Trump Fabricates Conversation with Modi and Nuclear Option in Afghanistan
Watching Donald Trump try to do foreign relations is cringe-worthy and infuriating. He is out of his depth and refuses to take time to learn any of the nuances of US foreign policy. He just blurts out absurd ideas and positions without any thought to their ramifications. And, often, as with so much else, he just makes things up. Yesterday is a wonderful case in point as he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Alyssa Ayres, Counsel on Foreign Relations: "In their joint press availability, Trump offered up on the topic of Afghanistan that, if he wanted to, “I could win that war in like a week…I just don’t want to kill ten million people.” This statement appeared disconnected from any of the serious strategic debates underway for eighteen years about troop numbers, counterterrorism versus counterinsurgency, and the use of drones. What did he mean? No further explanation has emerged."
What did he mean by "I have a plan" that "could wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth" and kill 10,000,000 people? He is discussing the greatest war crime in the history of civilization. A series of nuclear attacks across the entire nation that would be focused almost entirely on civilian population centers. Luckily, no such plan exists, our military would never consider it and he would be removed from office before it could occur. So, why did he say it. No reason ... he just made it up! Somewhere in the back of his warped mind he decided it sounded tough, presidential, so he just blurted it out. Does that kind of hyperbole [yes, hyperbole is kind] have consequences? In this case, most world leaders will assume the President is [again] misrepresenting US policy options, but it does undermine our credibility and principles with average citizens around the globe.
And, of course, Afghans weren't too pleased. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani immediately asked for a clarification of Trump's comments. Good luck to the Trump staffer who has to clean up this mess.
So, did Trump stop there at his news conference with Imran Khan? Nope.
Alyssa Ayres, Counsel on Foreign Relations: When the president turned to India-Pakistan tensions, things became even more free-form. In response to a question from the press about whether Khan would ask Trump for help on Kashmir, Khan said that only the “most powerful state” could bring the two countries, India and Pakistan, together. Trump then said, “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago [at the G20], and we talked about this subject, and he actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’…I think they’d like to see it resolved, and you’d like to see it resolved, and if I can help, I’d love to be a mediator…”
India has always refused third party mediation in Kashmir because they believe they have the upper hand and won't allow an outside party to dictate on such a sensitive national defense issue. So how did India respond to Trump's comments?
India's Ministry of External Affairs [via Twitter] : "We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position... that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally."
So, again, why did the President fabricate his conversation with Prime Minister Modi? Because that is who Donald Trump is. He did it because he really has no understanding of Indian-Pakistani relations, wanted to sound important, and lies without conscience.
Edward Luce of the Financial Times [via Twitter] says it slightly differently, but makes essentially the same point: "To recap: Trump lied on a big subject. He was instantly exposed. The slightest knowledge of the subject would have stopped him from lying. His lie directly harms his own overriding priority. He will probably never realise any of this because of his Olympian narcissism."
By Don Lam & Curated Content