Tango with the Taliban

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Over the weekend the President of the United States, who has nothing better to do, kept harping about the Alabama weather forecasters who had contradicted his warning that their state might be hit by hurricane Dorian.  Trump went even as far as telling his Chief of Staff to instruct his Commerce Secretary to order the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to put out a statement that the Alabama National Weather Service people had been dead wrong, eight days after Dorian had made a right turn and not even hit Florida.  While the president was taking care of this urgent business the news broke that as off 2017 the US Air Force had been making fueling stops at a small airport near Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland.  Not only does the Trump Organization have a business relationship with the airport, but occasionally crews overnighted at the resort, putting badly needed taxpayer dollars in Trump’s coffers.  After the president’s announcement that he wants to host the 2020 G7 meeting at his Doral resort in Florida this is not really surprising, but it takes his grifting to a new level and Congress is starting an investigation.

Also over the weekend Trump tweeted that he had cancelled a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David and put an end to all negotiations with them because a US soldier had been killed in an attack in Afghanistan.  The fact that the meeting -apparently ad hoc – had been scheduled was a secret, and there was absolutely no need to trumpet its cancellation, but apparently the president wanted a headline and credit for trying something different.  His effort backfired, because there was almost universal disapproval of even the thought of bringing the Taliban into the US in the week of 9/11, while the foreign policy community condemned the fact that months of difficult negotiations had fallen by the wayside.  The Taliban disaster was followed by National Security Advisor John Bolton’s departure from the White House, according to Trump because he fired Bolton Monday night and according to Bolton because he resigned Tuesday morning.  In the subsequent pissing contest with the president Bolton had the stronger stream, because Tuesday morning he was still announced as one of the speakers at a White House event later that day.

It was no secret that Bolton was already in the doghouse, because when Trump was in Tokyo he had been sent to Tadzhikistan and he gave his critical comments on the Taliban mishap from Warsaw, but the new vacancy means that Trump from now on will be his own NSA, and that is a very scary thought.  In a Q&A on Wednesday the president ping-ponged between trashing Bolton as the ‘not smart but tough guy’ who had gotten us into Iraq, and declaring that they still had a great relationship, probably scared of a tell-all book with which Bolton can make a fortune in 2020.

Next to Trump’s grifting his administration’s cruelty towards immigrants also reached a new level.  The Supreme Court upheld the policy that asylum seekers first have to ask for asylum in a country they are traveling through, in most cases Mexico, before they can ask for asylum in the US, and there is a good chance that very sick people receiving treatment in the US will be sent back to countries where that treatment is not available, as a result of which most of them will die.

In an Oval Office presentation about the dangers of vaping, for which Melania had been drugged and posted on a sofa, Trump declared that ‘she has a son,’ quickly adding ‘together’ because otherwise it would seem as if he had nothing to do with Barron’s conception.  Somewhere in the US Stormy Daniels must have laughed out loud and Karen McDougal must at least have had a chuckle.


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