Much like President Obama, President Trump was elected as the relative “peace candidate” but – once in office – has veered into Official Washington’s neocon “logic” of endless war, as Ivan Eland describes.
By Ivan Eland
During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump touted his nationalist “America First” foreign policy, which implied that he wanted to stay out of foreign brushfire wars. Even before that, he tweeted his disapproval of American involvement of the Afghan War.
Yet now he has delegated the authority to his Secretary of Defense to send several thousand more troops to Afghanistan to join the almost 9,000 that remain there advising and assisting Afghan forces and hunting Islamist terrorists. And that is not the only instance in which the Trump administration has gone against his original inclination or is contemplating it.
Trump appears to be delegating the troop re-escalation decision for Afghanistan to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, because the president wants to be able to dodge responsibility in case that policy is ultimately unsuccessful, just as he blamed the botched Special Operations raid in Yemen on the military. Re-escalation is likely to fail, because the administration has no strategy for turning the already-lost conflict around. Adding 3,000 to 5,000 troops, according to a U.S. military that never wants to admit losing a war, would allow American troops to “advise” Afghan troops in battlefield areas, instead of remaining at higher headquarters, and also to call in U.S. air and artillery strikes in support of those local forces.
Yet the Afghan War is the longest conflict in American history, and no conception of “success” can be realistically imagined. How can an augmented force of 13,000 or 14,000 American advisers have success helping a still pathetic Afghan military (even after 16 years of U.S. training), when 100,000 much more potent U.S. combat troops could not defeat the Taliban during all those…