Dr. Walid Phares: Comments on Trump’s strategy on Afghanistan/Matthew Kazin: Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Support is ‘not a blank check’


Comments on Trump’s strategy on Afghanistan
Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 22/17

I see five points made by the President on the new US policy regarding Afghanistan
1) Moving away from President Obama’s withdrawal policy from all battlefields with the Jihadists, from Iraq to Afghanistan, President Trump is right to argue that if we leave Afghanistan as is, it would mainly fall to the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS. Such a nightmare is not acceptable for the region and for US national security. So the US needs to remain engaged as long as the threat is omnipresent.
2) The Taliban and other Jihadi groups have used Pakistan as a base and this must stop. Regardless of if these groups are hosted, tolerated or imposing themselves, the US should engage Pakistan, a nuclear power, to insure the dismantlement of these networks. Aid to Pakistan according to President Trump should be linked to the elimination of the Jihadi network in that country
3) Trump favored a partnership with India against the terror forces, but requested that India invested heavily in Afghan economy. India should help financially in the recovery of Afghanistan
4) Back to Afghanistan: Trump wants to use more assets, as much as needed, in order to defeat the Taliban. A better posture than Obama’s for sure. The US should be able to decisively win on the ground. But the question is how do we win in Afghanistan? It sounds that the President’s advisors have convinced him that by weakening the Taliban, the latter somehow will negotiate. I am not sure. For over the past 16 years, we’ve seen that the Taliban and the Jihadists negotiate when they are weakened then leap when they get stronger. This is an open ended war based on how the Taliban maneuvers. It won’t work. You’d need a decisive victory over the Jihadists. It has to begin on the battlefield but what comes next is not negotiations with the Taliban but with their opponents. Otherwise the Madrassas will reproduce more terrorists
5) The missing point the President didn’t discuss was the Afghan people itself. The Kabul Government and the Taliban were mentioned, but not the people of Afghanistan. Since 2001, a whole new Afghanistan was born. Civil society has evolved as well: women, youth, minorities. There are new political parties, there are new NGOs, and a whole segment of society is up to battle the Jihadists. They need to be integrated in the US strategy and we need to partner with them. We can’t win without them. The Administration needs to add an extension to its strategy factoring in the people of Afghanistan or else we will lose again The President’s new strategy has the merit of changing the course from the past policies and committing to defeat the enemy decisively. But it needs to present a path to political victory on top of the military one

Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Support is ‘not a blank check’
Matthew Kazin/Fox News/August 21/17
Takeaways from Trump’s Afghanistan speech
Army Special Forces veteran Ben Collins, former State Department press officer Morgan Ortagus, former Trump campaign national security advisor Walid Phares on President Trump’s speech in Virginia.
President Donald Trump announced late Monday evening changes to the U.S. strategy in the Afghanistan, saying America must maintain a military presence in the country as the consequences of a quick exit would be “predictable and unacceptable.”
“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists—including ISIS and Al Qaeda—would instantly fill, just as happened before Sept. 11,” Trump said in a prime-time address before a group of U.S. service members at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.
The president said America’s interests in the Middle Eastern countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan are to prevent the “re-emergence of safe-havens,” which allow terrorists to thrive and threaten the U.S., and to stop nuclear weapons and materials from reaching terrorists. Though he did not talk about number of additional troops that would be deployed to the region, Fox News reported earlier in the day Opens a New Window. that Trump approved sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. has about 8,400 troops in the area.
Following what he called a “comprehensive review” with his cabinet and generals at Camp David last week, Trump announced the new strategy in the Middle East would rest upon multiple “pillars,” including a transition from a “time-based approach to one based on conditions” and a shift in policy regarding Pakistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists.”
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Additionally, Trump said the U.S. would focus on working with allies instead of using the military to rebuild nations with an American “image,” and allow Afghans to secure and rebuild their country.
“America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The American people expect to see real reforms and real results.”
Despite the new strategy in Afghanistan, Trump, who has stepped up military action in the country since taking office, has not always been in favor of keeping U.S. forces in the region. He admitted in his speech Monday night that his “original instinct was to pull out,” and tweeted in 2013—then a private citizen—against keeping troops in the war-torn country.
Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2013
Trump’s message on Monday, however, was clear when it came to what he hopes to accomplish by maintaining a U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
“Our troops will fight to win,” he said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.”