Donald Trump is ending endless war
President Trump promised to end the reckless foreign intervention of the United States over the past two decades, and he is keeping that promise. Reports indicate that he is closer than ever to fulfilling this by bringing a satisfactory end to the longest war in American history. After years of negotiations, the Taliban appears on the verge of signing an accord that would pave the way for a reduction of hostilities, a settlement on the future of Afghanistan, and a withdrawal of American troops.
If and when the deal is signed, about 5,000 troops will leave Afghanistan. If conditions continue to improve after that, the remaining 8,000 soldiers could eventually be brought home as well, ending an military presence of 18 years that has long since fallen off the radar of most Americans who do not have friends or loved ones in danger. As I wrote a decade ago in “Operation Dark Heart,” a negotiated settlement would be a necessary solution to end the Afghanistan conflict. Trump has taken the path to victory and is bringing an effective conclusion to the war.
After our country was attacked on 9/11, the United States had to retaliate against the monsters who killed more than 3,000 innocent civilians. Our superb military proved its valor and worth, enduring deployment after deployment and years of bloody conflict around the world to deliver that righteous retribution. Osama Bin Laden and his successor as the most prominent leader of Islamist terror, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, are both dead, brought to justice by the powerful might of American arms.
Nevertheless, on the campaign trail, Trump struck a chord with Americans by promising to avoid endless wars, which is exactly what our involvement in Afghanistan had become over the years. By the 2016 election, however, Americans finally came to recognize an ugly truth that the “global war on terror” had long since transformed into an open commitment of American troops to hostile war zones with no obvious conditions for victory.
Nowhere has this been more clear than in Afghanistan. Our presence there is now officially older than some of the American soldiers fighting there. Our troops were originally tasked with rooting out those people responsible for 9/11 and establishing a legitimate government in Kabul, but today their mission and the definition of victory are unclear.
For far too many years, Americans have fought and died to create the conditions for peace to flourish and for the democratic government in Kabul to establish its own legitimate authority. Just last week, two more American families joined the roughly 2,400 others who have received the tragic news that their loved one will never leave Afghanistan.
But the war in Afghanistan is no longer crucial to the core of our national security, leaving our troops with no obvious mission. Our Afghan partners need our support, but the exact conditions that would constitute a victory are unclear. Even if we had clear victory conditions, we do not even have accurate metrics to judge whether we have achieved them.
Given these realities, Trump and his advisers have now charted the best possible path forward. We have to set a clear and easily verified condition of a reduction in violence and aggression from the Taliban. American troops and negotiators meeting with Taliban and Afghan government representatives in Qatar appear to be on the cusp of achieving that.
Trump gave a lot of American families a great deal of renewed hope when he promised to stop the endless wars that have taken so many American lives over the past two decades. By fulfilling that promise, he is finally turning that hope into gratitude and relief across the country.
Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer who served with the United States Army. He is now the president of the London Center for Policy Research and an adviser to the 2020 campaign of Donald Trump.