In a landmark speech last night, President Donald Trump outlined his new strategy in Afghanistan, a country at war for the last 16 years.
“The American people are weary of war without victory. I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said, but, “in the end, we will fight and we will win.”
From Fort Meyer, Va., Trump laid out his goals and parameters:
– While not providing specifics, other sources have said he will be moving an additional 4000 troops into the country.
– This is not nation building. “I share [Americans’] frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly lives trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other consideration”
– He was deeply critical of Pakistan. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals terrorists.”
– The military will have more autonomy. Obama had severe restrictions on operations in Afghanistan. Trump has more faith. “Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win battles,” Trump said.
– No timelines. Trump emphasized that telling the enemy exactly when you were pulling out, as Obama did in Iraq was poor strategy. Whether or not the administration has timelines, none will be announced.
The President acknowledged his first instinct was to pull out, however his decision was ultimately to prevent the nation from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists — including ISIS and Al Qaeda — would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11,” he added.
NATO appears to have endorsed the move. “NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with [U.S. Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis and our allies and international partners,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.