The Atlantic Politics Daily: Sticks and Stones (and Tweets)

“In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president.” Plus: problems with the Iowa caucus.

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Today in Politics

(Illustration: Paul Spella; Michael Heiman / Getty)

President Donald Trump faces backlash after conflicting messages about withdrawing American troops from positions in northeastern Syria—and thus leaving the U.S.’s local partners vulnerable to Turkish invasion.

The announcement reportedly took military and State Department officials by surprise. But that it surprises other officials is perhaps unsurprising.

“In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president,” Mark Bowden writes in his latest story, from The Atlantic’s forthcoming November issue. Bowden interviewed some of the highest-ranking military officers who served under Trump, as well as present and former Pentagon officials, to complete an alarming picture of how the current commander in chief prefers to operate.

Read Bowden’s full story here.


Editor’s note: In The Atlantic’s October print issue, McKay Coppins reported on Ivanka and Don Jr.’s fight to succeed their father and rule the MAGA empire.

Do you have questions for McKay about his reporting process for that feature, why understanding succession in the Trump dynasty is significant, or how members of the president’s inner circle reacted to the story?

Send us your questions by replying directly to this email by Monday, October 7. We’ll select a few for publication—and for McKay to answer—in the December issue of the Atlantic’s print magazine (out next month).

The Week Ahead

Monday, October 7: Fox News, the president’s long-favored cable network, was founded on this day in 1996.

‣ Tuesday, October 8: President George W. Bush established the Department of Homeland Security 18 years ago. The DHS recently pushed out its new counterterrorism strategy—with a notable focus on combatting domestic white supremacy.

‣ Wednesday, October 9: David Cameron, the former U.K. prime minister, turns 53. He played a pivotal role in instigating Brexit, and recently has tried to reshape that narrative. Britain in 2019 has long forgotten about his brand of politics.

‣ Thursday, October 10: Trump will head to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a “Keep America Great” rally—his first since Democrats officially launched impeachment proceedings.

‣ Friday, October 11: The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist, is widely seen as a front-runner. The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine will testify before House lawmakers as part of the impeachment inquiry (here’s why she’s of interest).



In the parallel, fictional universe of HBO’s media drama Succession, Kendall Roy, Tom Wambsgans, and other members of the Waystar Royco empire testify not so artfully before a congressional committee. An Atlantic writer (also fictional) called Wambsgans “a smirking block of domestic feta” over his performance.

In the above still, Roy—the second-oldest son of a Rupert Murdoch–esque mogul—testifies.

Featured Read

Voters line up outside a caucus location in West Des Moines, Iowa, in 2016. (Stephen Maturen / Getty)

Democrats are making a big push to combat voter suppression. But when it comes to the Iowa caucus, they’re struggling.

Sonya Sayers, a 56-year-old Democrat from Des Moines, Iowa, has encouraged her friends to vote in every caucus and general election for as long as she can remember. But she hasn’t always done so herself. Back in 2016, when she worked the late shift at a local fast-food restaurant, Sayers often didn’t get off until midnight, long after the caucus was over. She doesn’t work nights anymore, but she’s still not sure she’ll make it to the caucus this coming February.

“I can’t afford a car,” Sayers told me, with a resigned laugh. “And the [voting site] near my house is not on the bus line.”

→ Read the rest

Our Reporters Are Also Reading

The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You (David Leonhardt, The New York Times) (Paywall)

End Impeachment Secrecy (Byron York, Washington Examiner)

Andrew Yang Faces His Critics in the Asian American Community (Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times) (Paywall)

Julián Castro Meets in Mexico With Asylum Seekers (Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News)

About us: The Atlantic’s politics newsletter is a daily effort from our politics desk. It’s written by our associate politics editor, Saahil Desai, and our politics fellow, Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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