Trump’s cautious and necessary start to rebuilding American credibility

I was going to put this up last night but thought I would give LIQ’s post some space. But I do have to say that anyone who takes the time to look at where Australia is located on the map, and still wants the US to become isolationist, has lost their marbles. There is one indisputable fact in all of this. Donald Trump is the American president. The second point is not entirely indisputable, but will only be contradicted by complete idiots: our national defence depends on our working with the Americans to maintain the peace here in the South Pacific which therefore means working with Donald Trump. This is the post I had intended to put up last night.

Whose judgement can you trust in such a snake pit as foreign relations? But with Trump, at least I am never in any doubt that he is on the same side as I am in every conflict. Two stellar authorities among the many who comment have recently written on where he has taken the US since becoming president. Let me start with The Diplomad: Climbing out of the Obama Foreign Policy Hole. There he writes:

The Russians and the Chinese certainly have taken note of the change in Washington, and I suspect that the regimes in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela, and the fetid leaders of ISIS and the other radical Islamist death cults have, as well. We can see positive change all around; we see it in the willingness of the Chinese to work much more energetically to control Krazy Kim and deal with the unbalanced nature of our bilateral trade, we see it in the Russian acquiescence to our blasting their Syrian ally, we even see it on our border where illegal crossings have plummeted as the coyotes fear the new sheriff.

I am optimistic that we have begun the long climb out of the Obama foreign policy hole.

The same note is struck by Claudia Rosett: Trump juggles the foreign policy balls Obama dropped.

The Trump administration is taking heat for striking a Syrian air base with Tomahawk missiles and hitting ISIS terrorists in Afghanistan with a MOAB, a conventional bomb so big that it has been dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs.” No doubt there are useful debates to be had about the pros and cons, both tactical and juridical. But one sure upside of these strikes is that they are a step toward restoring abroad the credibility of America as a power to be reckoned with.

That’s big, in ways that go way beyond the immediate battlefields. In a world grown dramatically more dangerous during President Obama’s eight years of appeasement and retreat, America badly and urgently needs to restore its lost credibility. . . .

Obama’s policies invited the world’s most dangerous actors to conclude that America would no longer act in defense of the Free World, or of the rules and understandings that promote a modicum of peace. This is a path to conflict and carnage on a scale not seen since World War II. It is imperative that Trump find ways to change this calculus.

One need not love the use of ordnance to appreciate that with the unprecedented moves of hitting a Syrian air base with cruise missiles and dropping a MOAB to obliterate an ISIS nest in Afghanistan, he has sent an important message, in terms that predatory tyrants, from Moscow to Beijing to Tehran to Pyongyang, will understand.

Both should be read in full. It is an always dangerous world, and even more dangerous after eight years of Obama. But these seem to be calculated risks and nothing done by Trump so far seems to have been anything other than temperate. The risks remain enormous, but to me anyway, they seem the right steps to have taken.

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42 Responses to Trump’s cautious and necessary start to rebuilding American credibility

  1. C.L.

    I love this site’s ongoing main-page brawl about Trump and Turnbull.
    Great stuff.

  2. thefrollickingmole

    C.L.

    And no one trying to silence anyone else (apart from robust abuse), almost smells like freedom!
    high energy
    good.

  3. srr

    And I love that Turnbull (which includes all his boosters), is getting the pasting he deserves over at The Conservative Treehouse … they know him/them so well … [from the open thread, but really belongs here] –

    Sheeple Positioning – Australia’s PM Turnbull Proposes “Australia First” VISA Reform…
    Posted on April 18, 2017 by sundance

    You might have noticed amid all of the Asian Pacific negotiations taking place, one country is transparently absent from the policy expressions of President Trump, Australia.

    Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull displayed his self-serving Robert-The-Bruce sensibilities and simultaneously burned any diplomatic bridge he might have carried toward the Trump administration when he tried to force President Trump, via a lame-duck sneaky deal with President Obama, to accept illegal immigrants.

    The concept of integrity is so far way from Malcolm Turnbull that the light from where integrity emanates could not reach him in one term of a Trump administration.

    The conniving indecency of Turnbull was the worst form of political relationship building a fool could ever construct. A particularly stupid approach when you consider the target of Turnbulls’ day one posturing was the personification of a non-politician, Donald Trump.

