THE RIFT OPENS: Ingraham, Breitbart, Carlson SLAM Trump’s Afghanistan Policy. But Trump Is Right.


The rift is opening.

President Trump spent years complaining about America’s involvement in Afghanistan. In 2013, he stated that he agreed with President Obama on Afghanistan:

During the campaign, Trump said that going into Afghanistan in the first place – in response to 9/11 – was a “terrible mistake.” He walked that position back a few weeks later. But his biggest advocates saw Trump as an isolationist force on Afghanistan: they believed that Trump would withdraw from the country as soon as possible.

So they were quite disappointed on Monday night when Trump announced a moderate troop escalation of 4,000, and announced that he would pursue a “win” in Afghanistan. Talk show host Laura Ingraham, one of Trump’s biggest boosters, asked Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel:

Ingraham isn’t the only Trump ally upset with the president. Breitbart headlined Trump’s “flip-flop” and compared Trump’s strategy with Obama’s. Brian Darling of Breitbart wrote, “I voted for Donald J. Trump because he promoted a foreign policy of restraint…I voted for Donald J. Trump because he promised change. I may have made a mistake.” Tucker Carlson, too, went after Trump:

It’s not shocking to see some of Trump’s most ardent friends ripping Trump over his Afghanistan plan. But they’re actually wrong. There are only three possible strategies with regard to Afghanistan: overwhelming force; total withdrawal; muddling through, with an eye toward solidification of the country’s government against terrorism. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump all engaged in the last strategy – but at least Trump is moving to correct Obama’s mistakes with regard to timetables and rules of engagement.

Withdrawing from Afghanistan now wouldn’t be Obama-esque as much as Clintonian – it would leave terrorists in place, give them a new safe haven, and create the conditions that existed in-country before 9/11. Yes, ISIS attacks based on recruitment over the internet have grown – but organized terror attacks in the mold of 9/11 have declined markedly.

Our investment in the war on terror, despite the popular argument, has been effective. But our strategy in Afghanistan needed to change. Although Trump’s goals are unclear and his metrics for success cloudy – and although it’s difficult to see that 4,000 troops will be the tipping point — Trump is right to change orientation in Afghanistan. And his critics should see that this is perhaps the first concrete evidence of Trump listening in a productive way to those around him.