Major league roundup: Jones, Schoop power Orioles past Athletics

Baltimore gets two homers from Adam Jones and a three-run shot from Jonathan Schoop in a 7-3 win.

BALTIMORE — Adam Jones hit a pair of home runs, Jonathan Schoop added a three-run shot and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Monday night.

Wade Miley (7-10) held the A’s to two runs on five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to pick up his first win at Camden Yards since June 17. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Oakland this season.

Jones tied a career high with four hits and is one home run shy of reaching 25 for the seventh consecutive season. Zach Britton got the final out with two runners on for his 11th save this season and his 60th in a row.

Baltimore beat former Portland Sea Dogs pitcher Chris Smith (0-3) for the second time in 12 days. Smith allowed five runs on six hits over 41/3 innings – his shortest start of the season. He was pulled after allowing Schoop’s three-run homer, which made it 5-1. Ryan Dull entered and was greeted with another homer by Jones.

Jed Lowrie homered for the A’s, and Boog Powell’s first career homer in the eighth pulled Oakland to within 6-3.

Welington Castillo responded for Baltimore with a solo home run in the eighth off Michael Brady.

WHITE SOX 7, TWINS 6: Yolmer Sanchez homered and drove in four runs, Jose Abreu hit his 25th of the season and Chicago held to beat visiting Minnesota in the first game of a doubleheader

Carlos Rodon (2-4) pitched effectively into the seventh inning for the fifth straight outing to earn his first win since July 3. The left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in 61/3 innings and struck out nine.

Jorge Polanco hit a three-run homer for the Twins off Derek Holland to cut the deficit to 7-6 in the eighth, when play was delayed by rain for 19 minutes. Holland, who has struggled in 24 starts this season, was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning during his second relief appearance.

Juan Minaya worked a perfect ninth for his third save.

Avisail Garcia had three hits and two RBI for AL-worst Chicago, which has won 3 of 4. Abreu doubled and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He became the first White Sox player to hit 25 or more home runs in each of his first four seasons.

Eduardo Escobar, Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton each drove in a run for Minnesota, which had won four straight and entered tied with the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card.


MARINERS 6, BRAVES 5: Andrew Albers worked into the sixth inning for his second straight win since coming up from the minors, leading Seattle to a win in Atlanta.

Albers (2-0) also had the first hit and RBI of his career – in his first big league at-bat.

The 31-year-old left-hander beat his former organization, having spent most of the season at the Braves’ Triple-A club. He went 12-3 but never got a call to the big leagues.

Instead, Albers was dealt to the Mariners for cash on Aug. 11. He was called up by Seattle to make a start four days later, working six strong innings in a 3-1 win over Baltimore.

Now, after going just over four years between major league victories, Albers has two wins in less than a week.

Mike Foltynewicz (10-9) has lost four of his last five starts for Atlanta.

A disputed play at the plate helped preserve the win for Seattle, which came into the night just 11/2 games out of an AL wild-card spot.

With the Braves trailing 6-2 in the sixth, a catcher’s interference call sparked a rally. Ozzie Albies hit a two-run triple over the head of center fielder Leonys Martin and scored on Dansby Swanson’s sacrifice fly. Pinch-hitter Lane Adams reached on an infield single, stole second and nearly scored on an infield dribbler that was bobbled by second baseman Robinson Cano, who threw home to get Adams. The Braves challenged the call, and while it looked as though Adams may have gotten a toe on the plate before he was tagged, replays weren’t definitive enough to overturn the call.

Red Sox lose in Cleveland as bullpen can’t hold lead

Single runs in the eight and ninth innings give the Indians a 5-4, come-from-behind win.

CLEVELAND — Brandon Guyer scored when first baseman Brock Holt threw away Roberto Perez’s bunt in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

After Guyer’s leadoff double against Brandon Workman (0-1), Holt fielded the bunted ball and tried to throw out Guyer at third. Guyer slid into the bag as the throw skipped past third baseman Rafael Devers, then got to his feet and raced across home plate. Teammates ran onto the field and doused Perez with water and white powder.

Perez also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

Cody Allen (1-6) allowed Christian Vazquez’s leadoff single in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters. The inning ended when shortstop Francisco Lindor ran down Mookie Betts’ popup in center field with his back to home plate.

Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller left in the seventh inning after aggravating the patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Miller recently returned after over two weeks on the disabled list with the knee injury.

Boston led 4-3 behind two-run homers by Hanley Ramirez and Andrew Benintendi before Edwin Encarnacion tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single.

Holt replaced Mitch Moreland, who was a late scratch because of a sore neck. Moreland took a forearm in the back of the head from Holt on a play Sunday. Manager John Farrell said Moreland passed concussion tests, but he decided to hold him out of the lineup.

Ramirez’s fifth-inning homer made it 4-3. Benintendi hit his homer in the first.

Plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt left the game after being hit on the mask by a warmup pitch in the sixth inning from Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly.

Indians first baseman Carlos Santana also left the game with an injury, exiting in the eighth inning with lower back tightness.

Eduardo Rodriguez allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings for Boston. Mike Clevinger allowed both homers and gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings for Cleveland.

Jay Bruce was 1 for 4 in his first home game since being acquired from the New York Mets on Aug. 9.

Ex-skipper of USS McCain’s sister ship faults tanker for collision

Portland maritime lawyer Chris Monroe, who used to command the USS Curtis Wilbur, says international protocol likely called for the private vessel to give way.

Commanding Officer Kevin Shilling stands at attention as Navy Rear Adm. Mark Whitney leads a proclamation ceremony and swearing-in of sailors Monday at Portland City Hall. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

A retired Navy commander who once skippered a sister ship to the destroyer that collided Monday with an oil tanker near Singapore said the larger and slower tanker was probably to blame in the collision.

As of Monday afternoon, 10 sailors were still missing and others were injured in the crash of the tanker and the USS John S. McCain, a Bath Iron Works-built destroyer, off Singapore near a busy strait.

Chris Monroe, a retired Navy commander and now a maritime lawyer with the Portland firm Verrill Dana, said his impression of the accident, based on photographs of the damage to the McCain, is that the oil tanker should have maneuvered around the Navy destroyer.

Monroe was commander of the USS Curtis Wilbur, a sister ship of both the McCain and the USS Fitzgerald, another Navy destroyer that collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan in June, killing seven sailors. The Navy last week relieved the commander and two senior leaders aboard the Fitzgerald of their duties, saying that poor leadership and a lack of teamwork contributed to that crash.

All three ships were built by Bath Iron Works, were commissioned about the same time and were part of the same squadron based in Yokosuka, Japan, Monroe said.

He said the rules of the road for vessels is that when two ships are headed in roughly the same direction, their actions are guided by how the vessels are positioned to each other. One is the “stand-on” vessel and is supposed to continue on its heading and speed, and the other is the “give-way” vessel and is supposed to maneuver around the other ship.

In the case of the collision early Monday, Monroe said, it appears the McCain was the stand-on ship, while the tanker was the give-way vessel and should have maneuvered to pass behind the Navy ship.

However, he said, the Navy ship should have taken action once it became clear a collision was imminent and the give-way vessel wasn’t doing what it should.

The McCain’s skipper, he said, “could have floored it” and might have been able to accelerate clear of the tanker. The destroyer has a top speed of more than 30 knots – about 35 miles per hour – and is highly maneuverable. The tanker is much slower and less maneuverable, Monroe said.

“There are international protocols and conventions designed to prevent collisions at sea,” he said. “One needs to wonder what went wrong.”

Boot camp-bound Alexander Porter of Gardiner stands with his family as they take photos and say goodbye outside Portland City Hall after his proclamation ceremony and sailor swearing-in Monday. Recent collisions of Navy ships won’t deter Porter from embarking on a career in the Navy. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Strait of Singapore, near where the collision occurred, is extremely busy, Monroe said. When he commanded the USS Curtis Wilbur in 2012 and headed into those waters, there was almost always at least one other ship in sight, he said, with hundreds of vessels transiting the strait every day. It’s only grown more congested since then, Monroe said.

“It’s known as the world’s busiest shipping lane,” he said.

There have been two other at-sea incidents involving Navy warships this year, in addition to the McCain and Fitzgerald. In January, the USS Antietam was damaged after running aground off Japan, and in May the USS Lake Champlain was struck by a South Korean fishing boat.

