Lobbyist David Bernhardt Will Likely Become the Next Deputy Interior Secretary Despite Concerns Over Oil and Mining Industry Ties

As protesters tried to interrupt the vote, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced David Bernhardt's nomination for deputy interior secretary on Tuesday, 14 to 9. He will soon face another vote by the Republican-dominated Senate, which is expected to confirm him.

Bernhardt's nomination has alarmed environmentalists because he's is a top executive with the Denver-based law and lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and has worked to greenlight various energy and water projects.

Related: Pruitt's comments on carbon may have violated EPA policy 

Supporters, however, point out that the Colorado native also worked as the top legal counsel for the Department of the Interior under former President George W. Bush, which will help him navigate the bureaucratic terrain. “Many of us have known David Bernhardt for years through his prior public service at the Department,” wrote officials with the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable. “We have found him responsive, intelligent and committed to cooperation among government agencies at all levels and the recreation community’s private sector.”

At Brownstein, Bernhardt lobbied for Cadiz Inc., a company working to drain water from an aquifer in the Mojave Trails National Monument and sell it to coastal communities in Southern California.

He is also the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. Westlands has paid Brownstein more than $1.25 million since 2011, mostly for his lobbying efforts, which include suing the Interior Department and writing legislation on Westlands’ behalf. “Under legislation that Westlands is seeking, the federal government would relieve the water district of its roughly $375 million debt to the federal government and provide it with new water contracts,” McClatchy reported.

Mining company Hudbay Minerals also employed Bernhardt from 2011 to 2015, and he remains a consultant to the company, according to The Arizona Daily Star. Hudbay hopes to develop the Rosemont Copper mine southeast of Tucson, Arizona, in one of the most biodiverse regions of the United States.

“The primary objection we have [to Bernhardt] is that he has spent the last number of years working on behalf of oil and gas and large agribusiness to weaken environmental protections and to lobby for government to weaken environmental regulations,” says Doug Obegi, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that other Bernhardt clients have included “Noble Energy, a major Gulf of Mexico oil producer; Statoil, the Norwegian company that may build a wind farm off the New York coast; and Halliburton, the world's largest fracking services provider.”

While at the Interior Department under Bush, Bernhardt authored several legal opinions that sought to weaken protections for endangered species.

Bernhardt’s appearance before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in mid-May shed some light on how he plans to operate in the role. There, he refused to outright recuse himself from negotiations that might entail a conflict of interest, but he pledged to sever all financial ties to Brownstein and approve his activities with government ethics officers. 

On Tuesday, the Senate's the Energy and Natural Resources Committee also advanced the nominations of Dan Brouillette as deputy secretary of energy and Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members. The Senate is expected to confirm all three.

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Making America Great Again: How Celebrities Like Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé Are Helping After Hurricane Harvey, Charlottesville

President Donald Trump ran his election campaign on the idea that he would “make American great again,” but it seems to be the high earners of Hollywood who have shown the most commitment to improving the country after tragedy. Following a series of unfortunate events ranging from a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia to Hurricane Harvey bringing record-breaking rainfalls and flooding to Houston, celebrities have been making some of the biggest contributions to cleaning up, restoring and healing America.

In the wake of counterprotester Heather Heyer’s death in Charlottesville on August 12, Dave Mathews Band announced on Monday it would host a benefit concert in honor of their hometown, with proceeds going toward the Concert for Charlottesville Fund, a charity aimed at assisting victims of the Charlottesville protests, their families and first responders, ABC News reported. The concert, which will be held at the University of Virginia's Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, is set for September 24.

The iconic rock band has enlisted the help of Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, The Roots, Chris Stapleton, Cage the Elephant and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard, all of whom will perform at the event.

Because tickets for the event are free, concertgoers are being asked to donate to the Concert for Charlottesville Fund instead.

