zaterdag 15 februari 2020

Bloomberg as old school Republican.

Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete


Photograph Source: Gage Skidmore – CC BY 2.0

The good news out of New Hampshire was, of course, that Bernie Sanders won – not by much, but by enough to leave no doubt as to who the winner was. There was more good news as well: Joe Biden, the former king of the moderates, is on his way to becoming toast.
The bad news is that the campaign of the only candidate besides Bernie worth taking seriously, Elizabeth Warren, is now on life support. Worse still, Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy shows no signs of tanking.
If there must be moderates nipping at Sanders’ heels, better Amy Klobushar than Mayor Pete. Her politics may even be worse than his, but she has more experience, more gravitas, more of the common touch, and, best of all, she is a she.
Hard as they are to stomach, it is probably a good thing that moderates are still in the running and also that they are divided among themselves. As long as one or another of them could still take over the role formerly played by Biden, and as long as it remains unclear which one it will be, the worse Mike Bloomberg’s prospects become. Better division than unity in the moderate camp, and, of the moderates still in contention, better any of them than he.
Their politics is mainstream Democratic; Bloomberg is essentially an old school Republican.
He hates Trump, the worst American president ever, but he loved George W. Bush, the second worst president in modern times. He may honestly think that black and brown lives matter, but, as mayor of New York City, he showed, time and again, that, for him gentrification – and its concomitants, mass incarceration of young black and Latino men, and brutal “law and order” policing — matter more.
Were he to become the Democratic nominee, it would be bad for democracy and bad for the Democratic Party; and unless his politics has lately taken a hundred and eighty degree turn, bad for the poor, bad for African Americans, and bad for less well-off persons of color generally.
All that is on him. That his candidacy would also be bad for Jews is mainly on Trump.
Remarkably, and to their shame, alarmingly many African Americans now seem to be jumping off the Biden bandwagon and onto Bloomberg’s. The word, from the commentariat, is that they think that they have no choice, if they want the Democrats to nominate someone whom they can count on to send Trump packing.
They are dead wrong, of course; anybody this side of Hillary Clinton, running on the Democratic line, could do that as well. But just to be sure, mainstream media, eager to stop Bernie’s rise, and functioning for all intents and purposes as the DNC’s propaganda arm, are now falling all over themselves, making excuses for the racism inherent in what Bloomberg has said and done in the past.
The stain left by “stop and frisk” will not go away, no matter how vehemently Bloomberg opportunistically apologizes; and there is so much more than that. And yet, many African Americans, especially ones who are getting long in the tooth, seem willing to give him a pass. But this cannot last as the spotlight turns Bloomberg’s way. With his birthday just past, we can take comfort in the fact that, as our greatest president famously put it: “you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
In addition to all the reasons to oppose Bloomberg that he has brought upon himself, there is another reason for which he cannot be blamed, but that ought to be factored in nevertheless.
Through no fault of his own, a Bloomberg candidacy would likely exacerbate the rising tide of anti-Semitism that Trump’s presidency has conjured back into being. Bloomberg can hardly be blamed for this, but it is yet another reason why it would be well to quash his candidacy.
His billions could do a lot of good if used to purchase anti-Trump ads on television and elsewhere in support of Sanders or Warren or of no one in particular, or if used to fund down-ticket national and state races.
However, if used to promote his own presidential ambitions, they would do no good at all – not least because of all the moderates still in the running, he is the worst, the most pre-Trump Republican-lite, in the bunch.
In this electoral season, with an aroused public demanding change, the very idea of a Bloomberg candidacy would be a total and complete non-starter but for one reason alone: that, for all practical purposes, his campaign has no budget constraint.
The sad fact is that, in the Land of the Free, money, if there is enough of it, can turn a non-starter into a front-runner in the wink of a news cycle. There is no need, however, to despair; at least, not yet. If progressives mobilize against him, he can be stopped
To hear their media toadies tell it, “moderates” and “progressives” are essentially on the same page; the moderates, however, are wiser – more practical, more “pragmatic,” more aware of the myriad ways that public opinion and financial realities constrain political possibilities. Progressives, on the other hand, are pie-in-the-sky dreamers.
