How to End U.S. Strategic Failure in the Middle East

    Daniel L. Davis

    Security, Middle East

    The Trump administration’s new plan for Afghanistan will simply add four more years to the strategic futility that we’ve endured since 2001.

    While most of the country has been fixated on issues surrounding the North Korean nuclear crisis, other foreign-policy issues of real importance have been passing unnoticed—and are moving in the wrong direction. U.S. military decisions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria threaten to extend our near-unbroken record of earning strategic failure well into the future.

    In Afghanistan, Vice President Pence just returned from a trip to Kabul in which he said the U.S. Armed Forces “are here to see this through.” Yet as should be obvious, regardless of how many more bombs the United States drops there, approximately fifteen thousand U.S. troops are not going to bring a military victory that one hundred thousand failed to attain.

    The current number of troops is enough to prevent the government in Kabul from falling, but nothing beyond that. Without change, the Trump administration’s new plan will simply add four more years to the strategic futility that we’ve endured since 2001.

    Defense Secretary James Mattis said that although coalition forces had liberated all ISIS areas from Iraq, they still remain “a threat to stability in the recently liberated areas,” and thus he plans to keep U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely. Commander of U.S. CENTCOM, Gen. Joseph Votel, said that U.S. forces would remain in Syria indefinitely to help local Arab and Kurdish border militia “prevent resurgence of ISIS and will help bring control.”

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