"The next national security adviser of the United States is going to be
September 11, 2019 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Donald Trump." According to the New York Times, "In recent weeks, it had been increasingly clear that the United States and the Taliban, after nine rounds of painstaking negotiations in Doha, Qatar, had ironed out most of the issues between them. [...] The deal called for a gradual withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops over 16 months, with about 5,000 of them leaving within 135 days. In return, the Taliban would provide counterterrorism assurances to ease American fears of a repeat of Sept. 11 from Afghan soil. But the negotiations left out Afghanistan’s government, and Mr. Ghani’s officials criticized it for lacking measures that would ensure stability. At home, Mr. Trump was cautioned by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; Gen. Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff; and Gen. David Petraeus, the retired Afghanistan and Iraq commander. Mr. Bolton was the leading voice against the deal on the inside as Mr. Pompeo’s allies increasingly tried to isolate the national security adviser."

The NYT also reports that "[n]ot only was Mr. Ghani’s government largely left out of the initial peace efforts, a deal would almost certainly have meant the end of his time at the palace, at least for the time being, given the likelihood that a transitional government would be put in place. Then, just when Mr. Ghani’s aides appeared to be running out of options, their bags packed for a Camp David meeting meant to complete the American agreement with the Taliban, President Trump pulled the plug on the talks.

All of a sudden, the elections were back in the front seat, seemingly certain to take place on Sept. 28, with Mr. Ghani one of the favorites. The sudden change of fortune for Mr. Ghani in no way means easier times ahead for Afghanistan, even if the interruption of the peace efforts is seen by many of its critics as an opportunity for course correction. Mr. Trump has suggested he might go ahead with withdrawing troops even without a deal."

The Washington Post reports "Under Pompeo, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had changed the parameters of U.S. policy on the issue. Several administrations had refused to talk to the militants, insisting that they should negotiate an end to the war only with the Afghan government. But Trump’s insistence that he wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and a conclusion that there would be no military victory by either side there, had led Pompeo and Khalilzad to believe that the United States should negotiate its own exit directly with the Taliban, even while using that leverage to force eventual inter-Afghan talks."

The NYT reports that Bolton "spent much of the past week waging a last-minute battle to prevent Mr. Trump from signing off on a peace agreement with the Taliban militant organization, which he viewed as anathema — a deal that the president was preparing to finalize by inviting the Taliban leaders to Camp David. Mr. Bolton urged Mr. Trump to reject the agreement, arguing that the president could still withdraw troops from Afghanistan to fulfill his campaign promise without getting in bed with an organization responsible for killing thousands of Americans over the past 18 years. Mr. Trump ultimately did scrap plans for the Camp David meeting and said on Monday that talks with the Taliban were now “dead.” But the president’s aides were furious over news reports saying that Mr. Bolton opposed the meeting because they saw the leaks as working against the president’s interests."

NBC News reports, "Asked if the disagreement over the Taliban talks led to Bolton’s dismissal, Grisham said “that there was no final straw." [...] But speaking on the condition of anonymity, one official said Afghanistan “broke open the bottom of the bag” in a relationship that had been eroding. Another official confirmed that sharp disagreement over the Afghanistan deal was the final issue that ruptured the relationship."

According to Politico, "Ultimately, it was hearing media accounts about how Bolton had advised the president to scuttle a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David that proved a breaking point for Trump, according to sources in and out of the administration. In the president’s telling, he had taken his own counsel in arriving at the decision to call off the meeting and end the negotiations, and he was infuriated to hear Bolton credited with influencing his decision."

According to John Gans, in an NYT Opinion, "Mr. Bolton’s singular achievement was to dismantle a foreign-policymaking structure that had until then kept the president from running foreign policy by the seat of his pants. Mr. Bolton persuaded Mr. Trump he didn’t need the National Security Council to make decisions; it is no surprise that the president eventually felt confident deciding he did not need a national security adviser, either. Whether Mr. Trump names a replacement for Mr. Bolton does not matter: No one is going to convince the president he needs a system now, let alone the one that existed for 70 years."

