Trump’s evolving views of the Afghan conflict
President Donald Trump was likely to open the door on Monday to a modest increase in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, where America is fighting its longest military conflict.
In the past, Trump, who took office in January, was critical of former Democratic President Barack Obama’s approach to Afghanistan, saying the United States should not be nation-building and calling for Obama to withdraw troops.
Obama also had evolving views, first committing an increase of tens of thousands of U.S. troops to reverse Taliban gains, then committing to a troop drawdown that he was unable to complete before leaving office.
Following are some of Trump’s comments on the war, before and after he launched his White House run in June 2015.
Oct 7, 2011 – When will we stop wasting our money on rebuilding Afghanistan? We must rebuild our country first. (Posted on Twitter, during a year when Obama’s troop surge had taken U.S. troop levels to more than 100,000.)
Feb 27, 2012 – It is time to get out of Afghanistan. We are building roads and schools for people that hate us. It is not in our national interests. (Posted on Twitter)
Jan 1, 2013 – Can you believe that the Afghan war is our “longest war” ever—bring our troops home, rebuild the U.S., make America great again (Posted on Twitter)
March 1, 2013 – We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first. (Posted on Twitter)
Dec 1, 2014 – Now Obama is keeping our soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year. He is losing two wars simultaneously. (Posted on Twitter)
March 3, 2016 – I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you’re right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons change the game. (Said during a debate among Republican presidential candidates, when asked if he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan)
July 18, 2017 – We’ve been there for now close to 17 years, and I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going, and what we should do in terms of additional ideas. I’ve heard plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from the people on the ground. (Said during a meeting with service members to discuss Afghanistan.)
(Compiled by Frances Kerry in London and Ayesha Rascoe in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)