Donald Trump Should End the Afghanistan War

He should resist efforts within his administration to escalate it instead.


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is blaming a lack of "strategic guidance" from the White House as the reason the U.S. isn't winning the war in Afghanistan.

Here is some strategic guidance offered at no cost to President Trump as he decides whether or not to escalate the nearly 16-year-old U.S. conflict in Afghanistan.

Withdraw from the country and cede oversight of these wars to Congress.

This is not, of course, the same advice Trump is getting from McCain and others who want him to reach a consensus within his administration to win the war.

McCain says that if Trump is unable to decide on a strategy by Saturday, he will offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that sets out a strategy. It would be far more useful for Congress to roll back its initial 2001 authorization under which the war in Afghanistan and the broader global war on terror is prosecuted.

"I urge the President to resolve the differences within his administration as soon as possible and decide on a policy and strategy that can achieve our national security interests in Afghanistan and the region," McCain said in a statement released yesterday.

Trump, who was relatively skeptical of nation-building exercises while on the campaign trail, has been hesitant to commit more troops to Afghanistan. He authorized Secretary of Defense James Mattis to increase troop levels in Afghanistan in June, but Mattis has not yet done so, likely because of Trump's ambivalence.

The ambivalence is warranted. The inability to bring the Afghanistan war to a close was one of President Obama's greatest failures, particularly in the aftermath of the 2009-2010 surge. War reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran argued in his 2012 book on the Afghanistan war the surge had created a unique opportunity for the U.S. to pursue fruitful negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government, and Pakistan.

Trump should resist efforts of subordinates like Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his national security advisor, to push for more U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan war. Trump is the commander-in-chief. So far, however, he has deferrede to his generals, which has led to escalations of war in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Afghanistan is so far removed from 9/11 that many Afghans don't know what it is. Meanwhile, the national government, supported by U.S. military power, is little better. The last president, Hamid Karzai, called Al-Qaeda a "myth" and denied that 9/11 was plotted in Afghanistan. Nevertheless he continued to accept U.S. military and financial aid.

The war in Afghanistan is a victim of incredible mission creep—it was arguably won within a few months of the initial 2001 invasion, when the U.S. toppled the Taliban and eradicated most of core Al-Qaeda. Staying in Afghanistan facilitated the return of these groups by removing the Afghan government incentive to pursue policies of stability and reconciliation and allowing it to rely on American blood and treasure instead.

When asked last month about a troop surge there, Trump said ISIS, the latest bugaboo animating the U.S. military action, was "falling fast."

Obama ran for re-election in 2012 on a promise to bring the war in Afghanistan to a responsible end. He declared combat operations "over" in 2014. Despite the rhetoric, nothing of the sort happened.

Trump has an opportunity to fulfill his predecessor's promise and to secure a real legacy builder—he should take it.

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  1. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is blaming a lack of “strategic guidance” from the White House as the reason the U.S. isn’t winning the war in Afghanistan.

    “Strategic guidance” from Donald F. Trump will surely propel the U.S. to succeed where the empires of Britain, the Soviets, and Alexander the Great at their heights could not.

    1. They didn’t have good-old American know-how.

      1. They didn’t have Trump’s very good brain. What, you think when Trump said he knew more than the generals he was talking about the current US generals? He meant the generals like Napoleon, Hannibal, Caesar, Sun Tzu, Attila, you know, the world-class generals.

        1. the world-class generals

          And no one does classy like Trump. He’s got this one in. the. bag.

          1. “Big league.”

    2. Who is this Donald F. Trump? Is he President Donald J. Trump’s clone?

      1. Donald Fucking Trump, yo. Why you gotta make me be not classy about it?

    3. Look, the thing with Afghanistan is, you gotta be firm, you can’t let them get control of, you gotta be firm with them or they’re gonna walk all over you. Take Kandar, look at Kandar, If you let the Taliban, if you let ISIS or the Democrats just stroll right in there and take over, what are you left with? That’s why you have to get tough and go in there and take it. I was telling a group of Boy Scouts the other day, I told them–nobody draws a bigger crowd than me–I told them that if you want to succeed you have to bomb hospitals, you have to bomb schools, you have to blow up all the, these people are animals. They have no hesitation to kidnap people and cut their heads off, these Afghanistan ISIS animals. This is why Obama let America down. He never had the guts to really fight the animals head on. That’s how we’re gonna win.

