Tags: Barack Obama | Donald Trump | james stavridis | trump | inheritance | obama | wrenching

Stavridis: Trump Inheritance From Obama a 'Wrenching Hand-Off'

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Wednesday, 21 Dec 2016 01:44 PM

The United States has to be engaged in the Middle East, as it's where an "enormous amount of global events turn," but under President Barack Obama, that hasn't been happening, and that will mean a difficult inheritance for incoming President-elect Donald Trump, retired Admiral James Stavridis said Wednesday.

"It's hard to surface another moment where you see such a wrenching hand-off," Stavridis, a former NATO commander, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "It's very tragic, as we've all spoken about what's happened, particularly in Aleppo. This new turn is as bad a moment for U.S. policy as I can remember. We have to be engaged in the Middle East."

The situation in the Middle East didn't happen overnight, but was a result of "incrementalism," said Stavridis.

"Instead of making relatively bold choices and some obvious ones, enforcing the red line, we've kind of added a little bit at a time," said the retired four-star admiral. "A thousand troops in Iraq. A few more advisers. We've tried to bring some special forces into Syria. We've never taken the bold step and never enforced a red line. We didn't put sufficient troops on the ground to really have impact. So we are edged out of this one."

The Trump administration is focused on "taking out the Islamic State," said Stavridis, and that is important, as it could lead to "setting a base, a no-fly zone for the moderate Arabs."

Meanwhile, Stavridis said the United States "absolutely" needs to retaliate against Russia following its hacking and involvement in the electoral process.

"That can be a mix of covert and overt," said Stavridis. "It should probably begin with showing a little more evidence of what's happened publicly without revealing sources and methods. And then it needs to be proportional."

This could include embarrassing senior Russians by disclosing their financial dealings, or showing how Russia's government suppresses its population, said Stavridis, both of which would be a "proportional response, but something that has real impact. We've sent a muddled message thus far and that promotes further attacks."

Stavridis also believes sanctions need to be maintained "because they really are our only point of leverage on Syria and what's happening there. So we have to hold them because of what happened in Ukraine and Crimea but they also are part of what I'll call a transactional relationship with Russia."

He said he is concerned about Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson and his relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as "we cannot get too close to Russia given the ways we confront them around the world today."

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The United States has to be engaged in the Middle East, as it's where an "enormous amount of global events turn," but under President Barack Obama, that hasn't been happening, and that will mean a difficult inheritance for incoming President-elect Donald Trump, retired...
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2016-44-21
Wednesday, 21 Dec 2016 01:44 PM
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