Donald Trump is an unpredictable president. He is a man who rules by his instinct and what he claims is best for America and its role in the world. He has now reversed the trend of the last seven decades, to deploy US forces in the hotspots of the world.

Though there were setbacks like the Vietnam War, no US president ever contemplated withdrawal from any outpost where US troops are involved. He has now done the unthinkable and ordered the withdrawal of almost all troops from Syria (about 2000) and decided to cut by half the troop strength in Afghanistan from 14000 to 7000.

After the hue and cry the Radio Free Europe has reported that Vice President Pence has said that the US president is still "evaluating" the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.


These reductions have not been to the liking of many American soldiers and diplomats, for long fed on an era of American arms dominating the world. The biggest casualty of this withdrawal is General Mattis, the secretary of defense. Originally Mattis wanted to retire from the job by 28 Feb. 2019, but Trump insisted he go immediately and so 31 Dec was the last working day of Gen Mattis. Time magazine has reported that Gen Mattis penned his farewell on 31 December 2018. This development means that even the European powers cannot take the US support for granted.

Trump's reasoning indicates an isolationist point of view. He has tweeted his ideas and opined "Why are we there, and we’re 6,000 miles away?” In an interview, he further asked, “Why isn’t Russia there? Why isn’t India there? Why isn’t Pakistan there?” He ridiculed Indian aid to Afghanistan and said that the help given to Afghanistan by India was equal 5 hours of American work and expense.

Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Trump's withdrawal from Afghanistan will weaken the Afghan central government which has been unable to fight the Taliban. It has been steadily ceding territory to the Taliban which now controls almost 55% of Afghan territory. In a way, Trump is right as, despite US support, the Kabul government has been unable to assert its authority.

This is a serious matter, and if one looks at Trump's logic, he cannot be faulted. The US has been fighting for 17 years in Afghanistan, and despite the loss of hundreds of troops, the Taliban are not defeated. Its more like an unending war and the US president does not want to let America bleed to death. In a tweet, he mentioned that Russia was the Soviet Union, but after the Afghan war it broke up. This was because of the burden and heavy cost of the Afghan war which led to the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

Trump is not entirely correct in this matter, but the fact remains that the Afghan war looks unwinnable. His decision not to jeopardize US soldiers lives any more has to be seen in that light though this decision could be termed a retreat.

Last word

In the long run, the US retreat may allow the Taliban to take over. This is a frightening thought, but its about time the peripheral nations like India and Russia pulled up their socks. Mattis resignation will not deter Trump from carrying out what he feels is the right thing for America.