DiscoverVox's The WeedsTrump’s “buck stops somewhere else” foreign policy

Trump’s “buck stops somewhere else” foreign policy

Update: 2017-06-16


Foreign editors Yochi Dreazen and Jennifer Williams join Matt to talk about the diplomatic crisis in Qatar and the never-ending war in Afghanistan.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

they had for breakfast was anxiety and panic and eight senior and I got here the members of the weeds in the Vox Media podcast Network to place his I'm joined today by act of treason and ten for Williams the editor and deputy editor of our foreign section here and you guys are going to be launching a podcast of your own sea yes we are we are incredibly psyched lunch is next Thursday called worldly so subscribe if you're an Apple podcast from Google if you wants to share wherever you are worthy listen to it is modeled heavily on the brilliance the weeds but just beyond the borders of the US and is meant to be a deep dive into both foreign policy and national security it'll be one long opening segment and then a shorter segment called elsewhere that's meant to be a little later and something that's very under covered so you'll have to kind of deeper dive like we do on the show so well and then also candy at the end rice said to me that the two of you and Zach teach them as my colleague Zach and his son on vacation stellar crass here but we do and kind of backdoor pilot style meeting guys at the weeds we've been having requests from the Facebook group to do more foreign coverage on the show I think we're actually going to address that primarily by by launching worldly but it's it's really good to have you guys here I've been super interested in this kind of brewing cutter story has been playing out over the past several weeks because it feels like the first time that we've really seen just a crisis that is Willie external to the United States not particularly about us but it lands on the president's task as things tend to in the world and you know down from past has to try to deal with that and he's been dealing with in a puzzling kind of way agent can you take people back to the artisans of this like what happened a few weeks ago that set this up absolutely so basically Saudi Arabia and Bahrain United Arab Emirates UAE and Egypt all collectively led by Saudi Arabia decided to abruptly basically overnight cut off all diplomatic ties with Qatar and then they went even further and tough economic ties shut down air travel from Qatar they even issued a statement that the Tories need to get out of the countries and so was a really dramatic huge break that was kind of for people who don't fall this very closely and even for people who do those kind of a rather stunning and dramatic overnight break and basically at the reasons that Saudi Arabia and others have given our secretaries sponsor and find a terrorist band so that's kind of where Donald Trump in a fit then he agreed with Saudi Arabia when he was on that trip and the Middle East and basically dad has kind of joined the Saudi Arabia kind of club and weed out stuff at Qatar being state sponsors of terror and fighting terrorism it's like the implications of this sort of cut of economic ties to cutter are quite grey for cutter and these countries can sort of do sanctions or whatever on each other all the time it's not always necessarily a big deal but if you haven't have like I'm at hand and check it out you'll see that color is this like little tiny finger like sticking off from Saudi Arabia so all kinds of stuff just traditionally gets their Overland from Saudi Arabia are also nearby United Arab Emirates which among other things the UAE is just a big port operator cutter is accustomed to getting supplies through lands in Saudi Arabia or as part of large container ships that are also destined for UAE so the cut off any really hurts them right it's not just kind of diplomatic give and a finger but it has really kind of serious implications for them and has implications for the United States with the things that catharsis bizarrely fascinating to face little country and if every time there because of reason to reason one is it is without question the sponsor of terrorism particularly Hamas the Muslim Brotherhood who there's no questioning that guitar does directly fund those two groups whether they also fund groups like al Qaeda ISIS is a different question but Hamas the Muslim Brotherhood which have political arms and military arms receive money from guitar there's no question about that the flip side is Qatar hosts the biggest U S base an entire middle east which is also the nerve center for the air war against ISIS any given time there between ten and fifteen thousand American troops living in Qatar in operating out of guitar so the spaces are not inside the abs are not in the UAE the night in Egypt their guitar which means that for the Pentagon guitar is absolutely vital so when this happened when the Saudis first basically went to diplomatic and economic war with guitar the hope was okay lets just us back off with the Saudis to do with it and then of course don't Trump weighed into it and made it not just a Saudi Atari issue but a U S could carry issue because downtown publicly the Rose Garden also over Twitter repeatedly said that our sponsor terrorism and that's why I support the Saudis doing this which is really dangerous and stupid because the Pentagon desperately need that are the work of ISIS deafening guitar so it's one thing if the Saudis are fighting them and you can serve just shut it off as an Arab an Arab Gulf and Gulf issue Trump insist on framing it as a U S guitar issue people attend and some air into the party has a high ranking person in Admiral one star Admiral his response when asked about it was we have no fucking idea verbatim as they're looking at Trump's comments just thinking holy hell daily for us as the military