A National Security Fiasco: America Abandons Allies
October 14, 2019
“Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
When America First Becomes Autocrats Win and Terrorist Jailbreak
The nightmare of President Trump’s making continues in northeastern Syria as Turkey’s relentless attack on Kurdish-held territory has killed and wounded scores of people, displaced thousands, and allowed at least 750 ISIS affiliates to escape from a detainment camp.
Some 249 women and 700 children, formerly part of the “caliphate” being held in a secure annex at the Ain Issa camp, began rioting, scaring away the guards after Turkish shelling struck close to the area on Sunday. Sleeper cells within the civilian section also emerged during the riot, attacking the remaining guards who had not already fled the shelling. The camp was home to a total of about 13,000 people, including three suspected British orphans and a notorious British recruiter for Isis, Tooba Gondal.
US defense secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the bloody conflict between Turkey and the formerly US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters “gets worse by the hour”. Reports and some videos surfaced of Turkish-backed militias summarily executing civilians, including a female Kurdish politician.
As US officials learned the Turkish operation would apparently extend further than Ankara’s proposed 20-mile “safe zone” on the border between the two countries, all 1,000 US troops were ordered to withdraw “as safely and quickly as possible” from the region.
Trump’s abrupt decision to ditch the Kurds is a clear gift to Russia — as well as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. A spokesman for the Russian International Affairs Council said: “Russia wants to benefit from that operation [and strengthen] ties with Turkey.” Last Wednesday, just before unleashing air strikes and an artillery barrage on Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Vladimir Putin.
- Retired Marine Gen. John Allen: ‘There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies’ (CNN)
- Trump faces bipartisan criticism for Syria withdrawal (WaPo, $)
- ‘We knew this would happen’: Kurds in Nashville say Trump betrayed them: Residents of the Tennessee city – the Kurdish capital of America – feel ‘sold out’ but unsurprised by troop withdrawal (Guardian)
- Kurds reach deal with Damascus in face of Turkish offensive: Agreement to hand over border towns comes after more than 700 Isis affiliates escape camp (Guardian)
- Erdoğan has managed the unthinkable: uniting all the other Middle East rivals – Turkey’s Syria invasion following US withdrawal of its troops means that all bets are now off in the Middle East (Guardian)
- ‘Shame on Him’: Evangelicals Call Out Trump on Syria: Some of the president’s most ardent supporters worry that troop withdrawal threatens religious minorities, especially Christians. They are pushing back, to a point. (NYT, $)
- An investigation by the New York Times proves the Russian Air Force repeatedly bombed 4 Syrian hospitals over a 12 hour period last May in order to crush the last pockets of resistance to President Bashar al-Assad.
- For four years the Russian military intervened in Syria’s civil war, carrying out systematic attacks in rebel-held areas as part of a strategy to insure Assad’s victory in the eight-year civil war.
- Last week a new front opened up after President Trump ordered the US military to stand down, abandoning US allies and allowing Turkish forces to cross the border into Kurdish-held territory and freely attack those fighters. (NYT)
Run, Eliud Run!
- Three-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, clocking in at 1:59:40 as he passed the finish line Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria.
- In an interview shortly after the race Kipchoge said: “It has taken 65 years for a human being to make history in sport, after Roger Bannister made history in 1954.” Bannister broke the 4-minute mile record at an athletic meet in Oxford in May 1954. The ability of a human to run that fast wasn’t even considered possible until the 1990s. (NPR)
I Just Called To Say, “I’d Love If You Stayed Away From Trump”
- India and China, both giant countries, are nuclear-armed neighbors and strategic rivals. They both have dominating leaders with outsized personalities, yet each realizes they have no choice but to listen to one another. Their relationship has been described as “frenemies.”
- And so it was that China’s president Xi Jinping swept into India Friday for a quick meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Their respective goals are simply put: China wants to keep India from drifting closer to the US, where Modi recently received a warm welcome from President Trump.
