August 23, 2018

What's Changed In Afghanistan Since President Trump Decided To Stay

By Christopher D. Kolenda

AILSA CHANG, HOST: Exactly one year ago, President Trump publicly vowed to win the war in Afghanistan even though he said his original instinct was to pull out.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.

CHANG: Today, insurgents attacked the presidential palace in Kabul with mortars while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was there speaking to the nation, calling for a cease-fire. It was one more sign that the strategy Trump announced for winning a war that's gone on for nearly 17 years may not be working. NPR's David Welna takes a closer look at that plan.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Seven months after taking office, President Trump went all in on the nation's longest-fought war. He declared in a nationally broadcast speech that, quote, "we will push onward to victory."

TRUMP: America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

WELNA: Trump said there would be no more talk of troop numbers or arbitrary timelines for pulling out of Afghanistan. By the end of last year, he'd added 5,000 more troops to the 10,000 already there. He'd also remove restrictions on air power and cut nearly all nonmilitary spending. Aaron O'Connell served as a Marine officer in Afghanistan and as a defense policy director in the Obama White House.

AARON O'CONNELL: It's certainly President Trump's war at this point. He made the decision not just to stay but to escalate. He owns those decisions.

WELNA: Retired Army Colonel Chris Kolenda says Trump's aim was to push the Taliban to the point of surrender.

CHRIS KOLENDA: That was part of the calculus - that if we increase the advisory effort, if we put more pressure on Pakistan, if we remove the timelines, then the Taliban will want to give up the fight. That has not been the case. You've seen the Taliban continue to make some territorial gains.

Listen to this segment and more from NPR

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • November 7, 2019
    Trump Needs to Reestablish Deterrence with Iran

    The attack attributed to Iran on Saudi Aramco oil facilities is the latest in a series of Iranian escalations—the May 14 and June 13 tanker attacks, the June 20 downing of a U...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Elisa Catalano Ewers

  • Video
    • October 27, 2019
    Nicholas Heras on Killing of ISIS Leader in U.S. Military Raid

    The Center for a New American Security’s Nicholas Heras talked about the killing of ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. military raid in Syria. Listen to th...

    By Nicholas Heras

  • Podcast
    • October 18, 2019
    Discussing Turkey’s Offensive Against the Kurds in Syria with Nick Heras

    The United States’ withdrawal and the Turkish military’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled northeast have completely changed the balance of power in Syria. Without America...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Nicholas Heras

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • October 15, 2019
    The Nonintervention Delusion

    Richard Fontaine addresses the most frequently expressed concerns about U.S. military interventions and concludes that the use of military force will remain a key component of...

    By Richard Fontaine

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia