The Bullying Swagger

May I modestly point out my second article in Pakistan Politico? The print edition was published last week, and the online edition went live today.

America First seems to mean breaking earlier agreements and imposing unilateral demands. There are no explicit statements of what happens if those demands are not met, and, in the case of North Korea, the demands have been fading as North Korea ignores them. So bluster and swagger are a big part of America First.

Let’s see how swagger and America First work out for the Khashoggi affair. I wrote the piece before that happened. Click over and read the whole thing.


53 replies
  1. 1
    Eric U. says:

    Trump is the weakest president in my lifetime. By far.

  2. 2
    lollipopguild says:

    Trump does not understand that he cannot bully the entire planet. He bullied the GOP very well and he bullied and lied his way into the White House. Before he became President he moved in his own alternate reality, now he is constantly bumping up against real reality. The coming election will be “very interesting”.

  3. 3

    Nice piece. I would be surprised if T can get Modi’s government to bend to his will.
    The price of petrol has already skyrocketed in India and Iran is one of India’s biggest suppliers. And successive governments have had excellent diplomatic relations with Iran. After Iran, India has one of the largest Shia populations. Farsi was the court language of the Delhi sultanate and the Mughal Empire. So one can argue that Indian Islam has closer cultural roots to Iran than SA.
    But I loled at T trying to bully Modi by making fun of his accent, serves the Modi Bhakts in this country advocating for T, right.

  4. 4
    Sloane Ranger says:

    Congrats Cheryl.

  5. 5
    lollipopguild says:

    @Eric U.: He is also the most racist and sexist president in anyone’s lifetime by far.

  6. 6
    Elizabelle says:

    Yea Cheryl! Wunderbar.

  7. 7

    What T is telling the world is that America’s assets and its ideals are for sale if you pay him the right amount (in money and praise).

  8. 8
    Betty Cracker says:

    Congrats on the article!

    Twitler added evidence to the pile you cited with this morning’s Twitter tantrum about a caravan of Hondurans currently trekking through Guatemala. He has threatened to cut off aid and send the military to seal the US-Mexico border.

    Of course, cutting off aid to poor countries will only exacerbate the conditions that prompt desperate people to flee. The exact opposite is needed — a sort of Marshall Plan that could change conditions on the ground. And of course stationing US troops at the border would be a stupid, expensive and futile measure.

    I’m not sure if this is part of Trump’s racist fear-mongering strategy for the midterms or if he simply became enraged while watching Fox News coverage about the caravan. I guess it doesn’t matter.

  9. 9
    Miss Bianca says:

    Nice article, Cheryl! And nice shout-out to the Bard at the end!

    I somehow don’t imagine that India is going to be the pushover for going all-in on Trump’s Iran agenda that he expects.

    Actually, I’d love to see the rest of the world completely ignore the Trump Administration’s infantile ‘swagger’ and irrational demands as long and as thoroughly as possible. Maybe even MAGAts will finally understand that the rest of the world is pointing and laughing at their hero, tho’ I don’t have confidence that anything short of a two by four to the head will make any impression on them.

    I have no idea how the next Administration will be able to repair all the damage this spoiled, spiteful, selfish, silly man and his enablers among the citizenry and his administration have done to American standing in the world.

  10. 10

    @Miss Bianca: Iran lets India pay for oil in rupees. Modi or any Indian prime minister that goes against Iran will be committing political suicide. India is almost entirely dependent on foreign oil and due to the economic mismanagement of Modi’s economic team the rupee is at an all time low with respect to the $.

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    Preet Bharara Retweeted
    Kenneth P. Vogel
    Verified account
    28m28 minutes ago
    INTERESTING TIMING: A member of the Saudi Royal Air Force who was one of the 15 Saudis allegedly involved in the killing of JAMAL KHASHOGGI has died in a car accident in Riyadh, according to a Turkish media report.

    Maybe that’s why the Saudi’s are waiting on their official story – they have to see who they can kill first so THEN, coincidentally, the perpetrators will just so happen to be the people who have died.

    I suppose there’s a slim chance that this accident could actually have been an accident. But it seems to me that this guy got off pretty easy by being killed in this way as opposed to dismemberment while still alive.

    Fuck these people for making me have to even think about something as horrible as that.

