Kabul Attacks Cloud U.S. Afghan Strategy by Craig Nelson, Dion Nissenbaum and Saeed Shah – Wall Street Journal
More than 16 years into the American war in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters managed to penetrate one of Kabul’s most tightly guarded landmarks, rampaging through the Inter-Continental Hotel. Militants stunned the capital twice more in the next 10 days. In all, 141 people were killed, including four Americans.
The ferocious attacks—two claimed by the Taliban and one by Islamic State—have cast doubt on optimistic assessments by the U.S. military and Afghan government and raised questions about the pillars of the Trump administration’s strategy: a greater reliance on Afghan security forces, modest increase in the U.S. troops supporting them and stepped-up pressure on Pakistan to cut off support to the insurgents.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command who was in Kabul on Saturday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed ambulance along a busy commercial street, told reporters the increasing violence “does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory in the war, America’s longest, was “absolutely” possible.
The administration’s war plan, first announced in August, relies on raising troop levels from about 11,500 then to about 15,000 now, deploying more air power against militants and moving American military advisers back to the front line to train Afghan units and call in air and artillery strikes. Not least, it calls for cutting off up to $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan until it does more to crack down on Taliban sanctuaries…