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Friday, April 07, 2017

President Donald Trump Takes Command; War Changes Everything - Middle East expert Andy Martin’s latest analysis

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Trump Takes Command: War Changes Everything

Andy Martin arrived in Florida to cover the U. S. /China Summit, which is suddenly irrelevant

Andy says the CBS Television Network was quick to realize Trump’s status had changed

Andy says Trump must now show wisdom and cunning to retain his broad based public support

(Near the Winter White House, Palm Beach, Florida) (April 7, 2017)

Dear American:

One of my favorite Broadway tunes is “Love Changes Everything.” War also changes everything.

When my team landed in Palm Beach, Florida Tuesday morning we were here to observe the U.S./China summit later in the week. I was working on an analytical piece which would juxtapose the conflict between the “globalist” and “nationalist” advocates in our American conversation. Wednesday, the local society newspaper, the Palm Beach Daily News, featured a story on SEAL supporters meeting at Mar-A-Lago for a SEAL demonstration and fundraising benefit (please see link #1 below). Thursday night I shared a leisurely dinner with family and friends. An MSNBC crew interviewing Republican/Trump operative Roger Stone walked by on the sidewalk. There was a gentle sea breeze.

Later, when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly program was interrupted by a bulletin, I said, “This feels eerie. I think we are going to war.” Before the thought had left my mouth, the Syria attack was announced. Later Thursday night I sampled (watched) the late night shows. The Late Show had its usual searing portrayal of President Trump; but now the program carried a disclaimer: “Tonight’s show was recorded before the Syria attack.”

War changes everything.

Everything I planned to write would have to wait, maybe for the weekend.

Donald Trump has taken command.

Where to begin?

Trump has assembled one of the most powerful and experienced national security teams in recent history, marbled with retired generals and global leaders. America, and the world, are in good hands. Trump is not an experienced national and international leader, and certainly no wartime president. But he will have to become one. He has the team to succeed.

1. The Chinese are angry and paranoid. Planning a major summit takes time. Some Chinese will believe that Trump orchestrated the bombing of Syria to send a message to China and North Korea, in effect to humiliate China. They would be mistaken, although the Chinese leader will take notice that Donald Trump (surprise!) is no Barack Obama. But the U. S. /China summit has been reduced to a nothingburger. Maybe next time.

2. Trump has energized the anti-ISIS coalition “bigly.” I do not want to start an argument about what Barack Obama did but in practical terms, he started ISIS. Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq, based on George Bush’s incompetent agreement to withdraw on a prearranged schedule, allowed Iran to take effective control of Iraq. The result: Sunnis fled to the “safety” of ISIS and a new round of war began before the old one had ended.

3. Beneath the surface, Trump did “inherit a mess” in the Middle East. Obama had staved off dealing with Middle East problems and planned to dump the situation in the hands of his successor, Hillary Clinton. Surprise, again. Trump succeeded Obama.

4. Last week Trump’s representatives added to the mess in Syria by essentially surrendering that nation to the Assad regime. I do not believe the command-and-control apparatus in Damascus is so sophisticated that this week’s poison gas attack was triggered by the Trump Administration’s casual remarks about leaving Assad in place. But Assad has been committing mayhem on his own people for years. His number finally came up when he least expected. Surprise again.

5. Although Trump has spent much of his life as a bully, and not a very pleasant one, he also has a soft and decent side that is not often exposed to public view. I believe he was sincerely moved by the slaughter of small children being murdered in their sleep by Assad’s poison gas. Trump’s critics like to insult him for watching their own cable TV programs! But the Syrian slaughter could not be avoided this week. A moment in history arose spontaneously out of the ether. Yes, there have/had been earlier poison gas attacks. But this one clicked. Trump was meeting in the White House with Middle East leaders. How would he respond? Trump immediately grasped the significance of the challenge he faced.

6. We know the missile attacks on Syria were not planned Thursday. The background work of targeting and analysis began yesterday.

7.  Trump’s attack has received support from every political viewpoint. He has Nick Kristof of the New York Times backing air strikes against Assad’s air force. CBS makes a fortune broadcasting caustic comedy every night as Steven Colbert ridicules Trump. Thursday night CBS added a disclaimer to the Colbert show that the program had been taped before the attack on Syria. War changes everything. Trump is a new man. And Friday will find us in a new world.

