The Intentional and Unintentional Talk of Untoward Interventions

“From a risk management point of view, this was really stupid,” said Dan Hickey, the U.S. representative for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan. “We have to honor our agreements with the Afghan government. It was a mistake on my part. I have taken responsibility. I apologized, and I know it was a mistake, and that I was speaking for the government of the United States.” On Monday night, National Security Adviser John Bolton offered an apology for President Trump’s initial Afghan review remarks. Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump had “never meant” the evacuation suggestion that women and children would be left behind and would be subject to “retribution” by the Taliban. “He was actually clarifying that that threat was hypothetical, that if they took women and children and wouldn’t let them get out of the way of a convoy, we would accommodate those folks,” Mr. Bolton said.

But because in Trump administration speak, words are fungible, these foreign-policy blunders get devalued and in politics, every brief develops a history and, in an election year, memory.

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