the spectacle of Trump bending over and taking it from the Russians will sooner or later drive the GOP away from him.

  75. 75
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I’m tracking. I didn’t mean to write it so it seemed so cut and dried, I’ll go back up and adjust it for clarity.

  76. 76
    randy khan says:

    It’s really hard to process this. You can make some arguments about issues in NATO, and the EU clearly has some problems, but this kind of complete 180 is bizarro.

  77. 77
  78. 78

    I am seeing some “da”s to @PhoenixRising‘s proposal. I just want to get clear what it is you’d like to see. PhoenixRising refers to a tweetstream I did last week on Russian history, basically how a few states in northeast Europe came together, were (partly) conquered by the Mongols, and then expanded across the northern part of Asia and then fought a few wars, partly fell apart and then made Vladimir Putin their president.

    Is that what you want to see?

  79. 79
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:


    In no ways. It is a dictatorship just waiting to take over in a few days.

    I am just thinking of the number of dictators that started off being surrender monkies like Trump. I mean come on, Castor stood off the US for decades with a banana republic.

  80. 80
  81. 81

    @Adam L Silverman: No problem. It’s a subject I feel strongly on. Back in the day, it looked possible for a short while and I really wanted it to happen. So I tend to respond.

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hey! That’s bullshit that I said something then you changed it because someone else said the same thing.
    Now I am pouting. And eating beef soup. The beef soup is probably the more important part.

  83. 83
    slag says:

    Having just seen Hidden Figures (best superhero movie ever), I enjoyed the quaintness of when Americans united in finding Russia a greater threat to national identity than we did brown people.

  84. 84
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JPL: Just this past week in fact:


    Ivo Daalder
    Gen Mattis last week: “If we did not have NATO today, we would need to create it”

    Pres-Elect Trump today: “NATO is obsolete”

    Strobe Talbott’s response to Daalder’s tweet is also illuminating:


    Strobe TalbottVerified account
    ‏@strobetalbott Strobe Talbott Retweeted Ivo Daalder
    More to the point, if we didn’t have NATO today, we could NOT create it. Real question is: can we keep it? Only if new POTUS leans in.

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: A rehash of the History of Russia course that I faked my way through the first term of my freshman year in college or an expansion beyond Sebag Montefiore’s Romanovs would be nice. But seriously, a quick outline would be great.

  86. 86
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @randy khan: Collective security is collective . Trump has to hate it. His idea of what nations are for is stuck at about 1350. He’s a warlord, not a president.

    The state is a set of tools to hurt your enemies, help your friends, extract money from the peasants, all the while commingling the public fisc and the sovereign’s private wealth. Wage an occasional war of religion. Enrich your relatives. That kind of stuff.

    Pre-Elizabeth I stuff. Certainly pre-Louis XIV stuff.

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Good soup? I had a burger and cheese curds.

  88. 88
    JPL says:

    @debbie: That was awhile ago. I’m sure Ivanka gave him his daily dose of meds to calm him down, but I expect the meds to wear off in six hours or so.

  89. 89
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Only if new POTUS leans in.

    Oh, for crying out loud. Keep that annoying Facebook woman out of this.

  90. 90
    Another Scott says:

    @JPL: Ponies are good.

    If we don’t ask, we know we won’t get one!



  91. 91
    randy khan says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    And there’s more from the Trump camp about the One China policy, and China Is Not Amused. It’s like they have no idea what they’re doing. Never mind – of course they have no idea what they’re doing.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yep. I was talking with someone about this the other day. That despite constant, loud vocalization about it, the conservative movement in the US is actually one of the most radically movements ever to exist, even if they’re radical in support of a reactionary agenda. Between Norquist and Ralph Reed’s statements about being Leninists, and now Bannon’s, its pretty clear who the radicals are. And that they will do or say anything they think is necessary in order to achieve their goals. No matter how little it has to do with what they said or did yesterday or the actual meaning of conservative.

  93. 93
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And a Sherpa guide.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sherpa guides weren’t available when I was a soldier.

  95. 95
    Yarrow says:

    @JPL: From that article:

    House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republicans have been talking lately about providing “universal access” to health insurance, instead of universal insurance coverage.

    Everyone already has “universal access.” They did before the ACA. They couldn’t afford it, but they could look at the policies and apply and be rejected. They were able to access the health insurance. Just not have it.

    That’s what they’re saying here. They want to hide it but that’s what they’re saying.

  96. 96
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh, goodness. Home made pot roast beef soup last night. Tonight is second night nom nom. Also known as heaven in a bowl.

  97. 97
    JPL says:

    @Another Scott: Okay, I’m aiming high, I want to wake up and find out that Trump is behind bars tomorrow. That’s what I really, really want. A constitutional crisis cannot be worse than having him take the oath of office.

  98. 98
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Enjoy.

  99. 99
    Spaniel says:

    So I guess all of those Republican foreign experts signing that document in the August timeframe, showing that Trump was not the candidate to vote for, had reason for signing in the first place.

    Goes to show the sheer stupidity of Trump and his staff on what America was doing and trying to do. American policy of containment is on the verge of being shattered, and folks like Senator McConnell and Representative Ryan (and others in the God, Guns, and America party) sitting on their hands.

  100. 100

    @Corner Stone: I trust you brought enough for the entire class?

  101. 101
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: “Conservative” means whatever they say it means today. Tomorrow may be different. It’s been that way for awhile on crazy town talk radio and other “right wing” sites and media. They just say the way they want something to be and then say that’s conservative and other things are not. It’s nuts.

