I sat through Trump’s relatively short announcement on our 20th change in strategy in Afghanistan.
If we didn’t already know that Trump was proposing more troops and a new strategy in Afghanistan, it would have been easy to assume by listening to his comments in the first few minutes that he was going to pull the troops out of Afghanistan and send them to resolve the nation-building quagmire of a domestic insurgency in the Balkanized country that is the United States in 2017. Like maybe that “let’s call Antifa a terrorist group” petition was going to be taken completely seriously and to its logical conclusion.
If so, I’d say…eh…alright. But no, he’s done something even crazier. He’s rolled out a new plan for the War in Afghanistan that won’t achieve much more than killing a lot more civilians and leaving a few hundred more US servicemen killed and wounded and wasting hundreds of billions of dollars more in the process.
So what do I think of this plan? I think it sucks and it’s already doomed. It’s worse than “business as usual”
First of all, the President stating right out of the gate that his own instincts are to not fight the war is a recipe for a disaster and couldn’t possibly be anything but disheartening for the troops. Then, of course, there is Trump’s backtracking based on the fact that he has “studied” Afghanistan and just up and changed his mind. He’s going to catch a ton of hell for these statements, and rightly so.
I don’t mean to sound like a kook, but I can’t help but wonder if the dearth of intelligence leaks over the past couple of weeks is due to Trump agreeing to throw them a bone and keep this meaningless war going for a few more years. The last time Deep State went this quiet, it was in the short period between Trump hitting Assad with cruise missiles and firing Comey. Maybe it’s sort of a truce: “I’ll let you have your opium fields and pipeline, you bury that piss tape.”
I recall Krauthammer after Trump gave his first statement on the Charlottesville incident that Trump was saying what he was almost being forced to say. Like a hostage situation. This looks exactly like that to me. Maybe Trump doesn’t want to do this but the generals, Deep State, the war profiteers, and their political enablers have demanded it. Trump doesn’t want to fight this war any more than Obama wanted to fight it (or the war against ISIS). There is no excuse for committing troops to war when you’re not serious about victory. This is not a serious plan, for reasons I will explain.
Look, I appreciate the fact that Trump is loosening the Rules of Engagement (ROE) and ensuring that the lives of our soldiers aren’t squandered with politically correct warfare. Both Bush and Obama deserve to be damned for sending troops in to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. Also, I appreciated the firm renunciation of the idiotic principles of nation building and exporting democracy.
But what are we fighting for exactly? It’s good that he doesn’t want to tell enemies our plans, but can anyone tell us what he expects to achieve and what victory is going to look like?
If Trump wants to let the Afghan people make their own choices and run their own country and take charge of the war effort, then he might as well accept the reality that the Taliban is going to permanently retain control in those areas that the central government can’t maintain control. We might as well allow this as long as it agrees to expel ISIS and al-Qaeda from those areas. If we find out that they don’t uphold their end of the agreement, drop a few MOAB’s on them all in a punitive campaign.
Face it. The Taliban isn’t going away because they have popular support in much of the country. Let them have it. The people in those areas are choosing barbarism, pederasty, and misogyny for themselves. Let them have it. As long as they don’t threaten us or tolerate the people who do in their midst, who gives a shit? The only reason we went to war against the Taliban in the first place was that they refused to hand over Usama bin Laden after 9/11. If they had, we wouldn’t have had to screw with all of this. Well, bin Laden is dead now. Maybe it’s time for a new agreement, Mr Maker of Deals.
Besides, if we pull out of Afghanistan that means that whatever happens instantly becomes Iran’s and Pakistan’s problem. Let them deal with a bunch of insane fanatics on their borders for a few years. ISIS hates them both more than us. Let Iran call on Putin to deal with the problem ruthlessly, the way we can’t/won’t. Keep both of those countries busy for a few years.
I applauded Trump for criticizing Pakistan and wanting to cut them off for their “playing both sides against the middle” bullshit. His firm endorsement of India probably brought some hilarious pants-shitting among many in both Islamabad and Beijing. India is a natural ally and a counterbalance to both Pakistan and China. This is a pivot we should have made ages ago, but have been prevented from doing because we had to keep chumming it up with Pakistan for the sake of the neverending Afghan adventure.
Given that the President just criticized Pakistan and has vowed to cut aid while more closely aligning with its sworn enemy, how successful do you think we’re likely to be in Afghanistan now? It’s all the more reason to GTFO while the G’ing is good.
What we shouldn’t be doing is continuing a fruitless military campaign on the other side of the world that we not only can’t conclude, but from which we stand to gain nothing. We don’t really know what we want, have no idea how to get what we want, and wouldn’t be willing to do what it takes to get what we want in Afghanistan.
This is probably the one time that I feel we can say it unironically and without reservation: Donald Trump, please follow your instincts.