Republican Senator John McCain has censured the 16-year presence of US military in Afghanistan, saying that Washington’s efforts to restore peace have failed and the goal has been to not lose rather than to win.
McCain made the remarks at a press briefing in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, heading a delegation of bipartisan US senators visiting NATO-coalition headquarters in the war-ravaged country.
“Each of us may describe that concern in our own way but none of us would say that we’re on a course to success here in Afghanistan,” he said. “That needs to change and quickly.”
When asked what winning in Afghanistan would look like, the US Republican senator stopped short of demanding a military defeat of the Taliban militant group and only settled for “an advantage on the battlefield.”
“Winning is getting major areas of the country under control, and working towards some kind of ceasefire with the Taliban,” McCain said. “They will not negotiate unless they think they are losing.”
The criticism was made following reports that said US Defense Secretary James Mattis would present Trump with strategic options for Afghanistan by mid-July.
The US president gave Mattis the authority to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan last month, with McCain complaining that the Trump administration had yet to offer a new strategy different than that of his predecessor Barack Obama.
Trump, who has spoken against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as former President Bracak “Obama’s war,” but now the Trump administration is planning to deploy thousands of more troops to the war-torn country, signaling a policy shift.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
There are currently over 9,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Washington claims that the massive military presence is only aimed at maintaining security across the country and pushing back Taliban and Daesh (ISIL) militants until Afghan military forces are ready to take over the responsibility.
US Army General John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said recently that several thousand troops should be added to the current number of forces already stationed in the war-ravaged country to support the Afghan security forces against Taliban militants.