War Breaks Out Between Neo-Cons And Libertarians Over Trump's Foreign Policy

Tyler Durden's picture

In late October, when it was still conventional wisdom that Hillary was "guaranteed" to win the presidency, the WaPo explained that among the neo-con, foreign policy "elites" of the Pentagon, a feeling of calm content had spread: after all, it was just a matter of time before the "pacifist" Obama was out, replaced by the more hawkish Hillary.

As the WaPo reported, "there is one corner of Washington where Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign is treated as a mere distraction and where bipartisanship reigns. In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief."

The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.


Not only did the "foreign policy" elite get the Trump "scorched-earth distraction" dead wrong, it now has to scramble to find what leverage - if any - it has in defining Trump's foreign policy.  Worse, America's warmongers are now waging war (if only metaphorically: we all know they can't wait for the real thing) against libertarians for direct access to Trump's front door, a contingency they had never planned for. 

As The Hill reported earlier, "a battle is brewing between the GOP foreign policy establishment and outsiders over who will sit on President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team. The fight pits hawks and neoconservatives who served in the former Bush administrations against those on the GOP foreign policy edges."

Taking a page out of Ron Paul's book, the libertarians, isolationists and realists see an opportunity to pull back America's commitments around the world, spend less money on foreign aid and “nation-building,” curtail expensive military campaigns and troop deployments, and intervene militarily only to protect American interests. In short: these are people who believe that human life, and the avoidance of war, is more valuable than another record quarter for Raytheon, Lockheed or Boeing. 

On the other hand, the so-called establishment camp, many of whom disavowed Trump during the campaign, is made up of the same people who effectively ran Hillary Clinton's tenure while she was Secretary of State, fully intent on creating zones of conflict, political instability and outright war in every imaginable place, from North Africa to Ukraine. This group is pushing for Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser under George W. Bush. Another Bush ally, John Bolton whose name has been floated as a possible secretary of State, also falls into this camp.

According to The Hill, other neo-con, establishment candidates floated include Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), outgoing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), rising star Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and senior fellow at conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.). 

"These figures all generally believe that the United States needs to take an active role in the world from the Middle East to East Asia to deter enemies and reassure allies."

In short, should this group prevail, it would be the equivalent of 4 more years of HIllary Clinton running the State Department.

The outsider group sees things differently.

They want to revamp American foreign policy in a different direction from the last two administrations. Luckily, this particular camp is also more in line with Trump’s views questioning the value of NATO, a position that horrified many in the establishment camp. 

“How many people sleep better knowing that the Baltics are part of NATO? They don't make us safer, in fact, quite the opposite. We need to think really hard about these commitments,” said William Ruger, vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute.

A prominent member of the outsiders is Rand Paul, skeptic of Bush’s foreign policy, who has criticized Bolton in the last few days. Paul on Tuesday blasted Bolton in an op-ed in Rare as “a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose.” 

Others, however, have defended Bolton. Eliot Cohen, a former Bush State Department senior adviser, tweeted late Tuesday that Bolton “would be a capable Secretary of State — experienced & tough.”

Then again, what Cohen thinks does not matter: he is perhaps the most visible foreign policy establishment type who has been critical of Trump’s transition. He said this week that he had been asked by a friend in Trump’s orbit to submit names of people in the establishment who might want to serve. Cohen told his friend that those skeptical of Trump would want to know who was leading his administration on foreign policy.

When Cohen grew critical of those questions, he wrote a biting op-ed in The Washington Post advising people to not work for Trump, at least for the time being. “At the very least, they should wait to see who gets the top jobs. Until then, let the Trump team fill the deputy assistant secretary and assistant secretary jobs with civil servants, retired military officers and diplomats, or the large supply of loyal or obsequious second-raters who will be eager to serve,” he wrote. 

Some saw the op-ed as good news, believing it signified a radical turn by Trump from a foreign party establishment that should be ignored. “The first encouraging news I've heard in days. If a leader of #NeverTrump is saying this, that means the establishment hasn't won. Yet,” said Christopher Preble of the CATO Institute.

