Annotation — April 6, 2017, 6:10 pm

Dressed to Kill

Jared Kushner goes to Iraq

Kushner photo

Courtesy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Flickr

1: Sometimes it’s difficult to pack for a business trip. The destination offers clues—bring a bathing suit to Los Angeles, a chic scarf to Paris, cab money to Beijing—but you never know exactly where clients will take you. Jared Kushner, a dimple-chinned boy of thirty-six, recently moved to Washington from Park Avenue, and brought along his father-in-law, Donald Trump. Kushner’s new digs came with a new title: senior adviser to the president. The Washington Post gave him another, “shadow secretary of state,” and his colleague Stephen Bannon has called him a “cuck”—as in “cuckservative,” a racially charged swipe against one’s credibility as a right-winger. On Monday, when President Trump sent the variously designated Kushner on a trip to Iraq—before the real secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had flown out—perhaps he had not yet organized his closet. No problem. He grabbed a few staples and tossed them in his suitcase, including this navy blazer.

2: At first, the Trump Administration wished to keep Kushner’s excursion on the down low, for the sake of security. But word got out while he was on the plane (the White House violated protocol by confirming that he was on the trip, though at the time he was still en route), so it’s a good thing someone thought to carry along this tasteful bulletproof vest. It is tan and well fitting, with Kushner’s name on it. It serves nicely to protect him from all sorts of scary things that one might find on a visit with U.S. forces to learn about their campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It will not protect him from sarin, a chemical weapon that is twenty-six times deadlier than cyanide, which Bashar al-Assad just sprayed all over Idlib province, killing as many as a hundred people, including children.

3: “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” Trump told Kushner in a room full of supporters in January. A tall order, so this trip would have to count. After Kushner landed, he went to meet with the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, and there was much to discuss. Kushner was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and became a member of the Fly Club at Harvard; his father was a real estate developer and felon. Abadi’s family was exiled from Baghdad, he studied the technology of rapid transit, and his father was a doctor who died thousands of miles from home. Later, Kushner headed off to see some guys with guns.

4: About a week before this trip, the Pentagon admitted that an American air strike in Mosul, Iraq, likely caused the death of some 200 civilians. Around the same time, about 300 Army paratroopers were dispatched to Mosul, and 400 Marines were sent to northern Syria. These deployments were not announced in advance, as had been the practice of the Obama Administration, and a spokesperson for the Pentagon said that this was in order to deliver on Trump’s promise to “maintain tactical surprise.” In the East Room of the White House, Trump said, “We’re doing very well in Iraq.” He added, “I just wanted to let everyone know.”

5: A thing that many people know about Iraq is that it is hot, dry, and sunny. The rainless season is just beginning. Kushner wisely decided to wear sunglasses. These are wayfarers, available at most Sunglass Huts for around $200. When Kushner has the sunglasses on, it’s hard to read his eyes. In this, he may be taking a cue from Tillerson, the man he’s shadowing (remember him?); the Washington Post reported that “many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly—or even make eye contact.” Both men are copying Anna Wintour, who has not demonstrated herself to be a fan of the Trump Administration but does want Melania for Vogue.

 

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