التقرير الدوري لمراكز الابحاث الأميركية : د. منذر سليمان

 

 November 17, 2018

 

 

A Weekly Bi-Lingual Report & Analysis of U.S. Think Tank Community Activities

Published by the Center for American and Arab Studies©, Washington, DC

 

يسمح بإعادة نشر المواد شريطة الإشارة إلى المصدر وعدم إدخال تعديلات على النص وعدم استخدامه للكسب التجاري

 

 

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التقرير الدوري لمراكز الابحاث الاميركية

 

نشرة دورية تصدر عن وحدة

"رصد النخب الفكرية"

في

مركز الدراسات الأميركية والعربية

                                                       

 

17/ تشرين الثاني - نوفمبر/‏ 2018     11/17/2018

 

 

Introduction 

 

Washington remains wrapped up on election results as several critical elections are undergoing a recount due to the close results.

 

This week’s analysis looks at the expected resignations and firings in the White House.  We compare Trump’s White House turnover rate to previous administrations, who has been fired, who is likely to leave, who is expected to come onboard, and how foreign policy will change.

 

المقدمة      

         

          في بلد يتغنى باجرائه انتخابات دورية ويصدره كمثال يحتذى لا تزال بعض نتائج الانتخابات التشريعية غير محسومة للساعة وتعيد تصويب الجدل العام إلى مشاعر غضب مركبة لعدم كفاءة الآليات المعتمدة وتقنيات التزوير الرائجة.

          حفزت النتائج العامة بتراجع سيطرة الحزب الجمهوري عن مجلس النواب، واحتفاظه بأغلبية مقاعد مجلس الشيوخ، الرئيس ترامب على المضي باجراء تعديلات داخل الادارة، بدأًت باقالته وزير العدل، والترويج المسبق لمناصب حساسة اخرى كوزيرة الأمن الداخلي وربما وزير الدفاع. سيستعرض قسم التحليل سرعة وطبيعة التغيرات الجارية والمقبلة، والتي تجاوزت معدلات الإدارات السابقة، وما قد تتركه من مؤشرات على توجهات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية.

 

              

ملخص دراسات واصدارات مراكز الابحاث

 

مئوية الحرب العالمية الأولى

          في سياق تقييم الاوضاع الدولية في الذكرة المئوية لنهاية الحرب العالمية الأولى اعتبر مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية ان "معظم الدول العالمية لا تزال تعاني من ويلات تلك الحرب .. من ابرز آثارها طويلة الأمد قد يكون انهيار الامبراطوريات القديمة التي هيمنت على اوروبا وآسيا الاوروبية." واضاف ان الدول المتشكلة نتيجة للحرب "امتدادا من بولندا إلى سوريا .. تعاني من التوفيق بين الايديولوجيات الوطنية، ومبدأ حق تقرير المصير، وحقيقة التعددية." واوضح أن "الامبراطوريات القديمة مثل روسيا وتركيا لا تزال تقاوم خسارتها لمكاناتها واراضيها الامبراطورية." وخلص بالقول أن النظام العالمي الذي تشكل وانهار بعد نهاية الحرب لجأت مراكز الامبراطوريات القديمة النظر لماضيها تستلهم منها دروسا لإعادة تشكيل نظام قريب من النظام الامبراطوري في الأقلبيم التي كانت تحت سيطرتها سابقا."

https://www.csis.org/analysis/century-after-armistice-world-still-coping-end-empires

 

الاستراتيجية "الدفاعية" الأميركية

        تعددت وتباينت المفاهيم والتوجهات بين النخب السياسية والعسكرية والأمنية لبلورة "استراتيجية أميركية" شاملة، لعقود خلت، اعتبر مركز الدراسات الالاستراتيجية والدولية حضورها الدائم في الميزانيات السنوية مجرد "واجهة" لتمرير بنود أخرى عادة ليس لها علاقة قوية بالشؤون الدفاعية. وأوضح أن الأمر بدأ يأخذ طابع الجدية في عهد وزير الدفاع الأسبق هارولد براون، 1981، الذي جهد "لإنشاء وادارة أمن قومي للولايات المتحدة بتطبيق علاقات ترابطية بين مبدأ الاستراتيجية والتخطيط العملي والبرمجة والميزانيات المطلوبة لكنها شهدت تراجعاً ملحوظاً .. بل تلاشت محاولات وزراء الدفاع لربط الميزانيات بالخطط المحددة، والتقديرات المستقبلية للانفاقات العسكرية."

https://www.csis.org/analysis/americas-fy2020-defense-strategy-and-programming-crisis

ترامب وايران

          اعتبر المجلس الأميركي للسياسة الخارجية أن المشاركين في الانتخابات النصفية، مطلع الشهر الجاري، صوتوا لصالح سياسات الرئيس ترامب لا سيما لموقفه المتشدد من ايران، ولتفعيله العقوبات السابقة ضدها أبرزها ".. تقييد حرية ايران في شراء العملة الأميركية، والحد من اتجارها بالمعادن الثمينة، ووقف مبيعات طائرات الركاب المدنية وقطع الغيار .." وأضاف أن تلك الاجراءات بدأت تؤثر على اداء الاقتصاد الايراني مما ساهم في "مغادرة الشركات الأجنبية" من السوق الايرانية، فضلاً عن حزمة العقوبات التي طبقت ابتداء من 4 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر الجاري والتي ستفرض قيوداً هائلة على تصدير ايران لنفطها .." وشدد على أن العقوبات المفروضة "سواء بمفردها أو كحزمة متكاملة ستترك تداعيات ليست أقل من كارثية" على النظام الايراني.

https://www.afpc.org/publications/articles/testing-trumps-iran-strategy

اليمن

          أدلى معهد واشنطن بدلوه في تفسير إعلان وزير الخارجية الأميركية، مايك بومبيو، عن "الخطوات المطلوبة لوقف الاشتباكات في اليمن .. تنطوي على وقف الحوثيين هجماتهم الصاروخية عبر الحدود ومن ثم يوقف التحالف الذي تقوده السعودية غاراته الجوية ضد المناطق الآهلة بالسكان، توطئة للبدء في محاثات سلام." واستطرد بالقول أنه في حال فشلت تلك المحادثات "كما جرى في جولة جنيف  مطلع العام الجاري .. يتعين على واشنطن تصعيد جهودها للتدقيق في دعمها  العملياتي لجهود السعودية الحربية."

https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/u.s.-saudi-security-cooperation-part-2-restricting-operational-support-in-y

الصين و"اسرائيل"

          ندد معهد واشنطن بمساعي تل أبيب "لاحتضان الحزب الشيوعي الصيني ورئيسه تشي جين بينغ وهي توجه مضلل أخلاقيا واستراتيجيا." بالمقابل، استطرد المعهد، أن واشنطن "تجري تعديلات متدرجة على استراتيجيتها والانتقال من مرحلة المنافسة الشديدة مع الصين إلى عدو رئيسي لدولة عظمى .. وينبغي على اسرائيل التماهي مع تلك المتغيرات."

http://www.aei.org/publication/israels-embrace-of-china-is-sorely-misguided/

مجازر داعش

          زعمت مؤسسة هاريتاج أن صناع القرار في واشنطن "لم يدركوا حقيقة داعش، العدو، وصعوده المفاجيء في سوريا والعراق، مما ضاعف منسوب التهديدات التي تغذيها دوافع دينية." وأضافت أن التوجهات الأميركية المنطلقة من ترجيح "الفرضيات السياسية العلمانية قيدت قدرتها على التعامل الفعال مع القوى الدينية في سياق نشر الحريات الدينية والتعددية." وشددت على ضرورة تطور وعي المؤسسات الأميركية "للاعبين الدينيين والتدقيق في التزامهم (باحترام) الحريات الدينية" للأقليات.

https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/minding-the-god-gap-isis-genocide-religious-minorities-and-american

    

 

التحليل

 ترامب يبدأ بتغييرات في إدارته

لتعزيز فرص الفوز بولاية ثانية

          في سياق نتائج الانتخابات التشريعية، النصفية، الأميركية كان مفهوماً اجراء تعديلات بنيوية/شكلية على بعض الوجوه البارزة في الادارة الأميركية، لدواعي متعددة ليس أقلها تعزيز الولاء الشخصي للرئيس عند المسؤولين. بيد أن السرعة التي باشر بها بأقالة/استقالة وزير العدل، ومن ثم انتعاش التكهنات الخاصة بتغيير وجوه مسؤولين آخرين تصدرت الاهتمامات الإعلامية والسياسية على السواء.

          من المسلم به، لدى الحزبين، أن صيغة تقاسم السلطة استعادت وهجها ومكنت الطرفين من الاحتفال بنشوة الانتصار، والاستعداد الثنائي الحثيث لجولة الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة. ويرجح أنه الدافع الأهم وراء عزم الرئيس ترامب عزل واستبدال بعض كبار رجالات المؤسسة في حكومته، وزير العدل، وفي المقبل القريب وزير التجارة ووزيرة الأمن الداخلي ومدير مكتب موظفي البيت الأبيض ومن ثم وزير الدفاع كما يرجح.

          ما يعزز تلك الفرضية هو جملة توجهات "تراجعية" اتخذها الرئيس ترامب الذي لا يلجأ للحلول التفاوضية كخيار أول، بل نظراً لقراءته متغيرات الخارطة السياسية المتجددة ورغبته الجامحة في تجديد ترشيحه لولاية رئاسية ثانية، مما يستدعي تطويع بعض مفردات الخطاب السياسي المتشدد للتقرب من شرائح اجتماعية لم ينصفها من قبل.

