U.S. Foreign Policy & National Security

U.S. Foreign Policy & National Security United States Foreign Policy & National Security. This page was previously "Donald Trump & Foreign Policy" and was focused on holding Trump accountable for selling America out on the foreign policy front.

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Then-CIA Director Gina Haspel told the US's top general that former "President" Donald Trump was "acting out like a six-...
09/17/2021
Then-CIA Director Gina Haspel said Trump's post-election behavior was 'insanity' and he was 'acting out like a 6-year-old with a tantrum,' book says

Then-CIA Director Gina Haspel told the US's top general that former "President" Donald Trump was "acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum" in the wake of the 2020 election, according to a new book.

In addition to refusing to concede the 2020 election to President-elect Joe Biden and pushing groundless claims of election fraud, Trump fired (or tried to fire) a number of top officials — most prominently, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on November 9.

"Yesterday was appalling," Haspel said in a November 10 conversation with Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's forthcoming book "Peril."

"We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum," Haspel, a 35-year veteran of the agency, said, with the authors writing that she, too, was afraid of being canned.

Milley assured Haspel that "we're going to be steady," according to the book. "Steady as a rock," he added. "We're going to keep our eye on the horizon. Keep alert to any risks, dangers. Keep the channels open."

"Peril" and other books on the Trump administration released this summer appear to give insight into the final months of Trump's term, with the president's behavior alarming many senior officials.

In "Peril," Woodward and Costa say Milley placed a call to his counterpart in China to tell him "that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay" and that he would warn him if the US were to attack China.

One official told Politico that the conversation was "grossly mischaracterized" in the book, and the Pentagon has defended Milley, with the Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby recently telling reporters that "it is not only common, it's expected that a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would continue to have counterpart conversations."

The Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender says in his book "Frankly We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost" that then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed concerns to at least one person that Trump would enter into a foreign conflict to try and stay in office after losing the 2020 election.

Trump's firing of Esper not only unnerved Haspel but also alienated another top advisor, David Urban, who told the president's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner that it was "a dick move" that made Trump "look out of control," Bender's book says.

The book also says both Pompeo and Milley feared that the new officials brought into the Defense Department and White House after the 2020 election were conspiracy theorists and could even have "links to neo-Nazi groups."

By Grace Panetta

"Yesterday was appalling," Haspel told the US's top general, Mark Milley, after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, according to a new book.

YES - STOP ALL FUNDING & ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN
09/16/2021
The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Needs a Rethink

YES - STOP ALL FUNDING & ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN

Support from Pakistani generals and spies helped return the Taliban to power in Kabul. Now Washington should be equally ruthless in pursuing its own interests.

Now that the Taliban are back in control, a series of reported internet outages in Afghanistan is fueling fears among Af...
09/16/2021
This Is Why the Taliban Keeps F*cking Up the Internet

Now that the Taliban are back in control, a series of reported internet outages in Afghanistan is fueling fears among Afghan residents that the group is already using their newfound power to isolate protesters, quash dissent, and exert their influence across the country.

In Panjshir—where resistance leader Ahmad Massoud and Afghanistan’s former vice president are working to resist the Taliban’s resurgence—the Taliban have already forced a communications and internet blackout, according to data from Access Now, a digital rights organization.

“According to our data… the Taliban has cut off the internet, along with phone connections and all other forms of communication, in the province of Panjshir,” Felicia Anthonio, a campaigner for Access Now, which has been monitoring internet connectivity in Afghanistan, told The Daily Beast. “We believe this is in order to curtail resistance in this area, the only area that is still holding out against their takeover.”

Multiple Afghan residents with strong ties in Panjshir also confirmed shutdowns in the province to The Daily Beast. A BBC reporter was the first to report Taliban-induced outages in the provinces.

Cutting off communications from the holdout is likely aimed at shielding the world from seeing the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Panjshir, where families are without enough food, basic supplies, and medical supplies, according to sources on the ground.

“I will say Taliban is trying to cut the links for the people who are connected or linked with the other countries,” one Afghan interpreter said. “If the Taliban cut off the internet, what would be the fate of our lives?”

A female reporter in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast she wasn’t surprised by the group’s latest tactics. “There is nothing unlikely from a group like the Taliban,” she said. “They [the Taliban] cut off the telecommunications companies in Panjshir. There is no way to communicate… They will do this to silence our voice so that it does not reach the world… what they are currently doing in Panjshir.”

