President Trump unveiled his plan for Afghanistan after seven months of deliberation Monday evening, announcing tweaks around the edges of the current strategy instead of a different approach.
He announced five “core pillars” to the approach: getting rid of any timelines for how long U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan; using all elements of power, including diplomatic and economic; getting tougher on Pakistan;getting India to help more with economic development; and expanding authorities for U.S. forces to fight terrorists. …
He floated the idea of a “political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban and Afghanistan, but added, “nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.”
He said it was up to the people of Afghanistan to “take ownership of their future” and to “achieve an everlasting peace,” but did not say how that would happen.
“We are not nation-building again, we are killing terrorists,” he asserted.
Trump did not talk about how much more the new strategy would cost, but said the U.S. would ask its NATO and other allies to do more. The U.S. spends about $45 billion per year in Afghanistan. While he did not announce a withdrawal date, he said “our support is not a blank check … The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited.” …
“The American people are weary of war without victory. Nowhere is this more evident than Afghanistan the longest war in American history, 17 years. I share the American people’s frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money and most importantly, lives,” he said.
However, he said despite his “original instinct” to pull out, “decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words when you are president of the United States.”
After studying the Afghanistan in “great detail and from every conceivable angle,” he said he did not want to repeat the mistake of the previous administration in Iraq and pull out too early, leaving a vacuum for terrorists to fill.
“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq,” he said. “We must address reality.”