What We’re Not Supposed to Talk About

I need to be about five people to keep up with all the craziness these days. Note that Jeff Sessions just got confirmed, with one Democratic vote — Sen. Joe Manchin III (Turncoat-W.Va.). Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 and had damn well better be primaried.

But I want to focus on the most chilling things I read today. Let’s start with Paul Waldman’s post on last month’s special forces raid in Yemen.

It’s safe to say that if Hillary Clinton had ordered the special forces raid in Yemen on January 29th that went so terribly wrong, by now there would be five simultaneous congressional investigations underway, not to mention blanket coverage in the news media. But despite multiple deaths including one American servicemember, Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer has insisted that the mission was a smashing success. “The goal of the raid was intelligence gathering,” Spicer said yesterday, “and that’s what we received and that’s what we got. That’s why we can deem it a success.”

Spicer went even further today, asserting that no one should be allowed even to raise questions about the raid. “It’s absolutely a success, and I think anyone that would suggest it’s not a success does a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens,” Spicer said.

And Donald Trump knows all about doing disservice to fallen heroes. Believe me!

In case you haven’t followed this story, in the first week of his presidency, Donald Trump approved a raid on an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) compound in Yemen, and pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The team encountered strong resistance, Owens was killed, an Osprey aircraft was disabled in a “hard landing” and had to be destroyed so it wouldn’t fall into AQAP’s hands, and according to the Yemeni government, 15 civilians, including at least one child, were killed.

Then, making things worse, the Pentagon released a training video it had seized as evidence of the high-level intelligence the raid produced. But it turned out that the footage was ten years old and had been distributed on the internet some time ago. According to some reports, the true target of the raid was AQAP leader Qasim al-Rimi, who is now gleefully mocking the United States.

Yemen has since withdrawn permission for the U.S. to conduct antiterrorist ground missions within their borders, although that might be at least partly in response to being put on Trump’s “banned” list.

How did this raid come about?

A look at the way this decision was made is not encouraging. While the plan had been circulating within the Pentagon for a few months (there’s some dispute about whether it actually reached the Obama White House), it was approved by President Trump at a dinner that included not only the relevant national security personnel but also his senior adviser Steve Bannon and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Waldman throws in a quote from NBC News that Defense Secretary James Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Trump that the raid would be a “game changer” and that the Obama Administration wouldn’t have been bold enough to try it.

Waldman continues,

This is where it gets troubling. Simply put, we’ve never seen a president who combined complete ignorance with rampaging overconfidence quite the way Trump does. Despite having no experience in military affairs or foreign policy, he claimed during the campaign that “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me,” and when asked whom he consulted on foreign policy, said, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lotta things.”

And what happened to his secret plan to defeat ISIS?

This is where things get really frightening: The person with the most pull over Trump is probably Bannon, who remains Trump’s most important adviser. But Bannon doesn’t seem likely to rein in Trump. Bannon harbors a visionary agenda for the United States government. He believes that “there is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global,” a war between Islam and the Christian west. “Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is — and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it,” he said in a 2014 speech, “will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act.” Those are not the words of a man who will be advising restraint in any given situation.

If that’s the mentality behind national security, the world is about to become much more violent.

And they’ve noticed this elsewhere, such as in Sweden — Anne Applebaum writes from Stockholm

A winter evening in Stockholm, lights glinting in the harbor, snow falling outside. “And what about us,” I am asked, “up here in the North? What happens to us?” My Swedish companions are journalists, analysts and civil servants, people who care about their country’s national security. Though neither elite nor wealthy, they do share a worldview. They think their country’s prosperity depends on the European Union and its open markets. They also think their safety depends on the United States’ commitment to Europe. And since President Trump took office, they suddenly find themselves staring into an unfathomable abyss. …

… Sweden’s economic and political model depends on Pax Americana, the set of American-written and American-backed rules that have governed transatlantic commerce and politics for 70 years — and they fear Trump will bring Pax Americana crashing down. Nor are they alone: Variations of this conversation are taking place in every European capital and many Asian capitals too. …
… None of my companions go as far as the extraordinary editorial in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which has just called on Germans to “stand up for what is important: democracy, freedom, the West and its alliances,” and which asks Europeans to start planning political and economic defenses “against America’s dangerous president.” But, yes, these Swedes would like to create new forms of European security. A Baltic-Nordic security pact should be on the table. European defense structures should get attention and investment.

The world is more dangerous than they imagined; the alliances and institutions they have long relied upon may be crumbling. “We are on our own here,” one of them writes to me the next day. Which pretty much sums up how the rest of America’s allies feel right now too.

As I said yesterday, the era in which the president of the United States was considered “the leader of the free world” is officially over.

Elsewhere, Trump has now threatened a Texas state senator. He offered to destroy the senator’s career for supporting Texas legislation Trump doesn’t like.

We can’t keep this up for four more years.

13 thoughts on “What We’re Not Supposed to Talk About

  1. Born rich, t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin has never had to clean any clothes that he soiled, or rooms he trashed, or businesses he bankrupted.
    He had minions and lackeys do the dirty work for him.
    And blamed THEM, if the clean-up wasn’t perfect.

    Now in less than 3 weeks – 3 WEEKS!!! – he undoing 70+ years of building America’s reputation in the world, and alliances nurtured, grown, and groomed, by men and women who were giants – and he’s not worth a festering pustule on any one of their asses!

