Tuesday Reads: Having Trump as “President” is ExhaustingPosted: August 22, 2017
Sigh . . . Having Trump as “president” is so exhausting. His speech last night was essentially meaningless, most likely made in an effort to distract from Trump’s racist response to Charlottesville; but some in the media ate it up. Philip Rucker will probably regret this tweet soon.
We saw an ignorant moron read a speech written by someone else about a vague policy someone else designed, but suddenly he’s so “presidential.”
And this one:
Killing terrorists is a “doctrine?” Fred Kaplan at Slate: Killing Terrorists Is Not a Strategy.
President Donald Trump’s speech Monday night on Afghanistan—his first prime-time address since his speech to Congress in March—contained a few good lines but no real substance. He billed it as the outline of “our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia,” “a new strategy,” and “a plan for victory”—but, in fact, it was none of the above….
Strategy is the application of force to achieve political aims. The first threetenets of Trump’s definition (“attacking … obliterating … crushing”) amount to pounding an area with firepower. The next two (halting the Taliban and stopping terrorist attacks) are political aims. But nowhere in the speech did Trump lay out how the pounding might lead to the winning of the war and the settling of the peace.
We have already been doing a lot of pounding in Afghanistan these past 16 years. Trump blamed the failures up until now on excessive micromanagement in Washington—too many rules about when, where, and how force can be used. He said he would lift those restrictions, let the commanders and the fighters in the field do what they think necessary. With this new freedom, victory will flow as freely as the lava from a freshly blown volcano.
There are several problems with this notion. First, Trump didn’t say how many more U.S. troops he would be sending (on the rationale that he won’t let the enemy know what’s coming), but officials have been talking about another 3,000 to 5,000 on top of the 8,000 who are stationed there now. At the peak of the fight in 2011, there were 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A few thousand more soldiers and Marines in full fury can’t wreak more damage than a restrained force 10 times larger (and, at times, that larger force fought with little restraint). So, on one level, his “plan” is impractical.
Read the rest at Slate. It’s the best piece I’ve read so far on Trump’s useless speech. If you want more background on how Trump made his “decision,” check out these two articles.
The New York Times: Angry Trump Grilled His Generals About Troop Increase, Then Gave In.
The Washington Post: ‘It’s a hard problem’: Inside Trump’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Oh, and the number of troops Trump will send and when is a secret. How weird is that?
Of course he will likely obliterate whatever positive reaction he got from the speech tonight at his campaign rally in Phoenix. As of this morning, he’s still going even though they don’t want him there.
Tuesday’s border facility tour in Yuma and campaign rally in Phoenix — announced in the wake of his angry and defensive response to the white supremacist-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia — brings the president back to the city he twice used to stabilize and grow his support during the tumultuous presidential campaign, and where he unveiled his campaign’s most articulated immigration policy rollout.
Just a month after he announced his candidacy in June, 2015, Trump revved up 5,000 people over immigration in Phoenix, telling the largest crowd of his campaign up to that point that he would make sure they take their country back and that “Chinese leaders are much smarter than Obama and his bunch of clowns” on trade.
A year later, after sending mixed messages on his stance on legalizing undocumented immigrants, Trump returned to Phoenix just two weeks after bringing Bannon onto his campaign for what became known as his illegal immigration speech, where he listed “victims of the Obama-Clinton open borders policies” and said there would be “zero tolerance for criminal aliens.”
Trump now returns to Arizona to show who he is without Bannon behind the curtain. For his supporters who rallied to his cause over immigration in particular, it will be a revealing moment. For those worried after last week’s maligned Charlottesville response that the president is dwelling too much on his base to the exclusion of others, it is anxiety-inducing.
Read the rest at the link.
The Washington Post: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton: Now is not the time for Trump to visit my city.
Nearly 50 years ago, moments after learning that an avowed racist had gunned down Martin Luther King Jr., a young presidential candidate took the stage in Indianapolis to break the news to a largely African American crowd.
“What we need in the United States is not division,” Sen. Robert F. Kennedy implored. “What we need in the United States is not hatred. What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another.”
It was exactly what the grief-stricken crowd needed to hear. There were riots in many cities that night, but not in Indianapolis.
President Trump’s response to Charlottesville reminds us that the words and actions of our political leaders in the wake of tragic events matter.America is hurting. And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.
That’s why I asked the president to delay his visit. It’s time to let cooler heads prevail and begin the healing process.
But there’s no sign that Trump gives a sh*t about dividing the nation with his racist rants.
On an even more serious note, why have so many U.S. ships been involved in collisions?
The remains of “some” American sailors have been found in sealed compartments aboard the USS John S. McCain, Adm. Scott Swift of the U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday.
Swift said the Malaysian Navy, which has been involved in the search, has also located “potential” remains and they are working to confirm and identify those discovered.
The Navy vessel suffered significant damage to its hull when it was hit by the Alnic MC, a 30,000-ton chemical and oil tanker sailing under the Liberian flag.
Ten sailors have been missing since the incident which occurred Monday. Swift did not identify who or how many people the remains belonged to.
“Its premature to say how many and what the status recovery of those bodies is,” he told reporters.
Trump has said nothing in reaction to this tragedy other (or previous ones) than a tweet of “thoughts and prayers.”
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Navy ships keep getting into accidents. Time to find out why.
FOR A state-of-the-art U.S. Navy destroyer to collide with a slow-moving tanker ship, there must be multiple failures of operations and personnel, from the enlisted seamen manning lookout posts to the captain of the ship. That it has happened twice in two months to the Asia-based 7th Fleet, with the tragic loss of up to 17 lives, suggests broader and deeper maladies in the fleet and perhaps in the Navy more generally.
About the only good thing that can be said following Monday’s crash of the USS John S. McCain with an oil tanker near Singapore, which left 10 sailors missing, is that senior commanders appear to recognize the severity of their problem. Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, quickly ordered an “operational pause” and a fleetwide study of “operational tempo, performance, maintenance, equipment and personnel.” That review must be unsparing — and Congress should study its results when it considers defense spending plans.
An initial review by the Navy of the collision of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan in June suggested multiple personnel failures. To its credit, the service moved quickly to discipline a dozen sailors, including the two top officers and the top enlisted sailor, even while the investigation of the incident continues. Among other things, the Fitzgerald’s commander was not on the bridge when the crash occurred, though protocol requires the captain’s presence when other ships are passing nearby.
Like the Fitzgerald, the McCain was traveling in a heavily trafficked sea lane in darkness when the collision occurred, making human error more likely. But there is also reason to question whether the 7th Fleet has systemic problems. It has now recorded four major accidents this year, including the grounding of the cruiser USS Antietam on Jan. 31 in Tokyo Bay and the May 9 collision of the San Diego-based cruiser USS Lake Champlain with a fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.
Could the collisions have been caused by computer hacking?
McClatchy: US Navy collisions stoke cyber threat concerns.
The Pentagon won’t yet say how the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore, but red flags are flying as the Navy’s decades-old reliance on electronic guidance systems increasing looks like another target of cyberattack.
The incident – the fourth involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year – occurred near the Strait of Malacca, a crowded 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and accounts for roughly 25 percent of global shipping.
“When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can’t tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn’t have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar,” said Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs, a New Boston, New Hampshire, cyber intelligence service.
“There’s something more than just human error going on because there would have been a lot of humans to be checks and balances,” said Stutzman, a former information warfare specialist in the Navy.
Read the rest at the link.
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