Some commentators, Paul Krugman is an example, conclude from this that it hardly matters whether a progressive or a moderate runs against Trump, because, even with a Democratic House and Senate, those constraints will still be in place – thanks partly to the “realities” moderates invoke, and partly thanks to the continuing predominance, even if the next election goes as well as it possibly could, of Democratic House members and Senators who are confirmed stalwarts of moderation.
It would be less civil but more accurate to say that a lot of the Democrats on Capitol Hill are bought and paid for, and that there are therefore limits to how far their venality will allow them to stray from the mainstream fold.
One might also mention the deleterious effects on public opinion of the current surfeit of drivel about the virtues of “bipartisanship.” Republicans are a lost cause, but that doesn’t stop Democrats, especially the more moderate ones, from pulling their already feeble punches, the better to facilitate “working across the aisle.”
Sometimes, as they go on about this, I cannot help but think of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1568 masterpiece “The Blind Leading the Blind.” Nowadays, it is the Right, the GOP, leading the Right or, as they call it on NPR, MSNBC and CNN, the Center Left.
The one is for Trump, the other for the conditions that made Trump and Trumpism inevitable. The former is the greater evil, of course, but the other side is evil too. The “pragmatism” they promote is a snare and a delusion. They may be all for sweetness and light. But the last thing they want is to set a new course; one that would make the Democratic Party something other than the perennial lesser evil it has been for roughly the past hundred years.
As a recovering academic philosopher, I feel compelled to take umbrage at the way mainstream Democrats praise the moderates’ “pragmatism.”
That currently abused and degraded word denotes a school of thought that was one of the glories of nineteenth and twentieth century American philosophy. From the likes of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Herbert Meade, John Dewey, and later Willard Van Orman Quine and many other distinguished thinkers to – Hillary Clinton. Or to the moderates running for the Democratic nomination; Biden is the worst of the lot, but they are all bad news. When they and others like them are called “pragmatists,” I feel that the earth should shake with convulsions.
But let that pass. In a political universe in which House and Senate Republicans, and Trump himself and his base and servile cronies, are called “conservatives,” this is only par for the course.
Many, maybe most, potential voters who revile Trump, and who desperately want to see him defeated in November, sincerely believe that moderation is the way to go. I think they are dead wrong; that they ignore pertinent evidence, including evidence arising out of the 2016 election, and that they fail to grasp the importance, in the election ahead, of voter turnout and therefore of voter enthusiasm.
Subjectively, as Marxists and others used to say, the motives of those who defend moderation for electability’s sake can be and often are laudable. Objectively, though, they are on the wrong side of the most consequential political – indeed, class — struggle immediately ahead.
Unlike their intra-party rivals, moderates defend the interests not of the several constituencies that Democrats mainly depend upon for votes, but of the Democratic and broader anti-Trump wing of the ruling class.
With the Sanders campaign flourishing and growing bigger day by day, Democratic Party donors and political elites, along with the media that serve them, are becoming desperate. The fact that they are still unable to settle on who their Great Moderate Hope will be adds to their distress.
Witness how after just a few bad days – a botched Iowa caucus, Trump’s inevitable Senate acquittal, and poll results that suggest that the more transparently odious Trump is, the more popular he becomes — it is front page news in The New York Times and Washington Post that Trump is on a roll, and that there will be no stopping him unless and until a moderate savior emerges from the fray.
It is not clear why the other billionaire in the race, Tom Steyer, isn’t, by now, the Chosen One. Inasmuch as our “democratic” elections are basically sales campaigns, and inasmuch as good sales campaigns take money, lots of it, to run, one would expect people to be talking about him in the same way that so many now are talking about Bloomberg. And yet his campaign has yet to gain any significant traction at all.
Could it be because his express views are too liberal to relieve the anxiety of the Democratic Party establishment and its “donor class?”
Bloomberg could buy and sell a garden variety billionaire like Steyer ten times over. Could that be why, if the pieces fall into place in just the right way, he could end up his party’s nominee while, come what may, Steyer doesn’t seem to have a chance?
This seems unlikely, but in the Trump era, so does nearly everything else.
A more pressing question is how did it come to this – how is a Bloomberg versus Trump election, a contest in which a mega-billionaire and whatever Trump is, vie for control over the Imperium, be anything more than a theoretical possibility in a functioning democracy, much less a self-proclaimed “City on a Hill?”
