We may have gone to war in Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy Bin Laden and al Qaeda, but yesterday’s deadly attack on a military hospital in Kabul which killed 30 and wounded 50, was staged by ISIS, our newest enemy there.
Our actual “enemy of note” isn’t even ISIS but rather the Taliban, who is now said to be supported by Russia.
U.S. Army General John Nicholson said “Russia was seeking to undermine the US and NATO in Afghanistan, adding that he was “concerned about the increasing level” of unspecified Russian support for Taliban insurgents.”
The Guardian reports that “President Trump has previously called the war in Afghanistan – a conflict in which nearly 2,400 US troops have died – “a total and complete disaster”. In 2013, he tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan,” calling the war “nonsense” and a waste of money.”
Today there are about 8,400 U.S. troops and 17,000 contractors in the country.
Just the other day, one of my students on a tour asked why we were still in Afghanistan.
That is an excellent question.
al Qaeda remains active in the country and the Taliban controls many districts, as well; ISIS continues to conduct suicide and other attacks and Russia is the new spoiler.
Let’s not even mention all of the competing militia groups.
US and NATO troops are not there to vanquish any enemy, that’s for sure.
General Nicholson stated the real purpose, “The viability of an enduring counter-terrorism platform in Afghanistan is critically important to our national security…”
For us, Afghanistan has become the 21-century equivalent of a Cold War listening post where the perpetually warring tribes vie for power and control.
Some say that Iran is secretly happy to see us tied down in Afghanistan where we can do their dirty work of fighting the Taliban and ISIS; we know that Russia isn’t even secret about their glee.
I am glad that General Nicholson has finally clarified that the so-called war in Afghanistan is steadily receding as our real reason for being there.
You can’t judge progress unless you know the (real) goal.
Finally, we must have an enduring commitment to all troops who have been injured in the service of our country.
If Trump and Congress see fit to raise the Defense Department budget, some of those funds should be in the form of a pay raise for service members.
It’s the right thing to do.