**Written by Doug Powers
DNC out: “Donald Trump’s border wall is a massive waste of taxpayer money that will not make us safer. Like many of the president’s policies, this initiative is rooted in nothing more than prejudice and fearmongering.”
DNC in: He isn’t building the border fence like he promised!
The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday morning sent an email with the subject “Trump’s Empty Promises on Border Wall.”
“Trump has failed to deliver on his signature promise to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it. Trump even admitted in a private conversation with Mexico that his border wall promise was the ‘least important thing,'” said the email, first noticed by Business Insider reporter Allan Smith.
Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal group Media Matters for America, slammed the email as counterproductive.
Maybe during Trump’s immigration speech tonight in Arizona he should announce he’s ordering construction to begin right now as a bipartisan gesture to Dems criticizing him for lagging on the issue. I can’t wait for the Dem nominee’s slogan in three years: “Kamala Harris 2020: Because Trump didn’t even finish the wall!”
Is it any wonder the DNC continues to sink even though voters helped the party eject some of their ballast last November?
Tom Perez has been DNC chair for 6 months.
He's accounted for 3 of 14 worst DNC fundraising months since 2008.https://t.co/RWMlNdt9eQ
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) August 21, 2017
DNC hits a fundraising low. pic.twitter.com/w46fAbKsdB
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 20, 2017
At some point hopefully Hillary will be installed as DNC chair to really help the party turn things around.
**Written by Doug Powers
Christopher A. Preble
In his address to the nation on Monday evening, President Donald Trump explained that his “original instinct,” when he came into office, “was to pull out” of Afghanistan. But “decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” and so he, like his two predecessors, has determined that U.S. forces will remain there. “The American people are weary of war without victory,” he explained. So victory is what the president promised them.
Specifically, he pledged to apply force strategically in order “to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.”
On five separate occasions, President Trump referred to a “new strategy” for Afghanistan, but the details are sketchy. Don’t be distracted by the assertions that Trump expects more of our Afghan partners, or that he will put pressure on Pakistan—and we really mean it this time. The relevant point is this: presented with an opportunity to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Trump chose to keep it going. And going. “A core pillar of our new strategy,” he explained, is “a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.” Withdrawal, should it ever come, won’t be based on “arbitrary timetables.” Although he said “our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check,” make no mistake: the U.S. military presence is open-ended.
Why did a man who regularly railed against Washington insiders for their foolish wars ultimately sign onto a continuation of America’s longest one?
Trump’s skepticism of the war in Afghanistan goes back at least six years. For example, on October 7, 2011, he asked on Twitter “when will we stop wasting our money on rebuilding Afghanistan?” Less than six months later, he tweeted “It is time to get out of Afghanistan…It is not in our national interest.” In August 2012, he called the war in Afghanistan “a complete waste.” And declared it’s “time to come home.” As late as December 2014, he blasted President Barack Obama for “keeping our soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year.”
Based on these comments, and Trump’s professed skepticism of the foreign policy establishment’s playbook, it wouldn’t have been a great shock if he chose to walk away.
On the other hand, Donald Trump hates losing. And leaving Afghanistan in its present state would look a lot like a loss.
What’s more, if he were to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and something bad were to happen at a later date (e.g. terrorism here, attacks against Americans there, Taliban resurgent) he would forever be blamed.
He could, and probably would, attempt to shift blame to his predecessors. But the fact would stand: Trump chose to withdraw U.S. troops after his predecessors had chosen to leave them in place, and the bad thing happened on his watch. That that bad thing would not have happened if the troops had stayed will be assumed, although such claims are untested and untestable. Just ask Barack Obama. On Monday evening, as he had many times previously, Donald Trump blamed the rise of ISIS on Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq in 2011.
President Trump’s rhetoric echoes the conventional wisdom in Washington. Few presidents are criticized for using military force. More often, they are hit for not intervening often enough. Or trying hard enough. Or long enough. Withdrawal without victory is a particularly odious sin.
Therefore, when Donald Trump was presented with an opportunity to redirect U.S. attention and resources, he ignored both the reasonable and well-considered suggestions to withdraw, as well as the foolish and quixotic proposals. Instead, he chose to kick the can down the road. Although he didn’t tell the American people how many additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan, increasing the size of the force already there will not be sufficient to turn the tide there, a point that he admitted during his speech. American military power is insufficient to bring an enduring political settlement to a country the size of Afghanistan.
But while leaving U.S. troops in Afghanistan hasn’t made it easier to win (whatever that means), Trump has made it harder for his successor to leave at a later date.
Imagine a scenario in the late summer of 2021, in which the next occupant of the White House is confronted with a choice on whether to stay or withdraw. He or she will agonize over it—as Trump did, and as Obama did, too.
In all likelihood, that successor will also conclude that leaving isn’t worth the political hit. President 46 will leave the force in place, or modestly increase it, but without expecting to ever actually win, or ever quit. The object, as with Trump, will be to avoid the appearance of defeat.
Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a recipe for continual conflict.
When any president is given the option of either backing away from the use of American military power, or doubling down on past efforts, the easiest course—politically—is to continue the war.
President Trump has chosen the easiest course. The man who prides himself on ignoring polls and focus groups, and making decisions on the basis of what is best for the country, has behaved no differently than his predecessors.Christopher Preble is vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and the author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free.
