Trump: I'm Going Against My 'Original Instinct' in Afghanistan

He originally wanted to withdraw, but says that would repeat mistake of Iraq
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2017 8:31 PM CDT
Trump: In Afghanistan, We Won't Repeat Mistake of Iraq
President Trump is increasing US troop levels in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump made a rare formal address to the nation Monday night to reaffirm the US commitment in Afghanistan, but he declined to talk about troop numbers or deadlines. Those factors will be based on "conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables," he said, adding that he doesn't think it makes sense to tip off the enemy to specific plans. The US currently has about 8,400 non-combat troops in the country, and the president had been expected to green-light another 4,000 or so for the 16-year-old war. "I'm a problem-solver," said Trump after outlining the situation he inherited in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia and faulting the decisions of his predecessors. But "in the end, we will win."

Trump, speaking at Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Va., acknowledged that his "original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts," reports the New York Times. But he said he changed his mind after a long review and advice from his military advisers. He said the US cannot repeat what he views as the mistake of its "hasty" exit from Iraq in 2011, which he said allowed ISIS to gain a foothold, per USA Today. Trump also called out Pakistan and said the US will "no longer be silent" as that nation provides "safe haven" for terrorists. And he also warned that the Afghan government would be held accountable as a partner. "We are not nation-building again," he said. "We are killing terrorists." (More Afghanistan war stories.)

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