Trump’s Cracked Afghan History

His falsehoods about allies and the Soviets reach a new low.

President Trump’s remarks on Afghanistan at his Cabinet meeting Wednesday were a notable event. They will be criticized heavily, and deservedly so. The full text is available on the White House website.

Mr. Trump ridiculed other nations’ commitment of troops to fight alongside America’s in Afghanistan. He said, “They tell me a hundred times, ‘Oh, we sent you soldiers. We sent you soldiers.’”

This mockery is a slander against every ally that has supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan with troops who fought and often died. The United Kingdom has had more than 450 killed fighting in Afghanistan.

As reprehensible was Mr. Trump’s utterly false narrative of the Soviet Union’s involvement there in the 1980s. He said: “The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.”

Right to be there? We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with three divisions in December 1979 to prop up a fellow communist government.

The invasion was condemned throughout the non-communist world. The Soviets justified the invasion as an extension of the Brezhnev Doctrine, asserting their right to prevent countries from leaving the communist sphere. They stayed until 1989.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a defining event in the Cold War, making clear to all serious people the reality of the communist Kremlin’s threat. Mr. Trump’s cracked history can’t alter that reality.

 

 

 

 

Trump to Dictators: Have a Nice Day

Watching President Trump recently accuse Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of stabbing him in the back prompted me to Google a simple question: How many Canadians were killed or wounded since April 2002 fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan? The answer: 158 were killed and 635 wounded.

.. And yet, when their prime minister mildly pushed back against demands to lower Canada’s tariffs on milk, cheese and yogurt from the U.S., Trump and his team — in a flash — accused Trudeau of “betrayal,” back-stabbing and deserving of a “special place in hell.”

A special place in hell? Over milk tariffs? For a country that stood with us in our darkest hour?That is truly sick.

.. Everything is a transaction: What have you done for ME today?

The notion of America as the upholder of last resort of global rules and human rights — which occasionally forgoes small economic advantages to strengthen democratic societies so we can enjoy the much larger benefits of a world of healthy, free-market democracies — is over

.. “Trump’s America does not care,” historian Robert Kagan wrote in The Washington Post. “It is unencumbered by historical memory. It recognizes no moral, political or strategic commitments. It feels free to pursue objectives without regard to the effect on allies or, for that matter, the world. It has no sense of responsibility to anything beyond itself.”

.. But what’s terrifying about Trump is that he seems to prefer dictators to our democratic allies everywhere.

.. As Trump told reporters about the North Korean dictator on Friday: “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

.. Trump later said this was a joke. Sorry, no U.S. president should make such a joke, which, alas, was consistent with everything Trump has said and done before: He prefers the company of strongmen and, as long as they praise him, does not care how leaders anywhere treat their own people

.. Harb, an enormously decent British-educated surgeon, was imprisoned merely for tweeting mild criticism of Sisi’s crackdown on dissent... “The message is clear that criticism and even mild satire apparently earn Egyptians an immediate trip to prison.”

.. “For the second consecutive year, more than half of those jailed for their work around the world are behind bars in Turkey, China and Egypt

.. in once pro-Western Poland, the country’s most powerful politician, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is trying to replace the independent judiciary with judges selected purely for their loyalty to him and his party, snubbing his nose at the European Union’s liberal, rule-of-law values.

.. Trump doesn’t even have ambassadors in Turkey and Saudi Arabia today to whisper.

.. “In America, we’re going to survive Trump,” says Michael Posner, director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at N.Y.U. Stern. “We have strong institutions and plenty of people committed to maintaining our democratic processes. But places like Egypt, Turkey or the Philippines are fragile states where activists for decades relied on the U.S. to stand up and say, ‘There are consequences for your relations with the U.S. — trade, aid, military, investment — if you crush peaceful dissent.’

.. Today, we have a president who is not only not critical, he actually congratulates leaders on their fraudulent elections and seems to endorse their bad behavior.

.. Remember: These leaders are not repressing violent radicals, Posner adds; they are literally “criminalizing dissent and debate.” And their citizens now think that we’re O.K. with that.

