Saturday, April 15, 2017

Trump and Syria

It remains to be seen how things will play out, but I wanted to point out that acting in apparently erratic and even contradictory ways is part and parcel of the Trump interpretation of the Game Theory of negotiation.  If you give people absolute confidence in who you are and what you want, they can make very precise calculations intended to get the best deal possible for them.  If they can't figure you out, you carve out a large space which is potentially negotiable, and thus potentially a better deal.

Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, but now he is sounding war drums over Syria and calling for regime change.  This could be honest confusion, honest emotionality, and thus honest incompetence.

At the same time, we are not Russia's allies, per se, and they are not ours. Their interests and our interests do not precisely coincide.  Both of us have an interest in avoiding war, and both of us would like to see ISIS destroyed, but is Trump's best play inherently to suck up to Putin?  Not necessarily.  What if there WERE chemical munitions stored where he sent the missiles, weapons both Putin and Assad knew about, even if they were not using them, and in fact WERE the targets of a false flag attack, as I believe? It's hard to justify chemical weapons in that environment, even if they were not being used.

The whole thing has to confuse Putin, frustrate him, and make him wonder where he stands.

It also worked to shut up most of the media which was obsessing on their made-up story about Trump colluding with the Russians.  Now Trump is making nice with China.  What is one to think?

Add to this the North Korean situation and the decision to drop that huge bomb in Afghanistan (am I the only one wondering how the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria got into Afghanistan?), and it is POSSIBLE that a very complex game is being played.  It is also possible he is shooting from the hip, stupidly.

Either way, the path forward could easily include asserting tacitly that this was all well planned.  So if you make being erratic your MO, you can still seem a genius even when you fuck up.

Where do we go from here?  Well, obviously we want regime change in North Korea, and we want a ceasefire in Syria, some concessions of human rights to non-terrorists, and we want ISIS destroyed utterly.

Where I think focus should be placed, because this is interesting and important, is how do we get to a genuine return of something like the status quo ante in Syria, ideally with some political improvements?  What are the conditions, politically, economically, and militarily, which must be met for this to happen?

You can ask: what could Trump get from alienating the Russians?  For one, he makes clear that although he does not want hostilities with them--he did not target any Russian troops or planes--that he is also not necessarily their friend, especially if they are complicit in making it even POSSIBLE for Assad to engage in gas warfare.

As far as I know, nobody died in the missile strikes.  I may be wrong.  I don't know.  But it was certainly not MAINLY an attack on troops.  Sometimes when dealing with dangerous determined people--and Putin is that--you need to put them on notice.  You don't need to do anything that cannot be smoothed over, but you also need to show you have balls too.

The proof of the pudding will be what happens in the next six months.  If Trump commits significant troops to fight alongside and effectively in support of serial killing psychopaths, then he has lost his way and will lose my support, at least in that aspect of his Presidency.

But if he gets involved in serious negotiations and helps broker a truce and honest ceasefire, then I will call his game playing successful.

I personally would like us to ally with the Russians and yes the Syrians in destroying ISIS, which is an enemy of all humanity.  We don't have to be the best of friends, but we can and should help each other.

Time will tell what is really happening, and what Trump is really thinking, IF he is thinking.

No comments: