Opinion | Muftic: Trump gives ‘intelligence’ a bad name
February 5, 2019
Aside from reports that Donald Trump has a short attention span and poor reading comprehension skills, there is another, disturbing meaning to Trump’s definition of “intelligence.”
Those who have tried to brief him, including his former secretary of state, reportedly called him a “*******moron.” There are recent reports by other intelligence briefers who said he was “willfully ignorant” and he exploded in anger when he was given information that contradicted his public statements and agenda. Not only is he ignoring and dismissing his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions, he is forging United States foreign policy based on something other than rational use of any objective real-world facts supplied by his own agency appointees.
If our country survives the next two years without a major foreign policy blunder, we can count ourselves lucky.
Trump has recently dismissed the conclusion presented in their annual report on threats to national security to Congress by United States intelligence heads that contradicted his own assertions. No, Mr. President, ISIS is not dead; no, Iran is abiding by their disarmament agreement, and, no, North Korea will not give up nuclear capability because it is too basic to their regime’s survival. The “crisis” at the Southern border did not even register in their list of top ten security threats.
Trump called the intelligence chiefs "naive," he sent them “back to school," and now he termed in press remarks their findings are just opinions with which he can disagree, as if these professionals were writing an op-ed piece with an ideological agenda.
Thousands of agents risk their lives to gather such facts and awesome technology provides even more information. That gulf between Trump’s words and the intelligence agencies’ conclusions is enough to make us wonder where he ever got some of his ideas. Could he be listening to foreign intelligence service findings whispered in his ear by even Russian President Vladimir Putin himself? He has had several one on one secret meetings with him. After all, he has taken Putin’s word over our own services in public before.
Last July in Helsinki, Trump dissed U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, and instead accepted Putin's words of denial as the truth.
There are good reasons to suspect Trump has been listening to Putin because the foreign policy he is conducting supports Russia's goals. Trump and Russia do not support U.S. security policies that have created peace and prosperity in Europe post-Soviet era. Trump’s foreign policy initiatives aid Russian actions to expand their influence and control to former Soviet spheres of interest. Putin’s stealth invasion of Ukraine and his Crimea annexation resulted in the West imposing punishing sanctions on Putin's oligarch friends. Trump just lifted sanctions on one oligarch, and would like to remove all sanctions, period.
While repeating Putin's very words, Trump called NATO "obsolete" and he threatens to pull out from NATO, a mutual defense treaty, which would clear the way for Russia to try Ukraine /Crimea-like takeovers in the Baltics and Balkans without triggering an automatic military response. The United States pulling out of Syria would leave Russia with greater influence the Middle East. Trump's recent pulling out of the IMF treaty will allow Russia to develop their mid-range nuclear capability out in the open. No IMF treaty? No sweating compliance or fearing punishment when or if they have been outed and making this a much more dangerous world.
Trump’s disdain for U.S. intelligence services has a history in the Iraq war and faulty intelligence verification that there were indeed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were at that time no international inspectors on the ground in Iraq. Saddam Hussein cleverly created the fiction he had the capability in order to deter future attackers.
The situation is very different in Iran. Thanks to the multinational Iran nuclear deal, that country has been constantly monitored by inspectors on site and shipments of nuclear material into Iran have been subject to inspection and control. Trump pulled out of the deal. Some fear Trump may be cooking up a reason to invade Iran, egged on by hawkish advisers. Destroying the Iran nuclear deal would end those inspections, but fortunately other signatories continue the program without us.
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