The Vice President Announces a Ceasefire That Is Not a Ceasefire & the President Announces That Everyone is Happy With It

Earlier this afternoon, the Vice President, with the Secretary of State behind him, announced a ceasefire he had gotten Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to agree to. The President then did an impromptu press gaggle on the tarmac of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport where he ran with this news. The President spun the Vice President’s announcement of what Turkey supposedly agreed to as great for the Kurds, the Turks, the US, and civilization itself.

This comment about “having to have it cleaned out” is an excuse and rationalization for ethnic cleansing!

The Turks, however, have their own understanding of what was agreed to and it is not a cease fire.

The ceasefire that the Vice President announced at his press conference in Turkey is not one. Moreover, it doesn’t actually bind the proxy extremist groups that Turkey has turned loose in the area and who have been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in their fight with the Kurds. I’m honestly not even sure this binds the Kurds. And, as a result, we can predict what will happen.

As the Kurds move through this now supposedly temporarily pacified battlespace, to both collect the dead, the wounded, those trapped behind their enemy’s lines and to make it to the new lines 20 miles from the Turkish border, they will come into contact with the Syrian extremist groups that the Turks are using as proxies and a force multiplier. Those Syrian extremists, not bound by the agreement, will initiate hostilities with the Syrian Kurds and Arabs that make up the Syrian Democratic Forces because part of this Turkish operation was to colonize the buffer area they have just been granted by the President via the Vice President and Secretary of State. And the Syrian extremists that Erdogan is using as a proxy force are not going to want to have to let the Syrian Kurds and Arabs trying to get clear of the new buffer area take their property and possessions with them. Those are spoils of war that belong to those extremists who are going to set up shop in the buffer zone with whomever else Erdogan relocates there.

That’s right, you’re not crazy, you’re not hallucinating Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, on orders from the President, just ceded 20 miles of Syria to Turkey. Land that Syria’s Kurds have long claimed as a homeland where they deserve self determination and recognition as a nation-state. This was done unilaterally. Without consulting with the Syrians. Or the UN. Or Congress. Or seemingly anyone else. I’m sure Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs got asked for their opinions though. The President definitely knows how to get a real estate deal done!

Once the Kurds and Arabs of the SDF come into contact with the Syrian extremists that Erdogan is using as a proxy force and force multiplier, those extremists will attack. And the Syrian Democratic Forces will defend themselves. And once they do that, the Turks will claim that the temporary cessation of hostilities was violated by the Kurds and the SDF, and the Turkish military will restart offensive operations. I give it 12 hours, tops, before we’re back to where we were before the Vice President’s press conference today.

But civilization is happy, so good job everyone!

Mr. President, please help yourself to a Nobel Peace Prize. Take it out of petty cash.

Open thread!








President Obama & His Administration Did Indeed Have a Strategy for Syria: It is Not President Obama’s Fault if You Don’t Understand It and It is Not an Excuse for What the President Did Last Week

(Figure 1: Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Design)

Since the President’s horrendous decision to pull US Special Forces, as well as the US Marine Corps artillery batteries supporting them out of Syria, a cottage industry has sprung up among the President’s supporters and defenders that this is really the fault of President Obama because President Obama and his administration either had no Syria strategy or they had a bad one. And that this is the ultimate driver of the President’s betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish and Arab partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces that has enabled Erdogan to begin a campaign that will likely include an attempted ethnocide of Syria’s Kurds.

Some of these defenders would not know, let alone understand, low intensity warfare and/or strategy and policy if it walked up and bit them. Some actually know better. But all of them are actually grappling with a strawman. President Obama and his administration had two different, but related strategies regarding Syria. The first was to quite simply not get sucked into the Syrian Civil War. Humanitarian assistance would be provided to refugees seeking shelter in adjacent states, internally displaced Syrians that made it to where the US was operating along the Syrian-Iraqi border or within Syria would be provided for and protected, but the US would not get pulled into the Syrian Civil War, and the underlying proxy wars by regional powers that had been partially driving it, and risk escalating that conflict as it would have regional consequences. Frankly, from a semi-informed observer as this was playing out, this drove a number of President Obama’s actual advisors and senior national security officials nuts as several of them wanted the US to intervene because of the humanitarian crisis being created by the Syrian Civil War. Instead President Obama opted for what was, essentially, a containment strategy of trying to keep the Syrian Civil War and the proxy wars being fought by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran under its cover contained within Syria so as not to destabilize the rest of the region.

