In his speech to the nation about Afghanistan on August 21, 2017, Tweeter-in-Chief Trump, reading from a teleprompter, said (and did not say) a number of remarkable things. I am remarking on a number of them here. One might also note that it was remarkable that a speech of such import was given, not from the Oval Office, but in front of a large number of troops (some of whom will surely be dying in the coming months and years, in Afghanistan).
1. The U.S. will be there until victory is achieved, going against a campaign promise.
2. He did not define "victory."
3. He did say that there will be "no blank check," which implies that the U.S. will not be there indefinitely, whether or not the non-defined "victory" is achieved, reversing the reversal of his campaign promise.
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4. So I guess for certain self-described members of the U.S. left who supported Trump in the 2016 election (and still do) because in their view he was the "peace candidate," this might come as a disappointment. Of course, whether that support will continue depends upon whether his true position is "1" or "3," above. Some of these folks are actually mourning the departure of the fascist Steve Bannon from the White House because he did not support this particular intervention. (But don't worry, you folk. When Trump resigns just before the Mueller heat reaches him, pardoning all, including himself, and then proceeds to set up his own proto-fascist political party, Bannon will be right back at his side, regardless of the Breitbart war-of-words already going on.)
5. The timing was notable. The speech got on his schedule so quickly that the Dominionist V-P Mike Pence had to be recalled from a long-planned trip to Latin America (that was presumably made to strengthen the pro-US imperialist forces now active in a number of Latin American countries).
6. Thus could we have been seeing another use of the President's favorite, a Weapon of Mass Distraction, say from the "reaction-to-Charlottesville" mess?
8. He spent lots of time on ISIS (which is not in Afghanistan), while totally ignoring the fact that contemporary terrorism can be, and is organized in many countries around the world, including the U.S. (see Dylan Roof and the murder of an anti-racist/Nazi protester in Charlottesville).
10. On the other hand, he did not use the term "radical Islamic terrorism," which I though was supposed to distinguish Republicans from Democrats, especially President Obama, in dealing with such organizations as ISIS.
11. Did you notice the hair? Totally different comb-over and color. Designed to be not-so-threatening?
12. Seemed to confuse ISIS with the Taliban, which, unlike ISIS, is an indigenous far-right-Islamic nationalist organization.
13. Speaking of the Taliban, its religious ideology/doctrine should be very familiar to the U.S. Christian Right, for it is similar in many ways to theirs, especially the Dominionists like Mike Pence.
14. He said that he will get more money to support U.S. operations in Afghanistan from the U.S. European allies (and any European leader who agreed to such a thing would be toast at their next election).
15. He threatened the U.S.'s staunchest ally in South Asia, Pakistan (which, like North Korea, happens to have nuclear weapons, which he just happened not to mention.
16. Obviously being totally ignorant (so what else is new?) about South Asian history, he said that he would get India to aid Pakistan in the fight against "terrorism." While doing so he also threatened India, with unspecified trade sanctions, if they didn't.
17. Then he said the U.S. will not engage in nation-building (which has to mean that the U.S. will eventually leave), but of course what is "victory" if not building a different nation, other than the opium-economy-dependent one that now exists. (The Taliban gets much of its funding from that trade, which would amount to much less were heroin to be legalized, like the major addictive drugs are, that is nicotine to tobacco products and ethyl alcohol.)
18. The "victory" he expects to achieve is something, however defined, that no foreign power, from Alexander the Great through the British Empire to the Soviet Union has ever achieved in Afghanistan. (And of course, if the anti-Soviet ideologue Zbig Brzezinski had not talked Pres. Carter into intervening in Afghanistan, there never would have been a Taliban, and few U.S. would even know where Afghanistan is. It happens that the great U.S. military "expert" the negative ace John McCain, once allowed how Afghanistan bordered in Ira.)
19. He completely ignored the role that Iran is increasingly playing in Western Afghanistan, and without bring them into the equation no peaceful solution can ever be achieved. He also did not mention China, which has a common border with Afghanistan, or any of the Central Asian "Stans" either.
20. Trump also ignored the increasing Russian presence in Afghanistan, in cooperation with the Taliban.
21. Trump ignored the fact that the Taliban have been interested in entering into negotiations for years, and have done so off and on.
22. Trump really wants a peaceful settlement, you say? Well, the office at the State Department which would ordinarily deal with the diplomatic side of any initiatives with Afghanistan was shut down by the Trumpites in June) presumably with Tillerson's agreement --- or maybe not?)
23. This "new" policy (actually old, and very similar to that of Obama --- leaving but not really --- despite Trump's railing against the latter) was apparently concocted with "the Generals," but without input from Tillerson. One has to wonder for just how long the Secretary of State is going to stick around, especially since the make-up-with-Russia policy so that the-sanctions-can-be-dropped and Exxon-Mobil can get on with the huge Arctic-drilling operation it had negotiated with the Russians, is now, by Congressional fiat, history.
24. Oh yes. This move is supposed to be part of the "campaign against terrorism aimed at the U.S." Don't these guys know that a) there has not been a [foreign] terrosit strike against the U.S. since (supposedly) 2001? and b) ISIS and al-Qaeda, etc., now operate out of many countries?
25. Finally, won't it have been fun to have seen (after this column was written) if the "Presidential" Trump carried on with both "peace and love" and "yes, we are going to continue to intervene overseas after all" in front of his base in Arizona on the evening of August 22, 2017, breaking with both the style and the content of his campaign and most his "Presidential" remarks/comments, campaign speeches, and, of course, tweets.