New strategy will help, but not end, Afghanistan War

This state of perpetual war cannot continue; the U.S. must end the war as quickly and completely as possible.

Afghanistan+Boarder+Police+won%27t+be+able+to+defend+Afghanistan+without+US+help.
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New strategy will help, but not end, Afghanistan War

Afghanistan Boarder Police won't be able to defend Afghanistan without US help.

Afghanistan Boarder Police won't be able to defend Afghanistan without US help.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, public domain, by Daniel Wilkenson

Afghanistan Boarder Police won't be able to defend Afghanistan without US help.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, public domain, by Daniel Wilkenson

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, public domain, by Daniel Wilkenson

Afghanistan Boarder Police won't be able to defend Afghanistan without US help.

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On September 11 2001, America was attacked. Al Qaeda terrorists killed over 3,000 Americans by crashing hijacked aircraft into the twin towers and the Pentagon. We have been at war ever since. Soon, U.S citizens will join the military who were not even alive during 9/11. When the U.S. invaded, according to a New York Times reporter, the Taliban collapse was “so sudden and so unexpected that government officials and commentators on strategy…are finding it hard to explain.” Unfortunately, this success did not last. The Taliban has continued to fight an insurgency against the United States and the Afghanistan National Government.  This state of perpetual war cannot continue; the U.S. must end the war as quickly and completely as possible.

When Trump became the third president to oversee the Afghanistan War, he announced a new strategy at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. Although President Trump had made campaign promises to withdraw U.S forces from Afghanistan, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis were able to convince President Trump to stay in the war. As Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War says: “If America’s experience in Iraq offers any single, unambiguous lesson, it is the folly of just walking away. The United States must not repeat this mistake in Afghanistan. Isolation and disengagement have severely damaged American credibility and security, as can be seen most dramatically in Ukraine today…. Among other things, it would hand al-Qaeda yet another unearned victory after much effort and sacrifice had driven it to the brink of defeat.” Leaving a power vacuum would allow the Taliban to quickly take back control of the government and give a safe haven to al-Qaeda, eroding any progress that the U.S. has made.

Although his speech was deliberately vague, President Trump did make a concrete policy change by announcing an end to timetables on U.S forces: “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.” The Obama strategy of using timetables to gradually withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan enabled the Taliban to simply wait out the United States. This change is an important step in winning the war, but this is just one part of the reforms the military must make to change the tide of the war.

Leaving a power vacuum would allow the Taliban to quickly take back control of the government and give a safe haven to al-Qaeda, eroding any progress that the U.S. has made.”

— Gus Beringer

The main obstacle the Trump administration will face in the Afghanistan War is the opium trade. According to Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alfred McCoy, “In the almost fifteen years of continuous combat since the US invasion of 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency largely because the United States could not control the swelling surplus from the county’s heroin trade. As opium production surged from a minimal 180 tons to a monumental 8,200 in the first five years of US occupation, Afghanistan’s soil seemed to have been sown with the dragon’s teeth of ancient Greek myth. Every poppy harvest yielded a new crop of teenaged fighters for the Taliban’s growing guerrilla army.” Because the U.S. has not attacked the source of funding, the Taliban has continued to grow despite the U.S. invasion.

However, the U.S. can’t easily stop opium production. When the provincial governor Gulab Mangal visited the town Marja in the Helmand province, a widow told him that, “If they come with tractors, I will lie down in front of the tractors and they will have to roll over me and kill me before they can kill my poppy.” Afghanistan’s economy is addicted to opium. The Trump Administration will have no easy options for ending the trade in Afghanistan.

The state of perpetual war can’t continue. The Trump Administration must find some way to bring an end to America’s longest war. Just packing up and leaving will not save Afghanistan, but we can not stay without solving the inherent problems that keep the Taliban alive.

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