We fighters in the Taliban never rest long and this morning some of our highest ranking members arise quite early and form a semicircle around our color TV to watch President Trump rail about Afghanistan. One of our English speakers conveys the highlights, though we’ll later get an official translation. Trump starts by declaring there can be no tolerance for bigotry or hate in his country, and that’s quite amusing since he campaigned on bigotry and hate. He then laments that the United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for sixteen years, the longest war in U.S. history (not counting three centuries of genocide against the Native Americans.)
Trump says he’s saddened his country’s been wasting its time, money, and lives to try to build nations rather than focus on U.S. security. He says his first executive instinct was to leave Afghanistan but his analytical generals talked him out of it. He should’ve talked to some now departed Russian and British generals about what happens to foreign fighters in our mountainous land bristling with fighters. If he knew a little history – and he doesn’t – he’d leave. Instead, he states there must an honorable and endurable solution only possible if he gives his forces the tools to win. The consequences of a rapid withdrawal, he says, would be terrible and predictable, creating a vacuum for ISIS and Al Qaeda. In fact, the consequences of eternal war here are predictably terrible.
Trump laments that twenty terrorist organizations lurk in Afghanistan and he’s been dealt a horrible hand. But he’s a problem solver and his team will win by stripping us of our assets and territory – we now control about forty percent of the country, the most since 2001. He also wants to keep us from getting ahold of nuclear weapons. I understand how he feels. I wish he didn’t have them, either.
It seems Trump thinks the magical strategy is to end “time-based programs” and let conditions on the ground determine his actions. He won’t say when they’ll attack, but attack they will. And he won’t micromanage from the White House; instead, his fighting commanders will improvise. Regarding Pakistan, he laments that it’s a sanctuary for terrorists. He forgets it may have been an American who reminded comrades that “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” Most of our friends and neighbors in Pakistan aren’t going to help the Americans “deal” with us, and many who tried are dead.
Trump believes the stronger the security forces of the Afghan government the less his troops will have to fight against the Taliban. At the same time he undercuts himself by noting “military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan.” He’s certainly correct about the latter point. During the regime of George W. Bush and the first part of Barack Obama’s, the Americans poured troops into Afghanistan and peaked at a hundred thousand in 2010. Were we in the Taliban close to being defeated? Absolutely not. Yet Trump’s big announcement calls for adding a measly four thousand troops to the paltry nine thousand here today. He thinks they can train government forces well enough to prevent us from killing eleven thousand bad Afghans a year.
We nod when Trump says elements of the Taliban have to be part of the solution. I’d say we are the solution, but we’ll talk to the Americans, knowing they’ll someday have to leave. We could hasten their departure by promising not to be a staging ground for any more 9/11 attacks and the like. I believe that’s what a small but growing number in the Taliban want. We rebuke reactionaries who, among other barbarities, pretend polio workers are spies and murder them and then ban the vaccine in parts of the country. We don’t want people like that to prevail, otherwise the invaders may stay for decades.