Why Trump's Afghanistan plan will end in utter failure

This is, and always will be, a war without victory

President Trump delivers a speech about Afghanistan in front of members of the military
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Last night, President Trump gathered the national family together around the dinner table on the pretense that he would deliver urgent and sober news about America's strategy in Afghanistan, and instead basically sent us to bed without dinner. Rather than a detailed policy vision for extricating the country from its Afghanistan adventure, he offered platitudes ("We will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily") and declined to clue the American people in on this big new strategy he's decided on with, as he would put it, "his generals." But in all likelihood, we are headed toward another disastrous troop surge that will end the way every previous attempt to "win" in Afghanistan has ended: in failure.

It was a curious speech, delivered soberly by Telemprompter Trump. It was full of the president's trademark bluster, in which he describes international relations in terms best reserved for contractors and their clients. India, he claimed, "makes billions of dollars" trading with the United States and so he wants them to "help us more in Afghanistan," as if trade flows somehow obligate states to clean up our imperial messes. He argued that "we have been paying billions of dollars" to Pakistan, although what exactly we have bought with that "payment" is not clear. (The word the president is looking for is "aid.")

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.