Trump’s Regime Change Vacillations Are Calculated Chaos
The Trump Administration’s vacillation between supporting regime change against President Assad one moment and then changing its tune in relying on the will of the Syrian people the next has given rise to the impression that the 45th President is in over his head and simply doesn’t have any strategy in mind. Proponents of this position point to the fact that he doesn’t have any prior political experience, nor does his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Nikki Haley, Trump’s UN Representative, was derided before her appointment as being professionally unsuitable for this role despite her previous tenure as Governor of South Carolina, which her opponents claimed was incomparable in preparing her for the global responsibilities that she’d face on the world stage.
It’s very easy to dismiss this team of individuals as not having any clue at all about what they’re doing, and to chalk up their inconsistency to inexperience, but that might be a naïve mistake to make.
Each of these people – the President, the Secretary of State, and the UN Ambassador – could play a leading role in formulating foreign policy if they chose to, or they could just passively mouth the words that the much more experienced and farsighted career professionals in the military, intelligence, and especially diplomatic bureaucracies (the “deep state”) write for them. Not all individuals in these three prestigious roles choose to remain passive, however, and there are many examples of people in these positions playing a very active role in steering the ship of state. It can be inferred that each of these aforementioned personalities are indeed playing some role in shaping events, but that they’re mostly going forward with advancing the interests of the “deep state” to which Trump either “sold out”, “cut a deal”, or “surrendered”.
The key difference between Trump and most of the Presidents who came before him, however, is that he’s imprinting his own characteristic personality and “business”/”negotiating” acumen onto this role, which has resulted in the appearance of “confusion” but could in reality be all about concealing calculated chaos. In a sense, he’s trying to replicate Nixon’s “Madman Theory” for the 21st century.
To explain, Trump has a track record of refusing to telegraph his intentions to the media or his adversaries, once famously responding to a reporter a few months ago that “I'm not going to tell you anything about what I do. I don't talk about a military response. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do in North Korea. I don't have to tell you what I'm going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn't know.” At the time, many in the Mainstream Media and abroad probably laughed this off as an inexperienced president making excuses for not having invested the time in formulating a policy on these topics, but what he was actually doing was prevaricating and preventing anyone from accurately identifying his intentions.
This is why, contrary to the prevailing opinion at the time, Trump rapidly moved to fire off a salvo of cruise missiles against Syria and completely caught most of the world off guard.
What Trump learned in the fierce world of Manhattan real estate and other business ventures was to always keep his opponents guessing and in a state of defensive anxiety, uncertain of what he was going to do next and therefore always overly cautious about how they’d deal with him as a result. When someone or something is unpredictable, it’s by nature very difficult to formulate a proactive response to them, let alone a general policy for conducting relations. Extrapolated to the international level with Trump as the President of the United States, this could have led to the creation of calculated chaos as per what might have been former CEO’s deliberate design, which in turn has obfuscated the grand strategic intentions of America’s “deep state” and understandably put its adversaries on edge.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was visibly exasperated over the weekend when reacting to Trump’s surprise attack against Syria, though she might have inadvertently confirmed the validity of the guiding concept behind his approach.
Clearly upset at what had happened, both at the incident itself and the fact that Russia didn’t seem to have expected it, Ms. Zakharova vented her (and by logical inference given her professional capacity, her government’s) frustrations by remarking that “I think it has been confirmed one more time that the policies and everything that currently happens in the US prove a disappointing fact: it is the most unpredictable state. And if there is something predictable in the US, it is the unpredictability of its foreign policy.” What she meant to do is negatively contrast the US’ chaotic unpredictability which Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently touched upon during his latest speech at the Military Academy of the General Staff with Russia’s stable predictability as the balancing force in Eurasia, but she unwittingly proved that Trump’s strategy of calculated chaos has been an astounding success in confusing the Kremlin’s strategists.
This makes Trump infinitely more dangerous of a “deep state” figurehead than Obama ever was or Hillary would have been because both of those politicians were very direct with their intentions and therefore largely predictable.
To an extent, Trump did give off a similar aura of predictability in consistently promising to do the opposite of both of them, but for reasons which can only be speculated upon, he swallowed his words and ended up ultimately doing what they would have done if they were in his position (albeit to a potentially lesser degree, though it’s a debatable point). He seemingly caved in to the “deep state” and is now doing its bidding (at least when it comes to Syria), though in his own characteristic manner. Knowing Trump’s personality, if he’s “compelled” to do something, he’s going to go about it in his “own way” and be “good” at it, which is why he’s applying his trademarked “business”/”negotiating” acumen to the job in keeping observers guessing about his and the “deep state’s” next move.
After all, this is coming from a man who regularly condemned the US’ leaders on the campaign trail for being “stupid, stupid people” and praised his country’s rivals for being “much smarter than our leaders”, and if there’s one campaign promise that he’s been successful in keeping, it’s that he would personally work to reverse that relationship.
What this translates into in practice is Trump’s possible utilization of calculated chaos in order to instill his rivals with confusion and prevent them from foreseeing what he’s up to on the world stage. This could explain his earlier spat with the Chinese over the “One China” policy and his duplicitous hints of a New Detente with Russia. It also answers the question of why his administration keeps vacillating back and forth over regime change in Syria.
It’s not known exactly when it was that Trump began enacting foreign policy concessions to the “deep state”, so there’s a chance that some of his earlier rhetoric about Russia and even Syria might have been sincere up until the week before the false flag chemical weapons attack, and it could have even been because of his genuineness in wanting to achieve his talked-about objectives that the CIA engineered that provocation in the first place in order to manipulate his response in the preplanned direction of sabotaging any prospect of him having positive relations with Russia or Syria in the near future.
It’s nearly impossible to know what’s really going on anymore because of how unexpected it was to many observers that Trump so suddenly “changed his mind” as he put it and ordered the cruise missile strike against Syria, so it’s indeed possible that this analysis will be disproven through later events.
Be that as it may, something evidently gave way at an uncertain time in the past which resulted in Trump’s actual policies towards Syria and even Russia to a degree being the total opposite of what he had preached on the campaign trail and in the opening months of his Presidency. He might have been lying to everyone all along, or he “sold out” to, “cut a deal” with”, or “surrendered” to the “deep state” in one way or another. Regardless of what the truth ultimately is, however, there’s no getting around the fact that the perception of foreign policy chaos which is being exuded by his administration either deliberately or inadvertently results in putting the US’ adversaries on edge and is in a cynical sense a very strategic benefit for Washington, provided of course that the “deep state” is able to exploit this dynamic.