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President Trump changes course in Afghanistan

President Trump addresses the nation Monday night

WASHINGTON, D.C. – “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Those were the words of President Donald J. Trump Monday night as he outlined a new course of action in war-torn Afghanistan, where America has been embroiled in a war for most of this century, ever since the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson outlined the plan in a statement describing the United States’ engagement in South Asia:

This evening, President Trump announced the new integrated strategy for the U.S. approach to South Asia that will require diplomatically engaging Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to create the conditions for stability in the region.

This new strategy signals clear support for the Afghan people and government. We will continue to support the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against terrorists and prevent the reestablishment of safe havens in the country.

Our new strategy breaks from previous approaches that set artificial calendar-based deadlines. We are making clear to the Taliban that they will not win on the battlefield. The Taliban has a path to peace and political legitimacy through a negotiated political settlement to end the war.

We stand ready to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban without preconditions. We look to the international community, particularly Afghanistan’s neighbors, to join us in supporting an Afghan peace process.

Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism and can be an important partner in our shared goals of peace and stability in the region. We look to Pakistan to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region. It is vital to U.S. interests that Afghanistan and Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries.

India will be an important partner in the effort to ensure peace and stability in the region, and we welcome its role in supporting Afghanistan’s political and economic modernization.

Later Monday evening, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst also released a statement:


As a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I do not take lightly the decision to commit America’s young men and women to conflict. Unfortunately, the reality is this: arbitrary timelines, troop levels, and an overall lack of strategy from the previous Administration has created an environment in Afghanistan where 20 of the world’s international terror networks reside, the Taliban is resurging, and the region is vulnerable to the malign influence of Iran and Russia. As Secretary James Mattis recently described, “we are not winning in Afghanistan.”Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable to our national security and unacceptable to our troops and their families.

Tonight the President outlined his vision for a new strategy in Afghanistan – one which prioritizes the need for increased cooperation with regional partners such as Pakistan and India.

Now is not the time to abandon our fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, its people or our international partners. Instead, we must once again lead from a position of strength. Therefore, moving forward, I am committed to both guaranteeing our servicemembers are well-equipped for combat, while also holding the Department of Defense and the Administration accountable for ensuring the effectiveness of this strategy.

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