The April 27 editorial “How to make progress in Afghanistan” urged the Trump administration to send additional U.S. trainers and Special Operations forces to Afghanistan and allow “American planes and drones to operate with the same freedom against the enemy that they have in Iraq and Syria.” A few thousand more U.S. troops will not change the trajectory of the war, and the inevitable spike in civilian casualties from loosened rules of engagement will only increase support for the Taliban. The way to make progress in Afghanistan is by ending the war, and only a negotiated political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban will bring peace to a nation that has known nothing but war since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
The Obama administration tried to defeat the Taliban by building up the Afghan army and sending 100,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, augmented by 40,000 NATO troops. When the military approach failed, President Barack Obama kept the Afghan government on life support until he left office and Afghanistan was no longer his problem.
President Trump inherited a war that our side is losing. There is ample reason to believe the Taliban still is willing to enter into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government. It is a deal Mr. Trump should try to close.
William Goodfellow, Washington
The writer is executive director of the Center for International Policy and co-coordinator of
the Afghanistan Study Group.