Opinion: In Afghanistan, no ‘path to victory’

(AP)

President Trump read a speech about Afghanistan Monday night that somebody else wrote for him, describing a policy that someone else insisted that he accept, or else.

How do we know that?

  • We know that because Trump delivered much of the speech in his “I’ve been taken hostage by bad people and forced to read this aloud to you” voice. As usual in such situations, he became fully animated only when he broke off script to brag or talk about all the winning we would soon do.
  • We know that because some of the speech made actual sense and roughly adhered to accepted rules of grammar and logical thought.
  • We know that because Trump’s usual attention span is so short that it makes eclipse totality seem like an eternity. In other words, he couldn’t be telling us the truth when he bragged that over the past few months, “I studied Afghanistan in great detail, and from every conceivable angle,” and thus came up with this new strategy.

The only times that Trump is capable of studying something in great detail, and from every conceivable angle, is when he’s standing on the green at the 18th hole at Mar-a-Lago, surveying a long putt. Also, when inspecting Miss Universe contestants. Otherwise no.

It also isn’t true that when Trump first took office, “I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems,” as he claimed Monday night. Afghanistan is a big and intricate problem that candidate Trump thought could be solved quickly and easily, basically by walking away from it as a lost cause. That’s what his real-estate developer’s instinct tells him to do — if you somehow inherit somebody else’s troubled project, dump it before it can become your own troubled project.

In this case, however, the generals who advise him — both retired and active duty — have spent the last few months insisting that no, he doesn’t get to do what his instincts tell him to do. Not this time, not on this subject.

If you do walk away, they told him, you will become the president who lost the Afghan War. Trump doesn’t like that idea.

If you do walk away, they added, you also will be repeating Barack Obama’s “hasty withdrawal” in Iraq. They know Trump doesn’t like that idea either.

Besides, the generals told him, we have devised this dramatically new approach toward Afghanistan, a strategy that nobody else had thought of before. It wouldn’t be “nation-building,” which Trump despises, but instead would integrate “all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome.”

In other words, it would be nation-building.  In fact, the strategy laid out by Trump on Monday night is pretty much just a repackaging of the strategy of the previous 16 years, a course that has left us no closer to a self-sustaining pro-Western government in Afghanistan than when we started.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that those generals are there, serving their country in its time of need. Every American should be glad that James Mattis, H.R. McMaster and John Kelly are sucking it up and going to work under this president. By virtue of the stars on their military uniforms and the battles that they’ve seen, they have a natural call upon Trump’s respect enjoyed by almost no one else in Washington.

However, if you take your foreign policy advice almost solely from military leaders, you are going to get military-centric solutions. By training and nature, military leaders are always going to tell you that with some more time and resources, they can turn this thing around. Even when they can’t.

Reader Comments 0

2157 comments
wayayo
wayayo

m??th? a?d re?e?tly paid the l?a?? ?? there mi?i ma??i?? a?d p?rcha?ed a ?ew Alfa R?me? 

っ◔◡◔)っ <http://www.richspath.com

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Visual_Cortex  Didn't see the ads.  Will check them out.  Way, way off topic - I knew Kim and Robyn back at uni

Andy158
Andy158

Also back to making friends in Congress.


Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They...

...didn't do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Andy158  Didn't Trump just give a speech yesterday trying to unite people? lolol

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Andy158  Yep - he's looking for people to blame for his incompetence - Ryan, McConnell and the D's.  They can pass the debt ceiling increase in a 2 line bill in 15 minutes - just keep it clean.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Andy158  I had to go to Trump's Twitter on the web to believe it.  The DH retweeted that!

Peachs
Peachs

@PaulinNH Lester Maddox with a yankee accent, even his followers are swinging ax handles. 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Peachs @PaulinNH  Who knew that covering a statue was exactly the same as blowing it up with explosives?

Peachs
Peachs

@PaulinNH @Peachs except you had a Unabomber looking guy with a knife cutting the ropes. I got to say this exercise is giving us a view of this alt right crowd those robes never allow us to see. 

Andy158
Andy158

@PaulinNH He left out Ashcroft. He was prone to covering a few statues.

