President Trump gave a prime time, televised address from Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia on the "path forward" for the War in Afghanistan. Trump, who once supported full withdrawal from Afghanistan, said the risks of a hasty exit were "unacceptable," and laid out the following policies:
- A shift "from a time-based approach to one based on conditions," so enemies don't "wait out" the U.S.
- Taking a harder line on Pakistan for providing safe havens to militants who target Americans.
- Reducing restrictions on troops, and "expanding authorities" to target terrorist networks and attack enemies.
Key takeawaysTrump said America can't be a force for peace in the world if it isn't itself at peace: "There can be no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate" in the U.S, "love for America requires love for all of its people."He didn't make specific reference to troop levels, though reports are that he'll be increasing the U.S. presence by about 4,000 troops.His strategy
- Trump said withdrawal "would create a vacuum that terrorists... would instantly fill just as happened before September 11." He said the U.S. can't repeat its mistakes in Iraq.
- On his change of tune: "All my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk of the Oval Office."
- What victory looks like: crushing al-Qaeda, keeping Taliban in check, ensuring there's no base from which to attack the U.S.
"America First" elements
- Trump says the U.S. has spent too much blood and treasure "trying to rebuild other countries in our own image."
- Trump repeated his calls for allies to contribute more to their own defense, and said the greatest burden will fall on Afghanistan to protect itself, and "build their own nation."