Trump Tracker: Pioneer updates on America’s president

Kali Persall,
Managing Editor

On Monday, President Donald Trump delivered an urgent presidential address to the nation from Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Va., where he outlined a new strategy for the United States’ relationship with Afghanistan and South Asia.


According to Trump, after months of meetings that involved studying “Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle,” a final meeting occurred on Friday at Camp David in Maryland, the rural retreat for every president since Franklin Roosevelt. The meeting’s 21 attendees included generals and members of his cabinet.

Trump explained that military strategy will shift from a timetable approach to a conditional one. Details regarding military operations in Afghanistan and South Asia, including start and end dates, the number of troops deployed and plans for future activities, will no longer be publicly announced. “I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,” said Trump.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan began in 2001 and has become the longest war in American history, according to the Guardian. In 2014, Obama announced a plan to withdraw the majority of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2016. According to the Guardian, U.S. troops in Afghanistan numbered around 100,000 before Obama proposed a cap of 8,400 last year.

In June, an official within the Trump administration revealed that 4,000 additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, according to the Guardian.

Trump, who was critical of Obama’s inability to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, explained on Monday that when he first took office his original instinct was to follow through with this.

However, on Monday, he said this strategy changed, because the consequences of a rapid exit are “predictable and unacceptable.” Trump stated that a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS could fill.

The U.S. will also change how it works with Pakistan, a historically “valued partner” of America, which has become a safe haven for criminals and terrorist organizations like the Taliban, according to Trump.

“In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear,” stated Trump on Monday. “We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten america and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us-—or anywhere in the world—for that matter.”

The president insisted that the country take a more active role in supporting the U.S. effort to disarm terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. He implied that if Pakistan doesn’t cooperate, it could lose American financial support, according to a CNN article. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and peace,” he said.

According to the new strategy, the U.S. will also strengthen its partnership with India, which offers financial support to Afghanistan, according to Trump.

“We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” he said.

During his first trip abroad as president in May, Trump met with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Vatican City, Brussels, and Italy, to reaffirm their country’s’ commitments to dismantling terrorism in the Middle East, according to a White House transcript of the speech.

“They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and—that’s right—losers,” he said about terrorist organizations on Monday.

According to the new strategy, the U.S. will integrate all “instruments of American power: diplomatic, economic and military” to implement the new strategy, Trump said on Monday. This includes lifting restrictions on the military that prohibit commanders from initiating immediate action as well as maximizing sanctions and law enforcement actions against terrorist organizations.

The U.S. will ask its North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, partners to increase funding to America for these efforts. Allies and partners will be expected to contribute more money to “our collective defense.”

“No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions,” said Trump.