President Donald Trump on Monday touted a secret plan to win the war in Afghanistan “in a week” at a tremendous cost to life, but insisted he would rather work with regional partners to “extricate” U.S. troops and bring to a close the nearly two-decade-long military conflict.
“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said.
“I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth,” the president continued. “It would be gone. It would be over in — literally in ten days. And I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go that route.”
Trump, speaking alongside Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office, said there exists “tremendous potential between” the U.S. and Pakistan, and predicted that the Islamic Republic would “help us out to extricate ourselves” from Afghanistan.
“Basically, we’re policemen right now, and we’re not supposed to be policemen. We’ve been there for 19 years in Afghanistan. It’s ridiculous, and I think Pakistan helps us with that because we don’t want to stay as policemen,” the president said.
“If we wanted to, we could win that war. I have a plan that would win that war in a very short period of time, you understand that better than anybody,” Trump added, turning to Khan. But instead of “fighting to win,” U.S. forces in Afghanistan are too focused on “building gas stations” and “rebuilding schools,” Trump alleged.
“The United States, we shouldn’t be doing that. That’s for them to do,” he said. “But what we did and what our leadership got us into is ridiculous.”
The declaration from Trump comes amid a sustained lack of permanent leadership atop the Pentagon since former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis departed the administration in January — an exit provoked in part by the president’s stated intention to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, as well as contemporaneous reports of a similar withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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