          ربما من المبكر اصدار حكم في الوقت الراهن على صحة توجهات رئيس متقلب الاهواء وسريع التنصل من مواقف وتصريحات يصدرها تباعاً، بيد أن "تليين" موقفه حول مسألة اهتمام داخلي جديرة بالتوقف عندها، ومثيلاتها لاحقا؛ الا وهي نيته دعم السلطة القضائية في التحرر من قيود احكام تعسفية بالسجن رسمت معالمها وفرضت التقيد بها السلطة التشريعية بداية عقد الثمانينيات من القرن الماضي، تحت ذريعة التشدد في مواجهة الجرائم، اسفرت عن تكديس هائل لنزلاء السجون في عموم الولايات المتحدة، ضحيتها الأولى كانت الأقليات لا سيما من السود وذوي الأصول اللاتينية بنسب تفوق تعدادهم النسبي في المجتمع.

          ربما لن تسفر مساعي "تعديل" احكام القضاء عن نتائج يرغبها المتضررون أساساً من نتائجه الكارثية، لكنها تشكل توجهاً يطمئن شرائح جديدة من المجتمع لم يعهد لها الاصطفاف لدعم الحزب الجمهوري – على غرار توجهات الرئيس الأسبق رونالد ريغان "باختراعه" مصطلح "ديموقراطيون لدعم ريغان."

          اللافت في الأمر ان الرئيس ترامب استضاف ممثلين عن الحزب الجمهوري في مجلسي الكونغرس ظاهرها الاحتفال بنتائج الانتخابات، يوم الثلاثاء 14 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر، مخاطبهم بالقول ".. اذهبوا وابحثوا عن صيغة تحقق ذلك، انا بانتظار قراركم للتوقيع" عليه ليصبح قراراً ساري المفعول. وبهذا، فرض الرئيس ترامب تلك المسألة على السجال العام مبكراً لاحراج جناح المتشددين في الحزب الجمهوري، من ناحية، والتأثير على قواعد الناخبين في الجولة المقبلة بصرف النظر عن مدى نجاح التوجه في مجلس الشيوخ.

          علاوة على هذا المؤشر اللافت، يتردد بأن الرئيس ترامب ينظر في تبني حزمة جديدة من تخفيض معدلات الضرائب عن كاهل الشريحة الوسطى هذه المرة، بعدما حقق برنامج حزبه في تخفيضها للشرائح المترفة وكبريات الشركات. حتى لو سلمنا جدلاً ان تلك لا تعدو كونها مناورة لن تفضي إلى نتائج ملموسة وعاجلة، لكنها ستكسبه قبولاً شعبياً يتجاوز شريحة حزبه الضيقة، نحو 37% من عموم الشعب الأميركي.

صراعات داخلية وتعديلات     

          تميزت ولاية الرئيس ترامب بمناخات عاصفة منذ الأيام الأولى، واستشرت التسريبات من قوى متعددة للنيل من أهليته وقدرته على الاستمرار في تنفيذ مهامه الرئاسية، فضلا عن مسلسل فضائح اخلاقية ومسلكية لم تلبث ان تتلاشى أمام فضائح اكبر واشد ايلاما، لكنه ثابت في مكانه.

          استغل الرئيس ترامب فترة الاعداد للإنتخابات النصفية/التشريعية  لتحشيد قواعده الانتخابية التصويت بكثافة باعتبار المسألة "استفتاء" على شخصه. ويسجل له من مجموع 11 مرشحاً لمجلس الشيوخ فاز 9 منهم بالمنصب "نتيجة" اصطفافه جانبهم ومشاركتهم منصة الخطابات.

          يحرص الرئيس ترامب على "تسريب" ما يريده علناً من توجهات وسياسات، ومن بينها معدل ارتياحه ورضاه "لولاء" اعضاء ادارته. وما "إقالته" لوزير العدل بالتزامن مع اعلان نتائج الانتخابات إلا أحد الدلائل على تشبثه بمركز القرار، وما يعتقده من تغييرات ضرورية في الفترة الزمنية الفاصلة بين نهاية الانتخابات واستئناف العمل بعد عطلة اعياد الميلاد والسنة الجديدة.

          لا ينبغي تحميل مسألة تغيير اعضاء الإدارة تفسيرات تفوق طاقتها، إذ اضحت عرفاً لنزيل البيت الأبيض الذي يخسر حزبه عادة بعض مقاعد في مجلسي الكونغرس، بعضها قاسية تعيد تشكيل التوازنات السياسية. فالرئيس الأسبق جورج بوش الإبن تسبب في خسارة كبيرة لسيطرة حزبه على مجلسي الكونغرس، 2006؛ وكذلك فعل الرئيس السابق اوباما.

          وايدت دراسة صدرت حديثة عن معهد بروكينغنز اجراءات التعديل في مناصب وزارية، وهي في عهد الرئيس ترامب ".. تتسق مع طبيعة التعديلات التي شهدتها كافة الإدارات الأميركية منذ عهد الرئيس الأسبق رونالد ريغان."

