By: Zarif Aminyar
President Donald Trump a businessman and reality television personality became the 45th president of the U.S. by winning the Electoral College vote in 2016. He has made many false or misleading statements during his campaign and presidency which is unprecedented in the American contemporary political history.
President Donald Trump is quite a character in the American modern politics. He is not only very famous for his narcissistic, racist and unethical behavior and unwise comments, but also well known for his inconsistent, incoherent and fragile foreign policy.
Trump was a long and deep critic of American war in Afghanistan, but when he took office and announced his South Asia Strategy, it was against his original instincts. His South Asia Strategy recognized the American core interests in Afghanistan and emphasized on a military solution to win and end the war in Afghanistan. He rejected the idea of rapid exit and said that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would create a vacuum that terrorists would instantly fill. Pointing to Pakistan he said that Pakistan has been giving safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. In January 1, 2018, he tweeted the following message about Pakistan on his twitter account:
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
From 2018 onwards his administration sanctioned immense economic and political pressure on Pakistan to make them stop harboring terrorists. However, from the beginning of 2019, his foreign policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan seems to be fundamentally altered. In his recent meeting in the White House with Prime Minister Imran Khan, he tried to cool off tensions with Pakistan and asked Imran Khan for Pakistan help in Peace talks with the Taliban.
During his talks with PM Imran Khan, Trump said that if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan, he could do so in ten days or less by wiping Afghanistan off the face of the Earth. It was appalling to hear him flippantly muse about the killing of millions of Afghans who are apparently called by the U.S. as their trustworthy ally for the war against the international terrorism. His words were not only reckless and unethical but also unbecoming of the supposed leader of the free world. He looked very arrogant, naïve and unmanned by commenting like that about Afghanistan which is America’s strong partner in the South Asia. I know Afghanistan is a failed state and its government is heavily depended on American aids, but commenting like that about a sovereign country is totally irresponsible and un-presidential. It is also worth to mention that the current war in Afghanistan was imposed by Russians and Americans and continuously supported by Pakistan, otherwise Afghanistan was a strong, self-sufficient and progressive state.
Now, Trump statements during his talks with Imran Khan arises three serious concerns:
1. Trump intention to trust Pakistan once again, while Pakistan has never proved to be a worthy ally, can have severe consequences on Afghanistan and it can jeopardize both Afghanistan and American core interests. Therefore, exhibition of unsubtle backing of a terrorists harboring country and trusting it again without a viable political guarantee will be a great strategic mistake of Washington and it will produce unpleasant results for America, Afghanistan and the region.
2. Allowing Pakistan as a rival claimant to have an upper hand in the Afghan peace process may sabotage the process in the favor of the Taliban. Because, the fact remains that Pakistan will never give up seeking its strategic depth in Afghanistan and lack of their decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy proves the same narrative. Also, it is important to note that only an inclusive peace and comprehensive political settlements with the Afghan government can guarantee a long lasting peace in Afghanistan. A peace deal negotiated by the U.S., Pakistan and Taliban without the consensus of Afghan government will never end the war and conflicts in Afghanistan. Also a radical Taliban government in today’s Afghanistan is an unacceptable and unrealistic wish.
3. Speaking insulting comments on Afghanistan out of frustration, disrespect or any other reasons will not only sour and strain the Afghan government relations with the United States, but will also produce and strengthen anti-American feelings within Afghans. Afghanistan might be a failed state but Afghans are not a death nation. In such as fragile circumstance, an uprising in Afghanistan against Americans will go beyond control.
After carefully studying Trump’s background and his political career, I understand that Trump plan to kill 10 million people in Afghanistan to win the war, is one of his weird head-scratching comments, but speaking such insulting statements about Afghanistan is unacceptable to the people of Afghanistan. If you analyze his statement, you can realize that Trump’s musings about possibly annihilating an entire Afghanistan is actually a proposal of nuking Afghanistan, because only dropping nuclear weapons on Afghanistan could potentially reach that high death count in a short amount of time.
I know nuking Afghanistan is not a viable option for the U.S. I also understand that the most likely explanation for Trump’s shameful, unethical and unforgivable comments, is that he was just speaking off the cuff in his speech, but it can’t ignore the fact that his comments about Afghanistan were utterly insulting. Therefore, it is important to let him know that Afghanistan is a country with a rich history of around 5000 years. It is one of the oldest civilizations of the word. It has been a crossroads, roundabouts, fulcrum, crucible, battleground and buffer-zone for civilizations and nations throughout the history. It is considered as the center and periphery of empires and world powers. Afghanistan is both cradle and graveyard of empires. If Trump doesn’t know anything about the history of Afghanistan, he should ask about Afghans from his British or Russian friends.
Ideally the United States should seek to strengthen its relations with Afghanistan as a worthy ally, to safeguard its core national interests in the region, but Trump recent comments about Afghanistan shows that the United States is on the brink of committing sin in foreign policy.
To conclude, I would like to say that “No one, except God can wipe Afghanistan off the face of the earth”. Our relations with the United States should be of two sovereign states and it should be based on our mutual interests. Any attempt to insult or attack our national values and dignity will not be left unanswered.
*Zarif Aminyar is an Afghan professor, writer and politician. He is an Alumni of Harvard Kennedy School EXED and Columbia Business School. He can be reached via email@example.com