President Trump’s speech advocating a stepped-up military commitment in Afghanistan won him his first positive reviews from some Republicans in weeks — and a respite from the controversy over his handling of Charlottesville.
“I think I heard a new Trump strategy, or doctrine,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
“I think there’ll be a lot of bipartisan support in Congress for this proposal,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
But the speech was a horror for one portion of Trump’s base — conservatives opposed to military adventurism. Having celebrated when Trump mocked the Bush-era foreign policy consensus, opposing (after the fact) the Iraq War.
“Everybody who voted for Donald Trump hoping that he would reduce the US military’s involvement in foreign wars has been made a fool of,” American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher wrote in a Wednesday morning column. “I’m sorry, but there it is.”
At AntiWar.com, a hub for anti-imperialist libertarians, the Trump speech was received with an arch sort of resignation. “The war party got to him,” wrote AntiWar’s Eric Garris, sharing a 2012 video in which Trump called for America to leave Afghanistan.
“We’ve wasted billions and billions of dollars, and more importantly, thousands and thousands of lives,” the future president said in the video.
For many antiwar conservatives, Trump’s reversal suggested that he had been bent, perhaps for good, by military advisers who had successfully sidelined the administration’s nationalists.
“[Trump] was elected to end America’s involvement in Middle East wars,” wrote Pat Buchanan, whose three runs for president as an America First nationalist presaged Trump’s own run. “If he…