The band’s benefit concert comes just a few days after Texas rapper Bun B announced he would host a live telethon in an effort to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief, with the help of fellow celebrity native Texans Beyoncé, Matthew McConaughey and Jamie Foxx, according to The New York Times. Other Hollywood A-listers like George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts have also signed on to participate in the telethon, which will air on AMC, CBS, CMT, FOX and NBC on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Celebrities have already made personal donations for Harvey victims and have banded together to help in raising money for them. NFL star JJ Watt, who donated $1 million of his own money towards hurricane relief, raised more than $27 million in donations. On Monday, the Texans defensive lineman said Charles Butt of the San Antonio-based H-E-B supermarket chain donated $5 million to his Harvey recovery fund.

Other notable celebrities, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres and several others have also banded together to donate and raise millions of dollars toward the American Red Cross’s relief efforts.

Although the president was criticized for not meeting with families and storm victims during his initial visit to Texas in late August, he has also been generous with donations toward Harvey relief. Trump donated a total of $1 million of his own money to 12 different charities aimed at helping Harvey victims and restoring areas in Texas demolished by the storm, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, both of which the White House said on Monday would receive $300,000 from the president.

Hurricane Irma, which has already ravished Puerto Rico, is approaching the U.S., and some celebrities have already started to take action, using their social media platforms to send well wishes and encourage folks living in Florida and other areas within the Category 5 hurricane’s path to leave the area. Meanwhile, others like Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez have already started calling for financial support for Puerto Rico and other areas of the Carribean that have been severely affected by the storm.

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LA Lakers's Resurgence Has Nothing to Do With Scoring, Luke Walton Says

It is seven years since the Lakers last won the Championship, beating the Boston Celtics 4-3 in the NBA Finals. Seven long years.

Among the Lakers roster that day was Luke Walton, also part of the Lakers team that won the championship the previous year. Now, however, Walton is on the sidelines, charged with returning the team to those heady days—but he insists he knows how to do it.

As the Lakers prepare to begin a new campaign, starting with a training camp this week, Walton says there will be one main focus for the team in the days to come.

“Until we fix the defense it’s gonna be tough to win ballgames, which is ultimately what we want to do,” Walton told SportsNet.

“First practice: All defense. We are not doing a single offensive drill in our first practice. Everything to us going into training camp is getting better on defense.”

Related: The Lakers Are Pumped About A Rookie, And it’s Not Lonzo Ball

Last season, the Lakers had the worst points differential of the whole league, with minus 6.9 points per game. But the team’s offense was far from outstanding given that they were only 17th in the league for scoring.

New additions to the roster will already help Walton and the Lakers. Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Andrew Bogut will all help protect the team defensively, while Josh Hart, a rookie, adds more depth for Walton.

Luke Walton, left, and Magic Johnson at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 16. Ethan Miller/Getty

Lakers shouldn’t have any problems in attack, however, especially after getting Lonzo Ball in the draft earlier this summer, who then excelled in the summer league. His biggest admirer in L.A. seems to be the team’s president Magic Johnson.

Johnson has been effusive about the 19-year-old all summer, and the feeling has been mutual. “He’s the best point guard to ever play,” Ball said Monday, so it will please him to hear that Johnson believes that he possesses strong comparisons to him.

Related: Lonzo Ball, Lakers Big Hope, Seems to Think He’ll Go Down in NBA History

“I told him he's just like me. When I came here, there were a lot of expectations put on my shoulders and put on the Lakers as an organization,” Johnson said, as quoted by NBC.

“I think now, as I told him, I'm his boss but I'm also his big brother. So, when he comes into my office, I don't want to be his boss. I just want to be his big brother and give him either a pat on the back or give him some information to help him.”

For now, however, Ball and the gang will have to focus on the defensive work if they want to win a championship again.

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Who’s Making Our Diplomats in Cuba Go Deaf?

This article first appeared on the Just Security site.

Reports of “health attacks” in Cuba which left several American and Canadian diplomats with health problems and hearing loss has led to wide and dramatic speculation.

Several stories have hyped possible “acoustic attacks” that may be related to weapons used by police for riot control, or even weapons developed by the U.S. Navy.

