Donald Trump relies heavily on his instincts and actsspastically.Therefore, White House officials find it very hard to stay abreast with his impulsive political approach; resultantly, either they leave or get fired by Mr. Trump. During his electoral campaign, his initial instinct was to pull out of Afghanistan. For him, the war was “wastage of resources”.However, in the White House,then National Security Advisor (NSA), General McMaster and Secretary of Defense General James Mattis not only convinced him to stay inbut also swayed him to send more troops to the fray. McMaster, a general with scholastic flavour, supported ‘peace through good governance’; whereas, Mattis, a professional soldier, favoured a troop surge to win decisively against theTaliban. But both were destined to fail, as leaders like Trump with low political acumen and lack of strategic sense do not appreciate the idea of spending money on other nations and think in black and white terms. On the morning of December 21, 2018, Donald Trump astonished his close aides by deciding to pull out of Syria and signaling troops reduction in Afghanistan – a fundamental departure from his August 2017 Afghan policy. He looked ‘un-American’ when he explained his catapulting move arguing, Russia was right in following terrorists into Afghanistan and it was Afghanistan that turned Soviet Union into Russia because Soviets went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. By maintaining so, he aims to exemplify Afghanistan as the source of Soviet dismemberment; and now, how it [Afghanistan] illustrates the decline of US primacy- far from winning, exhausted and fatigued. The article attempts to analyze Trump’s Afghanistan approach at four levels. Rhetorically, Trump does not enjoy the extravagance of the rhetorical cover as his predecessors did. Unilateralist interventionism in Afghanistan and Iraq was eloquently well represented by a range of neoconservative scholars and practitioners. Obama’s rhetoric of change was built on the wrongdoings of Bush administration. He used the pretense of improving relations with the Muslim word and ended up dropping 26,000 bombs on Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan and yet enjoys better approval ratings among Muslims. Both maneuvered their political discourses with colorful phrases, like ‘war on terror’, ‘making the world safer’, ‘homeland security with Patriot Act’, ‘engaging the Muslim world’, and ‘reset with Russia and China’. The argument that the reduced military presence would allow resurgent Taliban to harbor another 9/11 like attack is blunt exaggeration Trump’s lack of rhetorical cover makes his decisions look irrational and inconsistent. He has not announced to pull all the troops out, just few hundred more than the number he added in August 2017. Seven thousand troops will still be there, and this is few hundred lesser than what Obama left in Afghanistan. He is impressive in turning his campaign pledges into policies, equally ending the war in Afghanistan – he considers futile. For that matter, he compromised his instinct and gave time to the Pentagon but got nothing in return. Pragmatism demands giving politics a chance to end the stalemate primarily caused by the over reliance on military force to end the Taliban phenomenon. On diplomatic fronts, Trump’s Afghan approach has earned considerable success, duly acknowledged by Afghan president. “US president Donald Trump does not want the perpetuation of war in Afghanistan …,and for the first time since 9/11, peace in Afghanistan looks doable”, Ghani claims. A comprehensive multilateral approach is being employed; having the Taliban, Afghan Government, Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and India on board on the question of ‘how to integrate the Taliban into the political fold of Afghanistan.’ Zalmay Khalilzad’s appointment as US special representative to Afghanistan, recent improvement in Pak-Afghan ties, Pak-US bilateralism, and revival of Qatar process self-evidently show that he wants to end this war. Many presume that Imran Khan’s visit to Turkey and the Qatari prince’s visit to Pakistan have Afghan relevance. It looks convincing, as Pakistan pushes Taliban and Turkey looks to sway Persian speaking factions for talks with the US and Afghan government. These developments recognise the centrality of Pakistan. This can serve to agitate India -underscoring yet another divorce from the 2017US Afghan strategy that affirmed India’s role in Afghanistan. The Trump administration seems to be performing a balancing act in its relationship with India. It might overlook Indian concerns over the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan; however, India is a gainer in Indo-Pacific region vis-à-vis China. Strategically speaking, Trump’s announcement has enraged Republicans and Democrats alike in the US congress. Republican senator, Lindsey Graham has reminded the world that the Afghan security apparatus was still weak and vulnerable to the threats posed by the Islamic State leaving a possibility of 9/11 like attacks. Democrat senator John Reed also cautioned that reduced US presence will embolden the Taliban. Former US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, also criticized the decision and accused Trump of disregarding long-term US interests in Afghanistan. What are US interests in Afghanistan? The answer is vague and verbose. The argument that the reduced military presence would allow resurgent Taliban to harbor another 9/11 like attack is blunt exaggeration and self-contradictory. And if the US strategic objective is to stay in Afghanistan and check the rise of China, Russia, defiant Iran, and uncompliant Pakistan: the pullout strategy is perfectly poised to do the job. How? The security situation in recent months has gotten worse: the Taliban are resurging, IS is expanding, regional countries have joined hands – more suitable to Taliban than to US, and peace in Afghanistan will yield more dividends to China, Pakistan, Russia, and India than to the US. At this point, Machiavelli advises the US to walk away from Afghanistan. Letting the violence do the rest for American interests. Why take the responsibility of peace when it serves your adversaries more than yourself. Conceptually, theUS might have played this move as a”confidence-building measure” to entice the Taliban to the dialogue process consistent with vigorous diplomacy of Khalilzad and with the approval of Kabul government. Trump’s Afghan move is prudent and corresponding with US defense strategy – that requires de-emphasis on terrorism and focus on great power politics vis-à-vis Russia and China. US response to Taliban like Islamist movements has always been guided by context bound geostrategic imperatives. For instance, till the 1980s, Muslim Brotherhood of Egyptwas viewed as natural ally against the Nasserite nationalism and Soviet backed socialism in Arab world. Similarly, Jamat-e-Islami of Pakistan was also aboard against Soviets during Cold War days. After the Iranian revolution, the US changed its approach and started supporting secular dictatorships and monarchies in the Arab world who used extreme repression for forced moderation of these Islamists. Second generation Islamism of 1990s was democratic in nature. Fearing a democratic take over by Islamists, the US, at the behest of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt: rejected the electoral victories of Hamas in Ghaza, Hezbollah’s in Lebanon, and questioned the likely victory of Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria. Because this development had the potential to undermine US interests. Interestingly, in all cases, the deep states, governments, and US were on the same page. However, dealing with the Taliban’s Islamismin Afghanistan necessitates a structural approach. Afghanistan’s deep state (composed of Tajiks and anti-Taliban Pashtuns) is not willing to accommodate Taliban into state apparatus, can prove to be the only irritant. Repression that worked in Arab society, is unfit for Afghanistan. To harness the heterogeneity of Afghan society that has travelled all the way from modernity under Amanullah Khan, monarchy of Zahir Shah, republic by Daud, socialism under Tarkai, to the theocracy of Taliban, inclusion moderation model can prove to be instrumental. In order to facilitate that transition, all Mr. Ghani and US need to do is, change the composition of Afghan deep state and ensure mainstreaming of Taliban. This will not be less than a victory, allowing USA step into post-terrorism era characterized by power politics among great powers. The writer is a PhD candidate at National Defence University Islamabad Published in Daily Times, February 3rd 2019.