We have heard that Trump wants all the troops home from Syria and half the troops from Afghanistan…..but what about this Afghan thing? Is it a necessity?
One of the primary problems with our endless debates over (seemingly) endless American conflicts with jihadists overseas is that we rarely go back to first principles. We rarely take a step back and accurately define our strategic and tactical challenge. We don’t do this in debates between pundits, and we don’t do it in public arguments. Instead, all too often we resort to sloganeering and sniping, with serious pieces like those of my colleagues Andy McCarthy and Michael Brendan Dougherty (who disagree, by the way, with my counsel to stay in Syria) the welcome exceptions to the dreary rule.
Moreover, there is a distressing tendency to sweep together the last several Republican and Democratic administrations as if they’re all part of the same foreign-policy establishment that tries to do the same things the same way and then falls prey to the same temptations to turn to American military force as a first resort in the face of persistent Middle Eastern challenges. In reality, however, different approaches have confronted a series of difficult realities, and those realities have necessitated military intervention.
Let’s analyze our challenge as clearly and concisely as we can.
AS it is there are many that are agonizing our continuing stay in Afghanistan….and the voices are getting louder…..
After more than 17 years, the time has come to accept two important truths about the war in Afghanistan. The first is that there will be no military victory by the government and its American and NATO partners. Afghan forces, while better than they were, are not good enough and are unlikely ever to be capable of defeating the Taliban. This is not simply because government troops lack the unity and often the professionalism to prevail, but also because the Taliban are highly motivated and enjoy considerable backing at home and from Pakistan, which provides them critical support and sanctuary.
The second truth is that peace negotiations are unlikely to work. Talks have taken place on and off over the years, but diplomacy is never far removed from facts and trends on the ground. Both work against a negotiated settlement.
With all that said the question becomes….should Trump withdraw fro Afghanistan?
Almost immediately after President Trump directed the Pentagon withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, he ordered a reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan—more than 7,000 soldiers, which is about half of the current force. Given the hysterical reaction of Washington’s foreign policy establishment about the president’s Syria decision, there will certainly be an even more shrill “the sky is falling” chorus regarding Afghanistan. But whatever one thinks of the president’s temperament, his management style, and the decision-making process (or lack thereof), his decision about Syria was the right thing to do, and so is his decision to pull back in Afghanistan. After more than 17 years, it’s well past time to wind down America’s longest war.
Finally let’s look at the cost of withdrawing from Afghanistan…..
First it was Syria, then came Afghanistan. Two days ago, President Trump shocked the foreign policy community by announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, wrongly claiming the Islamic State has been defeated. Within the last 24 hours, reports have emerged that the US military will quickly pull nearly half of its forces from Afghanistan, and likely withdraw the rest by the end of 2019.
Trump’s decision is unsurprising to us. We’ve reported since October that the order to withdraw from Afghanistan could come at any time.
Many are celebrating the move, pointing to the length of the conflict (17 years), the enormous sunk cost and the inability of the Afghan government to stand on its own. Careful readers of this website will note that we have been critical of the war effort, and especially the rosy rhetoric employed by US military officials. We could easily pen another biting critique of the US-led war.
My thought is……screw all the BS declare mission over and bring the troops home….they need a rest….anything else is just wasting money and soldiers for little gain…..a Law of Diminishing Returns……