If Trump needs a war to win in November, which enemy will he choose?

President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un Sunday, June 30, 2019, as the two leaders meet at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



by Paul Rogers

He’s failed on COVID-19 and the economy is tanking. Could a military adventure in Afghanistan, Iran or North Korea be coming soon?

With the US presidential election less than four months away, Donald Trump trails Joe Biden in the polls by a substantial margin. His strategy as his ratings decline has been to concentrate on his core vote, which amounts to a little more than 30% of the population together, and another 10% that is less assured. The task now is to harden support from that 10% and also to extend it towards a majority, an expanding economy being essential for that.

Hence much of the motivation around ending lockdown has been to counter the multitude of economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. New cases surging to over 65,000 a day has really knocked back this key aim.

So far, Trump’s response has been increasingly strident speeches and tweets that may well appeal to that core 30% but will be much less effective with the flakier supporters he desperately needs. If anything, opposition to his presidency is hardening.

One obvious way forward is to look for international threats that require a strong presidential response, preferably a small war in a far-off place, and this may well be a choice in the run-up to the election. There are three main candidates for the theatre of action: Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran. All, though, are problematic in different ways.

In Afghanistan, the clear plan until a few months ago was to conclude a peace deal with the Taliban and ‘bring our boys back’, or at least most of them, before the election. It would fulfil a 2016 promise and would be popular with his supporters, but there are two difficulties.

One is that the Taliban are already stepping up their attacks on government forces and, even by November, they will have chalked up plenty of wins. Biden will therefore be able to present the removal of troops not as a success but as an ignominious retreat.

The other problem for Trump is the current furore over claims that Russian agents have offered bounties to Afghan paramilitaries to kill US troops. Whatever the truth of the accusations, they are difficult for Trump because of his many links with Russia.

So, as things stand, he is unlikely to focus electioneering on Afghanistan, leaving him with Iran and North Korea.

Just over a week ago, a large new structure at Iran’s nuclear plant at Natanz was somehow badly damaged. Israeli and US sources hinted that this was a new facility for producing advanced gas centrifuges for Iran’s nuclear programme. Iranian sources claimed it was a fire, but satellite data points to an explosion.

Furthermore, it followed a large explosion that lit up the night sky a few days earlier at a missile production plant at Parchin near Tehran.

These may have been unhappy coincidences, although Iranian government sources have now admitted that the Natanz incident will affect its nuclear programme. There is considerable speculation that, if these were not accidents, foreign elements are at work, possibly through cyberattacks, sabotage or even stealthy cruise missiles. The finger points at Israel, with or without US involvement.

Benjamin Netanyahu certainly has an interest in engineering a US-Iran confrontation. There are several reasons for that, but helping Trump’s popularity in the US is certainly one of them. If Trump, his key ally, loses in November, Biden might come in aiming to revitalise the international nuclear deal that Trump ditched two years ago. Iran is therefore certainly a candidate for an engineered pre-election crisis.

As to North Korea, the Kim Jong-un regime appears to be already in considerable difficulties thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regime had no option but to close the border with China in January, being woefully unprepared to handle a pandemic, but the economic impact has been dire. International sanctions had already made the regime highly dependent on China for trade, tourism and income from North Koreans working there, so it was a desperate measure.

In these circumstance, Kim has few cards to play other than his nuclear missiles. Back in 2016 Trump pledged that he would never let North Korea develop the ability to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles powerful enough to threaten the continental US with a nuclear strike. Yet in the past three years the Pyongyang regime has quietly continued its nuclear and missile programmes to the point that a single ICBM test would be enough to threaten just that.

To do that in an attempt to reopen negotiations with Washington would be hugely risky, but Kim might just take that risk. It could backfire, though, and turn out to be a gift for Trump, giving him a huge if deeply unstable diversion right in the middle of an election. US-Iranian relations may be a source of diplomatic concern in western Europe, but North Korea is the one issue that, we can be sure, is already worrying officials in many capital cities.

Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He is openDemocracy’s international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group. His books include Why We’re Losing the War on Terror (Polity, 2007), and Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: @ProfPRogers

This article first appeared on openDemocracy 10 July 2020

Anti-Russia war fever spreads on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2019 — The 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service was held today on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol to honor 158 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2018. The families of two deputy U.S. marshals — Chase White, killed Nov. 29 in Arizona, and Chris Hill, killed Jan. 18 in Pennsylvania — were in attendance to place red carnations in the memorial wreath and receive medals in honor of their lost family members. President Donald Trump gave the keynote address. In attendance were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and heads of federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Marshals Director Donald Washington. Photo by: Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Marshals (Wikimedia Commons)


By Patrick Martin

Groups of congressional Republicans and Democrats have visited the White House over the past two days for briefings on allegations that the Russian military intelligence agency GRU offered bounties to Taliban fighters who killed American soldiers in Afghanistan.

They have emerged bristling with demands for retaliation, with one Republican senator declaring, “I want to hear their plan for Taliban and GRU agents in body bags”—in other words, for military action by the United States against Russia, possessor of the world’s second largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The “Russian bounties” campaign is a fabrication by the US military-intelligence apparatus and its preferred mouthpiece, the New York Times, which signaled the kickoff of the current campaign with a front-page article Saturday that provided no evidence either of bounties paid or American soldiers killed, only reiterating endlessly that “intelligence officials” believed that Russia had carried out such an operation.

Four days into the affair, there has still been no evidence produced. Not a single witness to the offering, payment or receipt of a “bounty” has been cited. Not a single one of the 31 US military deaths in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020 has been credibly linked to alleged Russian payments.

The Associated Press carried a report Monday that “Officials are focused in particular” on the death of three Marines, killed when a car bomb exploded outside of Bagram Air Base in April 2019, but did not explain what reason there was for investigating that particular incident.

The same article asserted that captured Taliban fighters had told interrogators about the alleged bounties, claiming, “Officials with knowledge of the matter told the AP that Taliban operatives from opposite ends of the country and from separate tribes offered similar accounts.” But the article continued: “The officials would not name the specific groups or give specific locations in Afghanistan or time frames for when they were detained.”

Aside from the absence of proof, there is a complete absence of motive. Why would the Russian government want to kill a handful of American soldiers in Afghanistan? What purpose would that serve, in terms of Russian foreign policy? Why would they pay fighters of the Taliban, long branded as terrorists by Moscow? Why would fighters in the Taliban, a group whose origins lie in the Islamic fundamentalist guerrilla groups that fought Soviet troops in the 1980s, serve as Moscow’s mercenaries? And why, given that they have fought American imperialism to a stalemate in nearly 20 years of war, suffering massive casualties in the process, would Taliban fighters need a monetary incentive to kill American soldiers?

None of these questions is even raised in the American corporate media, which reproduces the allegations of the US intelligence agencies as though they were unchallengeable truths, no matter how stupid, uncorroborated and self-contradictory.

For official Washington, the “Russian bounties” campaign is merely the latest chapter in the political warfare that has raged for the past four years, since the FBI and CIA began investigating alleged ties between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and the Russian government.

The Democratic Party has consistently lined up with the sections of the military-intelligence apparatus that have viewed Trump as too soft on Russia and too inclined to abandon longstanding US interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia, from Afghanistan to Syria.

Frightened by the vast popular hostility directed against Trump’s attacks on democratic rights, his racist diatribes against immigrants and minorities, and his subordination of all government policy to the needs of Wall Street and big business, the Democrats have sought to divert all opposition to Trump behind a right-wing campaign to brand him as a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and create a political constituency for US military confrontation with Russia that could lead to nuclear war.

This was the content of the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 elections, conducted for some two and a half years. This was followed by the campaign over Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine while demanding an investigation into the business activities of Hunter Biden, the son of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, which led to Trump’s impeachment and Senate trial.