Even if Vladimir Putin’s attacks on our purportedly democratic institutions are as far-reaching as Cold War revivalists contend – or, rather, since there is no evidence of anything of significance actually having happened in 2016 or subsequently, worse than anything they insinuate – he could hardly do worse than our own plutocrats have already done and are continuing to do.
A Bloomberg candidacy would, in effect, proclaim to the world that democracy in America is finished; that, “we, the people” have lost out entirely to the Almighty Dollar.
We are not there yet, however. If all goes well, we never will be. To that end, the time to squelch Bloomberg’s efforts to buy his way in was yesterday; but today will have to do.
Bloomberg has more money than God, but he comes with a lot more baggage than Klobuchar or Buttigieg or any of the others. It isn’t just “stop and frisk”; thanks to some reporting by the Intercept, it even seems that he could even be called to account for what undid Plagiarism Joe’s run for the White House in 1988. What a lovely irony that would be!
Trump starts nothing, but he does make everything worse; sometimes much worse.
Also, “the darker angels of our nature” are always there. Prosperity, decent governance, and sound liberal institutions are generally enough to keep them at bay or, better yet, to cause them to lie dormant for long periods of time. But vigilance is necessary, even when times are good, because shocks to the system can and sometimes will draw them out.
The Great Recession was experienced as a severe shock by many, the most vulnerable among us taking the severest hits. Its cause, ultimately, was what Marx called “the laws of motion of capitalist society.” Three decades of neoliberal economic policies were a more immediate and more easily avoidable cause.
The Clintons, both of them, have much to answer for in that regard. Their support for liberal imperialist foreign policy initiatives helped roust the darker angels as well.
For her overall cluelessness and ineptitude, her role in the Obama administration’s continuing implementation of the Bush-Cheney Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, her regime change machinations in Libya, and her botched reactions to the Arab Spring in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, Hillary is especially culpable.
Western support for politicized religious fanaticism in the Muslim world didn’t start with the Clintons. Blame Zbigniew Brzezinski for that, and Jimmy Carter for not reining him in. But the Clintons were not beyond adding their own two cents.
These were all factors of great importance for getting the refugee crisis in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa going. Hillary was less responsible for the refugee crisis along our southern border, but her support for the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, one of her first nefarious machinations as Secretary of State, didn’t help.
Refugee crises generate humanitarian crises – typically, of monumental proportions. They are also politically destabilizing. These latest examples have made xenophobic nationalism and rightwing populism a blot across the political landscape of the entire planet.
For this, of the two major candidates contending for the presidency in 2016, Clinton was by far the more culpable. It was she, not Trump himself, who made the onset of Trumpism in America and of similar phenomena in Europe and elsewhere all but inevitable.
This is why it would be ridiculously foolish for Democrats to nominate a Clintonite – a neoliberal, liberal imperialist, “moderate” – again.
Thanks to Trump’s increasingly manifest odiousness, even a moderate should be able to send him packing in November. But then insofar as she or he will go on to recreate the conditions that caused Trumpism to afflict us in the first place, we will only have bought time. The point is not just to defeat Trump, important as that surely is; it is also to vanquish Trumpism as definitively as can be, by setting the country on a different and better path.
Of all the demons that crawled out from under the rocks Trump overturned, anti-Semitism had been perhaps the most profoundly dormant. It remained a problem in central and eastern Europe, but in the United States and other Western countries, it had long been little more than a historical memory.
Then came Trump. He may not be good for much, but his foul embrace awakens the dead.
Under his aegis, suddenly, “Jews will not replace us” became a slogan some of “the good people on both sides” would rally around, hate crimes directed at Jews multiplied, and, in Pittsburgh, eleven people were killed and six more wounded at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill. In the United States, nothing anywhere near that lethal had ever happened to Jews before.
Latinos, regardless of citizenship status, were at risk in Trump’s America, except perhaps for those with lots of money. So too were Muslims and black and brown people generally. Jews, however, seemed as safe as the he whitest of the white.
Ironically, there was, or seemed to be, protection in the transparently spurious notion that Zionists have spent decades promoting — that opposition to the Zionist project and even to some of the egregious injustices Israel imposes on Palestinians, and to all but the most trivial misdeeds of Israeli governments, is anti-Semitic. Ironically, “Anti-Semitism,” still has a bad press in Western countries, even in anti-Semitic circles.
