At the end of April, the Army announced that it would be sending 1,500 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne division, along with 200 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, to Afghanistan for support missions this Summer. According to reports, thousands more could be joining them soon.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that senior officials are asking the President to send up to 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in an “effort to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table.”
Stepping up military action in the 15-year-old conflict would be in stark contrast to Trump’s previous position on Afghanistan.
It is time to get out of Afghanistan. We are building roads and schools for people that hate us. It is not in our national interests.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2012
Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don’t know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2012
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
According to a report by Bloomberg, the push for more troops in Afghanistan comes from national security adviser General H.R. McMaster as part of an overall, more ambitious strategy working alongside Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani to increase action against the Taliban. Instead of setting arbitrary deadlines, the military would remain in the country until Ghani’s government is able to meet certain goals.
However, Bloomberg also points out that some advisers caution that supporting Ghani’s government even more is not necessarily a good thing and probably will not work:
Throughout the deliberations, some officials raised concern that the plan would be throwing good money after bad, according to the U.S. officials.
This worry is not without basis. The U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction wrote in January that: “Afghanistan suffers from limited institutional capacity to conduct basic governmental functions, and from widespread and systemic corruption that consistently places it near the bottom of international rankings for public perception of corruption.”
Of course, the neoliberal media is already cheering for the troop increases. Following their glowing reviews of the MOAB bombing last month, CNN says of a moderate troop increase, “if Trump’s goal is to defeat the Taliban and terrorist cells in Afghanistan, the increase may not be sufficient to accomplishing the goal.”
[W]ithout a strong American military role, the Taliban and more extreme groups like the Islamic State’s Afghan wing would most likely gain ground, weakening Mr. Trump’s vow to defeat Islamic extremists. Pulling back would also put Mr. Trump at odds with generals whom he embraced and turned to for national security advice.
It is comforting to know that we have just two choices in the matter: putting thousands of troops in harm’s way, or letting the terrorists (in a country roughly 7,000 miles away) win.