The President and All His Men Don't Seem to Agree

The President and All His Men Don't Seem to Agree

President Trump and his advisors seem to have a disconnect when it comes to the strategy that should be used when dealing with ISIS
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In October 2006, Al-Masri announced the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). By April 2013 this organization would change its name to what most of us know it as today, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant; otherwise abbreviated as ISIL or ISIS. After ISIS had made massive territorial gains and had committed several human rights abuses, many nations decided that due to the threat of further spillover that intervention was needed.

By the end of June 2014, the Pentagon announced that the United States would be sending an additional 300 troops to Iraq, which brought the total number of US troops in Iraq to approximately 800.

April 13, 2017 marked a significant day in the United States military intervention against ISIS. This was the day the United States military decided to drop its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS compound located in Afghanistan. Many believed that it was unnecessary to use such a forceful and large bomb on this particular area. However, the US military defended its choice of action fully. US General John Nicholson Jr., who is commander for the US forces in Afghanistan, stated during a press conference "This was the right weapon against the right target…It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield."

During a conference, in April 2018, at the United States Institute of Peace Brett McGurk stated that "We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission, and out missions isn't over…We have to work through some very difficult issues as we speak…We are going to complete that mission." Brett McGurk is the current State Department coordinator for the international coalition fighting ISIS.

As of now, the US has about 2,000 troops still deployed in Syria, mainly the northeast region, aiding and advising local militias. These local militia groups have pushed ISIS out of nearly one-third of Syria, which includes Raqqa. Though the fight to gain back the land ISIS took control over has been difficult, the US believes that the trickier part still lays ahead of them.

"The hard part, I think, is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes…There is a military role in this, certainly in the stabilization phase." This was said by General Joseph L. Votel, who is the current head of Central Command operations, during the same conference at the United States Institute of Peace this April.

On the matter of US military involvement when trying to combat ISIS, President Trump recently said "I want to get out…I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation…We were very successful against ISIS. We'll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it's time to come back home." It is not a new standpoint that President Trump is expressing when he states that he wants the troops to come back home. The concern comes from the disconnect that seems to be apparent between President Trump and his advisors. According to The New Yorker, there were reports that during the first week of April 2018 US troops were creating new frontline positions and bringing more equipment over to Syria in order help further their development.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, General Joseph Dunford, and General Joseph L. Votel have tried to convince the President that the US should continue its work in Syria for another year or two. President Trump, as of now, believes that too much time and money has been spent in Syria and the Middle East in general. "We will have, as of three months ago, spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last seventeen years. We get nothing – nothing out of it, nothing," President Trump stated when asked about Syria during a recent press conference.

President Trump's advisors believe that a premature pullout from the region could cause ISIS to gain back the land that was taken back. Failure to fully stabilize the region before bringing US troops back home, especially in the US military controlled areas, could create further destabilization for the citizens of Syria and Iraq.

It is vital that President Trump and his advisors get on the same page about how they will continue with ISIS, Syria, and Iraq moving forward. Since the US military has been so heavily involved in the region for such a long period of time, the US must now consider themselves an active party in the region and therefore must consider the implications a quick pullout of troops would have. However, before it decided that US troops will continue to stay in the region or come back to the United States, what first must be decided upon is which strategy the US will be using going forwards. The US at this time must at least appear to have a united front on this matter.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.

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Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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