Everything That's Wrong with Political Twitter in Two Tweets (Niger Edition)

Tribalism today, tribalism tomorrow, tribalism forever!


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As Ed Krayewski has pointed out, Niger, where four American commandos were recently killed, is a scandal, not least of which because there's no clear, compelling national interest to justify a U.S. presence that started in 2005.

That's when George W. Bush dispatched forces to train local military and to support French efforts to combat terrorism. In 2013, Barack Obama sent more troops, for the same basic reasons. In the wake of the new deaths, Bonnie Kristian writes,

Donald Trump seems content to stay the course of under-the-radar escalation. A major U.S. base is under construction to serve as a hub for drone activity throughout the region, while American boots on the ground in Niger are significantly occupied with the arrival of extremists from neighboring Libya, which remains in chaos since the U.S.-facilitated ouster of strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The three most recent U.S. presidents thus deserve responsibility for putting Americans in harm's way. But their ability to do so without facing any sort of serious reproach is abetted by the awful one-upmanship that grips political Twitter like grim death itself. For example:

I happen to know and like Stephen Miller and I recommend you follow him on Twitter (he's not the ethno-nationalist who works for President Trump). But the exchange between him and MSNBC's Joy Reid sums up much if not everything wrong with not just Twitter but politics in general. People are so driven by tribal loyalties that virtually all they care about is pulling a gotcha on somebody from the other side of the left-right, liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican divide. It doesn't matter if you're both wrong and it doesn't matter if fewer and fewer of us want to be associated with either of those sides.

We will not have truly 21st-century politics and policies until we leave behind political groupings that had burned out even before the end of the 20th century. Certainly we will not have a foreign policy that can fake even the smallest coherence until we move beyond petty, stupid, and inaccurate blame-gaming.