Candidate Donald Trump promised a new approach to American foreign policy and national security. One that emphasized securing our domestic borders and defeating Islamism by destroying the Islamic State and organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, that support and encourage Muslims to enforce, through terrorism, their Sharia law and culture upon the rest of the world.
However, after the successful campaign to discredit and oust former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, the innovative thought leader behind much of Donald Trump’s new approach to the war Islam has declared on the West, the Trump administration has rapidly reverted to the failed national security policies of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
Not to minimize the influence of the many Obama holdovers still in place, but from National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster, to Dina Habib Powell, President Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, to Marshall Billingslea, a Bush State Department and Pentagon alumni, who was nominated to be assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the Department of the Treasury; and John J. Sullivan, who served in senior posts in the Justice, Defense and Commerce Departments during the Bush administration, and was nominated to be deputy secretary of state, Bush national security thinking is beginning to permeate the Trump administration.
The latest evidence of this unfortunate reversal in President Trump’s policies is the subtle announcement that the United States is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan to bolster the failing Afghan army.
According to the New York Times, Washington Post and other establishment media outlets, senior Trump administration and military officials are recommending sending several thousand additional American troops to Afghanistan to try to break a military deadlock in the 15-year war there, in part by pressuring the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.
The recommendation, which has yet to be approved by President Trump, is allegedly the product of a broad review by the Pentagon, the State Department, intelligence community and other government agencies on America’s longest war. It is broadly consistent with advice Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, gave Congress in February.
The notion that we can broker a peace and some sort of coalition with the Taliban is a folly born of desperation to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.
It is also broadly consistent with the policies President Nixon implemented in Vietnam in the early 1970s that led to a vast increase in American deaths before the Paris Peace Accords allowed the US to withdraw from Southeast Asia and the Communists to takeover Vietnam, kill thousands if not millions of our erstwhile allies and unleash the vast surge of refugees represented by the “boat people” of Vietnam.
This advice also demonstrates that our top echelon at the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the State Department have learned nothing from 15 years of war in Afghanistan.
Despite the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives poured into geography last conquered by Alexander the Great, nothing the generals and best and brightest of the intelligence community have proposed has worked.
From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, nothing American leaders have done has achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.
And the reason for this failure has nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it has everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.
As broadly stated by Karl W. Eikenberry, modern COIN doctrine stresses the need to protect civilian populations, eliminate insurgent leaders and infrastructure, and help establish a legitimate and accountable host-nation government able to deliver essential human services.*
This, I note, is something we cannot even do in Chicago, let alone in Afghanistan.
The stated aim of the 2009 “surge” and associated COIN operations was to secure the Afghan people by employing the method of “clear, hold, and build” — in other words, push the insurgents out, keep them out, and use the resulting space and time to establish a legitimate government, build capable security forces, and improve the Afghan economy. With persistent outside efforts, advocates of the COIN doctrine asserted, the capacity of the Afghan government would steadily grow, the levels of U.S. and international assistance would decline, and the insurgency would eventually be defeated.
This obviously hasn’t happened and the why is equally obvious and clear – the enemy in Afghanistan isn’t the Taliban insurgency; it is immutable doctrine of Islam and the allegiance of the majority of the Afghan people to a misogynistic 7th Century Sharia-based Muslim culture.
While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could defeat the Taliban, that wouldn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.
Fanned by Iran, and other sources of Islamism, it would op-up again unless Afghan society is completely remade, a multi-generational job of nation building that few, if any, Americans would support and even fewer Afghans would welcome.
At this point integrity demands that I stipulate at one time I was in favor – vocally – of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fifteen years of observing, listening, and learning have convinced me that our political leaders have betrayed the bravery and sacrifice of our troops by failing to deploy all of the means of our national power against the real enemy – Islamism.
Until we fight the whole war against Islamism – not just the one on the kinetic battlefield – sending one more American to Afghanistan is an act every bit as immoral and unsupportable as sending thousands of brave Americans into the jungles of Vietnam, not to win the war, but so that American political leaders could declare victory and go home.
George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ.com. A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
*I recommend an excellent article in Foreign Affairs, “The Limits of Counterinsurgency Doctrine in Afghanistan” by KARL W. EIKENBERRY, the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Eikenberry served as Commanding General of the Combined Forces Command–Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 and as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011.