  102. 102
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Don’t feel bad. Whenever I do a post, if I get more than one person, in short order, raising a point then I know I’ve either made something clear unclear or didn’t convey what I meant. You were the canary, Cheryl was the roof collapsing.

    Enjoy your borscht. All soup in the US will now be borscht, starting next Friday around 2 PM, once the Executive Order is signed.

  103. 103
    Mike in NC says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I believe Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin all sought to establish some sort of a partnership with the West. On the other hand, it was Dick Cheney who was adamant that there be no regional powers such as India, Russia, or China. America was to be the world’s sole hyperpower/superpower, and he wanted that policy enforced at all costs.

  104. 104

    Adam and I have agreed that I will try to get a post on Russian history completed before President Smallhands shuts down the internet this week. In the meanwhile, I’ve found the tweetstream. It starts here.

  105. 105
    JPL says:

    @randy khan: Tillerson testified that he wanted a naval blockage to prevent China from developing more atolls in the South China Seas. It’s already on, if he is confirmed.

  106. 106
    Yarrow says:

    @JPL: I want him to take out the GOP upper leadership when he goes. And while we’re at it, let’s expose a few of the wingnuttiest people as Putin puppets or traitors or what have you. If we’re thinking big.

  107. 107
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Strobe Talbott was the Deputy Secretary of State during President Clinton’s 2nd term.

  108. 108
    sigaba says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Radical for the US or radical generally?

  109. 109
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I have had the honor and privilege of supervising three Nepalese generals. I can make a call if you like?

  110. 110
    Another Scott says:

    @randy khan: Yup.

    We saw with Obama’s early days that it’s hard to get the federal government moving in a new direction when you have qualified people beating down the door trying to join your team, but being unable to because the investigation and confirmation process gets slower and slower every time (even without active obstruction).

    Donnie is so polarizing that qualified people are running away from being appointed to political positions and civil servants are considering leaving early. He’s got to fill 4100 positions, and we know what happens when unqualified people end up over their heads (Katrina and New Orleans)….

    Plus, his team is demanding everyone in those positions leave on 1/20, so you’ve even got people like the head of DARPA being forced out without any sensible transition period.

    Donnie is going to be pushing on a string for a while – the federal government doesn’t move quickly even when it is fully staffed with experts. I have a feeling he’s not going to like it one bit, either, so I expect him to become even more deranged in coming weeks.

    “Interesting times” ahead.



  111. 111
    Lyrebird says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Thanks.

    As a kid I was involved in trying to change the hardened Cold War (“Evil Empire”) attitudes around me, but I guess they still shaped my education quite a bit!

  112. 112
  113. 113
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: This is true.

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you for your kindness. It is unnecessary.

  115. 115
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yes, I know. It was a sort of joke (a poor one) playing on his use of “lean in,” which was the title of that Facebook woman’s book telling women how they should do more.

    That phrase is really annoying. I blame her for earnestly selling it all over the place. I’m with Kay on this issue. I’m tired of rich women telling all the other women how they’re not doing enough. Where are the books about how the working class women are succeeding in getting the minimum wage raised? Don’t see a lot of Facebook women writing those.

  116. 116
    debbie says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Earlier I was googling to see if Cheney had reacted to Trump’s dismissal of NATO. Nothing yet, but I would hope this would lessen Cheney’s support for Trump.

  117. 117
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    the duck came down out of the ceiling so you’re the winner.

    Ooh! Nice Groucho George Fenneman reference!

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Well this tells you something about how MI6 views that oppo research report:

    The head of MI6 used information obtained by former officer Christopher Steele in his Trump investigation, in a warning against Russian cyberattacks and attempts to subvert Western democracies, The Independent has learned.

    Sir Alex Younger’s briefing notes for his first public speech as head of the Secret Intelligence Service contained some of the material supplied by Mr Steele, according to security sources. Drawing on the alleged hacking carried out by Moscow in the US presidential campaign, he warned of the danger facing Britain and Western European allies, and especially to elections due to be held next year.

    Security sources stress that MI6 had extensive information, British and international, on the Russian threat apart from that of Mr Steele. But they pointed out that he is held in high regard and the contribution he provided was valuable.

  119. 119
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Okay, I’m aiming high, I want to wake up and find out that Trump is behind bars tomorrow.

    Wouldn’t it be loverly?

  120. 120
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: Sounds about right from what I recall.

  121. 121
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sigaba: Both. Its revolution in support of a reactionary belief system. Most right wing and religious extremists function this way. What they want to do is establish a mythologized/idealized past (that never existed) and they seek to do so through the most radical means possible. As opposed to left wing extremists who seek to establish a mythologized/idealized future (that has never existed) through radical means.

  122. 122
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    I wonder if the “great deals” on trade that Combover Caligula is anticipating are going to benefit the U.K. on BREXIT are going to include replacements for steel, building materials and foodstuffs that it currently receives from Europe? Because if that stuff is shipping from the Americas, it will make living in the U.K. more expensive.

  123. 123
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I took a quick look at your tweet stream, and unfortunately you fall for the very common misconception that the “Rus” in Kievan Rus is the root of “Russia”. It is not. They are phonetically different, and it is just incorrect transliteration that leads to this misconception. Rus is Русь, Russia is Россія.

    I am on a phone, so can’t link to sources or elaborate at length, but urge you to get your history and etymology correct before posting on this subject here.

  124. 124
  125. 125
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I should probably tell you. This is *not* how you woo someone.

