U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that President Donald Trump’s administration will win in Afghanistan by allowing the country to “be Afghanistan” rather than trying to “create a state in the U.S. image.”
“Winning in Afghanistan is really aimed at allowing Afghanistan to be Afghanistan. As the president said, not to nation-build, not to create a state in the U.S. image,” said Gen. McMaster when asked about President Trump’s newly unveiled strategy to end the nearly 16-year-old ear in the country.
For years, Afghanistan has been plagued by various persistent problems, including a deadly heroin production and addiction epidemic as well as the centuries-old child sex abuse custom known as bacha bazi (literally “playing with boys”), among others. Afghanistan also suffers from endemic and widespread corruption that is funneling funds to terrorists and has contributed to the death of Americans.
In 2015, SIGAR revealed that the common practice of sexually abusing boys was punishable by death under Taliban rule, but it was “resurrected” after the terrorist group’s regime was overthrown by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Meanwhile, opium production, which the Taliban was once believed to have prohibited, has increased 25-fold since the United States invaded Afghanistan and is now serving as a top source of funding for the terrorist group.
Afghanistan, now the world’s top supplier of opium and its heroin derivative, is suffering from an addiction problem afflicting tens of thousands of women and some children inside the war-ravaged country.
Furthermore, although the U.S.-backed Afghan government enacted a new law in January 2017 that criminalizes bacha bazi, the old custom in which older men exploit boys for social and sexual entertainment continues, according to an American watchdog agency.
“Afghan officials remain complicit, especially in the sexual exploitation and recruitment of children by Afghan security forces,” reported the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. watchdog agency, at the end of July.
The United States has invested $714 billion in Afghanistan since the conflict started in October 2001, including about $120 billion in reconstruction projects.
Echoing other U.S. officials and the president himself, McMaster defined what it means to win in Afghanistan for the Trump administration.
“Winning in Afghanistan means that there are no terrorist groups who are able to control key parts of the territory or population centers there that could be used to mobilize resources, raise funds, use those funds to then organize, plan, and conduct attacks against us and our allies and partners,” he said.
“So that’s what the success is — is really a sustainable outcome there that ensures the safety and security of the American people,” McMaster continued. “And, as you know, Afghanistan is connected to broader security concerns across the region. And so the outcome is to ensure that a threat from that region doesn’t threaten the safety and security of the American people.”
According to the U.S. military, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the largest concentration of Islamic terrorists in the world.
While announcing his new Afghan strategy Monday, President Trump defined victory as “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS [Islamic State], crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”
“Our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives,” he added. “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need, and the trust they have earned, to fight and to win.”
American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, also said the ultimate goal of Trump’s Afghanistan strategy is to annihilate terrorists and prevent the country from becoming a launching pad for attacks against America.