The congressional Democrats and the Biden campaign have seized on the supposed expose by the New York Times as another opportunity to revive the anti-Russia hysteria and wage an election campaign centered on portraying Trump as an agent of Putin—a virtual rerun of the 2016 campaign by Hillary Clinton that ended with Trump winning a surprise victory in the Electoral College.

This would have two major purposes: enabling Biden to avoid addressing the massive social crisis demonstrated in the mounting COVID-19 death toll and the accompanying economic slump; and conditioning the American people to regard Russia with suspicion and hostility, in order to prepare the political climate for war.

The Democrats and their media allies have sought to focus attention, not on any evidence of Russian payment of bounties—the less said about that “big lie” the better, as far as the CIA is concerned—but on claims that Trump failed to respond aggressively enough, or was too indolent even to notice when the intelligence agencies first raised the issue (in February 2020 by one account, a year earlier in other reports).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Washington, reiterated her “all roads lead to Russia” critique of Trump in an interview with CNN on Monday morning. “It seems clear that the intelligence is real,” she said. “The question is whether the President was briefed. If he was not briefed, why would he not be briefed? Were they afraid to approach him on the subject of Russia?” She speculated that the CIA did not tell Trump about the bounties for fear he would tell Putin.

Among the group of ten Democrats who visited the White House Tuesday morning were two freshmen representatives, newly elected in 2018, who would normally not have been considered for such a high-level mission. But these two, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, are both former CIA officers, and thus personify the ever-closer alignment between the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies.

Another member of the “CIA Democrats,” the group of nearly a dozen who entered Congress in 2018 from military-intelligence backgrounds, Representative Max Rose of New York, a former combat commander in Afghanistan, said, “It’s sickening that American soldiers have been killed as a result of Russian bounties on their heads, and the Commander in Chief didn’t do a thing to stop it.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, used similar language at a press conference that followed his speech on coronavirus in Wilmington, Delaware. In response to media questions, he described Trump’s response to the alleged Russian bounties as “dereliction of duty,” using the same phrase three separate times, in an effort to play up Trump’s deficiencies as “commander-in-chief.”

Some Republicans joined in the anti-Russia chorus, albeit without criticizing Trump’s response. This included Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who made the comment about “Taliban and GRU body bags,” calling that a necessary “proportional response” to the alleged Russian action.

Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a former Marine intelligence officer, said the alleged Russian operation “deserves a strong and immediate response from our government.” He called for Senate hearings and for Trump to rescind any invitation for Russia to rejoin the Group of Seven, the grouping of the major industrialized nations, and for personal financial sanctions on Putin.

The only reluctance to enlist in the anti-Russia campaign came from the Pentagon, whose spokesman said late Monday there was “no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.” The National Security Agency, which monitors all telecommunications in the Afghanistan region, reportedly told CBS News that the claim of Russian bounty-hunting “does not match well-established and verifiable Taliban and Haqqani practices” and lacks “sufficient reporting to corroborate any links.”

But for the bulk of the intelligence establishment, the conventional wisdom was expressed in a commentary in the Washington Post by David Ignatius, a columnist who is a frequent conduit for the national-security establishment. While admitting “there’s a lot we still don’t know about the Russian bounties in Afghanistan”—the understatement of the week—he concluded: “Trump is an obstacle to good policy. Either people don’t tell him the truth, or he doesn’t want to hear it. Whichever way, he’s defaulting on his most basic responsibility as commander in chief.”

In other words, Trump should be removed, as the Democrats have been arguing for years, not because of his right-wing policies and aspirations to establish an authoritarian regime, but because he is too unreliable in his role as the principal defender of the interests of American imperialism all over the world.

This article appeared on World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) on 1 July 2020, and was republished with permission.

Netanyahu exploits coronavirus pandemic to build up dictatorial regime in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu after Thousands Protested In Front Of Israels Embassy In Cairo. Photo: Ahmad Nady (Wikimedia Commons)


By Jean Shaoul

Hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the government’s surveillance measures and the closure of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, converged on the capital Jerusalem Thursday, in defiance of a ban on large gatherings imposed because of the spread of the coronavirus.