we need guitar he should just stop talking about and of course you want is no coincidence why Dean from his point of view one of the main reasons to host this giant strategically crucial American military facility is that supposed to buy them some kind of freedom of action regionally because otherwise I mean is as you see right it is very rich country because of what natural gas oil or natural yeah but but it's really small they would be under the Saudi come naturally but the thinking is implicitly that if you have sort of America's probably like the most important military single base we have is there that we're you know at least to an extent have that back in this kind of fight for a deadly and just one quick thing to clarify just for our listeners to make sure that Hamas the Muslim Brotherhood the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization Hamas openly especially clear by really quickly the other connections that Qatar has defining which are like the really problematic part in terms of like the U S fight against ISIS and an US involvement in Syria is that stories connected to maybe the government the Foreign Ministry the ruling family and have provided significant significant support to Islam as jihadist groups that are on the ground fighting in Syria against the Syrian government the problem is that's it's really hard to kind of contain when you give money to one group and weapons to one group in Syria it's hard to keep those weapons just in that group and because the Qaeda linked group that from Lee Cotton is front and they are one of the most powerful most effective fighting forces in that area so even if you don't actively find them directly like there's a huge chance that no matter what you're going to end up having your weapons go to them to that kind of one of the biggest problems of Saudi Arabia as kind of saying the like the amount offending am and that the amount of support these jihadist groups is far far deeper far larger than the guitars are really letting these were distinguishing between what ur America in sort of long standing complaints with Qatar and what are the Saudi Egyptian complaints with the US had been involved in arming or training moderate Syrian rebels and we had been dancing on the sort of nice edge that you were describing yeah right it's like you can say Well I'm going back this guy but not that died but at the end of the day if they're all fighting against the Syrian government or some mixture but the Tories I think most American officials feel will be a very cautious about that right and this was a US kind of grievance but to the Arab states are other Arab allies are probably upset about that but also have this set of complaints that are a much more focused on Al Jazeera Muslim Brotherhood and basically they feel the color is backing the domestic political opposition in Egypt and other places like that which is probably not like America's fight I definitely can't exactly right in the physical states they've been pumping tens of billions of dollars a year into Egypt precisely because they felt that the city government might fall otherwise and because I also thought that guitar was fun in the Muslim Brotherhood is why there was a good correction that they don't currently use down so that they have in the past but there was a fear that the domestic stability of Egypt which is obviously the biggest most popular are the most important country could fall as what guitar is doing and I'm gratified out his ear I mean it's a phrase that a lot of our listeners probably have heard maybe they've had occasion to watch the broadcast we often see it through the American prism is out as are biased against the US is out his ear and I'm American and pro terrorist whatever I like the Fox News talking point out his ERA in the air was totally different issue their world it's is out as their anti Saudi Arabia and anti Yui it seems kind of an arm of the Qatar government and what prompted this current fight the terror funding issues loomed over after Valentine but it touches to their reports on his ear and another even more directly Atari state owned media that were allegedly quoting Saudi officials and other Gulf official saying things that officials later said he did not say as a part of the response was when we come back at you not just over terror funding but because you're using you're like era Pravda to bash us and our governments and it is interesting when we look and kind of new best friend there's the military side of his era side there's the domestic side and there's the Iranian side which is also part of this kind of off to the side not directly inside it I fade but directly in question of why would Saudi Arabia now decide to do this part of the answers Saudi Arabia is left is kind of cold war with humanity and one side and they won and can Saudi power of rustic and their world and see guitars as an obstacle to that so no green Trump sort of back into it right so he took off as one of the first things we saw was him he sort of brought the US back in to close alignment with Egypt where we had often been historically where DD Obama administration because of the military coup in Egypt have been maintaining a kind of distance from CC in his government even a formal level I guess nothing much changed we were trying to indicate some kind of displeasure with the Egyptian situation and Obama had moved at least a little bit to create some daylight between the U S and Saudi Arabia in the region had been a little bit worse trained in the kind of military equipment that we were giving them to use and yeah man that the Saudis were not appreciative of Obama as diplomatic efforts in Iran and Trump have really moved back to sort of close partnership with those two countries went and laid hands on a door with the leaders of Saudi Arabia Egypt and then with this saying seems to have seen that uncritically