Although data on internet outages in Afghanistan can be imprecise at times, frequent drops in connectivity across the country have been observed in recent days, according to data collected by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). Interruptions were detected particularly in Hirat, Kabul, and Parwan between Sept. 9 and Sept. 11. Neither CAIDA nor The Daily Beast has been able to independently confirm the Taliban’s role in causing those outages—but the signs are worrying.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Taliban has resorted to controlling internet access to cement its power. In 2001, the group banned the internet for fear it was spreading obscene images. And since then, the Taliban have been coercing and threatening telecommunications operators to force outages as it sees fit. Now, threats to the internet are making an already tumultuous situation in the country more grim.

“The internet shutdown aggravates the humanitarian crisis that the Taliban are initiating in the valley, where entire families are trapped without enough food, basic supplies, or any form of communication with the outside world,” Anthonio said of Panjshir.

As protests against Taliban rule swell around the country, sources on the ground tell The Daily Beast the Taliban are already moving to suppress dissent and demonstrations through internet outages or disruptions designed to target the most resistant regions.

“They took control in Panjshir to stop the people from connecting to each other and also to stop any protest against them,” an Afghan who requested anonymity to protect their safety told The Daily Beast last week. “There is a 20 year anniversary today and they cut the internet so people can’t connect to figure out about protests [in Kabul].”

Protesters want to get the word out about the demonstrations on social media, so the Taliban are naturally stepping in to curtail communications, an Afghan man, who requested anonymity for fear for his safety, told The Daily Beast. “When people protest they beat them, and others make videos of that,” the man said. “They don't want the world to know that they are still the same people [they were 20 years ago] since they need financial support from the world.”

For all the Taliban’s talk of moderation following their takeover in Afghanistan, their control of the internet—and how and whether they decide to block certain Afghans from online communications—could reveal their true hand moving forward. This kind of effort to control Afghans’ access to the internet, even regionally, is to be expected, especially as protests crop up across the country, although the Taliban might not fess up to it, Anthonio explained.

“It is likely that the Taliban will avoid explicitly saying that they wish the internet suspended or restricted, but it will take many steps to make clear that it has regulatory and de facto power over telecom providers and networks running in the country,” said Anthonio. “As resistance continues or deepens in pockets of the country—including peaceful protests by Afghans—it is possible that the Taliban will order targeted internet shutdowns in particular townshops, provinces, or other strategic spaces, as well as placing surveillance and web censorship pressure on telecom firms continuing to operate in the country.”

Dictatorial regimes have long resorted to forcing internet shutdowns to control populations, especially in the face of anti-government protests. The Egyptian government plunged 23 million users into an internet blackout in Egypt in 2011 during anti-government demonstrations calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. In 2019, Iran cut off its citizens’ internet access for days in the face of protests.

The Taliban, in particular, are no strangers to coercing telecommunications companies to participate in and propagate temporary outages so they can control certain populations and stem the flow of information. For years, the group has been sending notices to operators in certain regions, warning them to stop service, or else face violence: The Taliban shut off mobile telephone networks in Helmand province in 2011, claiming that foreign spies could use mobile phones to track their movements.

In 2017, the Taliban destroyed several telecom towers in Ghazni province and ordered mobile phone companies to shut off service between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., as a kind of overnight curfew, in an attempt to block Afghan forces from communicating and running intelligence operations, according to VOA. A year later, the group shut down 120 mobile towers to interrupt Afghan military and intelligence agencies’ communications, affecting connectivity in Helmand, Uruzgan, and Zabul provinces.

And if mobile network operators don’t comply, companies have historically faced violent repercussions, from exploding bombs and rockets at cellular towers to kidnappings and killings, according to a publication about U.S. work on Afghanistan’s information and communications technology sector from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Information Systems Agency. The Taliban have also burnt down or blown up towers over the years, burning fuel tanks and generators along the way.

Of course, when the group was last in power, the internet infrastructure that exists today was not nearly as robust, and the Taliban might be reluctant to blow up their access to telecommunications since they need them to communicate now as well, according to Anthonio. “The Taliban itself is a more active user of the internet now as compared to the 2000s, with many of the group’s senior figures and spokespeople active there along with communication channels for its supporters,” she said.

Even so, although the Taliban have been trying to paint themselves as more moderate and reformed, that doesn’t mean they’ll avoid causing blackouts, even regionally or temporarily, says Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Kentik, a network traffic visibility company. “At the end of the day… if you’ve got a ruler who feels embattled or fears they’ll be pushed out [and] they fear they’ll lose everything, then the consequences don’t matter,” Madory told The Daily Beast. “It doesn’t matter what the international community says. Everything’s on the table.”

