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Trump could fail like Afghanistan like Bush or Obama

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 | World News

Donald Trump has changed the Afghanistan strategy of his country again. There is no more talk of withdrawal, quite the opposite. Many of his followers bumped the Republican into the head. In the end, Trump could fail similarly to the Hindukush as before Bush and Obama.

In his 26-minute speech to the nation on Monday, Trump radiated an attitude that has become a hallmark of his presidency: the attitude of having something in hand. How Trump wants the war in Afghanistan is still unclear. He spoke in his speech that more US soldiers were sent to the country, but did not want to say how many.

The victory will be clearly defined, said Trump. However, he gave only vague indications as to how a success has to look. This includes dismantling the al-Qaeda terror network and preventing the Taliban from taking control of Afghanistan. The US would not issue a "blank check" to Afghanistan, said Trump. But he did not offer a concrete timeframe for an end to the US operation, which has been going on for 16 years.

  Trumps predecessors had not succeeded in a victory in Afghanistan. Former President George W. Bush had started the war after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Ex-President Barack Obama lifted the number of US soldiers to 100,000, but ultimately failed with his promise to bring the conflict to an end before his departure.

Similar recipes as Obama
Now Trump has the say and has to deal with many of the same challenges that bothered Bush and Obama and made some US officials deeply insecure whether a victory in Afghanistan was possible at all. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and there is corruption in politics. The Taliban is again powerful, and Afghan soldiers are still too weak to secure the country without the help of the Americans.

 Trump brought in many of the same solutions that his predecessors had tried. He promised to deal hard with Afghanistan's neighbors Pakistan, to push for reforms in Afghanistan and to narrow the targets. The US would not get into the mire of a democracy building abroad, Trump said. He promised that a "realism-oriented realism" concentrated only on US interests would guide his decisions. Much of it had also promised Obama.

US soldiers are patrolling in 2003 near the US military base Bagram (Afghanistan). (Source: Aaron Favila / AP / dpa)

Military wins over nationalists
Trumps plan to hold on to Afghanistan's deployment is a victory for the military men, who increasingly make up the inner circle of Trump. For his nationalist supporters, who saw Trump as another skeptic of US interference in long and costly conflicts abroad, the project is a defeat. Above all, Trumps former adviser Stephen Bannon, whose website Breitbart News criticizes the approach of Washington to the Afghanistan war. According to Trump's speech, there was a headline on the website "UNLIMITED WAR".

Another was "How does victory look like in Afghanistan? Washington does not know." This question must be answered by Trump. As a presidential candidate, he had convinced millions of warless voters with an "America First" motto. But he is now faced with the challenge of explaining how this message fits with a US operation in a war abroad, which is expected to take years.

Trump is clear
In a rare moment of public self-reflection, Trump admitted that his attitude to Afghanistan had changed since his arrival. "My original instinct was to withdraw," he said. "But all my life I've heard that decisions are very different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, if you are President of the United States."

Trump pointed to "three basic conclusions" about US interests in Afghanistan. The US would have to "strive for an honorable and lasting result", "worthy of the mighty victim". Trump also warned that a quick retreat would create a vacuum that would fill terrorists like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda group. This would lead to circumstances similar to those before the attacks of 11 September 2001. Trump also said that the security threats in Afghanistan were "immense".

The US currently has about 8400 soldiers in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials proposed to send nearly 4,000 more to the country to strengthen the training and advice of the Afghan security forces and to support anti-terrorist operations against the Taliban and the offshoot of the Terrormiliz Islamic State in Afghanistan.


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