Andy158
Andy158

@PaulinNH Of course Ashcroft didn't mind Confederate Generals but he was deathly afraid of a naked boob.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@PaulinNH

It's a very popular meme among "no-I'm-not-a-racist"s, this "you're just like ISIS" business.

Paul42
Paul42

"President Donald Trump is doing more to divide the country, 62 percent of voters say, while 31 percent say he is doing more to unite the country, his worst score on this question, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. "

I suppose the minority, with their sterling reasoning, thinks 'uniting' is the same as "I'm getting MY country back."

https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2482


Peachs
Peachs

@Paul42 @Peachs P if they could just tell me how we are going to be better instead of a country held hostage I might listen, but they can't.

Paul42
Paul42

@Peachs @Paul42 Not just 'how we are going to be better.'  This lot thinks Donald IS doing specific things to unite the country.

They can't even state what that is.  Notice how that post has been up for ten minutes now and we've heard nothing from either td1234 or Philo?

I think they want to get their participation trophies with the least effort possible.

Peachs
Peachs

@Paul42 @Peachs their energy is on us not themselves,like a driver talking to the guy in the backseat and not watching the road. 

Peachs
Peachs

We shut down the government, we cannot cut off funding to sanctuaries in Cal. , we cannot bully immigrants, golf and conflict at the American tax payers expense. What a great time for blue rich states who have not been operated like banana republics to take over their own funding and stop having to subsidize beggar states like Ga and Ala.  This shut down stuff only works when you are dependent on it, and not when it gives you relief from a do nothing Trump agenda on the backs of successful but can't vote blue states. 

honested
honested

@Peachs 

Meanwhile, our junior Senator cannot find the time to have an open Town Hall, yet he was able to squeak by a couple of hours to hang with the Sandy Springs Chamber yesterday (you know, donors and all).

Peachs
Peachs

@honested @Peachs and stand by Trump in immigration reforms, while crops rot in the fields of Ga. at the tune of 3 billion, outside the fake crop damage payoff for lost crops they couldn't pick and get insurance checks for 80%.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@honested @Peachs

As our td has consplained several times--why should any GOPer bother to meet in a setting where he might encounter those who didn't vote for him?

It's not like they're his constituents, right?

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

Has Trump explained yet how he is going to force price increases for natural gas? 

That's the only possible way to get folks to buy coal.  Natural gas is cheaper than coal, safer, cleaner, and the power plants are easier and cheaper to build, operate and maintain. 

Maybe Trump's plan is to simply outlaw natural gas?  Or destroy the free market?

Peachs
Peachs

@Nick_Danger Texas would succeed from the union, once again not a bad thing!

Andy158
Andy158

“We've ended the war on beautiful, clean coal, and it's just been announced that a second, brand-new coal mine, where they're going to take out clean coal — meaning, they're taking out coal, they're going to clean it — is opening in the state of Pennsylvania,” Trump said


See, they take a bottle of 409 and some paper towels and clean all the pollution off the coal. Moron. I can't figure out which is more disturbing, his inability to form a coherent sentence or his staggering ignorance... about everything.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Didn't Hillary say she did something similar to her hard drive?

honested
honested

@Philo_Farnsworth 

No.

Aside from maybe lester maddox, I cannot remember a more grossly ignorant elected official in my lifetime.

Andy158
Andy158

Listen,, Phido, there's a big difference between bleach and 409. Try to keep up.

Peachs
Peachs

@Philo_Farnsworth lock her up Jack, and when you do you will still have this mess you have put on us, that is doing nothing for jobs, immigration, healthcare or a hundred other things. So if locking Hillary up gets you back to the dull reality of failure on your watch, we will sacrifice Hillary, we do soldiers in your wars every week, why not a jail cell for Hillary.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Peachs @Philo_Farnsworth

That's a tantalizing proposal implicit. What would we DFHs do in exchange for letting the RWNHs see Hils in chains?

I'd settle for a requirement that they never get to utter the words "race card" again.

Peachs
Peachs

@honested @Philo_Farnsworth I was telling my wife that last night! Georgia has had worse than this in their governors, I think that is why this doesn't faze them as much as it should. There was the rural run state of Ga and the money machine Atlanta, and they left each other alone.