In addition to reducing terrorist threats, US President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan policy seeks to roll back the Taliban on the battlefield and pressure the group into an acceptable political settlement with far fewer US troops than Barack Obama deployed. Trump has also proposed involving India more closely in Afghanistan's economic development, which stands to antagonise Pakistan, the Taliban's key backer. In this light, it appears unlikely that the new policy will succeed.

Prior to occupying the White House, President Donald Trump shared the view of many American observers that intervention by the United States in Afghanistan would not achieve its objectives. He felt strongly enough about this assessment that he was willing to align himself with his predecessor Barack Obama’s decision to begin a drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan, despite his overall opposition to Obama’s foreign- and domestic-policy choices. Since Trump expressed this view in his signature brief and elliptical style, he did not clarify what he thought the objectives of the intervention were, nor why they could not be met. But his view probably reflected a common-sense understanding of the conflict that the US electorate had formed: that Afghanistan would ultimately prove resistant to US efforts to create an Afghan Army and police force, reduce government corruption and defeat the Taliban. Karl Eikenberry, the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan and US ambassador to the country, had made the pre-eminent statement of this case in 2009 in a series of cables to Washington that was leaked to the media.

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