"What seems to be the answer from the foreign policy establishment?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Syria. "Stay forever. That is not a policy. We can't do that."
Warren's comments came on The Rachel Maddow Show, where the host was trying to goad Warren into criticizing President Donald Trump's decision to pull American troops from Syria and (reportedly) to reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
Her statements seem to have strengthened criticism against others on the left—such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.)—who have been thus far been quiet on Trump's pivots on Syria and Afghanistan.
"Now that Warren emphatically supported Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria & Afghanistan—ignoring @Maddow's desperate bait to bash Trump & instead condemned Endless War—the silence on these issues of Sanders (&, to a lesser extent, @AOC) becomes harder to maintain," tweeted The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald on Thursday morning. "I emailed Sanders' office on Dec 26 to ask his view on Syria troop withdraw—was told they were discussing it but he didn't yet have a position. As I said, people are entitled to time to address complex matters, but these debates are central & ongoing silence is hard to justify."
Trump also offered comments on Afghanistan yesterday, while seated in front of a Game of Thrones–style poster of himself at a White House cabinet meeting:
Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.
That last bit is, as the president might say, fake news. The reason the Soviet Union—and the U.S.—started meddling in Afghanistan a few decades back was in service of the Cold War. The Soviet Union wanted to aid the country's then-communist government; the U.S. wanted to prevent that.
Watching Trump bloviate about the Soviet Union and Afghanistan a day later….it's even worse the second time around. It's a gold medal performance in historical ignorance and revisionism.
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) January 3, 2019
Trump also suggested that he "fired" former Department of Defense chief Jim Mattis (who resigned) because Mattis failed on Afghanistan:
Trump says he "essentially" fired Jim Mattis. He did not. Mattis resigned due to policy differences. Trump also says of Mattis: What's he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not happy with what he's done in Afghanistan." Via Fox. pic.twitter.com/TG5N34E7gO
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 2, 2019
The public domain is expanding. "What makes January 1, 2019, particularly interesting is that it marks the first year in which works protected under U.S. copyright law, whose entry into the public domain was stayed for a time under the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act or, more cynically, the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, since it had the effect of keeping the movie "Steamboat Willie" protected by copyright until 2024), will no longer enjoy that benefit," notes The IPKat blog. So "works first copyrighted in 1923 or thereafter, which were still protected by copyright in 1998, will enter the public domain in 2019."
Khashoggi killers on trial. Saudi Arabia says that 11 suspects in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will face trial and have had their first court hearing. A prosecutor is demanding the death penalty for five of the suspects.
"This death sentence decision seems to be nuts," says Turkey-based Al Jazeera journalist Sinem Koseoglu. "It will mostly likely not be welcomed by Ankara, because it will mean that Saudi Arabia will prevent those people from talking."
In other tales out of Saudi Arabia:
We know that indescribably horrible things are being perpetrated by our purported allies, but a single human story makes them resonate so strongly. https://t.co/yzGnDy1P81
— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) January 3, 2019
• "Super Bowl LIII isn't due until February 3, but anti-trafficking groups are already out in force" spreading baseless fears about sporting events causing a spike in human trafficking.
• It's day 13 of the partial government shutdown, and Trump doesn't look like he's backing down on border wall funding demands.
• A lot cheaper than that wall…
State marijuana legalization starting in 2014 did more to reduce marijuana smuggling than the doubling of Border Patrol agents or the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing did from 2003 to 2009. https://t.co/AQT35S50WM #CatoDrugWar #CatoImmigration pic.twitter.com/AZ54CEMJKR
— Cato Institute (@CatoInstitute) January 3, 2019
• Trump's pick to replace Jeff Sessions will face Congress soon:
Save the date: January 15-16 will be Bill Barr's confirmation hearings https://t.co/YxcIYwZ3Gf
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 3, 2019
• Here's a novel way to address a push for increased transparency:
The Long Beach Police Department engaged in a destruction of decades worth of internal investigation records just days before they would have become public under a new law. The contempt for the public, democratic accountability is stunning. https://t.co/8J37KPgnw1
— David Menschel (@davidminpdx) January 3, 2019