This strategy was really an assumption of risk strategy in order to buy time. The US, as the leader and largest and most militarily powerful member of the multinational coalition operating in the area, would assume the risk that the Syrian Civil War and the proxy wars for regional hegemony subsumed within it, would and could be kept within Syria. That they would not spill out and over its borders and negatively impact Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel. And that they wouldn’t negatively effect the two sets of high level diplomatic negotiations being undertaken in the region: the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative of 2014 and what we now know were the JCPOA+5 negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear energy and weapons programs. President Obama had decided to play for time. To assume the risk that either the Syrian Civil War, the proxy wars for regional hegemony taking place within it, or both wouldn’t blow up into a larger conflagration, spill over Syria’s borders, and engulf the entire region.

It is also important to remember that in 2013, when Bashar Assad’s chemical attack on his own citizenry crossed the red line that President Obama had unequivocally stated, there were calls for both a retaliatory strike to punish and deter Assad and for Congress to weigh in before any action was taken, President Obama did, in fact, seek Congressional approval for such a strike. The majority Republican House of Representatives refused to provide President Obama with the authorization to make that strike and enforce the red line he had set. Congressman Paul Ryan, the chair of House Budget Committee at the time, went so far as to assert that the called for strikes would not achieve US strategic objectives and that they would be “feckless show of force” that would “only damage our credibility”. A New York real estate developer and reality TV star named Donald Trump tweeted that “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” As a result of Congress denying him explicit military authorization to engage Syrian military targets outside of the Authorization for Military Force for the global war on terror, President Obama did not order a strike.

The Obama administrations’s second Syria strategy was for pursuing the campaign against ISIS. Specifically to apply low intensity and unconventional warfare doctrine to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate that spanned Iraq and Syria’s shared border, and, ultimately, to reduce ISIS. This is the “by, with, and through” strategy that I’ve referenced here before and that you may have seen mentioned or referred to in news reports and other analyses. Simply put the “by, with, and through” strategy focuses on finding reliable host country partners who are willing to fight on their own behalf and then sending the US’s unconventional warfare specialists, the Green Berets (Special Forces) to embed with them in a train, advise, and assist mission. This is a very, very light footprint strategy. Small teams of US Special Forces known as Operational Detachments Alpha (ODAs), with specific enablers from other elements of US Special Operations Forces and, most likely some of the CIA’s paramilitary operators at the outset, as well as a small support element were sent into Syria to identify, recruit, and vet local Syrians that would then be trained, advised, and assisted with operations against ISIS. Eventually a small contingent of US Marine artillery were also moved into the US led Coalition’s theater of operations in Syria to provide fire support for the ODAs and their host country partners they were embedded with.

Train, advise, and assist has a very specific meaning here. Training means that the Soldiers on the ODAs would teach the Syrian Kurds and Arabs that are known as the Syrian Democratic Forces how to fight more effectively against ISIS. These host country fighters didn’t need to be taught how to fight, both the Syrian Kurds and Arabs have their own ways of war. What the Special Forces Soldiers on the ODAs did do was to teach them to fight more effectively at the tactical and operational levels against the specific type of enemy that is ISIS within the theater strategy that was established based on the US’s national strategy against ISIS. Training blends into advising and assisting, especially in regard to logistics and planning. As the Syrian Democratic Forces became a more effective host country fighting force, especially within the context of the type of campaign that had been designed to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate, defeat them, and then retard their ability to continue to terrorize and destabilize the region*, the US Special Forces would do less assisting in the actual combat operations. Part of the assistance was also air support. The US led Coalition flew sorties day and night as necessary to degrade ISIS targets on the ground.  Here is the link to the continually updated list of these sorties and strikes.

