Moscow's feeling the Bern

It's today's look at war from the cheap seats.

Happy Monday! Cheer up…it’s still 2020!

Here are 5 things you should be reading today:

🤦 Bernie wants the Russians to get off his electoral lawn

US officials informed Democratic contender that Moscow’s feeling the Bern and trying to skew the election in Sanders’ favor. Bernie’s having none of that.

“In 2016, Russia used internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”

That’s one way to dodge the idea that your followers are toxic little shits.

Shot of the Day

Border Barrier Construction: El Paso 1
Looking south. Night construction efforts at El Paso 1. Crane lifting panel segment into place. The El Paso 1 project spans forty six miles, near Deming, NM, February 13, 2020. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Pacific Border District is providing contracting services, including design and construction oversight, of Department of Defense-funded Southwest border barrier projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas at the direction of the Administration and at the request of Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection. (no one in this image crossed the international border)*
* This is the caption, in its entirety, from DVIDs. Which means someone did, in fact, cross the international border. Probably accidentally to take a piss.

🙅‍♂️ Trump putting Putin ties down

Those same officials briefed members of Congress that Moscow loves them some Donald, and Trump put his thumbs into presidential mode to respond.

Hoax Number 7 is like Mambo Number 5 but less catchy and more terrifying. No word from the White House on what hoaxes 1 through 6 were.

🤞 US to African forces: be less rape-y

In the wake of rumors that the United States is getting out of Africa, the AFRICOM commander wants his African counterparts to know that the Americans are totally committed to the continent. Just, if they could be a little more professional, and you know, not rape people so much, that would be, pretty great.

🚌 Go Greyhound, and leave the sanctuaries to us

If you’ve managed to cross the border, evade the Border Patrol, and find your way to a bus station, so long as it’s Greyhound you’re riding, they won’t throw you under the bus anymore to said Border Patrol. Even though Greyhound has insisted that it didn’t want to let Border Patrol on its buses without warrants, its hands were tied and they had to let it happen. Turns out, that’s not true, as said buses are private property. So now, undocumented immigrant, get on the bus.

🕵 Intelligence community gets new Dick

Trump just named another acting director of intelligence, Richard Grennell, and he’s just about as Dick as Dick gets, apparently. In his last job, US ambassador to Germany, he was described by Angela Merkel, in a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, as someone with a style that needed “getting used to,” which is diplomat for “please get rid of this asshole.” Grennell’s a known Trump loyalist and the kind of person who sees a great future for himself in the Trump administration, so he’s already cleaning house. Yet another Trump appointment that is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Graveyard Of Editorial Restraint

Do newspapers have sweeps weeks?

Because it looks like the New York Times jumped the shark by running an op-ed from a murderous narco-terrorist with a proven record of human rights violations and egregious criminal behavior.

We now live in a world where Katie Hopkins gets suspended from Twitter*, and Sirajuddin Haqqani gets an op-ed in the NYT.

*Not a Hopkins fanboy, just saying, that’s…ironic.

In defending their decision to run an editorial by the number two guy at the Taliban, the NYT went full “black friend,” pointing out that it’s cool that they ran the piece because, hey, kids, they had some journalists kidnapped by the Taliban once.

"We know firsthand how dangerous and destructive the Taliban is. The Times is one of the only American news organizations to have maintained a full time team of reporters in Afghanistan since the start of the war nearly 20 years ago. We've also had multiple journalists kidnapped by the organization.

So that means they can run pretty much whatever they want.

"But, our mission at Times Opinion is to tackle big ideas from a range of newsworthy viewpoints. We've actively solicited voices from all sides of the Afghanistan conflict, the government, the Taliban and from citizens. Sirajuddin Haqqani is the second in command of the Taliban at a time when its negotiators are hammering out an agreement with American officials in Doha that could result in American troops leaving Afghanistan. That makes his perspective relevant at this particular moment."

Also relevant? Afghan reporters for the Times.

Getting a little ahead of myself, here, because all of this is happening now that a weeklong “reduction in violence” has been agreed to by all parties engaged in the war in Afghanistan. Well, most of the parties, since ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate in the country, isn’t playing with anyone at this point. And whatever Al Qaeda affiliate is working on Afghan soil, they’re not signing off on…shit.

We’re all getting way ahead of ourselves, something I go into a little more in a longer read on this I’ll be sending out a little later today. But this will definitely mean a few things.

Trump’s gonna run the hell out of this

Love or loathe him, Donald Trump will oversee the ending of the war in Afghanistan. So outside of the resignation, he’s going full Nixon when it comes to presidential acts. To his base, this will play as a positive thing, that the United States got out of a war that no one in America cares about anymore.

Democrats won’t touch this

Even though bringing troops home should be a unifying issue, it’s an election year. And no one on the Democratic side will want to even acknowledge this peace process, unless there’s some way Buttigieg can point out how as a senior officer’s driver in Afghanistan, he saw this coming and will be happy to keep it going if elected.

America will ignore this

Unless you live in Killeen, Fayetteville, or Watertown, you, America, don’t give a shit about the war in Afghanistan. You’re more worried about crippling healthcare costs, college debt, and whether or not you’ll be able to keep food on your family’s table. Which is, really, as it should be, given the current military establishment.

The world will dis this

Any withdrawal of American troops, if it happens before the 2020 election, a plan Trump is considering, will not be seen kindly by Western allies of the United States. Probably won’t mean an outright disparaging of US efforts, but it will mean that whatever agreements are currently in place about Afghanistan might be null and void.

So, good idea or nah?

Whether this is a good idea or not depends on a few things, and no one really has any answers to questions like:

  1. Will the Taliban recognize and cooperate with the Kabul government?

  2. Will this provoke a civil war by those still opposed to Taliban rule?

  3. Will the Taliban try to party like it’s 1996?

Those first two are probably interconnected because even on a good idea Afghan internal politics are unstable. On a bad day? A day like the one after the Taliban get a real seat at the table running Afghanistan? There are plenty of armed factions in the country that are directly opposed to that kind of thing.

And those groups are more than ready to start a war over that.

So yeah, no idea how this works for anyone.