Paste Magazine Fake News Exclusive: The Trump Afghan TapesPhoto courtesy of Getty Politics Features Afghanistan
NOTE: What follows is satire. It is, as the title suggests, the literal embodiment of Fake News.
Folks, we’ve got something very special and incredible: The Complete Trump Afghanistan Sessions.
Some quick background…
Yesterday evening President Trump outlined his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. He failed, however, to offer key details, such as:
—how many more troops he’d be sending;
—how long we’d be there;
—the components of diplomatic strategy
—how the hell we’d incentivize both India and Pakistan to help us out at the same time
—under what conditions we’d consider withdrawing; or
—what victory would look like.
The address itself wasn’t bad, in Trump terms, meaning he didn’t offend or threaten any major demographic, but he clearly sounded run-down, and it seemed he was learning as he was reading.
Which, given a Failing New York Times report published an hour or so before the speech, seems not unlikely. The article all but says, “Trump didn’t begin to think about the war in Afghanistan until July 19.” Here’s how it starts:
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s skepticism about America’s involvement in Afghanistan was no secret to his staff. But his top national security officials were still taken aback at a meeting in the Situation Room on July 19, when an angry Mr. Trump began ripping apart their latest proposal to send thousands of additional American troops to the country.
“We’re losing,” the president declared, according to a person who was in the room. The plan, he complained, was vague and open-ended, with no definition of victory. “What does success look like?” he asked.
The day before that meeting, Mr. Trump had invited four soldiers who had served in Afghanistan to the White House for lunch. His exchanges with these enlisted men, an official said, left him sober about the prospects for turning around a war that has dragged on for nearly 16 years. He showed up the next day determined to ask hard questions.
It’s in this context that we present you a Paste Magazine world exclusive: We’ve acquired tapes of President Donald Trump’s top-secret strategy sessions for crafting this brand new Afghanistan strategy, obtained from an erstwhile senior White House adviser who only identified himself as “Loose Cannon” and as “extremely, very extremely close to that motherfucker for a few months. I’ve still got him, you know. I can call him any time. Any fucking time. You name it, jack-o. He’ll do whatever I tell him to do. People still don’t get that. The world is cucked. They think I’m gone. Inshallah.”
Here’s how those meetings went, and, at the end, a transcript of the speech that came of them.
July 19, 13:30
TRUMP: Fellas! Hey, hey. Hey, fella. Fellas. Hey. Hi. Fellas, hey. Good to see you, fellas. Hello.
ADVISER 1: Mr. President.
TRUMP: Great to see you, George. Always good. Always great, in fact. How’s the boat?
ADV 2: George couldn’t make it, Mr. President.
TRUMP: No, of course not. Of course not. He couldn’t be here.
ADV 1: But that’s a very… lifelike photograph of him.
TRUMP: Yes. It truly is one of the greats.
ADV 1: Shall we get down to brass tacks, Mr. President? We’ve put this off for eight months now. There’s much to process.
TRUMP: I’m determined to ask hard questions. Whaddya got?
ADV 2: Yes, sir. Given the recent spread of insurgency, including a recent aggressive metastasis of attacks into heretofore secure urban and diplomatic areas, we’ve prepared a few custom briefs from COIN ops, as well as a three-year –
ADV 1: Counter-insurgency. CO. IN. Counter-insurgency operations. COIN ops.
TRUMP: Where is Afghanistan?
ADV 2: Sir?
TRUMP: I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The Presidency is very different once you’re behind this sacred, ancient desk. Abraham Lincoln’s best friend built this desk. I don’t suppose either of you have had that perspective? No? War is important, gentlemen, and, at times can be very, very deadly. Very deadly. We need a good manager, a dealmaker, and that’s why I won despite what you –
ADV 1: Prudence. Yes, sir. Geography is often overlooked but, along with a deep understanding of cultural dynamics, one of the critical pillars on which to build an understanding of the toughest problems in Afghanistan, one of the most complicated countries in the world. Here’s a national atlas.
TRUMP: Do you have a globe?
ADV 2: A globe. Do we have a – ? Call [NAME REDACTED], maybe?
TRUMP: I’ll wait.
Garbled crosstalk – clatter – silence
ADV 1: Sir, I’m afraid it will be a while before we can get a globe.
TRUMP: Fellas, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. This is absolutely critical to our nation’s success. There’s nothing more important. I’ll wait for the globe, no problemo.
ADV 2: Yes, sir. In the meantime –
TRUMP: Remember what I said about prudence.
ADV 2: To be honest, sir, I don’t think we can get a globe over here within the hour. Our time will be up.
TRUMP: We can’t afford to waste this time. My time, I’ve heard, is my most precious commodity as President of the United States.
ADV 1: Right.
TRUMP: Adjourned until tomorrow.
July 20, 11:30
ADV 1: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: Hey, [REDACTED]. Afghanistan borders frickin’ China.
ADV 3: Yes, sir. It’s a small border, less than 50 miles. All but sealed for years. Strategically, though –
TRUMP: A border with China?! Why are we still there? Did Obama know this?