    Congrats, you FARTLAND REAL MURKINS!
    In your bigotry, stupidity, anger, ignorance, and resentment, you’ve not only planted the seeds of your own demise, but of America’s.
    And the potential demise of world stability – both in matters of economies, but also in war v. peace.

    “What did you do while the world collapsed under Preznit t-RUMP, Grandpa Clem and Grandma Evangeline?”
    ‘We helped put him in office, kid.’
    ‘We fucked-up, bigly! Now, never repeat that, lest you wanna end up with the whole damn family in one o’dem Re-edumacation Camps!’


  2. What can you say when the Pentagon releases a video that’s been floating around the web for the last ten years as their crown jewel of evidence for the justification to deem the raid a success for its intelligence gathering value? WOW! that really hurts. But what’s even more painful is listening to the cowardness of Spicer hiding behind the valor of a fallen soldier to protect an even bigger coward from responsibility in accepting his failure.
    When you’ve got a pathological liar as Commander-in-Chief and a phalanx of minions eager to disseminate those lies you can bet your bottom dollar the Ship of State is headed into the shoals. From here on in you can expect a retelling of the Pat Tillman story.
    When I think of Trump I feel rather Christ like..Not that I’m about to walk on water, but I do have an urge to speak the words to Trump that Jesus is reputed to have spoken to Satan.. “You are the father of lies, and there is no truth in you.” Or something like that? And I’d bet that if Jesus were to speak for me. He would tell Trump that he’s a big bag of shit.

  3. “Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 and had damn well better be primaried.”

    Sadly, no. WVa politics being what it is, Manchin’s problem is not that he might be primaried, but that if he doesn’t take votes like this now and then he will lose his seat to a Republican. Manchin is one of only two “Blue Dogs” (the other is Ben Nelson) left in the Senate. (I’m told the term technically applies to House members, but you know what I mean.) If he were primaried by a Democrat more to the left, said Democrat, unless he had unusual charisma and other unique characteristics, would probably not be able to beat a Republican.

  4. Trump is tweeting about Ivanka and Nordstroms when he should be listening to his daily brief and sending Spicer out to rationalize and excusify for Trump Inc when Spicer is supposed to be working for the executive branch instead of Trump Inc. There has been a lot of focus on Ivanka and Melania’s business instead of governing. I really think he is unhinged and the stress of the job is showing the cracks.The emperor truly has no clothes on. I wonder how long it will take before he is impeached for incompetence.

  5. Oh ye yellow faced dysmorphic one,  a little more elaboration on your initial idea is needed.  Has he ever cleaned up a mess?  Does he even know how to wash clothes?  Cook a meal?  Change the oil in his car?  No wonder he had to feud with Martha Stewart, as she has skills and her endorsements of products are valuable for her followers.  He lives in a bubble.  An egocentric bubble.  The world and universe revolves around him.  He is surrounded by people who feed him selective information.  They can get it to him through a tiny porthole in his bubble world.  The guy has a long serving butler who dresses him and knows exactly how much too long to tie his ties. 

    He and his trusted sidekick Sancho Panza are off on a quest to duel with the windmill massacre that began in Bowling Green and is spreading like wildfire. He does not need briefings or facts.  His knowledge and judgement are superior to all others.  He can see patterns and was on top of that Jade Helm disaster before even Obama knew about it.  He and that Pompao clown would have gotten to the bottom of that Benghazi  affair if Putin could have hacked into the right emails. 

    This guy is so mental he makes Nixon look sane by comparison.  Nixon at least knew foreign policy inside and out, and knew enough to know that Kissinger knew more that he did.  I wish I could say the same in this case.  I think most of the world knows we have a loose cannon…bull in a china shop…man of la cuckoo’s nest etc. on our hands.  They fear what we all fear, that he will make a mess so large only the cockroaches will be around to clean it up.  He is the terror the world has to find a way to contain.  So far only limited irreparable damages.  Save some hysteria, he is just getting started.   

  6. As I said yesterday, the era in which the president of the United States was considered “the leader of the free world” is officially over.

    So is Pax Amercana. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sweden aligns itself with their neighbor, Russia. Nice going, Donald.

  7. So, this is how Trump forces everybody to prepare for the American withdrawal so long urged by Pat Buchanan, other paleocons, and libertarian neo-isolationists.

    By soft-soaping Putin, bad-mouthing NATO and our Pacific allies, and repeatedly insisting since his primary campaign America is not going to carry the burden of defending all these folks any more.

    Meanwhile, as Trump’s rhetoric causes leaders of our allies to re-think their defense plans and figure out how to work out their own salvation, Mattis and others of his ilk prevent panic and keep things stable in the short run.

    Good cop, bad cop.

    If he’s in office for 8 years he may actually get us not just out of NATO and the Pacific, but also out of the UN.

    Anyway, it seems he’s actually going to push in that direction as far as he can.

  8. Mike G … It’s because Putin wanted to up his game. I guess he got tired of dealing with a President like Obama who was so easy to manipulate. With Trump, Putin is going to have to match wits with a real thinker. Someone who can’t be taken in by fluff, flattery, or false praise. A man who is secure within himself, like Trump.
    And not to suggest any funny business, but there does seem to be a sexual tension existing between them. Only in the sense of the challenges that arise in alpha males when competing for dominance in relationships.
    Some guys like a little fight in their filly.

  9. Why hasn’t anyone put up a picture with the burning helicopter and the “Mission Accomplished” banner ?

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