Dragging on longer than the Vietnam and Iraq campaigns, Afghanistan is becoming yet another swamp Trump wants to drain in keeping with his colorful election campaign. George W. Bush presided over the two post-9/11 military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq and Barack Obama promised to end them – but the everlasting Afghan war relentlessly rolls on.
everlasting Afghan war relentlessly rolls on.
‘We are not winning’
During a high-profile situation room meeting in July, Trump reportedly told his national security team it’s time for a rapid breakthrough in Afghanistan.
“We are not winning,” he said, as cited in an NBC report. “We are losing.”
Trump, who made headlines after allegedly comparing America’s Afghanistan strategy review with renovations of his favorite Manhattan restaurant, appears to be determined to end the sixteen-year Afghan quagmire.
America must go offensive, Trump argued at the meeting, adding, he will not even hesitate to fire General John Nicholson, commander of the US troops in Afghanistan and hire someone who would bring a steadfast, decisive victory.
But the current state of affairs in Afghanistan – dubbed the ‘Graveyard of Empires’ – suggests how different it is from the conflict’s portrayal in the media and the very perception of it among the elites in Washington.
While military leaders are calculating the risks and floating strategies – ranging from raising troop levels to sending a mercenary-manned air force – the Taliban are quietly securing area by area in the lands they want to cleanse of any foreign presence.
In late July, Taliban fighters assaulted and seized the district of Jani Khel in Paktia province lying south of Kabul. The fall of Jani Khel marked the third victory in a row by the Islamists in just four days.
Previously, the Taliban overran Kohistan district in northern Faryab province after storming the district government’s headquarters, forcing local security forces to retreat to another base. Just hours after the seizure of Kohistan, Taliban fighters captured the Taywara district in western Ghor province.