Saagar Enjeti, DCNF
President Donald Trump’s national security cabinet is trying to persuade him to green-light a plan to send thousands more of U.S. troops to Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Trump is deeply skeptical of increasing the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan and is upset at how much ground the the Afghan National Security Forces have lost to the Taliban despite billions of dollars in U.S. assistance. Trump is even reportedly considering firing the top U.S. commander in charge of the war.
“We are losing,” Trump declared in a June 19 meeting of the National Security Council. Trump dispatched his advisers to present him with new options in Afghanistan, which has sparked increasing discussion amongst his advisers.
“We keep going back and forth on it,” an NSC official told The Daily Beast of the new options to present to Trump on Afghanistan.
Trump’s advisers may have difficulty finding a new approach that has yet to be tried in America’s longest war.
“There are no easy answers, there are no easy solutions. After 16 years, a lot of different approaches have been tried or at least considered,” former U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller recently told Voice of America. “There aren’t really a lot of new ideas,” she declared.
Some officials are now reportedly mulling putting forward a plan to withdraw U.S. troops altogether. “It is becoming clearer and clearer to people that those are the options: go forward with something like the strategy we have developed, or withdraw,” a senior administration official told WSJ. “It doesn’t work unless we are there for a long time, and if we don’t have the appetite to be there a long time, we should just leave. It’s an unanswered question.”
The U.S. special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction recently found that the Afghan government only controls approximately 60 percent of the country. The U.S. has spent approximately $700 billion in the war but still faces a corrupt partner force and paralyzed government. The Taliban insurgent movement is stronger than ever, controlling more territory than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
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