Ending retreat from terrorists
At various times during our history, American troops abroad have been targeted with special ferocity by enemies aware that the more U.S. troops they killed, the more likely our government would be to accelerate already declared timetables for withdrawal.
That ends now, President Donald Trump declared Monday night in a major speech about policy toward the war in Afghanistan.
For years while former President Barack Obama was in office, the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan operated under an enormous advantage: They knew Obama planned to continue drawing down troop strength in that country for political, not military, reasons. All our enemies had to do was wait us out and, in the meantime, kill as many Americans as they could. The reaction to that would be less, not more, willingness in Washington to do battle with the terrorists.
While campaigning for president, Trump opposed the war in Afghanistan. He called for our troops to be pulled out of that country.
But after learning more about the situation, he has changed his mind, the president said Monday. Now, he understands allowing the Taliban to reconquer Afghanistan would be a boon to Islamic terrorists.
Wisely, Trump said he would not disclose his specific plans. But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters another 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. troops probably will be sent to Afghanistan. And, he hinted, the mission of our forces may change.
In reviewing his policy, Trump made it clear he is aware of the complexity of the situation. For example, he understands the link between Pakistan’s harboring of terrorists and that country’s longstanding duel against India.
And the president emphasized support for the Afghan government is contingent on it demonstrating “determination and progress.” In other words, Americans will fight alongside Afghans — not in front of them.
No doubt Trump’s political enemies will condemn his policy as one that puts U.S. troops in harm’s way needlessly. But on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans reaped the fruit of previous policy that avoided confronting Islamic terrorists. And frequent attacks by them throughout the world demonstrate that the Obama-era pullback was a mistake.
Trump’s plan appears to be a reset toward a more realistic strategy — of destroying those who have dedicated themselves to destroying us. As the president seems to realize now, there can be no retreat from such an enemy.