International, Politics


 Unveiling a new strategy for South Asia on August 21 that has many elements of continuity from the past, President Donald Trump said the U.S troops would stay in Afghanistan for an open-ended period of time and America would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s policy of harbouring terrorists.
  1. Pentagon given authority to ramp up troop levels, US military will not talk numbers
  2. Military given greater autonomy to attack Taliban & other groups
  3. End goal is to find political solution to Afghan war
  4. Trump called on Pakistan to stop providing a safe-haven for terrorists
  5. US wants to win in Afghanistan, but not interested in nation building

Afghanistan Kunar province

Key pieces of Trump’s Afghanistan plan

  • President Donald Trump outlined his plan for the 16-year US war in Afghanistan Monday evening, vowing that the US would find victory while no longer “nation-building.”
  • The speech on Monday night August 21 2017 (Tuesday morning in India) focused primarily on Afghanistan.
  • President Trump declared he would no longer announce troop levels
  • President Trump would focus on allowing US forces to target Taliban and other terrorist groups wherever they were in Afghanistan.

Here are the five key pieces of Trump’s Afghanistan plan:

India and afghanistan

Troop levels

  • Pres Trump is giving Pentagon authority to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan
  • Trump declared US military would not talk specifically about troop levels there.
  • Conditions on ground, not arbitrary timetables to guide US strategy
  • America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out: Trump
  • US currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan
  • Few thousand more troops would help US break current stalemate against Taliban
  • Additional troops to serve in 2 roles: counterterrorism missions & training Afghan forces
  • US was committed to working with the Afghan government
  • US support to Afghanistan “is not a blank check.”


More military autonomy

  • Trump announced to relax US authorities to attack Taliban & other terrorist groups
  • Obama administration placed restrictions on US offensive operations in Afghanistan
  • Restrictions have frequently frustrated US commanders in field in Afghanistan
  • “Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win battles”: Pres Trump
  • Would give military commanders the authority to act in real time: Pres Trump
  • Trump expands authorities for US armed forces to target terrorists in Afghanistan
  • “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”: Pres Trump


Political talks

  • End-goal of Trump’s plan in Afghanistan was to bring the Taliban to negotiating table
  • Aim is to find a political solution to the Afghan war
  • The goal was the same as that of President Barack Obama,
  • Trump argued his plan has a key difference from that of his predecessor: no timelines on withdrawal of US troops.
  • “I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce the dates we intend to begin or end military operations,” Trump said.
  • His criticism is one that Republicans frequently raised during the Obama administration, as Obama withdrew troops down to the current level of approximately 8,400.
  • While Trump talked about a political solution, he also expressed skepticism the Taliban would come to the negotiating table.
  • “Someday after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” Trump said.

Pakistan protest

Changing Pakistan

  • Trump echoed comments from his predecessors in their desire to get Pakistan to change its terrorist-harboring ways.
  • Pakistan’s role in providing a safe haven for Haqqani network has frequently been a thorn in side of US military
  • Trump threatened to cut off US aid to Pakistan to persuade them to help fight terrorism in Afghanistan.
  • “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” Trump said.
  • Trump also talked about how India, a nuclear rival of Pakistan, could contribute to the Afghan war effort.
  • He noted the billions of dollars in trade between India and the US and said his administration wanted India to help more on Afghanistan, particularly with economic assistance and development.


Winning … but not nation-building

  • When Obama talked about war in Afghanistan, he focused on bringing US troops home. Trump made clear he wants victory there.
  • “Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win,” Trump said.
  • “From now on, victory will have a clear definition, attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”
  • But the key thing Trump made clear to move away from — a nod to the isolationist wing of his supporters who backed a US pullout from Afghanistan — was nation-building.
  • “We want them to succeed, but we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in far-away lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image,” Trump said. “Those days are now over.”
  • Trump said bluntly that the US was “not nation-building again.”
  • To finish the point, he added: “We are killing terrorists.”


Notable lines from Trump’s Afghan strategy speech at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia

  • President Trump laid out strategy in Afghanistan in an address to nation Monday night
  • US to boost troop levels in Afghanistan to an unspecified degree
  • Conditions “on the ground,” instead of timetables, would guide strategy: Pres Trump
  • Trump laid out in broad strokes how he intends to deal with Pak & South Asia region
  • “When one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together”
  • “I share the American people’s frustration”
  • When speaking about length of US efforts in Afghanistan, Trump said he “shared” the frustration.
  • Trump is the third President in 16 years to have a stake in the Afghan War

 “My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life, I heard decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office”

  • Trump noted that he had originally wanted to pull troops from Afghanistan, but instead worked alongside his national security team to construct a comprehensive plan that would not create a potential vacuum for terror cells.

 “The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.”

  • If US were to pull troops from Afghanistan, it could create power vacuum for terrorists
  • Trump alluded to gains that such organizations made when US removed troops from Iraq.
  • There are currently about 8,400 US troops deployed in Afghanistan.

 “A core pillar in of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions”

  • Trump said this was one of his new strategy’s core pillars.
  • US would try to use methods beyond military intervention to support for Afghan govt
  • President called out Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist & militant groups
  • Trump has insisted that US would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist
  • US would ensure military personnel would have tools needed to execute missions

 “We are not nation-building again; we are killing terrorists”

  • Trump said it was ultimately up to the people in Afghanistan to be successful.

 “We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge”

  • To try to achieve this, Trump said he would expand authority for the US to target criminal and terrorist networks in Afghanistan.

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