What a week in US foreign policy! First President Trump approves a commando raid in Yemen that was a total fiasco, leaving one US soldier and scores of innocent women and children dead. Then Trump's Iran-obsessed National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, hijacks a White House Press conference to put Iran "on notice" over its legal testing of a missile and the false claim that it is involved in the Yemen war.
But today marks an own-goal hat trick! Today, President Trump's Ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley used her first appearance before the UN Security Council to condemn Russia for the renewed violence in eastern Ukraine.
Haley told the Security Council:
I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of too many instances over many years in which United States representatives have had to do that.What were the "aggressive actions of Russia"? She did not say. Does she accuse Russia of another "invasion" of Ukraine, as Obama's mouthpieces endlessly claimed without proof? What exactly did she mean?
But it got even stranger.
Haley went on to tell the Council that US sanctions on Russia would not be lifted until Crimea is returned to Ukraine:
The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.That's quite different from what President Trump has been saying. Asked in July whether the US would end US sanctions on Russia and recognize that Crimea is Russian, President Trump -- Haley's boss -- said, “Yes. We would be looking at that.”
Is this a new policy? Should we not be hearing such a dramatic shift from Trump? Or at least Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, now ensconced in Foggy Bottom?
While Ambassador Haley blames the Russians for the re-start of fighting in eastern Ukraine, the real cause may be a bit closer to home. Violence in eastern Ukraine began flaring up not long after a New Year's Day visit to the front lines in Ukraine by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), where the two Senators encouraged the Kiev forces to renew their war against the separatist east.
Graham told Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade:
I admire the fact that you will fight for your homeland. Your fight is our fight. 2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. Our fight is not with the Russian people but with Putin. Our promise to you is to take your cause to Washington, inform the American people of your bravery and make the case against Putin to the world.Not to be outdone, McCain urged the Ukrainian army and president to renew the war:
I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win. We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage. So I thank you and the world is watching and the world is watching because we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here because if he succeeds here, he will succeed in other countries.McCain and Graham actually appeared in a video distributed by Ukrainian President Poroshenko encouraging Kiev forces to attack. Watch this shocking video here.
The areas around Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine have been bombarded by Kiev forces for the last several days and elsewhere in Donetsk grad missiles are raining down. And even the US government's own propaganda mouthpiece, RFE-RL has admitted that the violence in Ukraine is the result of Kiev's forces engaged in a "creeping offensive" against eastern Ukraine -- in clear violation of the Minsk II accords.
Yet Trump's Ambassador to the United Nations took her first appearance before the Security Council to place all of the blame on Moscow's doorstep. With all evidence to the contrary. Just like her predecessor, the warmongering Samantha Power.
If President Trump is serious about wanting to improve relations with Russia, this is a curious way to go about doing it. If his appointments are not serving his intended policy well it is not too early to make some re-adjustments. He made a name for himself uttering the line, "you're fired!" Might be time to start dusting the phrase off. We can provide the list.
Starting one's presidency threatening war on Iran and condemning Russia for an offensive in which it is not involved is not the best way to re-assure the war-weary Americans who voted for Trump over Hillary the hawk.
What a week...and it's only Thursday. What might happen next?
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