Baghdadi’s death underscores what we’ve lost by abandoning Syria’s Kurds
All that makes clear why the decision to evacuate established positions and permit Turkey to attack the SDF with extremist forces it supports was so strategically backward. It unraveled what had been a stable part of the country, injected new actors into the former Islamic State caliphate that harbor and enable Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and sent hundreds of thousands of mostly Syrian Kurds fleeing for their lives, many toward an already fragile Iraqi Kurdistan region….
Trump deserves full credit for approving the operation that led to Baghdadi’s demise. It’s a shame the information that led to the raid apparently did not come to him before the tragic decision to abruptly pull U.S. Special Forces from much of northeastern Syria. Because everything we already know about the raid reinforces just how valuable, unique and hard-fought the small and sustainable American presence there had been.
In case you wondered if the excellent raid and botched announcement of al-Bhagdadi’s death helped Trump in the short term:
ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi Is Dead, Trump Says
Mr. Trump was clearly eager to claim credit for the raid even as it became clear that military commanders had to rush the operation to execute it while sufficient American troops were still in place. While he used the occasion to defend his withdrawal decision, critics said the raid actually reinforced the need for an American military presence in the region.
In impeachment inquiry, Republican lawmakers ask questions about whistleblower, loyalty to Trump and conspiracy theories
The GOP line of questioning provides the most direct insight to date into the strategy of the president’s defenders in closed-door hearings that have produced powerful testimony about the administration’s attempt to coerce Ukraine into conducting investigations that Trump hoped would yield damaging information on Democrats, including former vice president Joe Biden. Biden is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The accounts, based on interviews with 10 people involved in the depositions, also underscore the extent to which senior Republicans are directly involved in the impeachment inquiry even as party leaders claim they are being excluded from it, depicting it as a secretive — and therefore suspect — attack on the president.
David Sanger/NY Times:
Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides
It is too early to know whether any political boost will be lasting. But navigating the complex morass of the Middle East is no less complex for the death of Mr. al-Baghdadi. It is not clear if the president’s decision to pull back American forces in northern Syria in recent weeks complicated the planning and execution of the mission.
And while the raid achieved its goal, it did little to resolve the question of whether Mr. Trump’s instinct for disengagement will create room for new strains of violent radicalism that he and his successors will be forced to clean up.
For Mr. Trump, the aftermath of the Bin Laden killing eight years ago should also sound a warning.
Even without its leader, Al Qaeda evolved and spread. The Islamic State began its killing spree in the vacuum of the Middle East by early 2014, in both Iraq and Syria. Mr. Trump himself, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, accused Mr. Obama of creating the conditions for a new iteration of Islamic terrorism to prosper.
Whistleblowers walk among us. Now one has gotten in Trump’s head.
The process can be long, painful and sometimes futile. A whistleblower can be mistaken, or the government can be hostile. But when the system works, the country improves.
Over the past two years, for example, we’ve learned from whistleblowers that insects have repeatedly infested an operating room at a VA medical center in New Hampshire. That horses used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection were exposed to toxic chemicals in West Texas. That the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to conduct proper inspections of lead-based paint.
And that the president of the United States may have abused his power and threatened national security.
Wason Center on VA races coming up 11/5, just released this am:
- Among all voters surveyed in four state Senate districts considered competitive by the partisan outcomes in the 2016 presidential election and 2017 gubernatorial election, Democrats show a 14-point “enthusiasm advantage” over Republicans, 63% to 49%. Among likely voters, the gap narrows to 11 points. However, Republicans are almost as likely to vote as Democrats, with 93% of Democrats reporting they will “definitely vote,” compared to 87% of Republicans.
- Among likely voters in those districts, Democrats lead Republicans by 14 points on the generic ballot, 51% to 37%. And by 13 points (51% to 38%), those voters prefer that Democrats control the General Assembly after the Nov. 5 election. These advantages increase under our most stringent likely voter model, increasing to 17 points for both questions (53% to 36%).
- Some of the Democrats’ advantages among likely voters come from Independents, who prefer Democratic candidates for the state Senate by 13 points (45% to 32%) and prefer that Democrats take control of the General Assembly by 9 points (45% to 36%).
- Asked about the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, 55% of all voters surveyed in these Virginia Senate districts say that opening the impeachment inquiry over his actions involving Ukraine was “the right thing to do.” This includes support from 11% of Republicans, 56% of Independents, and 91% of Democrats. 68% of self-identified “moderates” also agree.
- Reflecting the nationalized context of these state elections, 59% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a Virginia Senate candidate who supports President Trump and 54% say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports impeaching Trump.