It’s an accident of history that both North Korea and the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) both venerate the date of October 10. It’s a coincidence that President Trump, a few days before Ten-Ten, tweeted that he’d bring all our troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas. Unfortunately, that’s nothing more than wishful thinking.
For the Norks, October 10, 2020, was the 75th anniversary of the communist Kim regime. For Taiwan, the date — called “double 10 day” — marked the 109th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising that began the revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty.
For Little Rocket Man, it was a mild performance. Chalk that up to Trump’s ability to out-threaten Kim, which he has done repeatedly.
Each held a parade that strongly demonstrated the differences between them.
North Korea and its ruler, Kim Jong Un, are always belligerent and odd, but this year’s anniversary was a good bit stranger than usual. Its celebration featured a post-midnight speech by Kim given (apparently) after the requisite parade of missiles and other military hardware that was held during daylight hours. The parade of missiles was far larger than any seen since 2018 when Trump and Kim began their talks.
The missiles included a new mobile ICBM that is bigger and probably has more range than the Norks have previously built. It was hauled on a mobile launcher with 11 axles — greater length meaning greater fuel capacity and longer range — and had enough girth to suggest the capacity for multiple warheads. (Multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles — “MIRVs” — have been mounted on American, Russian, and Chinese ICBMs for decades.) Whether the new missile has enough range to reach Alaska or the U.S. mainland is unclear.
Kim’s speech was uncharacteristically mild. Instead of threatening the U.S., South Korea, and Japan with a nuclear attack he gave a relatively mild promise to act preemptively — i.e., to launch his nuke-bearing missiles — if North Korea’s national security were threatened. The threat was implied, not explicit.
For Little Rocket Man, it was a mild performance. Chalk that up to Trump’s ability to out-threaten Kim, which he has done repeatedly. That doesn’t mean the threat from North Korea is any less severe, only that — for the moment — Kim is downplaying it. He, like the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, Venezuelans, and all the other usual suspects, are betting on Trump losing the election.
The Taiwanese “Ten-Ten” parade was in sharp contrast to the Norks’. There was a fireworks display, a military flyover, some military vehicles with civilians in them (wearing flower leis), and a speech by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in which she spoke proudly of her nation’s fight against COVID-19 and economic strength despite the pandemic.
Taiwan is under the constant threat of military invasion by Communist China from across the Taiwan Strait, and Ing-wen spoke of both military readiness to defend the island and cooperation with regional states to maintain stability. She said that maintaining cross-strait relations was the responsibility of both sides and never mentioned independence from China, which is the hottest hot-button issue for the mainland power next door. China has repeatedly threatened military action if Taiwan ever declares independence.
In short, Taiwan’s parade celebrated freedom while the Norks celebrated their threats to the region and the world.
President Trump’s tweet that he’d have every American out of Afghanistan by Christmas was no surprise. Trump campaigned in 2016 on ending our “endless wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq and hasn’t been able to bring either to a close yet. He is lagging badly in the polls (which are probably as inaccurate as they were four years ago) and wants to make good on that promise.
Trump can make good on that promise, but almost certainly won’t. Not that it will matter.
We’ve been at war in Afghanistan since a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Our troop strength there is now below 5,000, which is barely enough to provide security for themselves and the Kabul government.
As I’ve written many times, we know what will happen when the last U.S. troops leave Afghanistan. Within months, if not weeks, the Taliban will attack and overthrow the Kabul government. Congress will do what it did when we withdrew from Vietnam and deny any further aid. The Taliban will rule Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, turning it into what it was before 9/11, a safe haven for Islamist terrorists to plan and mount attacks against the U.S. and our allies. There will be no human rights for anyone — men, women, or children — under the Taliban’s Islamist rule.
Trump’s desire to withdraw our troops before Christmas is laudable. We haven’t done what we intended to do when we invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 — to turn it into a democracy — because we haven’t destroyed the Islamist ideology that propels the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Hizballah, and the rest to fight indefinitely. Trump’s February agreement with the Taliban was extremely weak, intended only to paper over our withdrawal. Whenever finally leave, the agreement will be forgotten immediately.
Trump’s advisers will talk him out of withdrawing from Afghanistan “prematurely,” as they are prone to say. But it would have not been premature for us to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan after we toppled the Taliban government and warned them we’d be back if they re-established their terrorist safe haven.
The Washington Post, predictably, is writing about the desperate plight of Afghanis when U.S. troops withdraw. Not that they want our troops to stay: they — and most of the media — only want to lose no opportunity to bash Trump.
The American media’s hostility to Trump has reached the stage where terrorist networks have to fact-check them. Think about this one: when CBS News reported that the Taliban had endorsed Trump, the Taliban had to fact-check CBS and say that they did no such thing. The media, and the Dems, will continue their anti-Trump war even if he loses the election.
The best thing for America and all our allies and dependent states would be for Trump to win the election and not have the inevitable recounts and lawsuits drag on until Inauguration Day. Trump’s foreign and defense policies are far from perfect, but the election of Joe Biden will threaten the existence of too many nations that are now free.
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