The US and its coalition partners had been trying to successfully adapt and implement a “by, with, and through” strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since GEN (ret) Petraues’s revised Counterinsurgency Manual, FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency, arrived to great fanfare in the mid aughts. The key idea behind a “by, with, and through” strategy is to empower the lowest societal level you can work with, ie the population layer/element, work from that level up (work from the bottom up), and then reconcile the tactical and operations gains made with the state to state strategic efforts, such as diplomatic initiatives and the use of economic and information power, being made at the top end. This never really worked during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (OIF and OEF) because we didn’t actually institute a true “by, with, and through” strategy. Rather, we had US Conventional Forces and our Coalition partners, also usually Conventional Forces, trying to implement and realize something that is the specialty of US Special Forces. I’m not knocking the efforts put in or the actual tactical and operational successes achieved, as there were and are many, just that the size of Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to have Conventional Forces work outside their expertise by undertaking an unconventional warfare strategy, did not lead to theater strategic success. Often because of failures at the national and theater strategic levels and despite the tactical and operational successes.

The size, scope, and scale of OIF and OEF made it impossible to let Special Forces take the lead as we simply do not have enough Green Berets to work one entire theater the size of Iraq, let alone two with the second theater being the size of Afghanistan. Even if we pulled in all the other US Special Operations Forces – SEALs, Operational Detachment Delta/Delta Force, Rangers, Air Commandos, Recon Marines, the Intelligence Support Activity (Gray Fox/Field Operating Group), Civil Affairs, and PSYOPers – and had them pick up the slack while ignoring their own missions and mission specialty areas, we still wouldn’t have had enough Special Operations Forces to do the job. There is a reason that Marines and Special Operations Forces fight battles and conventional Armies fight campaigns and wars in the Land Domain; because the former do not have the capacity to scale to the latter.

The campaign against ISIS in Syria, however, was different. The theater of operations was limited in size. We had been able to identify, recruit, vet, and then train reliable host country partners that we and our Coalition allies could work “by, with, and through”. A limited number of Operational Detachment Alphas, plussed up with personnel from other SOF elements, with a small support element and a small amount of Marine artillery batteries for fire support were tremendously successful! Perhaps beyond anyone’s legitimate expectations based on the mixed results from trying to apply the “by, with, and through” strategy during the latter portions of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. And that success carried over to maintaining the peace in the area of operations once ISIS’s physical caliphate had been reduced. About 1,000 US Special Forces and Special Operating Forces, working with the SDF, had been able to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate to nothing because the SDF, as the host country partners, did the hard, dangerous, and deadly work. Which is why the SDF suffered over 10,000 killed in action and the US Special Forces partnering with them suffered zero KIA in this campaign.

What the President has thrown away with his rash and ill considered pull out and betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish and Arab allies, and what his defenders and supporters don’t understand in their rush to defend him by blaming all of this on President Obama and his administration, is just how successful this campaign against ISIS has been. How much reward we reaped in exchange for the amount of blood and treasure wagered and risk assumed. And how well it was working to maintain the peace in this area of Syria by preventing ISIS from reestablishing a stable physical ground base of operations from which to try to reestablish the physical caliphate.

There wasn’t one single Obama administration strategy for Syria, there were two distinct and specific strategies. The first was to assume risk by not intervening in the Syrian Civil War in order to buy time for what were considered to be other regional priorities – the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the JCPOA+5 negotiations and the reduction of ISIS. The second was an unconventional warfare strategy to degrade and reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate and reduce ISIS’s capacity to continue to terrorize and destabilize the region. While the first strategy’s efficacy is debatable, the second strategy to counter ISIS has been successful beyond all possible expectations. And the President has thrown away all of that success and by doing so betrayed our Syrian Kurdish and Arab partners, weakened and diminished the United States power and ability to project power, and degraded our moral standing. He has further destabilized the region. He has handed the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians, and the Turks a victory without them having to actually contest for it. And he has most likely set the conditions for Erdogan to try to finally solve his Kurdish problem.

Open thread!

This post is dedicated to the late Sergeant First Class (ret) Terry Caldwell. Terry was my Area Specialty Officer (ASO) and taught me everything I know about small team operations and the practical realities of asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional warfare. Rest well Old Man!

* Interestingly enough the chart at the previous link is based on the four phases of conventional warfare, not the seven phases of unconventional warfare used by US Special Forces, which is the result of the commend element of CJTF-OIR being a conventional 3 star Corps headquarters. There is also a full description of the campaign at that link.

