Trump compares U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to renovating Manhattan nightclub
Donald Trump doesn’t have any political or military experience and apparently can’t be bothered to even read a book about either. So when discussing military strategy in Afghanistan last month, he defaulted to explaining complex strategy in a war that has stretched three presidencies to something he does understand: Dining at fancy restaurants in Manhattan. This came out the same day that one of the Trump’s senior advisers went on TV to rail against “cosmopolitan bias” too.
NBC News reported on Wednesday:
To underscore his view that the veterans who fought in the war may be better positioned to advise him on an Afghanistan strategy, Trump compared the policy review process to the renovation of a famed New York restaurant in the 1980s, officials said.
Trump told his advisers that the restaurant, Manhattan’s elite 21 Club, had shut its doors for a year and hired an expensive consultant to craft a plan for a renovation. After a year, Trump said, the consultant’s only suggestion was that the restaurant needed a bigger kitchen.
NBC News points out that the restaurant was actually only closed for two months in 1987 while it underwent a full renovation. Trump’s point, an administration official told NBC, is that sometimes people working day-to-day in a place, such as the waiters, have a better idea of what’s better for business than consultants.
Officials said Trump kept stressing the idea that lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant’s waiters instead might have yielded a better result. He also said the tendency is to assume if someone isn’t a three-star general he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that in his own experience in business talking to low-ranking workers has gotten him better outcomes.
We don’t knowhow the military reacted to being compared to a high-priced Manhattan restaurant or Trump’s very clear cosmopolitan bias. But NBC notes that Defense Secretary James Mattis typically takes long walks when upset or grappling with an issue. After the meeting with Trump, he took a longer walk than usual.