President Donald Trump again committed the United States to the 16-year war in Afghanistan on Monday night, stating that US troops must “fight to win.” He flatly refused to reveal how many more troops would be sent to carry out the longest war in the United States.
Trump said in a first-minute speech to unveil his new strategy in Afghanistan that the United States would move away from a “time-based” approach, uniting its assistance to the results and cooperation of the besieged Afghan government, Pakistan and others. He insisted that it would be a “regional” strategy that would address the roles played by other South Asian nations, especially the fact that Pakistan is home to elements of the Taliban.
“The United States will work with the Afghan government as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.”
However, Trump offered few details about how progress would be measured. Nor did he explain how his approach would differ substantially from what two presidents before him tried unsuccessfully over the past 16 years. Although Trump insisted that he “will not talk about troop numbers” or telegraphs the military moves in advance, he hinted that he had accepted the Pentagon’s proposal to increase troop numbers by nearly 4,000, increasing the nearly 8,400 Americans there now.
Before becoming a candidate, Trump had ardently argued for a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the war a massive waste of “blood and treasure” from the United States and declaring on Twitter, “Let’s get out!” Seven months after his presidency, he said on Monday night that although his “original instinct was to withdraw,” he had determined that the approach could create a void that terrorists including al-Qaeda and the Islamic state “would fill instantly.”
“We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop increases and funding in line with ours, we are sure they will,” Trump said in comments by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Image of President Donald Trump. APFile the image of President Donald Trump. AP
In early 2017, Trump announced that he trusted Mattis and the military to decide how many troops would be needed. At the points of discussion sent to Congressional Republicans and support groups Monday, the White House stated that the number of troops was in charge of Mattis and added that the administration was not looking for more Congressional money for the strategy in the current fiscal year. End of September.
Although Trump emphasized that his strategy was more than just the military, he was vague in other “instruments of US power,” he said he would deploy with all his might to lead Afghanistan to peace, such as economic development or a new engagement with Pakistan And India. Absent military details, it was difficult to assess how his plan could dissolve the stagnation between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
At one point – the definition of victory – Trump was unmistakable. He said US troops “fight to win” by attacking the enemy, “crushing” al-Qaeda, preventing terrorist attacks against Americans and “destroying” the Islamic group, whose affiliate has established itself in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Trump’s definition of a victory did not include the defeat of the Taliban, the group whose al-Qaeda shelter led the United States to war in Afghanistan in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Like President Barack Obama before him, Trump admitted that any solution that brings peace to Afghanistan may well involve the Taliban. “Someday, after an effective military effort, it may be possible to have a political agreement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” Trump said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement following the speech that the United States is willing to support peace talks with the Taliban “without preconditions.”
Talking about the future Taliban reconciliation was one of several echoes of Obama woven into Trump’s plan. Like Trump, Obama insisted near the start of his presidency that “days of providing a blank check ended,” urged a regional focus and said US aid would be performance-based.
However, Trump intended to differentiate his approach from his predecessors – at least in rhetoric. He emphasized that there would be no deadlines, no problems for the military and no divorce from Afghanistan of the wider problems in the region. One step being considered to further tighten Pakistan is to cut foreign aid programs to