          ربما الفارق المميز في ولاية الرئيس ترامب يكمن في ارتفاع معدل التغييرات في السنة الأولى من ولايته، 35% وفق الإحصائيات الرصينة، بيد أن النسبة تتقلص بعض الشيء في ولايته الثانية لمعدلات غير مقلقة مقارنة مع أسلافه السابقين، بخلاف الخطاب الإعلامي للخصوم.

          وكرر الرئيس ترامب اسلوب أسلافه في التعيين لمراكز رسمية استناداً إلى "ارشادات ورغبات" مراكز القوى في حزبه السياسي، كما هو الأمر عند منافسه الحزب الديموقراطي، التي لا تأخذ عامل الكفاءة والفعالية على رأس سلم الأولويات مما ينعكس سلباً على اداء الإدارة بشكل عام.

          في هذا السياق ينبغي النظر لحقيقة الدوافع التي أدت بالرئيس ترامب اقصاء وزير العدل جيف سشينز، ليس لتراكم الانتقادات ضده نتيجة تحقيقات روبرت موللر فحسب، بل لقراءته الواقعية بانتقال مركز الثقل في مجلس النواب ليد منافسية ومناوئيه في الحزب الديموقراطي واعلاناتهم المتكررة بفتح جملة ملفات وتحقيقات ضد شخص الرئيس، مما حدا به اتخاذ خطوة استباقية بفرض "مؤيد مضمون الولاء" على رأس وزارة العدل، ولو مؤقتاً، الذي سيلعب دوراً محورياً في الاستجابة لاستمرار التحقيقات من عدمها أو إطالة أمدها وتفريغها من زخمها على أقل تعديل.

          فرض قرار الرئيس ترامب جولة جديدة من الجدل القضائي والسياسي حول صلاحيته بتعيين عنصر في منصب وزير العدل، ولو مؤقتاً، لكنه سيخضع لموافقة مجلس الشيوخ على التعيينات الرئاسية ومؤشر على مدى نفوذ ترامب بين اقرانه في قيادات الحزب في مجلس الشيوخ.

          اشتدت في الأيام الاخيرة التكهنات حول نفوذ زوجة الرئيس ترامب، ميلانيا، في اقالة نائبة مستشار الأمن القومي، ميرا ريكاردل. بيد أن حقيقة الأمر والتوازنات المتجددة داخل مجلس الأمن القومي، تحت رئاسة جون بولتون، تشير إلى الدور المحوري الذي يمارسة الأخير في "التخلص" من بعض الوجوه والشخصيات النافذة في الإدارة، أبرزها وزير الدفاع جيمس ماتيس.

          يشار الى ان السيدة ريكارديل، الآتية من حملة الرئيس ترامب الانتخابية، وقفت صداً أمام ترشيحات ناصرها وزير الدجفاع جيمس ماتيس، بزعمها أن ولاءها يميل نحو الحزب الديموقراطي وليس للرئيس ترامب. كما عارض ماتيس ترشيحها سابقاً لمنصب رفيع في وزارة الدفاع، واتهمها بتقويض آلية الاتصالات والتواصل بين وزارة الدفاع ومجلس الأمن القومي.

          الاحتقانات الشخصية بين مختلف مراكز القوى في الإدارة تشتد وطأتها بعد الانتخابات النصفية، وتصويب الرئيس ترامب بعض سهام هجومه على وزيرة الأمن الداخلي، كيرستن نيلسون، واتهامها باتخاذ موقف لا يتسم بالتشدد الكافي في مواجهة مسألة "قافلة المهاجرين" من أميركا الوسطى طلباً للجوء السياسي في الولايات المتحدة.

          نيلسون كانت محور صدام احتل مساحة تغطية إعلامية في الأسابيع القريبة بين مدير مكتب موظفي البيت الأبيض، جيم كيلي، ومستشار الأمن القومي جون بولتون الذي اتهم الأول بإقامة علاقة عاطفية مع نيلسون عندما كانت نائبة له في وزارة الأمن الداخلي قبل انتقاله للبيت الأبيض. وتم تسوية الأمر، وفق التقارير الإعلامية، باصطفاف الرئيس ترامب إلى جانب بولتون، مما عزز التكهنات عن قرب مغادرة كل من كيلي ونيلسون، واستبدالهما بشخصيات أشد تشدداً تتواءم مع توجهات جون بولتون.

          السؤال المحوري في هذا الصدد يتمحور حول ما ستؤول إليه توجهات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية بعد تثبيت أقدام متطرفي اليمين السياسي. مما لا شك فيه أن رغبة ذاك التيار وداعميه في داخل منظومة المؤسسة السياسية والاستخباراتية والدفاعية باستهداف إيران قد نجح إلى حد ملموس، بيد أن سياسة تجديد العقوبات لم تفرز عن سيادة الموقف الأميركي عالمياً كما كان يرتجى.

          وعليه، يمكننا القول أن مفاصل السياسات الخارجية الأميركية ستنحو منحىً موازياً لسياسة تسعير العداء باتجاه روسيا وايران وحلفائهما في الأقليم، في المدى المنظور، واشعال حروب "موضعية" لن تتطور لمواجهات مباشرة، دون الالتفات لتداعيات تلك السياسات على مكانة واشنطن العالمية في المديين القصير والمتوسط.

