Remember the flash-bang?
When it was new, it got wide attention in popular culture.
“Flash-bang” is the colloquial name for the stun grenade, defined by Wikipedia as “a non-lethal explosive device used to temporarily disorient an enemy’s senses. It is designed to produce a blinding flash of light and an intensely loud “bang.”
The explosive is tuned so that both the flash and its after-image and the resonation from the blast and the disorientation linger.
For the cornered con-man, the flash-bang is the ultimate distraction and temporary escape device.
For President Donald Trump, the threat of a global trade war is a great flash-bang.
Already the world and Washington are focused on this single, utterly catastrophic issue.
Is anyone wondering about George Nader now?
Nader is a Lebanese-American fellow who ran a respected, somewhat establishmentarian magazine, Mideast Insight, 20 to 30 years ago. Starting at least 15 years ago, he has been a business and diplomatic (and let us guess, intelligence) connection between the US and the Middle East. He did assignments for Erik Prince of Blackwater and the GW Bush Administration in Iraq and the Obama Administration in Syria, but most recently, he’s been working for the Emir of Abu Dhabi, and was reportedly in 2017, a frequent visitor to President Trump at the White House.
According to the New York Times, among the lively issues Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller might be talking with George Nader about are
(1) did the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nayhan, or others in his Persian Gulf circle invest in the 2016 Trump campaign?
(2) have there been any returns on investment provided by the Trump Administration, either in material benefits or foreign policy influence?
But those questions are dead and gone from the news cycle and the consciousness of the American people, buried by the trade debate.
Also mooted by the tariff imbroglio, speculation about the straw that broke the back of Hope Hicks’ White House career? My guess is that a mixture of what she learned from — and what was demanded of her by — the Mueller team played a big role. But all of this and, she hopes, herself and what she wouldn’t tell a House Committee hearing, are being left way upstream by the newschannel version of history’s river ever-flowing river. No Hope may be a grave personal loss, but as a headline, for the President, it’s good news.
Is anyone talking about what America is doing in Syria? Our plan to “annihilate” the Islamic State has failed to the degree that high hundreds to low thousands of battle-hardened terrorists have escaped.
Worse, our war to oust them from their “capitol” Raqqa has left a legacy of physical ruin from American air strikes; and from our Kurd-led allies on the ground, ethnic cleansing of Arabs, and a “local government” reportedly resented by those non-Kurds remaining in the city.
But people have been not-talking about this for months now.
What Tariffmania has brushed aside is the escalating threat of military confrontation between US Forces and those of Syria, Russia and Turkey.
There has already been a recent exchange in which a Syrian-Russian mercenary force shelled an area on “our side” of the Euphrates River near the city of Deir-ez-Zour. US troops were embedded nearby and called in a counter-strike by American forces that killed up to 200 of the enemy, including by at least one report, as many as 100 Russians.
The Russian response was tepid – “we don’ know nothin’ about no mercenaries, and besides, it was only 4 or 5.” But then, in his next major public speech, President Putin brandished an allegedly new generation of nuclear weapons that the US can’t defend against, and an attitude that was pure Cold War 2.0.
Here’s something else we might be thinking about, in the context of the conspicuous US non-reaction of Putin’s nuclear chest-thumping. The top officials of the US intelligence establishment complain that they are still waiting for a signal from the White House on responses to Russian challenges from continued “frozen” warfare in Ukraine to continued digital warfare to influence the 2018 election campaign.
Russia? Syria? “Can’t hear you.”
Graft from Abu Dhabi, Jared Kushner entertaining mega-scale creditors in his White House office? — “No, sorry, you’re breaking up—“ and Jared being fingered as a corruptible or at least manipulable target for at least 4 so-called “allies?” Tariff, tariff, tariff.
Anyone wanna bet that Trump won’t backtrack on tariffs as he has on gun control and immigration?
Winning a trade war may not be “easy.” But winning the media war?
Oh yeah, as long as we’re talking tariffs here, how exactly did Canada become America’s #1 source for steel, somehow sustaining its industry while maintaining First World pay scales, environmental standards, and a social safety net that includes universal healthcare?
Questions for another day, another week or month while we all focus where the Great Trumpini is shining his laser.