- India wants China to rebalance trade flows by buying more Indian goods and services and to back away from border disputes that have challenged their countries for decades. They had a lot of issues to try untangling in such a brief 24-hour trip. (NYT)
- China’s Xi warns attempts to divide China will end in ‘shattered bones’ (Reuters)
Additional World News
- In Seoul, Crowds Denounce a Divisive Politician. Days Later, Others Defend Him: Vast rallies have called for the ouster of South Korea’s justice minister. But huge counterprotests have assailed the prosecutors who are investigating him. (NYT, $)
- Khamenei tells Iran’s Guards to develop advanced, modern weapons (Reuters)
- Haiti and the failed promise of US aid: After an earthquake struck in 2010, the US pledged to help rebuild the Caribbean country. A decade later, nothing better symbolises the failure of these efforts than the story of a new port that was promised, but never built (Guardian)
- Apple CEO Tim Cook defends removal of Hong Kong mapping app in email to employees: Cook is adamant that Apple’s decision was the right one (Verge)
The Pot Calling The Kettle Corrupt
- When it comes to President Trump’s aim to have foreign countries investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter for his “lucrative” foreign business dealings, it’s all part of Trump’s long-running “Don’t look over Here, Look over There” tactic.
- While no evidence exists of Hunter’s improper self-monetization, there’s ample evidence of Trump’s three adult children making out like bandits while their father’s in the Oval Office. Eric Trump and older brother Don Jr. run the Trump Organization, which conducts business around the globe and rakes in tens of millions annually in overseas cash while still being owned by the president.
- The company is forging ahead with projects in Ireland, India, Indonesia and Uruguay, and is licensing the Trump name in such turbulent areas as Turkey and the Philippines.
- First-daughter Ivanka has obtained more than a dozen Chinese trademarks since becoming a White House senior advisor to her father, which ensures her access to the world’s second-largest economy if she goes back into business. Ivanka kept her international fashion business going for 18 months after being given a loosely defined White House portfolio that includes interacting with heads of state and working with domestic and international corporate chiefs on economic programs.
- According to the White House ethics czar under President George W. Bush, Trump’s children “appear to people all over the world to be his bagmen.” (LA Times)
- Anatomy of the phone call now imperiling Trump’s presidency (AP News)
- Trump impeachment: Esper indicates Pentagon will cooperate with inquiry: Secretary of defense cautions: ‘White House has a say as well’ (Guardian)
- The Story Keeps Getting Worse for the White House: A pair of men helping the president’s supposed anti-corruption campaign were apprehended as they tried to leave the United States. (The Atlantic, $)
Millennials Did Start the FIRE
- A money managing methodology with the goal of early retirement is gaining traction among millennials. It’s the Fi/Re — financial independence, retire early — movement. Followers combine investment strategies with old-fashioned penny pinching to build enough savings to quit their 9-to-5 office drudgery jobs and retire well before their 60s.
- Those most ardent adherents who commit to a near-monastic existence, eschew social temptations like drinks with co-workers, workout classes, outings or other networking or social opportunities that cost money, rent inexpensive apartments, buy thrift shop clothes and avoid raising the thermostat in winter can amass a surprisingly large nest egg in years instead of decades.
- Maybe they can retire at 50, or even much earlier, but will they be truly happy with no friends, no hobbies, and constant fretting about whether their money will hold out for the distant future? No worries, says Daniel, a 36-year old corporate lawyer in Manhattan who makes $270,000 a year. He’s banked 70 percent of his salary, maxed out his yearly IRA contribution every year since he was 19, has a nest egg of $400,000, and is on track to retire in three years. Then he’ll move to a low cost-of-living state, buy long-term disability insurance if he gets seriously sick, use his high-limit credit cards or sell some investments for any unexpected expenses, and do whatever he wants. (NYPost)
- GE’s pension freeze puts a spotlight on America’s retirement planning problem (Yahoo Finance)
Millennials Trying to Start a FIRE Won’t Find a Torch in These Books
- A New York Times writer wanted to revisit three popular personal finance books of the last 15 years to see how their advice was holding up in today’s world. He reviewed Suze Orman’s “The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom,” Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover,” and Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
- He found that all three have something worthwhile to offer, but was struck by a glaring omission in all of them: a lack of substantive advice on investing — no in-depth discussions of how to set up a portfolio and how to choose among stocks, bonds, exchange-traded and mutual funds to maximize one’s nest egg. (NYT)
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” – Harry S. Truman
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