Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton in his new book, "The Room Where It Happened,” highlights US President Donald Trump’s views on the fight against Daesh in Afghanistan.
Two chapters of the book are entirely about Afghanistan. Bolton also covers Trump’s policy on Afghanistan, including the peace talks and his insistence on troop withdrawal from the country.
Bolton writes that when General Mattis talked about the threat of Daesh in Afghanistan, Trump said, “Let Russia take care of them. We’re seven thousand miles away but we’re still the target, they’ll come to our shores, that’s what they all say.”
“I don’t understand why we’re killing ISIS in Syria. Why aren’t Russia and Iran doing it? I’ve played this game for so long. Why are we killing ISIS for Russia and Iran, Iraq, which is controlled by Iran?”
The book portrays Trump as frustrated with the war in Afghanistan.
He writes that in a meeting with Trump and key US officials in the Oval Office in November, when Trump was talking about Afghanistan, he said that “it’s (referring to the Afghan war) a horror show. At some point, we’ve got to get out.”
Bolton quotes Trump as saying: “We’ll never get out. This was done by a stupid person named George Bush," and "Millions of people killed, trillions of dollars, and we just can’t do it. Another six months, that’s what they said before, and we’re still getting our asses kicked.”
A US analyst focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Barnett Rubin, said the book shows that Trump is very limited in his knowledge and in his aims regarding Afghanistan.
“The main thing it shows is that President Trump doesn’t know anything about Afghanistan, he doesn’t care about Afghanistan. He just wants to get out of Afghanistan, but he wants to get out of Afghanistan in a way that is good for his reelection and that he doesn’t care about anything else at all,” Rubin said.
He added: “He (Trump) didn’t support his own policy that he announced in a speech in August 2017. He doesn’t really care about the peace agreement. He is impatient. He wanted to bring the Taliban to Camp David just for a TV show to make him look good like he is a big peacemaker.”
Bolton writes that "mentioning Khalilzad, Trump said, 'I hear he’s a con man, although you need a con man for this.' Pompeo tried again, but Trump rolled on: 'My strategy [meaning what ‘his’ generals had talked him into in 2017] was wrong, and not at all where I wanted to be."
Bolton quoted Trump as saying: “My strategy [meaning what ‘his’ generals had talked him into in 2017] was wrong, and not at all where I wanted to be. We’ve lost everything. It was a total failure. It’s a waste. It’s a shame. All the casualties. I hate talking about it.”
“If I were Afghan, I would conclude that it's very dangerous for Afghanistan to be so depended on the United States, a country that can choose such an erratic and dishonest crazy person as its leader,” Rubin said.
“Mr. Khalilzad was in contact with the Taliban from previous years and had held talks with the Taliban (ahead of his mission as US special envoy),” said Afrasiab Khattak, a political activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Bolton has mentioned Afghanistan 143 times in his book and President Ghani’s name 17 times but has said that Trump was constantly confusing President Ashraf Ghani with former President Hamid Karzai.
“The fact that some small and large rifts are created among them has solutions because Trump has a business mind--rather than being a political thinker,” said Nabi Misdaq, a presidential adviser.
President Trump and other members of the administration have called John Bolton a liar, while at the same tried to stop his book from being published because it contained "classified" information. In a tweet on June 18, Trump wrote:
"Bolton’s book, which is getting terrible reviews, is a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad. Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made, pure fiction. Just trying to get even for firing him like the sick puppy he is!"