 

 

SUMMARY, ANALYSIS, PUBLICATIONS, AND ARTICLES

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

 

(For further details, scroll down to the PUBLICATIONS section)

 

The American Foreign Policy Council looks at Trump’s Iran policy.  They note, “Even more important, however, is the current tug-of-war taking place over Iran's banking sector. The Nov. 7 sanctions round is aimed in large part at blacklisting Iran's Central Bank and other national financial institutions, isolating them from the global economy and thereby making it harder for the Iranian regime to fund its malign regional behavior. The single most potent way for the administration to do this is by demanding that Iran be "disconnected" from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications (SWIFT), a key international body that facilitates foreign monetary transactions. Back in 2012, when SWIFT was successfully pressured to remove Iran from its rolls, it sent shockwaves through the Islamic Republic and helped bring the ayatollahs to the nuclear negotiating table. But as part of its concessions during the subsequent talks, the Obama administration allowed Iran to be "reconnected" to SWIFT, paving the way for Tehran to restore normal trade relations with a range of foreign countries. Not surprisingly, forcing SWIFT to disconnect Iran anew has emerged as a key element of the Trump administration's reinvigorated sanctions strategy. But this effort may soon be abandoned as well.”

 

The Washington Institute says the United States should keep training and advising Saudi forces if they meet certain conditions, but it should end refueling support to Saudi aircraft operating near Yemen.  They note, “The latest statistics from U.S. Central Command suggest that American forces are supporting the Saudi air campaign in Yemen with an average of 101 refueling sorties per month, or around 3 per day. In military terminology, this means that approximately 400,000 pounds of daily “offload” is available to Saudi aircraft involved in fighter missions, command and control, intelligence, and reconnaissance Moreover, Secretary Mattis recently noted that the USAF provides less than 20 percent of the fuel consumed in daily Saudi air operations over Yemen—more than 80 percent is provided by the Royal Saudi Air Force’s thirteen large air refueling platforms. In other words, if Washington reduces or cancels this refueling support, it would have minimal effect on Saudi operations inside Yemen—with one important exception...Yet a refueling cutoff could complicate Saudi operations deeper inside Yemen, such as opportunistic airstrikes in Sana, Saada, and other urban locales that present a high risk of civilian casualties. On October 30, Secretary Pompeo stated that coalition airstrikes “must cease in all populated areas in Yemen,” suggesting that a cutoff might be a useful way of signaling Riyadh and shaping Saudi operations.”

 

The Heritage Foundation looks at the religious aspects of ISIS, they conclude, “The swift rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq presented the United States with yet another threat from a religiously motivated actor—yet American leaders struggled to “know the enemy.” American leaders have historically secularized the motives and commitments of religious actors, which weakens our ability to “know the enemy.” At the same time, secular political assumptions have limited our capacity to engage religious actors in the work of promoting religious freedom and pluralism. In the future, U.S. attempts to understand religious actors should treat the sincerity of religious commitments with due gravity. Doing so enhances our ability to distinguish friend from foe and helps anticipate hostile actions, as well as find avenues of cooperation in our pursuit of freedom, security, and peace.”

 

The CSIS looks at the centenary of WWI and notes how the war impacted several empires, including those who were in the Middle East.  They conclude, “For most of the twentieth century, the shadow of imperial collapse loomed most prominently over the states that emerged from the periphery of the Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman empires. Unfortunately, many of the conflicts set off by imperial collapse remain unresolved, as the violence in Syria and the fragility of the Balkans demonstrate. The old metropoles, conversely, viewed 1918 as the end of an era, blaming their imperial predecessors for bringing about the Great War and, ultimately, their own demise. They spent decades trying to pave over the legacies of empire. Now imperial nostalgia is back. It will be one of the primary factors shaping European and Eurasian geopolitics for years to come.”

 

The CSIS notes that US strategic planning is frequently merely a cover for funding line items in the defense budget.  They conclude, “It is time to recognize that U.S. national security planning has become a dysfunctional mess, and one where vague strategic goals are confused with an actual plan, and service-oriented annual budgets are confused with effective mission-oriented program budgets. The good news is that Secretary Mattis seems to be focusing on creating the kind of FY2020 budget submission that could turn the concepts and goals in the NSS and NDS into actual programs, mission capabilities, and budgets. The bad news is that it is far from clear that even the best Secretary of Defense can fix the current failures in the defense planning, programming, and budget system in the time – and bureaucratic and political environment – in which the Secretary has to act.”

 

The American Enterprise Institute says Israel’s embrace of China is wrong.  They conclude, “In sum, Israel is finding itself on the wrong side of a shift in geopolitics, and is allowing itself to become too cozy with a viciously repressive regime (one sign, incidentally, of the profound dissimilarity between Jewish and Chinese civilization). Yet this does not mean that Israel has to go out of its way to antagonize China. Washington is not asking any friend to do that—and Washington, for its part, has a role to play in its outreach to Jerusalem, much as it is attempting to do with others throughout Europe and Asia. Taking a cue from that playbook, Israel might adopt an approach more in tune with of Australia, Japan, or the smaller European nations—by, for instance, more actively aligning itself with U.S. policy on high-tech, on the One Belt One Road initiative, and on China’s attempts to build basing stations throughout the world.”

