In his first primetime address to the nation, President Donald Trump reversed his campaign pledge to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan while laying out his most thorough explanation of his approach to the war.
Speaking from Fort Myer in Virginia, Trump plainly acknowledged that he was upending repeated calls dating back years to bring the troops home and instead spend the money rebuilding the U.S.
“My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts,” Trump said. “But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”
The address was a culmination of the most deliberative policy review of his disorganized presidency—an exception to the reigning chaos that highlighted the importance of order.
Trump reached his decision on the overall strategy at a Friday meeting at Camp David with his national security team, after considering a range of options from a new five-figure troop surge to complete withdrawal and replacement by private military contractors.
The middle-of-the-road approach he adopted seemed to follow the advice of Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, another sign of the waning influence of former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was ousted Friday after clashing for months with others in the White House.
The speech also included a long-overdue second cleanup of his much-criticized remarks on a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, noting that members of the U.S. military “transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together.”
Still, Trump stayed true to…
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