One more lethal, multi-casualty bomb attack last week in the center of Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, marked the approaching 16th anniversary of America’s war in that country. At the same time that the attack occurred, the Trump administration was trying to decide whether to send another 5,000 or so American troops there to bolster the Afghan forces’ shaky efforts to defend the country from the Taliban and other resistance to the rule of President Ashraf Ghani and his government.
The Taliban have denied involvement in the Kabul attack, but they sometimes do try to disassociate themselves from actions that kill a lot of civilians, as this one did. It is being suggested that this truck bomb assault was carried out by the Haqqani network, loosely associated with the Taliban, accused of being run by the Directorate for Military Intelligence of neighboring Pakistan.
There are already 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There are also, easy to forget, a thousand German troops there, under the NATO banner. The U.S. commander, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., has been beating the drums for months now, including in testimony before the Congress, for thousands more U.S. forces. So far, Trump has not pulled the trigger.
After nearly 16 years, and some $1 trillion, currently a billion dollars a week in U.S. aid and 2,350 dead Americans, it seems time for Trump to stop putting into Afghanistan good money after bad.
It is probably time for the Afghans to decide themselves if they want to be ruled again by the Taliban, and, if they don’t, or if they want some sort of coalition in Kabul that includes the Taliban, to take appropriate action themselves to bring the fighting to an end, without NATO and the Americans.