Will Afghanistan ever find peace?
The Russians tried and failed to tame Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and the US has been there since 2001. On top of this is the evolution of ISIS and the booming opium trade, both of which have a serious interest in keeping the area unstable.
As I wrote on Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is now in charge of the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan. “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible,” he said during a hearing on Tuesday.
Two days later, an anonymous Trump Administration source said the Pentagon would be sending nearly 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to help out Army General John Nicholson, who currently leads US forces in the war-torn country. Nicholson calls the situation in Afghanistan a “stalemate” and has asked for “a few thousand” additional forces to help train the Afghans.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon says it hasn’t made any decisions. “Any decisions about troop numbers will be made only after consultation with the interagency, the Afghan government, NATO allies, and coalition partners,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.
The Taliban typically step up the violence during warmer months, so the question is rather urgent. According to a recent assessment, the Afghan government controls less than 60% of the country – nearly 11% less than it did one year ago.
Mattis says it may take weeks for the Pentagon to finish reviewing the strategy for Afghanistan and has promised to deliver a new war plan to Congress by the middle of next month.