Late Monday evening, August 21st 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he would be ignoring his instincts, choosing instead to send thousands of new troops into Afghanistan in what he calls a “new strategy” for the country. While some had reserved hope that the President called his press conference to announce that he would end the War in Afghanistan and bring our troops home, his decision really shouldn’t have came as much of a surprise.
In fact, earlier this year in June of 2017 it was widely reported that James Mattis sought to deploy 4,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, adding to the 8,500 currently stationed there. While Mattis later backed off of these sentiments, as it turns out from the news today, these reports were spot on and the United States will indeed be sending 4,000 more troops into War. Trump even said himself that he only made the decision to move these troops on the advice of Mattis himself.
Trump specifically said that he hopes our divided country can come together and “unite” in “support of our troops” in this time of crisis, a sentiment that I adamantly dispute. I mean, does ‘supporting our troops‘ mean sending thousands of new troops to fight in an old War. Wouldn’t it be more supportive of our troops to bring them all home to their families and end the War? Is it “Patriotic” to blindly support any War, just because it is “America” fighting in it? If so, what does that even say about Patriotism in the first place?
Thankfully, I am not alone in my condemnation of Donald Trumps statements and actions this evening. Immediately following Donald Trump’s speech, Rand Paul came out with a response of his own, condemning the US War effort in Afghanistan and vowing to hold US Congress accountable by making them vote on a Declaration of War – such as the US Constitution mandates. In an Op-Ed published by The Hill on August 21st 2017, Paul also goes on to state how:
With that said, there were some other statements in Donald Trumps speech tonight that simply should not be overlooked, and also merit a response. In the remainder of this article I will attempt to explain to you some of the fallacies surrounding the US War in Afghanistan that President Trump touched on tonight, as well as some addition information about the War campaign in general that might give you a broader “perspective” on this whole situation.
Clearing Up Some Facts About The US War Effort in Afghanistan
Despite Donald Trump and Lindsey Graham’s claims that the people of Afghanistan are living a much higher quality of life today than they were 16 years ago, this simply is not the case. In 2017, not only has the Islamic State moved into the country in higher numbers and committed a record number of attacks over recent years, but civilian casualties inside the country have also reached all time highs. For example, nearly 8,000 civilians died as collateral damage of the Afghan War in 2016, the highest recorded number since the United Nations started documenting such statistics.
Donald Trump also claimed that the Taliban are currently weaker than they ever have been before, which is nothing more than an outright lie. According to several countries and international organizations, including the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the FSB in Russia, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the United Nations, not only does the Taliban hold more territory in Afghanistan today than they did in 2001, but their profit margins from selling opium throughout the Middle East has also never been higher than it is today.
In fact, some argue that no one has “profited” more from the US War effort in Afghanistan than the Taliban. Don’t take my word for it though, all of the reports referenced above are directly linked from these organizations in the article attached to the Twitter posting below:
Outside of this, we have to look at the bigger picture when it comes to the country of Afghanistan itself. More specifically, its geographic positioning on the map. Before moving forward, I would like to draw attention to a few other headlines in the news recently, such as Donald Trumps claims that Iran has been violating the terms of the Iranian Nuclear Deal signed under President Obama.
By now, it is no secret that if Trump had his way the US would have never signed the treaty in the first place and sub-sequentially enough, has been exploring every opportunity possible to get out of the arrangement altogether.
Logistically speaking, a large part of the War effort the United States is fighting against inside Afghanistan is funded by Iran, whom happens to share a border with Afghanistan. It is also no secret that Iran’s presence along the Persian Gulf and the surrounding areas is also another key factor in “one” of the US’s “other Wars” in Yemen.
Something that many people have long argued about the War in Afghanistan, including myself, is that the United States never actually entered the country “to win” or conquer anything in the first place. What I mean by this is that the US invaded Afghanistan solely for “geo-strategic positioning” purposes, not necessarily to win any sort of real War. This also explains how and why we have been in the country for more than 16 years now, but lack any discernible clear path to “victory” in the foreseeable future.
As it stands today the US has some of its largest and most active international military bases inside the country of Afghanistan, something it did not have prior to 2001. Perhaps more importantly, when looking at a map, these basses also exist on the Western border of Iran, blocking off the country from Russia and Asia. When we invaded Iraq two years later in 2003 we were then able to place new bases on Iran’s Eastern borders, essentially surrounding their country from both “flanks.” Maintaining a military presence around Iran is surely a high priority for the US’s national defense strategy, which also explains why we haven’t ended the War in Afghanistan to date, because the US does not want to lose or close all of the bases it has worked so hard to position on Iran’s western borders.
Taking into considering all of Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric towards Iran over recent months, I think it would be naive to think that Iran presence in the region is not a major contributing factor the US’s continued War in Afghanistan. Consequentially enough, this is also why no one should be expecting the Afghan War to stop anytime soon either.