On December 18, 2017 US president Trump released a blueprint for the country’s national security in which he said that Pakistan was ‘obliged’ to help America. He said, “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.” A few days after the release of Trump’s National Security Strategy (NSS), US Vice President Mike Pence while talking to US troops at the Bagram airfield during his surprise trip to Afghanistan warned that Trump has ‘put Pakistan on notice.Interestingly, the US must witness a “decisive action against the terrorist groups” and a “continued partnership” was “desire[d]” about two weeks before the 4 am tweet where Trump hinted at ending American aid to Pakistan. No significant findings or intelligence reports has caused this leap, which is a cause for concern, albeit more so for America. For lack of a better word, let us call it strategy.The good news is that we can break it down to see where it is headed. Without further ado: One, a little noticed news report totally overshadowed by Trump’s new year tweet was US defence secretary James Mattis’s New Year weekend news briefing. Mattis said, “We’re going to be putting more American forces, advisers, in the more conventional force in the Afghan army.” He said that the new strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan was a conditions-based one and “not arbitrary timetables”. Relaxing Obama era rules of being restricted to defending themselves, the American forces would launch pre-emptive attacks.While deploying more troops in Afghanistan is a reckless disregard for American public opinion, what’s remarkable here is that he was assuring the nation that US troops would indulge in completely illegal actions. Pre-emptive strikes have no foundation in international law. Furthermore, the critics of the move argue that this strategy would “put Americans in greater risk as they inch closer to the frontlines.” That’s called critique in the US.Not a single word about the countless innocent helpless people who would be slaughtered there. Since the US invasion, history is replete with faulty intelligence leading to deaths of innocent civilians. Jeremy Scahill pointed out one such sad story in his documentary film Dirty Wars, where an entire family is murdered by Special Forces who then go to the horrible length of removing bullets from their dead bodies.Two, more troops are to be deployed in Afghanistan who wouldn’t operate under Obama’s restrictions. Killing an entire family and taking bullets out of their dead bodies was the work of restrictions. Sky is the limit to imagining what these new deployments would do with no restrictions. Three, interestingly, the Pentagon had recently expressed a desire for the Taliban to join politics by saying that “They must know that their only path to peace and political legitimacy is through a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government.”Secretary Tillerson recently said that the new American approach was to “ensure the Taliban know, you will never win a battlefield victory and the way forward is going to be by engaging in a reconciliation process and ultimately joining a government in Afghanistan.” He also said of the Taliban that “There’s a place for them in the government if they’re ready to come renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable, prosperous Afghanistan.” While deploying more troops in Afghanistan is a reckless disregard for American public opinion, what’s remarkable here is that Mattis was telling the Americans that US troops would not indulge in completely illegal activitiesFour, the Pentagon in its recent report to Congress argued that one of the ways for inducing change in Pakistan’s policy where it diverged from America’s interests was to take unilateral steps even if it meant violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. And then finally the announcement of ending aid to Pakistan. These components of Afghan strategy, since Pakistan is also viewed from the lens of war in Afghanistan, are flying in all directions.Troops are to be deployed with an unprecedented freer hand to kill. Taliban are also invited to join the government. The only indispensable ally in this war is pushed around, insulted, never trusted, and now refused to be reimbursed for the cost incurred due to the war on terror. Militarily as well as diplomatically, this strategy is actually headed toward total failure. Unfortunately, this is unfathomable for the ‘stable genius’.Trump doesn’t just believe that Pakistan is ‘obliged’ to help America win the war. The man-child deal maker wants to extract a deal where Pakistan provides a post purchase service: accepting to be scapegoated for America’s defeat in this losable war. I wonder how the world is going to believe that the mightiest army in the history of mankind tasted defeated at the hands of some ragtag militia, allegedly aided by a poor country?Republican Senator Rand Paul recently praised Trump’s decision to end aid to Pakistan. Apparently, he is still in campaign mode, as he said that the aid money given to Pakistan should rather be used to build roads and bridges here at home. His argument makes perfect sense though. I would encourage him and the entire American government machinery to apply the same mindset to not just aid to Pakistan but to war on terror generally. Terrorism has claimed far less lives in America than gun violence. Rein in the IRA to ensure calm and peace on American streets. Don’t go off fighting in other people’s countries, fight right here at home.The writer can be reached on @Imran_JanPublished in Daily Times, January 12th 2018.