Troop “Reduction” in Afghanistan!

Photo that allegedly persuaded Trump that Afghanistan wasn’t a lost cause

W.J. Astore

Trump was elected president in 2016 partly because he railed against America’s wasteful wars.  So, what did his advisers talk him into?  A mini-surge of troops to Afghanistan.  I still recall the odd news of Trump being shown photos of Afghan women in skirts (vintage 1972) to convince him that westernization and modernization of Afghanistan was possible.

Several thousand additional U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan in 2017, predictably achieving nothing of note.  A little more than two years later, we have another item of “big” news today, according to CNN:

The Trump Administration is preparing to announce a long-awaited reduction of US troops in Afghanistan, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN. There are between 12,000 and 13,000 US troops in the country right now, and the US has maintained a solid presence throughout the 18-year war in the area. This drawdown would remove up to 4,000 troops, with more possible reductions in the future, the official said. That matches the claim Trump made on Fox News Radio in August that his administration would take the number “down to 8,600.” The reduction comes at the same time the US is restarting peace talks with the Taliban, and some worry the troop drawdown could be seen as a concession to the terrorist group.

Where to begin with this CNN snippet?

  1.  The “reduction” is not a reduction but a return to previous troop levels at the end of the Obama administration.
  2. The U.S. “has maintained a solid presence”?  Good god.  You’d never know about all the bombing, droning, and killing the U.S. has done over the last 18+ years.  Or is that the “solid presence” we’ve been maintaining?
  3. The troop “drawdown” as a “concession” to the Taliban?  Guess what: The Taliban aren’t going anywhere, and they’re winning.  A few thousand U.S. troops, either as a “plus-up” or “drawdown,” have had and will have no impact on the reality on the ground.

Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or do both.  Perhaps my dad put it best: “We laugh to hide the tears.”

Update (12/17): Speaking of laughing to hide the tears, the Pentagon has responded to the systematic lying revealed by the so-called Afghan Papers.  It won’t surprise you the response consists of three artless dodges:

  1. We’re looking forward, not backward!
  2. This is all old news.
  3. Nothing to see here, move along.

I kid you not.

11 thoughts on “Troop “Reduction” in Afghanistan!

    1. I saw statistics recently indicating considerably more of these “security contractors” have bitten the dust than active-duty military on Afghan soil. A nefarious trend, and a bit scary for the future. This armed and dangerous crew could be loosed on the (dissident) citizenry here at home. Accountability? A quaint notion! Unthinkable during Vietnam, though some guys assigned to guard the CIA types may have gone KIA or been gravely wounded. I’ve never seen a study of that situation.


  1. The most essential thing to bear in mind is that Trump is constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. And even if he wanted to correct that flaw, there’s the problem of his flipping on positions within days (if not hours, sometimes). He makes up policy on the fly without rhyme or reason. It does make sense, from the US perspective, to rely more and more on remote killing. Kicking in doors to look for “suspected terrorists”–which is about every Afghan-looking person in the country, just as every Vietnamese-looking person became “the enemy” in a certain war long ago–is apparently not “winning hearts and minds.” What a shock, huh?!? No US President wants to declare defeat and bring the troops home. This war of choice, approaching the two-decades point, like that earlier war, will never bring a shred of honor to the United States. Not a damned shred.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another winner. You are on a roll! But CNN is trash “news”—and proud of it. You could write ten of these every day.


  3. Thank you for your astute posts, which directly and indirectly support active duty Military and Veterans in the current administration’s disinformation campaign to politicize the US military
    -a Vietnam Vet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “We’re looking forward, not backward!” If Gen. Wm. Westmoreland didn’t employ that exact phrase during the Vietnam debacle…he may as well have!


  4. Darkly amusing. I have always been a questioning sort, even as a child but it was the revelation in the 90s (from Zbignew himself, later backed up by official records) of just how the Afghan invasion by the USSR happened that was a major turning point in my life. I was a kid at the time but still really shouldn’t have swallowed hook-line-and-sinker the story as told about the intrinsically evil USSR invaded poor Afghanistan to… just to be evil as far as I could tell from any motivations supplied by our media. Discovering years later that the Taliban had started an insurrection against the government, over the education of girls among other things, and that the US government had decided that shipping them weapons and CIA aid would be a lovely way of provoking the USSR into military action with the delightful (/s) outcome of “giving them their own Vietnam” was quite a shock. I remember the dismissive “handful of angry Muslims” comments as he took boastingly took credit for bringing down the USSR. Then, a little later when asked about a “peace dividend” had the gall to say that it was common knowledge that “with the fall of the USSR the world has become less stable” – so we gotta keep spending on the military, naturally. The picture reminds me of all this. It also makes me think that perhaps the world would be a better place if the US just left it the hell alone for the most part.


    1. Here’s the history: Afghanistan had somehow, c. 1979, found itself with a President (or Premier, or Prime Minister, whatever term was being used) leaning toward Socialism and friendly toward Soviets. When he was threatened with ouster by reactionary forces, the USSR pledged to support him. Enter the Russian troops. The US, via CIA, found a friendly chap, with Saudi/Yemeni roots, name of Osama bin-Laden and sent him weapons for guerrilla attacks on Soviet forces. The words “al-Qaeda” and “Taliban” were utterly unknown, at least in the USA, at the time. It was only AFTER Russkie pull-out that a band of bearded, turban-bedecked men who called themselves the Taliban (translated: the Students or Scholars [of Islam]) were reportedly spotted marching thru mountain passes into Afghanistan from Pakistan! Were they Afghanis who’d taken refuge in Pakistan during the Russkie attempted occupation, or were they Pakistanis who moved in to take advantage of power vacuum?? To this day, I’ve yet to see an authoritative explanation of all this. It was only AFTER all these events that bin-Laden turned on his CIA masters and at some point al-Qaeda emerged into public consciousness, especially of course after 9/11. I heartily endorse your concluding thought, but would modify it to “…if the US just left it the hell alone altogether.” Oh, it would be nice to see our country rendering tons of humanitarian aid to various regions, but…that doesn’t bring big profits rolling in!


Comments are closed.