News Release

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy: Only Good for the Arms Peddlers?

MATTHEW HOH, [currently in D.C. area] matthew_hoh at riseup.net
In 2009, Hoh resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the war there by the Obama administration. See 2009 Washington Post piece about Hoh: “U.S. official resigns over Afghan war.” He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is now a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy. Hoh was just on The Real News and appeared on “Democracy Now” Tuesday morning.

Hoh recently wrote the piece “Trump’s Turn To Lie About Afghanistan,” and said today: “Trump’s speech offered to accelerate the continued killing and suffering in Afghanistan, while barely giving mention to a negotiated resolution to the conflict and only offering the scarcest platitudes deemed necessary by the speechwriters and political consultants toward peace and diplomacy.

“Profits for military contractors, which he actually highlighted by touting the increased tens of billions of dollars in U.S. military spending, are ensured indefinitely, as President Trump relentlessly brought forth the 16-year-old demons of 9/11 throughout his speech and gave cause continuously to the tired and specious myth of the necessity of the terrorist safe haven and the requirement for the United States to occupy, garrison and subjugate Muslim nations.

“President Trump’s use of the term ‘strategically applied force’ must be remembered in relation to his promises to kill terrorists’ families, and that use of force is reminiscent of the form of punishment all empires have administered onto the borderlands and provinces that have rebelled throughout history. This should be seen in connection to and in understanding of the recent devastating campaigns by the Iraqi military against cities in Iraq such as Mosul, Fallujah and Tikirt and by the Saudis in Yemen to understand how the Afghan military will be reshaped and retrained. [See “Covering Up the Massacre of Mosul.”]

“President Trump’s words towards Pakistan were striking, his comments on nuclear weapons, which can be considered as a warning to the Pakistanis, particularly alarming and jarring. It is concerning how the Indians will take this speech, will they be emboldened by this show of U.S. support and resolve toward India and will dangerous circumstances between Pakistan and India, two countries that many experts believe most likely to engage in a nuclear conflict become even more dangerous?”

SCOTT HORTON, scott at antiwar.com, @scotthortonshow
Horton is the author of the new book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, hosts Antiwar Radio, is managing director of the Libertarian Institute and opinion editor of Antiwar.com. He said today: “In Afghanistan, the U.S. has been attempting to foist a government and military backed by a coalition of minority groups from the north of the country onto the plurality Pashtun population. … President Trump himself has opposed the Afghan war for at least the last five years, and has shown that he knows that the pacification of these local tribal resistance fighters cannot be achieved.”

BRIAN TERRELL, brian at vcnv.org
Terrell is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence and is leaving for his fifth trip to Afghanistan on Sept. 13. He said today: “In October of 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney predicted that the so-called war on terror that had begun with the U.S. bombing and invasion of Afghanistan that month, ‘may never end. At least, not in our lifetime.’ Suggesting that this new war would ‘become a permanent part of the way we live,’ Cheney was not expressing a dystopian fear, but rather his hope for a cash cow that will never stop paying out. Over the 16 years since, it has seemed that this war has not been intended to be won or otherwise resolved in any way. At Camp David, President Trump was briefed on a new strategy to ‘protect America’s interests’ in the region. The interests and welfare of the Afghan people obviously was not a topic for discussion and whatever new strategy is devised by Trump and his generals, the near future does not bode well for anyone but the arms peddlers.” Terrell’s pieces include “Life Goes On Under the Helicopters and the Terrible Cost of Avoiding the Dangers of Kabul.”

SONALI KOLHATKAR, sonali at risingupwithsonali.com, @SonaliKolhatkar
Kolhatkar is director of Afghan Women’s Mission. She said today: “Donald Trump announced his plan to win the war in Afghanistan without actually laying out any specifics. Indeed he literally said he wouldn’t spell out troop increases (although reports suggest it will be as high as 4,000), or other strategies.'” Kolhatkar recently wrote the piece “Don’t Privatize the Afghan War — Just End It.”