They accused caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of using the pandemic to consolidate his own position—he faces charges of bribery, corruption and breach of trust in three separate cases—and establish a dictatorship. Their banners read, “No to dictatorship” and “Democracy in danger.” They called Netanyahu the “crime minister.”

The police, in an effort to block the protesters’ entry into the city, turned cars away, leading to scuffles and five arrests. Opposition leaders accused the police of trying to stifle protests at the behest of an un-elected government acting without the Knesset’s authority, accusations the police denied.

The rally’s organisers said their aim was “to save Israel’s democracy” following Netanyahu’s announcement in the early hours of Tuesday morning that the cabinet—not the Knesset—had approved a highly controversial measure that would allow the domestic security service, Shin Bet, to track Israelis’ phones to locate where carriers of the coronavirus had been, and then send a text message to everyone who may have been in the vicinity, telling them to self-isolate.

It means that the same technology that Shin Bet and the police have long used to track Palestinian militants will now be used against Israeli civilians as a weapon against the pandemic. It would affect a great many people, not just those infected but those who are in their proximity.

The Adalah legal centre and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) have filed a petition against the government’s decision authorising Shin Bet to track Israelis’ phones on the grounds that the regulations violate the privacy of the citizens in a disproportionate way. They say, “The usefulness of the draconian measures, obtained after sweeping restrictions on the public have already been imposed, is marginal compared to the serious violation of individual rights and the principles of the democratic regime.”

These measures are being imposed in the context of the terminal decay of Israeli democracy, which has collapsed in the face of the three-fold pressures of the decades-long military suppression of the Palestinian people, the rising social inequality within Israel itself, which ranks among the highest in the developed world, and now the health and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

Netanyahu had fast-tracked the measures through the cabinet, using emergency laws, after the outgoing Knesset intelligence committee, led by former IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, refused to approve the proposal without a full discussion by the committee of the incoming Knesset. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit approved the cabinet’s decision, promising that the information collected would be destroyed after 30 days.

The emergency laws Netanyahu used to give the surveillance measures a veneer of legality were originally passed by the British Mandate government that ruled Palestine from 1918 to 1948. Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, they have been used extensively against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and only occasionally against individual Israeli citizens, but certainly not in such a wide scale manner as is now proposed.

On Wednesday, the Knesset Speaker and member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party Yuli Edelstein refused to convene the Knesset to vote for a new Speaker as required. He also refused to allow the Knesset to vote on setting up parliamentary oversight of the government’s surveillance measures, saying he was locking the plenary, at least until next week. While he cited the need for unity talks with the opposition Blue and White bloc and coronavirus regulations that prevented gatherings of more than 100 people, this was widely seen as cover for holding on to his own position and paralysing parliament for as long as possible. His purpose was evidently to delay the selection of his successor, since that would be followed by legislation preventing an incoming indicted prime minister from serving and any oversight of the government during the most severe political crisis in the state’s 72-year history.

The Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon ruled Edelstein’s closure of the plenary into next week as out of order, while President Rivlin called Edelstein to tell him to reopen parliament. The President’s Office said that Rivlin “implored” Edelstein “to ensure ongoing parliamentary activity, even during the coronavirus crisis.”

The Blue and White party, for its part, filed a High Court petition against Edelstein’s decision to close the Knesset, with Ofer Shelah, a Blue and White Knesset member saying that Netanyahu and Edelstein “are not only trying to destroy Israeli democracy, but also to cause the election results to be disregarded.” He added that Edelstein “hijacked” the Knesset by preventing a plenum vote on a new Knesset speaker, knowing there is a majority for replacing him. He said, “We won’t let that happen.”

Edelstein’s closure of the Knesset, less than 48 hours after the new Knesset members were sworn in, is the latest manifestation of Israel’s deadlocked political system.