ADV 2: He did.
TRUMP: And you’re telling me that in 16 years no one’s tried tweeting China on this?
ADV 1: I don’t know how to answer that, sir.
TRUMP: Well, this is clearly their problem, isn’t it? Just like North Korea. And just like [NAME REDACTED]. Why won’t they help me?
ADV 1: Afghanistan is of no strategic concern to the Chinese, sir. In fact, they’d prefer it to be a problem for us.
TRUMP: Well I’m going to tweet the goddamn hell out of those welching
ADV 1: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: Let me get this straight. Afghanistan somehow borders China, India, Pakistan, and fucking goddamn Iran?
ADV 2: Yes, sir. And Russia, sir.
TRUMP: Thank god.
ADV 2: The Indian border presents some trouble, Mr. President. It’s a war zone.
TRUMP: Good! We could use the help.
ADV 1: No. India is fighting Pakistan there. It’s a disputed zone called Kashmir.
TRUMP: What the goddamn shit.
ADV 2: Yes, it’s quite complicated. Do you know about Kashmir?
TRUMP: Yes, I know a lot about it.
ADV 2: Well, the conflict in Kashmir traces, simplistically, to an enduring conflict between Hindi and Muslim populations. After India’s independence it turned into a border dispute that has lasted several decades. We estimate the two nations are at any given point three to seven days from a possible nuclear escalation. We can arrange a brief for you on that problem, too.
TRUMP: That won’t be necessary, [REDACTED]. So they have nukes, huh.
ADV 2: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: I’m a very, very smart man. Uncommon, my brain is. Absolutely uncommon. I’ve got an idea.
ADV 1: Go right ahead, sir.
TRUMP: Only one thing unites enemies: An enemy. I’ve decided to have India and Pakistan join hands in helping the great, world-class United States of America finally beat Afghanistan.
ADV 3: If I may be so bold, sir, that’s all but impossible. India and Pakistan are, I repeat, at any given time days if not hours away from all-out war on the border with Afghanistan. Neither trusts the other, and we don’t trust either, and neither fully trusts us. It’s a mess.
TRUMP: Look at sniveling Rosie O’Donnell. Look where she is.
ADV 2: Respectfully, sir, we’re also not trying to “beat” Afghanistan.
TRUMP: We’ll get China, India, and Pakistan to do the legwork. What are these countries?
ADV 2: You mean your globe?
TRUMP: Never mind. We’ll tackle first thing tomorrow. Great stuff, fellas. The best. Take a load off, okay?
August 9, 16:30
ADV 1: And you’ll see right on your globe there that to the north Afghanistan shares borders with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
TRUMP: I don’t see those countries.
ADV 1: Really? Let me have a look, sir. Ah, christ. This thing’s like 30 years old.
TRUMP: Goddamn Barron. I’m gonna kill him.
ADV 2: We’ll just pull up a map on the big-screen. There. To the north, the Stans: Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Silence – sound of a clock ticking; a pop, perhaps bubble-gum
ADV 1: Those nations are all former Soviet –
TRUMP: Get me [NAME REDACTED]!!
ADV 1: I’m sorry, sir, [NAME REDACTED] can’t be here today, remember?
TRUMP: This is above my pay grade.
ADV 3: Sir, if I may interrupt. We are the United States military. We must develop a comprehensive strategy. It is imperative. It is existential, sir. I cannot make this more emphatic without risking a breach in protocol. The generals are waiting. The troops are waiting. The fates of nations, sir, are waiting.
TRUMP: The great, great generals.
ADV 1: We can learn a lot from these former Soviet states, sir. They fought a war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
TRUMP: Well, how’d they win?
ADV 1: They lost.
TRUMP: To Afghanistan? Does Putin know about this?
ADV 1: Not to Afghanistan, exactly. They lost to the Taliban. We armed the Taliban so they could drive Russia out of Afghanistan. But then when the Russians were gone, the Taliban established control. Terrorist groups flourished in the lawless nation. Osama Bin Laden found asylum among the terrorists we once armed, and from there he plotted 9/11. It’s rumored some of our own guns have been used against us. The metaphor is dare I say perfect.
TRUMP: I’ve changed my mind about that pen and paper.
ADV 2: Coming right up, sir.
TRUMP: Has anyone beaten Afghanistan?
ADV 1: Yes, sir. Genghis Khan.
TRUMP: Ah ha! I told you! China it is.
ADV 1: Sir –
TRUMP: Scratch that order on pen and paper. Get me my tweeter.
August 11, 13:30
TRUMP: I’ve called you all in here because I’ve finally, after many, many hours and weeks of great, sacred thought, I’ve finally made my decision.
ADV 2: Glad to hear it sir.
TRUMP: And I’m pleased to announce I’ll be telling you about that decision in a very special announcement that will be happening very, very soon.
August 15, 16:00
garbled large metallic object dropped>
UNFAMILIAR VOICE: How about a nice cool drink of water, [TERM OF ENDEARMENT REDACTED]. There. There you go. Nuke who, now?