      1. It’s somewhat amazing to think this is what stormed through the Republican Party. People just really don’t care.

      2. Big league.

      3. That is some EXCELLENT Trumpster-to-the-Dumpster talk!!!

        I nominate you to be The Donald’s new speechwriter!

      4. Did y’all know that about 1 in 10 men in certain areas of Asia, have the “Y” chromosome of Genghis Khan? And 1 in 200 planet-wide? Use this search-string in quotes?
        “1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan”

        WHY is this relevant, you ask?

        Well, ’cause The Donald has “the winning gene”, and wants to out-do this low-brow Genghis dude!! The Donald-breeding farms “over there” (in Afghanistanistanistanistan) are gonna fire up soon, I’m a tellin ‘ ya!!!

        If’n ye do NOT believe me about the superiority of “The Donald’s” genes, look at the following quotes from that same Donald?

        Quotes from The Donald in the “Anti Gravity” column in August 2017 “Scientific American” magazine follow?
        “I have great genes and all that stuff, which I’m a believer in”,
        “God helped me by giving me a certain brain”,
        “I have a very, very high aptitude”,
        “Maybe it’s just something you have. You know, you have the winning gene.”

  2. But, the conflict in Afghanistan is long-standing bi-partisan tradition. Is no Washington institution safe from Trump’s reckless, go-it-alone attitudes?

    1. Excellent snark. Would read again.

    2. There’s nothing there for Trump to end, so I’m told, since Obama ended those wars like a hundred years ago!

      /sarc ^_-

      1. I heard Obama is closing Gitmo.

  3. End it, don’t mend it.

  4. Maybe Trump should re-activate McCain and put him in charge of Afghanistan. The guy clocked more than 20 years in the military – if he’s drawing a check, he’s eligible.

  5. McCain needs to retire. The idea you’re going to win a war in a place called The Graveyard of Empires is absurd.

    1. But no imperial force has ever tried to conquer Afghanistan from this far away.

      How can we fail?

      1. By not telling the military “go conquer Afghanistan. We will provide whatever number of troops, and whatever amount of money you request. We will never question the number of deaths. Just go conquer Afghanistan”.

        1. Yes – I’m sure that’s all it really is.

    2. Honestly, if they were serious about winning we’d have glassed them from orbit. It’s really the only way to be sure, and afterwards we can call it the ‘Skating Rink of Empires’.

  6. a policy and strategy that can achieve our national security interests in Afghanistan and the region

    Have we decided yet what those are? Do we have metrics yet on what “winning” would be?

    Not to sound like a broken record, but what in actual fuck are we trying to achieve there, anyway?

    1. Well, it no longer applies, but winning a war used to be taking full military, political, and especially economic control of a specific piece of geography, and reaping the financial benefits for the victors.

      Now winning has no meaning, so it cannot be done. Trust me, If the Soviet Union had to give up, it can’t be done.
      I am not aware of any instance of a nation-state going into a tribal region anywhere on earth, and remaining in charge over more than a few years. Great Britain in India is probably the closest, not quite 90 years.

      1. If the Soviet Union had to give up, it can’t be done.

        Agreed. Logistically much easier for them, and they failed miserably.

        Great Britain in India is probably the closest, not quite 90 years.

        I think you’re general point is reinforced by the fact that it’s a little bizarre to refer to 18th century India as “a tribal region.”

    2. For your last point:
      Although there isn’t any evidence that the CIA directly supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda, some basis for military support of the Taliban was provided when, in the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency) provided arms to Afghans resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the ISI assisted the process of gathering radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the Soviets.[9] Osama Bin Laden was one of the key players in organizing training camps for the foreign Arab volunteers, although his organization, Maktab al-Khidamat, was exclusively Saudi funded.
      The Taliban were based in the Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan regions and were overwhelmingly ethnic Pashtuns and predominantly Durrani Pashtuns.
      So (un)evidently, we are trying to create the Taliban.

