One of the advisers Trump has listened to in the Afghanistan deliberations might be a surprise to those not paying close attention to the issue. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has played a role in the talks not just as a member of the National Security Council but also as a counterweight to more interventionist advice.
It’s not as if Sessions has gone full-tilt non-interventionist, but friends describe an evolution in his thinking from Senate days in 2002 when Sessions was said to be “gung ho” on the Afghan war. Now, he is said to be more skeptical about the possibility of success in Afghanistan. He is said to suspect that the American engagement there has stretched to 16 years not because the U.S. has repeatedly failed to find the right strategy but because the task of leaving a peaceful, stable, and sustainable democracy in Afghanistan might simply be an impossible job at the moment.
Two months ago, Trump gave Mattis the authority to send as many as 4,000 more troops to join the more than 8,000 U.S. troops already in Afghanistan. The decision he announces Monday night might lead to even more.