Apparent Major Change in US Foreign Policy
The US Secretary of State , Tillerson, has made a major speech in which he effectively says the US will increase its political and military roles in the Middle East.The attached report by the Washington Post (not generally supportive of Trump) says
“Tillerson listed vanquishing al-Qaeda, ousting Iran and securing a peace settlement that excludes President Bashar al-Assad as among the goals of a continued presence in Syria of about 2,000 American troops currently deployed in a Kurdish-controlled corner of northeastern Syria. His comments represented the most comprehensive and ambitious articulation of Washington’s often-contradictory policy in Syria since President Trump took office a year ago, and they underline the extent to which the war against the Islamic State has inevitably also entangled the United States in the region’s other conflicts.
“We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011, where a premature departure from Iraq allowed al-Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually become ISIS,” Tillerson said. But he also indicated that one of the biggest challenges of the post-Islamic State era is Iran’s enhanced role. With the Islamic State now beaten back into a small pocket of territory along the Iraq-Syria border, the United States has to address the reality that Iran’s support for Assad in Syria has given Tehran a vastly expanded reach, he said.
“Continued strategic threats to the U.S. other than ISIS persist. I am referring principally to Iran,” he said. “Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hezbollah; and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies and personnel in the region (see Tillerson Increases US Role in Mid East).
The report does not indicate that Tillerson’s address has been approved by Trump but it seems likely that it has, at least in principle. For such a wide US involvement, however, it would also seem necessary that it has many more “troops on the ground” than the 2,000 mentioned in his speech.
The threat by Turkey to attack the Kurds, at least those which are supported by the US because they played a major role in combating IS in Syria, could prompt the US to send more troops. But the Russians appear to be supporting the Turks and they may see it as a means of undermining the NATO alliance and further reducing the US role, already much reduced under Obama (see editorial from today’s Australian Turkey’s Threat US-Backed Kurds).
The increased threat to Israel from Hezbollah and Iran may also have encouraged the US to now take a more aggressive role in the Mid East. The attached report in The Australian (see Iran Increasing Threat to Israel) says that
“ Behind a veneer of official silence, Israel appears to be responding with force inside Syria and on its borders. At the end of last year, Israel reportedly began to step up strikes on Iranian targets in Syria. An attack on a rumoured Iranian base near Damascus was attributed by several sources to Israel. Last week, according to official and opposition media in Syria, Israeli jets and ground-to-ground missiles struck an arms depot belonging to the Damascus regime.
Frydenberg Steps Up Defence of Energy Policy
The most active of Turnbull ministers during the summer break has been Energy Minister Frydenberg, who has been writing articles in support of the National Energy Guarantee policy adopted by the Turnbull government and which claims support from the business community and others even though the details of the policy have yet to be announced. Despite his publication of a number of supportive articles, Frydenberg found it also necessary to get The Australian to publish a letter criticizing an analysis by Judith Sloan in the paper which contained some critical aspects she had previously supported (see Frydenberg Letter 17 Jan). I have previously pointed out various deficiencies in the policy and those remain extant.
Relevant here is the publication in today’s Australian of a report in Nature (a journal which supports the GW thesis) suggesting that even a doubling of carbon dioxide levels is unlikely to raise temperatures to IPCC prediction rates and that other scientists have said that a doubling could produce temperature increases “as low as 1C”. Such scientists are reported as referring to other factors that have played a greater role in warming than acknowledged by climate models (see New Estimates of Alarmism Threat from CO2). The supposed dangerous warming thesis may not be so dangerous after all.
This is of course the conclusion reached by many climate analysts and is a major reason for the world-wide failure by government agencies in modelling predictions of potentially dangerous temperature levels. It is a falsie to base our new energy policies on the supposed need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions perceived as raising temperatures. Yet that is what the “experts” advising Frydenberg are doing, and he is adopting.
Trump’s Medical Report
Many commentators in the US have been searching for reasons to impeach Trump and many here have taken the view that he should not be President. But while his behaviour leaves much to be desired, there is no doubt he has opened for discussion, and taken some actions, on a number of important issues which were rejected or neglected by Obama. Even so, many of his critics have argued that he is not medically capable of fulfilling Presidential responsibilities.
That “test” has now been made and Trump has passed with flying colours. Despite the withdrawal of funding from the Breitbart group (which had Bannon as CEO), it continues to publish reports on political and defence issues. Its comments on the passing of the medical test include the following
“But now that Trump’s doctor, who was also the White House doctor for Barack Obama and George W. Bush, has announced that the president got a perfect score on a widely respected and difficult mental acuity test — a 30 out of 30 — what we have here is yet another instance where the entire mainstream media has egg all over their face after betraying the American people with lies and conspiracy theories” (see Trump Passes Medical Test).My recollection of the behaviour of Bill Clinton is that it was as bad as Trump’s.