However, neo-cons are bad at losing, so they have redoubled efforts to land one of their own next to Trump. Lindsey Graham, a prominent foreign policy hawk in the Senate, issued an endorsement of Bolton on Thursday, saying: "He understands who our friends and enemies are. We see the world in very similar ways."

He also slammed Paul's criticism of Bolton: “You could put the number of Republicans who will follow Rand Paul’s advice on national security in a very small car.  Rand is my friend but he’s a libertarian and an outlier in the party on these issues."

Funny, that's exactly what the experts said about Trump's chances of winning not even two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the biggest warmonger, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who has not said who he'd like to see in Trump's cabinet, laid down a marker on Tuesday by warning the future Trump administration against trying to seek an improved relationship with adversary Russia. “When America has been at its greatest, it is when we have stood on the side those fighting tyranny. That is where we must stand again,” he warned.

Luckily, McCain - whose relationship with Trump has been at rock bottom ever since Trump's first appearance in the presidential campaign - has zero impact on the thinking of Trump.

Furthermore, speaking of Russia, Retired Amy Col. Andrew Bacevich said there needs to be a rethink of American foreign policy. He said the U.S. must consider whether Saudi Arabia and Pakistan qualify as U.S. allies, and the growing divergence between the U.S. and Israel.   “The establishment doesn't want to touch questions like these with a ten foot pole,” he said at a conference on Tuesday hosted by The American Conservative, the Charles Koch Institute, and the George Washington University Department of Political Science.

Furthermore, resetting the "deplorable" relations with Russia is a necessary if not sufficient condition to halt the incipient nuclear arms build up that has resulted of the recent dramatic return of the Cold War. As such, a Trump presidency while potentially a failure, may be best remember for avoiding the launch of World War III. If, that is, he manages to prevent the influence of neo-cons in his cabinet.

And then there are the wildcards: those Trump advisers who are difficult to peg into which camp they fall into. One example is retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who was selected by Trump as his national security adviser.  Flynn is a “curious case,” said Daniel Larison, senior editor at The American Conservative. The retired Army general has said he wants to work with Russia, but also expressed contrary views in his book "Field of Fight." 

According to Larison, Flynn writes of an “enemy alliance” against the U.S. that includes Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. From that standpoint, he is about as "establishment" as they come.

It's also not crystal clear which camp Giuliani falls into. The former mayor is known as a fierce critic of Islamic extremism but has scant foreign policy experience. 

Most say what is likely is change.

“Change is coming to American grand strategy whether we like it or not,’ said Christopher Layne, Robert M. Gates Chair in National Security at Texas A&M University. 

“I think we are overdue for American retrenchment. Americans are beginning to suffer from hegemony fatigue,” he said.

And, let's not forget, the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children who are droned to death every year by anonymous remote-control operators in the US just so the US can pursue its global hegemonic interest.They most certainly have, and unless something indeed changes, will continue to suffer, leading to even more resentment against the US, and even more attacks against US citizens around the globe, and on US soil. Some call them terrorism, others call them retaliation.

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Stan522's picture

What's the surprise... Trump already said he plans to blow the shit out of ISIS AND he has already spoken to Russia about it....

y3maxx's picture

--To embarass Trump the neo cons will initiate a major False Flag event w/ Russia.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

The Sons of Satan continue their dance.

letsit's picture

The neocons will win. Trump already announced his war plans.

philipat's picture

SPAM ALERT: Do not open the fake links. Letsit has now taken over as Spammer-in- Chief after Yippee Kiyay and now lonng were banned. This serial spammer previously known as: mofio, santafe, Aristotle of Greece, Gargoyle, bleu, oops, lance-a-lot, Loftie, toro, Yippee Kiyay, lonnng, letsit, Mano-A-Mano, techies-r-us, beauticelli, stizazz, Nekoti, SumTing Wong, King Tut, Adullam, jcaz, espirit, rp2016, Holy hand grenade of Antioch (some still active for the purposes of talking to and congratulating himself) and others. He seems to have more accounts than all other ZH members combined. Beats me why The Tylers can’t just block his IP?

techies-r-us's picture
techies-r-us (not verified) philipat Nov 19, 2016 11:06 PM

Philipat, did you forget to take your meds again?

philipat's picture

It isn't me who needs any meds. Asshole.

