Is Trump Surrendering in Afghanistan?

Ever since the president returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, his tweets and telephone interviews have been … interesting. However, amidst the demands of indictments of Democrats and recorded messages that would make Home Shopping Network executives blanche was a largely ignored policy change on Afghanistan that would be all but certain to leave the nation defenseless against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and “Islamic State.”

It started with a tweet two nights ago, in which Trump promised to have all American troops in Afghanistan “home by Christmas!” Of course, Trump has been tweeting a lot of nonsense over the last several days, but he stuck with this particular mistake in a Fox Business Channel interview yesterday, as national security correspondent for Fox News Jennifer Griffin noted.

He contradicted his national security advisor, who just hours before said the US would go down to 2500 troops by early next year. The president indicated he might have other plans for those troops during an interview this morning with Fox Business.

“I’ll have ’em home by the end of the year.”

It should surprise no one what Griffin reported next: “The Taliban welcomed the news … leaving the Afghan government vulnerable and confused.”

On one level, this does not really surprise. This is the same president, after all, who invited the Taliban to “peace” talks at Camp David within a week of the 9/11 anniversary. This is the same president who refuses to hold either the Taliban or their Russian allies to account for bounties the latter offered the former to kill American soldiers.

In short, this is an isolationist president who neither understands nor cares about the reasons the Taliban must be defeated. As I have said repeatedly, he is content to lose wars just for the chance to claim he “ended” them.

That doesn’t make it any better. The stakes for America in Afghanistan are no lower today than when we first responded to the 9/11 attacks committed by the Taliban’s allies. As I stated last summer:

… a Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan would send a message to every sponsor and harborer of terrorism around the world: namely, you can hit the US – and hit it hard – and still survive their counter-offensive.

I’m not saying defeating the Taliban will be easy. I’m not saying it will be sufficient to make America and the democratic world safer. I am saying it is necessary. If we can’t do it with our current military posture and political strategy, then we need to adjust those, not move the goalposts to re-label a defeat as “peace.”

Trump had no interest in defeating the Taliban before he was infected with COVID (whenever that actually was). Whatever the therapeutics the president is taking has done to alter his mental state, they have merely revealed his rampant isolationism and short-sightedness. We can only hope his opportunity to further endanger America’s interests and her people will expire in January.

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