Before President Donald Trump’s speech Monday the establishment media were telling anybody who would listen that the president would be committing 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. That turned out to be fake news but the president left no doubt on his strategy.
Speaking from Fort Myer, Virginia, the president thanked “every member of the U.S. military,” for their service. The special class of heroes, unmatched in human history, “deserve to return to a country not at war with itself.” He held up the U.S. military, composed of all races, colors and creeds, as an example for the nation, sacrificing together in perfect cohesion, bound together by one shared mission.
“Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another,” President Trump said. “There is no room for prejudice, bigotry and no tolerance for hate.” Returning troops, need to “find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty.”
His purpose was to ensure that horrors on the scale of 9⁄11 are “not repeated on our shores” but the American people are “weary of war without victory,” in the “longest war in American history.” His original instinct, the president said, was to “pull out,” but from the desk in the Oval Office he realized that “the consequences of rapid exit are predictable and unacceptable.”
The September 11, 2001 attack had been “planned and directed from Afghanistan” and hasty withdrawal would “create a vacuum,” as in Iraq, when hard-won gains “slipped back into the hands of terrorists” and gave a safe haven for ISIS. This, the president said, should not be repeated.
The security threats are “immense,” the president said, because twenty terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest number anywhere in world. Pakistan “gives safe have to terrorists” and that was a “challenging and troubling situation.”
Trump said terrorists were “nothing but thugs, criminals, predators and that’s right, losers,” and the object of his policy was to strip them of their territory. The president cited the “vile, vicious attack in Barcelona” as evidence that terrorists “would stop at nothing to commit mass murder” of innocent men women and children.”
The president spoke of breaking terrorists’ will, keeping them from crossing our borders, and prevent them from acquiring nuclear materials. “We will defeat them,” the president said, and the nation would “learn from history.”
“Conditions on the ground will guide our strategies,” President Trump said. “Enemies must not know our plans.” Accordingly, the president did not talk about numbers of troops he might send. On the other hand, he did say that “attack we will,” directing “all instruments of American power” toward a successful outcome.
The United States would continue support for the Afghan government, but “we are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.” The president made it clear that the United States would no longer be silent over Pakistan’s “safe havens” for terrorists, the same organizations that “attack our people.”
Pakistan, the president said, has “much to gain” for partnering with the United States and “much to lose by harboring criminals and terrorists.” So it was “time for Pakistan to demonstrate commitment.”
Likewise, Pakistan’s rival India “makes billions in trade” with the United States and “we want help,” the president said, with the war in Afghanistan. There American forces “will have necessary tools of engagement” and the president would lift “restrictions against waging battles against the enemy.” The president said he would expand battlefield commanders’ authority to target criminal networks.
“These killers need to know they have no place to hide,” President Trump said. “Retribution will be swift and powerful.” The nation would deploy “swift decisive and overwhelming force,” and “fight to win.”
America’s allies needed to help with this strategy, devoting “much more money” to the collective defense. For the Aghans, economic development would help defray costs but the president made it clear that “our commitment is not unlimited” and our support “is not a blank check.”
The American interest was “protecting American lives and American interests,” the president said.
“We know who we are and what we are fighting for.” He warned terrorists that “America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat. We have faced down evil and we have always prevailed.”
For America, the president sought “an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that was paid,” by the men and women of the armed forces.
Not a word about 4,000 more troops and nothing about “leading from behind,” but plenty about leaning on allies. It is a very strange ally that harbors Islamic terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, which Pakistan was doing in 2011.
This week the History Channel showed how U.S Navy SEALS flew into Pakistan, took down bin Laden, and decamped with a trove of computers and hard drives. When the 44th president announced that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden, a crowd gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA!” and even “CIA! CIA!”
If President Trump does indeed fight to win, the cheers could ring out again. More clear wins for the USA and its allies, and more deadly defeats for Islamic terrorism, could help unify the nation.
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