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Right’s Reaction to Afghanistan Speech: Riled

The response to Donald Trump’s Afghanistan speech was quick and negative—from the right. All eyes were on Steve Bannon, who was eased out by new Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Now we’ve heard from him from his platform, Breitbart.

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Just minutes after President Donald Trump concluded his Afghanistan policy speech Monday night, the conservative site took an aggressive, critical approach to the address and Trump’s new policy. A banner headline blasted the president’s decision to extend the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan as a “flip-flop” that “reverses course.”

Articles likened him to his predecessor, President Barack Obama — a known sore spot for Trump. . .

“Trump’s ‘America First’ Base Unhappy with Flip-Flop Afghanistan Speech,” blared one headline.

The lead of the main story contained a series of subtle digs: “President Trump unveiled his plan for Afghanistan after seven months of deliberation Monday evening, announcing tweaks around the edges of the current strategy instead of a different approach,” read the lead sentence of Breitbart’s wrap on the speech.

Bannon also suggested that Trump was being ruled by his advisors, according to Breitbart, under the headline, “His McMaster’s Voice. . .”

HR McMaster’s voice was clear to hear. It’s a voice that appears to have been carried over from the George W. Bush administration, and even the Obama White House. . .

What was evident during the wending and sometimes contradictory speech, was the alien language and policy as far was POTUS’s supporters are concerned: it was McMaster’s Voice, and does not require a team of scientists in Nevada — per Lem’s novel — to figure that out.

And Breitbart says Trump’s base is not happy about it, under the headline, “Trump’s ‘America First’ Base Unhappy with Flip-Flop Afghanistan Speech.”

President Trump’s “America First” base was the biggest loser of Trump’s speech on Afghanistan Monday night, and many quickly expressed their disappointment at the business-as-usual address from the president who had once promised to limit American intervention abroad and focus on nation-building at home. . .

Using many of the same vague promises that previous presidents had used, including a repeat of Obama’s promise not to give a “blank check” to Afghanistan and a pledge to finally get tough on Pakistan, it was a far cry from the “America First” foreign policy he laid out in the months before election day.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who had been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump during the campaign and penned a book called In Trump we Trust, summed up the weariness of the nationalist right when she tweeted: “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. The military-industrial complex wins.”. . .

Meanwhile, Twitter was going wild, according to Breitbart:

Of course, Breitbart might be expected to be negative, with Steve Bannon’s removal. Breitbart, for instance, said, “With Steve Bannon Gone, Donald Trump Risks Becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger 2.0.”

President Donald Trump’s decision to part ways with Steve Bannon can be understood as an effort to save his presidency after Charlottesville. It may turn out to be the beginning of the end for the Trump administration, the moment Donald Trump became Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But it’s not just Breitbart and Twitter. The Washington Examiner also chimed in.

Trump, whose views on war and foreign policy have been inconsistent over the years, started to form something of a coherent foreign policy over the course of the campaign, the transition, and his first few months in office. Former President George W. Bush’s Iraq war was a mistake, Trump said, because throwing out Saddam Hussein destabilized the region. He made a similar argument about Former President Barack Obama’s regime change in Libya. . .

The fog of war makes it too difficult to say with confidence what America’s best course of action would be in Afghanistan. . . But coming out of Trump’s speech Monday night, we still don’t know what course of action he has planned, and we’re not sure if the military does. The principles Trump articulated seem disconnected from his plan. . .

But coming out of Trump’s speech Monday night, we still don’t know what course of action he has planned, and we’re not sure if the military does. The principles Trump articulated seem disconnected from his plan. . .

Trump and Mattis need a clearer goal, something between let it descend into chaos and stability. Without a clearer, attainable goal, Trump is sending men off to kill and die in a war where victory is unattainable.

The Daily Caller notes, “With Afghanistan Address, Trump Pleased Long-Time Rivals And Upset Allies.”

Shortly after the speech, Sen. [Lindsay] Graham said on Fox News, “I am very pleased with this plan, and I am very proud of my president.”. . .

On the other hand, various conservative writers who have been supportive of Trump’s nationalist agenda were upset by the president’s plan for Afghanistan. Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham tweeted, “Who’s going to pay for it? What is our measure of success? We didn’t win with 100K troops. How will we win with 4,000 more?”. . .

Pat Buchanan, who arguably represented Trump’s agenda decades before the president ran, wrote a column in which he stated: “Trump, however, was elected to end America’s involvement in Middle East wars. And if he has been persuaded that he simply cannot liquidate these wars — Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan — he will likely end up sacrificing his presidency, trying to rescue the failures of those who worked hardest to keep him out of the White House.”

The Blaze added more voices:

Joe Walsh: “17 days, 17 weeks, 17 months, 17 years…it doesn’t matter how long we’re in Afghanistan. We won’t change a damn thing,” former Illinois GOP Rep. Joe Walsh said. “Get out now.”

Makada: “We’ve been in Afghanistan for 16 years & terrorism has only gotten worse. How many more years? How much more tax money? How many more lives?”

Stephen Molyneux: “250 years of failed Western imperialism in Afghanistan doesn’t mean that 251 won’t turn things totally around!”

Mike Cernovich: “Why did we even have an election?”

And, finally, comedian Jim Gaffigan also offered his thoughts on twitter:

Goethe Behr: Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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  • Did anyone expect anything different from Breitbart. It is time to get this over with and all we are currently doing is sitting on the pot. It is time for the U.S. to start winning these battles and the only way to do that is by using overwhelming troops. The U.S. has been in the give up mode ever since Viet Nam and that should now come to an end.

