The Afghan government asked for “clarification” following U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks Monday about being able to wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the earth” if he really wanted to win the war there.
Responding to Trump’s comments on Tuesday, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said:
Afghanistan is one of the most deep-rooted and ancient countries of the world have been able to overcome countless crisis during history. The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate.
Our cooperation and partnership with the world countries, particularly with the United States, is grounded on common interests and mutual respect.
Given the multifaceted relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for clarification on the US President’s statements expressed at a meeting with the Pakistan prime minister, via diplomatic means and channels.
During a joint press conference at the White House with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, President Trump declared:
If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. … I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in — literally, in 10 days. … I don’t want to go that route.
So we’re working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves [from Afghanistan]. Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we’re policemen right now. And we’re not supposed to be policemen. We’ve been there for 19 years, in Afghanistan. It’s ridiculous. I think Pakistan helps us with that because we don’t want to stay as policemen.
Asked to respond to Trump’s comments in a Fox News interview aired on Monday, PM Khan said:
I guess what the president meant was that if he had a scorched earth policy, where a military machine went from one side of Afghanistan to the other. The US has the greatest fire power in the history of mankind. But clearly that would be devastating.
Already people in Afghanistan have suffered four decades of conflict. The last thing Afghanistan needs is more violence and it needs peace.
The Taliban should become a part of the political process, so then you would have a government which will represent the people of Afghanistan.
Becoming part of the political process would grant the Taliban the opportunity to return to power in Kabul after it was removed by U.S. troops in late 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks.
Khan’s comments are consistent with the Trump administration’s Afghan strategy to end the war. The primary focus of Trump’s plan is to achieve a “political reconciliation” between the Taliban and Kabul.
Trump administration officials have come out in support of legitimizing the Taliban as a political power despite the group’s well-documented human rights atrocities and involvement in the deadly opium and heroin trade.
Taliban jihadis, who already control or contest about half of the country, are fighting to implement a sharia-compliant Islamic emirate in Afghanistan.
Likely referring to the American military’s current train and advise mission, Trump suggested on Monday that the United States is no longer leading combat operations and, therefore, “not fighting the war.” Members of his administration have conceded that a military victory is not possible at this point in Afghanistan.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described winning in Afghanistan as achieving a “political reconciliation” between Kabul and the Taliban.
“We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan,” Mattis proclaimed in March, adding, “Not a military victory — the victory will be a political reconciliation” with the Taliban.
Although tensions have been brewing between neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan for years, Islamabad has taken credit for using its influence over the Taliban facilitate the group’s ongoing peace talks with the United States.
Echoing comments by President Ghani in early 2018, a U.S. watchdog agency reported this March that Afghanistan would collapse without international funding, which along with the opium trade are the main drivers of the country’s economy. Most of the funding originates in the United States.
Taliban terrorists claim the U.S. “promised” to keep funding Afghanistan after a potential American military withdrawal stemming from a peace deal.
Despite U.S. peace-seeking efforts, the Taliban has intensified attacks during the negotiations and continued to refuse to allow Kabul to participate in the talks.
The U.S. has spent nearly a $1 Trillion on the Afghanistan war. Terrorists, primarily the Taliban, have also killed 2,288 American service members and maimed 20,481 others. Nevertheless, the Taliban’s manpower and influence have reached unprecedented levels.
Nearly 18 years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to the Taliban regime harboring al-Qaeda, the two jihadi allies remain close.