    Suffice to say the credibility and trustworthiness of current Australian leadership was immediately recognized as non existent.

    It is against this backdrop of self-serving, conniving, scheming manipulation the latest Australian political strategy is evidenced:

    Continue reading →
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/04/18/sheeple-positioning-australias-pm-turnbull-proposes-australia-first-visa-reform/

  4. srr

    Short form – Turnbull & The Textorites have NO credibility.

  5. Shy Ted

    That’s all good and well, srr, but how many Royal Commissions has Trump called based on biased TV shows? And we all know that’s the mark of a true leader.

  6. mh

    If you weren’t part of this blog Steve, this site would be a joke.

    I was going to put this up last night but thought I would give LIQ’s post some space.

    Maybe a safe space.

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    But I do have to say that anyone who takes the time to look at where Australia is located on the map, and still wants the US to become isolationist, has lost their marbles.

    … our national defence depends on our working with the Americans to maintain the peace here in the South Pacific …

    Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security? I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?

  8. thefrollickingmole

    Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?

    But Sinc, wed have to defund vital programs like safe schools, the HRC, the ABC, and wind power to fund our own defense.

    So self reliance really isnt an option..

  9. mh

    Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security? I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence

    My suggestion is to cut the ABC funding by two thirds – I believe that is the current PHON policy – and put that 800 million into defence. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

  10. Dan Dare

    With diesel subs due in 200?, dubious aircraft purchases etc I can’t see us without the US as allies.
    Be nice if both sides of our political spectrum worked toward a credible defence force.
    How much did RGR strip from the defence budget?
    As for Mal the second.

  11. Sinclair Davidson

    My suggestion is to cut the ABC funding by two thirds

    Why not 100%?

  12. Antonin D

    If the Australian Defence Force has the strength to repel fishing boats only, then that’s alarming.
    Nevertheless, it is what it is, and we are where we are. And “temperate” is the right word to describe Trump’s steps…. thank you, Steve Kates

    Robert-the-Bruce sensibilities (10.33 am) that’s good.
    Agree

  13. RobK

    But Sinc,..we have 50bn in potential oily subs and then the JSFs comming sometime.

  14. RobK

    “As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?x
    A bit of over reach perhaps, Sinc.

  15. ned

    best policy is neutrality as Switzerland.
    also Switzerland’s Political System: Decentralisation, Federalism and Direct Democracy is best too.

  16. Tim Neilson

    Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security?
    Yes, of course. But that’s the reality of being a middle size nation. (And made worse by governments treating defence procurement as either a zero priority or a a no-taxpayer-funded-expense-spared vote-buying scheme.)
    I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no.
    Actually we are. We’re just reality based, unlike open borders loons. We’d love Australia to get its act together, get real value for money (on defence of something other than Christopher Pyne’s seat) for defence spending, and punch above our weight defence wise, but even if we did we’d still need alliances with real heavyweights.

  17. Digger

    For the ignorant out there, and there seems to be some… in spades. Australia punches above our weight in Defence spending and capability. We have extremely competent people and exceptionally good equipment doing a job to protect our country as best can be expected. Any pretence that our defence force is not able to defend our national interests can only be centred on the sheer size of the country and our limited population.

    If Indonesia, for instance, with a population 10 times as large as ours had half of the military capability, based on population differences, that Australia possesses, then we could be in serious trouble.

    It would be like Tasmania trying to defend itself against the Australian mainland, without changing the current Defence capabilities of Tasmania.

    We do more than our bit in the region but we need a powerful friend like the US to ensure the sheer size and wealth inherent in our country is not taken as being “available” for any adventurous pretenders who may covet that wealth…

  18. ned

    The Swiss Armed Forces — Under the country’s militia system, professional soldiers constitute about 5 percent[citation needed] of the military and the rest are conscripts or volunteers aged 19 to 34

    if you are scared develop best weapons today — intercontinental ballistic missile with nuclear warheads.

    no need navy or airforce.

  19. struth

    Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security? I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?

    This insinuates that you don’t see the United States as an ally with the same values as Australians, it being a western anglosphere country.
    You show your colours these days, with every comment.
    Their country, with Canada, UK and New Zealand ARE our culture.
    And they are all suffering from commo’s and Marxists in the education system, giving us the problems INSIDE our borders.
    To be honest Sinc, I reckon Trump is closer to our culture, (that of the vast majority of Australians) than you and your elite mates are.
    It shows in the basic question above.
    I now believe you aren’t trolling anymore.

