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2017: A Year of Change... and No Change

11 25 8
31.12.2017

One year ago, expectations for 2017 were running high. Donald Trump was about to take office, and predictions ranged from a new era of US policy pursuing peace and international partnership, to the US becoming a puppet of Russia, and even World War III. Of course, none of these happened, and such forecasts now seem as fanciful as they probably should have at the time.

On the day of his inauguration, I suggested that Trump’s evident ignorance of foreign and security issues, combined with his lack of loyal allies within Washington’s political establishment, would make him vulnerable to the pressure and influence of the politicians, officials, think tanks, lobbyists, advisors and journalists representing the same special interest groups that had long driven US foreign policy. Within weeks, Trump confirmed senior officials with largely the same hostility for example towards Russia and/or Iran that might have been expected of Hillary Clinton.

Seeing him as a threat to the established order, elements within what might be called the Deep State targeted Trump in a relentless campaign to undermine his credibility and threaten his removal from office. Perhaps fearing international isolation if Trump delivered on his campaign promises to restore good relations with Russia and end US support for the war in Syria, the intelligence services of the UK appear to have been a key driver of this.

Regardless, UK PM Theresa May rushed to be the first leader to pay homage to the new US president, while Trump left no doubt as to US priorities by making Saudi Arabia and Israel his first overseas visits – coinciding with a massive Saudi arms deal and planned increase in US military aid to Israel.

For the Washington lobbyists and US foreign policy establishment, this was business as usual. Yet it was in respect of Syria a month earlier that Trump learned how he was expected to behave.

In response to an alleged chemical attack at Khan Sheikhun in April, Trump without waiting for any investigation launched cruise missiles at Syrian forces – reversing his and the previous Obama administration’s stated policy of non-overt intervention in Syria. In doing so, he immediately gained the (albeit short lived) approval of the same US politicians and media who for months had remorselessly condemned him.

Trump’s missile attack was largely symbolic however, causing little damage to........

© RT.com