The new Afghanistan strategy sounds a lot like the old Afghanistan strategy

President Donald Trump changed the subject last night. Instead of another day of news on the fallout from his horrific response to a white supremacist rally, the commander in chief announced a new strategy for the U.S. in Afghanistan in a prime-time televised address. It wasn’t a typical Trump speech: he read carefully from a teleprompter.

Foreign policy isn’t my strong suit, so I’ve spent much of today reading analysis by those who have closely followed our military and diplomatic strategy during our country’s longest war. The consensus: Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan is neither new nor likely to produce the victory the president promised.

To my knowledge, the only Iowan in Congress to release a public statement on last night’s speech was Senator Joni Ernst. I enclose her generally favorable comments near the end of this post, along with a critical statement from Thomas Heckroth, one of the Democrats running in Iowa’s first district. James Hohmann compiled some other Congressional reaction for the Washington Post.

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Iraq War 10th anniversary links and discussion thread

Ten years ago, President George W. Bush made the disastrous mistake of taking this country to war against Iraq. I’ve posted some links about the costs and casualties of war after the jump.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread. I appreciate the work and commitment of those who tried to derail the speeding train toward invasion, and of those who protested the war after it began. I did nothing to stop the war in Iraq–just sat in a rocking chair cradling a new baby, feeling horrified while watching the news on television.

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IA-Sen: Labor unions lining up behind Bruce Braley (updated)

Iowa’s largest labor union, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, announced its endorsement of Representative Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate yesterday. A press release from the Braley campaign noted that two other labor unions have previously announced their support: Iowa State Council of Machinists and the Great Plains Laborers’ District Council. As a member of Congress, Braley has a strong voting record on labor rights, as does retiring Senator Tom Harkin.

Endorsements this early in the cycle are another sign that Braley will not face real competition for the Democratic nomination next year. During Iowa Democrats’ last hard-fought statewide primary, the larger labor unions endorsed either Mike Blouin or Chet Culver for governor only a few months before the 2006 primary.

UPDATE: The non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group Council for a Livable World endorsed Braley for Senate on March 14. I’ve added their press release and some background after the jump.

SECOND UPDATE: Service Employees International Union Iowa – Local 199 endorsed Braley for Senate on March 15. A press release from the campaign comments, “SEIU Local 199 represents over 5,000 nurses, school employees, childcare workers, and county employees across the state of Iowa.”

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State of the Union and Rubio response discussion thread

President Barack Obama delivers another State of the Union address tonight, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is set to give the Republican response. I will miss most of the president’s speech but plan to watch the replay later and will update this post with highlights. Meanwhile, feel free to comment on any topics raised during the speeches in this thread.

UPDATE: Highlights from the speeches and reaction from the Iowans in Congress are after the jump.

I find it depressing that when I came home to catch up on the news, the blogosphere and twitterverse were obsessing over Rubio taking a drink of water during his remarks. So sue him, he’s not the most camera-savvy politician in Washington (yet). Who cares?

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Grassley among senators seeking memos on targeted killings (updated)

A bipartisan group of senators including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley sent President Barack Obama an open letter this week asking for access to “secret legal opinions outlining your authority to authorize the killing of Americans in the course of counterterrorism operations.”

UPDATE: The Obama administration will provide “classified Office of Legal Counsel advice” on this issue to members of Congressional intelligence committees. I agree with Grassley that judiciary committees should be included as well, since they oversee the U.S. Department of Justice.

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