Monday, January 1, 2018

Trump's Godfather Doctrine: New Year's First Tweet Warning Pakistan

President Donald Trump began year 2018 with his very first tweet insulting and threatening Pakistan. Is this a continuing manifestation of what American foreign policy experts John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell call "The Godfather Doctrine"? Is Trump prepared to reject the US-created post World War II international institutional  framework? Is he ready to abandon diplomatic route and act unilaterally against a whole range of nations, including Pakistan, refusing to kowtow? Does he think threats and intimidation will work with other nations? Is Trump willing to make a transactional arrangement with Pakistan? Let's examine possible answers to these questions.

Post World War II International Order:

After winning the second world war, the United States led the creation of a new rules-based architecture that heavily favored the United States above all other nations. International institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and its various agencies, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) and others to exercise power.

President Trump and his friends like Steve Bannon appear to be rejecting the value of this international framework created and sustained by his predecessors. Their preference is for transactional rather than strategic relationships with long-time US allies such as the Western Europeans and the Pakistanis.

Trump's Bilateral/Transactional Model:

Trump, a real estate developer, sees other nations like he saw his business partners, financiers and customers. Each deal is a transaction that must stand on its own. There's no such thing as "long term" or "strategic". Trump is willing to use intimidation and threats to try to get his way just as the Godfather movie character "Vito Corleone" tried. But he is rejecting renewing and using US-built international framework to deal with issues diplomatically.

Parallels with Vito Corleone:

As a superpower in relative decline like the Godfather in the movie, the United States faces a situation similar to the one Vito Corleone's sons Michael and Sonny and adopted son Tom Hagen, the consiglieri, faced right after the unexpected attack on the feared but aging Vito Corleone at the peak of his power that he built by an institutional framework that rewarded policemen, politicians, judges and competing crime bosses in New York City.

The elaborate international alliances and institutions that US has built over 60 years ago, such as UN Security Council, NATO, World Bank, OECD, WTO, IMF, IAEA etc, through which America exercises tremendous power and control, are being weakened by Donald Trump, and my guess is that these alliances and institutions will not survive as they are today. There will be a major realignment of nations, as the powerful new players, particularly China and Russia and other emerging powers such as India and Pakistan, demand greater say in world affairs.

US-Pakistan Transactional Relationship:

How can US and Pakistan negotiate an end to the current impasse if the Trump administration decides to cut whatever little aid Pakistan receives from the United States?  Pakistan could demand significant fees for the use of Pakistani territory by the United States to supply its troops. If the US refuses, Pakistan could simply cut off the NATO supply route as it did back in 2011 after the Salala incident.


Trump appears to be opting for the "Godfather Doctrine" to make offers that he mistakenly believes no one can refuse. He rejects the the renewal or use of the US-sponsored international institutional framework.  Given the transactional nature of the relationships the Trump administration seeks, what would a transaction look like between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi? It could be in the form of Pakistan continuing to allow the use of its airspace and land routes to supply US troops in Afghanistan for substantial fees that could add up to more than the US aid to Pakistan today. If the US balks at it, Pakistan could simply cut off US supply routes as it did back in 2011 after the Salala incident.

Here's a discussion related to this subject:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

What is the Haqqani Network?

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Mullah Mansoor Akhtar Killing in US Drone Strike

Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan


Rks said...

Dear Sir, absolutely disagree. Trump has spoken honestly the words, which previous presidents like Obama and Bush were too politically correct to speak out.

Monis R. said...

Need to document the economics and how the US saved money by giving to Pakistan in the NY Times.

Riaz Haq said...

19640909rk : "Trump has spoken honestly"

Just as honestly as he did when he claimed he saw Muslims celebrating 911 attacks in Jersey City.

And just as honestly as his recent retweets of staged anti-Muslim videos that were denounced by British and Dutch officials.

There's not an honest bone in Trump's body.

As to the truth about his claims re Pakistan supporting terrorists, here's what US General Petraeus said in 2016:

"I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

On the question of nations being being honest and truthful to each other, here's former US Def Sec Robert Gates:

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

Riaz Haq said...

Monis: "Need to document the economics and how the US saved money by giving to Pakistan in the NY Times"

I don’t think it’s really about economics; it’s about finding escape-goats for massive US failure in Afghanistan after fighting its longest war with no end in sight

Riaz Haq said...

Ryan Crocker, ex ambassador to #Afghanistan, #Pakistan and #Iraq, thinks Trump tweet on #Pakistan is counterproductive & doesn't think foreign policy team gets the whole picture

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump Making #China Great Again. As Donald Trump surrenders #America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.