**Written by Doug Powers
…He apparently won’t be worthy of this level of recognition:
So far Clarence Thomas has not been deemed worthy of inclusion in the museum:
Artifacts from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests will reportedly soon be on display at the Black Lives Matter collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History.
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has nearly 40,000 items in our collection,” said Damion Thomas, the museum’s sports curator, to USA Today. “The Colin Kaepernick collection is in line with the museum’s larger collecting efforts to document the varied areas of society that have been impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The free agent quarterback who has yet to find a team for the upcoming 2017 NFL season will feature prominently at the African American history museum, which previously neglected to acknowledge Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Though future historians will debate the impact of the Kaepernick epoch on world history, maybe the museum would be impressed if Thomas took a knee while wearing a Castro t-shirt before the next SCOTUS term kicks off. It’s time to find out if the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History would finally consider that to be an accomplishment worthy of including among the “artifacts” such as Kaepernick’s bronze kneepad. Apparently this background and resume isn’t inspiring enough:
The quarterback’s admission into the nation’s premier black history museum was fairly speedy relative to Thomas, only the second black man in American history to serve on the Supreme Court.
Thomas was born in Georgia’s coastal lowlands among impoverished Gullah-speakers. By his own account, he did not master English until his early 20s. He came of age in Jim Crow Savannah, Ga., where he was turn ridiculed by white neighbors and classmates for his unpolished style. During this period, most public spaces in Savannah were segregated by race.
Despite the startling racial injustices of his youth, he went on to the College of the Holy Cross and Yale Law School. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.
Some members of the Cleveland Browns are trying to get their own exhibit at the museum as well. Your “they also take a knee during the game” jokes here: ________.
**Written by Doug Powers
A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner
Last night, Donald Trump took full ownership of the war in Afghanistan, a war he has criticized for years. By Trump’s own admission, and that of his secretary of defense, that war has been going very poorly. Using his first nationally televised prime-time address to articulate a new strategy for “winning,” Trump has firmly yoked his legacy to making serious progress in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately for Trump, and even worse for the United States, this war will not end in victory.
The first problem with Trump’s strategy is his full-throated embrace of a vague and expansive definition of American goals, which now include “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan …” Why does Trump believe that the United States can solve these problems now when solutions have eluded both of his predecessors for the past 16 years?
In the end, Trump’s bold claims about keeping America safe by going on the offensive in Afghanistan ring hollow.
Disrupting Al Qaeda was a discrete and achievable goal, one quickly realized in 2001. But defeating Al Qaeda “and every terrorist group of global reach” was not. When nations — even powerful ones like the United States — identify impossible tasks as their goals, they are doomed to fail.
Beyond that, although Trump claimed his strategy represents a clear break from the past, it is so far only a slightly more muscular version of the policy he inherited from Obama. And, in fact, it remains a much less forceful version of Obama’s surge in 2009 and 2010, when the total number of American troops reached 100,000. That surge provided only temporary and partial relief to the Afghan government. There is no evidence, from the Trump administration or elsewhere, to suggest that things will be different this time. The facts on the ground are stubborn and longstanding. Neither a few thousand more troops nor a few more years will tame the Taliban or turn the tide of the conflict.
Nor should the public believe that there is anything new in Trump’s focus on Pakistan. Though the President is right to reconsider the aid the U.S. provides to Pakistan given its support of the Taliban, Trump’s call to hold Pakistan accountable amounts to a recycling of previous U.S. efforts. In 2001, the U.S. put “extraordinary pressure” on Pakistan. In 2006, the U.S. praised Pakistan for its “unfaltering” fight against terrorism. A similar to and fro continued during the Obama presidency. None of these efforts have amounted to much to date. Carrying them too far, on the other hand, may amplify the conflict in Pakistan, further destabilizing the region.
In the end, Trump’s bold claims about keeping America safe by going on the offensive in Afghanistan ring hollow. The truth is that for all the talk of terrorism safe havens and American influence, neither propping up Afghanistan nor defeating the Taliban are necessary to ensure American security.
Al Qaeda, the threat that justified the invasion in the first place, is a pale shadow of its former self, nor is Afghanistan a safe haven for ISIS. Sadly, the greatest danger to Americans comes not from terrorists based overseas, but from people living in the United States who decide to commit violent acts.
After more than 2,400 American casualties and hundreds of billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan over the past 16 years, there is still no end in sight to America’s longest war. But rather than acknowledge the United States has done all it could there, Trump’s strategy ensures that the United States will keep paying a steep price for continued failure in Afghanistan.
Trump may also pay a political price for Afghanistan. He admitted that his initial instinct was to pull out of Afghanistan, but that was before he “studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle.” Having successfully attacked Obama for continuing failed policies in the war on terror, there is little upside for Trump with his “America First” base. If U.S. efforts in Afghanistan don’t “work quickly” as the President promised, he will have provided potential opponents — both Democratic and Republican — with a powerful issue with which to attack him in 2020.A. Trevor Thrall is senior fellow in defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute and associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Erik Goepner commanded military units in Afghanistan and Iraq and is a visiting research fellow at the Cato Institute and doctoral candidate at George Mason University.