Carper Statement on President Trump’s Afghanistan Speech

WILMINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) issued the following statement this evening after President Trump addressed the nation to announce his strategy for our country’s engagement in Afghanistan.

“This evening, President Trump opened his address by calling to end hate in America. His words were overdue, but I applaud them nonetheless. I regret that this spirit of kindness and respect was nowhere to be found his public statements and tweets about the tragedy in Charlottesville.

“The president’s address, however, outlined a way forward for our country’s engagement in Afghanistan. While it’s important for our president to articulate military and diplomatic strategy to the American people, his speech was heavy on what we need to do but light on how to do it.

“The president and I agree on a number of issues: the need to shift our strategy away from a time-based approach to a strategy based on conditions on the ground; the need for a regional approach to the Afghanistan problem that integrates all the tools of American power; the need to continue to work with allies; and, finally, the need to provide our troops with the support they require to be successful. Part of doing that is keeping in place General Nicholson, a well-respected leader, as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan – a man the president appeared to be ready to replace earlier this summer.

“Having said that, I remain concerned with several unclear and misleading statements made by President Trump tonight. How do we reconcile true sentiments from the president that military might alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan with his comments that we are not in Afghanistan to nation-build but simply to kill terrorists? Moreover, while we should always endeavor to learn the lessons of Iraq as the president suggested, we didn’t just decide to pack up and leave there a number of years ago. The Iraqi government essentially asked U.S. forces to leave their country, and we did.

“Ultimately, I fear President Trump’s speech tonight, which was supposed to give our country direction and our people peace of mind, may have raised almost as many questions in some respects as it answered.”