8. My regular readers know that I first met Trump in the late 1970’s and our paths have crossed in every subsequent decade. I know Trump inside and outside. Trump is not a deep thinker, but he has a deep sense of history and the flow of history. In conjunction with his national security team Trump grasped that decisive action was necessary, and Trump took command.

9. Sadly, my life has been defined by war and warfare. I can quickly count to four generations of my family that have fought in the Middle East in the last 100 years. As a college student and later a private security operator I was trained to be a Cold Warrior ( I saw the horrors of Viet-Nam, Cambodia and Laos. In 2003 I lived in Baghdad after the U. S. invasion. Last summer I was in the Eastern Panhandle of Jordan, variously surrounded by Jordanian Special Forces and regular army troops, CIA operatives, British SAS, U. S. Special Forces, Russians, Syrians, rebels, refugees, ISIS and anyone else that operates in that intersection of Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

10. But I am confident we are not at risk of a broader war right now. Military men are the most anti-war people you will ever meet. They have seen the horrors, the mangled bodies, the victimized civilians. There will be men and women on the ground, again, as there are already U. S. troops in Syria and Iraq. But there will be no mass mobilization and no massive land army in the desert. Donald Trump will not repeat the mistakes of George w. Bush. Trump has a far superior team of advisers than Bush. Bush was advised by ideologues. Trump has chosen a “team of technocrats,” technocrats of war.

11. Trump has been excoriated for his response to the Syrian refugee crisis. But that crisis was created by Assad, not Trump. Trump will not budge on admitting Syrian refugees to the United States. But because the refugee crisis is destabilizing both the United States and Europe, Trump will take decisive action to end the source of the problem, Assad’s regime for the Shiites and ISIS’ redoubt for the Sunnis. Men, and women, here and abroad, follow power. Trump’s team will deliver power to the battlefield. Even reluctant nations will follow.

12. On the other side of the world, if you have a tendency to paranoia you can almost believe Trump orchestrated the Syria attack to intimidate and humiliate the president of China while the Chinese leader was visiting Mar-A-Lago. His entourage was and will continue to be intimidated. Korea was the “forgotten war.” For almost seventy years a mess has existed as Korea remained separated. As long as the North Korean dictators were a nuisance they could be tolerated; the risk of dealing with a nuisance was far less than the risk of restarting a war. But with Korea developing nuclear weapons and ICBMs the regime can no longer be ignored or tolerated. Trump and Tillotson have said the time for negotiations is “over.” Trump also said if China won’t restrain North Korea, he will.

13. The U. S. /China summit, which was to have been a subdued meeting, has both been eclipsed by the attack in Syria and also become the last opportunity China has to tame the North Korean tiger. Trump does not have to threaten China; the cruise missiles flying of the decks of our navy’s destroyers send an unmistakable message.

I will still write later about the “war” between the “globalist” and “nationalist” factions in the Trump Administration.

But today we are all globalists. Or, if you prefer, nationalist globalists. The accidental president has become the reluctant leader of an unstable world. History is beckoning. Where history will lead us we will have to wait and see.

Best wishes from the Palm Beach summit,


LINKS TO THIS STORY (cut and paste the entire link below and not just the underlined portion):



Andy Martin is a legendary New Hampshire, New York and Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, talk television pioneer, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. With forty-nine years of background in radio and television and with five decades of investigative and analytical experience in Washington, the USA and around the world, Andy provides insight on politics, foreign policy, intelligence and military matters. For a full bio, go to:; also see

Andy has also been a leading corruption fighter in American politics and courts for over fifty years and is executive director of the National Anti-Corruption Policy Institute. See also;

He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York (LaGuardia CC, Bronx CC).

He is the author of “Obama: The Man Behind The Mask” [] and produced the Internet film “Obama: The Hawaii’ Years” []. Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of the “Internet Powerhouse,” blogging at and

Andy’s family immigrated to Manchester, New Hampshire 100 years ago; today his home overlooks the Merrimack River and he lives around the corner from where he played as a small boy. He is New Hampshire’s leading corruption fighter and Republican Party reformer.


Andy’s columns are also posted at

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