President Donald Trump has reportedly pushed back on a plan from National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calling for a U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan.
Trump, according to sources speaking with Politico Magazine, sent the finalized plan back to McMaster during a recent National Security Council meeting after being unconvinced that a larger U.S. presence in Afghanistan would ultimately change the tide in America’s longest war.
Former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Laurel Miller, who aided McMaster’s policy review for Afghanistan, appeared to back Trump’s stance to Politico by stating that “there aren’t any new tools to be used to suddenly turn around the conflict in Afghanistan.”
“I don’t think there is any serious analyst of the situation in Afghanistan who believes that the war is winnable,” Miller said. “It’s possible to prevent the defeat of the Afghan government and prevent military victory by the Taliban, but this is not a war that’s going to be won.”
Miller added that McMaster was attempting “a very politically difficult thing to do” by advocating for the war.
“[T]o say to this new president… that your only option is that now you need to be the third president in a row to own this war, that’s a very politically difficult thing to do,” Miller said.
Although Trump gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority last month to increase troops levels in Afghanistan, the retired Marine Corps general has thus far held back as the White House continues to debate its strategy towards the region.
Last Tuesday, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the war to reporters prior to a White House lunch.
“I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years,” Trump said.
One former U.S. official stated that Trump and his most trusted advisors view the available options in Afghanistan as no different than the failed policies of the prior administrations.
“It’s clear Trump and people close to him are still saying, ‘Where are the options?’ This is too status quo,’” the former official said.
While the debate on Afghanistan continues, Trump has made numerous decisive moves as part of his broader strategy in the war on terror.
The Trump administration recently withheld $50 million in reimbursements to Pakistan after Mattis asserted the nation had failed to adequately combat terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network.
Reports also indicated last week that Trump has begun to phase out the covert CIA program that trained and armed so-called “Syrian rebels” in their fight against the government of Bashar al-Assad.