But the deadly collisions aren’t enough to deter Alexander Porter from embarking on his chosen career in the Navy. The 18-year-old from Lewiston was one of 11 Mainers to take an oath to defend the Constitution and obey orders, officially joining the Navy in a ceremony Monday at Portland City Hall. He will head off to boot camp in Illinois in January and said he hopes to become a diver.

“I’m not at all nervous,” he said.

His father, however, couldn’t conceal his anxiety at the prospect of his son joining the military at a time of great uncertainty in the world.

“I’m nervous. Obviously, I’m nervous,” said Chris Porter, who attended his son’s swearing in – a kickoff to Navy Week in Portland – along with Porter’s mother, grandparents and siblings in the State of Maine room at City Hall. “But he’s a smart kid, he works hard and he wants to serve his country.”

Another recruit, Philip Obert, 24, of Augusta, said he wasn’t worried about his career choice, but was concerned that his lush beard might have to go.

Obert is in line to become a machinist’s mate for surface ships after he heads off to boot camp in December. However, he’s been told he might be able to keep the beard if he becomes a machinist’s mate for submarines.

Fellow inductee Bobby Harriman said the group of 11 inducted Monday have gone through a Navy program in which they discuss the demands and rewards of service and they’ve addressed the possibility of war.

“There’s always that uncertainty,” said Harriman, 17, who is starting his senior year of high school and will enter the service next July. Concerns over war, peace and maritime safety “have been going on since we went into the program.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at:

NFL notebook: Beckham suffers leg injury

Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. leaves an exhibition game with a sprained ankled.

CLEVELAND — The New York Giants’ exhibition season has gotten serious.

Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hurt his left leg during Monday night’s game against Cleveland when he took a legal-but-questionable hit on the knee from Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun in the Giants’ 10-6 loss.

Beckham, one of the NFL’s best players, caught an 18-yard pass and was coming down on his left leg when he was immediately hit by Boddy-Calhoun’s right shoulder and helmet. The impact flipped Beckham onto his side and his head bounced off the turf.

Beckham popped up, ripped off his helmet and slammed it in frustration. After taking a knee as medical staff ran out to assist him, the outspoken and charismatic Beckham walked off slowly and glared menacingly at Boddy-Calhoun in Cleveland’s defensive huddle.

Beckham spent a few minutes sitting alone on the bench before heading to the locker room. TV cameras captured him dropping to his knees on the floor in the corridor outside New York’s locker room.

The Giants said X-rays on Beckham’s ankle were negative and that he has a sprain. He was also checked and cleared for a concussion.

Beckham returned to the sideline for the start of the third quarter, wearing street clothes with his ankle wrapped.

Also known for his sensational one-handed catches and wild hair styles, Beckham caught 101 passes and scored 10 touchdowns last season. The 24-year-old, who has said he wants to be the league’s highest-paid player, is entering his fourth season. He has 288 career receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 TDs.

BROWNS: Kneeling and bowing their heads, the Cleveland Browns bonded over something bigger than football.

More than a dozen players huddled together on the team’s bench Monday night to protest during the national anthem.

The group, which included veterans, rookies, starters and backups, gathered in front of some water coolers and behind their teammates who stood on the sideline shortly before the Browns hosted the New York Giants.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and Terrance Magee, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end Seth DeValve, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis and defensive back Calvin Pryor dropped to one knee in a circle. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, punter Britton Colquitt, defensive back Jason McCourty and offensive lineman Marcus Martin stood and supported their teammates by putting their hands on their shoulders.

PANTHERS: Coach Ron Rivera is chomping at the bit to get his full contingent of offensive players on the field.

That might just happen this week.

Quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Curtis Samuel, the team’s rookie second-round draft pick, are on pace to play Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars after missing the first two preseason games rehabbing from injuries. Two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalli also practiced Monday after sitting out two games with a shoulder injury and could play.

Newton amped up his workload at practice Monday, participating in every team drill.

JETS: Todd Bowles will declare the winner of the New York Jets’ quarterback competition next Monday.

And, it would be a total stunner if Josh McCown isn’t under center for the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 at Buffalo.

Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are also in the mix, but the 38-year-old McCown has been the front-runner for the job since signing a one-year, $6 million deal with New York in March.

n Darron Lee and Leonard Williams have been cleared by the NFL of any violations of the league’s personal conduct policy following a review of an incident at a musical festival in New York in June.