Disclosure: In May 2015 I was on site to present the kickoff and keynote briefing of XVIII Airborne Corps’ strategic assessment week and was on site throughout the week as the cultural subject matter expert/cultural advisor as their preparation for assuming command of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. The briefing focused on the regional strategic and geo-strategic considerations of the Levantine problem set and the campaign against ISIS. It was specifically prepared for the Commanding General, Command Group, senior staff, as much of their staff as could be jammed into the auditorium, and a variety of attendees by secure videoteleconference at a number of outstations. Also in attendance were several senior leaders (general officers) from our Coalition partners who were on the Coalition senior staff. In the weeks after the briefing I prepared a strategic assessment on how to leverage the campaign against ISIS to set the conditions in the theater of operations to secure the peace after the termination of military operations. My work for XVIII Airborne Corps was as a private consultant being paid on contract. I was asked to do this work by the then Corps’ G5 (Officer in Charge of Plans), who I’d both previously worked with at III Corps and who was a student at USAWC when I was the cultural advisor at both. My civilian mobilization/appointment as a senior civil servant at both USAWC and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue assigned to US Army Europe were not political appointments. I was not then, nor have a I ever been, part of President Obama’s appointed foreign policy, national security, and/or defense policy team, though I did provide significant support to a number of those appointees during my civilian mobilization from 2010 through 2014.

 








A Few Thoughts On the Betrayal of the Kurds: I’m Ashamed and We Should All Be Ashamed

In 2008 the Georgian battalion that was part of the Coalition Forces of Operation Iraqi Freedom was attached to the brigade combat team that I and my teammates were assigned to. When Putin invaded the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia under the excuse of a border dispute and protecting ethnic Russians, the Georgian battalion was immediately ordered to return home and fight. The Georgians had only been part of the coalition because the Bush 43 administration had intimated that if the Georgians helped us in Iraq, then the US would support them joining NATO. The Georgians wanted to join NATO as protection from Putin’s interests in reestablishing what he believes is Russia’s rightful sphere of interest and historic near abroad. In reality, the Bush 43 administration wasn’t really going to push for them to join NATO and didn’t.

The brigade’s job was to help facilitate the Georgians’ movement home. To ensure they got from the combat outpost they had been operating from through the command forward operating base and on to one of the two large US bases adjacent to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) from which they’d fly home. As they transited through many of us thanked them for working with us, wished them well, told them we’d be thinking of them. Some were stoic. Some wanted one last group picture with my female analyst – a former student of mine (frankly one of the best students I’d ever had undergrad or grad) who I’d recruited to my team and who was also an olympic class athlete who also did fitness competitions, which explains the enthusiasm for the pictures. And some asked us the question that will haunt me forever:

You’re coming, right? We came to help you, you’re coming to help us? Right?

I’d never before been embarrassed to be an American. And even though my service at that time was as a supervisory contractor, because all the civilians in the experimental Army program that had sent my teammates and I to Iraq had to be contractors by regulation because it was an experiment not a program of record, I have never been so embarrassed and so ashamed to be both an American and in service to America as I was that day. Because I knew, we all knew, that we weren’t coming. That these men, from a battalion that had suffered more KIA’s in our operational environment/area of responsibility than we had, were on their own. We weren’t coming. No one from US Army Europe or the South European Task Force or EUCOM or NATO was coming. We’d, or rather our national command authority both elected and appointed, had asked them to fight and die with us and we would not return the courtesy or repay the debt.

Today I read a Twitter thread by a reporter with a source from the Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground in Syria who is in harm’s way. That thread reported what her source was telling her, which was that the SDF in Kobani, as well as the civilians there, were not going to stand and fight this time as they had previously against ISIS. Instead they were all pulling out and heading to an American military base in the area in the hope that the Americans were both still there and that the US commander at that base would allow them to seek shelter and sanctuary there from the Turkish assault that the President’s rash decision has made possible. And when I read that thread I had two reactions. The first was that same sense of shame I had on that August day in 2008 as all I could do was wish Georgian Soldiers the best as they went back home to fight falsely hoping we would soon arrive like the cavalry coming over the hill in the nick of time in an old western.

