Tag Archives: Taliban

Trump turns a ‘zero’ into a ‘hero’

Donald Trump’s unique ability is on display once again.

The president of the United States has this way – at least in my own biased way – of turning political zeroes into heroes.

Take the case of John Bolton, the former national security adviser who quit or was fired because of disagreements with the president.
Bolton is not shy in the least about expressing his views on worldly matters. I guess he got into trouble with the president because he gave Trump advice he didn’t want to hear.

Bolton has said in recent days that he didn’t think the president should meet with the Afghan terrorists known as the Taliban at Camp David on the eve of the 9/11 terrorist attack commemoration because it would, in Bolton’s eyes, dishonor the memory of the victims we lost on that terrible day.

Trump didn’t want to hear it. He also didn’t want to hear a lot of things that Bolton had to say.

So now Bolton is gone. The president has appointed another individual to offer him “advice” on how to protect the nation against our enemies. I doubt he’ll listen to the new man any more than he listened to the three previous national security advisers; I’ll pass on judging his relationship with the first guy, Michael Flynn, because he was gone after just 24 days in office.

I suspect we haven’t heard the last of John Bolton.

Hey, don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t think much of Bolton’s appointment when Trump made it. I think even less, though, of the man who selected him.

So, keep talking, John Bolton.

9/11 still seared into our memory

Many millions of Americans are recalling a terrible day that dawned 18 years ago today. It didn’t start out that way, but it got dark in a major hurry.

They’re remembering where they were when they heard the news. Me? I was at work at the Amarillo Globe-News.

My colleague walked into the office and stuck his head in the door: “Did you hear the news. Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.”

I asked two questions: How big was the airplane? How was the weather? I don’t recall my colleague knowing it was a jetliner. He did say the weather in New York City was beautiful.

“What kind of moron would fly into a building?” I asked with all the appropriate derision.

I turned on a small TV I had in my office. I watched one of the towers burning. Then — in real and horrifying time — the world watched the second jet liner crash into the other tower.

In that moment, we knew what we had: an act of war!

The Pentagon was hit by a third jetliner. Then we heard about the Shanksville, Pa., crash involving a fourth hijacked airplane.

We would go to war in Afghanistan. We would toss the Taliban out of power in that remote land and then launch the hunt for al-Qaida terrorist leaders who masterminded the hideous attack.

I will admit to being frightened in the moment. Anger? Absolutely!

I wanted the nation to fill with resolve to defeat the bastards who committed this horrific deed. Sadly, I fear our nation has lost some of its collective resolve. We’ve been torn asunder by a war that President Bush launched against Iraq, telling us that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “something” to do with the terrorist attack … when he didn’t.

To be honest, I remain puzzled on how we “declare victory” in this war. Or if we can ever actually make that victory declaration.

However, the fight goes on. It must go on.

Bolton quits … or was fired … which is it?

What do you know about this?

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s third national security adviser, is gone. He was either (a) fired by the president or (b) quit all by himself, of his own volition.

Whichever way Bolton’s tenure ended really isn’t critical here. The critical element is this: Donald Trump cannot work with individuals who seek to give him any sort of critical advice with which he might disagree.

Thus, Bolton has hit the road.

Trump, Bolton hit the skids

I won’t mourn the loss of John Bolton. I dislike his world view. He’s a warmongering hardliner. However, reports are surfacing that the national security guru disagreed with Trump’s decision to meet with the Taliban, the terrorists with whom the United States went to war after 9/11.

I reckon that Bolton told Trump of his disagreement with that call, so the president canned him, or asked him to quit, or perhaps Bolton offered to quit and Trump agreed.

What a circus? What a carnival?

Who in the world would dare to work with this president under any circumstance?

So now Donald Trump is without an individual who can give him the kind of unvarnished national security advice he needs.

Pass the popcorn. The clown show goes on.

Camp David might have hosted the Taliban? Are you kidding?

The more I think about it the more offended I am at the notion of Taliban war lords/terrorists setting foot on one of our nation’s more honored sites: Camp David.

Donald Trump reportedly — at least that’s what he has said — had planned to bring Taliban goons to Camp David to work out a peace deal between the terror group and U.S. diplomats. Then he canceled the meeting because of the Taliban’s involvement in a recent bombing that killed a U.S. serviceman, among other innocent victims.

Trump called it off on the spot. I don’t object to that decision, per se.

However, what is most objectionable is that he had planned to bring the monsters to this presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.

