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Ross D. Franklin / AP

In Trump's new Afghanistan plan, AP's Josh Lederman sees "elements of a broader approach to America's most pressing national security concerns [beginning] to emerge, consistent with his efforts in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere," and drawing "on organizing principles that are also woven throughout his plans for defeating the Islamic State group and containing the threats posed by North Korea and Iran":

  • Never tip your hand to the enemy.
  • No timelines for military operations.
  • Don't micromanage.
  • No free pass for a neighbor who tolerates extremists or enables U.S. foes.
  • Let locals lead.
  • Key quote from Trump's Monday speech: "We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists."

Critique ... I ran Josh's article by Vance Serchuk, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who wrote me back that "Trump as commander-in-chief thus far is a mix of big continuities with Obama and big discontinuities":

Three big continuities:

  1. Disavow "nation building" and Bush-like "freedom agenda" ambitions in favor of self-declared "realism."
  2. Enable local forces whenever possible to clear and hold territory, supported by special operators and airpower; eschew large U.S. conventional deployments à la the Iraq war.
  3. Focus on discrete military objectives — e.g., smashing ISIS in Iraq/Syria, just as Obama smashed AQ core in Pakistan. Trump's impulse, like Obama's, is to want to get the job done so we can come home.

Three big discontinuities:

  1. Devolve much greater discretion over decision-making on troops, tactics, operations to DoD / Mattis.
  2. Reject time tables / deadlines as an instrument of policy.
  3. Cultivate a bit of a madman image — with the national security team portrayed as holding him back from his wilder impulses. If Obama had faith in the power of reason, Trump believes in the value of fear.

Go deeper ... Vance Serchuk's new Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Trump Learns From America's Failures in Afghanistan: By focusing on getting out of the country, Bush and Obama fostered conditions that forced us to stay."

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Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.