      1. So (un)evidently, we are trying to create the Taliban.

        And this is basically the same clusterfuck of an attitude that’s driving our involvement in Syria. The US Fed Gov acts like there’s some other population to draw from that hasn’t been mired in bloody feuds for as long as anyone can remember.

        The real answer to my question, which I think we all already know, is “we’re occupying the chair that we know the Taliban is waiting to sit in the very moment we leave, which will then reveal what a stupid and pointless waste of time, blood, and money this whole affair has been. That revelation must be delayed until the problem goes away (fingers crossed).”

  7. Hamid Karzai . . . denied that 9/11 was plotted in Afghanistan.

    Because it almost certainly wasn’t. Osama bin Laden himself in fact probably had fairly little to do with it beyond suggesting it as a goal.

    Osama was a famous and visible figure who was clearly tied to other high-profile terrorist activities in the 90s, and so he made a good villain to focus the warboner rage on. That the Taliban happened to be sheltering him at the time was simply him calling in an old favor from his mujahid days in the 80s at a time when he had worn out his welcome in every even halfway civilized Muslim country on the planet (which is why the other great AQ stronghold had been the Sudan, where Osama had been prior his bringing US firepower down on that country, causing his strongly-encouraged-by-the-locals relocation to Afghanistan in the first place).

    They have no love of Arabs in Afghanistan, and while Osama was a national hero, word was that the Afghan people were less than thrilled with the thousands of Arabs he brought along with him that they were expected to harbor.

    The fact that the Afghan people see no rhyme or reason whatsoever to all the various unwelcome foreigners in their country is entirely unsurprising – I read recently that Afghans simply refer to all white people as “Russians,” because it’s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other to them.

    1. Clearly we need to make them woke while we’re busy winning there.

  8. McCain says that if Trump is unable to decide on a strategy by Saturday, he will offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that sets out a strategy.

    When will the cancer in this guy’s brain fucking kill him already? Better yet, drop him in the middle of the country and let the locals figure out what to do with him.

    1. drop him in the middle of the country and let the locals figure out what to do with him.

      In Afghanistan or here?

      1. S=C-
        That was my question as well. Both options offer intriguing possibilities.

        1. They already tried that once. It didn’t take.

  9. Not really a war.

    More of a meddling in other countries bizness. Or World Police. Or nation building.

  10. “Trump, who was relatively skeptical of nation-building exercises while on the campaign trail, has been hesitant to commit more troops to Afghanistan”

    It bears repeating that this, coupled with the end of CIA funded Syrian opposition, and the president’s expressed willingness to talk with leaders of North Korea and Iran have vindicated Walter Block and the Mises Institute when they suggested that Trump was the most anti-interventionist of the presidential candidates (with the exception of Jill Stein).

    Nick Gillespie owes Walter Block and apology (for multiple reasons)

    1. He did support bombing Syria, though. It’s the last time both the congressional Dems and Reps had a giddy masturbathon over how great bipartisanship is and what it has to offer us all, and the world.

      But yes, here’s to hoping that was a one-off for Trump. I’m skeptical.

      1. It was the only thing I was hopeful for from him. I really feel this is a rare issue that is truly moral. We cannot go and kill other people. If we’re going to fuck our own country, fine, but let’s not murder others.

  11. McCain says that if Trump is unable to decide on a strategy by Saturday, he will offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that sets out a strategy.

    Ah, the Obama Doctrine – if one branch of government refuses to take action on a request from another branch, the requesting branch is then authorized to take such action, using his pen and phone. I suppose turn-about is fair play – if the Commander-in-Chief refuses to issue orders to the Army then any lesser officer may issue such commands as he sees fit.

    On an unrelated point, I have requested that the Senate expel John McCain but they have refused to take action on my request. Therefore, I am hereby ordering, in the name of the people of the United States of America, John McCain to step down from his office by August 5, 2017 or face violent bodily expulsion.

  12. WE have to suffer more military casualties because Malala.

  13. Thank you for the Starship Troopers reference in the alt-text.

  14. And cut the profits of the Military Industrial complex? Are you people nuts.

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