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Don’t look for the Trump administration to pull out of Afghanistan any time soon.

In fact, expect just the opposite, as ill-advised as it is to continue pursuing a military solution to protect a US-installed corrupt government that is teetering on the brink of its own destruction. The US has entered its 17th year in the Afghan war trying to prop up a government that is fundamentally flawed, corrupt to the core with a security force that still cannot defeat the Taliban on its own. In fact, corruption within the government has actually empowered the Taliban not only to stay the course but has increased its influence after it was all but defeated in 2001. That defeat came after the Taliban government at the time refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, whom the US had determined had orchestrated the terrorist attacks on New York city and Washington on 9/11, an event which bin Laden later claimed responsibility for. While bin Laden was a guest of the Taliban government at the time, the Taliban asked for negotiations and proof of his involvement. The US refused any negotiation and began a bombing campaign that resulted in the fall of the Taliban government.

Once a US-imposed government was installed, there was a totally ill-advised shift in US policy. The then Bush administration turned its attention to regime change in Iraq, taking its eye off the ball of working with that government to make it representative of the Afghan people. Ever since its installment, those who have run the government there have displayed a level of corruption and self-promotion of personal wealth that have made the function of government there untenable, prompting increasing support for the return of the Taliban. “Afghans do not consider the Taliban nearly as much a problem as government corruption,” said Charles Tiefer in a recent Forbes article.

To put it differently, popular support for the Taliban, compared to support for the Afghan government, has grown despite all of America’s efforts in the war since 2001, including the two large Obama troop surges. Why? Because the Afghan population will not support a government they find as corrupt as the one led by Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.

Tiefer is not a stranger to the level of corruption in Afghanistan.

When I was Commissioner on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, I took a mission to Kabul and Kandahar in 2011. I was shown a slice of particularly galling Afghan corruption. The Afghan government not only taxed its own people for money that got diverted, it taxed materials brought in for American reconstruction efforts,” he said. “That money was not kept in any kind of special fund. In other words, in this way the Afghans taxed you and me. We paid into the general government funds that so consistently got siphoned off.”…..Read more