  126. 126
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Strobe Talbott was the Deputy Secretary of State during President Clinton’s 2nd term.

    Say what you will, but Strobe Talbott is one of the greatest names EVAH.

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Perhaps, then, I could interest you in a Gurkha?

  128. 128
    p.a. says:

    @slag: It was probably a minority of Americans who felt that way at the time. Lucky for people of color of the time here the Soviets were white, or treatment would have been even worse for them. Plus ça change…

  129. 129
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Okay. I don’t use Facebook and largely ignore the people involved in running the company. I know who Zuckerberg is because I’m not dead, but that’s about it. And I know that Thiel’s somehow involved, but that’s also about it.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I am not planning on taking on further staff at the moment.

  131. 131
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: Michael Lind’s Up from Conservatism, published in the mid-90s, after he had a personal falling out with the idiocy of the “Reagan Revolution”, called these clowns “inverse Marxists”. Gannon characterizes himself as a “Leninist”. They don’t give a fuck how many people it hurts to impose their hateful ideology on everyone.

    They should be given no quarter.

  132. 132
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Is it because you don’t like borscht? 🤔

  133. 133

    @Gin & Tonic: There’s an argument about that. I haven’t looked into the etymology in great detail. I’ll complicate with the Estonian for Sweden (Vikings) is Rootsi. That’s pronounced long “o”, not “oo” in English spelling. Finnish is Ruotsi. If you can find a definitive discussion, I’d love to see it. That’s definitive, not just one side of an argument.

    In any case, whether it’s Русь or Россія is a small bit of the history.

  134. 134
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:


    Do you mean Bannon?

  135. 135
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: What is it going to take to get you to take on a Himalayan? We’ll throw in the undercoat….//

    So no other irony impaired people email me today: I AM NOT making light of human trafficking or selling people into slavery. I am attempting to respond, humorously, in a topical way to how Omnes’ responses where going. That is all.

  136. 136
    Another Scott says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks for that.

    If there were some quick way for you to also address in your article the claim/issue/totem that the US “promised” Gorbachev (?) that NATO wouldn’t expand east after German unification, that would be helpful. One of my on-line quasi-Marxist friends still brings that “betrayal” up as a reason why Putin is so hostile and why he’s justified in annexing Crimea and all the rest.

    (I realize it’s probably impossible to address that topic in a few paragraphs – volumes are probably needed. ;-) If you’ve already done so elsewhere, a pointer would be appreciated!)

    Personally, that whole framing of the issue of Russia and NATO and Ukraine/Crimea his way bothers me because sovereign nations must be able to make their own foreign policy – Russia should not have a veto over her neighbors’ foreign affairs. Especially not a veto over our prior agreement to guarantee Ukraine’s borders after she gave up her nuclear weapons… If other eastern European nations want to join NATO or the EU, they should be able to negotiate with those groups to do so. Similarly, if those countries want to freely negotiate with Russia so that NATO or EU membership is not so appealing, then they should be able to do that, too, even if we think they are misguided to do so.



  137. 137
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah, that guy. Bannon. How could I ever confuse him with Bill Gannon, nice LAPD officer and Joe Friday’s partner?

  138. 138
    p.a. says:

    @Another Scott: Are they asking everyone, for every position open, their opinion on Roe v Wade?

  139. 139
    Old European says:

    “NATO has made war in Europe among the Europeans less likely. The same for the EU.” This is indeed the great achievement of NATO and the EU, thank you , Mr. Silverman, for reminding us all of it.
    Between 1870 and 1945, there were 3 wars between Germany and France, and one could have imagined continued animosity between both.
    DeGaulle and Adenauer, the great old people of France and West Germany, recognized that this hatred has to stop, and they founded a youth exchange program in the 1960ies (which gave me, a German, some subsidized vacations with French youth at the time). That was a big success (intermarriages ensued; you might not like your in-laws, but you cannot be induced to go to war with them).
    Alsace-Lorraine, which so often changed hands between France and Germany, is no longer a concern, and cannot be exploited by war-mongers.
    Then, in the 1960ies there were the last demonstrations in Germany by people who had lost their farms in Pomerania and Silesia (after 1945 part of Poland);
    Chancellor Brandt had bent his knee and apologized in Warsaw for Nazi Germany’s war. These demonstrations impressed on me the stranglehold of old territorial claims.
    Now Poland is part of the EU and NATO, and territorial claims against other EU countries without substance There are many student exchanges throughout Europe, subsidized by the EU. Even right-wing nationalists know they could not easily attack fellow Europeans (and therefore, sadly, target immigrants from outside Europe). So I think the EU is a success.

    The Baltic Republics and Poland want to be part of NATO, so as to be safe from Russia, and the EU, for economic and cultural reasons. Telling people who could not easily travel before 1989 that now you can go anywhere in the EU, and work and stay there, if you want, is enormously popular.
    The invasion of the Ukraine by ‘little green men’ has the Baltic Republics and Poland rightfully scared.
    By denigrating NATO’s commitments, Trump creates uncertainty, and that uncertainty makes a conflict more likely. After all, many wars started by miscalculation (“the [enemy] won’t react/won’t be able to react…”). For that reason, I am really scared.–

    I, of course, wish that Russia would become part of the European project, but apparently the current politics don’t allow it. Already many Russians have traveled to Europe and the U.S., but not so many Europeans and Americans to Russia. Perhaps we need a large-scale youth exchange program between the U.S. and Russia? To change the longer-term outlook? (As I am in a ‘and a pony’ fantasy land, I’d also wish for one between China and Japan, to finally overcome the hurt of WW II).

