Sunday, July 30, 2017

Afghan Strategy - A Hard Thing to Do

Trump Administration Still Working on Strategy. The U.S. is once again conducting a review of the strategy needed to fight and end America's longest war. The Trump administration's national security team (State, NSC, DoD) has been working with the White House staff for a new strategic plan that is acceptable to Trump. Despite six months of review there still is not a plan acceptable to the White House. General McMaster (National Security Advisor) has a basic plan centered on an increase of 4K new troops to beef up the Train, Advise, and Assist mission but it has met some initial resistance from SECDEF and State. The White House is looking for something that is more than 'stay the course'. Susan Glasser, chief international affairs columnist at, explains all of this in great detail in "The Trump White House's War Within", Politico Magazine, July 24, 2017.

Do Minerals Make a Difference on If We Stay or Go? It would seem that one thing about Afghanistan has President Trump's attention. The vast riches of minerals in Afghanistan provide possibilities for economic development for the struggling nation and a return on investment for U.S. funding of the Afghan conflict. Read "Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals", The New York Times, July 25, 2017. See also "Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy: Keep the Minerals!", New York Magazine, July 26, 2017.

DoS - Diplomacy is the Answer. The U.S. State Department thinks the way forward in Afghanistan is more diplomacy in the region and an open dialogue with the Afghan government. See "Seeking a Way Forward in Afghanistan, Tillerson Pushers for Diplomacy", Voice of America, July 27, 2017.

Battlefield Victory Will Not Happen. Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy, says that the war will not be won on the battlefield. The Trump administration needs to develop a political strategy that will force the Taliban to the negotiating table. Read more in an article by CBS News,  July 25, 2017.

Playing the Long Game. Peter Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and former deputy assistant secretary of defense says that getting Afghan policy 'right' is better than getting Afghan policy 'fast'. He believes we need to stay committed in the long slog. Read his thoughts in "Brookes: In Afghan terror fight, U.S. must play the long game", Boston Herald, July 28, 2017.

What Should US Do? Luke Coffey of The Heritage Foundation writes about U.S. options in Afghanistan in "U.S. Turning Away From Afghanistan?", Real Clear Defense, July 28, 2017.

One Possibility? Just Up and Leave! Some believe this is a conflict we will never win. Many in the U.S. have had their fill of the Afghan politicians, elites, warlords, drug lords, and corrupt senior security officers. So . . . in a Trump administration one knows that there are surprises behind every tweet. It could happen. One writer explores this topic by interviewing a number of people from diverse backgrounds. Read "What would happen if the United States totally disengaged from Afghanistan?", The Washington Post, July 26, 2017.

EU Proposal for New Afghan Strategy. The European Commission has issued a press release that outlines a new European Union strategy on Afghanistan. The major themes of the proposal include "peace, stability, and regional security"; "democracy, rule of law, and human rights"; "economic and human development"; "migration", and "empowering women". (European Commission, July 24, 2017).

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