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Afghan War (2001- ) -- United States, Afghanistan -- Politics and government -- 21st century, Afghanistan -- Foreign relations -- United States, United States -- Politics and government -- 21st century


On August 21, 2017, President Trump addressed the nation laying out his Afghan strategy. He did not offer much that was new, but he did say that the United States would continue the war in Afghanistan for an indefinite period of time, that he would send in a few thousand more troops, and loosen some of the restrictions President Obama had placed on military action in Afghanistan. This would allow American troops to engage in actual combat instead of functioning as advisors and trainers. He also threatened to withhold aid to Pakistan, which he accused of harboring terrorist organizations, particularly, but not only, the Taliban. In typical Trumpian overstatement, in his speech he declared that there are over 20 terrorist groups operating out of Pakistan, contradicting his own State Department, which lists only 13 such organizations. The Trump administration is clearly facing the same dilemma that the Obama administration confronted: Should it double down on its involvement in Afghanistan, increasing troop levels, and try to finally defeat the Taliban, or is it time to get out?

In an Opinion Piece in the New York Times, Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor under the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017 and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, mentions a third option. She suggests, but does not recommend, an alternative, which she refers to as a “Korean-style” alternative, in which the United States “could acknowledge and resolve that its presence in Afghanistan is essentially permanent but by doing so the administration should understand and be up front about the cost.” (Rice 2018) The truth is that American troops have been in Afghanistan for over 17 years and the battle against the Taliban, and other insurgent forces, has not gone well despite billions of dollars and thousands of American lives. Maybe it is time to rethink strategies.

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