embracing the Saudi position as a natural extension of that kind of whole realignment but the American military does not see it that way right I mean I think that James Madison I think was skeptical of Obama's around approach I think was probably on board for this sort of broadly Trump like Let's make up and be nice with a traditional allies but the military has really not wanted to just like goal all in against cutter because again we have a base there we have a strategic relationship with his ire at that lake yes from has completely bought into the Saudi kind of narrative and Pentagon like full throttle in studies corner but if you are really hit a fast quick turn on Qatar so when he went to the Middle East on that trip we went to Riyadh to meet with all those leaders of Arab and Muslim countries he met with a guitar reasons like you know we've had a great relationship you really appreciate your help on counterterrorism let's do an arms deal this is greatly for good friends and then literally the next day a guess or that they talk to the Saudis and it seems like overnight he changed his mind and and then you know a couple weeks later was publicly the Rose Garden now he's in the guitar ease of finding terrorism is just a really radical kind of shift like the broader shift makes sense that you know he was obviously always kind of interested in moving us closer to Saudi Arabia it's this weird like schizophrenia policy that happening so you know even the State Department Madison mean they seem to be kind of trying to figure out how to maintain a lot of archives of Qatar while from his can of treating and shouting I mean has a golf course and by nothing and Indah so you can see things come together so I broke out and initially the military was putting out you know things are okay some days life is gated and then Trump is a stunt where he's going like oh yeah they're really bad of terrorism nobody knows of them eons and it's confusing and then I watched trumps press conference with the president of Romania where again he just kind of I mean he was accustomed to the president of Romania was no particular need to address this oh and one off the handle at that cutter and how they're fighting terrorism but at the same time if you were to just sort of bracket the president of United States and ignore him everything seems fine right the Secretary of State San Diego for a whole lot of different issues to be fair the you know I know what domestic policy issues right like the Department of Health and Human Services is clearly backing of the administration's health care bill but the secretary of states and I think this McCain was on helpful that we wanted them said minded town by and we just completed a very large sale of fighter jets as Tobin dollars worth of them was with some of the F sixteen s No you would do if you thought you wanted to help Saudi Arabia twist cutters are a part and I think why the military is so pro guitar a bit why they have to be they have isn't just that the bass guitar it's why they have to visit our great remember the US bases in the Middle East the big ones used to be in Saudi Arabia let the worst terror attacks in history was against the US military housing complex called our tower has a compact and Saudi Arabia's air force troops their families which killed one hundred people are under fifty people was one when the worst terror attacks American history so those bases had once been Saudi Arabia in our consolidated and shifted to Qatar so for the U S military isn't just guitars now and now is that the Saudi Arabian say Wait a minute he used to be an ally help us then you press the hell out so what's going on Trump I think part of it beyond possibly the golf course although Golf Course diploma to Trump those Saudis very literally out the red carpet they brought the aura of the sort of knew how to suck up to him and say we kind of get you write like we have the same aesthetic taste of golden eagles and family business above all the carries over to the fact they didn't go to the car did not wish an investment the fact that Trump whoever the last person is that he listens to domestically or foreign that often addition to adopting he laughed it was a vote on this for Saudi neck Atari it is very dangerous to the you have Rex Taylor Sen who is a smart man capable and very modern and most of his life dealing with countries like it I'm sorry to but it's hardly the foreign secretary of any country especially sector state say something and then literally one hour later as was the case here down comes as the opposite I just finished re reading a biography of James Baker who is very likely the best sector stands last fifty years in part was every country the world that he said something it is if it came to the mouth of George Bush there was no daylight and that was that's a means of effective if you're now flash forward to the chair elect Ellison were sitting in the studio with us and sets of that sound great over all not here had seats that some smart but then we have no way of knowing at all if that's what Trump believes that's a real problem not just in Qatar said Arabia but in NATO any issue with this diplomatic issue aside which is to say any issue if you can't respect a stay that's a really big problem I just I mean diplomacy is important and it's difficult but it a lot of it is just talking writing he doesn't have aircraft carriers at his disposal right in the power of diplomats comes from the idea that they can speak knowledgeable e an authoritative Lee on behalf of their country is and if you have a situation where that's clearly not the case then it's like what is it what is this environment for Ray I think that's the critical problem right now especially with like they'll kinds of unfilled positions of the state department there in cutting funding are tracking a person cutting funding see I mean just kind of