Homeland Security

More U.S. Troops for Afghanistan? Say It Isn't So

A piece of aircraft wreckage lies on the heliport on the west side of the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Navy Times, Mark Faram)

Here we are, going on 16 years after Arab Muslims carried out an attack on the United States that had been planned and directed from Afghanistan, and the American response still isn’t over:

The commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan told Congress on Thursday that he needed a few thousand additional troops to more effectively train and advise Afghan soldiers. “I have a shortfall of a few thousand,” Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. said in a sober assessment of the United States’ longest-running war, during testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

President Trump has said little about Afghanistan, speaking mainly instead of the need to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The American-led international force that is helping the Afghans has about 13,300 troops today, 8,400 of which are American.

Afghan forces have taken heavy casualties over the last year as they have sought to hold off the Taliban and prevent them from capturing Afghanistan’s provincial capitals. Asked by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, if he was winning or losing, General Nicholson said bluntly, “I believe we are in a stalemate.”

Think about that for a moment: a “stalemate” with a bunch of goatherds in a “war” that was effectively over in a month.

General Nicholson repeated the assessments of previous commanders that the sanctuary that Taliban fighters and militant groups enjoy in Pakistan remains a major obstacle. “It is very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven,” he said. “We need to do a holistic review of our Pakistan policy.”

A “holistic review” ought to include why the Bush administration did not finish the war when it had the chance, and why the Obama administration continued it for eight long years, killing, wounding and maiming our soldier for no purpose whatsoever. If the goal of war is victory, the U.S. and two successive commanders-in-chief have signally failed. Even as the revanchist Left seeks to bog president Trump down on a host of domestic issues, he could do the nation a signal service by instructing Defense Secretary Mattis to get the wars in the Middle East over with in the best “progressive” way:

By any means necessary.

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