Small Wars Journal

Can Trump Get America Out of Afghanistan?

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 12:38am

Can Trump Get America Out of Afghanistan? By Gil Barndollar - The National Interest

Last week the White House ordered its top diplomats to seek direct negotiations with the Taliban, the latest foreign relations about-face from an administration that seems to be specializing in them. After early escalation and record-setting bombs , President Trump is looking for a way out of Afghanistan. The Taliban is far from defeated, but negotiations may offer America a means to ending our participation in an intractable war in an irrelevant country.

Earlier this month, during a surprise trip to Kabul, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the claim that the Taliban “cannot wait us out.” Evidence suggests otherwise.

The Taliban are not losing on the battlefield. Though American troop levels are up 25 percent since 2016 and we are dropping more bombs in the country than at any time since 2013, the war remains in a stalemate. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently concluded that 43 percent of Afghanistan’s districts are under Taliban control or “contested,” a number unchanged since November 2016. Even that assessment may be optimistic: the Long War Journal thinks that 49 percent of Afghanistan’s districts are contested, and another 9.5 percent are under Taliban control. Afghan opium poppy cultivation set a record in 2017, and may do so again this year…

Read on.