Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How is the US "war without victory" in Afghanistan?

President Trump announced strategic changes to the conflict in Afghanistan. For experts, however, such do not bring the US closer to victory

US President Donald Trump made a long-awaited announcement this week to unveil his strategy in Afghanistan, an Asian country in which the United States is engaged in a 16-year war with terrorist groups.
Although he has not given any timeline or any other details on the tactical changes, Trump has announced that there is no date for the US military exit and that, from now on, will expand the presence in the country. In addition, it will increase the charges on Pakistan to cooperate and include other countries in this fight, such as India, for example.
Expectations are that the contingent of US troops on Afghan soil , now at 8,400, will rise to 12,500, including troops from an international coalition. According to Trump, the "hasty" exit could contribute to other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda network filling vacuums in different parts of the country.

Strategy

Trump's move was viewed with caution by experts. First, because it contradicts Trump's positioning, it is always in favor of the withdrawal of troops and the reduction of interventions in other countries, another proof of inconsistencies between their speeches and actions. Second, because this "new approach" to waris anything but new, it can have opposite effects.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Relations at Harvard University, recalls that the EI, for example, already has a strong presence in Afghanistan.
"More troubling is that by putting more troops on the ground and renewing the perception that we are occupying power or dictating directions to governments, we can attract even more militants from that group or other terrorist groups to the region," Mowatt-Larssen warned. "This is the standard set in the last 16 years," he says.
In the view of James Der Derian, a researcher at the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, there is no way to fill open spaces in Afghan territory to undermine the activities of the Taliban, the insurgent group that has been active in the country for decades and controls important areas.
"Unless you are willing to commit 300,000 troops, there is no way to fill that vacuum," he says, "this is the harsh reality of Afghanistan and insurgencies in general." He also points out that the Taliban can easily withstand this increase. "They survived worse things," he says. In 2011, the country was home to 100,000 American soldiers.
"The impasse will continue," predicts Daniel L. Byman, a researcher at the Brookings Institution 's Middle East Policy Center , "These additional troops will not give the US a victory or anything close to it," he continues. The conflict in Afghanistan is likely to remain known in American history as "the war without victory."

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