But The President Wants You To Know: “We Are Not Nation-Building. We Are Killing Terrorists.”
The President may have poor prompter reading skills, but his promoter skills are still great. He basically just sold the whole country on a strategy for Afghanistan without giving any details on what that strategy is. Zero. No numbers. No timetables. No scenario of what a “win” looks like. No indication of how many more U.S. soldiers will be asked to risk their lives.
In fact, the President excitedly stated he is never going to provide any info of that kind because it gives our enemies an advantage and forces us to operate out of a position of weakness. So it’ll all be a secret. That’s a lot easier than stating the obvious: the U.S. is recommitting to a major war.
Still, it was a fine speech and a tactful performance: the President appearing coherent and confident, thoughtfully in control of a nasty situation he inherited, and that’s deteriorated since. Washington Post reporter Robert Costa Tweeted: “This is a speech wrapped in layers of non-interventionist rhetoric, sprinkled with Queens and “Patton”-type bravado, delivered gently.” Costa also offers this behind-the-scenes look at what factored into the President’s decision, and what advice he ultimately discarded.
Trump did go into great detail about what his strategy won’t be: emphasizing over and over again America’s end game is not to spread Democracy, (seemingly in line with recently fired Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s thinking), and a dramatic reversal to an American doctrine that has existed at least as far back as Kissinger. The President: “We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands or try to build other countries in our own imagine. Those days are now over.”
However, Trump also indicated he might eventually be willing to negotiate with “elements of the Taliban” once it became clear they are not going to take over the whole country again. An unusual expression of nuance and finesse for a leader who’s known for neither.
A lot of media, especially on the Far-right and Far-left pointed to Trump’s flip-flopping on Afghanistan, which continued throughout his campaign and into his Presidency. While we don’t support Trump’s decision, we do find something potentially positive in the flexibility demonstrated; having an open mind, abandoning his “gut” as he described it, at least in this case. (Who knows what he might be open to now Bannon’s gone?)
Speaking of which, with Bannon on the loose, Breitbart wasted no time in tearing into Trump’s decision like a bunch of White Walkers. (Despite the fact that he echoed a lot of Bannon talking points.) But they didn’t really attack Trump directly; more of a flanking maneuver. One article was entitled “His McMaster’s Voice”, targeting Trump’s National Security Adviser, and the man the Far-right is blaming most squarely for the new Afghanistan strategy. It concludes: “POTUS is a remarkably astute and stubborn individual. This was about the swamp getting to him.” (Now who does that sound like…?)
Yet several Left-wing thinkers pursued a similar tack: like James Fallows in the Atlantic, accusing Trump of sounding like a “mainstream politician.” And this video clip from The New York Times detailing Trump’s many Afghanistan flip-flops:
We think by making the point at the beginning of his speech that he was initially against the current course of action, Trump is not displaying weak knees, rather giving himself a backdoor. If things don’t work out, he can eventually fall back on blaming “the Generals”, saying he never wanted to do any of this in the first place.
A Big Part Of “Fixing” Afghanistan Involves Pressuring Pakistan
The President: “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting….That will change immediately.” Of course, most famously, Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan when the U.S. went in and got him. More from Trump:
Meanwhile, Trump dragged Pakistan’s chief rival, India into the equation, while not making it very clear what he expected of them, only that “India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan.” The help would be in the areas of “economic assistance and development”. A lot of Trump’s courting (and subtly threatening) India, might have to do with another big player in Afghanistan that Trump failed to mention at all: China. Afghanistan is crucial to China’s ongoing effort to build a modern-day Silk Road, something that could become a very serious economic threat to the U.S. China also has invested heavily in mining in Afghanistan. Trump is hoping to capture some of that business for the U.S.
Fugitive Driver In Barcelona Terror Attack Shot Dead
Younes Abouyaaqoub was found by police not far from Barcelona, wearing a bomb belt which turned out to be fake. He reportedly drove the van which mowed down scores of tourists in the Las Ramblas entertainment area last Thursday. 15 people died in that and subsequent smaller attacks.
Because #WTF and #OMFG Just Aren’t Enough
We suggest a new hashtag: #OCHD…Of Course He Did! As in: “Trump and his family just bankrupted the Secret Service #OCHD!” or “Trump just dissolved Climate Change Advisory Panel #OCHD!” or “Trump just said Nazi sympathizers are “fine people” #OCHD!” We expect a lot of opportunities for this at Trump’s Arizona rally tonight: the first time in his Presidency he’s traveled West of the Mississippi. For instance: “Trump just pardoned racist Sheriff #OCHD!”
You get the idea…now go forth!
We Are The Folks The “You Will Not Replace Us” People Are Afraid Of:
We went to watch the eclipse in the Bronx, New York for some reason. At a place where everybody seemed to gather from Orthodox Jews to women in hijabs.
All sharing theories about the best way to look at the sun, and contraptions, none of which really worked. But we all had a lot of fun with it.
No one was proselytizing. No one was trying to impose Sharia law. We didn’t have viewing glasses; a couple of older women enthusiastically shared theirs with us, didn’t deny them to us because we’d benefited from privilege all our lives and now it was their turn… In other words, it was a great time.
Folks, this is what America will look like inevitably. And it’s a good thing. A very good thing. Hanging on to the past for as long as you possibly can is understandable to some extent, so if that’s how you feel, go ahead and do it: unless and until you start standing, violently, hatefully, in everybody else’s way. We and they and even you have as much of a right to be here as anybody else.
And anyway, as former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold points out in this recent Op-Ed, if you’re a White Nationalist, Congress is already doing a lot of your work for you. No matter how harshly they verbally condemn White Supremacists, members of Congress are the ones pushing voter suppression, gerrymandering to ensure predominantly white districts, curtailing legal immigration, and lots of other things.
But really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. No one is here to do you harm, we all just want to live our own lives, as best we can, in freedom. This great nation was based on dreams, not on fear.