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Why It’s So Hard To Support Trump, Part Two

I was going to title this post “The Perils of A Simple Mind” but given my post of a couple of days ago, why not go with a part two.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign themes was the idea of ending America’s involvement in endless wars. Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. We’ve spent the last eighteen years in a never-ending series of wars in the Middle East. A place that defines “quagmire.”

When we first went into Afghanistan, I supported the action because Al Qaeda and the Taliban needed to pay for 9/11. And I thought it was also a place where America could do some good. While dealing with Osama and Mullah Omar and all the rest, we could spread some American wealth and resources around the country and maybe, just maybe, end the decades of tragedy that have existed in that country.

Then I read The Places in Between by Rory Sparrow and I realized how hopeless such a dream was. Then I watched as the Bush Administration completely screwed up the intervention and then got distracted by a needless war in Iraq, and I lost hope that we could actually do the right thing in that part of the world.

So, yes, we need to stop these endless wars. These conflicts that drain our resources and lead to the death of our soldiers. I support this wholeheartedly.

But, it has to be done wisely. With consideration for the consequences.

And here is why I simply cannot support Trump’s efforts in these areas. He views the only objective as ending the endless wars, of getting American troops home, and letting others fight their own fights. He appears to believe the only thing that matters is if he can get American troops home. He is a man of simple mind.

In a complicated world, every time we put troops somewhere, every time we join forces with somebody else, every single thing we do on the international stage has layers of entanglements and complications. It is just not as simple as “bring the troops home.”

When we abandon Syria and our Kurdish allies, we not only leave them to be slaughtered by the Turkish military, we also tell other allies that we cannot be trusted. If we just cut and run in Afghanistan, we leave a vacuum that our enemies will fill. If our only objective is to bring American troops home, we leave the world stage to be dominated by our enemies.

This is a thing I’ve struggled with for decades. I am, on some level, an isolationist. I would prefer a world in which we were not the world’s policeman. A world in which we take care of ourselves first — which, yes, there is a whole lot of that which needs to be done. A world in which other countries bear the burden of their own battles. I am so tired of our country bearing the cost, both financially and in lives, for the world’s battles.

But … we live in a complicated world. We have, for decades now, taken on this role. So, it’s not so easy to just … withdraw. We can’t do that. So, we have to be careful and thoughtful and respectful and introspective, and we need to consider the consequences of our actions.

And these are the things that Donald Trump is simply incapable of.  Careful? Yeah, right. Thoughtful? Umm, no. Respectful? Please. Introspective? Hah! Consider the consequences? Oh please. I got the troops out, what else should anybody else care about? That’s his response. he seriously is surprised that people, both Republicans and Democrats, are outraged at his actions in Syria.

Why?

Because he is a man of simple mind and doesn’t recognize the complexities of the modern world and that these things require more thought and more consideration than what he in his, great and unmatched wisdom (which is uninformed, uneducated and self-centered), is remotely capable of.

We are in the midst of an experiment in chaos and narcissism. I’m not liking the results.

Instead of Impeachment

I’ve had a lot of different thoughts about things I’ve wanted to write leading up to yesterday’s election. I haven’t written any of them down. Maybe I’ll come back to those ideas later.

But what I would like to suggest is this. With the Democrats now in control of the House, instead of impeachment, I’d like to see them focus on putting forward legislation that offers a clear alternative to Republican destruction.

Legislation that reinforces and improves the Affordable Care Act.

Legislation that moves America towards a more sane tax structure and begins to reduce the massive annual federal budget deficit.

Legislation that puts forward a comprehensive plan for immigration reform that deals credibly with the millions of illegal immigrants already in this country, reforming our existing immigration practices to encourage legal immigration, and, yes, strengthening security at the border. Not a wall per se, but taking measures that will reduce illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Legislation that speaks to the middle of America instead of to the leftist extremes of the Democratic Party.

Legislation that offers America a view of a positive, optimistic governing strategy that could replace the divisiveness and destruction of Trump and his Republican acolytes.

And I’d like to see a mainstream media that steps away from its own hyperpartisanship and away from its fervent, breathless reporting on every stupid thing Trump says and does and focuses on what the two parties actually are doing to govern in America today. (By the way, if you don’t believe the MSM is engaged in “its own hyperpartisanship” you don’t read the twitter accounts of MSM actors.)

Am I optimistic that any of this will happen?  Absolutely not. I have absolutely no hope that either Democratic leaders or the MSM will grow up and act like the adults in the room. They haven’t for the last two years.

Memorial Day Thoughts

I’m just about as anti-war as a person can be, and being an American I have had to watch countless military adventures our country’s leaders have taken us on. I have opposed virtually every one of those adventures. I came of age with Grenada and Lebanon and useless fist-shaking military strikes authorized by President Reagan.

The one I supported … well, actually, there have been two. The first was our military intervention to put a stop to the ethnic slaughters that were taking place in the former Yugoslavia. I felt that was a situation where we could use our military might for a good cause that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with our strategic interests. We actually used our power for an unselfish purpose.

The second was the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan to put an end to the Taliban and al Qaeda and to help Afghanistan enter the modern world of nations. My support of this effort turned sour when it became clear that the Bush Administration actually had no real plan for accomplishing those objectives. Almost seventeen years later, that “war” grinds on with no end in sight, no clear idea of what the objective is, no exit strategy. nothing. Just soldiers continuing to try to do the right thing while fighting and dying.

