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Trump in primetime speech: No ‘blank check,’ no ‘nation-building’ for Afghan war

(AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)

President Trump addressed the nation from Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall on Monday evening, where he unveiled “dramatic” changes to US foreign military policy. The plan does not involve a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the nation even though that is what the President repeatedly promised on the campaign trail. 

“I share the American people’s frustration. I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has [spent] too much time trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests,” he said during his first primetime address to the nation as president.

“My original instinct was to pull out and historically, I like following my instincts,” he admitted.

After meeting with Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis, and other members of his national security team, he changed his mind.

The president said that he came to three conclusions:

First, a shift from a “time-based approach to one based on conditions” in which he said his administration will “not talk about numbers of troops” or plans for further military operations. He said that “conditions on the ground” will dictate plans, not bureaucrats in DC.

Secondly, Mr. Trump said that Afghanistan will require the integration of diplomatic, economic, and military solutions in which one day, a political settlement could occur that might involve elements of the Taliban.

Perhaps most interesting, the president said that the U.S. must change its approach on how to deal with Pakistan, which provides safe havens for terrorists.

Lastly, President Trump stressed that the U.S. would no longer engage in “nation-building” overseas. Instead, the focus will be shutting down terrorist groups and defending the U.S. from national security threats.

Despite campaign promises, the president promised the U.S. would not rapidly exit from Afghanistan. While President Trump did not explicitly say that the U.S. is sending additional troops to Afghanistan, he implied he was doing so.

To counterbalance the increase in troops the president stated, “Our commitment is not unlimited and our support is not a blank check.” Instead, “the Afghan government must carry its share of the military and economic burden.”


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