Graeme Wood writes at The Atlantic "With Bolton gone, the Trump administration is now almost free of influence and advice from the old Republican Party. Neither the so-called neoconservative wing of the party, which had influence under George W. Bush, nor the Cold War Republicans, who held power before him and of whom Bolton is a late example, remain, with the exception of Attorney General William Barr. Also absent is anyone other than Barr with pre-Trump White House national-security experience. Instead, we have an ex-lobbyist, Mark Esper, at Defense, and Mike Pompeo at State. Pompeo spent 1986 to 1991 in the Army, but just 10 years ago was selling oil equipment at an obscure company in Wichita, Kansas."

In a NYT news analysis, Michael Crowley and Lara Jakes write, "should Mr. Trump again look for a scapegoat should his foreign policy founder, Mr. Pompeo has an exit strategy in his back pocket — the prospect of running for the Senate from his adopted home state of Kansas, as Republican Party leaders are lobbying him to do. Mr. Pompeo has brushed off the political campaign by maintaining that he will remain at the State Department as long as Mr. Trump wants, but he has not shut the door on entering the race, according to Republicans who have spoken with him about running."

Reuters reports that "Pompeo acknowledged he and Bolton often had differences but he told reporters: “I don’t think that any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way.”"

Related: The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration (NYT, updated September 10, 2019)
posted by katra (46 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bolton v Trump choose your own adventure: Competent pyschopath or incompetent psycopath.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:41 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]


Calling Bolton competent devalues competence. This is replacing a fiasco with a worse fiasco. Marking September 11 by announcing a deal with the Taliban should make for a good show.
posted by at by at 7:44 AM on September 11 [8 favorites]


The Tower of Babel, oh sorry, Trump
posted by Burn_IT at 7:48 AM on September 11


In case anyone else is wondering if the title is a joke, or did Trump just announce that he is not replacing Bolton since he himself knows the most about national security, or that kind of thing:

“The next national security adviser of the United States is going to be Donald Trump, just like the current national security adviser of the United States is in fact Donald Trump,” Rothkopf said. “The next national security adviser is going to have [the job] in name only.”
posted by thelonius at 7:49 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald: George W. Bush - the occasionally misguided but kind, dignified patriot who did the Office proud - never fired John Bolton, but Trump just did. I wonder which ideas of Bolton were ultimately so incompatible with Trump's worldview that it resulted in his termination?

Also Glenn Greenwald: Over the past five years, a creeping extremism has taken hold of our federal government, which threatens to alter our system of governing ourselves and our national character. This extremism is neither liberal nor conservative, but is driven by the Bush administration's radical theories of executive power. Greenwald writes that we cannot abide these unlimited and unchecked presidential powers if we are to remain a constitutional republic. Because when you answer to no one, you're not a president — you're a despot.

This is one man's story of being galvanized into action to defend his country, and his concise and penetrating analysis of what is at stake for America when its president has secretly bestowed upon himself the powers of a king.

From 9/11 to the question of nuclear war in Iran, Greenwald shows how Bush's claims of unlimited power play out. In the spirit of the colonists who once mustered the strength to denounce a king, Greenwald asks: how would a patriot act today?

posted by tonycpsu at 7:54 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


In case anyone else is wondering if the title is a joke, or did Trump just announce that he is not replacing Bolton since he himself knows the most about national security, or that kind of thing:

It's also in the title of the NYT news analysis by Crowley and Jakes: ‘Trump Unplugged’: A President as His Own National Security Adviser
“The departure of Bolton suggests that President Trump is going to be his own foreign policy adviser,” said Martin S. Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served as a diplomat and National Security Council official during the Clinton administration. [...]

For now, “Pompeo is not going to allow for any daylight to show between himself and the president,” Mr. Indyk said. “What we are going to see now is Trump unplugged — and God knows where that is going to lead America.”

The president said he would name a new national security adviser next week.

“It’s hard for me to imagine Trump not choosing someone whose only agenda is to carry out the president’s agenda,” said Matthew C. Waxman, who held multiple national security posts in the George W. Bush administration and is now a law professor at Columbia University. “And it’s hard for me to imagine someone taking the job without that idea in mind.”
posted by katra at 7:57 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


As much as I hate to defend Greenwald, he is ripping on people having a more favourable view of GWB than Trump despite W being responsible for the Iraq War disaster.