When the Chinese action movie “Wolf Warrior II” arrived in theatres, in July, it looked like a standard shoot-’em-up, with a lonesome hero and frequent explosions. Within two weeks, however, “Wolf Warrior II” had become the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time. Some crowds gave it standing ovations; others sang the national anthem. In October, China selected it as its official entry in the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards.
The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.
Leng rescues an American doctor, who tells him that the Marines will come to their aid. “But where are they now?” he asks her. She calls the American consulate and gets a recorded message: “Unfortunately, we are closed.” In the final battle, a villain, played by the American actor Frank Grillo, tells Leng, “People like you will always be inferior to people like me. Get used to it.” Leng beats the villain to death and replies, “That was fucking history.” The film closes with the image of a Chinese passport and the words “Don’t give up if you run into danger abroad. Please remember, a strong motherland will always have your back!”
When I moved to Beijing, in 2005, little of that story would have made sense to a Chinese audience. With doses of invention and schmalz, the movie draws on recent events. In 2015, China’s Navy conducted its first international evacuation, rescuing civilians from fighting in Yemen; last year, China opened its first overseas military base, in Djibouti. There has been a deeper development as well. For decades, Chinese nationalism revolved around victimhood: the bitter legacy of invasion and imperialism, and the memory of a China so weak that, at the end of the nineteenth century, the philosopher Liang Qichao called his country “the sick man of Asia.” “Wolf Warrior II” captures a new, muscular iteration of China’s self-narrative, much as Rambo’s heroics expressed the swagger of the Reagan era.

Late one afternoon in November, I went to see a professor in Beijing who has studied the U.S. for a long time. America’s recent political turmoil has disoriented him. “I’m struggling with this a lot,” he said, and poured me a cup of tea. “I love the United States. I used to think that the multiculturalism of the U.S. might work here. But, if it doesn’t work there, then it won’t work here.” In his view, the original American bond is dissolving. “In the past, you kept together because of common values that you call freedom,” he said. Emerging in its place is a cynical, zero-sum politics, a return to blood and soil, which privileges interests above inspiration.
In that sense, he observed, the biggest surprise in the relationship between China and the United States is their similarity. In both countries, people who are infuriated by profound gaps in wealth and opportunity have pinned their hopes on nationalist, nostalgic leaders, who encourage them to visualize threats from the outside world. “China, Russia, and the U.S. are moving in the same direction,” he said. “They’re all trying to be great again.” ♦

Riaz Haq said...

There is little that is, or ever will be, new in #Trump’s #Pakistan policy. Why? Because #Pakistan has all the leverage over #Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan

Even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, however, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll it back. Later that same day, a White House National Security Council spokesperson explained what, specifically, to expect: “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy. That’s true for two simple reasons: the logistics of staying the course in Afghanistan and the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money.


Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do. (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 U.S. troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: U.S. policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road or rail access to Afghanistan. This administration — like each one before — has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as its predecessors. Logistics will beat strategy every time.

Riaz Haq said...

Declining #US payments (from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $526m now) to #Pakistan translate into declining leverage over it. Pakistan with its #NATO supply lines now has more leverage over #Trump than vice versa. …

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's unfair attack on #Pakistan.. Actual disbursed #US funds to #Pakistan since 2001 are significantly less than the $33 Billion allocated and claimed by Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan @CNN

Facts matter. As does math. Trump's claim of "33 billion dollars in aid" is based on a number provided by the Congressional Research Service, which documents allocated aid -- but not actual dispersed funds. This figure is a sum of $19 billion in security and economic aid and an additional $14.59 billion from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which reimburses US allies for logistical and military support.

However, since 2001, according to USAID, the US has only given Pakistan $14.79 billion in civilian and military aid, and funds from the CSF have periodically been revised, delayed or blocked. Not all of the allocated funds have been disbursed, due to concerns regarding Pakistan's efforts to target Islamist militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, aligned with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for launching attacks in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

China’s aid to Pakistan aims for fundamental improvement in economic conditions
By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/7 23:43:39

China should pay more attention this year to the quality and effectiveness of its economic cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan, as ties are set to get closer amid hostility from the US.

After US President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harboring terrorists, the US State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to Reuters.

As US aid to Pakistan has already been on the decline in recent years, the latter is reportedly concerned about the potential impact of this latest move on its fragile economy. While the US seems unlikely to impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Pakistan, its hostile attitude toward Pakistan is expected to exert certain pressure on the economy, especially for Pakistani companies with Iran-related business.

In these circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Pakistan to shift its foreign policy focus toward China and Russia. The day after Trump's strongly worded tweet, Pakistan's central bank announced that it will be replacing the US dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with China, a move seen as a clear signal of closer ties.

China will, of course, continue its economic support to Pakistan. China sees Pakistan as a prime partner under the Belt and Road initiative, with land and sea projects worth billions of dollars (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) under construction. The key to China's cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan will be to improve the quality of bilateral cooperation so that relevant projects can boost the Pakistani economy as soon as possible.

It should be made clear that such China-Pakistan cooperation is not meant as competition for geopolitical advantage with the US, but to really help the Pakistani economy by strengthening its infrastructure. Sustainable economic development in Pakistan will play a positive role in stabilizing the geopolitical environment in South Asia, which will be conducive to overall regional development.

In addition, India needs to change its view of Pakistan. It is reported that the US move to cut aid to Pakistan was a result of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomacy, according to a tweet by BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. This mindset of harming others without gaining any benefiting oneself will only aggravate the confrontation, dragging each other down.