Trump’s Turn

Here’s what we know about Donald Trump’s plan for a troop surge in Afghanistan:

1) We don’t know. It’s a secret. We’re definitely going to do some things and there will be more soldiers there than there currently are, at some point. Bold.

2) The timing of Trump’s announcement is notable, coming approximately a week after the president exploded most of the support he had outside of his swastika armband-wearing, Confederate flag-waving base. A base, it should be noted, that supports a troop surge in Afghanistan in numbers far exceeding the general public. Our long, semi-forgotten war has lost the hearts and minds of a majority of the American people.

3) In normal circumstances, when a commander-in-chief flashes his bellicosity in public, he gets a ratings boost. Until now, Trump has been thoroughly disinterested in the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, preferring to allow his generals free reign over operations. So, ratings. Any other explanation of the sudden turnabout is unconvincing.

4) Outside of the Trumpian optics re: the surge announcement, the strategy appears to be the same as it ever was. This adheres to the mainstream…

Wait.

Stop.

This isn’t right.

Why does every opinion piece on Trump’s announcement offer a value-free, “realpolitik” analysis of the situation without questioning the basic premise? Namely: what are we still doing in Afghanistan?

From George W. Bush onward, American presidents have tried to force compliance from the occupied nation of Afghanistan – for reasons ostensibly outside its tantalizingly lootable “treasure”. We “bombed them back in to the Stone Age” in 2001, but the key objective of the invasion – capturing Osama bin Laden – failed when bin Laden fled into Pakistan.

Yet we remained. We’ve occupied Afghanistan well into 2017 because Bush neglected it for the chaos of Iraq, Obama needed a War Feather in his Tough Cap, and The Donald couldn’t be bothered to look the place up on a map. It’s the longest running war in American history. The objectives are muddled and the exit strategy perpetually over the horizon.

Afghans, who should have a say in the destiny of their country, don’t want more American troops on the ground. They want a government that isn’t bugfuck corrupt, economic opportunities and personal safety.

So again I ask (rhetorically, knowing the answers full well) why are we still in Afghanistan? Why does our military wage eternal war against the Taliban and not Boko Harem? What the bloodshed calculus of Afghans and Americans that makes us stay?

(Year Zero/Day Two Hundred and Fifteen)