Has America Lost Afghanistan?

Oct. 19 2018

In Kandahar yesterday, Lieutenant-General Austin Miller, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was meeting with General Abdul Raziq, one of the most important and reliable pro-American figures in the south of the country, when the Taliban attacked, reportedly with cooperation from one or more of the provincial governor’s guards. Miller escaped unscathed, but Raziq was killed along with other Afghan officials, and three American soldiers were wounded. To Thomas Joscelyn, the attack marks Washington’s defeat in its war on the Taliban:

When President Trump announced his strategy for the war in August 2017, he emphasized that the U.S. approach would be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. Trump argued correctly that President Obama had mistakenly declared from the outset that a short-lived surge in troops would end by a definitive date. . . . Theoretically Trump’s strategy was going to be more realistic—driven by the progress of the fighting. But the situation on the ground has not improved.

And while President Trump preached patience, it was always in short supply. . . . The president’s behavior only reinforces this perception. Trump hasn’t visited Afghanistan once since becoming commander-in-chief, not even after he announced his commitment to “win” the war last year. . . . Indeed, Trump says little to nothing about the war these days. There are no major speeches, press conferences, or op-eds explaining to the American people why the United States must prevail. In fact, America’s military leaders are arguing just the opposite.

During his farewell speech in early September, General John W. Nicholson, Jr., who first oversaw the war effort for Trump, announced: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.” But wars are not “ended”—they are won or lost. And the Taliban certainly hasn’t been defeated. In many ways, the organization is stronger than at any time since late 2001. Acting as if America can simply “end” the war is the same approach pursued by Barack Obama, who claimed to have brought the Iraq war to a “responsible end” in 2011. Of course, that didn’t happen, either. The vacuum left by America’s withdrawal, in combination with the war in Syria, created an opportunity for jihadists that mushroomed into a self-declared Islamic State caliphate. . . .

The Defense and State Departments say a “political settlement” with the Taliban is necessary. But that is not realistic. [The truth is that the] United States is no longer trying to defeat the Taliban. Instead, the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, wants out. The Taliban knows this and is more than happy to dictate the terms of America’s withdrawal. That’s what is now being negotiated. The jihadists also know that wars end in either victory or defeat—and their victory is at hand.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Ynet

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank