“Yet, when it comes to the actual life-and-death responsibilities of the commander in chief — overseeing America’s vast war machine and sending men and women into conflict — Mr. Trump seems more like the delegator in chief. The latest evidence was his decision this week to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, which could lead to an increase of as many as 5,000 troops, if proposals favored by Mr. Mattis and his generals go forward.
Mr. Mattis has acknowledged to Congress that the United States-led coalition is “not winning” in Afghanistan. It is not at all clear that adding 5,000 more troops — a roughly 50 percent increase over the current troop level of 9,800 — can make a difference, especially when the administration has yet to confront the basic problem of ensuring public safety and the larger political and economic issues that must be part of a comprehensive strategy to resolve the conflict.
What such a decision would do is reverse the drawdown President Barack Obama put in place and set a new policy of expanding involvement in a war that has already dragged on for 16 years, cost thousands of American and Afghan lives and consumed billions of dollars.”
It is a sad day indeed, when the comments are stronger and clearer than the editorial. Here are two comments I support:
As an Afghan Vet, its nice to see someone actually talking critically about the war. The question? Why now? Years ago, while we were slogging it out under rosey predictions, it became clear that our leaders had concluded that Afghanistan was a lost effort and our Soldiers, my fellow Soldiers, were dying either for officers to punch their ‘combat ticket’, or in operations that were almost theatrical, deeply focused on killing, and then total abandonment once the initial attack stopped. Our hands were tied in the face of endemic corruption, local force exploitation and often severe criminality, that rapidly (and very clearly) undermined our strategic efforts – there is no way to build a better state than the Taliban by empowering people even more rapacious and greedy. All of this has been greeted by silence, and even the Times doesn’t seem to want to offer badly needed advice – cut our losses and get out. The War, and everything in Afghanistan, has been badly bungled for years. There is no fixing it, there is only delaying the return of the Taliban (and every power in the region is reaching out to the Taliban in acknowledgment of their expected ascension). The writing is on the wall, and has been for some time. The best policy on Afghanistan is an easy one: end it.