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Trump And The World

Melania Trump And Me, Two Slovenians Arrive In Washington

Melania Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, in July
Melania Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, in July
Andrej Mrevlje

WASHINGTON — Melania Trump (or Melania Knavs, as she was called before she married and moved into Trump Tower) will be the only first lady since 1829 to have been born outside the United States. John Quincy Adams' wife, Louisa Adams, was the last, having been born in England when the U.S. was still a colony.

Even before she set foot in the White House last week to meet the Obamas, Melania Trump had received an invitation for an official visit to her native country, Slovenia. According to Delo, a Slovenian daily newspaper, Mrs. Trump was invited by the country's prime minister, Miro Cerar, in a letter of congratulations for "the success that is of historic significance for Slovenia" and that "makes the citizens of our country proud and happy."

Cerar also expressed his belief that a good relationship between the two countries will develop further with the support and help of the new first lady.

According to one CNN report, Mrs. Trump's fellow citizens are happy to see their native daughter heading to the White House. Why wouldn't they be? At the very least, as somebody observed, Slovenia will never again be confused with Slovakia. That is, providing that Donald Trump does not remarry again.

Photo: Marc Nozell

In spite of my political tastes, this event makes me happy, too. I am another Slovenian-born New Yorker who happened to also wind up in D.C., having moved here a couple of months ago. In spite of some doubts about whether the Trumps will actually settle down and live in the White House, I feel that there is a lot of change coming in my new city.

The Obamas will be missed, their simple elegance replaced by a noisier, more glossy kind of glamour. I can't get rid of the idea that the Old Post Office, which was transformed into the luxurious Trump International Hotel, will become a guest quarters of the White House, resolving its risky financial situation. My imagination flies, and I can already see foreign dignitaries staying in Trump's hotel at the expense of the U.S. government. And might Trump move the White House Correspondents' Dinner into the Presidential Hall of the hotel?

As far as the Slovenian-American relationship goes, I remain skeptical. It might well be that Ljubljana (the Slovenian capital) will send their best men to Washington D.C. or may even invest in a bigger and better embassy building in capital. But is it worth it? Perhaps I am wrong and perhaps Mrs. Trump does have abilities that until now we have been unable to detect. Perhaps the Slovenian prime minister's weird invitation to Mrs. Trump is not as bizarre as it seems.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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