President Trump addressed the nation last night to outline his strategy in Afghanistan. Of course he didn’t go into details,being smarter than his twp predecessors. There were no deadlines or grandiose claims, merely that America would start winning this war and that our eventual withdrawal would be based on conditions on the ground rather than any arbitrary dates.
He announced five “core pillars” to the approach: getting rid of any timelines for how long U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan; using all elements of power, including diplomatic and economic; getting tougher on Pakistan; getting India to help more with economic development; and expanding authorities for U.S. forces to fight terrorists.
He said it was up to the people of Afghanistan to “take ownership of their future” and to “achieve an everlasting peace.”
“We are not nation-building again, we are killing terrorists.”
Here’s what the president had to say, in his own words. And it’s obvious he’s thought about this quite a bit:
Needless to say, the President received quite a bit of criticism, especially from the Left.
So let’s look at what the president actually had to say.
AfPak is a war we should never have gotten involved with in the first place. I never went to West Point, but I also understand that it was crazy to send an army and billions of dollars worth of equipment to a landlocked country surrounded by hostile territory – and I include Pakistan in that. Most of the equipment needs to be unloaded at Karachi and sent overland to Afghanistan via the Torkum Pass, and aside from us needing to bribe the Pakistanis with billions every year, they’ve cut the road and kept us from supplying our troops on various occasions.
OTOH, both commanders in chief involved in this handcuffed our troops with ridiculous rules of engagement and various other things designed to appease ‘hearts and minds’ of the locals.Which of course, didn’t work. The Brits kept the Afghans at bay for some time by paying the chiefs ‘subsidies’ to keep them from raiding India. The Afghan Wars only started when the Brits stopped paying.
The president isn’t talking about arbitrary deadlines and ‘nation building’ but victory If Trump lets our troops do what’s needed and especially if he brings back great combat generals like McCrystal and starts fighting the war strategically, he has a chance. it also helps that by all accounts, the Afghani government has a lot more respect for Trump than they ever did for Barack Hussein Obama.
I have a feeling Trump and Mattis are going to fight a very different war than Bush and especially Obama, who actually appeared to be aiding and abetting the Taliban on numerous occasions… like giving up 5 top Taliban commanders and a cash ransom for Bowie Bergdahl, a deserter.
I also fully agree with his statement on getting a lot tougher with Pakistan. They have no interest in a stable Afghanistan, which was heading that way in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
What changed things was the Soviet invasion and Jimmy Carter’s well intentioned funding of the muhadajeen, many of whom were Islamists and became the breeding ground for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Since Afghanistan is landlocked, it was Pakistan who decided who got the money and arms, and they made sure it was the Islamists. That and Bill Clinton’s failure to support the pro-Western Northern Alliance is what delivered Afghanistan to the Taliban. And as I mentioned, Pakistan has still given tacit support to the Taliban by periodically cutting off supplies to our troops and allowing the Taliban to have havens in their country except for periodic raids when the Taliban or allied groups have carried out terrorist activities in Pakistan itself.
One thing that could be especially effective is forgetting Afghanistan as a country to an extent and dealing with the local chiefs directly. They make most of their money selling opium, and they are forced to pay ‘taxes’ to the Taliban in order to be able to sell their crops at whatever price they can get…with most of the processing done in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier.
Imagine what would happen if the U.S made them an offer they couldn’t refuse?
“We want to be your friends, and as our friends, they will be able to sell their crops directly to us for a fair market price, and without any more taxes.to the Taliban. And we will help our friends defend their territory from the Taliban. of course, those who are not our friends will see their fields burned, much as we’d hate to do that.”
Many of these Pashtun chiefs have territories that overlap the AfPak borders, Give them some help defending their territories and the bennie no longer having to settle for whatever price they can get and with Taliban taxation and this war could take on an entirely different complexion. Especially if we took a hard line with the Pakistanis about any obstructions and the consequences.
Yes, we could also simply leave, and part of me says ‘why not?’ . But there are inherent and obvious problems with that. With the right leadership, this could end up being a major graveyard for jihadis.
This was a mess Trump inherited from two dysfunctional commanders-in-chiefs. Let’s withhold judgement and see how he does.
Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com and other publications.
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