Trump wrong on some things

There’s a 1964 novel, Convention, by Charles Bailey and Fletcher Knebel, about a Republican presidential candidate who gets bad spin because the USSR agrees with his views on controlling arms. Two of the GOP heroes of the novel talk about how stupid it is to penalize leaders just because their views happen to overlap with those of communists, and one of them—a retired U.S. general—says, “They even praised me once. If we made policy by trying to take the reverse of the communist line, we’d wind up in knots.”

It was a commentary on red baiting and the way McCarthyites smeared those who voted in ways that might happen to also support the coexistence policies of Russia. Sometimes adversaries have common ground.

Now let’s leap forward about 15 years to comments Republican U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt made to reporters at the Holiday Inn in Reno about how the CIA had no idea the Shah of Iran was in trouble until he was deposed in 1979. That came after U.S. intelligence failed to predict the 1973 Yom Kippur war but before it similarly missed the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and the 1998 Indian nuclear test.

Rep. Brad Schneider: “Why does President Trump continue to side with Vladimir Putin over our intelligence agencies?” Sen. Jeff Flake: “I couldn’t believe that a president would put as much faith, or more faith, in the words of a dictator … over our own intelligence services.” That’s a false choice. Our intelligence services have bungled time and again, have cooked up “intelligence” on demand, have let themselves be politicized. Our intelligence services have been an embarrassment. When the CIA engineered the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran, re-installing the deposed and despicable Reza Pahlavi, it sentenced Iranians to a generation of torture, misery and repression, earning the hatred of Iranians for the United States, encouraging the 1979 hostage-taking at our Tehran embassy. There’s no reason to fault Trump—or anyone else—for having little faith in U.S. intelligence. There are plenty of other grounds on which to fault this “president,” as John McCain showed in his statement denouncing Trump without praising U.S. intelligence.

CNN: “Trump deals a shocking blow to US intelligence agencies.” The fact is, from Guatemala to the Bay of Pigs, and from Iran to Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies have dealt shocking blows to the United States.

Newsweek: “Former CIA director: U.S. intelligence agencies might want to withhold information from Trump.” That’s probably better than U.S. intelligence passing false information to officials like Colin Powell and George W. Bush, who then made it public, as Bush did on October 7, 2002: “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.”

NPR: “In Helsinki, Trump Appeared To Side With Russia Over U.S. Intelligence Community.” So did antiwar activists and many Democrats in 2003 when George W. Bush was trying to launch an unnecessary, unprovoked war against Iraq, and Russia tried to negotiate a settlement between Bush and Iraq.

We oppose Donald Trump. That doesn’t mean we think the use of any unprincipled method is acceptable in making the case against him. Ω