While U.S. President Donald Trump has — like his predecessor — ramped up military aggression in places like Yemen and Syria, he and his administration have remained mostly mom on the so-called War on Terror in Afghanistan.
Back in October, hot on the campaign trail, Trump told CNN, “We made a terrible mistake getting involved in the first place,” adding that it was a “mess,” but a war still in which he would “begrudgingly” keep U.S. troops.
Although Trump has expressed limited enthusiasm in prolonging the war, his generals are vying to escalate it.
Last month Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, asked the Senate Armed Services Committee for a “few thousand” more U.S. troops. Last week, his boss, head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel, also pledged to senators that a new “strategy” for Afghanistan had to “involve additional forces.”
Then just this week, Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, have yet again called for “additional U.S. and coalition forces” in Afghanistan, including “special operations forces and close air support.”
When former U.S. President Barack Obama took office, the enlistment of 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in just his first year saw the Taliban, who the United States is allegedly at war with the region, gain strength.
“So why it is anything other than a fantasy to suggest that 20,000 or even 30,000 troops in Afghanistan under Trump — as opposed to the 8,400 U.S. troops currently deployed there as part of a NATO support mission — will be able to achieve the victory denied to 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan under Obama in 2010?” probes journalist Mehdi Hasan in The Intercept.
As Hasan explains, the measure of U.S. "success’ in Afghanistan has oscillated from "nation-building" to "counterterrorism" to "the war on drugs," all of which have resulted in “mission failed.”
“Will Trump, obsessed as he is with ‘winning,’ recognize that there is no decisive military victory to be had in the killing fields of Afghanistan? Or is the proud author of ‘The Art of the Deal’ willing to strike some form of bargain with the loathsome Taliban to try and end the Afghan debacle, once and for all?” asks Hasan.
It’s unclear what Trump’s directive in Afghanistan will be. However, the country has seen a series of foreign invasions by world powers in the 20th century, all unsuccessful to date.