FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump’s About-Face on Afghanistan

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

“So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle.” -Trump, Aug. 21

Somehow I find it hard to imagine Trump studying anything other than the real estate market in great detail. But now the president has been briefed by his generals on the need to sustain the war in Afghanistan (that’s been so good to them all these years). They have turned him around, so easily; he loves his generals and would like to leave details to them.

He has helpfully explained that while his natural instinct was to withdraw from the Afghan battlefield, things look different when you’re president. Gosh.

Specifically, he said (Monday at Ft. Myer, Virginia): “My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. [This probably means: All my life I’ve liked following my instincts, acting spontaneously rather than reading books and studying things.] But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle.”

Oh. He’s heard all his life—but presumably, recently more than ever—that people who become president are supposed to change once in office. So it’s okay to drop a key campaign promise (to pull back from unwinnable wars) due to a sudden maturation process and the wisdom that comes from detailed study in generals’ briefing rooms. Maybe some in his base will be fine with that. USA! USA! USA! after all.

And surely many who despise Trump will be relieved to see more hawkish military influence in the administration. For them, Trump is despicable not so much due to his racism and bigotry as to his supposed isolationism and withdrawal from U.S. global commitments.

So even as Trump continues to astonish two-thirds of the people with his outlandishness, he is becoming increasingly normalized as a leader on foreign and military policy. What did CNN’s Fareed Zakaria say after Trump dropped the MOAB on Afghanistan last April? “He just became the president of the United States.” What did MSNBC’s Brian Williams say about the pointless strike on a Syrian military base that same month? “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.'” Jesus. What is wrong with these mainstream press people?

Military action brings good press, as a rule. What’s amazing is the shallowness of public memory. And—given the determination of cable news directors and anchors steeped in State Department talking points and assumptions to depict the creeping military coup as a return to responsibility—the likely acceptance of a wider war in Afghanistan, as something that just can’t be helped, once you study it in detail from every angle, except for those of the Afghan people.

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail