Trump tweets while Afghanistan burns

President Trump seems only dimly aware the turmoil in Afghanistan. Or maybe he has foreign policy related on the country and is simply unable to articulate it in 140 characters. Most likely, and more disquieting, his contradictory and unintentionally humorous tweets truly reflect his confused views.

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On July 23, 2016, two suicide bombers struck Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 80 and injuring 250 in the recent conflict’s most deadly attack. An average of 50 Afghan soldiers are killed a day, another 180 are lost to injuries and desertion. More than 10,000 soldiers died as well as thousands of civilians.

Advisor to the President of Afghanistan, Scott Guggenheim, hopes the new administration can achieve what the Democrats couldn’t:

“It breaks my heart to have to say this, but the Republican government is going to be better than the Democrats for Afghanistan,” he told May Jeong in her investigative report for Harper’s magazine (February, 2017).

“The Republicans will say ‘These guys are fighting radicals; we have to stay engaged with them.’”

The Taliban has an opposing view. A spokesman told Jeong:

“He should withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and unlike other U.S. rulers, he should neither seek any more titles of ignominy for himself and American generals nor worsen American prestige, economy, and military by engaging in this futile war.”

The fog created by Trump’s lack of clarity has created an opportunity for Russia.  Vladimir Putin has reason to cheer the selection of Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who is CEO of ExxonMobil and has met with Putin. Russia is investing in housing and factories in Afghanistan and recently sent ten thousand automatic rifles to Kabul in hopes of strengthening ties. An exit by the U.S. would aid Putin’s grasp for regional dominance.

Trump seems unaware of what his own military has to say. A Republican-led investigation determined that troops will remain at 8,400. The top commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, says: “We have adequate resources.”

While the Republican’s views might be clear, Trump’s foreign policy for Afghanistan remains impenetrable. On one hand is his principle of “America first” which suggests isolation. On the other, he speaks aggressively of the Islamic State: “Their days are numbered.”

Stephen Biddle, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told Jeong:

“His policies on the campaign trail were so mutually contradictory and changeable that he much harder to predict than an orthodox president would be.” “He talks about Afghanistan only when he’s cornered, and when cornered, he has said he simply wants to get out.”

Trump has more power than either Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama to bring peace to Afghanistan. He has the support of a Republican Congress and expanded executive powers.

But Trump’s war remains at home. He is paralyzed with his war against the media and his decrees by tweet only thicken the fog on foreign policy.

Jeong lives in Kabul and is fatalistic:

“The survivors of the conflict, awaiting the next chapter of diplomacy, have no choice but to be patient.”

Afghans live with hope and patience. That’s all they have with this president in power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World domination plan falling into place for U.S. president

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning.

After the attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001,  U.S. President Bush’s mentors didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. They were looking for a provocation that would justify implementation of their plan but this was beyond their wildest visions.

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The first highjacked plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York at 8:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  The second tower was hit twenty minutes after that, and the third hit the Pentagon an hour later.

Soon after the initial attacks, President Bush took off in his jet from Sarasota, Florida.  He needed time to let it sink in.  High in the stratosphere, he struggled with mixed feelings of horror and guilt.  The president had been told of such attacks only a month earlier.  On August  6,  intelligence briefings had warned him of al Qaida plans and he had done nothing.

On the ground below, the twin towers collapsed into a hellish inferno, a fourth highjacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, the White House had been evacuated, and a nervous nation wondered where their president was.  What would he tell the people?

Three hours the president’ realized that this was no time for admissions of guilt.  He landed in Louisiana and hurried to an underground bunker air force base to tape a TV message.  On the little screen he looked pale and shaken as he said “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

A few hours later the president was flown to another fortified location at the Strategic Air Command headquarters in Nebraska where he consulted his mentors.  What to do?  He didn’t need to think for long.  The plan had already been drafted years ago by the hawks in his father’s presidency, including vice president Dick Cheney.

The plan’s four installments were recently declassified under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990’s, or the Plan for short.  “The Plan is for the United States to rule the world,” writes David Armstrong in his article, Dick Cheney’s Song of America (Harper’s Magazine, October, 2002).

When peace broke out in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Empire there was a real threat to U.S. military.  Doves and peaceniks wanted a reduction in military spending.  Cheney saw this threat to his dream of military conquest of the world.  And he didn’t like the competition from his so-called friends.  A strong European Union and the rise of the Asian tigers threatened U.S. world commercial dominance.

Cheney’s plan called for continued military spending against unspecified threats – – he couldn’t suggest war against his allies.  To the question “what threat,” Cheney was unwilling to say.  The Plan’s audacious goal of world domination would have offended the sensibilities of the most Americans.

Its co-author, Colin Powell, called on the U.S. to be the “biggest bully on the block.”  It called for world supremacy through force;  invasion of Iraq to destabilize European oil interests; demonization of North Korea to destabilize Asia and counter efforts to reunite the Koreas, giving a reason for continued U.S. military occupation.

What Cheney needed some horrible event to galvanize public.  He needed “some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor,” as the president’s brother, Jeb Bush, had suggested.

The Plan grew more credible with each passing hour.  The president rehearsed the answers.  Could he convince Americans that an attack on Afghanistan was justifiable, despite evidence that al Qaida had left and spread around the globe?  Easy.  Could he sell the idea that, while they were in Afghanistan, they might as well invade Iraq and toss out Saddam Hussein and his fictional weapons of mass destruction?  No problem. Could he convince Americans that Iran and North Korea were the next targets because they were part of some unsubstantiated “axis of evil”, despite no logical connection between the countries?  He could.

Today, Bush’s Pearl Harbor had been delivered to him.  He had the right stuff to be the chief bully of the baddest army in the world.  When the president returned to Washington at 7 p.m. on September 11, he was ready to rumble.  World domination was within his reach.