In what must certainly be regarded as a pivotal endorsement, the Trump campaign has just received an enthusiastic electoral boost: from the Taliban.
“We hope he will win the election and wind up military presence in Afghanistan” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News in a phone interview Friday.
It turns out that the nice people at the militant and barbaric Taliban are sweetly compassionate regarding the American president.
“When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but seems he is getting better,” another Taliban senior leader told CBS News.
The Trump campaign did officially try to distance itself from the Taliban support, owing in no small part to the fact that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan has electoral votes in the U.S. election. But if anyone believes that Trump’s campaign communications director, Tim Murtaugh, was truly speaking for Trump when he said the campaign “rejects” the Taliban’s support, they’re apparently unaware of the presidential Twitter account.
That, of course, is the only place to learn what Trump and/or his mood-altering drugs think on any particular day–albeit subject to 180-degree turns on a dime. Trump hasn’t Tweeted a word about rejecting–or even not loving–the Taliban’s endorsement, and until he does, consider it not rejected.
After all, the Taliban’s good tidings to Trump immediately followed an utterly shocking announcement Thursday by the President’s (or perhaps his steroids) that all U.S. troops would be leaving Afghanistan until the end of the year.
Apparently, no one in the U.S. military or even the top levels of the Trump administration saw this coming, which would constitute a pretty strange news story most days unless, say, it was drowned out by five or six stranger ones.
None other than the Military Times–not your average supermarket tabloid–blared out this headline in response to Trump’s apparently unscripted announcement: “Military officials blindsided by Trump announcement of early US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
For those who might care about something as mundane as international relations, here’s how the stunned folks at the Military Times tried to digest it all:
“Trump’s comments laid out in a confusing progression of comments and a tweet, alarmed Pentagon and State officials who fear that putting a definitive date on troop withdrawal could undercut negotiations to finalize a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” the Times reported.
“They also fear a hasty withdrawal could force the U.S. to leave behind sensitive military equipment. And they continue to stress that the Taliban has still not met requirements to reduce violence against the Afghans, a key element of the U.S. withdrawal plan.”
OK, so’s there’s that. To be clear, no one’s wild about the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. The Military Times added:
“Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden both say they want to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But their approaches differ, and the outcome of the Nov. 3 election will have long-term consequences not only for U.S. troops, but for the wider region.”
Trump hasn’t addressed these nuanced differences at any campaign rallies or those erudite position papers over which he is known to labor into the wee hours in the Oval Office. And that’s a pretty revealing omission, when one considers that just today, Trump devoted part of his scholarly Tweets to this tidbit of foreign-policy analysis:
“Joe Biden is a PUPPET of CASTRO-CHAVISTAS like Crazy Bernie, AOC and Castro-lover Karen Bass. Biden is supported by socialist Gustavo Petro, a major LOSER and former M-19 guerrilla leader. Biden is weak on socialism and will betray Colombia.”
Now, there’s still time for Trump personally to “reject” the Taliban support like his campaign lackeys claim he is doing. Just like there is time to reject support from the endless litany of white supremacist and militia groups who are supporting him. Trump has most conspicuously never publicly rejected their support, not this year, and not in 2016.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Trump to criticize American zealots and terrorists. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for Taliban poll-watchers.