That being said Greenwald is still trying to justify his take that Trump is non-interventionist because he fired Bolton, despite the fact that he hired Bolton in the first place.
posted by PenDevil at 8:00 AM on September 11 [11 favorites]


"Mr. Bolton’s singular achievement was to dismantle a foreign-policymaking structure that had until then kept the president from running foreign policy by the seat of his pants.

Well during the Cuban Missile crisis the NSA member of EXCOMM and the JCOS wanted war so when the president isn't an idiot seat of the pants kind of worked.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:01 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Four national security advisors in three years? Maybe you're not that good at hiring national security advisors.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:02 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]


First: most people have no idea who Bolton is. They probably know his face because of the funny mustache. But they don't know who he is or what he stands for. That is essential when discussing ANYONE who is not the president.

Bolton will be labeled a Liberal. He probably already has been labeled such. I just read that Tucker Carlson described him as "fundamentally a man of the left" last night. So the more noise Bolton makes from some belligerent, self-serving tell-all book, the more "conservatives" will hew to Don. "Don fired him. He must be a Liberal" will be the takeaway from the general voter.

Or, Bolton will be labeled a "Globalist" who wants to start wars because Globalism. These people who so devoutly cheered on the Iraq War are now largely opposed to it. Many—if not most—claim that they have always opposed it. Again, the average American doesn't think about any of this stuff or people very often or very deeply. Memories are short, and everyone wants to look good—today. Iraq War Bad is the "conservative" opinion of today.

I still think Don is war-averse because a war would take the cameras off his daily Sweeps-Week antics. Americans will see the generals, the VP and—even worse— stories about young military men who volunteered to fight it. Don wants all eyes on him all the time.

I could see him going all in on Iran if (when) the recession hits and his polls look even more dismal as we approach November 2020. Don says polls are meaningless, but he pays more attention to polls than just about anyone. Upturning the game board with a tantrum may be what he does if things look too bad. Hell, he might "win" that war! Or more likely, he'd be out and can then blame others for their disastrous handling of it, and that he would have done it better and would have been very victorious, very quickly.

I don't have much hope. But there's not much hope to be had. Our Democratic leaders have told us repeatedly they will do nothing. We simply have to go heads-down and GOTV. And maybe, just maybe, avoid serious infighting about which Democratic nominee is more or less woke than the other. But I don't have much hope for that either.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:16 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


I think Trump isn't warlike because he likes winning and he knows that his talent is for making deals which are good for him and bad for the other person. He's got a feeling that he doesn't actually know how to do war.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:23 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


He's got a feeling that he doesn't actually know how to do war.

He's not that self-aware.
posted by Melismata at 8:28 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]


It's more that he knows an actual war is going to mean lots more calls and meetings, and he fucking hates work.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:37 AM on September 11 [25 favorites]


He's got a feeling that he doesn't actually know how to do war.

He's not that self-aware.


Yeah, if his belief in his knowledge on this subject tracks with every other subject he's ever encountered, Trump thinks he knows more about waging war than anybody in the history of the world.
posted by diogenes at 8:38 AM on September 11 [9 favorites]


I think Trump isn't warlike because he likes winning and he knows that his talent is for making deals which are good for him and bad for the other person. He's got a feeling that he doesn't actually know how to do war.

According to Graeme Wood in The Atlantic:
Bolton thinks that self-described enemies of the United States—especially nuclear proliferators such as North Korea and Iran—should be punished, rather than rewarded; that friendship with such regimes is dangerous and dishonorable; and that willingness to project American military force is a necessary precondition of lasting peace. Trump, we now know definitively, disagrees with each of these propositions. He will happily strike deals, and his proposed move in North Korea is to lure Kim with visions of condominiums and resorts overlooking the Yellow Sea.
posted by katra at 8:40 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Most of the adversaries in the world have him pegged. He acts bellicose and braggadocious because it often results in results for him. Challenge him on it? He backs down in the face of an adversity that could make real trouble and doubles down in the face of an insignificant ones.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:42 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]


Trump's deep motivations are unprovable, but I phrased it as he has a feeling that he wouldn't be good at war for a reason. I didn't say he knows he wouldn't be good at war because I think he operates by feel.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:44 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Trump isn't as fond of war because he himself hasn't got a way to monetize it. War is pretty bad for the hospitality industry. It's good for arms dealers and defense industry contractors, but Trump doesn't have any money in that.

