In a recent meeting, President Trump correctly told his generals that they were “losing” the war in Afghanistan, rejected their proposed strategy, and sent them back to the drawing board to create a new one.
Like chronic alcoholism, compulsive American meddling in the affairs of other countries can only be recovered from by admitting the problem exists in the first place.
President Trump has partially accomplished this first step by recognizing what has been obvious for years, but an even more enlightened conclusion would be that the war has been “lost” for quite some time now and the only solution is to withdraw U.S. forces as quickly as possible.
However, that is not the new strategy that the generals will likely come up with. Instead, as in Vietnam, they will continue to say—and probably even believe—that a turnaround is still possible. They have had 16 years to “win” the war, but have abjectly failed to do so.
In any counterinsurgency war, if the insurgents are not losing, they are winning. Fighting guerrilla style means that insurgents use hit and run tactics against the weak points of a generally stronger enemy (usually government or foreign forces) and then flee before the stronger side can catch them.
Over time, the guerrillas are hoping to make the stronger party exhausted, and if it is a foreign occupier, make the war so costly in lives and money that that participant eventually goes back home.
The Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan are not only winning by not losing and hanging on, they are winning absolutely by capturing and holding more of the Afghan government’s territory.
Thus, after 16 years of fighting, approximately 2,400 American military deaths, more than 20,000 wounded, 1,200 U.S. civilian contractor deaths, and a whopping half trillion dollars wasted in this quagmire, instead of cutting its losses, the Trump administration seems to be willing to let the military re-escalate the war by sending 3,000 to 5,000 additional U.S.troops in.
Such forces would continue to “advise and assist” chronically illiterate, incompetent, corrupt, and AWOL Afghan security forces. And despite their job description, U.S. forces do fight in combat and still continue to take casualties.
If 100,000 U.S. troops could not subdue Afghanistan, the only way U.S.-trained Afghan forces could do so is if they were impeccably honest and competent forces who knew the pulse of the Afghan people—so they could get good intelligence on who the clandestine…