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A few weeks ago, the tea leaves pointed towards the potential for a substantive change in our policy in Afghanistan. The initiation of talks with the Taliban hinted that Trump and the Generals had come to their senses as to the right course of action there. Announce a pull out, coordinate with Russia and China diplomatically to heal the divide between Pakistan, the Kabul government and the Taliban leadership and negotiate for a covered withdrawal that doesn't remind voters of the fall of Saigon.

That path is pretty much off the table at this point. Russia, China, Iran and Turkey will continue working the diplomatic angle to bring a Chechnya-like solution to Afghanistan, as laid out recently at The Duran:
In 2007, Akhmad's son Ramzan Kadyrov became the Head of the Chechen Republic. Ramazan's leadership marked Chechnya's transformation from an uneasy hotbed of rebellion and foreign terrorism to a place that is generally stable, a loyal subject of the Russian Federation and a place with zero tolerance for trouble makers. Crucially, the region has a high degree of autonomy in which Islamic customs and local laws are integrated into the overarching laws of the Russian Federation. It is a balance that has worked far better than many could have imagined. It many ways, it is a textbook example of 21st century compromise in respect of cultural autonomy combined with sovereign loyalty to a large state.
Afghanistan requires a similar solution.

U.S. leadership and the prevailing 'wisdom' in Washington is against any kind of solution like this, though Trump tried to make it sound like it was in his address to the nation on this issue.

So, the Deep State/MIC/Oligarchy got what it wanted in Afghanistan. It also got $175 million in weapons to the Ukrainian army; a move that will force Russia to recognize the breakaway republics in order to officially assist their defense. Moreover, there are multiple reports of two Crimean banks having been shut out of the SWIFT financial messaging network.

Germany is pushing Siemens over the resale of gas turbines to keep Crimea from becoming energy independent.

Meanwhile, we are pushing our Indian allies, who Trump bolstered while attacking Pakistan in his speech, to conflict with China.

Do you see the pattern here?

If these things, both big and little, were under the control of a President wishing rapprochement with Russia, they wouldn't be going this way. Those weapons wouldn't be going to the contact line in Ukraine. Crimea's banks would be able to do business and allow the area to grow as it is capable.

We wouldn't be trying to block gas turbines from bringing much-needed electricity to people who are simply pawns in silly geopolitical games.

The conclusion is that Donald Trump has become, just like every other President, a captured agent on foreign policy. And he will be allowed to tinker with domestic policy as long as foreign policy stays on track.

The domestic strife, endless bleating about Russia, the mass hysteria of his supposed white supremacy tendencies all served up a vicious meal he eventually had to swallow in order to have a prayer of surviving his first term in office.

Notice how the leading Democrats are beginning to come out and, reluctantly, denounce Antifa? That's your tell that something is about to change. Trump is a deal-maker. He's also an alpha male. He didn't go down without a fight and he may not be done.

The Big Trade

Washington is a town built on the deal, not on principles.

I blogged recently about a story at Breitbart that detailed Lindsay Graham's (Uniparty-SC) Obamacare replacement bill that has now magically surfaced. Read Breitbart for the guts, but I think this is the heart of the matter:
Graham's plan, which likely can get the backing of a majority in the Senate according to him, creates a Federalized 'block grant' structure that will distribute collected taxes and allow each state to implement a health care system that they want...

But, taking Graham at his word what this means is that the whole repeal vote was nothing more than a setup, because in no way could they have put this together in the last few weeks.

Therefore, this was held back from Trump and the rest of Congress for the purpose of finalizing a number of foreign policy initiatives that Trump was hostile to, namely expanded sanctions on Russia and Iran and a troop surge in Afghanistan.
That's the deal. You give up on foreign policy and we'll finally stop fighting you on domestic issues that we all know need to be dealt with as soon as possible.

All of a sudden, tax reform is back on the menu. Disaster relief funds for Houston will be approved. Obamacare repeal will be reintroduced after the debt ceiling theatre-of-the-irrelevant is settled.

The border wall will, however, remain tabled in perpetuity.

Trump will be able to claim these wins without much push-back while the Democrats lose everything if Trump cuts a deal with Julian Assange for a pardon and sends people to jail for treason.

And that situation, which we will see a resolution of in the coming days may make for the most interesting deal of them all.