He may not have yet found the right biblical verse to commend President Donald Trump‘s new Afghanistan strategy, but Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is praising the president for his decision to stick with a conflict he has long opposed.
In a 26-minute address to the nation Monday, Trump alluded to more American troops deploying to Afghanistan, but refused to say how many. He said victory would be well-defined, but outlined only vague benchmarks for success, like dismantling al-Qaida and preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan. He said the U.S. would not offer Afghanistan a “blank check,” but provided no specific timetable for the end of an American commitment that has already lasted 16 years.
The U.S. currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials proposed plans to send in nearly 4,000 more to boost training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.
During the speech, Rubio tweeted his support of Trump’s plan:
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 22, 2017
After a night’s rest, Rubio is even more generous with his comments, commending the Trump administration for “crafting a new strategy for victory in Afghanistan and South Asia that will be based on conditions on the ground, rather than on politics or arbitrary timetables.”
Trump offered up many of the same solutions tried by his predecessors. He vowed to get tough on neighboring Pakistan, to push for reforms in Afghanistan and to moderate ambitions. The U.S. will not be caught in the quagmire of democracy-building abroad, he said, promising a “principled realism” focused only on U.S. interests would guide his decisions.
Rubio said he believes preventing a terrorist safe haven from developing in Afghanistan is worth the cost of prolonged war.
“Our nation’s longest war has been costly in terms of human lives and national treasure, and too many mistakes have been made by both Republican and Democratic administrations,” said Rubio. “Nonetheless, the United States cannot afford to abandon this fight as it relates directly to the heinous terrorist attacks against our nation nearly 16 years ago. Ensuring a stable and functional Afghanistan is in the direct national security interest of the United States and the right thing to do for the American people, the Afghan people, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in this war.”
After Trump’s speech, one headline read: “’UNLIMITED WAR.” Another said: “What Does Victory in Afghanistan Look Like? Washington Doesn’t Know.” Yet Trump is promising nothing short of success.
“The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory,” he said. “They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.