Sunday, March 31, 2019


Is this is a fit of pique? Or is it a long-planned pander to the GOP's xenophobic base ahead of the 2020 election?
The United States is cutting off aid to the Northern Triangle, otherwise known as the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the State Department told CNN Saturday, one day after President Donald Trump said they had "set up" migrant caravans for entry into the United States.

"We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we're not paying them anymore. Because they haven't done a thing for us. They set up these caravans," Trump said Friday.
This is obviously counterproductive.
President Trump’s plan ... breaks with years of conventional wisdom in Washington that the best way to halt migration is to attack its root causes....

Cutting off aid is “shooting yourself in the foot,” said Adriana Beltrán, the director of citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights research group that tracks aid closely....

The decision turns American policy in the region on its head. Not only will it cut development and humanitarian assistance, but it will also halt joint law enforcement efforts, such as anti-gang units vetted by the United States, that had been supported by Republicans and the Trump administration until now....
This raises the "stupid or evil?" question that often comes up when we discuss Republican policies. An obvious guess is that aides who aren't stupid -- cough Stephen Miller cough -- concocted this plan as a way to induce more people to head for the U.S. border, thus making even casual observers in America believe there's a border crisis, just in time for the 2020 election. The plan was then sold to Trump because it's just the kind of policy he likes: It's simplistic, it's vengeful, it's heartless, and it's tight-fisted. In other words, it hits all the pleasure centers in Trump's brain that don't involve sex or golf.

What's odd, though, is that the three nations have been very cooperative with the U.S.:
... just a day before Mr. Trump made the comments, the United States signed a border security agreement with the three Central American governments intended to increase cooperation against human trafficking and organized crime.
The Honduran government ... emphasized its "solid and positive" bilateral relationship with the United States, adding that relations between both countries were strengthened this past week when Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and US national security adviser John Bolton met at the White House.
And these nations aren't just cooperating with the U.S. on hemispheric policy -- notice how a couple of them have really tried to kiss Trump's ring:
To win favor with Washington, Guatemala followed the Trump administration in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said last week that his government was opening a trade office in Jerusalem, which he called “a first step” toward moving his country’s embassy.
Seriously? Jerusalem? That isn't even enough to stave off Trump's wrath?

This is a warning to anyone waiting for a pardon from Trump for Russiagate crimes: It doesn't matter what you've done for him or how you've deferred to his wishes. Loyalty isn't enough.

Trump doesn't feel debts of gratitude. Trump won't do you a solid if you've done a solid for him. Maybe you'll get a pardon if Trump thinks pardoning you will piss off the liberals. But he won't do it in return for anything you've done for him. He doesn't operate that way. Trump believes that Trump is owed. Trump doesn't owe back.

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