From Benny Johnson at the Independent Journal Review (excerpted):
The Obama administration dealt with a light, often inconsequential, hand in diplomatic relationships. Within this leadership vacuum, Afghanistan experienced a sharp, bloody uptick in terrorist attacks by Taliban forces and an economic upheaval.
On Friday night, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib (the current Afghan Ambassador to the United States) hosted a dinner at his residence for approximately one dozen widows of American soldiers who gave their lives fighting in his home country.
The ambassador was asked how the people of Afghanistan viewed President Trump. His answer stunned those listening, not only for its candor but also for its rare insight into how the president approaches foreign policy. His full response to the question:
I’ve personally met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and the president has had two phone conversations with President Ghani [The president of Afghanistan]. One call was after he won the election and one after [Trump] became president. Before the calls, we were advised to keep conversations short because, we were told, Trump will not be interested in the details of the call and does not have a long attention span, so it would be pointless to have a long call.
However, we were pleasantly surprised at how much time President Trump spent asking very informed questions. The first time the presidents spoke, the questions Trump asked impressed us. “How can you win in this fight [against terrorism]?” he asked. “What do you need to become financially independent?” and “How can American business invest in Afghanistan? How can we develop businesses and mining in your country?”
Trump would listen intently after each question, often asking follow-ups. Trump’s second call with our president was even longer than the first. Asking these types of questions for our country is something the Obama administration never did. The Obama administration was the most academic administration we have ever had to deal with but the Trump administration has been the most thoughtful and intelligent.
Trump continually asked “How can you win? What does Afghanistan need to win?” in reference to our fight with terrorism. Trump wants to win. Sincerely. All the Obama administration wanted to do was not lose.
The Obama administration was hesitant with us. The enemy could sense that. When the Obama administration announced its plans to pull troops out of the region, they announced the exact date they would do it. All our enemies had to do was wait [Obama] out. They knew the date they had to hang on until — which gave them the will to fight. They used that time to recruit and build up resources.
To bring real reform, we must be able to defeat enemies outside our country and inside. We must overthrow the Afghan warlords who are profiteering off the war. Every time we tried to remove one of them from power, [Secretary John] Kerry would say “no” because it would potentially make it unstable and require more troops be brought in. The entire Obama administration was too cautious, but Kerry was the most cautious. Perhaps the Obama administration was fatigued by the time we assumed power. [President Ghani assumed power in September of 2014.] But Trump is very different from Obama in this way.
This is good, for the future of Afghanistan.
The comments at the dinner were very well-received by the Gold Star widows. One said Obama’s actions in Afghanistan were an “insult” to her husband’s legacy and what he fought for. The ambassador said he hoped to honor legacies of Americans and Afghans alike by creating a stable, free, democratic society in his country.
Trump-era diplomacy is very much in its infancy. Yet even in his first few days as America’s chief diplomat, the president is doing what he promised; making big, big waves.