President Donald Trump's strategy to kill all the members of the Taliban while reducing investments in state-building is not plausible, former Canadian International Development Agency Aid Program chief in Afghanistan, Nipa Banerjee, told Sputnik.
Trump in a speech on Monday said the United States would stay the course in Afghanistan and carry out aggressive policies against the Taliban and other extreme Islamist groups. He also said Washington would abandon nation-building activities. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the United States was no longer going to impose democracy or a strong central government on the Afghan people.
"The President did not lay down any strategy," Banerjee said on Wednesday. "I am left with the very distressing feel that killing all Taliban and no investment on nation building is the over-arching theme of America’s war in Afghanistan."
Killing all the Taliban in Afghanistan is an implausible goal, Banerjee added.
Banerjee explained that she has no quarrel with the US military remaining in Afghanistan as its presence has prevented the country from being overtaken by the Taliban and immediate term conditions require US forces to stay put. However, she believes the US and its allies have played a losing hand over the past 16 years.
"Winning the war in the long term requires a strategy different from what the international community has been pursuing over the last 16 years and steadily losing," Banerjee, now a senior fellow at Carelton University in Ottawa, said. "Today’s situation is not A ‘stalemate,’ it is proving to be a losing game and going further downhill."
Banerjee is concerned that Trump has decried nation-building even as he practices it. She wondered how Trump could dismiss the concept even though the US has spent billions creating and supporting economic and social development, institutions of governance, justice, law and order, and the military. Yet, despite 16 years of trying to build Afghan governing and institutional capacities, the effort has fallen short.
"In 16 years, the international community has not been able to build the needed capacities in any of these areas," Banerjee said. "NATO’s Resolute Support has not addressed its train, assist and advise mission and it certainly has not been able to train and advise the Afghanistan defense and security forces well enough, as all indicators of growing insecurity and losses in Afghanistan show."
She stressed that the international community has been unable to get Afghan military forces to fight on their own. She wondered what the United States intends to do differently by remaining in Afghanistan.
"The answer was not available in Trump’s speech," Banerjee said. "What are the indicators that will tell the world and Afghans that the war against the Taliban has been won [as] at the moment, all indicators clearly show that despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan, the international community’s war under America’s leadership is on track to lose."
Earlier on Wednesday, NBC News reported citing three US defense officials, the actual number of the US troops currently serving in Afghanistan is several thousand higher than the official estimates.