The other feeling was amazement. Amazement that even though they knew that the President of the United States had betrayed them, had given approval for Erdogan to try to obliterate them in his ongoing ethnocidal and genocidal campaign against the Kurds under the cover of a counterterrorism operation, they still believed that if they could get to where the American flag was flying they would be safe. It is stunningly mind and emotion boggling, to the point that I am actually having trouble typing it out, that  knowing that they had been betrayed by the President of the United States, the belief of these men and women is that if they could get to territory held by the United States, in this case a military base, that if they packed up what they could, grabbed their families, and drove hard through an hours and miles long traffic jam of their friends and neighbors and fellow SDF in the middle of what is now a very hot war zone, that at the end of that exodus was hope. At the end of that exodus was safety. Because at the end of that flight from danger, through danger, was a berm and hescos and a gate with a guard tower where the American flag would be flying. In the face of this cruelest, most pointless betrayal their thoughts were to run to those wearing uniforms that bear the American flag – the flag of their betrayers. Because that flag, despite the betrayal, symbolized to them their last best hope for safety.

I have no idea if the base they are trying to reach is still there. I haven’t seen any follow on and follow up reporting, but I would like to believe that the commander of that base would open the gate and provide refuge to our erstwhile allies to lessen the betrayal and pay the moral debt that the President has now created for all of us Americans. And I’d like to believe that most will make it. But belief and hope are not strategies.

I don’t know yet, and I’m not sure we ever will know, how to properly assess the damage that will happen as a result of the President’s decision to betray the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurds and Arabs, Muslims and Syriac Christian alike, who had been decisively instrumental in successfully achieving our and our other allies’ strategic objectives of reducing ISIS’s physical caliphate. The SDF suffered over 10,000 Killed in Action and I’m not even sure the total number of wounded in action as the host country component to the by, with, and through strategy we’ve been using against ISIS since 2015. I know that as many ISIS detainees that can go into the wind will. And that they’ll scatter throughout the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and Europe, which will increase both discreet acts of terrorism and instability in all of the states and societies in those regions. We’ll also see increased refugee flows as both SDF and non SDF from the areas now or soon to be under attack by Turkey flee looking for safety. This will increase instability in adjoining states like Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It will also create even more problems for our EU and NATO allies as many will try to flee there because the neo-nationalist and neo-fascist parties and movements in the EU member states, all funded overtly or covertly by Putin, leverage refugee flows from the Levant as part of their anti-governmental and anti-EU political activities. I don’t know how many US and Coalition military personnel, let alone civilians, will be hurt or killed because of the President’s rash actions, and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to directly tie those injuries or deaths back to this decision to betray the SDF in specific and the Kurds in general, but they will occur nevertheless. And I have no way to quantify or qualify what this will do to our ability to find partners and allies in the future, but I’m sure, despite the President’s glib assurances this afternoon that “alliances are easy”, that it will make it much, much, much harder for the US to partner and ally with other state and non-state actors to achieve our national interests in the future.

The events of the past three days may likely be the worst national security and foreign policy decision ever made by a US president. Which, given the long rich history of bad national security and foreign policy decisions made by US presidents, is saying something. Based on the reporting it was made without any formal or even informal decision making process. Without any input or recommendations by the senior military advisors on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the senior leadership of our Intelligence Services, by either the Geographic Combatant Commander or the Coalition Commanding General in the theater of operations, or by any of our allies in the Coalition. It is a rash, short sighted, stupid, self defeating, self harming decision. It is a decision that betrayed our host country allies; allies who have fought valiantly and suffered significant casualties as a result because they were willing to fight for their own chance for self determination. And it is a decision that shames all of us who are Americans, even those unable to recognize that they should be ashamed because the slavishly support anything and everything the President does.

Today, for the second time, I am ashamed to be an American. And I am also amazed that those we’ve betrayed still flee from danger through danger in the attempt to reach a base where the American flag may still fly because they believe, despite the betrayal, that at the end of that dangerous journey is hope and safety. And from that, in my shame, I take a small amount of hope.

Open thread.

