Donald Trump made a speech Monday night in which he laid out his administration’s vision for the continuing war in Afghanistan. Not all of the president’s supporters are happy with what he said.
Toward the beginning of his Afghanistan speech, which Trump delivered to a crowd of service men and women at Fort Myers in Arlington, Virginia, Donald Trump admitted that his plans for Afghanistan had changed since being sworn in as the president of the United States, according to a New York Times transcript of the speech.
“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,” Trump said.
Trump proceeded to explain the reasoning behind a policy of increased military involvement in Afghanistan that contradicts what remarks he made on the campaign trail and prior to his officially announcing his candidacy for president. According to CNBC, Trump the private citizen saw the war in Afghanistan, which going on 16 years, is now the nation’s longest, as a waste of money, resources, and lives. He routinely spoke of the need for an end to our military presence in the country. In one tweet from 2013, Trump said he agreed with President Obama’s view that the United States should leave Afghanistan.
“I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan,” Trump wrote. “We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money — rebuild the U.S.!”
But like his predecessor, Trump’s campaign rhetoric does not appear to be a motivating factor behind his deeds. Trump’s plan for Afghanistan is to increase military presence so that the United States can “win” the war against “terrorists.” There is no timetable for this victory or even a clear rationale for what that victory will look like. Instead, many on both the right and left, including some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, have noted that we are getting rhetoric that seems more like justification for a permanent military occupation.
Right wing media outlet Breitbart, one of Trump’s most dependable media sources of support through his campaign, is not happy at all with what they see as Trump’s continuation of a wasteful and expensive military policy in Afghanistan, describing it as a “flip-flop” that “reverses course.” Already angered over the removal of Steve Bannon from the Trump administration, Breitbart’s readers could see the Afghanistan move as just another piece of evidence that the dream that was the Trump presidency is turning to dust. Breitbart has started referring to Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as “President McMaster,” an allusion to the idea that the neoconservatives have fully wrested control of the White House away from elements within the administration who aren’t as keen on endless war.
Right wing commentator Mike Cernovich has also expressed his disapproval of Trump’s plans for Afghanistan, even showing a picture of Jared Kushner captioned “General Jared” in one tweet.
Donald Trump’s Base Bewails ‘Unlimited War’ After His Afghanistan Policy Speech https://t.co/o32R2xxgY8— Mike Cernovich ???????? (@Cernovich) August 22, 2017
Others, such as Ann Coulter, seem to see Trump’s move as a betrayal of his core supporters and the ideals upon which his campaign was built.
White House "top staff doesn't care what Trump says and the president doesn't seem to care that they don't care." https://t.co/sZosogAnU0— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 22, 2017
Donald Trump’s apparent commitment to the continuation of open-ended conflict in Afghanistan is drawing criticism from both sides of the political divide.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]