  20. mh

    Why not 100%?

    I believe that we need a public service broadcaster. They do help communities when we experience natural disasters, and I don’t think we could trust the private sector to fill that gap. There was something else that the ABC does that is good, but it’s slipped my mind.

    However, I will revise my position on Defence spending after being reminded of the 50 billion spent to save Christopher Pyne’s seat in Adelaide.

  21. ned

    our biggest enemy is our own government –this is true for any people around world.

    think Venezuela today –what is stopping that country to become dictatorship — nothing in my view.

    what about America or Australia –you think this can not happen here what is happening in Venezuela.

  22. incoherent rambler

    best policy is neutrality as Switzerland.

    It’s a bit more than that.

    “Let me hold your wallets while you guys have a brawl”

  23. Speedbox

    “Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security? I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?”

    Whoa, steady on Sinc.

    In fact, Australia’s defense capabilities are actually quite strong given that we have a large land mass occupied by a relatively small population. Moreover, our defense forces are highly capable and well trained. Unfortunately, and often for political expediency, we have squandered some opportunities (the new subs come quickly to mind – although there are others).

    But given the size of this nation and our population, it is impossible for us to defend our sovereignty without the assistance of the United States and that has been the case since WW2. The country is too big, the population is too small and no amount of budget would fill the gaps.

    As for the fishing boats and refugees – both engage in illegal activities that impact our sovereignty and the use of the military is entirely appropriate.

  24. J.H.

    Yep. Peace through Strength, for weakness is provocative.

    Trump is also attacking the Ecofascists, both domestic and foreign, by overthrowing their political and regulatory fiefdoms…. Authoritarianism and despotism is being contested at all levels.

    It’s what we hoped for with Tony Abbott and will NEVER see realized with Malcolm Turnbull….

  25. I always like to read the current thoughts of The Diplomad, &. lately, Streetwise Professor. Both offer informed perspectives on the developments in the US.

  26. Antonin D

    Am prepared to give them a go: The Diplomad, yes. I struggled with Streetwise Professor, but will go back later and have another look.

  27. Irreversible

    I would have thought that the evidence of history is that reliance on others is not a policy. The Brits were happy to leave us to Japan’s interests and the US only got involved when the Japanese felt the need to force them into war.
    In any case, who would rely on Trump for anything. To date, the plain fact is that you only have to wait a little while for anything he says to be proved false or simply flipped. Luckily, Flynn hit the wall and sane people got the key jobs in security and defence.

  28. nerblnob

    So would Australia be able to eject a numerous Chinese, Indian or Indonesian occupation force who simply took over Darwin, Broome and Dampier?

  29. Digger

    Any potential invasion force first needs to get here. Doing that without being detected is impossible. The reason we have submarines, very effective attack aircraft with standoff weapons, aerial refuelling, Jindalee, electronic countermeasures aircraft, airborne early warning aircraft is to make such a landing very difficult.

    I am more than confident that Australia would not have permitted the UK to retake the Falklands if they tried it in Australia’s backyard.

    Unless the country happens to be the US, it is extremely difficult, bordering on impossible, to project power and sustain operations in such numbers as to threaten a country that is thousands of kilometers away.

  30. Antonin D

    Words like Digger’s make me feel more optimistic about Our Situation.
    Yes, very good

  31. iampeter

    Doesn’t it worry you that Australia is unwilling or unable to organise its own national security? I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well? Really?

    +1.

    Gotta keep the big government, welfare programs safe for the citizens of Australizuela.

    Also outsourcing serious military capability to USA seems to work for Europe so, why not jump on the bandwagon.

