President Trump opened his first major foreign policy speech and prime time address to the nation on a new Afghanistan strategy by arguing against a hasty withdrawal from America’s longest military conflict.

Speaking at Fort Myer outside Washington, the President opened the door to an increase in the number of U.S. troops on the ground as part of the new regional strategy.  Unlike the previous Obama administration, he did so without telegraphing details of the plan and without imposing any timetables or deadlines.

“My original instinct was to pull out and historically, I like following my instincts” Trump said acknowledging his own initial doubts about the war.

“But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the oval office, in other words, when you’re President of The United States.  So, I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle, “he added.

U.S. Military service personnel listening to the President delivering his Presidential Address to the nation at Fort Myer Military Base in Arlington, VA, Monday 21 August 2017. Credit: REX/Shutterstock

However, the Present also showed his ability to listen to advice from his Generals and National Security Advisors about strengthening America’s ability to prevent the Taliban from ousting the U.S-backed government in Kabul.

The President’s new approach is aimed at preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for Islamist militants bent on attacking the United. In addition to targeting criminals, he leaned harder on India and laid out a tougher approach to U.S. policy towards Pakistan, whom he called out for terrorists.

First Lady Melanie Trump (C), Ivanka Trump (L) and VP Pence listen to the President address the nation at Joint Base Myer, Arlington, VA. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

“We have been paying Pakistan billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.  That will have to change, and that will change immediately.

“To change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan, we can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” he said before adding that there would be no more “blank cheques” from the United States.

Trump did not say how many U.S. troops would be sent, leaving that decision to his generals. Defense Secretary James Mattis plans to send about 4,000 more in addition to the 8,400 currently deployed in Afghanistan.

President Trump delivering his foreign policy address on Afghanistan to the nation at Fort Myers Military Base, Arlington, VA on Monday, 21 August 2017. Credit: AP

Immediately after the address, Secretary Mattis who is in Amman, Jordan, ordered his Chief to start implementing the President’s plan.

“I have directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make preparations to carry out the president’s strategy,” Mattis said in a statement.

“I will be in consultation with the Secretary General of NATO and our allies—several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers,” he added.



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