President Trump has been saying for years that it’s time for the United States to get out of Afghanistan and other Middle East regions where the mission is unclear, unfocused, and unwinnable. Just a few months ago, he made good on part of that promise when he began withdrawing troops from Syria (despite howls of outrage from the usual national security clowns).
Now, only days after the Washington Post published damning documents showing how much deceit the American people have swallowed from our government institutions regarding the failures of Afghanistan, he’s planning to do the same with America’s longest war.
The Trump administration intends to announce the drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as early next week, according to three current and former U.S. officials. The withdrawal will leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the officials said.
The announcement would come just days after Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad rejoined diplomatic talks with the Taliban, which had broken down in September. On Thursday, Ambassador Khalilzad said the U.S. was “taking a brief pause” in talks after a Wednesday attack near Bagram Airfield killed two Afghan civilians and wounded 70 more.
The U.S. has between 12,000 and 13,000 troops in Afghanistan now. The officials would not say when the drawdown would begin, but did characterize it as a phased withdrawal that would occur over a few months. Two U.S. officials said the drawdown would be a combination of troops re-deploying early and others not being replaced when they rotate out.
This is a move whose time has come, and it’s up to Trump to make sure he is not (again) dissuaded by the hand-wringing policy architects who have kept us stuck in this quagmire for twenty years. How long can you go on justifying a commitment of this magnitude using the specter of Islamic terror? There comes a point where it’s no longer reasonable. The Afghans aren’t going to win this thing, and neither are we. It’s time to cut bait, move on, and leave it to the Middle East to figure out how the Middle East is going to be run.