Donald Trump’s new strategy in Afghanistan is clearly being well-received by the Taliban who, according to multiple sources, tried to kill Jim Mattis today.
“Defense Secretary James Mattis was the target of a failed rocket attack near a key Afghanistan airport Wednesday, the Taliban said, though the attack occurred after he had left the airport,” CNN reports, adding that “the Taliban has claimed responsibility via Zabiullah Mujahid who said Mattis’ plane was the target of the attack.”
Apparently, some 40 rounds struck the base including 29 RPGs.
This was Mattis’ first visit to the country since Trump announced his “new” strategy for the war last month. You’ll recall that the “new” strategy is a lot like the “old” strategy and indeed, it kind of seems like Donald Trump intends to keep American boots on the ground in Afghanistan indefinitely, which is of course nothing like the promises he made on the campaign trail.
You’ll also recall that Trump did leave the door open for negotiations with the Taliban. The new strategy looks like it’s designed to effectively force them into concessions at the negotiating table by first killing as many of them as possible. It’s not 100% clear that is the best way to go about things.
Whatever the case, the group isn’t enamored with it and today’s attempt on Mattis comes as he and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg promised to continue supporting what they’re calling a joint effort to “ensure the country doesn’t again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”
Ironically, Mattis had this to say to the Taliban:
[I want] to reinforce to the Taliban that the only path to peace and political legitimacy for them is through a negotiated settlement.
Well Jim, on Wednesday that “negotiating” involved trying to murder you with three dozen rocket-propelled grenades.
So it’s probably safe to say we’re a long way from a “mortar-less” solution.