On August 21st, 2017, President Trump began a very familiar process toward Pakistan within the geopolitical strategy known to us as The Trump Doctrine: ‘the accurate assignment of responsibility’, by honestly calling out the historic nature of the relationship.
In a remarkable speech on Afghanistan policy, President Trump addressed the nation and stated the continued Pakistani support of the Taliban extremists was only impeding the quest for peace.
The Trump policy goal was not Pakistan eliminating the Taliban, but rather outlining how the Afghanistan solution begins with the Taliban entering negotiations with the Afghan government. Pakistan -supporting the Taliban- continues to undermine that goal.
With little change since August, today President Trump calls out Pakistan:
AUGUST 2017 […] “The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.
“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies.
“The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices, but Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the same terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately.
“No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace. (transcript link)
President Trump states truth boldly. If anything President Trump stated was not the truth the Trump Doctrine -placement of strategic ownership- would not work. However, the entire international community knows that Pakistan, including their intelligence service ISI, has a great deal of hidden sympathy toward Islamic extremists within Afghanistan.
Never was that reality more stark than when the international community realized that 9/11 terrorist Osama Bin Laden held refuge inside Pakistan for almost a decade. Within the governing systems inside Pakistan there is a large contingent of Taliban sympathy. This reality has been the 800lb gorilla amid public discussions of international national security for several years.
August 2017 was the first time a U.S. President called it out, publicly.
This is where those who follow Trump closely will note a familiar pattern emerging.
The Taliban in Afghanistan are to Pakistan, as the DPRK is to China.
Remember, the solution to the threat that is Kim Jong-un is to assign direct responsibility toward Beijing. In a similar approach, the solution toward eliminating the threat of extremist violence from the Taliban is to assign direct responsibility toward Pakistan. President Trump began that process in August.
However, those who have followed closely will note there’s additional references.
♦When the threat is Sunni Extremism, the problem was/is the Muslim Brotherhood and the enabling of Qatar. Trump assigned responsibility for solving that issue to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is the GCC who are confronting Qatar, not the United States.
♦When the threat is Syria’s chemical weapon, the problem was/is the Assad regime and ISIS. Trump assigned responsibility for solving that issue to Russia; Russia initially refused to solve it, so Trump bombed the shit out of Assad – Russia/Assad took ownership, the chemical weapon use stopped; further action was not needed by the United States.
♦When the threat is DPRK’s nuclear weapons, the problem was/is Kim Jong-un and the enabling China. Trump assigned responsibility for solving that immediate threat to China. It is Beijing who can force Kim Jong-un to stand down, without war – Not the United States.
See the pattern? In each example President Trump assigns responsibility. However, the important element is the underlying ownership must be based entirely on truth. In each of the examples the truth was/is that Gulf States/Qatar, Assad/Russia, and China/Beijing were manipulating and enabling the problem behavior. By calling out that truth, each enabler was forced to take ownership and corrective action.
The same approach extends here with Afghanistan. However, the solution is not Pakistan eliminating the Taliban per se’; the solution lies in leveraging Pakistan to force the Taliban into negotiations with the legitimate Afghan government. Like the previous examples of Saudi Arabia and China, Trump has now assigned ownership of this objective to Pakistan.