Foreign Policy

Report: Trump Rambled About Restaurant Business During Meeting With Generals

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Like most people, I have no idea what our end game in Afghanistan is or why we're still there, but I do know Trump is utterly incapable of handling our strategy and he may not even be capable of talking about it.

According to officials who spoke to NBC News, Trump ranted and raved during a meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.

Trump reportedly declared that "we're losing" and called for replacing General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but Trump has never even met or spoken to Nicholson and Trump's definition of "losing" apparently includes our failure to plunder or steal Afghanistan's natural resources.

[Trump] lamented that China is making money off of Afghanistan's estimated $1 trillion in rare minerals while American troops are fighting the war, officials said. Trump expressed frustration that his advisers tasked with figuring out how the U.S. can help American businesses get rights to those minerals were moving too slowly, one official said.

China purchased mineral rights in Afghanistan a decade ago, an investment the U.S. supported at the time. Beijing has since had teams mining copper outside of Kabul.

Trump also reportedly compared their strategy sessions to the renovation of a restaurant in 1987.

Trump told his advisers that the restaurant, Manhattan's elite '21' Club, had shut its doors for a year and hired an expensive consultant to craft a plan for a renovation. After a year, Trump said, the consultant's only suggestion was that the restaurant needed a bigger kitchen.

Officials said Trump kept stressing the idea that lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant's waiters instead might have yielded a better result.

Frankly, I don't think privates on the ground are going to deliver the strategy we're looking for. I wish them all the best, but look, I have friends who served in Afghanistan, and I appreciate their sacrifice and service, but some of them are just as dumb today as they were before they left. Most of them would tell you the same thing.

Whatever it is we're doing in Afghanistan, it is not a job for a novice like Trump himself. Afghanistan isn't a nightclub.

As for whether we're wining or losing as Trump claims, I don't think you can answer that without knowing what the goal is. If you believe our goal is to plunder the natural resources of countries we occupy (that's an actual war crime, by the way), then I suppose we're losing. But I'm pretty sure that's not our goal.

  • Aynwrong

    Trump know as much about running a war as he does about running any business of any nature at all. Nothing. Ironically, I would agree with Trump’s analogy about being able to learn more about the needs of a restaurant or any kind of service industry by talking to the guys on the floor rather than some expert if the expert you were ignoring was Donald Trump.

  • Nefercat

    I so miss having a president that didn’t cause me to mutter “fucking dunce” every single time he opened his piehole.

    Also, the restaurant apparently actually closed for just 2-3 months for a total renovation. Geez, does trump think he’ll go up in smoke if he accidentally *doesn’t* lie about everything?

  • The Yam is hardly a success at restaurants.

    Well, this story is exactly what I imagined when reports arrived of him talking more in meetings since John Kelly became chief of staff. Anyone who has ever had a conversation knows half the time someone rattles off a statistic the only answer is “so what?”

  • muselet

    Kevin Drum this morning sighed resignedly and reported on this story. His takeaway:

    I should make clear that I have no problem with presidents rejecting the advice of their military advisors. I just prefer it when they have actual, non-kindergarten reasons for doing so.

    Will someone please hand Donald Trump a stack of coloring books and a big box of crayons before he causes a global catastrophe? Thanks.

    –alopecia

    • Aynwrong

      “I have crayons, I have the best crayons and coloring inside the lines is for losahs!!!”

      Sorry, I just had to get that out.

  • That’s not our goal, but it is Trump’s goal.