An Afghanistan Strategy for Trump

An Afghanistan Strategy for Trump by Ronald Neumann, David Petraeus and Earl Anthony Wayne, The National Interest

Good strategies are essential for the priority national-security challenges America faces, whether it is Syria, ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea or Afghanistan.

President Trump is dispatching National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster to Afghanistan as part of a U.S. strategy in that key country. Afghanistan is America’s longest-standing commitment in the post-9/11 struggle against terrorism and remains a frontline state in that effort. In February, the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan testified that some twenty terrorist groups are operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the “highest concentration” in the world.

Despite massive investments by the United States and its allies, Afghanistan still faces a vigorous Taliban insurgency with safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, as well as serious governance and development challenges. The Trump administration is wisely taking a careful look at the U.S. approach, including the request by the U.S. commander to add troops. The proposals that emerge from the review merit close attention, given the human and financial treasure that America has invested and the national interest in ensuring that Afghanistan is not again a sanctuary for transnational extremists, as it was when Al Qaeda planned the 9/11 attacks there.

The policy review will draw lessons from the United States’ fifteen year involvement. National Security Advisor McMaster, among others, served as part of the U.S. surge in Afghanistan. In particular, he worked to counter corruption in the country…

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Before you have a strategy you have to have a defined end-state. Trump has not defined any end-state, pretty much anywhere.