‘Time to come home!’: Trump’s tweets reveal a strong opinion on the Afghanistan war before he became president

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump, who has settled on a new military strategy in Afghanistan, is scheduled to outline the approach in a prime-time speech on Monday.

Reports Monday suggested Trump is expected to announce the deployment of several thousand more troops to the war-torn country after months of heated internal discussions. Such a move would mark a dramatic turn from his sentiments before he became president.

In June, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis was given the go-ahead to send almost 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan to support both Afghani and US forces. However, Mattis refused to deploy more troops before a broader strategy had been formalized by Trump’s administration.

Trump’s choice to embark on a broader strategy of deeper involvement — a decision he said was made after a meeting at Camp David with Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defence Secretary James Mattis and other top White House advisers — marks a divergence from his previous views on the matter.

Trump often took to Twitter as a private citizen to bitterly criticise President Barack Obama’s policies in the region and urge the administration to pull forces out of Afghanistan, which has constituted the longest war in US history.

Here’s a sampling of his past tweets on the matter: 

As a candidate, Trump’s platform centered on reducing US foreign military involvement to focus on American interests and national security — an approach characterised by his “America First” foreign policy platform. 

Recently ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon long opposed sending in more military forces and advocated for private contractors to take over security efforts, rather than deploy more troops. However, the retired generals in Trump’s immediate orbit — Kelly, Mattis and McMaster — did not approve of outsourcing such a core government function to a private security firm. Like many of the administration’s stalled policy efforts, the decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan was settled after months of infighting. 

Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor at George Washington University, predicted Trump would struggle to find the deal he so desperately seeks in the region.

“There isn’t any way out of making a choice between unappealing options at this point. That’s just the way grown-up, real-life policy works,” he said, according to Foreign Policy.