Trump makes pitch for Afghanistan war strategy in televised speech

World Today

Afghan national army (ANA) Soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. President Donald Trump will use a nationally televised address to outline for a war-weary nation the strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan after 16 years of combat and lives lost. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to unveil his strategy for making progress in America’s longest military conflict.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone provides a preview of the expected strategy. 

The White House has remained tight-lipped on troop levels but numerous U.S. media reports indicate President Trump will request an increase of about four-thousand troops. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said this strategy will include Pakistan. Trump reached his decision after huddling with his cabinet secretaries and security advisers at his presidential retreat Friday.

“I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a pre-set condition in terms of what questions can be asked or what decisions were being made,” Secretary Mattis told reporters en route to Amman, Jordan.

Mattis also told reporters that the president considered several options. The discussion led to consensus.

“I was not willing to make significant troop lifts until we made certain we knew what is the strategy, what was the commitment going in,” Mattis said.

Mattis was also clear this isn’t a strategy for Afghanistan only, but for all of South Asia—meaning Pakistan, too. Western intelligence agencies have accused Islamabad of providing a safe haven for terrorists. While Islamabad denies this, many security analysts believe any regional anti-terrorism strategy must include Pakistan.

A major U.S. news outlet reports Trump is considering several Pakistan options, including a reduction in aid, stripping the country of its status as a “non-NATO ally,” and formally declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. President Trump will explain his strategy to the American people from a military base, Monday evening, on live television.

One look at President Trump’s tweets, and you can see that his position has evolved on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. 

In January 2013, he tweeted:

“Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”

Several of his advisors told him that a total withdrawal would likely result in a complete Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Some are concerned that could make it a launching pad for terror attacks across the globe.  The president apparently listened. An advocate of complete withdrawal, Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, left the White House on Friday.


How could more US troops impact Afghanistan? Ahmad Shuja discusses

U.S. President Donald Trump tonight will make an announcement on the American military strategy in Afghanistan, with initial reports suggesting an additional 4,000 U.S. soldiers could be heading to the country. What difference would these troops make, and what should their mission be? Ahmad Shuja, a writer who has lived and worked in Kabul, discusses with CGTN’s Susan Roberts.