Mano-A-Mano's picture
Mano-A-Mano (not verified) philipat Nov 19, 2016 11:10 PM

You are freakin annoyin dude. Go away. Who cares about your freakin alert? Feeling self important?

philipat's picture

I will go away just as soon as you stop using multiple accounts to spam the shit out of what is a otherwise a really good site. For anyone reading who is not aware, letsit is the same as techies-r-us and Mano-A-Mano, plus abot 30 other names. Taliking to yourself is not a good sign; and upvoting yourself using your multiple logins is totally obvious to all regular readers so it is puerile that you continue.

techies-r-us's picture
techies-r-us (not verified) philipat Nov 19, 2016 11:23 PM

Calm down Philipat. Tell the voices to go away. They will. I promise.

philipat's picture

Your "Clintonesque" strategies (Deny, deflect and accuse your accuser of doing the same as yourself) don't work here. It's an intelligent audience. All the more reason you don't belong here. So do us all a favour and go fuck yourself. Spammer.

SafelyGraze's picture

not to derail the topic of spammers, but re: warmongering and so forth ...


the nasa office of planetary protection

The objectives of planetary protection are several-fold and include: To ensure that we take prudent precautions to protect Earth’s biosphere in case life does exist elsewhere.

this is a mission worthy of 20 trillion or more. because LIFE. it's precious. sacred. it must be defended at all costs. both on earth and elsewhere in the universe.
InTheLandOfTheBlind's picture

If you haven't realized that philipat is in on the spamming, i don't know what can help you.

philipat's picture

Well dear me, ANOTHER new account. And as I noted already, your Clinton esque tactics don't work here, it's a smart audience.

jeff montanye's picture

i'll agree with you on the false acting multiple accounts; that's stupid, wrong and basically lying.  today's actions prove your point if it ever needed proof.

however the biblicism institute does say things that are particularly apt here: the guts of the neocon movement, no surprise, is the essentially treasonous belief that the military and political hegemony of greater israel in palestine, and as a means to that end, in the u.s. and the rest of the world (well maybe not australia and antarctica), is the ultimate political/religious/ethnic/whatever goal in the world.

it isn't, particularly from the short to long term strategic perspective of the u.s.a.

FreezeThese's picture
FreezeThese (not verified) jeff montanye Nov 20, 2016 7:39 AM

Trump's foreign policy plan: 35+ white men are good ... everybody else is on their own

Escrava Isaura's picture

Help me here with this word (or whatever it means) REALISTS:

Article: Ron Paul's book, the libertarians, isolationists and REALISTS see an opportunity…. to intervene militarily only to protect American interests.

So dear Libertarians, as I am about to show you two examples, but the list is long, that you have a problem, because of (US) reality:

1) You are told by the left and right massmedia that the US is something like that: King of natural gas. We’ll be the world exporter.  That we have enough natural gas for 100 years, or some nonsense like that. But here is the REALITY:

US “still” had to import almost 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2015.


2) Again, you might hear from the left and right massmedia that: US is shale this. US is shale that, even that shale is not oil, but some form of kerogen. In any event, here’ the reality: US crude oil imports, by Millions of Barrels a Day: 2014: 7,344  2015: 7,363  As of July 2016: 8,092 (MBD)



Key Point (in my opinion): Libertarians, you can’t have both of best worlds —two incomparable believes. You have to chose, otherwise you’ll be a hypocrite while being a neocon as well.  



BigJim's picture

What's your point? That if we don't rule MENA, then the people in charge there won't sell us their natural gas?


Escrava Isaura's picture

It’s more complicated than that.

MENA is the most important, perhaps the only leverage that the US has to hold the global reserve currency. As long as the US retain the world’s money, the US can finance its debt while collecting rent worldwide. Also, the US can export its inflation.

No US President can, or will willingly let these three to fail, because the collapse will be horrifying.


