Thursday, 2 August 2018

Trump Better Than Obama on Afghanistan?

...This chiefly reflects what a low bar Mr Obama set. Reluctantly persuaded that withdrawal from Afghanistan would spell defeat, as the Taliban rushed to seize the territory vacated by over 100,000 Western troops, Mr Obama left 8,000 behind to hold the line. But with the Taliban controlling or contesting 70% of the country, the largely incompetent Afghan army flailing, and the Americans bound by strict rules of engagement, it was unclear how they could. At the request of his generals, who may fear the strategic impact of defeat in Afghanistan as much as the prospect of it again falling into the hands of foreign terrorists, Mr Trump grudgingly agreed to send 3,500 reinforcements. He also relaxed the rules and increased American air strikes, military trainers and mentoring of front-line Afghan troops. He presented these changes as a rebuke to his predecessor. They might alternatively be seen as an acceptance of Mr Obama’s shrivelled ambition—to stave off defeat in Afghanistan until the Afghan government can fend for itself—and a modest attempt to make that achievable...

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