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5 NatSec Things: 02 Feb 2018

Today's things: Trump veers on Afghanistan; Iraqis giving away tanks; Norway owes us money; Colombia'
February 2 · Issue #26 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Trump veers on Afghanistan; Iraqis giving away tanks; Norway owes us money; Colombia’s ELN probs; UK vs. Russia.

Trump contradicts himself...on Afghanistan, this time
This will come as news to:
  1. The Afghan government
  2. The US State Department
  3. The Taliban
  4. Anyone who’s name doesn’t rhyme with Ribald Rump
The sentiment is notable, and plays well to the pitchforks and torches crowd that seems to be running amok in international and foreign relations of late. I mean, it’s great that the World’s First Bipedal Orange is getting fired up about the Taliban. Shows some gumption that Obama never did.
Except that it’s not like these pronouncements are tied to a grasp of the situation. Notice I didn’t say “real” grasp, or “deep” grasp, which is probably something His Grabbiness has tried in his past. I mean any grasp.
Which is a bit of the bandwagon that says, “He’s just an idiot.” And that’s probably not wrong. But he’s an idiot being enabled by other people who have actual agendas. And he’s more than wiling to be swayed to their thinking.
Talking to the Taliban is the point of the whole war. However far away that objective seems. The Americans are working toward it. So’s Kabul. The only one who’s not is the one who’s still (allegedly) in charge.
US pissed that Iraqi Army keeps giving away tanks US pissed that Iraqi Army keeps giving away tanks
Don’t you just hate it when your multi-ton multi-million dollar killing machine gets handed over to a paramilitary organization? I know every time I’ve misplaced an Abrams I’ve thought, “Gary. Gary! GARY! How could you be so stupid? Of COURSE the Minister of Defense was going to give away the tanks. He’s literally given away everything else!”
That’s the risk you run when you try to empower your partners by giving them guns on tracks is that they might do the same. You can curry a lot of favor with the gift of just a single M1. Or you can make a lot of curry with the hull once the Americans stop fixing it. 
Which is the only card the US can play at this point, and one of the reasons why the long contractor tail is in place for maintenance contracts. Because that shiny bit of killing equipment that you’re worried about today won’t be a problem tomorrow when there’s no one left to work on it. So the Americans are threatening to stop working on the tanks until the Iraqi Army stops handing them out like red carpet swag bags.
Norway to Trump on NATO spending: Let it go (I'm sorry)
And speaking of partners we worry about, Oslo needs to stop making the chocolate and start spending more on its Save The NATO fund. Because they’re spending less of their GDP on defense. Which is having a follow-on effect with how much they’re paying into NATO. 
That the US is shouldering the lion’s share of the NATO burden has been a consistent tantrum point for the Toddler-in-Chief. And getting other nations to pay their bills into the organization worries him. Doesn’t keep him up at night (chocolate will, though), but he still worries. 
Here’s the thing with Norway: they’re a valuable ally that wants to continue to do business with US defense contractors and the American military. All because of Moscow and how that scenario could play out if the Norwegians aren’t our friends. But it’s a changing world, and while flexibility isn’t Trump’s strong suit, compromise and patience with partners like Norway right now are even more crucial.
Things have been better in Colombia. 
The decades-long war with the FARC rebels has come to an end.
Sure, cocaine’s booming again, but 
ELN not ready to go full FARC in Colombia
Things have been better in Colombia. 
The decades-long war with the FARC rebels has come to an end.
Sure, cocaine’s booming again, but revenue’s revenue, am I right?
There’s still a leftist rebel group holding out, and President Santos is pumping the brakes on further dialogue with them because they keep killing cops. With bombs. And that doesn’t play well no matter who the electorate. 
Someday all these wars will end. Even the drug one. But not soon. And not easily. It’s another in what feels like an endless series of reminders that while we pay a lot of attention to the war in Afghanistan, there’s plenty of other wars still to go around.
UK took the Russian's baby away in Afghanistan
This one’s way down at the end because as you head into the weekend? Put it on your reading list for your Saturday/Sunday long reading pleasure. Super interesting story about how the UK was more involved with the efforts to get the Russians out of Afghanistan than we’ve known before. 
Plus, it’s just a pretty format…if you’re interested in a blog, I’ve got one and I’ll probably use that builder to do some longer form content. Because telling stories shouldn’t just be about the length.
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