  140. 140
    pattonbt says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I agree there will be an establishment that wont support it, but what can they really do besides whine? They’ll either allow themselves to paid off with something else (or weigh the political environment and sit quietly by) or take “off the record” pot-shots at Trump which will do nothing. Please tell me one Republican of stature (and who really has stature in the R party?) who can and will vociferously stand up to Trump AND make him change course? No one. What can they really do short of impeaching Trump which they simply will not do? They have no lever to use against Trump. Trump is US foreign policy now.

  141. 141
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Actually, I like most of my food at room temp, except for cereal and soup.

  142. 142
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The “mythologized past” that never was is one of the key tropes of National Socialism.

  143. 143
    Timurid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Are you concerned that your harsh (albeit warranted) semi-public criticism of Trump is going to put your job in jeopardy, considering that the Donald’s first infrastructure project will be rail spurs to Langley and Fort Meade to carry the boxcars full of pink slips?

  144. 144
    Pogonip says:

    Adam, you got me to thinking (quite a feat). Toss this idea around: there have been numerous terrorist attacks in Europe. What would happen if we worked on bringing Russia Into NATO and adjusted its purpose to include the member states defending each other against terrorism? This would, if nothing else, help keep terrorist-sponsoring states from playing off Russia and the U.S. against each other.

    If you think this is the dumbest idea you’ve ever heard in your life, don’t be too polite to say so. I’ve been flattened to the mat by teachers before. Only way to learn.

  145. 145
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: My servants’ quarters are full. I cannot take on another without dismissing someone. Why do you hate my Under-Butler?

  146. 146

    @Gin & Tonic: FWIW, here are the Online Etymology Dictionary and Wikipedia. I know there are other arguments, but it’s late and they didn’t come up quickly on Google. So I look forward to what you have to present.

  147. 147
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @pattonbt: I do not disagree with any of this.

  148. 148
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: I’ll update the dossier.

  149. 149
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Colonel Potter, as was later?

    Wasn’t Gannon the name of the male prostiute and/or porn star (I forget which) who somehow found himself with a WH press pass in Bush’s first term?

  150. 150
    Pogonip says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I first misread that as “…the horror and privilege…” and thought, “Wow, those guys must have been hell on wheels!”

  151. 151
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes, of almost all fascist, extreme right, extreme religious movements. Including the ones that have socialism in their name, but aren’t socialist at all.

  152. 152
    Mike in NC says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I had a good friend — now deceased — who was both a hardcore Republican and CIA analyst. He could also pass for Strobe Talbott’s identical twin brother, and people liked to torment him about that.

  153. 153
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Freezing cold milk and blow on your spoon two or three times for soup.
    Get it right or go home.

  154. 154
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: That was Gannon/Guckert, depending on what hat he was wearing.

    As for Bill Gannon, yup, played by Harry Morgan, who also played Colonel Potter. And during the Henry Blake years, he did a guest shot as a visiting two-star.

  155. 155
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I just felt like I could not escape her for a year or so. Sheryl Sandberg. Her book title is “Lean In” and she has a website to go along with it. The idea that women are supposed to “lean in” to do more at work. It’s just annoying. You don’t have to use Facebook to have heard of her. She shows up everywhere. She was at that tech meeting with Trump.

  156. 156

    @Another Scott: That is about as contentious as Rus and Rossiya. Maybe more so. Here is what I think is the best article on the subject. I’m going to be much sketchier in my post and cover decades in a single gallop.

    I can’t recall if Goldgeier says this in that article, but my own feeling is that, whatever was said, events move on. The new members asked (begged, even) to be in NATO as protection from Russia. We’re 25 years on. Refusing them membership would have been equivalent to confirming a sphere of interest for Russia. The world gave up explicit spheres of interest and colonies after World War II.

  157. 157
    chris says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yes, please!

  158. 158
    Sab says:

    @PhoenixRising: I believe that Betty Cracker asks is our Fitzgibbon learning several times a day every day.

  159. 159
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Timurid: I don’t work for either of those agencies. I am currently a consultant at a Defense contractor. My boss’s rules are no choosing partisan sides, which I’ve tried to follow whether I’ve been on a term appointment or a contract. I have not referred to the President-elect or anyone on his team in any way that is impolite and tried to focus on the policy and strategy analysis or a discussion of what I think is going on – as in the case with the CNN reporting last Tuesday. As far as I know I am not being considered for a political appointment. If trying to write as accurate a policy and strategy analysis as I can. If doing so costs me an opportunity, then that’s likely the least of my worries.

  160. 160
    Another Scott says:

    @p.a.: Dunno, but I doubt it. I don’t do stuff like this for a living.

    I assume they’re doing the hiring the same way most people get hired. They follow the rules, but they let people that they like know about the positions and tell them to apply. Friends of friends. Resumes off the street will be considered, but without someone to argue for them, they’ll get bit-bucketed pretty quickly.

    If the head of an agency is an ideologue, he’s going to want like-minded people working with him and under him. That’s going to matter much more to the boss than competence in the position. And that means the actual work is going to suffer, and that means that it will be much more difficult for Donnie to actually change US policy in dramatic ways – at least in a long-lasting, effective way.

    That’s my guess anyway. FWIW.


  161. 161
    Yarrow says:

    @Corner Stone: Do you like ice cream at room temperature?

