President Trump wants to win in Afghanistan. But what is victory?

President Donald Trump vows fight to win in Afghanistan. But in your opinion, at this stage what would be a victory in Afghanistan, and victory or whom for the West, for Afghans? Read few comments.

Thomas RuttigCo-director, Afghanistan Analysts Network

Your question is good. Victory in Afghanistan would be ending the war, so that Afghans can go forward and develop their own country. But this doesn’t work, if the US (and others don’t help) – and Pres. Trump says he does not want to do ‘state building’. This is actually the key. Without it, he will lose the war. Bad that he needs his own learning process again; he should have learned from Bush’s experience.

Frederic GrareNonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In deciding to maintain troops in Afghanistan despite his campaign promises, President Trump is simply taking into account ground realities. There is no more hope of victory than there was for his predecessor. As has been said many times before the United States are caught in a conflict that they can’t win but can’t afford to lose. A complete US withdrawal would sooner or later lead to the collapse of the existing regime. The goal is therefore to ensure the regime survival in order to limit the possibility that Afghanistan becomes once again a terrorist sanctuary. But things do not stop there. It remain to be seen what will be actually done on the ground to build up the capacities of the regime to do more than just survive. The question there is not just of the number of troops but of a qualitative change in the assistance provided to the Afghan regime. The US needs to define a strategy suitable for Afghanistan’s capabilities. Progress may well take longer than expected but it has to be real. The neglect of this reality has cost billions of dollars to US tax payers for limited results. Unless the US administration proceeds to the correct adjustment President Trump and his successor will be indefinitely confronted to the same dilemma.

Jorrit KammingaSenior Visiting Fellow, Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael

In the short term sending additional American troops to Afghanistan can help to make up for some of the tactical backlash of the hasty and politically motivated troop withdrawal during the security transition. Trump is completely right when saying that the security conditions on the ground should dictate any decisions about troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is exactly what has gone wrong during the security transition between 2011 and 2014. Sending in additional american troops can also set an important example for other countries to follow.

But we should not fool ourselves by expecting some durable tactical advantage on the battlefield or expecting that we can somehow win this war by political rhetoric or only sending in more troops. The only solution is a political one and we are not doing enough to enable the Afghan government to establish a formal peace process with the Taliban.

The threat of Islamic State is currently distracting us further from what should be the priority: peace with the Taliban. There can be no sustainable solution to this conflict without a political settlement that incorporates some of the legitimate grievances and political ideas of the conservative sections of society that continue to back the Taliban. Peace with the Taliban will also make it much easier to tackle Islamic State and other terrorist groups trying to gain or maintain a foothold in Afghanistan.

Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor, Chair in Islamic Studies, George Mason University

It is hard to believe that Trump is worried about Afghanis.  His election and mandate of “America First” would rule out anything that benefits the Afghans as such.  It is even harder to speculate over the “victory” for US administration in handling the war in Afghanistan.  The case of Middle East is always guided by “American” national interests and victory over Taleban, if it materializes, will be used to aggrandize the Trump doctrine of “America First.”

David IsbyPolitical and Defense Analyst, Author of Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires

A victory is where Afghanistan is relatively stable with a relatively low level of internal violent conflict while maintaining self-determination at post-1919 levels and not offering shelter or support to international terrorism or other transnational threats.


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