Weekend Reads Opinions | Trump is in a tailspin — and dragging the country down with him
Top Military Officers Unload on Trump
The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated. They come from different branches of the military, but I’ll simply refer to them as “the generals.
The most powerful office in the world is occupied — and being abused — by a man who is entirely unfit and is spinning dangerously out of control. Everyone needs to stop pretending otherwise.
And it’s all getting worse.
President Trump’s train wreck of a performance on Wednesday, at a meeting with congressional leaders, represented a new low on a scale that seems to have no bottom. “I pray for the president all the time . . . I think now, we have to pray for his health,” House Speaker(D-Calif.) , because “this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
Trump began by complaining about having to attend a meeting initiated by his own White House aides, according to published accounts. The subject was Trump’s sudden decision to move U.S. military personnel in Syria aside, allowing Turkish troops and affiliated militias to sweep across the border and attack the Kurds, who had been loyal U.S. allies.
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The president then tried to make the case that he did not actually condone the Turkish invasion. Attendees were given copies of a truly bizarre and alarming letter Trump had sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Oct. 9. Just, the letter begins, “Let’s work out a good deal!” It ends by telling Erdogan, “History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”
That is how the president of the United States communicated with a powerful foreign leader at a moment of crisis. We have all witnessed more sophisticated attempts at persuasion on kindergarten playgrounds. Erdogan reportedly threw the letter.
Trump Betrayed the Kurds. He Couldn’t Help Himself.
Trump Betrayed the Kurds. He Couldn’t Help Himself.U.S. President Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds stung deeply. “They trusted us and we broke that trust. It’s a stain on the American conscience.” These, according to The New York Times, are the searing words of an Army officer who has worked alongside the Kurds in northern Syria.
During the White House meeting, Trump went on to denigrate Jim Mattis, the decorated and highly esteemed Marine Corps general who served as Trump’s defense secretary before resigning last year over Syria policy. Mattis is “the world’s most overrated general,” Trump announced,. “You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.”
Anyone in touch with reality knows that none of this is true. The territory held by ISIS — the Islamic State — was reclaimed by Kurdish fighters with the aid and guidance of U.S. troops and intelligence operatives. Shortly before the meeting, the354 to 60 to condemn Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds, with most Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in expressing outrage.
Perhaps that vote was what set Trump off. “You’re just a politician,” he told Pelosi. Then he amended his assessment: “You’re not a politician, you’re a third-rate politician.”
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That’s what Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) heard; Pelosi“third-grade politician.” In any event, she and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) rose to their feet and walked out.
They pressed Trump and his aides to explain what the plan was for fighting the Islamic State now that the Kurdish firewall is gone. Theybecause there is no plan. The president doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he is doing.
Trump is in so far over his head that he doesn’t know which way is up. He also is intellectually, psychologically and morally unsuitable for the high office he holds. Those two problems — incompetence and unfitness — reinforce one another in the worst possible way, and have sent the presidency into a tailspin that puts the nation and the world in mounting peril.
Impeachment is no longer optional, given what we already know about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. But the prospect of facing a Senate trial — for which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is already making plans — can only boost Trump’s anxiety. His outbursts andare becoming more frequent and less tethered to the world of facts, events and consequences. Madness is a term laypeople use, not doctors. We must use it now.
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I once was confident that our institutions and processes were durable enough to easily survive Trump. Now, I’m less sure. “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” — a letter saying these things, on behalf of the United States government, was actually sent to the government of Turkey. Good Lord.
Senators, pay attention. You may prefer to let voters judge Trump in next year’s election. But you must realize, at this point, that we may not have that long.
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Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him .
The "deep state" has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators.But over the last three weeks, the deep state has emerged from the shadows in the form of real live government officials, past and present, who have defied a White House attempt to block cooperation with House impeachment investigators and provided evidence that largely backs up the still-anonymous whistle-blower.
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