- - Thursday, August 24, 2017


Is the Trump administration’s new plan robust enough to qualify as a “strategy” rather than tweaked tactics (“A pit of frustration in Afghanistan,” Web, Aug. 23)?

The plan calls for “principled realism,” where “our troops will fight to win,” leaving one to wonder: Haven’t we already been doing that? And will a few more troops manage that feat, when once some 100,000 were in the fight? It seems we’re lunging toward a 20-plus-year war, not unlike history’s other long wars.

Meanwhile, the United States needs a strategy to emerge from the quagmire of a stalemate. Cannot the sages, in and out of government, who think geostrategically, conjure one that will work? The war cannot be decoupled from nation building. Call it something else, if that term leaves a bad taste. But we can’t just leave a wreck.

Even if the warring can be settled, “principled realism” dictates that postwar Afghanistan will need sustainable institutions to conduct its affairs safely and independently. But Afghanistan won’t get there alone; a hand from the West, including the United States, will be required. Otherwise the Taliban will counter with its own surge and fill the vacuum. And we’ll be right back to fighting, lurching toward another decade of war.

The United States went into Afghanistan for the right reasons. How about the exit?



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