By “the Zionist project,” I mean the effort to establish a Jewish state – Benjamin Netanyahu calls it “the nation state of the Jewish people” — in all or most of mandate Palestine. A Jewish state could be secular or religious, but only Jews can enjoy full citizenship rights in it. For historical and political reasons, the situation is complicated and not always clear, but, in the end, “Jew,” in this context, has more of an ethnic than a theological connotation.
It is generally and rightly agreed that nations and ethnic groups are what Benedict Anderson called “imagined communities.” Because the Jews Zionists had in mind did not share a common land or language or culture, and because claims of common descent are, at best, tendentiously exaggerated – because the main or perhaps the only factor that joins the Jews of the world together is an historical connection to the Jewish religion — Jewish nationality or ethnicity is a good deal more imagined than most.
For a variety of historical and theological reasons, practitioners of the Jewish religion have occupied subaltern positions in both the Christian and Muslim worlds for as long as Christianity and Islam have been present on the world stage. For most of that period, roughly from the fifth and sixth centuries up to the time when the first secular, liberal societies arose in Western Europe and North America, Jews generally fared far better in the Muslim world than in Christendom.
Nevertheless, it was in modern secular Europe that anti-Semitism, hatred of “ethnic” Jews as such, as opposed to theologically driven anti-Judaism, emerged.
For more than half a century after the historic defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, it seemed that true anti-Semitism — as distinct from anti-Zionism, which, for obvious reasons, continued to appeal to subaltern Muslim populations around the world — had burned itself out. This was nowhere more true than in the United States.
Even Trump, it seemed, would not and probably could not undo that. That notions was more than just an idle hope; there were good reasons to think that Jews would remain immune from the afflictions Trump visited upon Muslims, Hispanics, and others.
For one, the hard-Right loves Israel precisely for its ethnocentrism, and because, for many years but especially after 9/11, Islamophobia had come to fill the role that anti-Semitism once played in their thinking.
Inasmuch as the neo-fascists of the twenty-first century are as inclined as mainstream Democrats – and their counterparts in the UK, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand — to buy into the pernicious and obviously false idea that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, the hard Right’s Zionism functioned as a shield against the true anti-Semitism that had, for so long, been emblematic of rightwing politics in Europe and the Americas.
Christian Evangelicals comprise a very large segment of the Trump base, and they love Israel too; they think that its existence fulfills Biblical prophecies and that its role in the End Times is indispensable. Israel, in their view, is where world Jewry will be in-gathered before the Second Coming, when Jews will either accept Christ or be consigned to suffer the torments of Hell for all eternity.
It would be hard to deny that there is more than a whiff of real anti-Semitism in their madness. It is also hard to deny that it puts evangelicals and Hard Right anti-anti-Semites in the same camp.
And then, of course, there are the Jewish Zionist plutocrats, the Trump and Kushner families’ friends and soulmates, whose money Trump loves most of all.
None of these shields have been quite enough to rein in the demons Trump let loose. And so, real anti-Semitism has once again become a factor in American life.
As the likelihood of a Sanders victory in the contest to become the Democratic Party’s nominee, and the far greater likelihood, if he is the nominee, that he will send Trump packing, becomes increasingly clear to the Democratic Party’s grandees, donors, and media hacks, the anti-Sanders onslaught that is already underway will likely grow to monstrous proportions. The knives are even now being drawn.
Expect too to see a homegrown version of the anti-Corbyn smear campaign that defiled the last UK election, even though Sanders’ liberal Zionist views on Israel-Palestine are hardly as far-reaching or principled as Corbyn’s anti-imperialist take on this and all other comparably vexed situations.
It will be spearheaded by the mainstream Democratic Party and their media flunkies, even though Sanders’ views on Israel-Palestine and Corbyn’s hardly compare. Sanders is a liberal Zionist with a strong sense of justice, not an anti-imperialist. But this is about as good as it gets in American politics at the national level, and it is more than enough to rattle the cages of AIPAC and other core institutions of the Israel lobby. Aided and abetted by rightwing (“centrist”) Democrats, expect them to go after Bernie with all they’ve got.