  162. 162
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Pogonip: First, NATO reorganized itself after 9-11 to partially refocus on terrorism and, when we invoked Article 5 after 9-11 – the only time its ever been invoked – all of NATO responded. Our NATO allies fought alongside us in Afghanistan, where they are still assisting us with the training mission, as well as Iraq. And they are now fighting with us against ISIL.

    As for partnering with Russia to fight terrorism, either inside or outside of NATO is not a bad idea. Unfortunately I’ve yet to see that Russia has any real interest in fighting ISIL based on what they’re actually doing. I see a lot of Russian interest in leveraging the chaos resulting from ISIL to their own advantage.

  163. 163
    Corner Stone says:

    @Yarrow: Yep. It has never survived long enough to be otherwise if I have a spoon or other eating implement.

  164. 164
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Pogonip: Three of my favorite Soldiers on the planet.

  165. 165
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Tracking.

  166. 166
    Sab says:

    Hate auto correct. WTC even is a Fitzgibbon. Norman Irish monkey? Makes no sense.

  167. 167
    Darkrose says:

    @debbie: From your lips to the gods’ ears. Nemesis, in particular.

    ETA: Not wishing death on anyone. However, comparisons to Woodrow Wilson, another racist president, may be warranted.

  168. 168
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: When I worked for a non-partisan election agency (the GAB in WI). my boss. a deputy director, told me that I could express my my political opinions in private as much as liked. I could even tell a fraternity brother from college that I supported him – Lib-Dem, so I did. I could not give to a political candidate or formally support a political party. While posting comments here during that time, I limited myself to process related answers on WI election questions.

  169. 169
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Sab: Bastard son of some guy named Gibbon.

  170. 170
    Calouste says:

    @Davis X. Machina: What Trump is doing is what William the Conqueror did after the Battle of Hastings: hand over parts of the conquered territory to the barons who got him there.

    Still waiting to see what Gingrich is going to get, and I’m still betting on the Supreme Court.

  171. 171
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Since I am away from home (and my library) this week, a response may take some time.

  172. 172
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Tracking. If I go back on term appointment orders or a contract I will actually change my voter registration back to Independent/No Party Affiliation.

  173. 173
    Calouste says:

    I something last year that summed up European history as follows:
    War, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, quibbling over bananas.

  174. 174
    Another Scott says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Excellent. Thanks again.


  175. 175
    pattonbt says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Well, and no sarcasm intended, you are the expert (and I really enjoy your posts) and I am an idiot, so lets hope my streak of idiocy continues. I just do not see how one stops Trump trumping on foreign policy. He is POTUS and he will say what he is going to say and I simply cannot trust the Republicans to put a leash on him. The choices are the Republican party chooses to commit harikari and work with Democrats to publically stop POTUS on foreign policy or silently give up and let the shift happen. So do you think this issue is the hill the Republicans will die on? I don’t.

    Trump simply does not care about political pressure, governing norms, collateral damage to getting his way and so on. Trump will go this way no matter what. So how do the Republicans – and it has to be Republicans – stop Trump? Honest question – how do they?

  176. 176
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Pogonip: Terrorists — or ‘terrorists’ — are part of Putin’s toolkit. There are holes where a couple of apartment blocks used to be as testimony.

  177. 177
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Calouste: Gingrich probably has too many enemies in the Senate, on top of everything else. I think Lindsey Graham once charged the dais when Gingrich was speaking to the R caucus shortly after impeachment– had to be restrained, about the only thing I ever heard about Graham that I liked. Can you imagine the confirmation hearings ? He’s one of the few people in this world more arrogant and thin-skinned than Trump. Franked would have him going nuclear in less than ten minutes (they have a history).

    I always thought the non-lawyer on the USSC (not being a lawyer) was an interesting idea. The most interesting suggestion I ever heard was Garry Wills. I suspect Trump is unlikely to make that appointment.

  178. 178
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Timurid: Don’t you mean “Winter Soldier?” “Civil War” was all about the Avengers having a mild disagreement about the Sokovia Accords which resulted in a somewhat destructive argument at the Leipzig airport.

  179. 179
    Another Scott says:

    @Calouste: Under normal circumstances, one would say that Gingrich is too old for SCOTUS. He’s 73. With Donnie? Who knows…

    Normally, a President would want to appoint someone in their 50s or so to maximize their influence on the court over time.


  180. 180
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Harry Morgan, who also played Colonel Potter. And during the Henry Blake years, he did a guest shot as a visiting two-star.

    Even earlier, he played Pete Porter in the 1950s sitcom December Bride, and subsequently in its spinoff Pete and Gladys. Always liked him.

  181. 181
    Yarrow says:

    @Another Scott: So Trump’s going to appoint one of his kids, then? I heard Tiffany’s heading to Harvard Law School.

  182. 182
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Gurkha story: A trainee was told that the next week they would be starting jump training and preparing to do live jumps from 1200 feet. The trainee said couldn’t we start from something like 300 feet? He was told that 300 feet would not allow the parachute to deploy properly. The trainee said “Oh, we get parachutes? Never mind.”

  183. 183
    J R in WV says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Thanks for your help, and Adam, your help, understanding all this geopolitik going on around us. It’s easy to understand the national politics, for me anyway. And I do know the Baltic states, and the ever-changing borders of Poland. But Mother Russia is and has always been so strange…

    Thanks again, both of you…!

  184. 184
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: Tiffany is not one of the favored spawn. Marla got her away from Donald and kept her on the other side of the country, to reduce his influence.