In recent years, dictatorial leaders have shifted from total blackouts to more temporary and geographically targeted outages in order to avoid sending their economies into a nosedive, says Madory, who has been monitoring internet outages around the globe since the Arab Spring.

“For a while the trend was to be more surgical in the blocking because there’s a lot of collateral damage when you shut the country completely off,” Madory said. “In the Egypt-style shutdown they just pulled the plug for everything and that’s a pretty catastrophic move, it’s kind of a nuclear option of shutdowns. It’s usually not sustainable—modern society requires internet connection now and you can’t do that for very long.”

More modern shutdowns Madory has been tracking have been increasingly reliant on shutting down mobile internet service—so that anti-government protesters are blocked from communicating—but leaving up fixed line services so government offices, people working in office buildings, and wealthy people with connections in their homes can stay online while protesters are left in the dark, says Madory.

Kentik has not seen much activity regarding outages in Afghanistan in recent days, but Madory told The Daily Beast his team’s visibility into the country is not necessarily precise enough to reveal meaningful updates about on-the-ground realities.

Moving forward, the Taliban will likely use internet outages to bend the will of the Afghan people, while maintaining some connectivity for their own purposes, says Douglas London, the CIA’s former counterterrorism chief for South and Southwest Asia. “The Taliban need control and they prosper when there’s less connectivity to the outside world,” London told The Daily Beast. “They’ll try to use it for their own means… monitor dissent, identify threats to them.”

Just how far the Taliban are willing and able to go with forced internet outages remains to be seen. Historically, the major telecommunications companies in Afghanistan have struggled to balance their desire to keep the internet on for Afghans with the pressures of Taliban insurgents threatening violence against staff if they don’t comply, a former U.S. official who worked with the telecommunications firms to build up the industry in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast.

“In general there was resistance against it… everybody wanted internet… [The companies] had a willingness to keep this on and help out their fellow Afghans rather than designing to the Taliban’s threats,” the former U.S. official said. “But… if [they threaten to] kidnap a whole bunch of your staff: It’s like do I turn off the tower or do I lose these people who are friends and family?”

The major telecommunications companies in the country did not return requests for comment.

A military officer operating in the CENTCOM region suggested the Taliban could continue affecting service through coercion and threats of violence toward the companies, as they have many times before.“Through the threat of violence you could likely make it very unattractive to not comply with what they’re asking,” the officer told The Daily Beast.

“All of these companies are used to dealing with loss,” the former U.S. official who helped build up the telecommunications industry in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast. “I think they’ll continue to kind of resist to a large degree—but everybody has their breaking points.”

By Shannon Vavra, Diana Falzone

Outages have been detected throughout Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul—leaving many civilians cut off from the rest of the world. That’s great news for the Taliban.

By Jennifer Rubin, We already knew the disgraced former "president" was suffering from the delusion that he won the 2020...
09/16/2021
Opinion | Milley’s revelation about Trump leaves us with five questions

By Jennifer Rubin, We already knew the disgraced former "president" was suffering from the delusion that he won the 2020 election. We knew he tried to twist arms to overthrow the election. And we knew he refused for hours to call off the insurrectionists whom he inspired to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6. What we did not know is how irresponsible so many other Republicans were and continue to be in tolerating and enabling him.

The Post reports: “Twice in the final months of the Trump administration . . . Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.”

Woodward and Costa also reveal that Milley took special care to instruct the chain of command not to carry out an order for a nuclear strike in the waning days of the Trump administration. They also relay a candid conversation in which Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed that the commander in chief was unstable. All of this leaves us with five questions:

First, what guarantees must be put in place to prevent an unstable president from setting off a nuclear war? Milley is right that, as chairman of the joint chiefs, he is to be included in a decision to authorize a nuclear strike. Beyond that, Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, explains, “No one can countermand [a nuclear strike order from the president]. But the commander of STRATCOM could say ‘this is an illegal order and I am not bound to follow it.’” Nichols adds, “[The president] can then start relieving people until he gets to someone who will follow the order.” (This view was affirmed in a critical Senate hearing in 2017.) Plainly, an order to authorize a nuclear strike without provocation would violate the laws of war, which among other things require proportionality.

