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Conservative Review

Trump lays out a winning strategy for Afghanistan

 

After months of speculation and delay, President Donald Trump has sided with the expert advice of his military and national security team on the way forward to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

In what was by far his best and most statesmanlike speech since taking office, Trump outlined a new approach Monday night to the ongoing war in Afghanistan: a laser-like focus on counterterrorism, jettisoning the quixotic nation-building rhetoric of the past, helping the Afghans defeat the Taliban insurgency (not doing it for them), lifting onerous restrictions placed by the Obama administration on the way the military conducts warfighting, and pressuring Pakistan and its support for certain elements of the Taliban.

Crucially, Trump made clear that under his watch, progress in Afghanistan will be measured by conditions on the ground and not by a politically driven and artificial timeline—a major departure from President Barack Obama.

What Trump outlined in his speech tonight was a reasonable, realistic, and responsible strategy to ensure America achieves “an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made” in Afghanistan.

There were three important takeaways from Trump’s speech.

First is his commitment to send more trainers to Afghanistan and stay committed to the mission there, even though, in his own words, it went against his initial instincts. This shows that he trusts his commanders and national security team.

The commitment to send more U.S. trainers is particularly important. The war being fought in Afghanistan today is not the same war from 2001 or even 2009, when the U.S. was leading combat operations.

Today, the Afghans are in the lead, and the U.S. mission is one of training, advising, and assisting.

Ultimately, it is the Afghans’ country and their war. We are not there to fight for them, but to help them fight and win.

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