  185. 185
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Still waiting to see what Gingrich is going to get, and I’m still betting on the Supreme Court.

    Don’t hold me to this, but I think I’d rather have Fat Tony still alive and serving.

  186. 186
    Pogonip says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Me too. But they must know that supporting ISIL is standing on the tiger’s tail. I wish we could motivate them to jump off.

  187. 187
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @J R in WV: Warm Water Ports.

    All you need to know about Mother Russia.

  188. 188
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @pattonbt: I can only tell you what they could do and what they seem likely to do, which I think is not much. At least for now.

  189. 189
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Tiffany is not one of the favored spawn. Marla got her away from Donald and kept her on the other side of the country, to reduce his influence.

    I will never forget the way Tiffany neatly slithered out of daddy’s embrace at the convention (or might have been after one of the debates). I never had an especially high opinion of Marla, but I’m beginning to think she did a few things right.

  190. 190
    J R in WV says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Anything that helps us understand that closed Kremlin society that controls the world from Europe to the Pacific… how many time zones is that? My atlas is in an office in the basement, more dangerous than a SE Asia swamp right now…

  191. 191
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Excellent!

  192. 192
    J R in WV says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: True, to a degree. Isn’t that Crimea, and Syria, now?

  193. 193
    Timurid says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I’m not sure I could make myself watch ‘Winter Soldier’ right now. But Civil War still has a bunch of HYDRA stuff in it…

  194. 194
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    So do you think this issue is the hill the Republicans will die on? I don’t.

    The question is, how many Rethugs in the Senate are left who will put country before party? McCain and Graham, but beyond them, who can be trusted to do so?

  195. 195
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Pogonip: I don’t think they’re supporting ISIL so much as taking advantage of the mess ISIL is making.

  196. 196
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: And a buffer zone between her and Western Europe. Thank you, Professor Povolny, you magnificent potato-salad-making son of a bitch and old school gentleman.

  197. 197
    Pogonip says:

    @Adam L Silverman: ADAM: Gentlemen, it’s been a horror and a privilege.
    GENERAL: Yes, it has.

    Everyone salutes. Adam leaves. Generals flip through their well-worn Nepalese-English dictionaries. There is a moment of studious silence. Then the fastest reader says… “Hey, wait a minute….!”

    Too late! Adam is halfway to West Virginia, where he will hide behind a giant purring Maine Coon tribble and issue erudite blog posts from the secret Cole bunker. They’ll never find him there!

  198. 198
    Timurid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks for the info. I knew you weren’t CIA or NSA, but I thought you were still DoD.

  199. 199
    Yarrow says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That was a practiced move. She knew what she was doing. So telling. Her dad is a creep. Add that to the Ivanka fondling and really horrible questions arise.

  200. 200
    Pogonip says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yes, you’re right, that’s a better way to put it.

  201. 201
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Senator Sasse, I think. Senator Rubio – maybe because he’s running for 2020 already and he remembers who propped up Castro, which is why his parents had to leave Cuba. Not sure beyond that.

  202. 202
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @J R in WV: The thing is, they never believe they’re going to keep them. The problem with both Syria and the Crimea is that they’re subject to very obvious choke points that the US and Britain never faced in their naval ambitions. The closest they’ve ever gotten to realizing the dream was Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam which the Vietnamese allowed them to operate from after the unification took place in 1975.

  203. 203
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Pogonip: Naw, those three are the real deal. The most senior of them called me to wish me a Happy New Year and catch me up on what they’re doing. I probably learned more about counterinsurgency from being their supervisor than I did from what I studied in grad school and what I did, on the ground, in Iraq.

  204. 204
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Timurid: If I was on even a term appointment, then every post would end with: “Adam L. Silverman, PhD is the X at Echelon Y. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Echelon Y, the US Army, the DOD, and/or the US Government.”

  205. 205
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Flake, Murkowski, maybe Collins? the last I think is too dumb to know what she thinks or what’s in her own, much less the country’s, best interest. I thought Sasse was going to pose as the leader of the noble anti-Trump R’s, I get the sense he may be coming back to that.

  206. 206
    stinger says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: And he was a super-scary hit man in The Big Clock.

  207. 207
    chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If PEOTUS turns out to be a Russian asset, an actual traitor, can’t they just arrest him and put him in jail?

  208. 208
    J R in WV says:


    Behind bars, arrested for treason, espionage, violation of the Logan Act, tampering with elections, having sex with underage puppies…wow!!! Along with his whole transition team, Pence, etc.

    The Supremes could unanimously order a new election process, 2 months for primaries, a month for the general election, everyone gets to vote, voting must be proportionally aligned with population density, voting materials must be distributed evenly according to population, all according to one person, one vote requirement. Better than Bush v Gore!!

    Ain’t imagination wunnerful?

  209. 209
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @chris: Technically? Yes. Practically? As I wrote earlier today: we are through the map and off the looking glass.

  210. 210
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I had an East Asian CPT in my FA class. He was the happiest person in our class. There was a coup in his country while he was at Ft. Sill. He thought that he could go home and say “Dudes, I totes supported you.” My memory says Thailand, but the historical record does not match up.

  211. 211
    J R in WV says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The world gave up explicit spheres of interest and colonies after World War II.

    Except for Donald J Trump, PEOTUS and Russian spy agent of change.

  212. 212
    chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks. I read your earlier post too and got that part. I was starting to think that if the president does it, it isn’t illegal. /snark

  213. 213
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    One of those insurrections in Sri Lanka, perhaps?

