Trump's Afghanistan Strategy Already Backfiring
Nearly three months after President Trump announced his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, the United States and its international allies are still trying to come up with the troops required to carry it out.
...Though military officials deem that increase necessary, the Pentagon has also stressed that for the American-led mission to succeed, more international forces, chiefly from NATO members, would be required.
For most of this year, General Nicholson said, the mission in Afghanistan has had only 80 percent of the troops it required. He said he had asked NATO members and other countries involved in the conflict to send more soldiers, but, “We’re still waiting for this to all play out.”
IOW, the rest of NATO has decided that 16 years of quagmire in Afghanistan is more than enough.
You might think that Trump would have something to say about this, but you would be wrong.
“I haven’t spoken with him,” Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters Nov. 8 in Brussels.
The lack of contact between the commander-in-chief and the top military official in Afghanistan is unusual. Nicholson said he spoke to President Barack Obama twice in the 10 months they overlapped.
The general’s comments came in response to questions about whether he felt Trump had confidence in him as commander. Reports over the summer indicated the President was considering firing Nicholson over the lack of progress in Afghanistan.
That's not to say that Trump's strategy hasn't had an impact. It's just that the impact has been negative.
Analysts believe the recent rise in attacks in Afghanistan is a Taliban counterstrategy to illustrate the insurgent group’s strength and relevance as the new U.S. strategy is being implemented in the country.
“I see the recent increase in attacks by Taliban a reaction to the Trump administration strategy regarding South Asia. Taliban have increased their attacks in order to show their presence and strength in the country,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, defense liaison at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, told VOA.
US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats observed in May that the performance of Afghan security forces will probably worsen in 2018 due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support and weak leadership. He also noted that Afghanistan will remain dependent on external support until it either ends the insurgency or engages in meaningful peace talks with the Taliban.
Trends over the past few years indicate that Afghan forces lack the ability to win the war militarily, evident in the Afghan army’s failure to hold on to territorial gains achieved after the surge in US troops seen in December 2009. The Afghan government led by US ally President Ashraf Ghani is weak and beset by infighting, making it harder to achieve a political settlement with the Taliban. US efforts to restart the official peace process — along with Afghanistan, Pakistan and China — have faltered, as the Taliban has refused to participate in negotiations with what it sees as a US-funded government in Kabul.
In one last interesting, and long overdue development, the U.S. may soon find itself prosecuted for war crimes.
The International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor has announced she will seek to start an official investigation into possible war crimes during the war in Afghanistan.
"Following a meticulous preliminary examination of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria required under the Rome Statute to commence an investigation have been met," Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Friday.
The prosecutor did not name the specific parties she seeks to investigate. But in a report last year (pdf), ICC prosecutors said the Taliban and its affiliates, Afghan authorities and members of the US armed forces and CIA may have committed war crimes.
...The report by Bensouda last year said that there was a "reasonable basis to believe" US armed forces and the CIA may have subjected more than 60 detainees to "torture".
"Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture," the prosecutors' office said in that report, adding that CIA members also seemed to have tortured 27 detainees in secret detention facilities elsewhere, but not in Afghanistan.