In the last half of last year, U.S. armed forces under President Donald Trump’s direction launched 2,000 air strikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan. That constitutes more raids than in all of 2015 and 2016 combined, the last two years under President Barack Obama’s command.
“The huge spike in airstrikes is the product of new rules of engagement, adopted as part of a strategy that President Trump announced in August,” reports the Washington Post. “U.S. forces can now strike Taliban targets at will, whereas under the Obama administration they were restricted to defending Afghan forces under imminent attack.”
Like the wise change to no longer announcing to our enemies the specific date of our withdrawal, common sense might suggest that the Trump policy of taking the fight directly to that enemy makes a lot more sense than Obama’s completely defensive posture. That is, if one’s goal is to win the war.
But this is no Hollywood war. Sure, the Taliban was long ago toppled from power in Kabul, the capital, but the radical Islamist group has continued to control massive territory across the country. In fact, even the increased U.S. bombing campaign has so far failed to shrink Taliban positions.
“U.S. military leaders acknowledge that the Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan’s districts,” the Post informs, “a number that has slowly crept higher through the past year, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a U.S. government watchdog.” [Emphasis mine.]
That sounds like losing the war. Not winning.
One would also assume that defeating the Taliban is the purpose of said longest-ever U.S. war, now being waged for the 17th year by U.S. forces . . . and a very, very slowly developing Afghan army.
One would be mistaken, however.
The fecklessness of our overall strategy for waging war in Afghanistan is really not disputed. We have no plans to defeat or destroy the Taliban.
Then, what on earth are…