Afghanistan

Was Trump briefed about alleged Russian bounties on U.S. troops?

Featured image The latest Russia-related Trump scandal being touted by the media concerns alleged bounties offered to terrorists in Afghanistan for attacks on NATO forces. Supposedly, U.S intelligence concluded that Russia offered such payments, and the New York Times says that Trump was briefed about it. The White House denies that Trump was briefed. If our intelligence community really concluded that Russia was offering terrorists bounties for killing Americans (and troops allied »

The wrong goodbye?

Featured image I added a question mark to the title of this post about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan because there is room for reasonable disagreement as to the wisdom of our withdrawal. To answer my own question, though, I think withdrawing is the wrong move. We have accomplished a lot in Afghanistan. We crushed al Qaeda there and, as John says, we ensured that Afghanistan would no longer be a launching »

The Long Goodbye, Take Two

Featured image John’s post below about the Afghanistan problem is fitting and right, and I write to agree with him. It seemed better to do a separate post than an appended comment as is our frequent practice among us. John pays tribute to the faithfulness of our fighting forces who believe in the mission, and it is right to honor their courage and willingness to take the supreme risk. Two observations. First, »

The Long Goodbye

Featured image We started this site in May 2002, in the shadow of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The war against Islamic terrorism was one of our key themes, and has remained so for nearly 18 years. But over that time, Islamic terrorism has declined. Other issues have come to the fore. We and many others have largely moved on. Still, it seems rather stunning that we have not yet commented on »

Andrew McCarthy: Afghanistan and the pre-9/11 mindset

Featured image In the post below, Scott presents Andrew McCarthy’s discussion of a federal judge’s decision invalidating the Terrorist Screening Database. McCarthy sees the decision as part of “the turn to a pre-9/11 mindset” in America. McCarthy also perceives the turn to that mindset in the Trump administration’s efforts to reach a “peace” agreement with the Taliban. He discusses these efforts in the same column from which Scott quotes. Here is what »

What did Trump think the Taliban is?

Featured image President Trump was to have met with leaders of the Taliban this weekend. The get together was to have occurred at Camp David. The goal was to finalize a deal under which the U.S. would effectively pull out of Afghanistan, leaving it to the Taliban’s tender mercies. I agree with Rep. Liz Cheney who said: Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported »

Mike Pompeo: The U.S. has delivered on its mission in Afghanistan

Featured image The Trump administration is on the verge of agreeing to pull out of Afghanistan. In defense of this decision, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States has “delivered” on its mission to oust al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and to deter terrorist attacks plotted there and in Pakistan. Pompeo’s statement is mostly true, and has been for many years. And, although this was not really part of our mission and »

Trump cuts Bolton out of decision on Afghanistan

Featured image The Washington Post reports that John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, has been excluded from discussions about an Afghanistan “peace deal” between the U.S. and the Taliban. Bolton apparently doesn’t favor such a deal. This is a president who rages against Fox News because people who appear on that network occasionally say things he doesn’t like hearing. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump doesn’t want to hear from »

Max Boot’s less than compelling case for staying in Afghanistan

Featured image Max Boot, writing in the Washington Post, decries President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria and the likely decision to leave Afghanistan once a deal with the Taliban is finalized. I strongly agree with Boot that we shouldn’t leave Syria and tend to agree with him about Afghanistan, as well. What’s striking about Boot’s column, though, is its superficiality. Boot lumps Syria and Afghanistan together, choosing to ignore »

U.S. moves towards exit from Afghanistan

Featured image Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (among other hot spots, has published an op-ed in the Washington Post. In the paper edition, his op-ed is called “The U.S. is surrendering to the Taliban.” It looks that way. The U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban. The Afghan government has been cut out of the negotiations at the Taliban’s insistence. The two parties — the U.S. and the Taliban — »

Holiday reading

Featured image As we kick off the new year with our felicitations to readers, I want to recommend some reading, mostly from recent Picks. In case you missed one or the other the first time around, consider this: • Lee Smith, “How should we read the American press? In Arabic” (Tablet). • David Albright, Olli Heinonen, Frank Pabian & Andrew Stricker, “Anatomy of Iran’s Deception and How Iran Benefited” (Foundation for Defense »

Foreign policy wins of 2017

Featured image 2017 was a very good year for the U.S. economy and for domestic policy in general. But what about foreign policy? CNN’s Peter Bergen points to three foreign policy wins by President Trump. First on Bergen’s list is the enforcement of the “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria: On April 4, 2017, the Syrian regime used sarin, a nerve gas, against civilian targets in the rebel-held »

Brothers in arms

Featured image On Saturday the Wall Street Journal published Michael Phillips’s devastatingly sad story about twin brothers Chris and Mike Goski. Both served with distinction in the armed forces following 9/11. Michael’s story is “Brothers in arms.” While the story is behind the Journal’s paywall, it is accompanied by an embeddable video with the following preface: Chris Goski was born on May 1, 1981. His twin brother Mike followed a few minutes »

Tillerson contradicts Trump on Afghanistan

Featured image In his speech last night, President Trump vowed to win in Afghanistan. He declared, “We will always win.” He also said, “I’m a problem-solver, and in the end, we will win.” In addition,there was this: “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.” Today, Secretary of »

Barack Obama’s Legacy of Lies and Broken Promises on Afghanistan

Featured image In last night’s speech on Afghanistan, President Trump said: No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems. »

Afghanistan and “nation building”

Featured image In defending his decision to increase America’s war effort in Afghanistan, President Trump needed to do two main things: (1) explain why he was breaking his campaign promise to abandon Afghanistan and (2) distinguish his approach to the fight from President Obama’s. In the post I wrote right after the speech, I tried to describe how Trump went about accomplishing these things. One technique I didn’t mention was the president’s »

Trump resists temptation to give up in Afghanistan

Featured image In an outstanding speech tonight, President Trump announced that the U.S. will not pull out of Afghanistan, but instead will fight with less restraint and more military forces. Trump needed to do two main things in his speech: (1) explain why he was breaking his campaign promise to abandon Afghanistan and (2) distinguish his approach to the fight from President Obama’s. Accomplishing the second objective would help make the breach »