21 August 2017   Leave a comment

US President Trump has announced a new policy in Afghanistan.  I just listened to the speech he delivered in Arlington, VA and have not had a chance to read the speech or go over it in detail.  I will probably have more the say about the speech in subsequent posts.  My initial reaction is a degree of confusion.  President Trump announced that the US would move from a time-based decision-making process to a conditions-based one.  In military terms, that shift is a very important one, but the conditions are not specified so we do not know what the costs might be.  If the conditions include a fully-functioning central government in Afghanistan, then the costs might be very high.  It they include the elimination of all 22 groups identified by President Trump as security threats to the US, then the costs might be very high as well.  If the condition simply means an agreement between the Taliban and the central government in Afghanistan to divide up control of the country, then the costs might be very low.  As this point, I really know very little about what the US objectives might be.

The US has been in Afghanistan since October 2001 when it overthrew the government of Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden.  The war is the longest in American history and has cost the lives of 2,350 US soldiers and over $1 trillion.  The new policy does not square with his statements about US policy in Afghanistan while he was a candidate.   

One of the most important determinants of political legitimacy is the faith that citizens have that their political and economic systems function in a way that assure a better future for the next generation.  If that faith holds true, then parents are willing to suffer a great deal in the present so that their children will be better off.  The Pew Research Center has conducted a poll in many countries asking the question, “When children today in our country grow up, they will be better off or worse off than their parents?”  The results are quite diverse although a general pattern does emerge:  the currently rich countries are pessimistic and those countries which we call emerging economies are more optimistic.



Globalization gave us the apple.  Researchers have done a genetic analysis of the modern apple and traced its origins back to the Tian Shan (Heavenly) Mountains in modern-day Kazakhstan.  According to the report in Nature Communcation:

“Cultivated apple (Malus domestica Borkh.), one of the most widely produced and economically important fruit crops in temperate regions, has been domesticated from M. sieversii in the Tian Shan Mountains for 4000–10,000 years, and dispersed from Central Asia to West Europe along the Silk Road, allowing hybridization and introgression of wild crabapples from Siberia (M. baccata (L.) Borkh.), Caucasus (M. orientalis Uglitz.), and Europe (M. sylvestris Mill.)”

Apparently there is also a variety of apple from the Xinjiang region of China which has not been involved at all in the cross-breeding of the modern apple.


Posted August 21, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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