like what is Rex Solutions Job like what is he for besides giving speeches that like you know global business development conferences and a mild appearances that small diplomatic events when it comes like the real hard hitting diplomacy mean you would have to be even have to be crazy to think that you would have sat down and make a deal with killer sent me just makes no sense like you just naturally skip him and just go right to Jericho share or write to the president but make no sense to even think he could trust that wrecked sailors and actually what have the ear of the president or the mouth of the president what's going on on the ground in the region had this for weeks people starving to death in her they found other ways to get food and basic tennis stuff that promote oil which Peninsula needs to get by and so if you're lucky enough to be in one of the two countries were set who is currently waging some form of war and you're in the guitar side of it things are pretty good because you have extra as well it's worth remembering this region is so rich that the UAE is tugging a literal iceberg to the way so that her water so money isn't an issue friends countries so if a car right now they can hear at the outset to say that it is a real risk and will get worse over time for now they could just keep flying stuff and the other country were Saudi Arabia is that he is at war with not matter economic but its bombs falling is Yemen A Yemeni your life is his misery the Saudis despite being given weaponry by the U S intelligence by the US we are complicit in what's happening in Yemen have killed thousands upon thousands of civilians including children some of them a dime get a pic yesterday from France or a piece on any of the numbers probably but the number of children sat in the emissary dying of cholera yeah I think it's like one child is infected with cholera in Yemen every thirty five seconds now which is just staggering just staggering statistic Yemen A despite being in the sort of golf the area does not have vast oil and gas wealth and pummel the server infrastructure physical infrastructure of the country which is now collapsing I mean there's there's civilians who have been killed by the weapons we're seeing is disease famine second order consequences of this sort of total breakdown of that the physical infrastructure of the country I think the white flag Yemen is you're making a point against that huge of both that he has helped kind of re Orient us back toward said he would have been the past part of his mind or vomit US shifted from that was a bomb was watching was happening in Yemen was horrified to their actual weapons deals with Saudi Arabia that the Obama missed ration held up because they were so concerned about what Yemen was suffering as well the Saudi bombing campaign Trump came in and this will surprise none of us never listeners immediately lifted this saw the weapons that had been held up by Obama because of arguably war can't be committed by the Saudis Yemen weapons are now flowing again and is worth all of us think about this because diplomacy is one thing and words are one thing the matter but when the US is funding somebody in this case that Arabia basically carpet bombing civilian areas of another country we are as a country complicit in this this is not the US for Billy indoors in Saudi Arabia this isn't the US signing the communique with a B A with us providing weapons to one country intelligence to one country and carpet bombing another country so we as a country responsibility it's easy to forget that because there's so much other stuff that Trump is doing the roster scared and worried and stunned by this one shouldn't be forgotten because the human suffering in Yemen we again have some responsibility for is staggering is the human suffering in the soul I mean there is of a strategic question right I mean we've had a sort of see sawing back and forth since since nine eleven in different respects about this but it was certainly a strand of thought in elements of both Bush and the Obama administration that was like Look the United States can't just stand Foursquare behind the most repressive sort of approach is four ever n ever n ever that there is obviously going to be backlash to that that if people are suffering and they're fighting against whether it's the Saudi government whether it's the Egyptian government but they know that the hand of the United States is behind those governments that we become targets as a result as it was I mean different way he is but the Bush and the Obama administration tried to have both a counterterrorism strategy and also at least thought they should have some kind of a political approach to these conflicts and Trump is really giving up on that idea right I mean he's saying we need to do is kill people bad guys presumably but is all stay sort of all violence all oppression approach to the U S relationship with there are more gray and it's also worth flagging that when we talk about cut our funding the rebels on the ground in Syria and Saudi Arabia is not interested in that either like Saudi Arabia saying oh you know Qatar finds his these groups like soda Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia itself has had lots of issues that we've had with them in terms of like the same kind of networks of funding have come from people who are may be connected with the royal family you know also I mean practically in half of Saudi Arabia is connected the royal family because they are family but funding through these ham maybe charity groups or other networks is how all of these informal kind of money lending networks to these terrorist groups to these kind of cell of the jihadist groups so Saudi is just as involved in this thing in this kind whole terrorism have network and are usually a lot more for a lot longer than Qatar ever dead on the sort of global ideological