JAGUARS: Jacksonville will be without running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback A.J. Bouye for its preseason game against Carolina on Thursday.

BRONCOS: Coach Vance Joseph announced Trevor Siemian beat out Paxton Lynch for the starting quarterback job.

Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern who won the starting job last year when he beat out veteran Mark Sanchez, quickly surged ahead of Lynch, a first-rounder in 2016 from Memphis, when training camp opened.

Thunder silence Sea Dogs in Trenton, 3-1

Dedgar Jimenez turns in another impressive outing and Michael Chavis goes 4 for 4, but Portland wastes numerous scoring chances.

TRENTON, N.J. — Nick Solak singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Mike Ford followed with another RBI single to lift the Trenton Thunder to a 3-1 win Monday night over the Portland Sea Dogs.

Trenton took the lead in the first inning when Jeff Hendrix scored on an error. Portland tied it in the fifth when Michael Chavis singled home Chad De La Guerra.

Chavis went 4 for 4 with two doubles as Portland outhit Trenton 10-8, but the Sea Dogs left 10 men on base.

Dedgar Jimenez pitched six strong innings for the Sea Dogs, allowing four hits, two walks and an unearned run and striking out five. Jacob Dahlstrand (5-3) took the loss in relief.

Major league notebook: Indians offer blueprint for bullpen use

Several likely playoff teams could try to emulate Cleveland’s strategy from last year.

Around this time last year, the Cleveland Indians were providing a preview of the American League postseason.

Manager Terry Francona was using newly acquired reliever Andrew Miller in all sorts of situations, and for more than one inning if necessary. It was an approach that eventually helped the Indians win the American League pennant, with Miller the MVP of the AL Championship Series.

The Indians are only the latest team to show how important a good bullpen can be in the playoffs, but not everybody has a tireless star like Miller. Here’s a look at four other teams that are almost certain to be in the postseason this year – and how they might use their relievers.

Dodgers: Kenley Jansen might be the best reliever in baseball, and he threw 51 pitches in the Division Series finale last year at Washington, so Manager Dave Roberts knows he can handle an extended outing. What’s interesting is that Los Angeles appears to have a surplus of starters, so Roberts could convert at least one of them into a multi-inning option out of the bullpen.

Astros: Houston may be the team that most resembles the 2016 Indians. The Astros will lean on ace starter Dallas Keuchel, but there’s a drop-off after him in the rotation, which means the bullpen should be crucial. Ken Giles is the closer, but Chris Devenski is the X-factor. He went four innings in each of his first two appearances in April, and he’s gone at least two innings in 12 of his 49 outings in 2017.

Nationals: Washington’s bullpen has been a mess, but the Nationals added Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler in recent weeks, and so far those three have combined for a 1.32 ERA for Washington. Doolittle has converted all 11 of his save chances for his new team. If that keeps up, the late innings in October may be less stressful than expected.

Red Sox: Closer Craig Kimbrel has 99 strikeouts and only eight walks, and Boston acquired Addison Reed at the deadline. Those two are certainly capable of shutting teams down, but it’s not clear how much Manager John Farrell will push them. Kimbrel has thrown 11/3 innings or less in all but two of his appearances.

RANGERS: Texas opened a series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night without slugger Joey Gallo and reliever Matt Bush after a hard collision Sunday in which Gallo suffered a nasal fracture and Bush sprained a knee.

Neither player was with the team on its charter flight to Anaheim, and Bush was placed on the disabled list. Gallo is still on the active roster but is in MLB’s concussion protocol.

TWINS: Minnesota placed All-Star third baseman Miguel Sano on the 10-day disabled list because of a stress reaction in his left shin bone.

First baseman Kennys Vargas was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to fill Sano’s spot.

Sano is batting .267 with 15 doubles, 28 home runs and 77 RBI.

METS: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain most of the season, and the left-hander may need surgery to correct a recently discovered nerve issue in his elbow, sources told Newsday.

The nerve problem is similar to the one that forced Jacob deGrom to undergo a season-ending procedure last year.

Manager Terry Collins said Matz likely will be scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday and may wind up on the disabled list. But Collins declined to elaborate.

