Trump ramps up 16-year war with pledge for more soldiers
DONALD TRUMP flip-flopped his way into escalating the unwinnable war in Afghanistan yesterday after basing much of his election campaign on pulling US forces out.
The US president, who berated his predecessor Barack Obama continually for not ending the war, succumbed to his generals’ demands to increase US troop levels, initially by a further 4,000.
“My original instinct was to pull out,” he confessed, claiming to have been convinced by his national security advisers to strengthen US capacity to prevent the Taliban from ousting the rickety Kabul government.
Before being elected, Mr Trump advocated speedy withdrawal, tweeting in 2013: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”
Having shown his sure-footed grasp of the situation in Afghanistan by confusing the Afghani unit of currency with Afghans who live there, he attempted to distinguish his decision to extend the war from Mr Obama’s by explaining: “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”
The US president expressed his confidence that Washington’s allies would cough up more troops to join him on his war chariot.
The increasingly lame-duck leader also criticised Pakistan for giving extremists a safe haven, demanding “immediate” results without saying what might happen if Pakistan ignores his vague warning.
The Pakistani military worked closely with the CIA to fund, arm and train the Islamist mojahedin who fought against the progressive Najibullah government in Kabul in the 1980s and ’90s before subsequently setting up and supporting the Taliban to fight against the US-backed post-2001-invasion administration.
Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor insisted on Monday night: “There is no organised network of terrorists in Pakistan and actions have been taken without any discrimination against all terrorist organisations.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn proved politically more consistent than the US president, declaring: “The war in Afghanistan has failed. After 16 years of bloodshed and destruction, the Taliban are undefeated and terrorism is no less of a threat at home. In fact, it has spread.”
He made clear that the British government should tell President Trump that “his strategy of more bombing and a new troop surge will continue this failure, not obediently applaud his latest policy U-turn.”
Stop the War convener Lindsey German echoed Mr Corbyn’s declaration that the war in Afghanistan has been a failure.
“The Taliban control half the country and there is more of a threat of terrorism now than when it began.
“All foreign troops must leave and Theresa May must break the special relationship and cancel his [Mr Trump’s] state visit,” she demanded.
In contrast, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon backed Mr Trump’s bluster to the hilt, insisting that US allies must “stay the course” in the conflict.
However, he gave no indication of considering an increase to Britain’s current 500-strong deployment, stressing that an additional 85 troops were committed as recently as June.