The Skimm -> President Trump – solve the Afghanistan puzzle

The Skimm -> President Trump – solve the Afghanistan puzzle

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“It’s really, really, really, really awesome” – A nine-year-old girl watching the solar eclipse in Oregon. Same girl, same.

The Story

Last night, President Trump took the prime-time mic to outline his plan for Afghanistan.

The What

The nearly 16-year-war in Afghanistan is America’s longest-running conflict.It started after 9/11 with the goal of taking out the groups connected to the attack – the Taliban and al Qaeda. President Obama ordered a huge troop surge at the beginning of his presidency, hoping to wind down the war altogether by the time he left office. But then a Taliban resurgence happened, and that plan got shelved. Trump initially wanted to pull out of the war, and even briefly considered turning it over to private contractors. But not anymore.

So…what’s the plan?

He’s keeping US troops on the ground. He didn’t say how many, but several thousand additional troops are expected to join the more than 8,000 already there helping train and advise Afghan forces. He says a quick withdrawal of troops is a bad idea and would create a “vacuum” for terrorism there. But didn’t give deets on when the US plans to pull out altogether. He also put pressure on Pakistan – Afghanistan’s neighbor – which he says has been a “safe haven” for terrorists. And to get India – Pakistan’s regional rival – to give an assist with Afghanistan’s long-term economic development.


Trump says his strategy will avoid the mistakes of the past two presidents who tried to solve the Afghanistan puzzle. But without many specifics yet, so far it looks like this plan isn’t really that different.

PS: Our app has a politics calendar that will always clue you in on big moments like this one. Get it here.


What people are talking about…

Barcelona. Yesterday, Spanish police shot and killed the suspected driver from last week’s terrorist attack in the city. Last Thursday, the driver rammed a van into a crowd in one of the city’s most popular areas, killing 13 people and injuring more than 120 others. ISIS claimed responsibility. Authorities spent the weekend searching for the driver, saying that he may have slipped into France. But yesterday, police said they found him in a village outside of Barcelona and that he was wearing a fake explosive belt when they shot him. He was a member of a terrorist cell that carried out a separate, but connected attack south of Barcelona hours later. Authorities say they’ve managed to dismantle the cell, but they’re still looking into how the group came together and planned the attacks.


What to say when you splurge on a new couch…

Running low on cash. Just like the Secret Service. Yesterday, the Secret Service director said the agency can’t afford to pay hundreds of its agents protecting President Trump and his family. That’s in large part because of how big Trump’s family is. And because the Trump fam has traveled a lot since moving into the White House. All of which means agents are putting in a lot of overtime and the agency has basically already maxed out its salary and overtime allowances for the year. But this isn’t exactly a new problem. The modern-day presidency requires a lot of men and women in black, and the Secret Service has been stretched thin for years. Back in 2014, an independent review said agents were working an “unsustainable number of hours” and it pushed for changes. But looks like that didn’t happen. Now the agency’s pushing Congress to OK more funding – which it’s done in the past – in order to keep those paychecks rolling in. Roger that.


What people are watching…

The US Navy. Yesterday, the US Navy hit pause on all global operations for the day. Earlier this week, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore. 10 US sailors are missing and search and rescue operations are underway. That collision was the fourth incident the Navy has gotten into this year. Including one in June when the USS Fitzgerald crashed into a merchant ship off the coast of Japan, killing seven sailors. Last week, top officers on that ship were removed from duty. Now the Navy’s saying ‘enough is enough’ and took the day for a global regroup on teamwork and safety. It’s also launching an investigation into the bigger issues that might’ve led to these incidents.


What to say when your co-worker sends you a meeting invite with no details…

Ssssssooo cryptic.


Islam vs. Islamic vs. Islamist

Very different things. Islam is the name of the religion. Islamic is the adjective describing anything connected to that religion (think: Islamic teachings, Islamic holidays). Islamist describes people or groups who think Islam should be incorporated into politics. That can include radical groups like ISIS that use violence to push their own extreme interpretations of Islam. This is why saying ‘Islamic terrorism’ is seen as offensive.

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