A long-anticipated presidential speech was meant to reveal a new US strategy for Afghanistan, giving hope for an end to the 16-year hostilities. Instead, Trump has taken no steps further than his predecessors and paves the way for more violence, observers told RT.
US President Donald Trump presented a new Afghanistan strategy at the Army’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall on Monday. The US leader promised the troops “will fight to win,” saying that terrorists would benefit from the consequences of “a hasty withdrawal.”
Trump also labeled Pakistan “a safe haven” for terrorists and said that the US is running out of patience to see more commitment to peace from the Afghan government.
One of the key points circulating in the media was the boost of troop numbers in Afghanistan, with some talking about 4,000. Meanwhile, even such increase would not make much difference, former US diplomat Jim Jatras said speaking to RT.
“That’s not going to make much difference compared to the much larger number of troops we had there years ago, which did not obviously solve the problem and find some way to get us out of there,” Jatras told RT, adding that nobody really knows the numbers.
The whole speech was far from being a strategy, Jatras believes. He also does not see anything new in it, as Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, and even his electoral competitor Hillary could have said the same.
“It is not a new strategy. I think it’s hard to call it a strategy at all. It’s a set of tactics,” Jatras said. Those tactics “do look very much like what we saw from Barack Obama. Frankly it is a speech that could have been given by President Hillary Clinton or President Jeb Bush.”
At the same time new Trump’s Afghanistan strategy lacks clear goals.
“What it is we are trying to achieve and how we are going to achieve it,” according to Jatras.
The most positive scenario of Trump’s intention is “a kind of surge like we saw in Anbar province in Iraq that at least temporarily superficially stabilized the situation,” which was not ultimately victorious, Jatras stated.
No matter what happens in Afghanistan, from now on it is “Donald Trumps’ war,” and he will get all the blame for any failure.
“Whatever happens for good or for ill he will get the blame… If something gets wrong it will be his fault now, not Barack Obama’s, not George [W.] Bush’s.”
The speech did not give anything to make the lives of the Afghan people better, Richard Becker from the anti-war Answer Coalition said in the interview with RT. While the US justifies troops’ presence as part of the struggle against terrorism, they only cause further insurgency.
“The cause of the insurgency in Afghanistan is the occupation of Afghanistan. They are not going to be able to solve their problem with the speech that was made today,” Becker told RT.
The US invasions have repeatedly opened door for the rise and creation of terrorist organizations that did not exist before.
“We must recall that the rise of these organizations [Al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)] to prominence really came about because of the US invasion in Iraq, the destruction of the government of Libya and the war sponsored by the outside forces against the government of Syria. That is an open space for the real growth and development,” Becker said.
“There was no ISIS in Afghanistan before, now ISIS is in many, many countries.”
While the hostilities are still continuing with at least 40 Afghans dying every day, according to Becker, “there is no government in the United States, neither Bush nor Obama, now the Trump government” that pursues a negotiated settlement that would end the war, Becker concluded.