Up until now his advisors have offered President Trump two choices for failure in Afghanistan, one quick, withdrawal, and one slow, a continuation of the failed strategy of the last sixteen years.
By now it should be apparent to all knowledgeable people that U.S. objectives cannot be achieved in land-locked Afghanistan where Pakistan, whose Afghanistan objectives differ from ours, controls the supply of our troops and the battle tempo through its support of the Taliban and Haqqani network.
An alternative is to provide the President with a 12 to 24-month plan that bridges the gap between the present untenable strategy to a longer term solution.
That is, rather than tweak the current strategy, begin to address the core problem, a strategic environment that has made success of the current strategy impossible.
Within the next two years, the Trump Administration should formulate a strategy that exploits Pakistan’s pain points, one which carves out roles for the Department of Defense, Department of State and Congress.
While preventing a further deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, different permutations and degrees of the following actions should be pursued, both as short term leverage against Pakistan and, ideally, to create a regional strategic environment more conducive to U.S. interests. That is, it is not the Taliban and the Haqqani network that need to be brought to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.
1. Foreign aid to Pakistan – reduce it to a trickle. Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says that a tougher approach needs to be adopted toward his country: “The Bush administration gave Pakistan $12.4…
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