“He’s Fed Up”: Trump to Pull Troops Out of Afghanistan Before Election
NBC News reported this weekend that President Donald Trump has had it with America’s longest war. Tired of seeing our troops mired in what appears to be an unwinnable situation – a neverending, violent standoff with the Taliban – the president is looking to withdraw every single last soldier out of Afghanistan before the 2020 election. But while our ongoing negotiations with the Taliban could make that possible, the report suggests that there are significant forces inside the federal government pushing back on Trump’s exit.
Last December Trump threatened not only to immediately withdraw all troops from Afghanistan but also to shut down the U.S. embassy in Kabul, complaining to aides that it is too large and expensive, according to officials. The president’s threat to close the U.S. embassy — which has not been previously reported — so alarmed administration and military officials that they quickly offered him a plan to move up the timing of efforts to scale back the size of the embassy staff, officials said.
“He was fed up with hearing that the U.S. was not winning there,” one former U.S. defense official said. “It was no secret he wanted out, but deciding to pull out of the embassy, too, was a shock.”
But Trump argued that without a military presence U.S. embassy staff could be in danger, so it should be closed, the officials said. He also said it was time for the U.S. to get out of the war there otherwise it could bankrupt the U.S. like it did Russia in the 1980s, the two former defense officials said.
Anyone paying attention to the situation in Afghanistan knows that the Taliban is far from defeated. The Afghan army, despite benefiting from U.S. training, support, and weapons for nearly twenty years, is simply not up to the task of defending their country from the Islamic extremists. That leaves the United States with three choices: Continue the status quo, which is costing us billions in treasure; ramp up the war, which would inevitably see the American death toll ramp up as well; or get the hell out. Trump is quite plainly arguing for the third option, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to see any other reasonable option.
Alas, he will have to convince the hardliners. “A person familiar with the internal debate said [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo has backed a full withdrawal from Afghanistan while National Security Adviser John Bolton has sided with the military in supporting keeping a small troops presence there.”
The danger, of course, is that we pull out of the country only to see it once again become a terrorist safe haven, giving rise to the kind of Islamic threat that can hit us when we least expect it. This is what the military and Bolton would like to avoid. The ultimate call, though, will be Trump’s to make.