Trust and confidence in a President go hand in hand. Americans cherish honesty and trustworthiness in their President.
That's why President Biden, in his inauguration address in January, promised Americans, "My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with the sacred oath before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you."
Americans are divided evenly on whether President Biden inspires confidence in American leadership; 47 percent believe he does, while another 47 percent believe he does not. The numbers are from a Golden/TIPP Poll of 1,300 Americans from early September.
However, the events of September 28 have shaken Americans' confidence in their President.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before Senate Armed Services Committee on said day.
The two four-star generals contradicted President Biden's previous statements on whether they had advised maintaining a skeleton force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Now, the issue Americans face is this: Should you trust two four-star generals or the President?
On August 18, President Biden spoke to ABC News's George Stephanopoulos for the primary purpose of damage control. In that interview, he denied at least three times that no one advised him to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Here's the conversation between Stephanopoulos and President Biden.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.
BIDEN: No, they didn't. It was split. Tha-- that wasn't true. That wasn't true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn't tell you that they wanted troops to stay?
BIDEN: No. Not at -- not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn't argue against that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told -- your military advisors did not tell you, "No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that"?
BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall. Look, George, the reason why it's been stable for a year is because the last President said, "We're leaving. And here's the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We're agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May 1."
Fast forward to Tuesday this week.
While Generals Milley and McKenzie stated that they would not discuss the specifics of their private meetings with Biden, both generals shared their perspectives, which they said matched their recommendations.
"My assessment was back in the fall of '20 and remained consistent throughout that we should keep a steady state of 2,500, could bounce up to 3,500," Gen. Milley told Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
"I won't share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion, and my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation," McKenzie testified. "And I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan."
The generals also claimed that they appraised the President of a high likelihood of collapse of the Afghan government.
The generals' testimony absolves the military and transfers the blame for the debacle entirely on the President.
Had President Biden listened to his generals, Afghanistan would most likely not have descended to chaos. Why did their advice fall on deaf ears?
Would stationing troops in Afghanistan have gone against the Peace Deal, reached in Doha, with the Taliban? With over 2,400 U.S service member casualties over there, did the President believe it was too dangerous to leave American soldiers on the ground once the Taliban took over? Was the President just trying to appease his political opponents by sticking to his predecessor's promise of a complete pullout?
Whatever the reason may be, just eight months into his presidency, the botched pullout from Afghanistan has taken an enormous toll on Americans' confidence in President Biden's leadership.
Right now, Americans are more likely to trust the accounts of the two generals than the President's denial.
We want the President to succeed in the best interests of the country. President Biden must live up to the promise to Americans he made in his inauguration. He must come clean and avoid permanently undermining Americans' trust in their President due to this episode.
The Biden administration is likely to swiftly reach out to forge close ties with the presumed next Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida.
The Biden administration will also likely be closely watching whether the 64-year-old Kishida, who won the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election Wednesday, can solidify his grip on power and avoid Japan returning to an era of so-called revolving-door leadership.
Kishida will succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, stepping down just after one year in office amid criticism over his government's coronavirus response. His predecessor Shinzo Abe, who served for nearly eight years, expanded Japan's role in regional security, a move that the United States welcomed.
Also, Kishida will be elected prime minister in an extraordinary Diet session starting Monday as the LDP and its junior coalition ally hold a majority in both chambers of parliament.
Sydney Seiler is the national intelligence officer for North Korea at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
His remark comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, said the two Koreas may discuss improving inter-Korean relations. She also suggested an inter-Korean summit if Seoul dropped its hostility against her country.
Seiler said the North has always tried to and continues to seek to drive a wedge between the two allies.
Seiler also insisted the countries should not pay too much attention to North Korean provocations such as missile launches, noting they only indicate the North's continued efforts to improve its weapons systems.
To prevent North Korea from achieving its "longer-term strategic objectives," Seiler said the countries must seek to establish an international consensus that the world will never accept North as a nuclear weapons state.
A top White House official will scout Latin America next week for possible projects.
Daleep Singh, the U.S. deputy national security adviser for international economics, is traveling to Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama to talk with high-level officials, business leaders, and civic activists about infrastructure needs, according to U.S. officials who briefed reporters.
The White House says it wants to engage in projects with higher environmental and labor standards than those China is funding, with full transparency for the financial terms, the officials said.
Last year, the U.S. administration and Taiwan announced a partnership to fund some projects in Latin America to counter China's influence (Panama switched allegiance from Taiwan to China shortly before signing onto the BRI).
An Air Force scientist who's stood in the path of a 'heat ray' explains.
There is a very wide range of electromagnetic waves characterized by wavelength, which is the distance between successive peaks. These waves can interact with different types of matter, including human bodies, in various ways.
It's plausible that an electromagnetic beam could be projected over hundreds of yards at just the right wavelength to create the symptoms seen in Havana syndrome incidents. These beams are likely to interfere with the electrical functions of the brain and central nervous system.
If the source of Havana syndrome turns out to be electromagnetic waves, then in principle, buildings could be hardened against them. However, it would be expensive and would still leave people vulnerable outdoors. Perhaps the best option to prevent a further attack is detection.
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