It could be that simple: he doesn't want war because he personally won't profit by it.
posted by suelac at 9:05 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Not so sure trump wouldn't profit...
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 AM on September 11


It could be that simple: he doesn't want war because he personally won't profit by it.

Or, maybe he's waiting for a precipitating event that "forces" him to go to war, rather than deal with the resurrection of the whole "private bone spurs" thing if he just ups and sends the troops into harm's way on a whim.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:11 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


As long as we're guessing about what his attitudes might be based on, I think the fact that every American war in Trump's lifetime has been a horrific boondoggle that completely disgraced the people in charge of it probably plays a pretty significant role. He loves to play to the jingoists, but the formative military activity of his life is Vietnam and the major subsequent American war that he's spoken extensively on was Iraq, and it's not a crazy assumption that deep down in his brain he doesn't want one of those on his record. That's not to say he wouldn't start one if the whim took him, but it seems like his instincts generally push him away from it.

As for the whole Bolton saga, my feeling is that it's great he's gone because while whoever gets put in there next will probably be nearly as bellicose and willing to terrorize other countries, they'll have even less credibility with the other people who'd have to get on board with an actual war, making it somewhat less likely that it actually happens. Bolton knew how to work the system and schmooze generals to at least some degree. Most of the other names that have been tossed around are going to be worse at that stuff, and that's probably going to mean a war with Iran is less likely since the Pentagon seems to want no part of that.
posted by Copronymus at 9:34 AM on September 11 [12 favorites]


As for the whole Bolton saga, my feeling is that it's great he's gone

I'm probably treating the whole situation was more normal than it is, but my brain cannot deal with a world where John Bolton being further away from the levers of power is a bad thing. It's weird that that means that I just watched six minutes of Tucker Carlson that contained two minutes of sense,* but here we are.

*He did call him fundamentally a man of the left, but then played a series of clips of himself referring to Bolton as a neo-con, breaking the spell that Tucker Carlson's twice a day might have finally come.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:02 AM on September 11


Slight derail, but here goes. What is the mechanism which would have seen Taliban leadership travel to the US? I don't front an International terrorist organization, but even in my limited capacities, I wouldn't recommend travelling to the US as a Taliban member, in less you've always wanted to see Cuba. Does the Taliban even have a plane to traverse the Atlantic to get to Camp David or would they go commercial? I suspect they may be on a no-fly list.

This whole story is made up bullshit, right?
posted by Keith Talent at 10:22 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


So who won the war?
posted by srboisvert at 10:52 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Keith Talent: "What is the mechanism which would have seen Taliban leadership travel to the US?"

The Taliban have traveled internationally, including attending a conference in Moscow, both as ordinary passengers on commercial flights and on chartered flights. If the US was willing to guarantee their safety, I imagine they would have been willing to come to the US. From the last paragraph of the linked NYT article:

“They travel on ordinary flights to these countries, they travel like an ordinary person,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander now living in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. “The Taliban members are invited by big countries like the United States, Russia, China, France and others,” who can “guarantee everything, including the blacklist issue,” he said.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:03 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


Even if the facts are more nuanced, and the results ended up being the best we could have hoped for, the optics of sitting down for "peace talks" with the Taliban during the week of 9/11 are maddening.
posted by Golfhaus at 11:21 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Disagree. Have peace talks or don't have peace talks based on whether or not opposing sides can get together and negotiate in good faith to stop the killing and hopefully end this unnecessary forever war. If you have the potential to end the fighting (which I have no reason to believe that we do) putting it off because of the "optics" of symbolic numerology is ridiculous and immoral.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:22 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


A President as His Own National Security Adviser

He who represents himself has a fool for a client.
posted by cenoxo at 1:58 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


CNN: At least 10 names being discussed to replace John Bolton. Here’s their rogues gallery:
—Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Mike Pompeo
—Ricky Waddell, Major General in the United States Army Reserve who served for a year as Trump's Deputy National Security Adviser to Trump
—Steve Biegun, US Special Representative to North Korea
—Rob Blair, national security adviser to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
—Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany
—Pete Hoekstra, US ambassador to the Netherlands
—Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence
—Douglas Macgregor, retired US Army Colonel
—Jack Keane, retired four-star general
—Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to Bolton at NSC
Also, because this is the stupidest timeline, CBS reports: “[T]hree sources directly involved tell CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett that the main irritant that drove Mr. Trump to distraction was his belief that Bolton or those close to Bolton leaked a story about Mr. Trump asking about whether nuclear weapons could be used to abate hurricanes.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:02 PM on September 11 [10 favorites]




If you have the potential to end the fighting (which I have no reason to believe that we do) putting it off because of the "optics" of symbolic numerology is ridiculous and immoral.

