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Trump’s War

Earlier this week, we heard President Trump speak on the War in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, this speech which was supposed to lay out his vision of the path forward was like many Trump speeches — mostly vague rhetoric without details.  And the handful of specific details were divorced from reality.

As we have come to expect from Trump, when faced with a  difficult issue, he has to blame his predecessors for not solving it.  While it is easy to blame the G.W. Bush Administration for botching the original intervention, Trump, of course, focused his wrath on President Obama.  One can debate whether the “tough love” of giving the Afghanistan government a deadline for getting its act together is better or worse than saying that we will transition out when the Afghanistan government gets its act together.  And despite Trump’s claim that we will not engage in “nation building,” it is difficult to see how we get the right “conditions” in Afghanistan without doing some form of nation building.

However, the first real problem in the speech was Trump’s refusal — in the name of not giving any information to the enemy — to say what our plans are in Afghanistan.  In particular, his refusal to define our goals in Afghanistan.  Saying that we will only withdraw once certain conditions are met is fine.  However, you need to define what those conditions are.  Of course, by not defining those conditions, Trump leaves the door open to the old Soviet approach of declaring victory at some point in the future even though we have actually failed to meet our goals — whatever they actually are. Continue Reading...

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