Pairadimes's picture

This construction of the U.S. empire is a myth. Unlike the British, Spanish, French, Portuguese, or any other empire throughout history you care to name, the construction of the U.S. Empire has been a drastic net drain on U.S. finances. Unlike any preceding empire, which invaded other lands in search of wealth and captured client states to monetize added value, the U.S. Empire has globalised its reach as an instrument of the deep state and its oligarchy of owner/operators. Ostensibly to bring democracy to the oppressed, its real purpose was to enrich the rent-seekers on the MIC value chain and to protect and serve the private globalist interests who were the clients of the deep state. National funds flow has always been net outbound, and not the other way around, as in any successful precendent for empire. This continues to be true to this day because of the influence the wealthy rent-seekers on this value chain have over the federal government. Simple as that.

In the process, the USA has been hollowed out from the inside, and risks imminent collapse. The greatest hope we can hold out for a Trump presidency is a recognition of the truth of this. Bannon gets close sometimes, but I still have my doubts that there is true recognition of just how dire these current circumstances are. In this, people like Ron Paul are right on target - to save the Republic, the Empire and its enabling institutions (like the Fed) must go.

jeff montanye's picture

yes sir.  on target, at least with the financial analysis.

one could also throw in that unjustly killing a million poorer, browner people, driving millions more from their homes, wounding yet millions more is not moral or wise, especially for a nation of immigrants.  the orphaned will find us and have their justice.

it is time to stop being fools for the zionists and have peace.

it's what's right and it's what works best.  trade and aid, not loan and drone.

WordSmith2013's picture

Which is why the Neocons are so afraid of SB.




This Is Why TPTB Are So Afraid Of BREITBART’s Stephen Bannon
FrankDrakman's picture

This is precisely the clear headed analysis that I seek at Zerohedge. Thank god for fake news!

seataka's picture

They stole IRAQI, UKRAINE, and LIBYA's GOLD.

makinbacon's picture

Yes!....Import other countries commodities at inflated prices with tax payers dollars....

And in return , get their blind -eye to droning , regime change ,and robbery....

new game's picture

well said. paul craig roberts, ron paul and the "to wit" guy.; they would be shoe ins. from their anybody anti-empire pro shrink wrap gov to nearly sufocate every and all agencies starting with 10 percent cuts accross board using attrition. demanding same level of service w/10 percent cut eliminating top layer of waste.

and yea, it would create pandamonium and end of world outcries.

tough love of merica; the only path to survive beyond 2024...

11b40's picture

Excellent, concise observations.  Thank you.

Rabbi Chaim Cohen's picture

Yes, the US is a net importer, however this is policy driven it's not geological. As good globalists our government trolls have agreed to support the developing world and that means we buy a lot of things that we could provide for ourselves. Energy being a big o

The Obama administration has regulated us further into this corner. He has been a vocal opponent of domestic piplines for one. Additional evidence can be seen in the explosion on the Deep Water Horizon which was very suspicious IMO. It marked a huge slowdown in US drilling in the gulf. Meanwhile, we granted China and Petrobras numerous leases in that oil-rich area ostensibly a quid pro quo to keep buying US debt.

deth's picture

e. Iguana,

Thanks for connecting Ron Paul with natural gas to explain realists. What's next pal? Bannans, obsidian, and Margaret Thatcher?

Yen Cross's picture

  loser.  Don't you have some cotton to pick?

RiverRoad's picture

Detente.   Detente.   Detente.

The MSM refuses to use that word which was mightily applauded when Reagan used it and effected it re our relations with the USSR/Russia.

Detente.  Detente.  Detente.

Déjà view's picture
Trump vows to undo Iran deal, NATO funding at AIPAC meeting

He then reaffirmed his commitment to side with Israel in peace negotiations with Palestine, promising to resist UN attempts to pressure Israel.

"The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable,"

Shortly before addressing the AIPAC event, Trump told an CNN interviewer that he would also move the US embassy to Jerusalem.


jeff montanye's picture

you bring up good, sobering points.  and i don't know from shit.  

but, were i in his position (and assuming he is not a fraud), that is: certainly elected president but without any of the powers of the presidency as yet, having received near zero neocon, bankster, or institutional party support, knowing what the deep state did to kennedy and that it/they may be guilty of various other treasons and murders (9-11) and hence will fight hard and dirty if cornered, i might attempt to downplay my radicalism, seem to be a sellout of the obama stripe, make various zionist, bankster, establishment noises and movements until the fateful friday of january 20, 2017 has passed and i can consolidate my position using the powers of the imperial presidency.

truly it is only then that the truth will be, perhaps slowly, revealed.

until then we can hope and recommend, encourage and castigate.

but we cannot know.