The Associated Press reported that “after months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences…”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio issued a statement condemning what he concluded was a blatant and intentional attack. According to Rubio, the Cuban government has been harassing U.S. personnel for decades and, “this has not stopped with President Obama’s appeasement. Personal harm to U.S. officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates international norms.” Scary indeed.

There has been no shortage of theories as to the reasons for the attacks, some speculating that it was payback against specific individuals, a possible operation by third parties (the Russians?) to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Cuba, or a means by Cuba to send some sort of message to Washington.

U.S. Embassy workers hang the seal of the United States on the outside of the building before the ceremonial flag-raising August 14, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

If so, the message is mighty garbled. No report has provided anything definitive as to what happened, and how.

To date, the State Department has remained relatively mum, only commenting that the administration has an “active investigation” to determine the source of the health problems, many of which resemble concussions.

The affected U.S. diplomats have returned home from Havana. In May, the State Department asked two Cuban diplomats to leave Washington though did not publicly announce this expulsion at the time and has since specifically declined to call it an act of reciprocity.

While I have not served in Cuba, my experience in a number of similar hostile, high counterintelligence threat countries suggests that this is more likely a surveillance effort gone wrong, than the use of an offensive sonic weapon.

We have very little experience anywhere in the world with directed attacks designed to physically harm to our diplomats. However, the use of intrusive technical collection and surveillance which sometimes causes harm in its own right is consistent with past practice in Cuba and elsewhere.

Why don’t I believe this was an attack intended to harm diplomats?

First, I don’t think the timing or diplomatic atmosphere accords with such hostile action by the Cuban government. U.S. and Canadian diplomats reported their symptoms in the fall of 2016.

At that time, the Obama Administration had relaxed diplomatic relations with Cuba, and Obama was the first U.S. President to visit the island only months before.

During the early to mid-fall, most observers assumed that Hillary Clinton would win the Presidential election and continue the warming of relations with Cuba. If the operations began shortly after the US presidential elections, it would have been irrational for Cuba to start out relations with the incoming administration in this manner.

Further, I suspect if the Trump Administration believed Cuba sought to purposely harm U.S. diplomats, they would have reacted in a more aggressive and public manner.

Indeed, the Cubans who were asked to leave the U.S. were not kicked out “persona non grata” as is usually the case when countries have on-the-ground diplomatic or espionage disagreements. Conspicuously, the two Cuban diplomats were not prohibited from ever returning to the U.S., and the door was left for them to return depending on the outcome of the FBI/State investigation.

Finally, and more significantly, we have seen too many similar technical “attacks” around the world which caused unintended harm. These efforts, while designed to further surveillance and eavesdropping and not to cause malicious damage, nevertheless risked or resulted in residual physical harm to U.S. diplomats.

During my time overseas, I have had personal experience with several of these “attacks.” In the 1980s and 1990s, the Soviet and then Russian intelligence services deployed doses of nitrophenyl pentaden (NPPD) against American diplomats whom they suspected of managing espionage operations against Russian interests. This so-called “spy dust” was an invisible electromagnetic powder with a customized chemical identifier. It was smeared onto door handles, furniture and cars of suspected American spy handlers. It was a tagging agent used by Russian security elements to covertly monitor their own community by revealing unreported (and potentially espionage related) contacts between Russian and American officials. It was somewhat ingenious. After deploying the invisible material on a suspected U.S. intelligence officer, Russian counter-intelligence would snoop after-hours through the offices of Russian government employees looking for traces of the material. Discovery of the powder in the office of someone who had not reported contact with the American provided significant proof of suspicious activity.

What was not ingenious, however, were the threats to human health. There were concerns at the time that the material was carcinogenic and could be harmful to American diplomats. Following studies, the United States determined there was no specific evidence of a threat to the U.S. diplomatic community since it was only used against a handful of people. As someone who was “dusted,” that explanation didn’t really make me feel much better. However, the substance was at least a step up from earlier Russian tracking devices like radioactive nails hammered into the tires of U.S. diplomatic vehicles, allowing Russian surveillance vehicles to hang back unseen and follow along by using special equipment to track targets’ tire residue.