 

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

Prepare for Trump Administration Turnovers

 

The mid term elections are over and Americans are preparing for a number of resignations and firings inside the White House.  It’s obvious that a president who made the phrase, “You’re fired,” popular is getting ready to use the same words in Washington.

 

In this analysis, we want to look at the attrition rate of the Trump Administration and how it stacks up to previous administrations. Then we will look at the critical posts that will probably be vacant within the next few weeks.  Then we will look at possible replacements and the potential policy changes that this will engender.

 

Turnover is common in White House positions.  While they are attractive, they engender long hours and considerable pressure.  As a result, there is a above average turnover as people decide they don’t want the pressure and time away from their families, and their bosses decide that the person isn’t fulfilling the job requirements.

 

It’s also a fact that many people who go the White House only want to stay long enough to make contacts and add the job to their résumé.  Then they are off to a higher paying position in the outside world.

 

The post election period between November and January is a popular time to make these changes.  The White House can calibrate its policy and make changes (as Bush did in 2006 after suffering major losses in the Senate and House).  In addition, the holidays are a slow time, when positions can remain vacant until a new person is picked and confirmed (if necessary).

 

There is also the case of firing people that the president didn’t want to fire before the elections for political reasons.  That was surely the case with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

 

Consequently, the Trump Administration is making several key changes.

 

Although the media has made an issue of the turnover in the Trump Administration, a Brookings Institution study shows that changes amongst Trump’s important White House executives are in line with turnovers in every administration since President Reagan.  In fact, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush made more mid term election year changes in their executive staff.

 

President Trump has had the largest percentage turnover in the first year since 1980 (about 35%).  However, his second year turnover rate is lower than other presidents (this figure includes Sessions, but may change in the next two months).  In terms of cabinet positions, Trump is tied with Clinton in number of turnovers.  Obama is in third place.

 

Obviously, the media has made more of an issue of changes in Trump’s Administration than they did with other presidents.

 

However, that isn’t to say that the Trump Administration is not without its problems.  There have been reports of heated arguments in the hallways (the argument between Chief of Staff Kelly and National Security Advisor Bolton is a good example. 

 

In some cases, the problem is that when Trump was elected he relied on advice from other Republicans because he knew little about the people in Washington.  The result was that he picked people that were not a good fit for his administration.  In many cases, they advocated positions that he opposed.

 

The first post election casualty was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was asked to resign.  As senator, Sessions was the first important politician to endorse Trump.  Given his early support and former job in the Justice Department, he was a natural choice for the position.  However, he proved to be ineffective – partially because he recused himself from the Russian probe and he failed to take firm control of his department.

 

Although the Attorney General doesn’t have a major impact in national security issues, he is part of the national security team.  And, given the number of investigations that the Democrats are threatening, he will be a point man in defending the administration’s actions.

 

Trump’s temporary appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Attorney General fits the Trump criteria.  In recent writings, he has taken the same positions as Trump on the Special Prosecutor and Immigration.  He has also made it clear that he will not recuse himself from supervising the Special Prosecutor and will take over management of that from the current Deputy Attorney General.  This has raised objections from the Democrats that he can’t fill the position.  The DoJ has countered with legal precedents and will probably win the case in the courts.

 

Since Whitaker is only temporary, he must be confirmed by the US Senate in order to be the permanent Attorney General.

 

There, are however, some changes that will have more of an impact on foreign policy.  One of those changes represented a first – being pushed out by the First Lady.

 

First Ladies traditionally stay out of major national and international policy formulation, and if they do, are subtle.  That wasn’t true this week when the office of the First Lady   called for the firing of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel, who reported to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

 

Mrs. Trump’s office said, “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

 

A Wall Street Journal report suggests that the First Lady’s office had had it with Ricardel's behavior.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported, “The president became involved in that decision at the urging of Mrs. Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.”

 

“The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Mrs. Trump and her staff.”

 

Politico also reports that Ricardel may also be responsible for a breakdown in communication between the Pentagon and NSC because of conflicts with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

 

Ricardel is a tough bureaucratic infighter and supports more of a traditional Republican foreign policy than John Bolton does.

 

She has also had several run-ins with Washington power brokers.  Ricardel was part of Donald Trump's presidential transition team as a Department of Defense advisor.  She was looked at for positions in the new administration in the Defense and State Departments, but was twice blocked based upon past bureaucratic run-ins, in the first instance by Mattis and in the second by Department of State Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin.   Ricardel had blocked some nominees wanted by Mattis because they had Democratic backgrounds.

 

In the end, she lasted only 24 hours after the First Lady pushed for her ousting.

