Over the next two weeks, President Trump will confront a momentous decision on escalation in Afghanistan, a topic that until now has received little public debate.
The Washington Post's lead story, "U.S. is poised to ramp up Taliban fight," by Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe, reveals one of the most consequential choices that has yet faced this young administration. The Post says the Cabinet is supportive, there are dissenters in the White House, and the president's view is unknown:
- "Trump's most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban."
- "The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president's desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and 'start winning' again, said one U.S. official."
- "The new strategy ... has the backing of top Cabinet officials."
- Why it matters: "The ... changes would ... reverse moves by ... Obama to steadily limit the U.S. military role in Afghanistan, along with the risk to American troops and the cost of the war effort."
- "Trump is expected to make a final call ... before a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels."
- "Inside the White House, those opposed to the plan have begun to refer derisively to the strategy as 'McMaster's War,' a reference to H.R. McMaster, the president's national security adviser. The general, who once led anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan and was one of the architects of President George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq, is the driving force behind the new strategy at the White House."
Key point by N.Y. Times' Michael Gordon, following the Post story: "In some respects, [the decision] is a liability for a president who has called for putting 'America first.' Deploying more troops would cost billions of dollars, and there is no guarantee of a clear win."