  214. 214
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Nope. Twenty-eight years is a long time.

  215. 215
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @J R in WV:

    Please advise immediately how I may subscribe to your newsletter. If back issues are available, I would be more than happy to acquire same. Thanking you in advance for all considerations.

  216. 216
    Another Scott says:

    @JPL: Donnie’s team made all kinds of simple mistakes (or worse) in running the fundraising for his campaign. OpenSecrets has the FEC complaints and details.

    How someone runs their campaign is a good indication of how they’ll run their administration.

    Donnie is surrounded by a bunch of incompetent yes-men (and women). The only question is, will they be held accountable.


  217. 217
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Didn’t know what your time period was. So, around 1989?

  218. 218
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chris: The last President who wandered about with that notion got his head handed to him on a platter, by members of his own party, who told him the jig was up.

  219. 219
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That’s a better story than a couple I heard from USAWC. In the past there had been students who were officers from countries that underwent revolutions. The government’s they served had ceased to exist.

  220. 220
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Have never seen that. Helluva cast, wow!

  221. 221
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I’ll jump on the “da” stream for that proposal.

  222. 222
    chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Indeed. I was there in those “interesting times.” Probably why I’m still a loony leftie today.

  223. 223
    Jeffro says:

    @chris: @Adam L Silverman:

    In ‘normal’ extraordinary circumstances, I’d note that the flaws, over-reaching, and/or law-breaking of the executive are ultimately subject to 1) impeachment by the House, and/or if it runs another 4 years, 2) an election, with voters.

    This House won’t step in under almost any circumstances (I mean, the obvious is staring them in the face) and 2) this can’t wait until 2020 to be decided upon by voters, never mind that they might once again somehow choose the Orange Comrade.

    So, while Trump’s & Ryan/McConnell’s death grip on each other continues, and Putin’s hammerlock on Trump continues, it means that there will almost certainly be no impeachment and conviction removing this kkklown. We all agree, I hope, that he will never resign under any circumstances? He’s completely without shame and lies as easily as breathing: in his mind, he’s infallible. He will indeed leave claw marks on the Oval Office door frame as he’s yanked out of there…

    Right now my best case scenario is that so many of Trump’s various entanglements continue to dribble out, along with the seedier stuff, that the GOP Congress gradually drops its support of him and he responds in kind by refusing to sign their Koch/Mercer/ALEC bills. Well, truly best case, this drags the GOP down so badly it actually loses seats in 2018, and then loses the WH and both houses of Congress in 2020.

  224. 224
    Pogonip says:

    The phone just rang, at 2300.

    LADY: Hello, this is Jennifer. I left my super duper maxi pads at your house and I’ve got major leakage, so could you please return them?

    ME: You have a wrong number.

    LADY: Oh, sorry.

    ME: That’s OK.

    We exchange goodbyes and hang up.

    I honestly don’t know if this was a prank; a creative burglar trying to see who’s home (although burglars usually burgle during the day); or the real thing.

  225. 225
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I love it. Your definition of the difference between right-wing and left-wing revolutions, that is, not the situation we find ourselves in.

  226. 226
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    There is a horrible, salacious little part of me that wants to read memoirs by his three wives once he’s dead and (presumably) the pre-nups/NDAs are no longer operable. I’m sure Marla and Malaria both have some tales to tell.

  227. 227
    Timurid says:


    2016 was probably the most corrupt national election in modern American history.
    2020 will be even more compromised. Democrats could win it in theory, but it might take a Bush vs. Dukakis or even a Reagan vs. Mondale level of dominance to do it.

  228. 228
    chris says:

    @Jeffro: These are not normal circumstances. My question was more about if he’s proven a traitor can’t the FBI arrest him like any other traitor. I guess proven is the operative word there.

  229. 229
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: that’s like the time I had to arrest a ship from Yugoslavia (and who hasn’t, right?) for not paying its portage bill, but then release it because its home country ceased to exist and we wanted to get a paying customer into that space. No idea where that ship or the crew ended up.

  230. 230
    Yarrow says:

    @Jeffro: Adam suggested last night that the IC is leaking information designed to either keep Trump from taking office or get him out of it. If the information isn’t acted upon, they’ll leak info on the GOP leadership and others to exert pressure. There will be collateral damage if that happens. The GOP leadership probably knows this but maybe they aren’t sure the IC will really do it. They are also terrified of Trump’s voters. So right now they’re doing nothing. We’ll see how it is going forward.

  231. 231
    stinger says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Oh, try to find it somewhere! It is really good. I’m a big Ray Milland fan (at least in some films). But yeah, the whole cast and especially Harry Morgan, who steals his scenes in a very non-Col. Potter role.

  232. 232
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: Its one of the things that all too often gets ignored or left out when discussing revolutions, revolutionary movements, extremism, and extremist movements. It also has some significant effects on targeting. Extreme right wing and religious movements are not interested in creating universal movements and outcomes. The whole point of what they’re doing is to benefit the elect/select that already fit within the definition of acceptable/the group. So when they target it is indiscriminate. Left wing movements almost always seek to utilize they’re targeting to mobilize popular support on behalf of an outcome that will have universal benefits. So their targeting tends to be very discriminant. One of the best examples of this was during the Troubles in the 60s through late 80s period, and before a lot of the groups on both sides devolved into virtual criminal organizations and/or gangs. The tally of Loyalist attacks, casualties, and killed were always very high year on year. The tally for the Republican movements for attacks, casualties, and killed were always much, much lower. The former didn’t care if they had popular backing and they certainly weren’t acting to create an outcome for all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland. So they’d blow up a building full of Protestants if it meant killing the one Catholic they were targeting. The Republicans were working the inverse, hence all the notifications in advance of bombings. The violence was intended to be more symbolic, even if it was often just as deadly. And as you reach the extremes on either side, the difference begin to diminish. Especially if there is state power backing the movement. The violence of the Khmer Rouge and the violence of the NAZIs, despite originating from very different ideological places, is more similar because you’ve reached the points where the extremes almost touch.