Full disclosure: I served from October 2007 through November 2008 as the Cultural Advisor to the Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division and was deployed with the brigade in Iraq in 2008. I have also served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commandant of the US Army War College (2010-2014), the Cultural Advisor (Temporary Assigned Control) to the Commanding General of III Corps (January – October 2012), the Cultural Advisor (Temporary Assigned Control) to the Civil Affairs Branch Chief (October 2012 – November 2013), the Cultural Advisor (Temporary Assigned Control) to the Director of the Institute for NCO Professional Development and the Commandant of the US Sergeants Major Academy (November 2013 through June 2014), the Cultural Advisor (Temporary Assigned Control) to the Commanding General of US Army Europe (December 2013 – June 2014), and a senior subject matter expert at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue in the Middle East assigned as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of US Army Europe (July – August 2014). I served briefly as a Senior Special Operations Fellow at the Joint Special Operations University Center for Special Operations Studies and Research at US Special Operations Command (May – August 2015). In May 2016 I provided the keynote and kickoff briefing on the regional and geo-strategic considerations of the Levant problem set for the Commanding General, Command Group, and senior staff of XVIII Airborne Corps prior to their deployment as the command element of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. In November 2018 I delivered the keynote address at the US Army Psychological Operations Regiment’s 100th anniversary regimental dinner. I currently work as a national-security consultant. The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of any of the commands, elements, or offices that I have ever advised and/or are currently supporting.








Band Aid on a Sucking Chest Wound

Let’s think about this before we start another war:

At the Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, New York, the calls come in all day and night. Every day, 1,700 calls come in from veterans on the brink. […]

Twenty veterans take their lives every day in America, or 6,000 a year. Personal finances, broken relationships and loneliness are all factors. […]

Responder Terrence Davis, a Navy veteran himself, said he always tries to answer by the second ring.

“It’s highly stressful. Just knowing that you have someone else’s life in your hands,” Davis said.

Former Sergeant Danny O’Neel knows that feeling. Santa Cruz, California, may be a long way from the battlefield, but for him and his men, Sadr City, Iraq, is close by.

“It was hell on Earth. It was the most dangerous place at the time,” O’Neel said.

In 2006, his unit lost nine men in the fighting. But back home, 14 have died at their own hands.

“The guys started isolating and drinking and doing things that they thought were helping them cope. And it, and it led to depression and suicide,” he said.

Suicide hotline operators, and every other healthcare provider trying to heal these vets, are doing some of the hardest work there is. But their labor is a tiny fraction of what’s needed to stop these preventable deaths. We need more research, more providers, and more money spent on providing care for vets and others. More broadly, we need to expand our concept of a casualty of war, and understand the true long-term cost of wars that DC armchair warriors are constantly pushing.








Looking Ahead

The little town downriver from us scared the shit out of me about an hour ago by blasting an air raid siren I never knew existed until today. I only heard it faintly because of the distance, but it was alarming, as it was designed to be.

I’m speculating it was sounded at a noon observance of the 9/11 attacks? Here’s my personal observance of 9/11, and I think it will be the last one I ever share here or anywhere else.

Our daughter was three years old on 9/11/2001. Now she’s 21, and the war that started that day is still going on.

Our nephew was 18 years old on 9/11/2001. Today he’s 36, the father of two small children, and an officer in the US Army serving in Afghanistan. (He’s also done tours in Iraq, including leading foot patrols through Baghdad during the most dangerous period for US service members.)

Last week, Trump apparently mistook diplomats engaged for months/years in peace negotiations for an annoyingly balky reality show production crew and stepped in to personally speed things up for a glitzy Sweeps Week finish. Because he is and always has been an epic fuck-up, Trump fucked that up too, so now the war in Afghanistan will continue for at least another 14 months.

Enough of this fucking bullshit.

Sometimes I wonder how much “Never Forget” gets in the way of “Get the Fuck Out.” Fascist shit-birds like Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove and Donald Trump will hump the 9/11 attacks until their wizened scrotums pass into dust because they (correctly) perceive it as a path to power.

Their role in extending our national trauma for power and profit has been obvious since the beginning. Joe Biden, God bless him, called Giuliani out on it more than a decade ago.

But even our good politicians feel obligated to issue solemn statements and speak in hushed tones every September 11. Here’s what I wonder: Does fixating on that horrendous day all these years later perpetuate its power and contribute to its potential to cause even more suffering?

I honestly don’t know, but personally, I’m done with “Never Forget,” at least in the prescribed way that the dishonest tragedy-humpers wallow in on this day every year.

Instead, I’ll look ahead and work toward a future where my daughter can consciously live in a country that isn’t “at war” (accursed phrase!) for the first time in her life, and my nephew can come home to his wife and children.

Open thread.