– – – Tearline – – – Aug. 24, 2017

In this week's Tearline: Trump's announcement on Afghanistan raises more questions than answers, U.S. foreign assistance faces cuts on World Humanitarian Day, and how to counter violent extremism.

Tearline Logo
Tearline noun | ‘ter ï lin
The portions of an intelligence report that provide the substance of a more highly classified or controlled report without identifying sensitive sources, methods, or other operational information.

View past issues here. Think your friends might be interested? They can subscribe here.

What was that?!

On Monday, President Donald Trump gave a speech intended to announce his strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, his speech provided no clear answers as to how his administration intends to achieve U.S. goals in Afghanistan. Instead, President Trump focused on the military side of the conflict and committed more young men and women to combat without providing a strategy to back them up. This approach is reckless and irresponsible for the commander in chief to take, and will only prolong the war and U.S. involvement. Before considering sending any more troops, President Trump must answer some serious questions about strategy in Afghanistan, which CAP’s Michael Fuchs, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh outline here

What’s missing?

Saturday was World Humanitarian Day, which passed largely unnoticed despite the largest humanitarian crisis of refugees and displaced people that the world has faced since the end of World War II. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is attempting to gut the U.S. foreign assistance budget that addresses the crisis, and has been an absent leader in the effort to rally the world to help the millions of people suffering from war and conflict.

What’s on deck in the world for next week

On Saturday, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) launched a long-awaited offensive against ISIS strongholds in the northeast region of Lebanon in its largest anti-ISIS operation to date. Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy and political-military organization in Lebanon that backs Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, simultaneously attacked ISIS positions from the Syrian side of the border, fighting shoulder to shoulder with Syrian government forces. Though the LAF insisted that it did not coordinate its operations with Hezbollah, some in Washington and around the world have expressed concern about the link between the organizations. The LAF receives U.S. support for counterterrorism operations, including the recent provision of armored fighting vehicles, and some fear that American hardware will end up in Hezbollah’s hands. However, failure to adequately support the LAF may undermine U.S. counterterrorism efforts and enable Hezbollah to assert more influence in the country. If President Trump is serious about combating violent extremism, then he will need to responsibly engage with and support American partners throughout the region. Be on the lookout in the coming days to see how this develops.

Better ideas

The recent terrorist attack in Barcelona was yet another reminder of the need for smart and comprehensive counterterrorism policies. Our CAP colleagues Alia Awadallah, Hardin Lang, and Kristy Densmore outline ideas for improving strategies for countering violent extremism here in a new piece.

Quote of the week

As NAFTA renegotiations began on August 16, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, “We feel that Nafta has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.” Last week’s set of meetings laid the groundwork for three more rounds of talks that are scheduled to conclude by early 2018. These negotiations have the potential to become controversial fast. Trade organizations are already balking at intimations that the U.S. will pull out of NAFTA’s corporate arbitration system and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) plans to mobilize to ensure that working people are protected and uplifted by the new NAFTA. Halfway across the world, South Korea rejected a U.S. proposal to renegotiate the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement. We are still waiting for those deals Trump promised the American people.

Read of the week

In the wake of the neo-Nazi rally and deadly terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va., voices across America have decried the evil and hate spewed by neo-Nazis and their sympathizers. Perhaps the loudest voice of all those that seem to sympathize with neo-Nazi beliefs is President Trump’s. As journalist Kim Ghattas makes clear in this insightful and worthwhile read, Americans must do some soul-searching in order to face the threats posed by homegrown racists and xenophobes. 

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

Just what was Donald Trump Jr.’s June 14, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower about? The New York Times did a deep dive into Rinat Akhmetshin, the lobbyist whose presence at the meeting was not revealed until July 15 of this year. In addition to being a high-powered lobbyist who often advocates on behalf of the Kremlin, Akhmetshin has deep ties to Russian intelligence circles and once worked for a military counterintelligence unit. He sounds like just the guy for a “nothing burger” meeting.

While there hasn’t been as much coverage recently of President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mutual regard for one another, it’s important to remember the potential consequences of enabling Putin. CAP’s Max Bergmann outlines why it is imperative to combat Putin’s silent war on democracy.

216 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 216 days, because his companies are receiving payments from foreign governments. For an in-depth look at Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, see this CAP interactive map and series of columns.
Please send feedback, comments, and ideas to [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Michael Fuchs

Senior Fellow

Meredith Leal

Program Coordinator

Abigail Bard

Former Policy Analyst, Asia