In a teleprompter speech that was as inspiring as it was specific, Donald Trump offered a bold new vision for how the US war in Afghanistan will be conducted differently after 16 years: Say that this time we’re really going to make some big changes, no really, and we’ll be there forever until we either win or the war can be handed off to another president. In keeping with his campaign pledge that he would never telegraph his intentions to the enemy, Trump also refused to say anything specific about his intentions to Americans, either, since we might blab.
The “president” prefaced policy parts of the speech — such as they were — with a bit of damage control, saying that hatred and racism are bad, mmmkay? and that it would be a real shame if our soldiers abroad were to come home to a divided America where everyone is at each other’s throats. Expect him to undermine that “let’s all come together in love and peace for the sake of our country” the next time he gives an unscripted answer to a a question about Nazis.
Still, to spare our brave troops the sight of a divided America, Trump will be sending a lot more of them to Afghanistan.
Trump acknowledged that his strategy, whatever it is, ran counter to his original instincts and several years of tweets insisting Barack Obama was an idiot for continuing the war in Afghanistan:
My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office; in other words, when you’re President of the United States.
We think that was awfully nice of him to explain that sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office means being the president. A lot of people probably don’t know that. But Trump decided that a premature withdrawal was likely to leave nobody satisfied, and could create chaos in Afghanistan, especially if he just left without so much as breakfast.
In the most obvious baldfaced lie of the speech, Trump said the new plan came after “I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle,” which translates to I’m telling you what the generals have decided to do, and by Thursday I’ll have forgotten two thirds of it.