The Russian security services were also known to flood the U.S. embassy in Moscow with electromagnetic radiation. They would beam concentrated microwaves and electronic pulses at the Embassy in an attempt to eavesdrop on U.S. typewriters and conversations. In the 1970s, a U.S. Ambassador contracted and died of a blood disease that many assumed to be a result of the attacks. The State Department detected high levels of radiation in the embassy staff, and provided hazard pay to personnel who worked in Moscow. A variety of electronic attacks continued over the years to include mobile Russian vans that acted as a giant x-ray that could be directed at diplomats all over town. In a similar fashion, high frequency devices can be used to pulse other devices, perhaps turning on or off collection devices in homes or offices.

Similarly, the Russian security services undertook a massive effort to bug the new embassy building in Moscow with all sorts of technical gear, some of which could potentially affect the health of Americans. Indeed, the new embassy construction was even abandoned in 1985 due to the sheer volume and sophistication of electronic eavesdropping equipment that was found throughout the walls, concrete floors and underground. A second attempt to improve the security of the building also faltered when the United States found an equally aggressive and sophisticated attack, which included building listening devices directly into the steel beams holding the building upright. Even the sidewalks and streets throughout the neighborhood were embedded with electronic collection gear which was designed to turn the embassy building into a giant antenna. The United States lost hundreds of millions of dollars trying to fix the problems, and eventually tore off the top several floors of the Embassy and rebuilt it with specially imported materials put together by American-only labor – an effort the U.S. called the “Top Hat” solution. The decades-long process displayed the remarkable expertise of the Russians in the use of technical sensors and surveillance gear. Russian technology was consistently underestimated by the U.S. and often our best scientists had difficulty understanding what the Russians were up to.

On the U.S. side, the FBI has also deployed sophisticated tracking efforts to monitor foreign spies. During the waning days of the Cold War, the FBI deployed sophisticated monitoring gear on bridges and highways around Washington to track Russian spies.

The arrest of FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen also uncovered an elaborate effort by the FBI and NSA to tunnel under the Russian embassy in Washington and place surveillance gear, bugs, and receivers in an effort to attack the embassy’s telecommunication gear.

The U.S. team employed cutting edge technology including directing laser beams through the steel support columns to pick up electronic emanations, and aiming energy beams at the embassy windows to “read” the vibrations in the glass and pick up conversation.

A less high-tech component of the attack reportedly included using a dwarf to scale inside the embassy wall and emplace listening devices.

Given this historical practice, I suspect what happened in Havana was unfortunate but probably a collection/counterintelligence attack gone wrong rather than a directed attack intended to hurt diplomats.

As Senator Rubio correctly pointed out, the Cuban government has long harassed U.S. representatives, and engaged in intrusive tracking of our representatives in Havana. However, we have never seen them try to do serious harm to our diplomats perhaps for fear that we could do the same).

Deployment of a weapon across these different times and locations by a third party is possible but highly unlikely without the direct assistance of the Cuban government.

If Cuba or another country was hoping to use a dangerous and sophisticated attack to achieve some goal or send a message, it doesn’t sound like the message was received either. Usually the simplest explanation is the most likely.

Either way, the Cuban government has an obligation under existing treaties to protect foreign diplomats, and harmful effects, whether they result from surveillance or not, should be condemned.

There is also another lesson here. Our diplomats overseas often work in difficult places, sometimes facing harassment, surveillance and other challenges. That is why President Donald Trump’s thoughtless comments about our diplomats (and by extension their families) in Moscow go over so poorly with our public servants around the world.

Despite the obvious hardships of being away from the United States in difficult environments, there are often hidden or untold challenges which potentially include being monitored day and night and serious health risks from invisible corners.

The story emerging out of Cuba is simply not as bizarre as it might seem at first blush. It is unfortunately all too familiar to those who serve our country in hostile and risky environments.

