Before an audience of troops ordered into attendance, DJT gave us his decision on policy in Afghanistan:
1. "There will be no blank check." Since the applicability of this statement was not made clear, I will take it to mean that there will be limits as to how many military resources will be "invested" in Afghanistan, how much US taxpayers' money is spent there for however long it (victory) takes. Nevertheless, no numbers were provided for possible troop end strengths or expenditures.
2. "Decisions about future policy will be based on events on the ground, not on schedules decided in Washington." This means that there will be no oversight over the commander in Afghanistan except by Mattis and McMaster, the apparent authors of this policy. This is an abandonment of the American policy of civilian control of the military. The last time we did this was in WW2 in the European theater. In the Pacific the rivalry betwee MacArthur and the Navy made oversight by FDR a possibility.
3. We will fight until victory is achieved, victory being defined as a secure position for the elected government and an absence of terrorist plots against the US being "hatched" in Afghanistan.
4. We will not "nation build," but will maintain the aforesaid government in power. This presumably will cost a lot more money.
5. "As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us." Text of Speech. As is well known I am not sympathetic to economic explanations of history but this has a name, "colonialism."
6. Pakistan is defined by Trump in this speech as a major haven and sponsor of terrorism in Afghanistan. IMO this is correct. DJT says that pressure will be applied to correct this.
7. India is summoned in the speech to help us achieve "victory" in Afghanistan and in helping us control Pakistan's adverse behavior. India and Pakistan are enemies and both are nuclear armed. Pakistan, as I have written elsewhere, can range the eastern Mediterranean with its mobile ballistic missiles when positioned in western Baluchistan.
8. All restrictions will be removed from the actions of military commanders in the field.
9. It was repeatedly said in the speech that we must struggle on to victory to justify the losses we have suffered thus far. This is sentimental nonsense. Such reasoning completely ignores the principle of necessary acceptance of "sunk costs" that should be obvious to a businessman.
IMO this speech was written in McMaster's national security policy shop. It is filled with mutually conflicting and sentimental items the foolishness of which are compounded by very imperfect understandings of the peoples of the region. The conditions for "victory" are unattainable. There will always be insurgent movements in Afghanistan, movements that threaten the country's stability and there will alway be jihadis hatching plots in Afghanistan againt the US.
Therefore, this is a recipe for unending colonial stye war waged by the US in South Asia.
What would a wise policy be? You tell me. pl