The last great diplomatic victory at Camp David took place in the late 1970s, when President Carter played host to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hammer out a peace agreement between those two ancient enemies. It turned out to be a monumental achievement reached by a head of state and a head of government in a setting hosted by another head of state.

Other presidents have played host to other heads of state and government over the years. Camp David — which President Eisenhower renamed after his grandson, David Eisenhower — has served as a place where presidents get to know their international colleagues in a more intimate and casual setting than the White House.

The idea that a new U.S. head of state would “welcome” the Taliban to that hallowed place is offensive on its face.

I need not chronicle what the Taliban have done to their victims as they pervert their Islamic religion in the name of pure evil.

Suffice to say that these are seriously bad actors who have no justification taking part in any sort of activity where such history has occurred.

So, we’re now negotiating with terrorists … correct?

I always thought the United States had a policy that prohibited it from negotiating with terrorists. I must have been mistaken. Then again, maybe not.

Donald Trump has cancelled a meeting he said was set for Camp David between our national security team and the Taliban, the monsters who once ran Afghanistan and with whom this country has been at war since 9/11.

Hold the phone! Trump said he cancelled the meeting because of the Taliban’s role in a bombing that killed a dozen people, including a U.S. serviceman. I get that the president would cancel the meeting.

However, why meet with these monsters in the first place?

I am fully aware that we’ve negotiated with the Taliban, such as the time we secured the release of that U.S. soldier who, it turns out, walked voluntarily into the Taliban’s custody many years ago. The Obama administration posited the ridiculous notion that the Taliban is not a “terrorist” organization. Of course it is and the administration was wrong to call the Taliban anything other than a terror group.

The Taliban is a cabal of monsters. They do not deserve to sit around a conference table at Camp David, the esteemed presidential hideaway retreat in the Maryland mountains.

If only we would return to what I’ve understood to be a truth about U.S. diplomatic policy: We do not negotiate with terrorists.

What? GOP is about to stand up to POTUS? Wow!

I had to blink once or twice, shake my head a bit, clean my eyeglasses and rub the sleepy stuff out of my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

The U.S. Senate Republican caucus is poised to issue a stern rebuke of Donald J. Trump, who continues to exhibit shocking, stunning, jaw-dropping naivete regarding foreign policy crises.

The Senate is planning to push forward an amendment that warns the president about the dangers of a “precipitous withdrawal” from Afghanistan, given the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Trump (in)famously declared ISIS to be “defeated” in Syria. He is wrong. The Senate is going to respond by saying in a resolution that ISIS and al-Qaida pose a “continuing threat” to the United States and our allies around the world.

So, there you go. The Senate GOP majority has finally grown a set of . . . you know.

Recalling the last time we were truly ‘united’

I heard a cable news talking head make an interesting point the other day. He spoke of the issues that drive wedges between the political parties — and between Americans. He was speaking of the intense divisions existing today.

The United States has been “truly united” just twice in the past century or so, he said. The first time was after the Pearl Harbor attack by Japanese aviators, the act that pulled us into World War II. The second time? It was 9/11, when those terrorists flew hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Oh, how those of us old enough to remember that day can recall the rage we all felt at the monsters who committed that dastardly act.

Today I saw through a two-hour film that transported me back to that time of unity. It’s called “12 Strong.” It tells the true story of a dozen U.S. Army Green Berets who were sent into Afghanistan a month after the terrorist attacks. Their mission was to destroy a Taliban military operation. They rode into battle … on horseback!

The film speaks of their loyalty to each other and of the commitment the unit’s commanding officer made, that all of them would survive their mission of extreme danger.

The mission only was recently declassified. Indeed, after these Special Forces returned home from their mission, they weren’t given anything like the heroes’ welcome they deserved. Their mission was kept super-secret. No one outside those who were involved directly knew what they did.

The film is intense to the max.

But I sat through it, cheering the bravery of our soldiers — and the bravery of the Northern Alliance Afghan fighters with whom they were teamed to fight the Taliban.

The film does remind us that this country is able to unite. Americans are able to coalesce behind a common cause. The 9/11 horror produced our nation’s most recent sense of unity.

I pray, however, that we can join together without having to endure the tragedy and misery through which we have suffered. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were unique events in our nation’s history.

I am left to wonder whether the unity those events produced must be attached uniquely to such heartache. I hope that’s not the case. I fear, though, that it is.

Bergdahl gets off too lightly

Count me as one American who believes Bowe Bergdahl deserves to serve time in prison.

