By George Rasley
CHQ Editor 8/7/17
In our article H.R. McMaster Is Proof The Deep State Exists we outlined many of the reasons why President Trump’s National Security Advisor, LTG H.R. McMaster, should be relieved of his White House post.
However, there is one more reason, perhaps the most important reason, that we left for treatment in a separate article: McMaster’s demand that the President re-escalate American military operations in Afghanistan.
Back in February, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to ask for a “few thousand” more U.S. troops. A few weeks later, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, echoed Nicholson’s request, telling senators that a new “strategy” for Afghanistan had to “involve additional forces.”
During his Senate testimony, Nicholson was asked by Senator John McCain, who strongly advocates more US troops in Afghanistan, whether the U.S. was winning or losing in Afghanistan. “I believe we are in a stalemate,” replied the general.
“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” Defense Secretary James Mattis later testified.
Fast forward to July, when President Donald Trump’s senior Cabinet officials and top national security advisers met for a contentious meeting to finally agree on what H.R. McMaster claimed was a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
After months of wrangling, McMaster’s brilliant “new strategy” was to ask Trump for a modest troop increase, a four-year deadline and a more intense commitment to the seemingly endless struggle in Afghanistan, reported Susan B. Glasser, POLITICO’s chief international affairs columnist.
In a striking vote of no-confidence in McMaster, who had been trying and failing for months to sell the President on a new plan for Afghanistan, Trump refused to sign off on the plan the NSC Principals Committee approved, instead sending it back to his national security team demanding more work.
And just two weeks ago the President made clear just how dissatisfied he was.
In what POLITICO’s Glasser says were pretty much Trump’s first public comments on Afghanistan during his six months in office, he told reporters before a White House lunch, “I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years.” Later, headed into a Pentagon meeting, he was similarly cagey. Asked about more troops for Afghanistan, he replied only, “We’ll see.”
But it gets worse; what would be the objective of this “modest troop increase” General McMaster is advocating?
According to the New York Times, Washington Post and other establishment media outlets, the purpose of the surge or re-escalation represented by sending several thousand additional American troops to Afghanistan would be to try to break the military deadlock in the 17-year war there, thus pressuring the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.
This is the recommendation President Trump balked at, but it is allegedly the product of the broad review of Afghan policy headed by McMaster and including the Pentagon, the State Department, intelligence community and other government agencies. It is also broadly consistent with advice Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, gave Congress in February.
The notion that we can broker a peace and some sort of coalition with the Taliban is a folly born of desperation to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.
This advice also demonstrates that our top echelon at the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the State Department have learned nothing from 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
Despite the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives poured into geography last conquered by Alexander the Great, nothing the generals and best and brightest of the intelligence community have proposed has worked.
From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, not hing American leaders have done has achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.
And the reason for this failure has nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it has everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy and war we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.
The war in Afghanistan isn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it isn’t a war on “terrorism,” it isn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.
What General McMaster and his new team of yes men at the NSC don’t seem to grasp is that the enemy in Afghanistan isn’t the Taliban insurgency; it is their underlying ideology of Islam and the allegiance of the majority of the Afghan people to a misogynistic 7th Century Sharia-based Muslim culture.
If you understand that the teachings of Islam are fundamental motivators of the people who we are fighting in Afghanistan, then that informs your entire strategy. (See “More Evidence That McMaster Shares Obama’s Views on Islam and Terror for an explanation of McMaster’s gross error on this fundamental issue.)
That means instead of sending a few thousand troops to Afghanistan we need to deploy all the means of our national power against the real enemy – the doctrines of Islam that motivate the Taliban.
It means we deploy psyops to attack the enemy’s Muslim belief system. It means we offer an alternative belief system to replace the one that is motivating the enemy. And it means we attack the Mullahs and mosques that are the centers and advocates of that belief system.
The United States is doing none of that in Afghanistan, because, as far as we can tell, McMaster and his new yes men believe “Islam is a religion of peace” and not the real enemy.
While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could defeat the Taliban, that wouldn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.
Fanned by Iran, and other sources of Muslim culture, it would pop-up again unless Afghan society is completely remade through a multi-generational program of nation building that, under present circumstances, few, if any, Americans would be willing to support and even fewer Afghans would welcome.
President Trump’s lack of confidence in H.R. McMaster’s National Security Council work is well founded, because far from being a “new strategy” what McMaster, Nicholson and Votel are advocating is the same old strategy made new only by the new generation of brave Americans who will be sacrificed to their lack of vision and comprehension of exactly who and what the enemy is in Afghanistan.
This is something that Rich Higgins understood, and worked diligently to make part of President Trump’s policy – and was canned by McMaster for so doing.
The strategy for Afghanistan H.R McMaster has proposed to President Trump isn’t a strategy for victory, it is a strategy to save face for generals and politicians.
Until we fight the whole war in Afghanistan – not just the one on the kinetic battlefield – sending one more American to Afghanistan is an act every bit as immoral and unsupportable as sending thousands of brave Americans into the jungles of Vietnam, not to win the war, but so that American political leaders could declare victory and go home.