Two Republican senators said it’s time to win in Afghanistan, and that means more troops and a new approach.
A U.S. congressional delegation visited Kabul on July 4, meeting with Afghan government leaders and military officials to discuss the more than 16-year war in Afghanistan.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the status quo in Afghanistan was not acceptable.
“We need a new strategy, that means to win. The strategy before was, quote, Don’t lose’ and we lost some brave young Americans, and a lot of brave young Afghans, and a lot of brave children of our allies while we are in a quote ‘Don’t lose’ strategy,” said McCain. “The strongest nation on earth should be able to win this conflict.”
The visit comes as President Donald Trump’s administration works on a new Afghan war strategy and the Taliban finds the breathing room needed to revive its organization. There is also a small ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, but the resurgent Taliban is a much larger threat.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was also on the visit, and echoed McCain’s central sentiment.
He said if he were to advise Trump, he would tell the president to either pull the troops out, or get more in there.
“Because 8,600 will not get the job done,” he said. “I think more American forces with NATO forces, with more aggressive rules of engagement, utilization of American air power will turn a stalemate into success.”
One common refrain from analysts of the region is that the Taliban needs to be a part of any long-term peace solution. It was an idea that many conservatives once rejected but it has grown in credibility as the war has worn on.
McCain said that the current situation offers no hope of a deal with the Taliban.
“They are not going to negotiate unless they think they are losing. Why would anybody want to negotiate a settlement while they are winning. So we need to win and have the advantage on the battlefield and then enter into a serious negotiation to resolve the conflict,” he said.
Matthew Little for NTD