I had given the one-time U.S. Army Ranger the benefit of the doubt when he was returned to U.S. custody after being held captive by the Taliban for five years. He came home after the Obama administration negotiated for his release from the hideous conditions under which the Taliban kept him.

Then came questions about the nature of his “capture.” Did he go willingly into enemy hands?

Bergdahl admitted to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Yep, he did it all of his volition.

Today, the judge hearing the case spared Bergdahl prison time. He ordered him to receive a dishonorable discharge that, of course, will stay with him for the rest of his life.

It’s not punishment enough for what he has admitted to doing.

Bergdahl faced a potential life term in prison for the misbehavior charge. I don’t know that he actually deserved to spend his entire life behind bars. However, the former Army sergeant did put his men in danger when they went looking for him. What’s more, he deserted his unit that had been placed in harm’s way to fight the monstrous enemy force that supposed “captured” him.

I do not dismiss the terrible conditions under which Bergdahl was kept by the Taliban. However, it does not lessen the betrayal he committed against the men with whom he was serving.

I believe the judge today made a mistake in leveling such a light sentence against Bowe Bergdahl. May this deserter thing long and hard for the rest of his life about what he did.

Bergdahl admits it: He’s a deserter

We no longer need to attach the word “alleged” in front of Bowe Bergdahl’s crime.

The U.S. Army sergeant has entered a guilty plea to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He had been captured by the Taliban in 2009 and was held for five years somewhere in Afghanistan.

The desertion charge carries a five-year prison sentence; the misbehavior charge is something quite a bit more severe and Bergdahl faces a potential life term in prison.

What should the military court decide? He needs to serve a significant prison term. A lifetime? I’m not sure about that.

Deserter fesses up

He did expression contrition. He knows he did wrong. He has paid quite a price being held captive by a terrorist organization.

Speaking of which, I was critical at the time of Bergdahl’s release that the Obama administration declined to call the Taliban what they are: a terrorist outfit. That gave the administration license to negotiate with the Taliban to secure Bergdahl’s release.

Should he have remained in Taliban custody? No. The Obama team said its mission to ensure that no American gets left on the “battlefield.” I get that.

However, he now has admitted to deserting his Ranger unit. And, no, he doesn’t deserve to be executed, as Donald J. Trump bellowed before he became the commander in chief.

Prison time? Yes.

Another date to mark a war with no end in sight

I refuse to call Sept. 11 an “anniversary.” I reserve that term to commemorate weddings and other happy beginnings.

9/11 is none of that. It’s coming up Monday. Sixteen years ago terrorists commandeered four jetliners; they flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers; one flew into the Pentagon; one crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a titanic struggle between passengers and terrorists.

Roughly 3,000 people died on that terrible day.

Not long after that, President Bush sent young Americans to war against the terrorists. The Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given shelter for the monsters, fell to our forces. The war raged on and on and on.

In March 2003 the war spread to Iraq. We toppled a dictator, who later was captured, tried and hanged. We were told we went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t find any.

What the 9/11 date will remind me on Monday is that we very well may never — at least not in my lifetime — be able to end this war against international terrorism.

President Bush handed the struggle off to Barack Obama in 2009. The fight went on.

In May 2011, President Obama announced “to the nation and the world” that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind. We cheered the news. Crowds gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA! USA!” We got the main bad guy.

What happened after that? The war went on.

The Islamic State surfaced during this time. ISIS has continued to bring havoc and horror. There have been beheadings and bombings.

The war rages on, despite the arrest of and deaths of several key ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders.

Our enemy is cunning. He is smart. He knows how to hit “soft targets.” His victims primarily are other Muslims, which puts the lie to the notion that we are “at war with Islam.” As President Obama said while announcing bin Laden’s death, our enemy comprises a cabal of murderers who have declared war on Muslims as well as they have on Christians and Jews.

This year, President Obama handed it off to Donald Trump. The new president campaigned foolishly on the pledge to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda. He boasted that he knows “more than the generals about ISIS.” He doesn’t.

No matter the level of presidential boastfulness, the fight will rage on. We’ll keep killing terrorist leaders. Others will slither out and take the place of those we eliminate.

How do we prevent more “soft target” incidents? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” from driving a motor vehicle into crowds? Or how do we stop those from igniting bombs at sporting events or other places where large crowds of victims gather?

9/11 is no anniversary. It’s not a date to celebrate. It’s a date that should serve to remind us of the threat that has lurked among us for far longer than we ever imagined.

And it lurks to this very day.

The war will rage on.