It doesn't sound like ending the fighting was ever on the table. The proposed deal was for the Taliban to stop terrorizing the U.S., and for the U.S. in return to abandon Afghanistan. I think we know what would happen next...
posted by xammerboy at 3:11 PM on September 11


Trump denies that he suggested nuking hurricanes. But the government once studied the idea., WaPo, Antonia Noori Farzan, August 26, 2019:
...the advent of nuclear weapons prompted a new round of speculation by the end of the decade. Though the atomic bomb killed hundreds of thousands of people in Japan, the amount of energy it yielded was negligible compared with a mature hurricane, Jack W. Reed, a meteorologist at Sandia National Laboratories, explained in a 1959 paper. Nuclear weapons didn’t come close, either, he wrote, but a massive amount of air was lofted skyward when the hydrogen bomb was tested. If a submarine were to lob a nuclear missile at the eye of a hurricane, he theorized, the warm air fueling the storm would be lifted into the stratosphere. The hurricane might not come to an immediate stop, but at least it could be weakened or slowed.

This time, government officials appeared to take the idea into consideration....
Bad idea, yes, but at the time nuclear weapons were considered for various peaceful purposes, such as Project Plowshare.
posted by cenoxo at 5:20 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound like ending the fighting was ever on the table. The proposed deal was for the Taliban to stop terrorizing the U.S., and for the U.S. in return to abandon Afghanistan. I think we know what would happen next...

I don't think you do. I am hardly a Taliban defender, but Americans (and most people, I suppose) really need to better inform themselves about geopolitics and geopolitical implications before chucking off blithe opinions on matters that are actually costing thousands of lives. It's the kind of thinking that led to disaster in Iraq (and Afghanistan). I don't think you, or most people, have the faintest idea of what the Taliban is in 2019, or how they govern.

Have a read of this long paper, based off over a hundred interviews with Taliban Officials. It will give you a better understanding.

The Taliban are not some kind of Darth Vader, religious evil army; better to think of them as sectarian rebels that are the actual government in a huge part of Afghanistan, whether we like it or not. American troops will not make the Taliban go away - it hasn't worked for 20 years, and certainly not when the alternative/s are little/no better for many people.

Even if the facts are more nuanced, and the results ended up being the best we could have hoped for, the optics of sitting down for "peace talks" with the Taliban during the week of 9/11 are maddening.

Why? The Taliban didn't hijack those planes, that was basically a lie cooked up to justify a two pointless wars. The US gets cosy with regimes just as if not more bad than the Taliban every day of the week. Saudi Arabia and its utterly fucked up Salafism bears far more responsibility for 9/11 and the US can't get enough of the Saudis.
posted by smoke at 4:43 AM on September 12 [13 favorites]


I'm sorry, that was very snippy of me. I just get really frustrated when discussions about other countries take on characteristics of discussing a game or series of hypotheticals. I feel it really trivialises non-western lives.

We actually know the answers to a lot of this stuff if we but look, and need to seriously question our assumptions, lest we end up killing millions again like we did in Iraq. As strange as it may seem, peace with the Taliban, even, perhaps a return to the Taliban, might be the best thing for Afghanistan, and even the United States.
posted by smoke at 5:05 AM on September 12 [4 favorites]


He might be his own advisor for a few days, but then I think he'll appoint at least an "acting" advisor so that he doesn't have to think about all these other countries besides the U.S., North Korea, China, and whichever whitepeople country he most wants to play golf in or build a resort in next. He needs somebody to look at maps that have the names of places on them to read and topography and such. Many, many features that are not Trump properties. Just a wall of dull.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:15 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


And under that wall of dull, what sort of mischief takes place? What kind of moves are all the "uninteresting" nations pulling outside the view of the fickle Orange Eye?

