I just finished listening to Donald Trump’s highly promoted speech about what he plans to do in Afghanistan and to say that it was underwhelming is to put it mildly. There was absolutely nothing concrete in his 25-minute speech. About half of it was devoted to the obligatory pandering to the military and America, saying how they are the greatest and noblest fighting force in the world protecting the greatest and noblest nation on Earth.
Like his predecessors, Trump vowed to win the war because that is what they all say. He said that he had a new strategy for winning the war but was not going to tell anyone what it was, reminding me of Richard Nixon’s secret plan for winning the Vietnam war and we saw how well that turned out. He said that the military would be given a freer hand to prosecute the war and that Pakistan had to stop providing shelter for Taliban fighters but did not say how he would get them to do that. He said that India had to provide support to Afghanistan and the other US allies would be doing more but again, there was nothing at all concrete.
Much of his speech was devoted to explaining why he was not carrying out his repeated pledges to pull out of Afghanistan. He also said that he was not going to specify a timetable for withdrawal except to say that the US will leave only after they win the war. This means that he is actually committing to an indefinite presence there.
The only other thing he said that I thought was newsworthy was in the opening segment where he seemed to backtrack from his Tuesday press conference where he failed to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists. He did not do so in this speech either but he did condemn hate and bigotry in general.
So basically I thought that the speech was a waste of time, basically the same old policy with some secret sauce that he claims to have added that he promises will produce a different outcome.