by Robert Carbery
Ever since Steve Bannon was outed from the White House, there is no non interventionist voice left in Trump’s inner circle. We have witnessed the reversal of Trump keeping to his America First commitments in his decision increase our troop presence in Afghanistan, America’s longest war by far.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote a piece Wednesday stating how Trump’s critics on Afghanistan have no alternative, neglecting the point of view that pulling out is not admitting defeat, despite it being accepting reality. We cannot maintain a constant military presence in this God-forsaken country, the graveyard of empires. This is looking to be more and more the next South Korea where we will stay for 50+ years!
WSJ’s editorial board began:
“President Trump inherited a mess in Afghanistan, so give him credit for heeding his generals and committing to more troops and a new strategy. His decision has risks, like all uses of military force, but it will prevent a rout of our allies in Kabul and allow more aggressive operations against jihadists who would be delighted to plan global attacks with impunity.”
How are we to give him credit when he listens to his generals, the central circle of the military industrial complex? And how is this minimal increase in troops supposed to have any change in the current environment in Afghanistan, where we previously had around 100,000 American troops in December 2009 under Obama? Our allies in Kabul have proven hapless and ineffective and no matter our massive commitment to the country, they will be doomed to their desperate reality, under the thumb of the Taliban or ISIS at this point.
Bush-Obama-Trump. The commitment to the quandary in Afghanistan continues unabated no matter who is in charge. No administration will admit to defeat as to be seen as the loser or the one who gave up. Trump should stick to his gut and not commit us to the continuance of catastrophic foreign policy by maintaining our presence in Afghanistan. Don’t be persuaded by your generals who want constant war. Listen to yourself and the people who elected you.
Trump pays lip service to us “not nation-building again,” but I’ll believe that when I see it. When we stop paying for roads in Afghanistan that will be blown up by the Taliban the next year when our infrastructure is crumbling in many places here at home, then I will believe we are not nation-building.
America First, Mr. President.
The president is also making it easier for American soldiers on the ground to do their jobs as opposed to Obama’s micromanaging from Washington. Trump said he is lifting restrictions on military engagement, giving generals further flexibility in creating more terrorists by our actions abroad while stating that our primary mission is to kill terrorists abroad. But this is all for our safety, right?
Trump’s surge will be around 4,000 additional troops to the 8,400 already there. What are they doing there? What does “victory” look like? Can’t we be honest to the American people and say we are creating a permanent military base there due to the major instability in the country that is in between nuclear weapons-armed Pakistan and a near nuclear-armed Iran?
The WSJ opinion pages love this move by Trump of course, despite the fact that his base is basically wholeheartedly against it. When he mentioned getting out of Afghanistan and focusing on America First during the campaign, people went nuts! He cannot tell us that things look differently behind the desk of the Oval Office. You were there to change everything and you have been in the decision making chair all your life! Listen to your instincts, and get us out of Afghanistan.
Supporters of Trump’s surge of troops in Afghanistan point to the impact or challenge it will show to Pakistan. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” Trump declared in his pivotal foreign policy speech on Monday. Pakistan is certainly a confusing ally to us but we should not be looking for a fight abroad simply due to the fact that we are creating more terrorists and pouring more blood and treasure into these countries far from home in places we are not furthering American interests abroad.
The Taliban will take over when we leave. Sure. But is that our problem? The Taliban control up to 40% of Afghan territory today, is our new mission to reduce that number? Destroy ISIS in the region? Are we doubling down on a fight against the Taliban, who appear to be armed by the Russians in some cases, at least to a U.S. general? It’s a no win situation!
There is no training up of local Afghan soldiers to stabilize the country. Senator Rand Paul is correct in stating we must be isolationist right now and pull out of Afghanistan. “It’s past time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, as the good doctor wrote in his Hill headline. I would contend most people in the U.S. are for that actually. But Trump has foolishly decided to stay in Afghanistan likely throughout his presidency, as long as that lasts.
And that is a shame.
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by Robert Carbery