National Address
Speech from August 21, 2017

Policy Summary

On Monday, August 21st, President Trump spoke at Fort Myer, Virginia about future U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. He committed to victory in the region, ultimately defeating the terrorist organizations which operate in the country –including ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. While President Trump did not enumerate specific policies –claiming that providing details aids the enemy– national security staffers said there would be an increase of around 4,000 troops. This would bring the troop total to around 15,000 in a country the United States has been engaged with for almost 16 years. ACCESS THE FULL SPEECH HERE


President Trump missed the mark on almost every tenet of this speech. First, he looked unnatural as he read from a teleprompter, clearly hoping to look presidential in his address crafted by the national security team. President Trump contradicted his former instincts about Afghanistan, previously calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops. The speech criticized Pakistan and vaguely threatened India but made no mention of a huge player in the region: China. Beyond these relatively minor mistakes, the entire pith of the plan followed poor international logic. He failed to mention our victory conditions, something which consistently injures American prospects at peace, and the idea of a military win in the Middle East is archaic and misguided. The President’s insistence on leaving out the details leaves the United States with a lot of unanswered questions, and while this plan is better than the short-guided blunder of immediate withdrawal, President Trump once again closed the door on diplomacy for the political convenience of military strength.

Engagement Resources

This brief was compiled by Jacob Malinowski. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact



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