  12. 12
    Mary G says:

    Loved it, especially the Mistress Quickly quote, particularly “I have not lived all this while, to have swaggering now: shut the door, I pray you.” Summarizes my attitude to a T; I did not become an originating subscriber to Ms. Magazine forty-odd years ago to go back to idiotic white men running everything now. The pride in ignorance is just stunning. You are a saint on Twitter – every time you remark on sexism a dozen men argue with you with the “that’s not sexist, you don’t know what you are talking about, little lady” or “I don’t understand, because I don’t care to learn” or “what about…” stuff and I would be banned from the service for cursing and threatening their lives.

  13. 13
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    He’s already said that if R’s lose it won’t be his fault. Because nothing is ever his fault.

  14. 14
    The Dangerman says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Of course, cutting off aid to poor countries will only exacerbate the conditions that prompt desperate people to flee.

    Feature, not bug. Trump doesn’t want a Marshall Plan. He wants Martial Law.

    Help Brown people? Yeah, right. He’d rather shoot them.

  15. 15
    zhena gogolia says:

    WaPo headline just now:

    Pompeo recommends to Trump to give Saudi Arabia a few more days to complete investigation into disappearance of Khashoggi

    Just like Kavanaugh! Innocent until proven guilty!

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:

    They’ve been studying the Tao of Vlad. Maybe they will get more creative–an auto accident is so banal–how about freezing to death in one of the indoor ski resorts?

  17. 17
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Congratulations, Cheryl! I enjoyed reading that. You speak truth.

  18. 18

    @zhena gogolia: America is for sale, if dictators and despots can cough up enough tribute.

  19. 19
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I think somebody should tell Trump innocent until proven guilty is only in criminal court, since he was in civil court so much. There’s a huge preponderance of evidence that the Saudi’s deliberately killed that journalist. I see little difference whether MBS personally knew about it or not. As the Head of State he’s ultimately responsible for the actions of those under him.

  20. 20

    @Betty Cracker: Is it legal to deploy the US military inside the US?

  21. 21
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor:
    In times of invasion and I think the Nat Guard for natural disasters.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: After reading Cheryl’s article, I paused and thought wtf is Trump thinking. Then I realized that he’s not and your question to Betty proves my point.

  23. 23

    @Betty Cracker: For a few days, I was afraid that the “swagger” meme might fall off the radar before my piece got published. But you’ve now got two – Trump and MBS – who think their swagger will protect them. So more current than ever.

    Trump’s tweeting the past few days has been more frantic than ever. A week or two back, it seemed like the tweets weren’t even his – maybe passed through an aide and cleaned up a bit. He’s got the Russia investigation closing in, the Khashoggi affair, and the election coming up. He has little control over any of that, and none looks good for him.

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Trump is a master of changing the subject. If need be he’ll create a crisis to take the heat off of MBS, so buckle up. The ride won’t be enjoyable.

  25. 25
    TriassicSands says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Trump doesn’t want a Marshall Plan. He wants Martial Law.

    He may be looking for a “Final Solution.”

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    Just remember us little peeps Cheryl. :)

  27. 27
    Aleta says:

    Someone told Mnuchin the Saudi investment conference would not be profitable after all. He’s not going.

  28. 28

    Oh and India and Iran have one common foe, Pakistan. No amount of T’s swagger changes that calculus.

  29. 29

    @JPL: It’s gonna get a lot worse from here on.

  30. 30
    catclub says:

    @schrodingers_cat: interesting. I was under the impression that India had buckled (like everybody else) and was cutting imports of Iranian oil. hence the rising prices for gasoline.

    Let me go google that.

  31. 31
    Yutsano says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I would have thought save for the American presence Afghanistan would have evolved into a proxy war between Iran and Pakistan over the Taliban rule. The fundamentalist beliefs the Taliban espouse are foreign concepts of Islam brought in by dirty Saudi money. That’s why Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. It’s Saudi money coming in that supports all of this. And we let them be a terrorist sponsor all because of oil.

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    @catclub: It looks like it is complicated: INdian government saying they will not buckle, but Indian companies not walking the government talk.

    Iran oil Import: Reliance Industries halts Iranian oil … – Times of India › BUSINESS NEWS › India Business News

    12 hours ago – NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries Ltd, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, has halted imports of Iranian crude ahead of US sanctions …
    India to keep buying Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions: sources | Reuters…/india-iran-oil/india-to-keep-buying-iranian-oil-despite-u-s-san…

    Oct 5, 2018 – NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in November, two industry sources said, indicating the world’s third-biggest …
    India oil minister: India will import Iran’s oil despite US sanctions…/india-oil-minister-india-will-import-irans-oil-despite-us-sanct…

    Oct 8, 2018 – Two Indian oil companies have placed orders to import Iranian crude next month, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Monday, defying a call …

  33. 33
  34. 34
    scav says:

    @Eric U.: Weak? Thoughtless, certainly. Short-sighted, careless, entirely self-motivated and self-absorbed, disdainful of others. whimsical, petulant, small, but entirely unfortunately not weak enough. Because there are a cohort of Americans, primarily white males, who share the characteristics and support him to the bloody hilt.

