In 2015, Donald Trump questioned why American troops were still in Afghanistan: “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. Are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point, what’s going on?” Now, after a carefully-worded speech which he seemed to rarely stray from, President Trump has announced the expansion of the United States military in Afghanistan.
Trump, well before a run at the presidency was even considered, seemed to have his mind made up on the long-running Afghanistan war, calling to get the military out as far back as 2011. In 2015, he did make a statement regarding the issues that would arrive due to coalition forces leaving a void in Afghanistan, and he reiterated his outlook tonight as he announced a larger military presence to come:
“My original instinct was to pull out, and normally I like to follow my instincts.”
Trump, in a relatively measured speech that sounded like it came directly from his ever-growing cabinet of military generals, said the nation must seek “an honorable and enduring outcome.” And that the men and women who serve in combat deserve a plan and victory.
Trump continued his speech on the exit strategy in the Afghanistan war on terror, saying, “The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable,” which contradicts his many, many calls for the removal of U.S. forces. While Trump explained the reasons to stay and expand, he did provide a dig at the previous administration, who gave him a “bad and very complex hand.”
Trump cited multiple pillars that will prop up the shift in strategy from a time-based approach to one based on conditions, saying: “It’s counterproductive to announce dates to begin or end,” which could mean that the 16-year war in Afghanistan has no finale in sight. Other information that will not be publicly announced is the number of troops that will be added to the existing forces. However, Trump did return to his campaign rhetoric by stating that the military “will not nation build, they will kill terrorists.” His strategy is built on “principled realism” that says military power alone cannot bring peace.
Immediately following his speech, which also included a call for Pakistan and India’s help in rooting out extremism in Afghanistan, the New York Times released a report revealing that an “angry” Trump complained that the plan in Afghanistan was “vague and open-ended,” which sounds like something that has no announce dates to begin or end.
According to the Times piece, Trump moving forward was more a matter of a fatigued president finally acquiescing to the constant pressure from his military advisors. Still, he stuck to his general message leading up to his presidency in wanting to get out, at least a little: “Our patience is not unlimited.”
(Via New York Times)