Weekly cables

Week 21 - 2017

The U.S. won’t abandon Russia’s containment (no matter what Trump says)

Last week the Trump administration released its overall spending plan. While only a proposal for now, it remains a useful tool as it conveys White House priorities on defense and security. Especially when it comes to Nato’s future. By browsing through the plan, one gets the unshakable feeling that, no matter Trump screaming and shouting, defending Nato’s allies and containing Russia remain top priorities for the U.S. The budget the Defense Department submitted to Congress includes $271 million earmarked for several air bases and airports in Nato countries, some of which are located along the Russian border. Among those: air bases and airports in Iceland, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia and Romania which in the near future should have their runways and support facilities improved as to accommodate more U.S. military planes and troops.

Seoul won’t cancel THAAD (no matter what Moon Jae-in says)

During the last electoral campaign, South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in expressed many times his opposition to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), the American anti-missile system aimed at both China and North Korea. However, Moon Jae-in recently sent to Washington Chung Eui-yong, his top national security advisor, to meet with U.S. national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, and reassure the White House that he will not seek the removal of the THAAD. Its diplomatic forays into China notwithstanding, Seoul is surely aware that THAAD serves South Korea’s interests rather well as we approach a hotter phase in the U.S.- North Korea confrontation.

Turkey hires Trump’s lobbyist to try to sway Congress

Trump’s longtime lobbyist, Brian Ballard, has signed a $1.5 million contract with the government of Turkey, as Ankara tries to influence U.S. foreign policy. In the wake of Trump’s decision to arm Syrian Kurdish militias fighting to conquer Raqqa and mainly with regard to Turkish interests in Syria, in Iraq and across the entire Middle East. Furthermore, as Macrogeo reported two weeks ago, a New York lobbying firm which worked for Trump’s campaign has been hired by a group aligned with Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen and Erdogan might now want to balance off his longtime foe’s influence. However, despite widespread assumptions to the contrary, through lobbying foreign governments can yield only limited results; a country such as the U.S. always ends up pursuing its strategic goals, no matter how much money foreign powers throw at it.