"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground – not arbitrary time tables – will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will," Trump said Monday in a presidential address regarding US strategy in South Asia in general and Afghanistan in particular.
Though he refused to specify a troop level, Trump said "we will also expand the authority of the US military to target terrorist organizations in Afghanistan as part of a new strategy in the region."
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters this was the main factor differentiating Trump’s strategy from those pursued by previous US administrations. What "will be different this time is [Trump] has empowered our military commanders on the ground to make more timely decisions, to conduct battlefield operations based upon the conditions on the ground, and with the battle plans that Secretary of Defense Mattis will be approving."
The decision to renew Washington’s 16-year war escapade in Afghanistan is "unacceptable," anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan told Loud & Clear on Radio Sputnik Tuesday.
Cindy Sheehan’s son, US Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed during a mission to rescue fellow US troops in 2004, and was decorated with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions. His loss prompted his mother to become an anti-war activist. Sheehan’s memoir, “Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey Through Heartache to Activism,” was published by Atria Books in 2006.
"The Taliban recently sent [Trump] a letter saying that it would be in the US’ best interest if they left Afghanistan," Sheehan noted. Trump said a vacuum that would be created if he stuck with his "instinct" – and years of rhetoric – to bring home all US personnel from Afghanistan, thus allowing groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flourish.
“We’ve seen this over and over again with many imperial misadventures that we’ve had for decades," Sheehan argued.
A prominent US analyst at the Center for International Policy in Reston, Virginia, explained the likely consequences of the renewed war effort – and who can be expected to gain from the violent conflict.
"What is [the renewed effort] going to accomplish besides lining the pockets of some more defense companies … [and] more pay for people who supply fuel and food for those troops? I don’t really know," former State Department official Matthew Hoh said on Monday’s episode of Loud & Clear.
The new vision will "continue the American presence in Afghanistan, it will continue the killing, and it will continue the budget for the war, which will certainly make a lot of people happy" in defense contractor industry circles, Hoh noted.
The US has spent $4 to $6 trillion on the counterterrorism effort in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the Middle East, according to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In February, US Army Gen. John Nicholson said the US was at a "stalemate" in the fight against terror.