TRUMP: It’s all goats and rugs and Muslim terrorists. The Western world should know the sounds of their footfalls no longer.
UNFAMILIAR VOICE: It’s been an extra-long weekend for us all, [TERM OF ENDEARMENT REDACTED]. We’re all very, very tired, and have been treated very, very unfairly. Just like you. Finish your water for me, okay?
TRUMP: Tell everyone I’m going to do the most phenomenal goddamned press conference they’ve ever seen in all their lives.
August 18, 13:30
TRUMP: Fellas. Hello, hey. Hi, fellas. George, hello. Monica and Julienne Ritenour, hello. Thank you for joining me for this special announcement: War in Afghanistan Edition.
ADV 3: Mr. President.
TRUMP: I’ve decided to do what’s best for the nation and bring the troops home! All of them will come back home to their families, to their moms and dads and their beautiful spouses and their beautiful children. Effective immediately. We need them here at home more than Afghanistan needs them there, risking their lives for mountain caves filled with goats and rugs and drug addicts. Worse than Chicago.
ADV 2: The government will fall. Pakistan’s security environment will further deteriorate, spurring an already-simmering popular uprising, and they have nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan, well, the Taliban will take over almost immediately, sir. They’d go back to the middle ages.
ADV 1: ISIL, as well, sir.
ADV 1: ISIS. What civic bonds exist in that nation would snap, and it will become a breeding ground for any number of groups. Kabul has absorbed several aggressive and worrisome attacks this year. The outlook for Ghani’s coalition is not good. These groups would connect with and support other radical wilaya and cells in the region. Iran might wreak total havoc and appropriate natural resources, and possibly face a refugee crisis.
TRUMP: Quiet. Give me a second. Okay, new plan. Fantastic plan, in fact. Very American. I call it “Operation Overwhelming Force!” Like the sound of that, right? It’s good, right? I will bring to bear the full and mighty weight of the United States Armed Forces and end this endless war once and for all. Tough, but fair.
ADV 2: That would cost many thousands of lives, who knows how much money, and in the long run make Afghanistan virtually a colony. We’d have to help rebuild, or sacrifice the country and whatever power we have left in South Asia. We’d be there forever.
TRUMP: God fucking dammit, George. Okay, what’s left?
ADV 3: It’s what we’ve wanted all along, coincidentally: Steady mission creep imperceptible to American public.
TRUMP: I like it. How many troops?
ADV 3: Unclear.
TRUMP: Nice. How long would this last?
ADV 2: Hard to say, really.
TRUMP: When would we pull out?
ADV 3: Depends on conditions on the ground.
TRUMP: What would success look like?
ADV 2: Depends what you think success looks like after seeing how effective the strategy has the potential to be.
TRUMP: And the mini-skirts?
ADV 2: Sure.
TRUMP: This is all crystal clear to me. Can it sound cool?
ADV 1: You’ll read an old Obama speech.
TRUMP: I can’t read.
ADV 2: What?
TRUMP: Here, make a speech out of these tweets. All of them. These all went over great.
ADV 2: Sir –
TRUMP: Those are classics. Timeless.
ADV 3: Sir, that’s the exact opposite of what we’re doing.
TRUMP: Do you really think anyone cares?
ADV 1: That’s actually a very good question, sir.
Four days later, President Trump stood in front of a crowd at Fort Myer, Virginia, and spent about half an hour reading words that made sense but that also somehow didn’t contain any real meaning. In other words, an Obama speech. You can watch it here, read a full transcript here, or trust us that this is Mr. Trump’s speech, verbatim, in its entirety:
Hi, fellas. Americans. Hello. Tremendous. Wow. Hello. I’m the President. Ok. America, I’m sending an unspecified number of troops to Afghanistan. Right now, or in a little bit from now. It won’t be a lot, but that’s only because I need to get you used to the idea that, despite everything I’ve said to you up until this point, we’re going to be getting a lot more involved over there, okay? We’re gonna be there forever, folks. I dunno, maybe we’ll leave. No one knows. This job sucks.
India and Pakistan are going to be great war partners, that I can promise you. I’ve spoken to both of them several times. Several times today, in fact. Just before I got onstage. One is actually on the phone with me right now, and they say this strategy is maybe the best they’ve ever seen, that anyone’s ever seen, but you can’t hear them. They’re both very friendly nations and very committed to our success.
Don’t worry, though: A month or two from now I’ll tire of the military experts around me and seek outside counsel from unqualified crazy people, like Erik Prince, whose private security company got tried for war crimes, and also his sister, Betsy de Vos. I mean, if there’s one thing you can count on, folks, it’s Donald Trump getting bored and peeved if I don’t see some immediate results. This means I’m particularly ill-fit to lead when it comes to Afghanistan, and am quite vulnerable to any opportunists cagey enough to exploit that fact.
In closing, I hope I’ve convinced you this is a much better strategy than Obama’s, but it also won’t change a single thing our fantastic soldiers are doing.
Now where’s that exit? There? No? Okay. Oh, there? Great. No? It was a tremendous eclipse, yes. A very special metaphor, as you can see. Ah, here we go. No?”