Netanyahu was forced to announce elections in late 2018 after one of his coalition partners, Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home), quit the government. Since then, following three deadlocked elections in less than a year, he has led—or more precisely dominated—a caretaker government that, unable to set a budget or pass legislation, in effect rules by decree without any effective parliamentary oversight.

After the last election on March 2, President Reuven Rivlin called on the Blue and White’s leader, former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) chief of staff Bennie Gantz, to form a government. Despite being nominated by 61 members of the 120-seat Knesset, it is far from certain that Gantz will be able to do so.

Netanyahu, in the meantime, has used the pandemic to press Gantz to join “without hesitations” in forming an “emergency unity government” so that “together we will save tens of thousands of citizens.” He made it clear, however, that an emergency unity government would not include the third largest party, the four Arab parties in the Joint List, telling Gantz that “There is no place for supporters of terror, in routine times and during emergency.”

His Justice Minister Amir Ohana has declared a state of emergency in the justice system due to the coronavirus outbreak, thereby enabling him to postpone Netanyahu’s trial, set for March 17, to May 24.

Netanyahu has exploited the coronavirus to cast himself as the only figure capable of responding to a national emergency. He has used his daily press conferences to sow fear. While introducing a series of sweeping restrictions that are no doubt justified by the threat of the pandemic—requiring all visitors and citizens returning to the country to self-quarantine for 14 days, closing schools and universities, banning gatherings of more than 100 people and ordering people to stay at home—he is utilizing the state of emergency to consolidate his dictatorial grip over the Israeli state apparatus.

On Friday, the cabinet imposed further restrictions—again bypassing parliamentary oversight by using state emergency regulations—making the restrictions imposed earlier in the week legally binding and enforceable. It ordered Israelis not to leave their homes or visit parks and beaches, other than for food, medicine, medical care and essential work.

The health authorities confirmed 705 COVID-19 cases, of which at least 10 are in serious condition. Two ministers and two legislators are in quarantine after being in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. In the West Bank, there are 47 confirmed cases.

The health care system, neglected for years, has been the victim of repeated budget cuts, as Israel’s war machine took priority over everything, including a growing population, resulting in a service that was already on the point of collapse. It faces the current crisis totally unprepared, with serious shortages of necessary medical equipment to fight the outbreak. The staff at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv wrote to the hospital administrator saying that they did not feel properly protected from the coronavirus outbreak and they were “beginning to fear for our health.”

Netanyahu, as befits the leader of a garrison state, promptly called on Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, to use its web of secret contacts around the world, including Arab and Muslim countries that were better supplied but with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, to find relevant medical supplies. Mossad announced that it had bought 100,000 test kits, only to find they were the wrong ones.

This article first appeared on World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) on 21 March 2020, and was republished with permission.

US and UK struggle to find friends against Iran – and Iraq wants its sky back

President Donald J. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron in close conversation Saturday June 29. 2019 at the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka Japan (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)


by Paul Rogers

Is it 2003 all over again – but with Iran and Iraq on the same side this time?

Last week’s G7 meeting in Biarritz was notable for hypocrisy about the Amazonian fires. Brazil’s pyromaniac president, Jair Bolsonaro, is certainly a serious problem and the spreading destruction of forests bodes ill for the future, but it hardly becomes the likes of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and Canada to lecture the Brazilians on the risk of climate breakdown.

Donald Trump at least did everyone a favour by keeping a low profile on this one issue but for six countries at the forefront of high carbon emissions for decades to preach change in Brazil is one more indication of the increasing irrelevance of the G7 itself.

At least on one issue, Iran, there was a worthwhile initiative, with Emmanuel Macron inviting the Iranian foreign minister first to Paris before the summit and then to Biarritz itself. Macron just managed to keep Trump sweet even if US media outlets reported that his advisors were caught on the hop and were furious with the French.

So far there has been little real cooling of tensions and, as it is so often the case in international security issues, it is what the military are doing away from the spotlight that deserves more attention.