FrankDrakman's picture

Stil think Trump should invite Russia to join NATO. Watch neo-con heads explode!

jeff montanye's picture

you are right that the msm will not use the word detente which was all the rage under reagan, but i think it's coming.  

that minimum bar seems near certain from trump.

jaxville's picture

  I agree with much I have read there as well.  It's the manner in which it is being presented here that is the problem.

JRobby's picture

They take up space which reduces the value of the comment section.

I think death is the appropriate penalty.

BigJim's picture

We know he's a spammer; anyone who's been here for any length of time has visited one of his links and can now instantly recognise his modus operandi - a couple of sentences and an obfuscated link -  and ignore it. You're actually becoming MORE annoying than he is.

jaxville's picture

  That describes 3/4 of the links that any other ZHr would post.  I still get caught in that nonsense (bunko links).  It pisses me off and it is doing a disservice to the information he is presenting.


All the lies's picture

Yeah, major difference is philpat ain't posting spammy links.

Holy hand grenade of Antioch's picture
Holy hand grenade of Antioch (not verified) All the lies Nov 20, 2016 8:04 AM

What he is doing is falsely identifying spammers.


I have NOTHING TO DO with the list of spammers, but have been put on the list.


FFS ~ I'd expect more accurate treatment from Melissa Zimdars


McCreant & a few others here can vouch for me on this

Bollixed's picture

Well, once he finds out you're Francis he'll be cool with you.

Holy hand grenade of Antioch's picture
Holy hand grenade of Antioch (not verified) Bollixed Nov 20, 2016 8:20 AM



I kno right? & C'MON MAN, even a kindergartener would know that I come up with much better usernames. 'Hy Brasilian', 'OW My Balls', 'Thirst Mutilator', etc.


Sheesh! ;-) ~ & to be clear [crystal], I have ZERO association whatsoever with that other dude.


& for crying out loud... I link [sometimes], but I don't SPAM. & 9 times out of 10, if I link something, it's a link to something either humorous or sardonic.

Tall Tom's picture





No crap. I get a lot of good laughs from your links.


Free F_S now the cat's out of the bag.


Fuck you phillipat!!! Throwing shit and hoping that some sticks? Now that is a tactic of the fuckin; socialistss. "I did not know" is NOT AN EXCUSE, phillipat, you asshole..


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I will vouch for you FS. Thanks for the story you recounted on that past thread. I had a Persian friend tell me teenage boys have been known to commit suicide when their personal favorite soccer team loses. This seemed completely incredulous to me. She explained that is all some have in such a repressive society.

On a lighter note, I once had a Dutch Lop who decided to make our yard his personal territory, my parents believed hutches were not the place for rabbits. Anyone entering the gate would be subject to attack, the sign " Do NOT enter! Rabbit is fiercely territorial" being seen as an amusement. It was most troubling to see large men screaming with blood streaming down their thighs, running with Missles in hot pursuit. Our Samoyed's neck was severely gashed and was terrified of him.

For some reason my dad seemed to enjoy his exploits but agreed to take him to the vet to see if anything could be done. My vet said he wasn't sure there was any medical solution besides castration ( my dad refused) just he had a healthy level of testosterone.

When the Holy Grail came out everyone was laughing at the silliness of it but my family.


Tall Tom's picture




But phillipat's LIBEL is okay, right?

11b40's picture

Spammy links are in the mind of the reader. What he is doing is hijacking the thread in an attempt to keep others from checking out what is written in the "spammy links".  In other words, trying to be our censor.  Why is he so dedicated to keeping anyone from clicking on the links and discovering the value for thselves? 

jeff montanye's picture

the link isn't spam, it's a rather outre' argument for a multi-generational zionist ashkenazi conspiracy to control the government, media and consciousness basically of the u.s.a.

pretty close to the truth, imo.