President Trump gave a speech last night from Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia that addressed the troubling situation in South Asia and Afghanistan where American troops have been engaged in America’s longest war for 17 years.
Admitting that his first instinct was to pull out of Afghanistan, closely resembling the non-interventionist approach of his former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and his populist base, President Trump explained in his speech on Monday night that after meeting on Friday at Camp David with his Cabinet and generals, he arrived at 3 fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.
President Trump said that first, American men and women serving in combat deserve the tools they need to fight and to win and, secondly, a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, similar to what occurred prior to 9/11.
“We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now.. the threats we face, and the confronting of all of the problems of today, and extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal” President Trump said.
President Trump recalled the lessons that were painfully learned from pulling out of Iraq in 2011 where America’s hard won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies.
“The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq” President Trump said.
President Trump said that thirdly, the security threats the United States is currently facing in Afghanistan and the region are “immense” with 20 foreign terrorist organizations active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Although President Trump didn’t spell out how many more troops he is authorizing to assist with the military campaign in Afghanistan, he spoke in positive terms about re-committing America’s military efforts to help stabilize the volatile country where the Afghan government and military have less than 60 percent control of the rugged territory.
Describing terrorists as criminals, predators, thugs, and losers, President Trump explained that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the core interest of the United States is to stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America and also work to prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists.
Following through with his campaign promise, President Trump admitted that he won’t broadcast the dates America intends to begin, or end, military options or talk about numbers of troops, or future plans for further military activities.
“Conditions on the ground…. not arbitrary timetables… will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out” President Trump said.
“I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will” President Trump added.
President Trump emphasized that American military power alone won’t bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat from arising in the country and noted that “strategically applied force” aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.
President Trump said that the U.S. will ask their NATO allies and global partners to support their new strategy with additional troop and funding increases in line with America’s.
He admitted that “the days are over” of using American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or trying to rebuild other countries in America’s own image.
President Trump advocated instead for “principled realism” that will help to guide decisions moving forward that includes working with the Afghan government, as long as determination and progress are seen, and further developing a strategic partnership with India while holding Pakistan accountable for its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.
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