Afghanistan: Trump listens to his generals

President Trump has paved the way for increased US troops in Afghanistan. His military advisors have convinced him that withdrawing US forces from the country would leave a dangerous power vacuum. Trump stressed, however, that the goal was not nation-building but killing terrorists. Is this the right strategy?

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The Times (GB) /

Reason has returned to the White House

The Times is relieved that Trump has backed down from his long-standing demand for troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan:

“Crucially, he has chosen engagement over isolation in an intractable international problem that cannot be resolved without American involvement. This is a victory for mainstream foreign policy and military advice over the maverick and isolationist views of the former White House strategist Steve Bannon. With luck it could also signal the return of American engagement on other fronts. Mr Trump's speech to armed forces personnel on Monday night was the most measured of his administration so far. It reflected a change of heart and he admitted as much.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Killing terrorists is not a strategy

The taz fears the worst now that Trump has announced that the top priority is "killing terrorists":

“Because while the deployment alone of more US soldiers is likely to lead to an escalation of the war and more civilian victims, the abandonment of nation-building as well as Trump's Rambo-style rhetoric further increase the danger for the people in Afghanistan. In his speeches peppered with patriotic slogans Trump promises victory. But it remains unclear how he plans to achieve this. At best with his strategy, which isn't worthy of the name, he will be able to delay a military defeat and pass on the problem of the Afghanistan conflict to his successor. At worst, after thousands more victims, the US under Trump will end up more hated than ever in Afghanistan.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Decades of mistakes

US President Trump's announced troop reinforcement won't put an end the decades-long war in Afghanistan, Die Presse warns:

“For things to develop positively it would be necessary to reach a peaceful settlement between the interest groups, reduce corruption and cronyism and create functioning structures. That's something the Afghanis themselves must work at. But through decades of war and chaos people came to power in many parts of the country who don't share those priorities. And the international aid hasn't brought any lasting success. The efforts put into so-called state building have been insufficient in many regions. And considerable sums of international funds have disappeared into the pockets of corrupt government officials - who the West supported as allies against the Taliban.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Business as usual in Afghanistan

The new US strategy won't change much, Dagens Nyheter is certain:

“Basically there's no telling the difference between Trump's plan and that of his predecessor. ... The Taliban have gained ground militarily. They have contacts with Russia, while Iran is trying to create a bridgehead in Afghanistan. Trump's US could be forced to remain for an unforeseeable period. A retreat would mean handing power over to the Taliban. ... The Afghan army can't cope with the situation on its own, and the US is unable to take any decisions to speak of. So basically all the Taliban need is patience. And no one has a roadmap to victory. The only thing that could end the war is talks between Kabul and the Taliban. But there's not so much as a negotiating table.”