An elbow problem in spring training forced Matz onto the DL at the start of the year. He returned in June, but his performance only grew worse.

Matz has insisted that he is healthy, and he has kept pitching despite a checkered injury history that dates back to his earliest days in professional baseball.

For a short spell, many of us were being followed by a moon shadow

It was enough to cause chaos among some zoo animals.

The stars came out in the middle of the day, zoo animals ran in agitated circles, crickets chirped, birds fell silent and a chilly darkness settled upon the land Monday as the U.S. witnessed its first full-blown, coast-to-coast solar eclipse since World War I.

Millions of Americans gazed in wonder at the cosmic spectacle, with the best seats along the so-called path of totality that raced 2,600 miles across the continent from Oregon to South Carolina.

“It was a very primal experience,” Julie Vigeland, of Portland, Oregon, said after she was moved to tears by the sight of the sun reduced to a silvery ring of light in Salem.

It took 90 minutes for the shadow of the moon to travel across the country. Along that path, the moon blotted out the midday sun for about two wondrous minutes at any one place, eliciting oohs, aahs, whoops and shouts from people gathered in stadiums, parks and backyards.

It was, by all accounts, the most-observed and most-photographed eclipse in history, documented by satellites and high-altitude balloons and watched on Earth through telescopes, cameras and cardboard-frame protective eyeglasses.

In Boise, Idaho, where the sun was more than 99 percent blocked, the street lights flicked on briefly, while in Nashville, Tennessee, people craned their necks at the sky and knocked back longneck beers at Nudie’s Honky Tonk bar.

Passengers aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean watched it unfold as Bonnie Tyler sang her 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Several minor-league baseball teams – one of them, the Columbia Fireflies, outfitted for the day in glow-in-the-dark jerseys – briefly suspended play.

At the White House, despite all the warnings from experts about the risk of eye damage, President Trump took off his eclipse glasses and looked directly at the sun.

The path of totality, where the sun was 100 percent obscured by the moon, was just 60 to 70 miles wide. But the rest of North America was treated to a partial eclipse, as were Central America and the upper reaches of South America.

Skies were clear along most of the route, to the relief of those who feared cloud cover would spoil the moment.

“Oh, God, oh, that was amazing,” said Joe Dellinger, a Houston man who set up a telescope on the Capitol lawn in Jefferson City, Missouri. “That was better than any photo.”

NASA reported 4.4 million people were watching its TV coverage midway through the eclipse, the biggest livestream event in the space agency’s history.

“It can be religious. It makes you feel insignificant, like you’re just a speck in the whole scheme of things,” said veteran eclipse-watcher Mike O’Leary of San Diego, who set up his camera along with hundreds of other amateur astronomers in Casper, Wyoming.

After the celestial spectacle, eclipse-watchers heading home in Tennessee and Wyoming spent hours stuck in traffic jams. In Kentucky, two women watching the eclipse while standing on a sidewalk were struck by a car, and one has died, authorities said.

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man’s land, like the vast Pacific or Earth’s poles. This is the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.

The last coast-to-coast total eclipse in the U.S. was in 1918, when Woodrow Wilson was president. The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. was in 1979, but only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness.

The next total eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

Westbrook police to conduct OUI checkpoint this week

Capt. Steven Goldberg says officers also will be assigned to patrols dedicated to pulling over drunken drivers through August and September.

The Westbrook Police Department announced Monday that it will conduct an operating under the influence checkpoint this week.

Capt. Steven Goldberg said in a news release that the exact date, time and location of the checkpoint will not be made public.

In addition to the checkpoint, officers will be assigned to patrols that are dedicated to pulling over drunken drivers throughout August and September. Goldberg said the local effort is part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

“We want to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk and drugged driving, and urge drivers to drive sober or to have a designated driver,” Goldberg said in a statement.

