TrumpWatch, Day 214: Trump Announces Afghanistan Plan

Trump gives no details in general proclamation of defeat of “terrorists”

Developments on Day 214 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Trump’s Non-Strategy Afghanistan “Strategy”
Bannon’s Back at Breitbart, and It’s #WAR v. White House

Trump Outlines Plan for Continued US Intervention

Reversing his long-standing opposition to US intervention in Afghanistan, Donald Trump outlines a plan favored by his military advisors.

Trump’s televised address was vague on any details of a “strategy”. He did not say how many additional troops would be added to the 13,000 already in the country, nor did he set out any defined lines of military, political, or economic action.

See also TrumpWatch, Day 213: Trump Looks to Afghanistan to Sweep Away Charlottesville

Instead he spoke in general terms about pressure on Pakistan, over its relationship with the Taliban, and called on India to help the US in economic and development efforts.

Reading stiffly from a script, Trump acknowledged his demands that the Obama Administration withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan: “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

He said he was convinced by lengthy discussions, including a meeting last Friday at the Presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda”.

The path to Monday’s announcement was paved by the dismissal — hours after the Camp David talks — of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who reportedly favored “privatizing” the war by handing over duties to contractors such as Erik Prince, the founder of the paramilitary group Blackwater. With Bannon’s departure, Trump’s national security team — notably Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster — obtained approval of their plan.

In June, Mattis endorsed the dispatch of 3,900 additional troops but held up implementation until a wider plan was agreed by the Administration.

An administration official summarized that there would be change in the composition and mission of the US military, with priorities still the training of Afghan forces and the conduct of counter-terrorism operations.

Trump appeared to reject any approach involving the US in expanded development efforts or in bringing about negotiations between the Afghan Government and the Taliban, which now holds almost half of the country: “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Before Monday, the Trump Administration’s most significant display in Afghanistan had been the dropping of the “mother of all bombs”, America’s largest non-nuclear weapon, on an Islamic State position in eastern Afghanistan. There were claims of 90 ISIS fighters killed, but no apparent follow-up or change in the local situation.

Alt-right activists, who are campaigning for McMaster’s removal, railed against the Trump declaration:

Bannon’s Breitbart, unhappy with Trump’s speech, headlined, “Trump’s ‘America First’ Base Unhappy with Flip-Flop Afghanistan Speech”.

Breitbart also gave space to Erik Prince, snubbed in his ambition of greater involvement in US operations, to complain, “The Pentagon has come back with a ‘more troops and more money’ approach, the same insanity that we’ve been doing the last 16 years.”

Secret Service Runs Out of Money Over Cost of Protecting Trump’s Residences

The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents, in large part because of the cost of protecting Donald Trump’s family and their multiple residences up and down the East Coast.

Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles said more than 1,000 agents have reached federally-mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances for the entire year.

Trump has traveled almost every weekend to properties in Florida, New Jersey, and Virginia and his adult children have taken business trips and vacations hacross the country and overseas.

Under Trump, 42 people have protection, including 18 members of his family, compared to 31 during the Obama Administration.

Alles has begun discussions with legislators to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000, for at least the duration of Trump’s first term. But even if that proposal will not fully compensate about 130 veteran agentsfor hundreds of hours.

United Way is Latest Group to Pull Gala from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort

The United Way has joined other organizations in withdrawing their celebrations from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, following Trump’s remarks about white supremacist violence in Charlotte.

The charity’s chapters in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, New Jersey said in a statement on Facebook:

United Ways in every community denounce racism, bigotry and prejudice in all forms. We strongly reject the divisive worldview of groups like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis that incited the violence in Charlottesville, VA. Based on recent events, we have decided to relocate our upcoming event from Trump National Golf Club to a new venue which will be announced shortly. We thank all of our supporters who stand with us to embrace ideas that unify us and make us stronger. To live better, we must Live United.

In recent days, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and American Cancer Society have all withdrawn their galas. One report said only 6 of 21 functions for Mar-a-Lago are still scheduled.

Kushner’s Company Seeks Arrests of Tenants for Unpaid Debts

he real estate company of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, is leading firms in Maryland in the pursuit of arrests of tenants.

Since 2013, corporate entities affiliated with Kushner’s 17 apartment complexes in the state have sought the civil arrest of 105 former tenants for failing to appear in court to face allegations of unpaid debt.

That is more than any other landlord in Maryland. Court records show 20 former Kushner tenants have been detained.

Industry professionals say body attachments to get payment. Kushner Company officials say the New York-based firm employs the tactic as a last resort.

But critics say it amounts to imprisoning people for being poor, and some tenants who have been targeted say they did not receive proper notice of court appearances.

Advocates for consumer rights have pressed for legislation to limit body attachments.

Trump Nominee Clovis: Same-Sex Marriage Could Lead to Legalized Pedophilia

Sam Clovis, a key Trump campaign advisor who has now been nominated as chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, has argued that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia.

Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 as a talk radio host, political activist, and as a candidate for the US Senate from Iowa.

The nominee was already under fire for a lack of scientific background that would qualify him for the Agriculture post.

Clovis, defying the American Psychological Association, has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that “LGBT behavior” is a choice. He said that if LGBT people had protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitutions, pastors wouldn’t be allowed to preach against the “aberration” of “alternative lifestyles”.

During his Senate campaign, Clovis argued:

Follow the logic, if you engage in a particular behavior, what also becomes protected? If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes? What’s the logical extension of this? It can’t be that we’re going to protect LGBT and then we’ll pull up the ladder. That’s not going to happen, it defies logic. We’re not thinking the consequences of these decisions through.

Marie Antoinette Moment for Treasury Secretary’s Wife

Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, belittles a mother of three from Oregon for not having much money.

Linton posted a photograph of herself disembarking a US military jet in Kentucky, on a trip with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky!” Linton wrote on Instagram, using hashtags for her attire such as #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford, and #valentino.

Jenni Miller wrote under the photograph, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”

Linton hit back:

Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!. Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?

I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

She posted emojis of a curled bicep and a face blowing a kiss and concluded, “You’re adorably out of touch”, “Your life looks cute”, and “Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

Miller said later:

If she hadn’t made her account private, I would have written back with a very snide Marie Antoinette joke.

I think my post was just five or six words, and she had to go on basically a rant about it to make herself look more important and look smarter, better, richer — all those things.

A Treasury official said the Mnuchins reimbursed the US Government for the trip.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Is it me or is his NEW plan and awakening just the same as before- winging it, and not committing to anything specific. That’s his whole life isn’t it….?

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