  35. 35
    Barb 2 says:

    Swagger like a mafia don. Typical con man behavior – the bully. Thanks for the link. Your article is a companion to Ronan Farrow’s book, “War on Peace” and Craig Unger’s book, “House of Trump, House of Putin”. I’m listening to these books. Unger has a list of 59 connections to the Russians and Putin. The Swagger of toxic male behavior.

  36. 36
    VOR says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Not an economist, but I bet the ability to buy oil in rupees vs. dollars is a big deal for India. IIRC, almost all world oil trade has been in dollars but I thought Iran was starting sales in Euros. Having all that trade in dollars, and the accompanying amount of float, is an effective subsidy for the Dollar.

  37. 37
    bjacques says:

    @The Dangerman: He wants Martian Law, where he can do whatever he likes.

  38. 38
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Of course, cutting off aid to poor countries will only exacerbate the conditions that prompt desperate people to flee.

    It also defeats their own goal of securing US influence by driving those countries into the arms of Russia Keep in mind the Honduras has been a pretty firm US ally in Central America, but leave to President Spanky to screw up a special relationship.

  39. 39
    catclub says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I hope so. I think the other countries have been lazy in not coming up with soething like the SWIFT system long before now, so that the US can no longer unilaterally sanction Iran ( or whoever) by blocking them from the SWIFT system.

    This time they keep saying they are going to do it, but it seems there is not much push for it – or maybe it is hard. I think it is necessary.

  40. 40
    Eljai says:

    Great article! When we get a new Secretary of State, appointed by a Democratic president, the un-clusterfucking foreign relations clean-up tour is going to be phenomenal.

  41. 41
    J R in WV says:

    ……………….. I thot we bought Honduras faire and square??

  42. 42

    @catclub: Its difficult to come up with an alternative quickly but by electing T, America has shown the world that an alternative is needed.

  43. 43
    Kraux Pas says:

    @Eljai: After reading this I had to wrack my brain to figure out who the current SoS (Pompeo) is because Trump isn’t keeping staff or filling all the jobs and mostly seems to want to fill jobs from within the administration. I can’t keep track of all the newly replenished swamp gas emanating from the White House

  44. 44
    JustRuss says:

    America First: Speak loudly and carry a small mushroom…

  45. 45
    catclub says:

    @J R in WV: I read somewhere else that thots and preyrs are mostly exhausted.

  46. 46
    J R in WV says:


    Oh, jeez, so busted!

    I thot no one would notice!!!

  47. 47
    J R in WV says:

    Hey, Cheryl,

    Did you notice that a fellow jackal posted a link to your article in an earlier thread? Your work does not go un-noticed!!

    Congrats on the publication!!


  48. 48
    FelonyGovt says:

    Great article, Cheryl! Just got a chance to read it.

  49. 49
    Denali says:

    Congratulations,Cheryl! So pleased to have a
    Balloon Juice front pager getting coverage. And your article clarifies a lot. It is shameful though that swagger and bullying describe American foreign policy.

  50. 50
    jl says:

    The post doesn’t give a complete description of the process, which is implied in the history of the NK nuke negotiations.

    Swagger, bully, unilaterally break agreements and make bozo demands, cave and surrender, shit out a BS cover story for the failure, make excuses, whine, take out frustrations on somebody really weak.
    Always be alpha!

  51. 51

    @J R in WV: I did not notice! Thank you!

  52. 52
    brantl says:

    He doesn’t try to swagger, he’s just that far off-balance.

  53. 53
    Jay C says:


    Great article! When we get a new Secretary of State, appointed by a Democratic president, the un-clusterfucking foreign relations clean-up tour is going to be phenomenal.

    But nowhere near as “phenomenal” as the caterwauling from the usual gang to starboard about “apology tours” and “giving up sovereignty” and “bowing to foreigners” is likely to be. Not to mention the instant revisionism wherein US “prestige” was considered to be at a historic peak in the Trump Admin, only to be “squandered” by wussy foreigner-coddling Democrats (precisely the opposite of the likely reality, but then, what else is the Hallmark of the Trump regime?)

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