Local scores, golf results for Monday

Today’s games HIGH SCHOOL Boys Soccer Fort Kent at Fort Fairfield, 4 p.m. Girls Soccer Fort Kent at Fort Fairfield, 4 p.m. Results Monday’s Results HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER Easton 2, Ashland 0 Wisdom 8, Van Buren 2 GIRLS SOCCER Wisdom 9, Van Buren 2 Sunday’s Results COLLEGE Women’s Soccer …

Today’s games HIGH SCHOOL Boys Soccer Fort Kent at Fort Fairfield, 4 p.m. Girls Soccer Fort Kent at Fort Fairfield, 4 p.m. Results Monday’s Results HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER Easton 2, Ashland 0 Wisdom 8, Van Buren 2 GIRLS SOCCER Wisdom 9, Van Buren 2 Sunday’s Results COLLEGE Women’s Soccer …

Behind Trump’s Afghanistan decision: Infighting, stalemate, a bow to generals

Accounts of the private deliberations reveal a president unattached to any particular foreign-policy doctrine.

President Trump was frustrated and fuming. Again and again, in the windowless Situation Room at the White House, he lashed out at his national security team over the Afghanistan war, and the paucity of appealing options gnawed at him.

Last month, as Trump mulled over a new strategy in the 16-year conflict that bedeviled his predecessors, he groused that sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan could have a negligible impact. He threatened to fire the current commander there. He flirted with privatizing the military effort. He even considered pulling out. Declaring victory seemed all but impossible.

Five weeks later, at a Camp David summit, the commander in chief arrived at his decision. A president obsessed with winning has now settled on simply trying not to lose.

Trump decided to escalate troop levels, but only after protracted deliberations that deeply divided the administration. Lobbied by rival advisers, the president pinballed between his militaristic and anti-interventionist impulses. Impatient during classified briefings, Trump longed to reimagine U.S. policy in South Asia under his “America first” banner.

Ultimately, however, Trump took a more conventional route. He tilted toward the generals who now dominate his inner circle and had urged a large-scale troop expansion, though he did not opt for the tens of thousands of troops they advocated initially.

Trump’s private deliberations – detailed in interviews with more than a dozen senior administration officials and outside allies – revealed a president unattached to any particular foreign-policy doctrine, but willing to be persuaded so long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader.

“This has been many months in the making,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “The hallmark of leadership is a deliberative process, not an impulsive reaction, and that is precisely the protocol he followed here.”


Part of that listening included hearing out the military about burden sharing in the region and getting Pakistan more involved in managing the war.

“When Secretary Mattis said this would be a South Asia strategy, that tells you a lot,” said John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, referring to recent remarks by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “The big issue wasn’t land war tactics. The big issue is Pakistan.” He called Trump’s Monday speech the “defining moment of the Trump policy seven months into the administration.”

Years before running for president, Trump had a clear message on Afghanistan: It was time to get out. In 2012, he said the war was “wasting our money.” In 2012, he called it “a total disaster.” In 2013, he said, “We should leave Afghanistan immediately.” Trump continued his criticism of the war during the year and a half he campaigned for the White House.

But since becoming president, he has faced a different set of opinions. Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both generals with extensive battlefield experience in Afghanistan, warned Trump about the consequences of withdrawal and cautioned that any move in Afghanistan would have ripple effects throughout the region.

One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.

Another key voice in Trump’s deliberations – especially in guiding the president to make a decision in recent weeks – was John Kelly, the newly installed White House chief of staff. A retired four-star Marine Corps general, Kelly spent years commanding troops in Afghanistan. And he had a deeply personal understanding of the stakes: His son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, 29, was killed there in 2010 when he stepped on a land mine while leading a platoon of Marines.

“Talking to generals, he realized, you pull out completely and this is what happens: You endanger lives, you endanger American interests, allies, troops, Afghanis who are our friends, and it’s not a stable government,” said a senior administration official.


Trump has nurtured a lifelong infatuation with military culture, going back to his youth at a military academy, and one of his favorite movies is “Patton,” the 1970 Hollywood biopic of general George S. Patton’s exploits in World War II.

Thomas Barrack, a longtime Trump friend and chairman of his presidential inauguration, said Trump “views generals with a special respect and admiration that allows him to defer to and consider their judgment and expertise in a different light than with his business or political peers who may be Cabinet members or other trusted advisers.”

By summer, the policy review process Trump initiated soon after taking office had grown sclerotic. Hovering over everything was the legacy of former president Barack Obama and his management of the war – a series of decisions that Trump found objectionable. Trump voiced frustration to his advisers about having to clean up somebody else’s mess.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich described the administration’s view of Afghanistan as one of “patience” about the time it will take to stabilize the region.

