Here we go again


    I KNOW more about ISIS than the generals.”

    So boasted Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential campaign that resulted in a shocker when he roundly defeated Democratic Party candidate and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the electoral college that determined who would take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

    A little over two years later, Trump has thrown US foreign policy and Middle East politics into a tizzy by abandoning the anti-ISIS Kurdish forces in northern Syria that for years have received US backing. He made the 180-degree policy turnaround apparently during a telephone call with the Turkish President; Turkey is sensitive to Kurdish forces based in parts of Syria and Turkey as they are engaged in an effort to establish an independent Kurdish state.

    The policy turnaround happened without the knowledge of, or consent from, the US diplomatic or military/security establishment, nor with notice to US allies in the Middle East and Europe. And again it happens during a telephone call between the US president and a foreign leader – another instance where Trump veers from protocol, policy or tradition and engages in personal diplomacy without the guidance of the professionals responsible for the big picture where United States foreign and military policy is concerned.

    When a leader insists that he knows better than professionals in critical fields – and refuses to listen to them – policy making enters the realm of the chaotic, if not the absurd.

    Locally, I am keen on following the efforts of the DILG to revive Charter Change as part of the administration’s agenda for the last three years of its term.

    Charter Change, I am told, is part of the exit strategy of the President. By “exit strategy” I think is meant the effort to put in place the necessary conditions that will result in a smooth transition from the PRRD presidency to a friendly successor. Or maybe an extension of PRRD’s term beyond 2022.

    What we’ve been seeing so far since the mid terms is all part of this effort. Critical is making sure the House toes the line. And how do you do that? Why, make sure every member is happy with the budget process is how! Check!

    Then there’s the Barangay elections. Reset them and use them to coincide with a plebiscite, say in 2020. Check!

    Neutralize potential objectors, maybe those aspiring to be president in 2022 who may not be cooperative with an exit strategy. Check!

    So many presidents after 1986 have tried to launch a Charter Change effort but have failed after being suspected of using the effort to prolong their terms of office. Will this one share the same fate? Or will this one be the one that succeeds? Only time can tell.

    But yes, here we go again!