terror group sort of friend it's hard to see you driving that kind of like strong Trump BN Saudis good stories bad we missed a real difference in like Who setting cutter funding though is in Egypt and in Libby ways to distinguish between that kind of message disagreement which is very much about international terrorism the like concrete disagreement about CC versus them as a brother and I don't know what's going on in Libya but it's like UAE is finding one group of people and cutter the other is that red is also Syria Syria Jen five isn't that I'm glad that you didn't really have it in Syria the Saudis from the beginning one day sat out the pumping money into this at us like let us do this like if to Obama if you own we have the money to put out a poor country get out the way Obama can basically saying no no come as the saying yes yes yes yes yes but Syria is one place with the break is even more consequential because the Saudis funding groups that are the most part directly fighting a signed guitar from the groups in many cases are not where their loyalties are kind of hard to gauge they're also going to al Qaeda's also can attack civilian targets of a real split there too and we think that an eleven These were not hijackers from Qatar hijackers from Saudi Arabia will look at some of the school's metros hospitals all over the world whose governments are now saying wait a minute where did these fundamentals with this case was in hospice come from those weren't Atari those were funded by the Saudi government so Trump loves to see the world is black white that there's winner loser and everything is all a zero sum so he's gone all in Saudi Arabia has this great ally that's wonderful or it's got this great red carpet where guitars is terrible country is worst sad cetera but that's really really dumb because there's no party world with the gray area covers more of it than the Persian Gulf the Middle East and from time to get that one he doesn't the only person I think his words really matter to other countries is Jim Mathis so Madison Towson are very close to talk three times a week of lunch once a week but Madison is the one person so far as we're at least until now Trump doesn't undercut that could change a moment but for the moment when Matta says something it tends to stick my toes and says something it doesn't get Jared Kushner is kind of shadow secular stand one side geneticist shadow stick to extend the other and then wrestlers despite his good looks and charisma kind of off on his own just sort of mumbling stuff that doesn't carry much weight we've sponsored by the Showtime documentary film The Putin interviews to a series of candid conversations filmmaker Oliver Stone gives a fascinating and intimate look into the psyche of Russian President Vladimir for president four night event now streaming on Showtime if you enter code the weeds at checkout on Showtime that comp receive a special extended thirty day free trial the offer expires the thirtieth so hurry on the subject of medicine at his weight to shift gears a little we had this I say the curious White House sort of statement coming out recently that Trump was going to delegate the decision about troop levels in Afghanistan to the secretary of defense who then i think has come out with the with the idea that there's four thousand additional troops are going to comment in the short term it was funny I mean presidents always get recommendations from the military about military matters and can accept them or reject me you legally speaking right I mean Trump is still the president of United States he can order what he wants but senior interest in making this winter like Big Show on the one hand sort of deference and respect we're going to let the Pentagon do it once but on the other hand at it feel to me like a slightly dodgy kind of like don't hold me responsible for whether this works out or not and in general I would say the story of the United States in Afghanistan over the past it's been seventeen years now is you don't want to be the person who's held responsible it has not produced a lot of really happy endings actually hadn't thought about it as like not wanting to be held responsible it's highly possible that part of that Morris is complete disinterest that it's just not something that interests down from and that he's happy to just kind of let it go and whatever you guys handle this I thought it was striking that there are these reports that he had never won so far spoken at all in person or on the phone with at the top commander in Afghanistan like the person incharge for earning the fight and I saw somebody in making this plan Twitter that he's managed to find time to call Jim Coe me several times and complain about this investigation you know sit down and we'll this crazy stuff he makes time is day to watch all the cable news channels but he can't be bothered to call up and discuss like a major war that our country has been in for well over a decade coming up on two decades I find that kind of a staggering facts and if it's true I mean that it's clear he just seems completely disinterested in that and so the fact that leaving it to the generals sit to do that mean there are pros and cons to that in terms of you know in one way you know for strategy and running a war that may be a good idea for democracy in general and a civilian controlled military if maybe our Question of the one place that year when we saw the Dodge was after the rain Yemen when he first took office this is a way that Obama had considered not done some came in with over dinner send off and it went terribly awry had a Navy seal killed a lot of civilians killed including eight year old girl after it happened Trump's response was in a complete break with decades of presidential history was not
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Trump’s “buck stops somewhere else” foreign policy