Small Wars Journal

I Had Dinner With the Afghan Ambassador. What He Said About the Differences Between Trump, Obama Is Stunning

I Had Dinner With the Afghan Ambassador. What He Said About the Differences Between Trump, Obama Is Stunning by Benny Johnson, Independent Journal Review

… Enter the current Afghan Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib. Friday night, Mohib hosted a dinner at his residence for Gold Star wives, the wives of American soldiers who gave their lives fighting in his home country. This reporter was invited to attend and report on the events of the evening. The ambassador graciously received approximately one dozen Gold Star wives and members of the military community at his residence.

Over the course of the evening, Dr. Mohib led a vibrant, gracious conversation about the struggles of his home country and displayed deep appreciation to the family members of the Americans lost on its soil. The ambassador invited questions from the group after a rich, Afghan dinner, served in an ornate, chandelier lit ballroom. Specifically, Dr. Mohib wondered how his post could better serve those in the military community who gave so much for his country.

During this Q and A, the ambassador was asked about the current American administration and how the people of Afghanistan viewed President Trump. His answer stunned those listening, not only for its candor but also for its rare insight into how the president approaches foreign policy. His full response to the question:

"I've personally met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and the president has had two phone conversations with President Ghani [The president of Afghanistan]. One call was after he won the election and one after [Trump] became president. Before the calls, we were advised to keep conversations short because, we were told, Trump will not be interested in the details of the call and does not have a long attention span, so it would be pointless to have a long call.

However, we were pleasantly surprised at how much time President Trump spent asking very informed questions. The first time the presidents spoke, the questions Trump asked impressed us. “How can you win in this fight [against terrorism]?” he asked. “What do you need to become financially independent?” and “How can American business invest in Afghanistan? How can we develop businesses and mining in your country?”

Trump would listen intently after each question, often asking follow-ups. Trump's second call with our president was even longer than the first. Asking these types of questions for our country is something the Obama administration never did. The Obama administration was the most academic administration we have ever had to deal with but the Trump administration has been the most thoughtful and intelligent.

Trump continually asked “How can you win? What does Afghanistan need to win?” in reference to our fight with terrorism. Trump wants to win. Sincerely. All the Obama administration wanted to do was not lose.

The Obama administration was hesitant with us. The enemy could sense that. When the Obama administration announced its plans to pull troops out of the region, they announced the exact date they would do it. All our enemies had to do was wait [Obama] out. They knew the date they had to hang on until — which gave them the will to fight. They used that time to recruit and build up resources.

To bring real reform, we must be able to defeat enemies outside our country and inside. We must overthrow the Afghan warlords who are profiteering off the war. Every time we tried to remove one of them from power, [Secretary John] Kerry would say "no" because it would potentially make it unstable and require more troops be brought in. The entire Obama administration was too cautious, but Kerry was the most cautious. Perhaps the Obama administration was fatigued by the time we assumed power. [President Ghani assumed power in September of 2014.] But Trump is very different from Obama in this way.

This is good, for the future of Afghanistan."…

Read on.


Ah, but this is so much simpler. The President is asking questions within a common, simple answer: money. What does Afghanistan need to win? Continued U.S. support...U.S. aid in the form of equipment and training. A permanent U.S. presence that will contribute to the economy. And of course, investment in heavy, government-controlled industries like mining is even better! So long as the money keeps rolling in....

Bill C.

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:59pm


Much as was the case with the Soviets/the communists in Afghanistan in Old Cold War of yesterday -- same/same re: the case of the U.S./the West in Afghanistan today -- "terrorists" and/or "terrorism," per se, is not what the foreign intervening great power was/is actually facing.

Rather, in both cases above, what the foreign intervening great power was/is facing are populations who do not wish to see their states and societies transformed along alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines; that of the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War of yesterday -- and that of the U.S./the West today currently.

Thus, in order for the Soviets/the communists to "win" in the Old Cold War of yesterday -- and/or for the U.S./the West to "win" in the current conflict of today -- then

a. These "resisting alien and profane transformation" populations must somehow be overcome; this,

b. So that the foreign intervening great power might -- in spite of these populations' diametrically opposed wants, needs and desires -- transform the state and societies of Afghanistan (etc.) more along their (the foreign intervening great power's) alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines anyway.


President Obama, it would seem, believed -- that in a fight such as this -- one must avoid the "political attrition" trap that is being set for one by one's enemies:

"Strategically, the insurgents' aim is to provoke the external power into escalating its forces on the ground."…

Thus, in President Obama (et al.'s) mind it would seem -- in order to achieve the "win" objectives outlined at "a" and "b" immediately above -- one must deploy one's forces in a more-intelligent and more-limited fashion and, thus, with more of a long-term conflict view.

This, allowing that the foreign intervening great power might not have to leave the field of battle, and the region, and leave the friendly populations found there in the hands of one's enemies. (As was the case with the U.S./the West in Vietnam, and as was the case of the Soviets/the communists in Afghanistan; in both such cases, these such negative results being realized due specifically to [a] imprudent and significant increases in troop levels and [b] the corresponding "political attrition" tragedies that followed thereafter?)

Instead, by deploying one's forces in a more-intelligent and more-limited fashion, one is able to stay on and fight on in the country, in the theater and in the region indefinitely.

Let us hope that President Trump -- wherever in the world he is thinking about deploying significant numbers of more troops -- understands that he may simply be (a) playing directly into the hands of our enemies and, thus, (b) marching directly into the "political attrition" trap that they have, individually or collectively, set for him?

"Winning," thus, not to be seen as per "battles" but more as per the "war" -- to wit: the worldwide "war" to transform outlying states and societies more along one's alien and profane political, economic, social and values lines?

Thus, this "war" needing to be seen as more of a long-term, broad and "up-hill" undertaking -- this, rather than as a short-duration, narrowly-defined (think, for example, "terrorism") and/or "down-hill" objective?

Thus, to plan, prepare and deploy one's forces accordingly?