“We’re nation building, we can’t do it. We have to build our own nation,” then-Candidate Donald Trump told the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs in October 2015.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump railed against nation building. But now it appears he might be considering doing just that.
Trump is considering staying in Afghanistan to help mine for minerals because he believes it will be a “win-win” for both countries, according to a report in The New York Times.
Trump thinks this prospect “could boost [Afghanistan’s] economy, generate jobs for Americans and give the United States a valuable new beachhead in the market for rare-earth minerals, which has been all but monopolized by China,” the Times said.
But deploying more troops to help guard mines for American companies would endanger US national security, Laurel Miller, a Rand Corporation analyst and former US diplomat to Afghanistan, told Business Insider.
It “would be an excellent propaganda point for the Taliban,” Miller said, adding that “decisions based on sending troops are best made on national security interests.”
Miller said that the national security risk would be eliminated if the US opened up bidding to companies worldwide, which would still benefit Afghanistan’s economy too.
Opening up bidding, however, would risk American lives and treasure to help build Afghanistan’s economy — something Trump said he opposed during the election.
The White House has been trying for months to figure out what to do about Afghanistan, and has been toying with the idea of sending 3,900 more US troops into the longest running war in American history, which is going on 16 years.
Trump has thus far seemed reluctant to deploy more troops, and even reportedly refused to sign off on H.R. McMaster’s deployment plan, devised during a Cabinet meeting that was described as a “sh– show.”
But Trump’s advisers, as well as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, appear to have sold him on mining, the New York Times said.
Some of Trump’s aides met with Michael N. Silver, the CEO of a chemical company called American Elements, about how to mine the minerals, the New York Times said.
Stephen A. Feinberg, the CEO of Cerberus Capital Management, an investment conglomerate that owns DynCorp, a large defense contractor that could help guard the mines, is also keen on the idea, the New York Times said.
Feinberg, who donated more than $ 1 million to the controversial Trump Super PAC Rebuilding America Again, has also been informally advising the president. He even developed plans with Blackwater Founder Erik Prince to flood Afghanistan with private contractors, but they were declined by Defense Secretary James Mattis.
More than 2,200 US troops have died and more than 20,000 more have been wounded since the war began in 2001. There are currently more than 10,000 US troops there, where the US is spending roughly $ 3.1 billion a month.