Lonely Sentinel

Until a week or so ago the US and its junior partner, the UK, were the only two members of Operation Sentinel, Washington’s intended multinational endeavour at patrolling the Strait of Hormuz. With anything led by the US seen as provocative by Iran and its allies, the British had tried but failed to get a European force together: the Germans would have none of it and the French, too, were dubious.

It cuts little ice with the Trump White House, but the few US diplomats still around who have some understanding of the Middle East know only too well that they badly need truly international action if their Iran policy is to be credible. Long-serving diplomats in the UK Foreign Office understand this much better, not least because of their memories of the way the Iraq war went so badly wrong in 2003.

Their concern, even if not even understood by their current political masters, is that one of the issues that turned the Iraq war into an American endeavour in 2003 was the failure to get a broad international coalition together. The UK ended up as the only country apart from the US that contributed credible forces in that long war that followed, and this could now happen with Iran.

Where are we, then, with the plans for Sentinel? At first sight there has been some progress, but look a little deeper and it is revealed as little more than superficial. As expected, the Royal Navy has expanded its forces in the Gulf, adding a frigate and destroyer to the existing frigate in what was previously a small force focused largely on mine hunting. The hope was that the US would persuade the Australian government and others to come on board.

Canberra has indeed agreed to join Sentinel, according to this week’s Jane’s Defence Weekly, but if we look at the detail its commitment is little more than nominal. A single P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will deploy to the Gulf for just one month before the end of the year, one frigate will be based there for six months next year and some Australians will join the operations team in Bahrain.

Moreover, the Australian government is playing it down. “This will be an enhancement of our existing and long-standing contribution to counter-piracy and counter-terrorism mission in the waters of the Middle East,” it said. “Our contribution will be modest, meaningful and time limited,” (italics added).

The one other leader who has made a commitment is King Hamad of Bahrain, a state which is already the home of the US and UK naval forces, is deeply suspicious of Iran and has a singularly bad reputation for suppressing dissent among those of its people who, like most Iranians, follow the Shia branch of Islam.

Iraq pushes back

More significant has been the surprise announcement that Iraq is seeking to restrict coalition military operations in its airspace by requiring approval for them in advance, according to another report in Jane’s Defence Weekly. Iraq’s government leans strongly towards Iran, not least because its support stems from Iraq’s own Shia majority, and it has become increasingly concerned at Israeli attacks on Shia militia facilities in the country.

Israel’s frequent attacks on Hezbollah and Iran-linked groups in Syria and Lebanon are well-known but such operations now seem to have extended to Iraq, with two attacks in July. More recently, on 12 August an explosion at a weapons storage facility at Camp Falcon near Baghdad killed one person and injured 30 others. While these included members of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Force, they also involved Iraqi federal police personnel.

These are assumed to have been Israeli drone attacks, and the Iraqi government’s insistence on controlling its airspace might make it easier to intercept such operations in the future. A more fundamental message to Washington, however, is that Iraq’s relationship with Tehran comes first. That was underlined earlier this week when the powerful Fatah coalition in the Iraqi parliament called for the withdrawal of all 5,000 US troops from the country, following a further presumed Israeli drone strike near the border with Syria last weekend that killed a Popular Mobilisation Force commander.

In short, the Pentagon’s multinational military operation to pressurise Iran is limited to just one major country, the UK, plus a nominal contribution from Australia, but with a key state in the region, Iraq, sending an indirect message of caution.

Add to this the Iranian abilities in irregular warfare if tensions did escalate and it becomes clear that Macron’s efforts at the G7 summit really were worth making. Whether Trump and the noted hawks around him will get the message is far from certain but it may just be that the White House will come under increasing pressure from the US military to tread with caution. Perhaps the Pentagon will even ‘speak truth to power’, but don’t bank on it.

Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, northern England. He is openDemocracy’s international-security editor, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 28 September 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group. His books include Why We’re Losing the War on Terror (Polity, 2007), and Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010). He is on twitter at: @ProfPRogers

This article first appeared on openDemocracy 30 August 2019