  233. 233
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I’ve heard stories like that. Didn’t realize it was you!

  234. 234
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: To clarify, based on what we’ve seen happen and based on who I’m reading in the news media and commentary, especially those that seem to be conduits for the IC, that’s what I think is going on. I can’t prove it. And I could be wrong.

    As for the GOP, given how unpopular the President-elect is, and how safe their Congressional districts have been drawn, and how safe many of the Senate seats are, its amazing to watch them cower in fear.

  235. 235
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Alright, I’ve got doggie bellies to rub. You all have a good night.

  236. 236
    Smedley the uncertain says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: One more ‘Da”. A refresher will be quite useful now as I again contemplate ‘what the hell’s going on.’ I’m 20 + years out of the loop..retired in ’93; and this thread has been a delightful reminder of the good old days when we tried to extrapolate from history what the next move would be…

  237. 237
    dimmsdale says:

    thanks, Adam. You too, and thanks for your particular insights. When sh___ breaks, I toddle over here to see if you’ve got anything posted. Cheers.

  238. 238
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I appreciate your comment. I hope your guesses are right and something is happening behind the scenes. As I said earlier, I’d like to see whatever it is take out the GOP leadership too, but that probably means we’re stuck with President Trump for a bit because the GOP leadership isn’t taking action. I guess we’ll all see how it works out.

  239. 239
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chris: Well, to harken back to that last President guy, the grand jury in the Watergate investigation wanted to indict the President as a conspirator, and Leon Jaworski, the special prosecutor (who had been brought in to replace Archibald Cox after the “Saturday Night Massacre”) told them they couldn’t indict the sitting President…only Congress (through Impeachment) had the power to do that. So they settled on naming Nixon an “unindicted co-conspirator” instead…still pretty damning, only US President to be so named.

    So, given that precedent, I believe that only Congress itself could act in such a case. This of course assumes everyone follows the existing legal procedure, though, and as you said, we’re in very unusual times.

  240. 240
    PJ says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The Republicans saw the end of the Cold War as an opportunity to whoop “Yoo-hoo! We are the Champions!”, while the Democrats did diddly squat besides pushing shock treatment for the economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states, guaranteeing misery for the most vulnerable elements of those societies, and laying the seeds for future nationalist/fascists. There was an opening to push for a Marshall Plan for all of these states to bring them closer to parity, in economic and political status, with Western Europe, but Clinton was never going to put himself on the line. (Tony Judt has written eloquently about this.) And so, here we are, 27 years later . . .

  241. 241
    PJ says:

    @Pogonip: Why would you want to bring an effective dictatorship (and one that is very aggressive about acquiring neighboring territory) into NATO? We already have problems enough with Hungary, Poland, and Turkey . . .

  242. 242

    Me, not long after the Brexit vote:

    We so quickly forget that the purpose of the European Union was not to promote the economic interests of countries whose names begin in G and end with Y, nor to raise Northern European values over Southern. The point of the European Union was to make and keep peace. // The EU is not keeping the peace, not even trying hard. If they were trying, the ECB would be forgiving Greece’s debt, while urging Britain to reconsider. In the long term, to keep the peace, the EU would be promoting Keynesian macroeconomic policies intended to reduce income inequality, and taking in the Syrian refugees, both because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate and because shutting them out will breed future conflict. // I would like to see a return to the internationalism that the EU was founded on. The business of the EU is not promoting the interests and ideology of Germany and, to a lesser extent, France. It is to make peace and create and maintain prosperity in Europe.

    Dear BJ sysadmin elf, I wish I could blockquote more than one paragraph.

  243. 243
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PJ: At the time, right after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was very different than it is today. Gorbachev and Yeltsin were far more inclined to let democracy have a chance than Vlad the former KGB agent is.

  244. 244

    […] That would be a change, but Adam Silverman points out the obvious: […]

  245. 245
    Sam says:

    Adam gives short shrift to the military purpose of NATO, which was to counter the threat of the Warsaw Pact. He also glosses over the very real dissatisfaction with the EU being expressed in all member states.

    IMO the EU over-reached. I go to Europe annually and have European (German, Croatian) relatives. The economic aspects of the EU are controversial, but the Europe-wide legislation and standards-making are uncontroversial – everybody hates them. Seen from afar, outsiders may love the togetherness, but for those affected the relationship is too cozy.

    Similarly, with a clear and present danger Europeans grudgingly (think DeGaulle, Germany was occupied and doesn’t count) participated in NATO. Now NATO has no real purpose except to defend the Balts and Poland from Russian aggression, a task undertaken very reluctantly by the rest of Europe.

    I despise Trump for a lot of reasons, not least of which that he cannot make substantial arguments for his views on Europe, but he isn’t entirely wrong here.

  246. 246
    kra says:

    “there has not been a war in Europe between European states over national interests, including national pride or economic disputes since the end of World War II.”

    Hmm. I wonder what NATO bombing Yugoslavia would be called then.

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