Home Ken's Thoughts Of The Week Ken’s Thought of the Week: Troop withdrawals in Afghanistan and Syria are...

Ken’s Thought of the Week: Troop withdrawals in Afghanistan and Syria are guaranteed to fail

8
0

.

By Ken Abramowitz, President & Founder, SaveTheWest

See the sources for this article and more research in the Additional Reading section.

The Trump administration has held numerous meetings with Taliban officials in an attempt to reach a compromise solution, that would allow the U.S. to wind down its 18 years of military action in Afghanistan, while ensuring it does not become a safe haven for Al Qaeda and now, ISIS, to plot new attacks on the U.S., our allies or interests. President Trump then announced that he broke off these talks, in the wake of another Taliban terrorist attack that killed a U.S. soldier.  The Taliban, however, is stalling for time, in the hope that President Trump withdraws all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, unilaterally.

So how do we create a reasonable deal?

The sad reality is that there is that there is no chance of a compromise with Islamist terror organizations such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Iran, or the Muslim Brotherhood, from which they all sprang. Either we decide to win, or we decide to lose.

Losing is easy: We simply withdraw our troops and let the Taliban take over most or all of Afghanistan, after which they will then return the population to the 7th century. There would be no U.S. political price to pay, as Middle East wars are not politically popular.

Winning, in contrast, is quite challenging. The Taliban has been funded and armed by Pakistan, Iran, Qatar and other Gulf States, but we never forced those countries to stop this flow of funds, arms and war material. Had the Bush and Obama administrations taken these measures, and committed the resources necessary to win the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. would likely have saved hundreds of billions of dollars, if not a trillion dollars, which could have been used on urgent domestic priorities, such as rebuilding America’s decaying infrastructure.

We are witnessing a somewhat different situation in Syria, where the President Trump announced he is withdrawing some of America’s 1,000 soldiers. Many with those with deep knowledge of the region are shocked at this decision, given how bravely the Kurds have fought alongside the American military, and the camaraderie that both sides feel for the other (learn more here).  It is feared that our NATO “ally”/”frenemy,” Turkey, and our enemy, Iran, will simply fill the void, to the detriment of our loyal Kurdish allies, and long-term U.S. security interests.

There is, however, a third choice that has not been tried, but should be:

  • In Afghanistan: The U.S. could withdraw perhaps 50% of our 16,000 soldiers, but maintain strong special operations and intelligence capabilities. This smaller footprint of soldiers, aided by drones and our Air Force, can simply bomb Taliban positions indefinitely, until it surrenders, or is weakened to the point of irrelevancy. This way, the majority of the people can begin living lives of peace, economic progress, and ideally begin adopting Western values such as individual liberty, separation of religion and government, and tolerance for differing faiths. This “solution” is not ideal, but stalemating the Taliban is the best that we can hope for.
Female Kurdish fighters (more here), some of whom were ISIS rape slaves, who escaped, and are now among the fiercest soldiers. (Photo: BijiKurdistan/Creative Commons)
  • In Syria: We should return to the status quo immediately, with a small but effective military footprint. The Trump administration should tell Turkey to end its new offensive against our long-time Kurdish allies immediately, then return our soldiers to their outposts in this vital region, so they can continue working with the Kurds to contain ISIS. Related articles about the Kurds and why American soldiers so value their courage and ability (more here):

Kurdish troops fight for freedom — and women’s equality — on battlegrounds across Middle East – PRI (Public Radio International)

I fought alongside the Kurds. The United States can’t abandon our fierce allies to Turkey – USA TODAY

War with ISIS: The Kurdish forces providing a lesson in how courage, discipline and US air strikes can defeat militants in Syria – The Independent (UK)

Americans well understand that it is better to fight the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan and Syria, rather than here, particularly if we can do it with a small footprint and very few casualties.

It is even good politics!


Additional Reading (also read about the Kurds here)

What Is the Muslim Brotherhood? – Middle East Forum

Trump’s Syria decision is a victory for America’s enemies in the Middle East – Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Erdogan Threatens Europe With New Wave of Refugees: Syria Update – Bloomberg

VIDEO: Taliban Attack in Kabul in Midst of US-Taliban Peace Deal – VOA News

Iranian support of Afghan Taliban targeted by new US sanctions | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent – DW (Germany)

Trump defends troop drawdown in northern Syria today and says ISIS fighters will escape to Europe – CBS News

Trump Gave Turkey A Choice on Syria: Cooperate Or Risk Catastrophe – The Federalist

VIDEO: Syria: Kurds’ fury as Trump orders US troop withdrawal – Channel 4 (UK)

Lindsey Graham warns Trump on Syria troop withdrawal: ‘It’d be the biggest mistake of his presidency’ – Fox News

If US troops leave Syria, what happens to America’s Kurdish partners in the fight? – Military Times

How Erdogan Backed Trump Into a Corner on Syria – Bloomberg

David Adesnik: Trump’s Syria decision is a victory for America’s enemies in the Middle East – Fox News

The dark side of ‘America First’ should worry Israel – JNS.org

Exclusive: Official Who Heard Call Says Trump Got ‘Rolled’ By Turkey and ‘Has No Spine’ – Newsweek

Time to Pull US Nuclear Weapons Out of Turkey – Defense One

VIDEO: “A Conversation: Prospects in Afghanistan Should we be there? Should we get out? Can we win?” Lawrence Eagleburger & Howard Hart – Miller Center (November 12, 2009)


Background: The Kurds as a loyal and fierce ally to the U.S. military in the region

Who are the Kurds? – BBC News

They fought alongside the US for five years to be bombed by US NATO ally – Jerusalem Post

Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen condemns Trump’s Syria decision – Business Insider

I fought alongside the Kurds. The United States can’t abandon our fierce allies to Turkey – USA TODAY

Turkey’s Syria invasion: Member of US Special Forces says, ‘I am ashamed for the first time in my career’ – Fox News

Americans who fought alongside the Kurds in Syria feel betrayed by Trump – Los Angeles Times

39 Photos of Beautiful Kurdish Female Fighters That Will Blow Your Mind

US troops and allied Kurdish force patrol Syria-Turkey border – Military Times

Kurdish troops fight for freedom — and women’s equality — on battlegrounds across Middle East – PRI (Public Radio International)

Afghan activist Malalai Joya praises the ‘brave women of Kurdistan’ – Morning Star

Well-Trained Partners Are More Likely to Fight |- AUSA

War with ISIS: The Kurdish forces providing a lesson in how courage, discipline and US air strikes can defeat militants in Syria – The Independent (UK)

How the Syrian War Shifted Attitudes Towards Arab–Israeli Rapprochement – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

 

.

.

.