    • That's not completely true. Reagan and Bush41 were aware that America had "malaise" due to our loss in Vietnam. So, to build up our self image, they beat up some small countries that really couldn't defend themselves. That ended the "give up mode." Then, Bush41 wisely enlisted the whole world against Saddam. We actually made a profit on deciding that aggression "will not stand." High point.

      Then, our invasion of Afghanistan also went well. If we had stayed there, and helped them rebuild, we might have had the "beacon" that Bush wanted. But the Iraq fiasco changed everything. Now, we're stuck in a Middle East quagmire that may last for the rest of our lives.

      • I don't count beating up on countries in which there is no doubt about the outcome in a short time. Iraq was not a win as we moved out knowing their government could not maintain control of the country. Only question was what country or group was going to take over. The same occurred in Afganistan when we told them our plans. They just sat back and waited until we pulled our troops or left for good, then they moved back in and regained control. Now what do you consider real wins?

        • I just disagree with you on all counts.

          Maybe you're not old enough to remember. The country had a real emotional complex. Beating up on the small countries may or may not have been right or good, but there's no question that it changed our own self image as a country. So that was a success.

          It was not our responsibility to decide what government Iraq had. I assume you're against "nation building," yet you are suggesting it. Our job in the "Gulf War" was to right a wrong. Iraq invaded Kuwait. We pushed them out. That was a success. And the bigger success was that Bush41 got the whole world to agree. Jordan remained neutral, I think, to give us intelligence from the inside.

          Likewise, we gave Afghanistan an ultimatum to turn over al Quaeda members or suffer attack. They didn't, we did, and that should have been the end of it. The alternative was to partner with Afghans to set up a working government. We did neither. We hung around with no clear purpose or goal. What we've had since has not been a "war," it's been a "police action." But the war, itself, was a success.

          • "Maybe you're not old enough to remember. The country had a real emotional complex. Beating up on the small countries may or may not have been right or good, but there's no question that it changed our own self image as a country. So that was a success."

            For one, at 72, I am probably older than you by a long shot. As for a self image change that was no more than a pat on the back for having done what was expected in the operation. Successful operation - Yes.

            "It was not our responsibility to decide what government Iraq had. I assume you're against "nation building," yet you are suggesting it. Our job in the "Gulf War" was to right a wrong. Iraq invaded Kuwait. We pushed them out. That was a success. And the bigger success was that Bush41 got the whole world to agree. Jordan remained neutral, I think, to give us intelligence from the inside."

            It was not our responsibility to determine the kind of government Iraq would develop. However, after overthrowing Sadam I feel it was our responsibility to enable the Iraqi's to have a fair election system to elect the type of government they wanted. We did not do this. We pulled our troops out before having everything under control for the Iraqi people to have fair elections. We controlled to some extent the government that initially took over after Sadam with the intent that they set up fair elections. This did not work out and we then later pulled our troops out leaving the people to fend for themselves. Not a success.

            "Likewise, we gave Afghanistan an ultimatum to turn over al Quaeda members or suffer attack. They didn't, we did, and that should have been the end of it. The alternative was to partner with Afghans to set up a working government. We did neither. We hung around with no clear purpose or goal. What we've had since has not been a "war," it's been a "police action." But the war, itself, was a success."

            Afghanistan is a problem that will never be a success unless we put in enough troops to just go through the whole country and eliminate all Al Quaeda and ISIS members and then let the country have fair and free elections. If we don't do that we may as well pull out for good and let the Afgans continue to suffer at the hands of whoever takes control of Afghanistan. As of this date Afghanistan was a failure. You are correct that it has never been considered a war, but, after 16 years it hard to say it's a police action.

          • You underestimate the mood change. "Morning in America," and all that. There was a palpable change in mood. We felt better about ourselves. It's what Putin is doing in Russia. They also felt beat up after the collapse of their empire, but he beat up on Georgia and took Crimea. He seems invincible, and the Russian people are lovin' it.

            You're confusing the "Gulf War" and the "War in Iraq." We didn't overthrow Saddam, we just slapped him. Bush41 wrote a book about why he didn't think overthrow was a good idea--and what he postulated did come true, when we later deposed Saddam (on a false pretense). What we did do was a success--and got out.

            Afghanistan need not have become a multi-decade albatross. Our job was to punish the country for shielding al Quaeda and to go in and mop them up. We had that accomplished. Success. It stopped being a success when we just set up shop, without any reason to be there. I called it a "police action" in that we are just there to maintain the status quo. What you're suggesting would never work, because the borders are a sieve. If we push them, they'll just hang out in another country. Nixon went across borders in Vietnam, and that started a whole new mess. We had a clear goal, which we achieved, in 1991; we had no such mentality in 2003, which is why that ended up being a failure, long before we left.

  • We did a little more to Saddam Hussian than slapping him. Saddam was in US custody when he was executed hy hanging, one of the cruelest of death sentences. President Bush said at the time that Hussein received the kind of justice he denied his own people, but warned that the execution would not end the violence in Iraq.

    American military commanders have written that leaders of entire Iraqi divisions (a division is roughly ten thousand men) came to them for instructions, expressed a willingness to coöperate. Bush and Chaney turned their offer down. These men were left with no jobs and no financial means to support their family. Countless numbers of these men joined Abu Bakr al Baghdadi the leader of Islamic State in Syria. This was the beginning of ISIS as we know it today,

    Just to give Bush a little credit, while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in 2010, Bush told her "You're asking me to wade back into the swamp." So Trump needs to give Bush a little “thank you” for that phrase.