After almost 18 years of the war (or rather wars) on (or perhaps of) terror, there’s some good news! The Washington Post reports that American troops are finally coming home from Afghanistan! Actually, let me amend that slightly. They will only come home if Taliban and U.S. negotiators complete a deal by September that leads to a countrywide ceasefire (and if the Taliban agrees to certain other conditions as well). In fact, let me amend that one more time: “they” turns out to refer to the withdrawal of just about 5,000 U.S. military personnel, leaving 8,000-9,000 U.S. troops still in place after “peace” breaks out.
For Donald Trump who, years ago, repeatedly demanded that the Afghan War be ended and all American troops brought home, only to agree in mid-2017 to dispatch another 4,000 of them to that land, such a peace pact would just return U.S. troop levels to more or less what they were at that moment two years ago. In the age of Trump, that, I suppose, is the definition of “progress” in America’s never-ending wars. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to also learn that, according to the Post, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller, is “open” to such a peace proposal precisely “because he believes it would protect U.S. interests by maintaining a counterterrorism force that can strike the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.” If one were to turn this into a riddle, it might go something like: When is a Trumpian withdrawal hardly a withdrawal at all?