Avoid the Russian Trap in Afghanistan

President Trump in his January 2 cabinet meeting restated his desire to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

He views the war in Afghanistan as a serious problem for the United States, and illustrated his point with a history lesson. “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan,” he explained.

Though there are important differences between Russia’s war in Afghanistan and America’s war in Afghanistan, Trump’s general point is correct.

America is in tremendous debt today, well over $20 trillion, and a significant portion of that is due to Afghanistan—around $1 trillion to $2 trillion, or maybe even more depending on how it’s calculated.

Additionally, Afghanistan calls into question whether the United States is facing a moral bankruptcy. Americans do not like to see their sons killed in faraway and barbaric places, then shipped home in caskets. It makes people wonder if America is closer to some type of decaying pseudo-empire than the righteous republic it has been for so long.

The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest war ever. America is suffering irreparable damage to its prestige, both at home and abroad.

Trump raised an insightful point worthy of deep consideration. However, the response to his remarks have been rather troubling. Rather than focusing on Trump’s broader point, the Establishment put its energy into playing gotcha games to undermine Trump. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow even went so far as to respond to Trump’s cabinet meeting by strongly hinting that Trump was a Russian puppet. This is a dangerous reversal of reality.

Russia must be absolutely giddy that America is self-destructing in Afghanistan.

In the 1980s, American planners could watch with glee as Russia got trapped in Afghanistan. Now, the Kremlin gets their turn enjoying the grim spectacle of American suffering in Afghanistan.

Putin, the man who lamented the break up of the Soviet Union, can now enjoy revenge. Every day that America stays in Afghanistan is a day where Russia’s relative standing in the world—in terms of economics, the military, and prestige—goes up.

When Trump wants to remove America from Afghanistan, he isn’t acting on Russia’s behalf, he is protecting Americans from Russia.

In fact, the current situation is so beneficial to Russia, that they are not just fortunate bystanders, but active participants. Just as the CIA armed the Mujahideen to undermine Russia, Russia is now arming the Taliban to undermine America.

If Democrats are truly concerned about covert Russian machinations to hurt America, they would do well to dig into Russian strategic and tactical action as it relates to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan may be a far more sophisticated trap than many realize. America is in Afghanistan because the 9/11 attacks provoked America to respond. Well, there is concrete evidence suggesting Russia played a role in the 9/11 attacks.

A key link between Russia and 9/11 is to be found in the Al-Qaeda terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Washington Post reported that many consider Zawahiri to be the true “brains” of Al-Qaeda, and also the man responsible for a 1998 shift in Al-Qaeda strategy towards more aggressive violence versus America.

This begs the question: where did Zawahiri come from?

In 1997, Zawahiri was in Russia, under the control of Russian authorities. Russia’s official story, according to their Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, was that they held Zawahiri for half a year but couldn’t identify the terrorist so let him go free. However, their explanation is belied by the fact that Zawahiri was already a world famous terrorist due to his role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer at the FSB who defected to England, stated, “Ayaman al-Zawahiri, is an old agent of the FSB… he received special training at one of the educational bases of the FSB.” A year after this statement, Russians poisoned Litvinenko with polonium-210.

Democrats, and the American intelligence community, would do well if they looked at Russian actions here with a mere fraction of the energy they put into maligning Trump. There is significantly more evidence pointing to a Russian role in 9/11 than there is that Trump is a Russian puppet.

Putting aside the genesis of America’s war in Afghanistan, no matter how it started, America being bogged down in Afghanistan suits Russia just fine.

Trump alluded to this in his cabinet meeting, when he said, “I want to spend money on our military without depleting it every day.”

Indeed, Russia enjoys watching America deplete its military.

Current hoax outrage over Russia has done great harm to America. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe serves Russian interests just fine. America is ripping itself apart from the inside.

But it’s not too late to leverage this disaster into an opportunity. Russian geopolitical actions—so long ignored or misunderstood by the likes of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton—could finally be analyzed with the necessary skepticism. The United States could leave Afghanistan and finally focus on long term prosperity and security for Americans in America.

Photo Credit: Mai/Mai/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

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About Daniel Ashman

Daniel Ashman likes freedom and history and writes frequently on national security issues for publications including The American Thinker and The Federalist. He is the author of two books, Dominate No-Limit Hold'em and Secrets of Short-Handed No Limit Hold'em, that have been published worldwide and translated into four languages. Follow him on Twitter at @dashman76.