(Photo: Flickr / David Axe)

“It was a huge mistake when President Obama made the decision back in 2009 to escalate in Afghanistan,” bringing the total up to 100,000 U.S. troops, Phyllis Bennis told Press TV, and it’s a huge mistake now.

In 15 years of occupation, Bennis said, the region has not been stabilized, there has been no freedom brought to the people of Afghanistan, and the Taliban controls more territory than at any point since the U.S. invasion that overthrew them in 2001.

We have not even achieved the goal of getting children, especially girls, to school, Bennis said. In fact, 42 percent of Afghan children either have never been to school or dropped out before they reached the fifth grade.

As long as there are troops in the region, Bennis said, “there is going to be a continuing war against that occupation and against the Afghan government, which is widely seen as corrupt and encouraging this U.S. presence.”

Furthermore, Bennis said the Afghan president does not hold himself accountable to the people, most of whom live outside of the city in tiny villages scattered over a huge territory.

No matter who is in the White House come November, Bennis said, unfortunately it is likely that this ineffective policy in Afghanistan will continue.

“What we know from  Secretary Clinton is that she has generally supported the escalation of U.S. involvement in all the wars across the Middle East and Central Asia,” Bennis said. “There is no reason to think that she will have changed her position.

As for Donald Trump, she said, it is pretty clear that his Islamophobia and antagonism toward Muslims would play out and he would be willing to send massive numbers of troops, despite his occasional rhetoric on isolationism.

The culmination of militarism and hate from Trump, Bennis said “would indicate a very dangerous possibility of escalation in Afghanistan.”

Watch the full interview on Press TV’s website.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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