John Sipher is a Director of Customer Success at CrossLead, a software and consulting firm. John retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. having served as a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service.

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Will Tropical Storm Nate Hit Florida and Mexico After Massive Hurricanes and Earthquakes?

A newly formed tropical storm named Nate has set its sights on Hurricane Irma-ravaged Florida and earthquake-devastated Mexico—but not the areas that suffered catastrophic blows. 

Instead, the storm shaping up to be the sixth hurricane of this season in the Atlantic is headed toward the Florida Panhandle and the Yucatan Peninsula, with the potential to wreak havoc on areas that had been spared and create more widespread damage.

“The forecast track of (Nate) is not expected to directly impact any part of Florida that felt the impacts of Irma, nor is it expected to strike the east coast of Mexico," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Dennis Feltgen told Newsweek in an email Thursday afternoon, "With the exception of the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.”

NOAA issued a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch Thursday morning for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos including popular tourist spots Cozumel and Cancun, which spent years rebuilding after category five Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005.

By 5 p.m. Thursday, the NOAA announced it would likely issue a hurricane watch and storm surge watch for parts of the northern Gulf Coast later in the night or Friday morning, and that the "threat of direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall is increasing from Louisiana though the Florida Panhandle."

Nate is forecast to make landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula by 8 p.m. Friday with “near hurricane intensity” and “life-threatening flash flooding is also possible,” and reach the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane around 8 p.m. Sunday.

That prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday afternoon to declare a state of emergency in 29 counties to prepare.

“Today, given these forecasts, I have declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and ensure resources are dispersed to local communities,” Scott said in a statement. “By declaring an emergency in these counties, we can also ensure that there is no hindrance in the transportation of supplies and assets.”

A combination of a large cyclonic gyre over Central America, a trough of low pressure moving westward across the Gulf of Mexico, and a building subtropical ridge over the western Atlantic should guide Nate with an increase in speed during the next 72 hours generally north to northwestward, Feltgen said, and unlikely in any other direction.

“Hurricanes do not move by themselves. They are steered by the weather pattern that surrounds them,” he said. “In the case of Nate, the models are in good agreement.”

Hurricane Irma, which swept parts of central, south and west Florida starting September 11, claimed more than 80 lives and prompted an evacuation order for more than six million people. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake that shook central Mexico on September 19 caused more than 360 deaths.

A strong Hurricane Nate would further stretch the resources of the state and country that are still recovering from earlier beatings that cost them billions.

The Coast Guard 8th District Heartland headquartered in New Orleans is not taking the Nate warning lightly either. On Thursday afternoon, the district announced it had begun preparing and securing the area along the Gulf Coast and urged mariners to avoid parts of the coast that could be impacted by Nate.

“During the height of the storm, rescue assistance may be unavailable,” the coast guard stated in a press release. “Boaters and citizens should heed storm warnings, take early action to stay safe, and protect themselves and their families.”

Nate was upgraded from a tropical depression to a tropical storm near the coast of Nicaragua on Thursday morning and continued to move across the northeastern part of the country, and by late afternoon made its way into eastern Honduras.

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Breaking His Election Promise, Trump Is Nation-Building in Afghanistan

In his August 21 speech on Afghanistan, President Trump maintained his stance of opposing nation-building.

But implementing the strategy he announced will require a continued American commitment to nation-building.

As did President Obama’s Afghanistan policy, the newly refreshed approach hinges on the U.S. successfully developing Afghan government capabilities to fight the Taliban insurgency, provide for the country’s security over the long-haul, and serve as a counter-terrorism partner for the U.S.

Indeed, the main purpose of the anticipated mini-surge of several thousand troops is to return to somewhat more extensive and more forward-deployed training and advising of Afghan forces.

The real challenge, however, is not teaching Afghans to shoot and maneuver and call in airstrikes. It is creating security institutions that are well led, reasonably corruption free, and have self-sustaining systems for logistics and management.