If that stands, the world will eventually become a more dangerous place for all of us.

 

Has Trump finally gone too far?

Up until now, Trumpism has been a largely victimless crime. Or, to be exact, one whose victims were largely speculative and unnamed.

President Trump has been doing great damage to the fabric of our democracy with his venomous attacks on the free press (“Our Country’s biggest enemy”), the FBI (a “den of thieves and lowlifes”), people of color (who hail from “shithole countries” and “maybe shouldn’t be in the country” if they don’t stand for the national anthem), the political opposition (traitors who don’t “seem to love our country very much”) and other favorite targets. He has been doing just as much damage to America’s international standing by attacking our allies (e.g., calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest & weak”) and praising our enemies (e.g., calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “tough,” “smart,” “talented,” “funny”) while launching trade wars and tearing up international agreements.

.. his barbarous policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents, Trump has finally provided vivid, camera-ready examples of how his policies are destroying the lives of ordinary people.

.. The suffering of adults — and adult men at that — doesn’t pique popular sympathy the way that the mistreatment of children does.

..Why would Trump do something so evil? Because he is desperate.

.. for all of Trump’s “fire and fury,” he has not managed to secure the border. Failing at his top task, he is lashing out at defenseless mothers and children in the hope that his inhumanity will scare other immigrants from coming.

.. not a single Republican has signed on. Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the most liberal member of the Senate GOP caucus, is willing to criticize the family-separations policy but won’t support the effort to repeal it.

.. Republicans, seeing the fate of Trump critics such as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) — who was just defeated in his primary after the president tweeted an endorsement of his opponent — are so petrified of crossing the vengeful strongman in the White House that they are voluntarily separating themselves from their sense of right and wrong.

.. His GOP enablers are so craven, so soulless, so abject in their dishonor that they will allow any amount of human suffering rather than risk suffering the wrath of Trump.

.. he won’t be forced to act by Congress.

.. If only we could keep the hard-working Latin American newcomers and deport the contemptible Republican cowards — that would truly enhance America’s greatness.

Trump’s Canada Feud Signals Weakness, Not Strength

Picking a fight with Justin Trudeau on the eve of the North Korea talks sent the wrong message to America’s enemies.

..  White House trade adviser and apparent theologian Peter Navarro said on Fox News Sunday that “there’s a special place in Hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.”

Navarro was talking about Trudeau’s decision to hold a press conference in which he calmly, quietly, and politely — which is to say, Canadianly — explained that America’s neighbors to the north would be responding to the White House’s imposition of aluminum and steel tariffs with tariffs of their own, something the Canadian government had said it would do all along.

.. Kudlow, a friend of mine (who suffered a thankfully mild heart attack Monday night), went on to claim that the real reason Trump attacked our ally was to offer a show of strength before the Singapore summit.

.. “POTUS is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea. . . . Kim must not see American weakness.”

.. Traditionally, the president of the United States is considered the leader of the free world. Well, being the leader of a coalition of powerful and rich countries is a stronger position than leader of America alone.

.. By throwing Canada under the bus — with language we rarely use about our actual adversaries — Trump and his subalterns were sending a message of American weakness, not strength.

Sucking up to Russian president Vladimir Putin while hippie-punching Trudeau doesn’t make Trump himself look stronger, either.

..  One unnamed senior Trump adviser told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that the Trump Doctrine could be summarized as “We’re America, Bi***.” That may not be an official policy statement, but that is the impression our allies are getting.

.. Trump is profoundly unpopular and distrusted among the electorates of many of our allies. When Pew asked about public confidence in Trump’s ability to handle world affairs, 22 percent of Canadians expressed confidence in the president (compared with 83 percent for Obama). In Germany, only 11 percent trust Trump.

That’s not a problem if you think we don’t need allies, because they’re all going to Hell anyway. But don’t be surprised if other world leaders decide it’s in their interest to behave antagonistically toward America now that Trump has decided it’s in his interest to do so to them.