 

Personality issues may also account for other White House shakeups, namely Chief of Staff John Kelly and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

 

CoS Kelly has made it clear that he is willing to resign and talk of his departure has been common.  However, it seems that his presence has settled the White House Staff after a first year of turmoil.

 

However talk of his departure has grown since reports of his heated argument with National Security Advisor John Bolton. 

 

The issue was border security and Kelly supported the more lenient position of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  Bolton favored a stricter policy that would close the border.  The issue became hotter when Bolton reportedly accused Kelly of having an affair with Nielsen, who served as Kelly’s deputy when Kelly was in charge of DHS.

 

After the blowup, aides whispered privately that one of the men might leave the White House given the deep disagreement over the border.  The fact that the President sided with Bolton only added to Kelly's fury.

 

This isn't the first time Nielsen's handling of border security has been scrutinized by the Trump White House. Trump and Nielsen got into a heated argument during a Cabinet meeting in May over border security, a source with knowledge told CNN.

 

Trump said he didn't think she was doing enough to secure the border and two people told The New York Times, which first reported the argument, that Nielsen drafted a resignation letter over the matter.

 

If Kelly leaves the White House the top choice for the position of Chief of Staff is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers.  Ayers is only 36, but enjoys warm relations with some of the most important figures in Trump’s White House: his eldest son, Don Jr., his eldest daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Ayer also enjoys support among outside advisers who have Trump’s ear but have clashed with Kelly when he sought to regulate access to the president.

 

Ayer has proven to be a settling influence on the Pence team – something needed in the Trump White House.  He also managed Pence’s 2018 campaign strategy, which impressed Trump.

 

Trump and Ayers had already discussed the chief of staff job in the early summer, according to a former senior administration official, but at the time it was unclear when Kelly would depart. And Trump spent the summer asking friends, White House advisers and former aides: “What do we think about Nick?” - an indication he is privately considering a staff shake-up.

 

Ayers first impressed Ivanka Trump, Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon as an aide to Pence during the presidential campaign. All three later encouraged Ayers to join the White House as a replacement for Pence’s first chief of staff, Josh Pitcock. If Ayers took over as chief of staff, he would be seen by some Trump allies as an improvement over Kelly, since he has far greater political influence and connections.

 

As for a DHS choice to replace Nielsen, Trump is considering Thomas Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to succeed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, three people familiar with the process told Politico.

 

Homan is a hardliner on immigration and immigration is an important issue for Trump’s voter base and necessary for his reelection in 2020.

 

Homan once recommended charging so-called sanctuary city politicians “with crimes” and has pugnaciously defended even Trump’s most controversial immigration moves, including separating children from their parents at the border.

 

In addition to Homan, other potential Nielsen replacements include Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. Both have already been confirmed by the Senate.

 

The president is also considering Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, who currently runs the Marine Corps Installations Command, according to two people familiar with the process. One of Coglianese’s sons serves as editorial director at the Daily Caller, a conservative outlet known for its favorable news coverage of the Trump administration.

 

Clearly, these resignations and replacements will fit Trump’s agenda.  However, there appears to be another personality in the changes – National Security Advisor John Bolton. 

 

It was Bolton who precipitated the heated argument with Kelly over Nielsen – an argument that Trump sided with Bolton on.

 

If Nielsen or Kelly resign or are fired, Bolton’s hand will be in it.

 

We can also be sure that the departure of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel, at least had Bolton’s acquiescence.  And we can be sure that the replacement will be in tune with Bolton’s policies.

 

This means that Bolton’s policies will have more support in the new Trump Administration.  Bolton has been called a neoconservative and is an advocate for regime change in Iran and North Korea and repeatedly called for the termination of the Iran deal. He has continuously supported military action and regime change in Syria.

 

Bolton is skeptical of international organizations and international law, believing them to endanger American sovereignty, and does not believe they have legitimate authority under the U.S. Constitution.  He is a critic of the European Union and praised Britain’s vote to leave it.

 

Bolton is known for his strong support for Israel.  Bolton opposed the two-state solution.  He is also a supporter of Taiwan, which has increased tension with China.

 

These are all policies that Trump advocates, which means that some of his new advisers will merely echo his opinions, instead of providing opposing opinions.

 

If this proves to be true, expect Trump’s policies in the run-up to the 2020 election to be less nuanced and more in line with his campaign promises. 

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

Minding the “God Gap”: ISIS’ Genocide of Religious Minorities and American Statecraft

By Emilie Kao and Joshua Meservey

Heritage Foundation

November 8, 2018       

 

The swift rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq presented the United States with yet another threat from a religiously motivated actor—yet American leaders struggled to “know the enemy.” American leaders have historically secularized the motives and commitments of religious actors, which weakens our ability to “know the enemy.” At the same time, secular political assumptions have limited our capacity to engage religious actors in the work of promoting religious freedom and pluralism. In the future, U.S. attempts to understand religious actors should treat the sincerity of religious commitments with due gravity. Doing so enhances our ability to distinguish friend from foe and helps anticipate hostile actions, as well as find avenues of cooperation in our pursuit of freedom, security, and peace.