Thus, he will be the target of a Pincer movement, besieged from both sides – by anti-Semites and pro-Zionists alike.
Zionist stalwarts will attack him for speaking out for justice for Palestinians, not just for Israeli Jews, calling Sanders a self-hating Jew, and his non-Jewish supporters “anti-Semites,” even as real anti-Semites, will crawl out into the open, spreading vileness wherever they go.
That vileness will multiply many times over, as the yahoos in the Trump base come to realize that the alternative to Sanders is another Jew, one who is richer than Croesus and who really does want to take their guns away.
Mayor Pete may be a feckless twit, but at least he doesn’t set those demons off.
And to think – the line on Bloomberg is that, if Joe can’t do it, as he plainly cannot, and if Pete and Amy falter, as they likely will, then the world needs Mike to restore equanimity to the political scene. Really? Through no fault of his own, but inexorably even so, equanimity is the last thing Bloomberg would restore in a political universe defiled by Trump and his cronies and set adrift.
A month or so from now, the choice will be even clearer than it already is: Democrats can move forward with Sanders or, if the moderates can’t do better than Bloomberg, backwards to a place where no one in their right mind would want to be.
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ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).



Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a crowd
Mike Bloomberg is starting to look like a viable candidate in the Democratic primary—but he has difficult questions to answer.Photograph by David J. Phillip / AP



Michael Bloomberg is now a serious contender for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. His unprecedented spending on campaign ads—more than three hundred million dollars, according to some accounts—has lifted him to third place in the Real Clear Politics national poll average. A new poll on Thursday, from the firm St. Pete Polls, showed him leading in Florida. He’s also spending heavily on the ground. Even in Maine, the Bangor Daily News reports, he has hired twenty staffers and dozens of volunteers. The only other candidates with local offices there are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are both from nearby states.
The skeptics about Bloomberg’s viability, myself included, underestimated the power of money, and also, perhaps, the strength of Bloomberg’s personal brand. With a résumé that includes being a successful entrepreneur, serving three terms as mayor of New York City, and providing gobs of financial support to various liberal causes such as gun control, abortion rights, and voter-registration efforts, he has earned (or bought) good will, especially among moderate Democrats and independents who are looking askance at Sanders’s rise. But now the game is going to become more challenging for Bloomberg. As he takes part in debates and competes in actual primaries, beginning with Super Tuesday, on March 3rd, he’ll get asked some awkward questions, and not just about stop-and-frisk, the controversial and discriminatory policing technique that he championed as mayor, which has already dogged his campaign. Here are seven more questions for Bloomberg to answer:
1. If you win in November, will you sell Bloomberg L.P., which employs more than twenty thousand people and reportedly has annual revenues of more than ten billion dollars?
Bloomberg has called Donald Trump corrupt, but he hasn’t fully spelled out how he would differentiate himself from the incumbent President, who held onto his business empire after the 2016 election and merely transferred day-to-day control of it to his sons. When Bloomberg became mayor, he removed himself from day-to-day control of Bloomberg L.P. but maintained ownership and retained the right to take part in major decisions involving the company. In 2007, when he had already been mayor for five years, the New York Times reported that he still spoke regularly with senior executives at Bloomberg L.P. In December, 2018, Bloomberg intimated that if he was elected as President, he might sell Bloomberg L.P., saying, “I think at my age, if selling it is possible, I would do that.” But he has also raised the possibility of maintaining ownership and placing the company in a blind trust.
2. Why won’t you allow women who filed sexual-harassment cases against Bloomberg L.P. to speak out publicly?
According to ABC News, at least seventeen women have taken legal action against the company over the past three decades, “with three of the cases specifically naming Bloomberg for his role in creating a toxic corporate culture,” although none of the cases has made it to trial before dismissal or settlement. One woman alleged that, after she announced she was pregnant, he said to her, “Kill it.” (Bloomberg has repeatedly denied having said this.) Other women recalled him making lewd, sexist comments in the office, including, “I’d like to do that piece of meat.” Although Bloomberg has expressed regret about past “bawdy jokes,” he has refused to release any women from the nondisclosure agreements that they signed with his company as part of settlements. “We don't have anything to hide,” he said on “The View,” in January, “But we made legal agreements which both sides wanted to keep things from coming out.”