The better inquiry is whether the president should have unilateral power to launch a nuclear strike. While he is commander in chief, certainly a nuclear strike can be considered a declaration or an act of war, which only Congress can grant. Congress could pass a law requiring a congressional vote, which would at least slow down a rogue president and reinforce commanders’ inclination to resist such an order.

Second, why did Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet not invoke the 25th Amendment to relieve a president who was clearly unfit for office? The short answer is that they are cowards who could not bring themselves to uphold their oaths of office even to prevent potential nuclear obliteration. The more generous explanation is that they thought they could contain him. On this one, we plainly need some statutory authorization and guidance on the 25th Amendment to lay out step-by-step instructions for the vice president and the Cabinet. Given that a Democrat is in the White House, Republicans might actually go along with clarifying legislation that would, among other things, provide for a panel of medical doctors.

Third, how could former White House officials — including former chief of staff John F. Kelly, former national security adviser John Bolton, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats (among others) — not inform the country (before the election even) of the president’s unfitness for office? Again, the short answer is that they are cowards, or at least thought they would not be believed. It might not do any good, but Cabinet-level national security officials should have to affirm in their confirmation hearings that they will report to Congress if they suspect the president is not emotionally and mentally capable of performing his duties.

Fourth, how could Republican officeholders then and to this day pay homage to, take direction from and support for reelection someone who was clearly unstable? Well, we know they are cowards from their refusal to impeach him, efforts to block the Jan. 6 commission and continued reiteration of the “big lie" that the election was stolen. Their reticence to defend the country against an unconstitutional coup remains the most grotesque moral and political failure in memory.

Finally, why did the media consistently underplay "President" Donald Trump’s incoherence, and why do they still resist confronting Republicans about their blind loyalty to a crackpot? I do not have a good answer for that one. Perhaps they need to rethink their role. They are not custodians of the myth of moral equivalence between the parties. They are truth-tellers whose prime obligation is to democracy. They might start taking that obligation seriously, beginning with asking every Republican if the 2020 election was stolen, if the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were justified and how they could continue to heed the direction of someone whose lunacy has not abated since he lost the election.

Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.

Republicans need to be held accountable for endangering America.

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Did the US lose the Global war on Terror to the Taliban? A Khanversation about the future of Afghanistan https://youtu.be/7UiyAneoovg This short commentary asks some serious questions about the US' Global War on Terror? Did we lose it to the Taliban? Will Afghanistan now have peace? What does the defeat to the Taliban mean to the U.S.?
Biden accomplishes the largest airlift of people that we have no treaty with..in US history in a violent nation that lives in the 12th century and Your staff get on FauxNews to say this clean up of what Trump left insures big victories for Republicans who started this mess with Bush in the first place.. Yes,some Marines were killed by a su***de Bomber but U seem to forget that under your Lord...Reagan sent 300 Marines to Lebanon and a truck bomb murdered all of them...your analysis is flawed at best...Because rejection of the Covid Vaccine in Red States...by the time of the election...there will be many fewer Republicans to vote in November of next year.
I have asked a few times w/no answers yet. Just exactly how many people are we evacuating from Afghanistan? Everyone? All the women? 70,000 so far and worried about getting everyone out by the 31st.....I mean come on....what was Trumps plan?, since this is his baby...
Someone is using 4th General Mark Milley Facebook and all of his info to try to get money sent to him and he is a manipulated person cause he goes by his name and the General pictures on both accounts go through my email and catch the scammer my email is. [email protected]. and any questions call me my name is Melissa Pyles 1-865-466-3571. Thank You for your time.
U cannot call off a war like sporting events because the military caught a virus. I'm speaking about 10 years, 15 years from now if a terrorist group or country see an opportunity. Prevention of a virus on the market & the mutation change & how it effects Americans more because of the climate of the United States is very important.
Time for America to step up and do the right thing. #justice4harry https://www.facebook.com/102052774537292/posts/491914175551148/
You can try to use www.worldnoor.com it is 10 times better than facebook. you can talk with any one without worrying about the language. Worldnoor does the translation to your language automatically. The same with www.kalamtime.com to replace whats'app. Please try and let me know what you think. Thanks 🤲
Is it US foreign policy to allow its citizens in a host country, such as the United Kingdom, to cause the death of a young man in a traffic accident and then flee said country under false diplomatic immunity? Asking for a bereaved mother..... #harrydunn #AnneSacoolas #justice4harry
Beau's thoughts on training Iraqi forces................ https://www.facebook.com/beautfc/videos/2857777381146220
How many cried that day?