  32. John Carpenter

    Australia’s airforce is largely obsolete and uncompetitive with the aircraft currently being acquired by a number of Asian nations.Australia has a small navy which,while crewed by excellent people,boils down to 11 ageing frigates none of which can survive a concerted cruise missile attack from the aforementioned aircraft.We then have the infamous Collins subs.Last time I checked only 2 of these could put to sea at the same time.i.e.no deterrent.We have a small but highly capable army that as can been seen does not have adequate air/sea protection.The army would be struggling to put 4,000 rifles in the field for more than a month.In the 1960’s/70’s we had two aircraft carriers launching the highly capable A4 Skyhawk;the 6 Oxley class subs,large,long range and very quite;the Mirage fighters,a real air superiority machine and the first fighter capable of mach2 speed;and the F111 long range bomber a real real shock and awe machine.The depreciation of our military deterrent under both the major political parties is scandalous for want of a better word.

  33. Antonin D

    Well, the people who write on Australia’s defence in Quadrant magazine are in agreement with John Carpenter. I confess to giving these articles on defence a quick scan. Reason: they make me uneasy.
    But there it is . .

    I’d rather be confident. But now I’m back to uneasy.

  34. john constantine

    Once Big Australia has Balkanised enclaves of a couple of million tribal members of each potential regional opponent embedded throughout the major Australian cities, then the Australian military becomes post-conflict.

    Once a directive can be handed down by a foreign dictatorship and be followed by that nations australian diaspora– like the ‘march on Canberra against the Dalai Llama’, the australian public service can be shut down and logistical choke points become dead ends long before the shooting ever starts.

    Deconstructing and dewesternising the military is on their leftie checklist, lot of money and resources to occupy and claim, Comrade.

  35. politichix

    struth
    #2358320, posted on April 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    To be honest Sinc, I reckon Trump is closer to our culture, (that of the vast majority of Australians) than you and your elite mates are.
    It shows in the basic question above.
    I now believe you aren’t trolling anymore.

    Been thinking the same thing myself…

  36. egg_

    I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well?

    Hence my posit of yore to Dot – Libertarian snowflakes wouldn’t survive without a strong military skirt to hide under.

  37. Digger

    What are you smoking, john Carpenter? the Mirage lll or A4 are nothing compared to a super hornet, neither have stand off weapons, neither had aerial refuelling capability, neither had airborne early warning support. Neither had electronics countermeasure aircraft support (No other country in the world has F-18 Growlers except the US and Australia. Start telling me how any of the Asian fighter jets are going to make it to Australia? Our Super Hornets come off the same production line as the USN planes. We have JASSM, (200 ks) JDAM-ER (65ks) and JSOW (130ks) stand off weapons for our Hornets and the AMG-84 Harpoon anti ship missile (125ks) for our P3Orions and Hornets, not to mention the advanced air to air missiles including the AIM-9 Sidewingar, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-132 ASRAAM, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The F35’s start arriving next year.

    You greatly underestimate the effectiveness of the ANZAC Class frigates and the FFG’s. They carry vertical launch evolved sea sparrow missiles, torpedoes, a very good 5″ gun and S-70B-2 Seahawks helicopters which extend their reach and capability. The Airwarfare destroyers are coming on line and they are the match for anything in the world. They can carry Standards ARM 2 missiles capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. No other country in our region can match them. Our 2 LHD’s are unmatched in the region and greatly increase our capability to deploy forces.

    I don’t like people knocking our military and their very strong capabilities, especially when they cant backup their words. Those who have said our neighbors have better start showing it. Show how they compete against our 71 legacy Hornets and 24 Super Hornets with the stated weapons mix, E7A Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft, 12 growlers, KC-30A aerial refuellers, C17A, C130J and newly introduced C-27 Spartan air lift aircraft, not to mention our tiger helicopters with hellfire anti-tank missiles, 70mm rockets and cannon… Jindalee OTH radar is a game changer. What other countries in the region have that?

