Naser Koshan

The U.S. strategy on Afghanistan under a possible Trump or a likely Hillary


As we get closer to the general elections in the U.S. presidential race, both the presumptive nominees are placing Afghanistan as a top priority on their foreign policy agendas. Afghanistan, considering its current political status quo will pose a great importance to the administration leading the highest office in the country. Both the republicans and democrats, have a unanimous consensus on dealing with the Afghan leadership on closer terms, and laying out a credible timeframe for the leaders in Kabul to straighten up their acts and start working vigorously to eliminate corruption and fulfill their campaign promises.

Fifteen years on, Afghanistan still struggles with a lagging economic growth, a critical unemployment rate, and an increasing social disparity. The distribution of wealth among its citizens is at large in dismay and the growing distance in earned income between the middle class and the rich is growing at an alarming rate. Extortions, kidnappings, state bureaucracy, and uncertainty in the political system have forced businessmen to fear for their life, move assets abroad, and invest outside the country.

Evidently, the U.S. has huge stakes in Afghanistan’s stability. First, the world can not afford another 9/11 originating from Afghanistan; secondly, the country being turned again as a congregation hub for international terrorist movements rings a devastating alarm to the stability of not only Afghanistan and its far and distant neighbors, as well as; the U.S. and its allies around the globe, to minimize this potential threat, the U.S. has a strategic and moral responsibility to contain this menace, and strengthen its presence in the country for a foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Afghanistan as both a strategic partner and a co-signer on the BSA (Bilateral Security Agreement) with the U.S. has even a bigger commitment to secure its borders and deliver with utter accountability and time-bound deliverables to its citizens.

No doubt, president Obama’s recent order to give U.S. military based in Afghanistan special permission to conduct airstrikes and target Taliban leadership and fighters in the country can be a game changer and very effective in dismantling their safe sanctuaries. Since the former president Hamid Karzai put an end to the U.S. aerial strikes on Taliban in Afghan villages, Taliban have been using locals as human shields and effectively ambushing local and foreign soldiers, thus causing immense casualties to the indigenous armed forces.

Candidate Trump, previously on several occasions has supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, deeming it necessary and key to the U.S. national security interests. He has expressed his deepest concerns over the way the U.S. has conducted itself in going after the rogue elements within the country, and has promised tougher actions on defeating and eliminating groups posing a credible threat to the U.S. national security and that of its strategic partner Afghanistan. Mr. Trump has periodically criticized president Obama on his lack of leadership in dealing with terror groups such as the Taliban and Haqani network, the later directly responsible for several deadly attacks on U.S. military personnel and diplomatic sites across Afghanistan, and allegedly is enjoying closer ties with Pakistan’s inter service intelligence, the ISI.

Unfortunately, upon the formation of the NUG in Afghanistan in early 2015, the prospects for viable economic development and social welfare seem meager, resulting to an influx of migration, forcing thousands of educated young Afghans leave the country in search of a better and secured life, contributing to the already dilemma of brain drainage in the country. Both the stakeholders in the government thus far have failed to address these issues on a serious note and sketch policies and time bound frameworks to tackle these concerns and start delivering tangible results.

Candidate Hillary, on the other hand, both as a veteran politician and seasoned stateswoman have worked closely with the former afghan administration and as former secretary of state has traveled to Afghanistan on numerous occasions. She rightfully understands the importance of a stable Afghanistan; she will hold both the political power and firm intentions to keep the leadership in Kabul in check and require them to work tirelessly to contain corruption and bring about tangible socio-economic reforms.

Last but not least, no matter who emerges victorious in the U.S. presidential race in November, Afghanistan considering its current status quo and volatile political future will remain a top priority for the upcoming commander – in - chief in the white house.


Written by:

Naser Koshan

June 2016

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