An old photo showing Afghan women in miniskirts may have persuaded President Donald Trump to commit more U.S. troops to Afghanistan by showing that it was not always a conservative Islamic country and might return to its more Western-oriented ways, the Washington Post reported.
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In the past, Trump had advocated a withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan. However, on Monday he announced a limited expansion of the American presence.
"Defense Secretary [James] Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, both generals with extensive battlefield experience in Afghanistan, warned Trump about the consequences of withdrawal and cautioned that any move in Afghanistan would have ripple effects throughout the region," the Post said.
"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."
U.S. officials have said Trump has given Mattis the authority to send about 4,000 additional troops, to add to the roughly 8,400 already in Afghanistan.
In his speech Monday, Trump offered few specifics but promised a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents who have gained ground against U.S-backed government forces in Afghanistan.
In 2013, The Atlantic reported that Afghanistan had taken strides to become more Western in the 1950s and '60s. "Progress was halted in the 1970s, as a series of bloody coups, invasions, and civil wars began, continuing to this day, reversing almost all of the steps toward modernization taken in the 50s and 60s," it wrote.
With reporting by Reuters.