As anti-war as I am I also am fascinated with the stories of war and the soldiers that fight them. A few months ago, I saw previews for Thank You For Your Service. The previews seemed far too jingoistic for me and I haven’t seen the movie. I did, however, buy the book and am reading it now. The author, David Finkel, also wrote The Good Soldiers, an excellent book about our Iraq War. The book is a no holds barred, in your face, gut-wrenching look at the after-effects of war on soldiers who return home.

I have read countless books on Afghanistan and Iraq, on World War II, Vietnam, the Civil War, The War to End All Wars (yeah, right), and others. I am fascinated with these stories. My favorite movie (if I’m not counting The Holy Grail) is Saving Private Ryan.  Band of Brothers is just incredible.

The point for me is this. I may be anti-war, but I honor those who serve and put their lives on the line. They do something I could never do, and I feel compelled to know their story. That’s the least I can do. So, on this Memorial Day, if you don’t want to read a book, read this. Honor a fallen hero by knowing his story and those who have lost him.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the NFL is a joke and our President is worse. The former announced a new policy that allows its players to continue protesting just so long as they do it behind closed doors so nobody can see it. They claim the owners supported it unanimously, but the 49ers abstained from the “vote” and the Jets have already said they won’t discipline any of their players if they continue to protest. So, not only did they adopt a policy that doesn’t stop the protesting, but treats the protesters like … well, they belong on the back of the bus … but they lied about it. I will do everything I can to skip the NFL this fall.

As for our President… After the NFL announced their new policy, he tweeted that players who kneel during the National Anthem should find another country. The idea that the only way to honor this country, to be patriotic, to demonstrate your love for this country, is to stand for the National Anthem — that kneeling during the song is disrespectful — is so dictatorial, authoritarian, and anti-American, I will not stand for the National Anthem as long as he is President. He has bastardized American and is destroying it from within. And disrespecting those who have fought and died for the freedoms and principles this country was founded on.

“Move to another country?” I think not. I’m staying right here, exercising my rights as an American to have a different opinion and to express it freely. I look forward to when we have a President again who respects those rights for all citizens.

On Iran

So … three years ago, Barack Obama, along with several European countries, signed an agreement with Iran in which they agreed to forsake their nuclear weapons program for ten or fifteen years in exchange for lifting economic sanctions and freezing Iranian assets.

Three years later, there has never been a shred of evidence produced that shows that Iran has violated this agreement.

Oh sure, I know. Netanyahu claims Israel has obtained 7 gazillion documents that show Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program for years.

Yes, this is true. But everybody already knew that. And more importantly, all of those documents are historical. As I understand it, all of that treasure trove of intelligence is from 2015 and earlier. None of it relates to what Iran has actually done since signing the agreement.

What is clear from the White House’s announcement is that this is actually about other things than whether Iran was complying with the agreement. It is about terrorism, it is about Syria, it is about Israel, it is about everything else Iran does that “we” consider to be bad for American interests.

Iran does many, many things around the world that are dangerous and destabilizing. There is no way to avoid that. (Odd thing though — so do we.)

It’s a shame. We may have found a way to ensure that Iran didn’t develop nuclear weapons for years. Trump in all of his infinite wisdom has destroyed that and now we enter unknown territory as Iran decides how to respond.

Trump thrives on chaos and destabilization. The world is a far too fragile place for that to work, either in the short term or the long term.

Alejandro Villanueva Should Not Apologize

As a lot of people do, I have strong feelings about the whole “taking a knee” phenomenon going on in the NFL.  Started by Colin Kaepernick during the pre-season last year, it initially started as him sitting during the National Anthem.  He drew no attention to his actions, made no public statement, did nothing at all until somebody asked.

And all hell broke loose.

It makes no difference to me the political reasons for standing, sitting, kneeling, or napping during the National Anthem, I believe that peaceful protest is a fundamental part of the character of our nation. And each of us have the right to do so. There is no symbol that is greater than that right.

You all probably know what has happened in the last few days.  Trump tweeted. (I know, I was shocked too.) Trump’s tweet made things worse instead of better. (I know, I was shocked too.) And an uproar ensued. (I know, I was shocked too.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers was one of several teams that decided to remain in the locker room during the National Anthem. They described it as the best way to stay unified as a team and remove themselves from what had essentially become a political powder keg. I’m not sure that really makes sense, but okay. (Side note — I’m a lifelong Steelers fan, so accept that for whatever bias you want here.)

There was one exception to the Steelers’ decision. Alejandro Villaneuva, a graduate of U.S. Military Academy, played football for Army, served as an Army Ranger including three tours in Afghanistan. While the rest of his team stayed in the locker room, Villaneuva stood just outside the tunnel and held his hand over his heart during the National Anthem.

His coach expressed dismay at this, and today he has apologized for making his coach and teammates look bad.

No.

He didn’t make his teammates look bad.

Alejandro Villaneuva did the exact same thing his teammates and many others have demanded they have the right to do — to respond to the National Anthem as they see fit. Whether in “respect” for it, or as a means of protesting a larger issue.

There is nothing wrong with what Villanueva did and his decision should be respected and admired, just as much as those of us who support Kaepernick and the other protesters believe their actions should be respected.

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