Trump is fond of boasting about “his” generals. But over the short course of his presidency’s first months, the possession and control have reversed themselves. Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly have banished all opposition and now pour the neo-con agenda straight into Trump’s ear.
One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return. The irony is that, in 1972, when this photo was taken on the grounds of Kabul University, Afghanistan was firmly in the orbit of the Soviet Union, as it had been since 1953, when Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan rose to power and instituted a series of progressive reforms, including equal rights for women.