Is the Trump Regime Making Peace or Selling Out Afghanistan.

Will all of the hub bub in Washington around Kanye West in the West Wing and Melania Trump’s visit to Africa and Jared Kushner’s lack of tax paying…this little story about an American diplomat meeting with the Taliban was buried in the main news section of the Sunday New York Times.

The diplomat is Zalmay Khalilzad who was born in Afghanistan. Mr. Khalilzad met with representatives of the Taliban in Doha Qatar and then flew to Kabul Afghanistan to consult with that nation’s president, Ashraf Ghani. So on the face of it, it could be some shuttle diplomacy here. And it sounds like the United States would like to see talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government…but the Taliban wants no part of that. In fact they want no part of actual peace talks until the United States ends their ‘occupation’ of the nation. And according to the NYT’s article they want no part of the upcoming elections either…elections that have already been delayed for years.

No, I’d like to see the US out of Afghanistan ASAP but it doesn’t sound like we can leave and expect any type of non-Taliban government to survive our exit. That’s not good. And I really don’t think the current hardline Taliban stance is a negotiating ploy. They can smell a victory in the current civil war if US involvement ends.

But I am really nervous about the current American diplomat entrusted with this decidedly delicate negotiation. Mr. Khalilzad was just appointed as special representative for Afghan reconciliation a month ago. And this was his first visit to the region and with the Taliban in this role. But he has a rather checkered past with the Taliban, the State Department, and Afghanistan.

During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Khalilzad was one of the leading Afghan specialists at State. And after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban he was quoted as saying : “The Taliban does not practice the anti-US style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran. It is closer to the Saudi model.”

That thinking prevailed in Washington for years and prevented the US from snatching Osama bin Laden from Taliban held areas of Afghanistan for fear of angering the Taliban rulers. That trend allowed bin Laden the safe haven to build al Qaeda and launch the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Shortly after making those pronouncements, Mr. Khalilzad moved on to Unocal as an advisor. While at Unocal, Mr. Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in 1997 at the Watergate Hotel to help negotiate a pipeline deal through Afghanistan. At that time he was referred to as a leading Republican expert on Afghanistan.

Somewhere along the line, Mr. Khalilzad joined the RAND Corporation and reversed his position on the Taliban. He served on the George W Bush transition team and was appointed to run Condoleezza Rice’s Middle East directorate. And now he was concerned that the Taliban would corrupt Pakistan. I think that prediction came true to a certain degree.

It makes sense that the Trump regime would reach out to someone like Zalmay Khalilzad. They have no one in their inner circle with any kind of experience in the Middle East much less Afghanistan or Pakistan. And apparently he has great Republican cred. But with his history around the Taliban, I don’t know how far to trust him. He’s a retread. The State Department must have other more reliable Afghan experts by now! It’s been 17 plus years since 9/11 and nearly as long that we’ve been engaged in a war there.

Like the war, this has gone on too long. Do we trust Khalilzad? Do we trust Donald Trump on Afghanistan? The president has complained about lack of progress there…but is he just willing to cut and run and leave the current Afghan government to hang? Will we end up seeing another helicopter flotilla from the roof of the US embassy in Kabul in 2019? The selection of Mr. Khalilzad stinks to high heaven. The quiet maneuvering stinks as well.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Resigns!

President Donald Trump says that he has accepted U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s resignation as of the end of the year.

U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is stepping down at the end of the year, President Trump announced Tuesday as Haley sat by his side in the Oval Office.

Trump praised the work of the former governor of South Carolina, who was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations shortly after Trump’s inauguration last year.

“She’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said, adding that Haley has been “very special to me.”

Ms. Haley hasn’t announced any plans for her future, but says that she will not run against the president in 2020.

So which sycophant do you think the president will dredge up to head the US mission at the U.N.?

Trump Regime Late to the Election Interference Party..again

Yesterday President Donald Trump signed what is being called a ‘sweeping executive order’ to protect U.S elections from foreign meddling and interference.

It is less than TWO months from the 2018 mid-term elections and NOW is when he’s gotten around to this? Really? Action to prevent foreign interference should have been a top priority for the Trump Regime the minute they took office in January 2017…not mid-September 2018.

The 2018 elections have been going on since at least mid-2017…primaries are essentially over…interference has been going on since the whole shebang got underway last year. And it’s been no secret in Washington or the media.

Sigh:

“This is intended to be a very broad effort to prevent foreign manipulation of the political process,” John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters during a briefing Wednesday.

The move comes less than two months before the 2018 midterm elections, and just weeks after Dan Coats, Trump’s director of national intelligence, warned of a “pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States” before Americans go to the polls in November.

$16 an hour good : $15 an hour bad!

The trade pact being negotiated between the United States and Mexico gets a bit convoluted when it comes to North American content of cars manufactured in Mexico. The numbers are aimed at increasing content manufactured in the United States.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Monday that Mexico had agreed to ensure that 75 percent of automotive content be produced within the trade bloc (up from a current 62.5 percent) to receive duty-free benefits and that 40 percent to 45 percent be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. Those changes are meant to encourage more auto production in the United States.

The interesting number here is $16 an hour…now of course this doesn’t insure that Mexican autoworkers will make at least that…they usually make far less…it is aimed at using more parts manufactured in the US…but could certainly be manipulated by Mexican autoworkers to improve their wages and working conditions…to keep manufacturing in Mexico.

But just curious…they US negotiators think $16 an hour is a cool wage…when we can’t get $15 an hour minimum wage enacted here. Hmmmph.

America’s hypocrisy about parents, children, and families.

For months now we’ve all been informed about the refugee crisis at our Mexican border…as our government has intercepted the refugee families…we’ve kidnapped the children and separated them…without rhyme or reason…and without telling the families what was going on. And then apparently forcing unwitting adults to sign paper work giving up their parental rights. Or deporting some 400+ adults to their native country without ever reuniting them with their children…children that we still have incarcerated within our country…and making the job of reuniting families far more complicated that it should ever be.

And our elected officials in Washington are perfectly fine with it. Most of the president’s supporters are perfectly fine with it. If it weren’t for the courts…we wouldn’t be making any serious effort to reunite families. We have harassed and victimized and brutalized innocent children…and their suffering and grieving parents…and the blood is on all of our hands…this is being done in our name.

So no big deal what happens to children, right? Well when the children aren’t refugees…when they aren’t children of color…the sanctity and protection of children in the US goes to the other extreme.

And we’ve all read examples of this over the last few years, kids left in cars, kids allowed to walk to school, kids allowed to use parks:

We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second.

And so now children do not walk to school or play in a park on their own. They do not wait in cars. They do not take long walks through the woods or ride bikes along paths or build secret forts while we are inside working or cooking or leading our lives.

As one mother put it to me, “I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.” In other words, risk assessment and moral judgment are intertwined.

American parents who have made rational child care decisions are arrested and charged with child abuse and child neglect for…well…parenting while letting kids be kids…and learn through youthful experience. For details scan through the article, there’s a lot there on how cranky crazy we’ve become. And there are lessons to be learned about social support and social harassment in child rearing.

But my main point here is: because refugees aren’t Americans…because they are primarily people of color…because our president has demeaned them as animals…whatever we do to their children…is well…ok. But heaven forbid that an American parent leave a child unattended for just a rational moment…they are neglectful and abusive parents. WTF is wrong with us?

Considering the freedom I had as a child in the 1950s and early 1960s, my mother would still be doing hard time!