Warning to Pakistan
The Trump administration has been looking beyond troop numbers, mulling a readjustment of US objectives — evaluating everything from its support for a centralized Afghan government to its metrics for success in fighting the Taliban and ISIS-K.
On Monday, Trump vowed to change the US approach to dealing with Pakistan, promising to crack down on Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist and militant groups.
Trump said that Pakistan has “much to gain” from partnering with the US, but also warned “it has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”
“The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism,” Trump said. “Pakistan has also sheltered those same organizations that try every single day to kill our people.”
“They are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” Trump said, noting that the US gives Pakistan billions of dollars. “That will have to change and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of terrorists.”
Trump also said the US would pressure India to increase its support for Afghan economic development.
Impact of Bannon-McMaster fight
The months-long debate that preceded Trump’s decision on the war’s fate frequently burst into public view, pitting two top White House advisers against each other: national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Steve Bannon, the President’s chief strategist who was pushed out on Friday, shortly before Trump huddled with his national security team at Camp David.
While McMaster has pushed more hawkish proposals, Bannon has led the internal pushback against those options, arguing that the US should not increase its military and financial commitments after 16 years of war in Afghanistan.
Bannon’s arguments in internal deliberations often echoed Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign
, when he argued against US military interventionist policies and argued the US should instead focus its resources on domestic projects.
It was unclear how Bannon’s ouster affected the final round of deliberations.
But as Trump mulled a final decision on Friday, he relied on the counsel of several current and former military officers.
Beyond McMaster and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Trump also relied on a pair of retired Marine Corps four-star generals: Mattis along with his newly installed chief of staff John Kelly.
Kelly’s son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, a Marine, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, making Kelly the highest-ranking military officer to suffer the loss of a child in combat.
Several of the President’s advisers on the Afghanistan war have children currently enlisted in the US military, including Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence.
Mattis told reporters on Sunday that Trump reconvened his national security team several times before arriving at a decision on Afghanistan because he “kept asking questions on all of them, and wanting more and more depth on it.”
“It caused us to integrate the answers more. In other words, the more pointed he became about what he would look at with that option versus this one, meant we could better define what are the relationships with allies or what are the level of effort needed and what’s the cost, the financial cost, and so we just kept sharpening those,” Mattis said.