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Trump vows U.S. will 'fight to win' in Afghanistan but offers no details

Trump vows U.S. will 'fight to win' in Afghanistan but offers no details
From CBC - August 21, 2017

Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, U.S. President Donald Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan Monday night, declaring Americantroops must "fight to win." He pointedly declined to disclose how many more troops will be dispatched to wage the country'slongest war.

In a prime-time address to unveil his new Afghanistan strategy, Trump said the U.S. would shift away from a "time-based" approach, instead linking its assistance to results and to co-operation from the beleaguered Afghan government, Pakistan and others. He insisted it would be a "regional" strategy that addressed the roles played by other South Asian nationsespecially Pakistan's harbouring of elements of the Taliban.

"America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress," Trump said. "However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank cheque."

Still, Trump offered few details about how progress would be measured. Nor did he explain how his approach would differ substantively from what two presidents before him tried unsuccessfully over the past 16 years.

Although Trump insisted he would "not talk about numbers of troops" or telegraph military moves in advance, he hinted that he'd embraced the Pentagon's proposal to boost troop numbers by nearly 4,000, augmenting the roughly 8,400 Americans there now.

Before becoming a candidate, Trump had ardently argued for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the war a massive waste of U.S. "blood and treasure" and declaring on Twitter, "Let's get out!" Seven months into his presidency, he said Monday night that though his "original instinct was to pull out," he'd since determined that approach could create a vacuum that terrorists including al-Qaeda and ISIS would "instantly fill."

"We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will," Trump said in comments echoed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Plan remains vague

Earlier this year, Trump announced he was entrusting Mattis and the military with the decision about how many troops would be needed.

While Trump stressed his strategy was about more than just the military, he was vague on other "instruments of American power" he said would be deployed in full force to lead Afghanistan toward peace, such as economic development or new engagement with Pakistan and India. Absent military specifics, it was difficult to assess how his plan might dissolve the stalemate between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

On one pointthe definition of victoryTrump was unequivocal. He said American troops would "fight to win" by attacking enemies, "crushing" al-Qaeda, preventing terror attacks against Americans and "obliterating" ISIS, whose affiliate has gained a foothold in Afghanistan as the U.S. squeezes the extremists in Syria and Iraq.

Internal strife

Mixed reaction

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