President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan this evening, delivering the uncharacteristically sober and serious speech before a crowd of men and women in uniform at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia.
Because he read the speech off of a teleprompter, the President avoided the extemporaneous mine fields that have gotten him into trouble recently. But that didn’t stop him from taking shots at past administrations.
“Our troops will fight to win,” he said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.”
His implication, of course, is that Presidents Bush and Obama, by comparison, did not have clear definitions of victory.
That, he promises, will change. Out were what he called “arbitrary” time lines for withdrawal. Instead, we will go on the attack, and our troops will only come home when the “conditions on the ground” are right. This would stand in stark contrast to what he called President Obama’s “hasty” decision to draw down troop levels in Iraq.
“A hasty withdrawal will create a vacuum that terrorists including ISIS and al-Queda would instantly fill,” he said. “We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.”
MSNBC anchorwoman Rachel Maddow, however, quickly pointed out a problem with the crux of his argument for ramping the war back up in Afghanistan. Back in 2011, Trump, then a private citizen, praised President Obama for drawing down forces in the Iraq war, saying, “Well, I think he could have gotten out a long time ago.”
You can read the entire transcript from this segment of tonight’s Rachel Maddow Show and see the video below.
Tonight the president in his remarks saying that he shares Americans’ frustration with the length of the war. He said his original instinct was to pull out. But he now wanted to spend this evening talking about what he views as the unacceptable consequences of a withdrawal. He drew as a parallel, as an analogy, the Iraq war, calling President Obama’s decision to wind down the Iraq war, at least for a time, he called that a hasty decision and a mistaken decision. Should be noted that when President Obama made that decision, Donald Trump – then a private citizen – not only supported President Obama’s decision to end the Iraq war when he did, but he said that President Obama should have ended it years earlier. CNBC, in August 2011, Trump was asked about the decision to end the war in Iraq and he said, “Well, I think he could have gotten out a long time ago.” That said tonight, President Trump describing that decision to withdraw from Iraq as hasty and mistaken, saying he’s not going to make that mistake again in Afghanistan.
— Sean Colarossi (@SeanColarossi) August 22, 2017
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.