The Trump administration has deep internal conflicts. That was true when President Trump was sworn into office, and it’s true now. But the nature of those conflicts has changed: The mostly ideological fights of 2017 seem to have somewhat subsided, while issues around Russia are creating new (and maybe even bigger) fissures.
After a suspected chemical attack in Syria, President Trump said Iran and Russia were responsible for backing “Animal Assad.” But Damascus may view the United States as being focused on a different fight.
President Trump has warned that there will be a “big price to pay” after yet another suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.
But the suspicion that Syria continues to use those weapons suggests it views the United States as being focused on a different fight.
On today’s episode:
• Ben Hubbard, who covers the Middle East for The New York Times.
• Dozens suffocated in Syria after a reported chemical attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.
• Trump sought a way out of Syria, but the latest attack is pulling him back in.
• There have been similar deadly assaults for years, including one in 2013 that killed more than 1,400.
Listening to this a few days on it sounds more like Trump has even more bluster than Obama, but he’s doing roughly the same thing. Yet again, small countries that should know far better are continuing to trod on their own people. Sadly, America is doing it to, just with far more sophisticated weapons. If we can’t figure out the right and wrong at the big obvious scale, how can we have proper morality at the smaller and more subtle scales?
Steve Coll is one of the foremost chroniclers of the war in Afghanistan, now in its eighteenth year. Coll talks with Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg about why the war has persisted, well after the idea of a military solution lost any luster it might have had. They discuss Pakistan's struggles during the war in Afghanistan, and why disrupting the terrorism networks that now thrive in the area might require much more than just American troops.
I wish I’d caught this podcast earlier to have been able to potentially see Coll at Vroman’s in Pasadena last week. I’m putting his books on my to read list.
I love some of the discussion, retro and introspection on the topic of the issues of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I’m still working through some of Fukuyama’s ideas about the growth and formation of governments that I think could make a sea change in how we deal with issues in countries like these, but my ideas aren’t yet fully formed in terms of providing prescriptive policies yet. Hopefully I’ll get there some day.
In the erstwhile, this is a brilliant and wonderful interview. I’m loving this series more and more.
China has no reason to restrain Kim too soon, or for too modest a price. I keep thinking of the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. This terrifying episode was a very complicated game of diplomatic maneuvering and military posturing, with a thermonuclear exchange between the U.S. and the USSR as the consequence of a misstep. But that apocalyptic situation had one big advantage over the present one: John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro were all sane, rational beings. The same cannot be said about the two protagonists to the Korea crisis, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. In Kim, Trump has met his match.
This is apparently the article that began Bannon’s ouster from the administration.Syndicated copies to:
The former Marine Corps general spent four decades on the front lines. How will he lead the Department of Defense?
A long read to be sure, but some great in-depth background and some analysis to put the United States’ position in world affairs into perspective. Even better the writer has been following Mattis’ career for a while, so there’s better contextualization.Syndicated copies to:
📖 On page 16 of 448 of Dealing with China by Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
A simple preface followed by an anecdote about the beginning of a deal relating to telecom. The style is quick moving and history, details, and philosophy are liberally injected into the story as it moves along. This seems both interesting as well as instructive.
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“There are some who believe that an immutable law of history holds that conflict is inevitable when a rising power begins to bump up against an established one. But no law is immutable. Choices matter. Lessons can be learned.”
“Prescriptions, after all, are easier to make than predictions.”
“Note taking allows Party and government officials to get quick reads on what went on at meetings they didn’t attend. […] Private meetings with senior government officials without recoring devices or note takers are rare and highly sought after.”
“…the so-called iron rice bowl, the cradle-to-grave care and support guaranteed by the government through the big companies people worked for.”
“The Party had made a simple bargain with the people: economic growth in return for political stability. That in turn meant Party control. Prosperity was the source of Party legitimacy.”
“Messages in China are sent in ways that aren’t always direct; you have to read the signs.”
“It was the nature of dealing with China: nothing was done until it was done.”
—page 14Syndicated copies to:
📗 Started reading Dealing with China by Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Syndicated copies to:
Picked up a copy at Little Free Library #21797 at 8:29 am
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0421-3 First Edition Hardcover