 

Read more at:

https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/minding-the-god-gap-isis-genocide-religious-minorities-and-american

 

A Century after the Armistice, the World is Still Coping with the End of Empires

By Jeffrey Mankoff

Center for Strategic and International Studies

November 13, 2018

 

A century after the Armistice that ended World War I on the Western Front, much of the world remains haunted by the legacies of that conflict. Apart from the deaths of more than 9 million soldiers and an untold number of civilians, the most lasting impact of the First World War may be the collapse of the old empires that dominated Europe and Eurasia until 1918. From Poland to Syria, states that emerged from the peripheries of the old empires struggled to reconcile nationalist ideologies, the principle of self-determination, and the reality of diversity. Meanwhile, the old imperial cores—states like Russia and Turkey—still wrestle with the loss of status and territory that accompanied the end of empire. With the post-Cold War order giving way, instability along the old periphery remains, even as the centers of the old empires increasingly look to the past for inspiration, seeking to recreate something like an imperial order in the regions they once ruled.

 

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/analysis/century-after-armistice-world-still-coping-end-empires

 

America's FY2020 Defense Strategy and Programming Crisis

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

November 13, 2018

 

For several decades, American strategic planning has been little more than a facade for annual line item budget debates. Arguably, U.S. strategic planning peaked when Harold Brown was Secretary of Defense in 1981. From that point onwards, efforts to create and manage U.S. national security using some effective linkage between strategy and real-world planning, programming, and budgeting activity steadily declined. Meaningful posture statements by the Secretary that tied strategy to plans and budgets faded away, along with real-world force goals, future year defense plans and budgets, and efforts to link strategy and spending to key joint mission areas like the categories in the program budget system or to the major regional and functional military commands.

 

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/analysis/americas-fy2020-defense-strategy-and-programming-crisis

 

Testing Trump’s Iran Strategy

By Ilan I. Berman

American Foreign Policy Council

October 30, 2018

 

On Nov. 6, Americans will go to the polls in midterm elections that are likely to reshape the complexion of national politics. But even before they do, U.S. foreign policy will face a crucial test of resolve vis-a-vis the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Back in May, President Trump formally announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and that pre-existing sanctions which had been waived by the Obama administration would begin to "snap back" into place against the Islamic Republic. The first step in this direction was the re-imposition on Aug. 7 of restrictions on Iran's ability to buy U.S. currency, its trade in precious metals, and commercial sales of aircraft and auto parts to the Islamic Republic. These steps have already begun to have a marked impact on Iran's economy, prompting a veritable exodus of foreign companies from the Islamic Republic and cratering the value of Iran's national currency, the rial. But the second tranche of sanctions, which is set to be reinstated on Nov. 4, promises to be even more serious. The new measures will include massive restrictions on Iran's global oil trade, as well as a severing of Iran's Central Bank from the global financial system.

Taken in isolation, these steps have the power to deal a severe blow to Iran's fragile, energy-dependent economy. Taken together, the impact on Iran's radical regime — which is already said to be on the verge of economic collapse — could be nothing short of catastrophic.

 

Read more at:

https://www.afpc.org/publications/articles/testing-trumps-iran-strategy

 

Israel’s embrace of China is sorely misguided

By Dan Blumenthal

American Enterprise Institute

November 15, 2018

 

Israel’s embrace of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) under Xi Jinping is morally and strategically misguided. This has become increasingly evident as Xi has transformed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from the “soft authoritarian” developmental state created by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s into the “hard totalitarian” state it is today, both at home and abroad. In turn, Washington is gradually changing its own strategy to one of vigorous competition with China as its main great-power rival. As Washington shifts course, Israel would do well to align itself accordingly.

 

Read more at:

http://www.aei.org/publication/israels-embrace-of-china-is-sorely-misguided/

 

U.S.-Saudi Security Cooperation: Restricting Operational Support in Yemen

By Michael Knights and Lt. Col. August Pfluger, USAF

Washington Institute

November 6, 2018

 

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis laid out a sequence for ending hostilities in Yemen: the Houthi rebels are expected to cease border and missile attacks, after which the Saudi-led coalition is to halt high-risk airstrikes in populated areas, thus laying the ground for peace talks. Yet if the hoped-for talks wind up failing (as the previous round did earlier this year in Geneva when the Houthis refused to attend), Washington will likely intensify its scrutiny of U.S. operational support to the Saudi war effort. Since the conflict began in 2015, Congress has debated whether to end support activities such as refueling coalition aircraft and providing advise/assist functions in Saudi Arabia. Yet discussion of these missions often loses sight of their limited scale and, in the case of advisory support, their crucial defensive and diplomatic value.

 

Read more at:

https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/u.s.-saudi-security-cooperation-part-2-restricting-operational-support-in-y

 

Mounzer A. Sleiman, Ph.D.

Center for American and Arab Studies

Think Tanks Monitor

www.thinktankmonitor.org