Those institutional attributes cannot be manufactured simply through technical advisory efforts; they are part of the broader landscape of governance and the uses and abuses of power in Afghanistan. Changing that landscape is nation-building.

US Marines prepare to carry Cpl. Jorge Villarreal of San Antonio, Texas with India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment to a helicopter near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Zeebrugge on October 17, 2010 in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Villarreal was killed on patrol after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED). The Marines of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment were responsible for securing the area near the Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River. Scott Olson/Getty

The economic angle of getting Afghanistan to a place where it can provide for its own security presents a further challenge. Currently, the Afghan government spends about a quarter of its resources on security – a huge proportion by international standards – but that contribution covers only about a tenth of the costs of the government’s security forces.

The U.S. and other foreign donors cover the rest. Without a lot of help in setting a foundation for economic growth – another aspect of nation-building – the Afghans will be hard-pressed to close that gap.

Nation-building in Afghanistan under his two predecessors was not, as President Trump suggested, conducted for the purpose of re-making the country “in our own image.” It was a pillar of a counter-insurgency strategy – the idea being that the Afghan government must have the political and institutional wherewithal to win and maintain the population’s support.

Security capabilities were to be nested within a broader framework of good governance. President Trump’s speech echoed the same approach, including in his reference to an “integrated” U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic strategy.

The principal new element of Afghanistan policy the President introduced is a shift to an open-ended “conditions”-based military presence and the eschewal of pre-announced timetables for scaling up and down that presence, though he did not specify the conditions.

In the end, the last Administration’s policy turned out to be conditions-based, too. The timetable set for completing a withdrawal was jettisoned because the security conditions (too much risk of terrorist group resurgence) and political conditions (too much chronic fragility) were judged not suitable for leaving the Afghans on their own.

Whether it is labeled “nation-building” or simply “stabilizing” or something else, modifying the conditions on the ground is required if the level and duration of the American commitment to Afghanistan is going to be tied to those conditions.

In his nod to U.S. expectations of “real reforms, real progress, and real results” from Afghans on the “military, political, and economic” fronts, President Trump acknowledged this.

And in saying that U.S. support is not a “blank check” he implied the use of aid conditionality as the main tool for modifying conditions.

Using that tool – as, in fact, the U.S. already has been doing for some years in Afghanistan – has two severe limitations. First, the premise of providing U.S. military and financial support is that it is necessary to protect our own national security interests; the more we cut back, therefore, the more we are putting our own interests at risk.

Second, conditioning support to the government generally does not change the behavior of those officials who are part of the problem. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, for instance, appears to have the will to reduce corruption, but he has limited capability to do so in the face of enormous obstacles; he doesn’t need to be incentivized.

On the other hand, threatening to cut off funding to government ministries is not likely to motivate those who are, essentially, stealing from public coffers.

The basic conundrum of policy in Afghanistan remains what it has been since the insurgency arose in the years following the U.S. invasion and since American leaders decided to make the counter-insurgency our fight: The U.S. cannot only battle its way to establishing enduring stability in Afghanistan.

It has pursued a strategy that depends upon political stability, government popularity, and economic development in a country that is still one of the world’s poorest and least institutionalized. At the same time, perpetuation of the conflict with the Taliban keeps the state persistently fragile.

The most plausible solution remains the one that was rejected by the Bush Administration and half-heartedly pursued by Obama: reaching a negotiated settlement with the Taliban that gives them a place in the Afghan polity, and engaging the key regional players toward that end. Ending Afghanistan’s internal conflict could give the U.S. a surer basis for focusing more narrowly on its counter-terrorism interests in the region.

President Trump said in his speech that “perhaps” it would be possible to have a political settlement “after an effective military effort.”

In other words, the President has declined to make a strong diplomatic push for peace. In the alternative, he has embraced a long-term counter-insurgency.

For that, nation-building is part of the deal.

Laurel Miller, a senior foreign policy expert at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, was a senior State Department official with responsibility for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to 2017.

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