Trump extends war on Afghanistan, threatens Pakistan

US soldiers in Afghanistan.
August 26, 2017

United States President Donald Trump announced that the US would continue the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which is already the longest war in US history, Democracy Now! reported on August 22.

The Pentagon is likely to deploy about 4000 more US troops to Afghanistan in the coming months. In recent months, the US has intensified its air war in Afghanistan. During June, the US carried out 389 airstrikes in Afghanistan — the highest monthly total in five years.

Award-winning journalist Azmat Khan, who has reported extensively from Afghanistan, told Democracy Now!: “[Trump] repeated a refrain we have heard time and again about both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ... this idea that because the US withdrew hastily, in his view, that the Taliban was able to gain power [in Afghanistan], that ISIS was able to gain power [in Iraq].

“Right now the Taliban controls or retains significant influence in 40 percent of the country. But, to attribute that to a hasty withdrawal [doesn’t] actually added up. So, if you think back to Obama’s troop surge, back in 2010 to Afghanistan, specifically, what was often said was that putting troops in Iraq rather than Afghanistan was the reason why the Taliban was able to take power. So, they committed more than 100,000 troops to the country.

“And you’re essentially hearing the exact same argument you heard then — ‘We can’t withdraw too hastily.’ You’re seeing the exact same arguments being made again.

“And so, the question now is, what’s different? What’s different is this time there’s no timetable for withdrawal.

“What President Trump justified as not wanting to broadcast what America’s intentions are.”

Khan said one difference with the US’s current approach was what “seems to be a perceived shift in the approach towards Pakistan”. He said Trump’s South Asia adviser, Lisa Curtis from the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank, has advocated continuously for a shift in the approach to Pakistan.

Khan pointed out that Curtis has previously advocated extending airstrikes in Pakistan, hitting new areas.

He added: “There really is no advocacy for a political settlement. Given the fact that if you look at this history, this surge of troops has not yielded the result that it was — that was anticipated back when the surge happened in 2010. In fact, the Taliban is stronger today than back then.”

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