3. As President, what will your policy be on charter schools?
As mayor, Bloomberg championed charters in New York City, and he has contributed to other Democrats who support them. Many Democrats, including the major teachers’ unions, are strongly opposed to charters; Sanders and Warren have both pledged to eliminate federal funding for them. During the 2016 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton reversed her prior support of charters. Bloomberg seems highly unlikely to do that, but what is his plan?
4. Do you support Republicans’ calls to relax the stricter financial regulations that Congress adopted after the financial crisis?

Speaking at a securities-industry conference in 2014, Bloomberg criticized the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. According to a report from Buzzfeed News at the time, Bloomberg said that some of the new rules “can be dysfunctional,” and added, “You don’t write a piece of legislation that way by letting Congress do it.” The legislation should have been “created by the people who really understand how the world works, how financial services work.” Bloomberg also questioned the need for stricter regulations in general, arguing that restricting the amount of risk-taking in the financial system could do the economy great harm. “If you reduce the risk, they can’t make the money, they can’t provide the financing that this country and world needs to create jobs and build infrastructure,” he said.
5. Why did you say that the end of “redlining,” the discriminatory practice by which banks refused home mortgages in nonwhite areas, was responsible for the financial crisis of 2008?
“It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,” Bloomberg said at a forum, in 2008, according to the Associated Press. “Congress got involved—local elected officials, as well—and said, ‘Oh that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.’ ” This theory of the crisis ignores, or downplays, the role of Wall Street banks, including the successor to one that Bloomberg used to work for, in creating an entire subprime-loan industry that made big profits by issuing questionable loans and dicing them up into various exotic securities.
6. Do you support universal pre-K?
Virtually all of Bloomberg’s Democratic rivals have said that they would look to set up a nationwide system of day care for children of preschool age. Under the plans rolled out by Joe Biden, Sanders, and Tom Steyer, the service would be free to everybody, with taxpayers in general picking up the tab. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Warren have said they would provide free pre-K to poor families, and, to other households, subsidies that would gradually phase out at higher income levels. As mayor of New York, Bloomberg expanded pre-K programs for poor families, but stopped short of setting up a universal program. That step was left to his successor, Bill de Blasio, whose own Presidential bid fizzled last year, and who has recently endorsed Bernie Sanders.
7. If you were elected, would you do anything to reduce the influence of money in politics? Would Democratic voters, whom Bloomberg is asking to support his billion-dollar campaign, get any type of assurance that he would be the last plutocrat President?
On his campaign Web site, Bloomberg pledges to revitalize the Voting Rights Act and end gerrymandering. There is nothing, however, about limiting the sort of spending that he is engaging in, curbing the power of lobbyists—a number of whom are working on his campaign—or appointing Supreme Court Justices who are committed to overturning Citizens United. (His campaign said he would mirror the anti-lobbying measures he introduced as mayor.) Unless Bloomberg embraces an aggressive agenda to reform the political system, he is essentially offering the voters a form of benign oligarchy. To be sure, that would be better than Trump’s malignant oligarchy. But can’t American democracy do better than that? Over to you, Mike.

Taliban Fighters Out In The Open

Taliban fighters train at Mullah Mansoor ‘Military Camp’

The Taliban has released yet another set of photographs from one of its military training camps. In the images, Taliban fighters are training in the open in a mountainous area that should be easily identified by the U.S. and Afghan militaries. 
The latest images were published on Feb. 10 at Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website. The Taliban identified the camp as the “Shaheed Amirul Mumineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor Military Camp.” It is named after Mullah Mansoor, the second emir of the Taliban who was killed in a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan in May 2016. Before his death, Mansoor accepted Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri’s pledge of allegiance. 
The images are largely unremarkable as the Taliban has released dozens of images and videos showing its fighters in training (see Taliban promotes ‘mujahideen’ graduates from one of its military training camps from Feb. 5). 
What makes these images interesting is that the location of this training site should be easily deduced by the U.S. and Afghan militaries. The Taliban fighters are training in a mountainous area with easily identifiable features. The Taliban provides multiple angles of the surrounding mountains. 
As with previous photo sets and videos, the Taliban is training its recruits in the open during broad daylight while flying its flags without fear of reprisal. 
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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