NPR

Behind The Scenes, A Major Choice Looms On Afghanistan

Will President Trump double down on America's longest-running — but forgotten — war? Or could he decide to pull the plug?
A U.S. black hawk helicopter flies over the site of a Taliban suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Aug. 2. / JAVED TANVEER / Getty Images

President Trump's calculation about Afghanistan boils down to a familiar question in U.S. national security: Of all the bad options, what's the least worst?

Trump, Vice President Pence and other national security team members are scheduled to convene at Camp David on Friday to review the next phase of the nearly 16-year war.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon this week that all options remain in play as the White House weighs a long-awaited new strategy.

Trump could authorize a new deployment of more American troops to continue the approach the U.S. has taken all along. Or he could try to shift the burden so that more of it falls on private security contractors. Or he could authorize something like a gradual withdrawal — or cut bait entirely.

None of those choices would bring victory or

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