Reporting on the failed Camp David plan to sign an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban on Sept. 8, a CNN reporter stated that Trump’s plan for talks on an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban and, by extension, Trump’s foreign policy, “went off tracks.”
Tracks or no tracks, the reality is that Trump has never had a foreign policy. Much like the recent fires, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes that have ravaged every continent, Trump’s erratic, fitful, unpredictable, inconsistent, and incoherent foreign policy exposes him for what he is: A pompously egotistical charlatan who fancies the U.S. and the world as his private casino in which he is willing to gamble, even when the odds are not in his favor.
For the last two years I’ve taken to asking La Belle Femme the following question: “What’s he up to today?” The man-child never disappoints.
Recently it was the termination of the U.S./Taliban talks; on the campaign trail last week Trump admonished North Carolinians that they “don’t have any choice. You have to vote for me,” the chosen one; followed by the firing of John Bolton Tuesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent some 15 minutes on Face the Nation and other programs recently presenting disjointed arguments about the cancellation of the talks. For some reason Pompeo’s speech was slurred and incoherent; he was either befuddled or uncertain about the fallout from the day’s big news story, a bombshell that no doubt precipitated the Bolton firing/resignation bombshell.
Or he was speaking from both sides of his mouth and was incapable of keeping up with fabricated facts. Or he was afraid of being summarily fired. Pompeo is as much a flawed character as the man he works for.
In arguing for the new “Trust but Verify” policy vis a vis Afghanistan, Pompeo criticized the Obama Afghan policy, then bragged about the recent killings of over 1,000 Afghan citizens (65 percent Taliban fighters and 35 percent innocent civilians, including women, and children, to which TrumPeo will never admit).
Like their predecessors, their flawed logic can be summarized thusly: Killing large numbers of Afghan citizens will force the Taliban to come to the table so as to facilitate a cosmetic withdrawal timed with next year’s elections.
Trump’s hasbara claims that unlike his predecessor, he is a decisive leader who makes bold moves when and if the opportunity arises.
Truth be told, Trump’s effort to put all the stakes on the table for an agreement to coincide with the 9/11 date blew up in his face, big time. To wit: Trump’s two meetings with Kim Jong Un and his Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen scurvy debacles.
As admirable as it was, Trump’s campaign pledge to pull out U.S. forces from Afghanistan at any cost exposes his splenetic, petulant, and snappish decision-making processes in every area of governance.
Sometime last year I observed to a Pakistani professor (a Muslim) that it was going to take 50 years for the Muslim world to catch up with the 21st century. “Fifty years?” he responded, adding: “No, more like 350 years.”
Reporting from Afghanistan for CNN recently during the initial segment of an interview, reporter Clarissa Ward was told by a Taliban leader that CNN should have sent a man instead of a woman. And while she was modestly dressed according to Afghan standards (completely covered with only her face exposed), during the second part of the report Ward drew the veil to cover her face—with only her eyes and nose exposed.
While walking in a dusty alley, the last segment of the interview depicts Ward lagging behind the Taliban elders; she’d been instructed to walk some 20 feet behind the all-male group.
All this to say the following: The Carter administration should never have supported the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against Russia (thus helping spawn the al-Qaida/Taliban hydra); Bush should never have invaded Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires; Obama should not have followed the Bush playbook; Trump should never have made a promise he can’t keep.
At some point the U.S. should make the decision to pull out of Afghanistan. Betting on the rewards of exploiting Afghanistan’s immensely rich natural resources (trillions of dollars’ worth gold, zinc, copper, iron ore, salt, sulfur, lead, natural gas, petroleum, and chromite), a U.S. pullout is a big gamble. The U.S. will have to stand in line behind China, Russia, and India.
While the U.S. has been waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and at least half a dozen places, China, Russia, and India have been cultivating friendships and seeking markets in Afghanistan and Africa. And as long as Afghan society adheres to ancient ossified tribalism, including the distortion of Koranic teachings that are based on respect for all members of its society, especially women and children, then Afghanistan is doomed for the next 350 years.
The virulent religious fanaticism, whether it be Judaism in Occupied Palestine, Islam across North and Central Africa, the Near and Far East, Hinduism in the Asian subcontinent, or Christianity in various locales, is the grist that feeds zealotry and bigotry and jolts humanity onto the tracks of primordial behavior.
Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.