Seriously, can anyone recommend any punditry/speculation for what's going on in a world with the US State Dept asleep at the switch?
posted by whuppy at 12:49 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


perhaps a return to the Taliban, might be the best thing for Afghanistan

Except if you are a woman, or a non-muslim.
posted by banshee at 1:23 PM on September 12


Goshhhhhh, did you read the paper I linked to??? Do you actually know anything, at all, about what life is like under the Taliban - and under ghani - in 2019? The proud ignorance on display here is so frustrating.
posted by smoke at 1:42 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Trump says he won't also name Pompeo national security adviser (Politico)
“No, I wouldn’t” give Pompeo a second title, Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a congressional GOP retreat. He noted he’d spoken to Pompeo about the idea, however. [...]

Trump also said he has 15 candidates in mind as possible replacements for John Bolton, whose departure he announced earlier this week after numerous disagreements about foreign affairs. POLITICO had reported on Wednesday that a wide range of people were being floated for National Security Council chief, from ambassadors to military officers to business leaders.

Trump also said he received plenty of interest in the post, despite his administration’s reputation for record turnover.

“Everybody wants it badly, as you can imagine,” he said. “A lot of people want the job — it’s a great job. It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. It’s very easy actually to work with me. You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don’t have to work.”
posted by katra at 6:37 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don’t have to work.

I do enjoy knowing that everyone who sells their soul to work for this guy knows that he thinks they're idiots who don't contribute.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:47 AM on September 13 [7 favorites]


Russia hosts Taliban delegation following collapse of US talks (Guardian)
An official from the Taliban said on Saturday the visit came as the insurgent group looked to bolster regional support, with visits also planned for China, Iran and Central Asian states. [...] The Taliban leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the purpose of the visits was not to try to revive negotiations with the US but to assess regional support for forcing it to leave Afghanistan.
posted by katra at 10:13 PM on September 14


Can we just reflect for a moment that this is the proposed end of the war in Afghanistan? We invite the Taliban to Camp David, abjectly surrender, and leave them the country to slaughter and barbarize? It's the most undignified end I can think of to this war. It's the worst end in terms of future outcomes. And it's gone by without commentary by the news media.
posted by xammerboy at 10:43 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Is it really the worst possible end? The Taliban will be a power in Afghanistan. Unless the US commits genocide, is there really a future without them? There may be a better way to end this way, but I think there are worse ways too.

What I find not amazing is that this could end like this now. No Democratic president could possibly end it this way. The right wing would scream their stabbed-in-the-back bullshit like never before. Only Nixon a Republican could go to China abandon the Afghanistan war.
posted by jclarkin at 9:27 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


And the winner is... Robert O’Brien, widely viewed in Washington as a win for the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo (Guardian), a Los Angeles lawyer who had impressed Trump with his work to extricate Americans detained by countries like North Korea and Turkey (NYT), and according to Politico:
The president recently made a show of dispatching O’Brien to Sweden to assist in the case of rapper A$AP Rocky, who’d been jailed on assault charges. Trump tweeted frequently about the case from Washington, and claimed that O’Brien had called him “the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States.”

The State Department later confirmed to the New York Times that O’Brien had indeed described him that way.
Politico also reports that "Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif acknowledged earlier this year that he’d received a letter from O’Brien asking for the release of detained U.S. citizens, but described the letter as a one-sided demand rather than an effort to negotiate."
posted by katra at 9:45 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Politico: Trump's New National Security Adviser Is the Anti-Bolton In Style Only—Robert O’Brien might be just as hawkish as John Bolton, but he is "certainly not as pugilistic," according to people close to the president's new adviser.
People who have worked with and are close to O’Brien describe him as similarly aggressive as his predecessor on issues like Iran, but more of a congenial colleague than Bolton, who was known as a sharp bureaucratic infighter.[…]

Another person close to O’Brien agreed that he is “definitely in the same school as Bolton on Iran,” describing him as “hawkish” but “more of a team player” — and more compliant with Trump and Pompeo’s demands. “Robert’s not going to push back too much,” this person said.[…]

[…] Pompeo, who has known O’Brien “for a long time,” urged Trump to appoint the hostage envoy, according to a senior administration official.
Politico’s Natasha Bertrand adds, “Jared was instrumental in pushing him, too.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:03 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


"Mr. Trump also liked O'Brien because he "looked the part" of national security adviser, sources told CBS News."
posted by katra at 2:06 PM on September 18


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