Donald Trump announced on Monday he is willing to commit to up to 4,000 more troops being sent to Afghanistan, saying the United States’ strategy will “change dramatically”.
Donald Trump was pointedly critical of America’s foreign policy during his presidential campaign, especially with regard to the US invasion into Afghanistan, which he called a “terrible mistake” in 2015, though he later disavowed the statement.
“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said.
There are currently over 5,000 soldiers in the area, including 3,000 NATO soldiers who regularly carry out counter terrorism operations in the country. This is a stark contrast to the conflict’s peak in 2011, which saw over 100,000 soldiers in the area.
“We are not nation building again,” said the president, in a reference to the reasons he was once opposed to the foreign invasion. “We are killing terrorists”.
Trump also stated that one of his key objectives is to make Pakistan cut support for militants who occupy parts of the Afghan border, ending the safe havens for terrorist networks within western Pakistan. This objective, which was long sought after by both George Bush and Barack Obama, is one which Trump hopes to achieve.
The president also used his speech to hint at the issues that have swept the political landscape with regards to the incidents in Charlottesville earlier this month. The ‘Unite the Right Rally’ saw a group of far right demonstrators and white supremacists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. A young woman was killed at the rally after a man drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
At the beginning of his speech, the president said “Love for America requires love for all of its people,” adding “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate.” This comes after a full week of criticism by political commentators and many of his own party, for his seeming reluctance to denounce the bigotry involved in the Charlottesville incident.