Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Yes, Russia, Russia, Russia

That's an issue which many people said was fake news," President Trump told Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday, 7/28/00..

That was in response to Swan raising the issue of intelligence report(s) that Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. And so, in honor of the President, I will note that "many people say that Donald Trump is stupid."

Donald Trump embodies more sins and shortcomings than almost any American alive. However, actual stupidity is not one of them. Swan reports

In 2018, Gen. John Nicholson, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, accused Russia of providing money and arms to the group, saying, "we know that the Russians are involved."

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he was not aware of Nicholson’s comments, and said evidence that Russia was aiding the Taliban “never reached my desk.”

Well, yes, but he stated also "I have heard that, but again it's never reached my desk." Because he wasn't informed, Trump eludes responsibility but cannot be accused of being daft, suffering from dementia, or having advisors so worried about his response (or lack thereof) that they'd keep critical information from him.

Additionally, the President never actually claimed that he wasn't advised of the intelligence, instead contending it "never reached my desk." That may be accurate because the intelligence report may never have been placed upon his desk. Trump may have learned a thing or two about splitting hairs from Bill Barr, for whom it works very well in congressional testimony.

(Something to look forward to whenever the USA gets its first female President: most women are not as prone to using such deceptive colloquialisms.)

It also may be splendid timing on the part of the President. Swan effectively questioned the President on the intelligence report about Putin's Russia. But the interview took place on Tuesday and thus the Axios guy didn't have the opportunity to ask the interviewee about the military's announcement on Wednesday that the USA will

cut by about a third the 36,000-strong U.S. troop contingent in Germany, faulting the close U.S. ally for failing to meet NATO’s defense spending target and accusing it of taking advantage of the United States on trade.

 “We don’t want to be the suckers any more,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday about the decision. “We’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills; it’s very simple.

President Trump thereby nurses his grudge against the country which is the largest (aside from the USA) contributor of developmental and military support to Afghanistan. It's "a slap in the face to a friend and ally," Senator Romney notes, and it further weakens the trans-Atlantic alliance, a major foreign policy tactic of Trump's friend and ally in the Kremlin.

It's highly unlikely that Trump had specifically asked the military to hold off on its announcement. Yet, the timing of the announcement benefits the commander-in-chief, an individual skilled at making known his desires and smart enough to understand their importance.

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