Under the Bus

Under the Bus

Here’s how my Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines the noun “ally”: “a country, person or group joined with another or others for a common purpose.”

In colloquial usage, an ally is someone who “has your back,” who stands loyally by you, supports and defends you, especially in times of trouble.

Someone should explain these simple concepts to our President Donald Trump, and what it means to be an “ally” of South Korea.

Could one imagine a more troubled time than now for South Korea?

As threatening and infuriating as President Trump finds North Korea’s disrespectful bluster and fast-developing nuclear weaponry, he and Kim Jong Un know that any North Korean launch of an ICBM against the United States will result in an infinitely more damaging counter-strike.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In has no comparable counter-force, and his country’s vulnerability to thousands of North Korean conventional and nuclear weapons is obvious to everyone, except, it would seem, D J Trump.

Only Trump would call President Moon’s desire to protect his people from an apocalypse, “appeasement.”

But Trump isn’t content to undermine and insult the leader South Korea, he wants to undermine South Korea’s economy as well.  Right now.  

Trump wants – in the midst of this nuclear-threat nightmare — to tear up America’s trade agreement with South Korea and “renegotiate it” (i.e. dictate terms).  He claims that this will be to America’s advantage.

Treachery in deal-making has always been the Trump brand, along with gold plate.  Now it is America’s brand.

Trump has always been happy to walk away from contracted obligations, in order to squeeze some minute and momentary tribute from a less powerful partner or associate. He calls this winning.  Losing friends, to Trump, has always just been a cost of doing business.  You can’t eat prestige, might be how he’d put it.

But national prestige, national honor are not up for bargaining.  You can’t gold-plate a once solid-gold reputation and expect people to buy it, much less expect nations to honor it.

Trump’s behavior towards South Korea blares a clear message.  Beware the fool who ever thought Donald Trump conceived of their having “common purposes.”

No nation, no leader, is ever likely to make that mistake again.

Which, among the nations of the world, do you think considers the United States of America to be a dependable ally?  OK; Saudi Arabia.  Ummmm.  Anybody else?

And what “common purposes” might be on display in that rondelay of Riyadh kissy-hand?

Many experts will tell you, one of the world’s best money-washing machines is a hotel.

The rest of this holiday week we devote to reality testing President Donald Trump’s new plans for the war in Afghanistan: no more nation-building, lots more aggressive counter-terrorsm.

On Tuesday, our guest is military analyst Matthew Hoh, who served with the Marines in Iraq and worked for the State Department in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Matt resigned in protest in 2009, saying America’s diplomatic and military efforts in Afghanistan were ill-conceived (especially the Obama “surge” in boots on the ground) and worse-executed.   He contends, not much has changed, and the projected Trump escalation will only produce more deaths and destruction and not, as the President claims, “victory.”

On Wednesday, Will Everett, who first came to Afghanistan as a back-packing tourist and returned again and again as a journalist and as a manager of USAID projects, will look at the likely impact of the Trump war effort on the Afghan civilians on the ground.  He, too, worries that collateral damage may outweigh strategic success.

On Thursday, we cross the porous, colonially-designed border from Afghanistan to Pakistan to talk with the Washington Post’s longtime bureau chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan Pamela Constable.  President Trump and his Amen Corner say Pakistan lacks the will to seal the border and suppress its own terrorist groups.  But others wonder if there’s an actual way for the Islamabad government to accomplish these tasks.  The fear in Pakistan is that the Trump Administration will double-down of the Obama Administrations escalated use of drone attacks against suspected terrorists inside Pakistan.

And we welcome back to full service, our graphic artist, Amy Marash, definitely inspired this week.





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