During a visit to the Pentagon last week, President Trump said he may not send additional soldiers to Afghanistan, in spite of consistent reports to the contrary.
Asked whether or not he would make the deployment, Trump answered “We’ll see. And we’re doing very well against ISIS. ISIS is falling fast,” according to the Washington Post.
While Trump already delegated the authority to Defense Secretary James Mattis to send up to 3,900 additional troops to Afghanistan more than a month ago, the president’s recent remarks are sending mixed signals regarding his stance on the deployment.
Just last week, Mattis made the rounds on Capitol Hill with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford briefing lawmakers on the White House’s strategy for Afghanistan. That strategy has been widely reported to include the deployment of several thousand new troops to the war-torn country. The administration was expected to make an announcement for the deployment weeks ago, but it has yet to come.
Some analysts have argued the 3,900 troop cap put in place by the White House should be temporary, a measure to get “breathing room” for the policy until something more long-term can be nailed down.
“It is a stopgap until we can come up with a complete strategy. It is not a permanent cap,” said Bill Roggio, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a hawkish neoconservative think tank.
Sen. John McCain last month told Mattis and Dunford that the administration was putting him and other lawmakers in a “dilemma” the longer it held off presenting its Afghan strategy, highlighting the eagerness of some Senators and Congressmen to again ramp up the war, now the longest running conflict in American history.
Despite the desire to see an escalation, Trump seems less convinced than ever on the wisdom of sending more troops after his meeting with Pentagon officials last Thursday.
The last troop surge under President Obama in 2009 saw U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan peak to around 100,000, yet the administration was still unable to accomplish its goals. It is unclear how 3,900, or even 10,000, new pairs of boots will affect the situation in the country. Currently, around 8,500 U.S. soldiers remain in Afghanistan after a large troop withdrawal in late 2016.
According to data released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Afghan government controls less than 60 percent of the country, while the Taliban still holds large swaths of territory. The dismal conditions even prompted Mattis to openly admit the United States was not winning the war, though for the secretary that is a reason to increase American involvement, not reduce it.
After 16 years of occupation and thousands of casualties, civilian and combatant alike, Afghanistan is almost certainly a lost cause which no amount of American firepower is capable of fixing. While extremely unlikely based on his poor foreign policy decisions to date, President Trump would be wise to call it quits and bring our boys home from the Afghan quagmire.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.