“If we can keep American casualties down, we can have patience. The fact is, if you slow down the casualty rate and you’re not losing young Americans, the American people will support gradually growing allies for a long time,” he said, referring to decades of U.S. troop presence in Korea, Germany and Japan.


Trump’s decisions were put off in part because of infighting in his ranks, chiefly between McMaster and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who departed the White House last week. Tensions between the two erupted in July as they talked through Afghanistan options with colleagues and the president.

When McMaster floated possibly sending tens of thousands of additional troops, Bannon shot back that such a commitment would be a folly in a country where intervention had crippled foreign powers through the centuries, officials said.

McMaster expressed alarm and irritation to confidants that Bannon was tempting the president to drift away from the military leadership with ideas that were not feasible. He was especially bothered by a proposal to hand over much of the military responsibility to private contractor Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial security company formerly known as Blackwater USA.

Mattis heard out Bannon’s pitch during a weekend meeting at the Pentagon in early July but quickly sided with McMaster. He and other military leaders were deeply suspicious of handing over any responsibility to private companies due to the controversies that dogged Blackwater and others in Iraq.

Bannon was undaunted, hoping that even if Trump did not adopt his ideas, he would back away from McMaster’s expansive plan. Meanwhile, Bannon’s allies at Breitbart News and elsewhere in conservative media attacked McMaster as a “globalist” who did not have Trump’s interests in mind.

The anti-McMaster campaign, which Bannon denied orchestrating, infuriated some West Wing colleagues, including Kelly. Instead of marginalizing him, the campaign made McMaster a sympathetic figure to military and administration officials who cringed at the wave of negative stories. Trump signaled which side he was on Aug. 10 when he was asked by a reporter whether he had confidence in McMaster.

“Absolutely,” Trump said. “He’s our friend. He’s my friend. And he’s a very talented man. I like him and I respect him.”


Bannon’s vocal opposition had a cost. He was attending fewer meetings. One of his few allies, chief of staff Reince Priebus, was pushed out just as Bannon was working to wrangle the Afghanistan decision in his direction. And by mid-August, Kelly, McMaster, Mattis and others planned the Camp David retreat without him.

As Trump began to align with the military establishment, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other advisers reminded the president of the expectations of his die-hard supporters, who thought they had elected a president who would get the United States out of endless wars.

Breitbart – which Bannon returned to last week as executive chairman – ran several skeptical headlines in recent days and played up an interview with Prince in which the Blackwater founder he said that “more troops and more money” in Afghanistan would be a mistake.

But some Trump allies predicted the base would respond favorably.

“They trust him on this stuff,” said Ed Brookover, a former Trump campaign adviser. “They know he’s gathered information and talked to a series of experts and reached a conclusion. On security issues, they’re with him and know that he’s certainly not jumping to fight wars everywhere.”

Pollster Patrick Caddell, who has done surveys for Breitbart, said, “The whole country is tired of the war that’s been going on 16 years and in general believes we’ve wasted a lot of time and money. But if he sells it as part of the war on terror, he’ll be fine.”


While Priebus was considered a passive voice on Afghanistan, Kelly all but forced a decision from the president with newfound urgency. One adviser called him “the accelerator.”

Kelly summoned the national security team to the Camp David meeting Friday with Trump and Vice President Pence, where the president was presented with his options.

Trump’s decision was foreshadowed by a grimacing pose he and his team struck in a portrait that the president put on his Twitter page. In a wood-paneled room, Trump sat at a table scowling as 13 advisers stood behind him, each of them stone-faced and staring into the camera. The flags of the five military branches filled the background. To Trump, this was the image of strength.

Some of Trump’s critics were relieved that the military prevailed in shaping Trump’s strategy.

“The president doesn’t know anything about war or anything about Afghanistan,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a foreign policy adviser in the George W. Bush administration. “He has a lot of angry instincts, but nothing more than that. So he is to some extent corralled by McMaster, Kelly and Mattis. . . He is going along with what the generals want.”

Kori Schake, another Bush administration veteran who, like Cohen, opposed Trump’s candidacy, said she was heartened by the president’s decision.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the president took his time, asked first-order questions, and widened the aperture to include outside perspectives and unconventional approaches,” said Schake, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “It’s a hard problem and we’ve been at it a long time.”