  38. Digger

    What are you smoking, John Carpenter? the Mirage lll or A4 Skyhawk are nothing compared to a super hornet, neither have stand off weapons, neither had aerial refuelling capability, neither had airborne early warning support. Neither had electronics countermeasure aircraft support (No other country in the world has F-18 Growlers except the US and Australia. Start telling me how any of the Asian fighter jets are going to make it to Australia? Our Super Hornets come off the same production line as the USN planes. We have JASSM, (200 ks) JDAM-ER (65ks) and JSOW (130ks) stand off weapons for our Hornets and the AMG-84 Harpoon anti ship missile (125ks) for our P3Orions and Hornets, not to mention the advanced air to air missiles including the AIM-9 Sidewingar, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-132 ASRAAM, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The F35’s start arriving next year.
    You greatly underestimate the effectiveness of the ANZAC Class frigates and the FFG’s. They carry vertical launch evolved sea sparrow missiles, torpedoes, a very good 5” gun and S-70B-2 Seahawks helicopters which extend their reach and capability. The Airwarfare destroyers are coming on line and they are the match for anything in the world. They can carry Standards ARM 2 missiles capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. No other country in our region can match them. Our 2 LHD’s are unmatched in the region and greatly increase our capability to deploy forces.
    I don’t like people knocking our military and their very strong capabilities, especially when they cant backup their words. Those who have said our neighbors have better start showing it. Show how they compete against our 71 legacy Hornets and 24 Super Hornets with the stated weapons mix, E7A Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft, 12 growlers, KC-30A aerial refuellers, C17A, C130J and newly introduced C-27 Spartan air lift aircraft, not to mention our tiger helicopters with hellfire anti-tank missiles, 70mm rockets and cannon… Jindalee OTH radar is a game changer. What other countries in the region have that?

  39. sia

    ” the Mirage lll or A4 are nothing compared to a super hornet, neither have stand off weapons, neither had aerial refuelling capability, neither had airborne early warning support…”

    The legacy Hornets are now over 30 years old,obsolete and a danger to men flying them.In many respects they are inferior to the plane they replaced the Mirage lacking speed,acceleration and manoeuvrability.They marked the departure of RAAF doctrine from air superiority to “multi role”,ground support,interoperability with the yanks,,blah blah,blah.It has always been a mystery why we bought a plane designed for naval carrier fleet air cover.For the love of god we could have bought the F15 a true air superiority fighter.

    “The F35’s start arriving next year.”

    Mate,are you really sure of this?And when they arrive will the 279 serious defects recently identified in the bloody thing be rectified?And will they be cleared for full scale combat or just for taking pictures ?And will they be completely invisible to enemy radar including Russian vhf/uhf radar?And do you think their much hyped sensor fusion will ever work with it’s 20 million lines of code that no one in Australia understands?And do you think the the RAAF given the decimation of Australia’s manufacturing/technology base will ever be able to operate them.Are they high tech flying coffins?

    “You greatly underestimate the effectiveness of the ANZAC Class frigates and the FFG’”

    The Adelaide class frigates are now about 35 years old and the Anzacs though an excellent vessel for what it was designed to do can never operate in high threat scenario without superior air cover.The aircraft being currently being acquired by China,Vietnam,Indonesia i.e. the Russian Sukhoi Flanker and it’s particularly deadly SU-35 variant pose a huge risk.There is an arms race underway in Asia.

    “The Airwarfare destroyers are coming on line”

    Yes,years late they are coming on line and at a huge cost.The three Hobart class AWD will end up costing $2.8billion a copy.We could have acquired the US Burke class destroyer for $900 million a ship.So we could have had 9 vessels instead of 3 but employment in the basket case state of S.A. takes precedence.While these vessels are highly capable I repeat my belief that no vessel can survive a saturation cruise missile attack from aircraft like the SU-35.We need a much bigger navy.

    “Our 2 LHD’s are unmatched in the region and greatly increase our capability to deploy forces

    In terms of our self defense these 2 vessels are not assets,they are liabilities.Yes,they have an important role to play in things like disaster relief/peace keeping but in a fight for our lives they are worse than useless.They are missile magnets,sitting ducks.

  40. John Carpenter

    The post above under the name “sia” was posted by myself.I have no idea how my name got changed>

  41. .

    egg_
    #2358780, posted on April 19, 2017 at 9:45 pm
    I would have thought that all you “national sovereignty matters because culture” types would be strong on national defence – but no. Happy for others to secure our sovereignty. As long as the ADF is strong enough to repell fishing boats and refugees all is well?

    Hence my posit of yore to Dot – Libertarian snowflakes wouldn’t survive without a strong military skirt to hide under.

    Maybe you won’t, but I will. The country mightn’t survive though.

    Using a false and cowardly insult is not a good reason to get hard on for socialism either, you backsliding reprobate.

  42. .

    Digger

    Our defence capability would be impressive if it all worked, was all well maintained, had adequate munitions and could all be deployed at once.

    On paper it is formidable.

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