Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Carpe Diem: 2017.08.22 ECLIPSE NUMBER ONE

Most people, I assume, thought that Donald Trump’s August 21 speech about Afghanistan was about Afghanistan. It wasn’t. It was a vague, cliché ridden wall of blather and hackneyed ideas that was intended to eclipse the prevailing negative image of Mr. Trump that was shaped by his defense of the Nazis and white supremacists he had created a week earlier. It was a chance to appear presidential, serious and engaged. But it was a red heering (it was clearly evident that Trump appears to understand almost nothing of the complexity of the Afghan situation).

This was Trump playing the press, a fraud of an event, a smokescreen, to change the national conversation from Charlottesville to Kabul. And it was successful. The media took the bait and addressed the speech as though it was a serious political event, rather than seeing it for what it actually was. Once again, Trump has played our national media like a cheap tin flute. This is not a claim that Trump is some sort of genius at playing the media, rather a charge of the ineptitude of a national media that has become inured to receiving its daily “script” by tweet. We are in big trouble.

Fortunately, you have Dragon City Journal.

As for Afghanistan? You can forget about it. It’s a seventeen-year waste of life and money. Here is the reality: the Afghans are home. They have nowhere to go. The Taliban will fight on forever. Young men born at the beginning of the war are now old enough to take over as fighters. Trump claimed that American will “win,” whatever that means. But America will never prevail there. Never. Because the Afghans have no place else to go. They’re home, and they don’t want home ruled by Americans. Trump doesn’t get that. But, of course, the speech really wasn’t about Afghanistan anyway.

A faithful reader these pages has sent me an historical reminder of Afghanistan as the “graveyard of empires”.  From Kipling’s, “The Young British Soldier”.

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains 
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!