U.S. Army Soldiers of 101 Airborne Division 1st Battalion, Bush Masters (TF No Slack), assisted by Afghan National Army troops move into an over watch position during operation Strong Eagle 2, July 19. (public domain image via Flickr Creative Commons https://goo.gl/Q4HDVg)
A lot of Trump supporters were left scratching their heads last night as their non-interventionist candidate became a neocon supporter of the Afghanistan war… or something.
Well, according to the Washington Post, it took quite a bit of convincing to get the President on board with the strategy announced last night. However, when all else failed, national security adviser H.R. McMaster made a desperate play that paid off in the end.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) August 22, 2017
But since becoming president, he has faced a different set of opinions. Defense Secretary Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both generals with extensive battlefield experience in Afghanistan, warned Trump about the consequences of withdrawal and cautioned that any move in Afghanistan would have ripple effects throughout the region.
One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.
Now, let’s be fair, the intent of the tweet and the intent of McMaster’s ploy are two different things. The tweet very clearly tries to say “Noted womanizer Donald Trump needed pictures of Afghan women in skirts to get on board,” whereas McMaster’s ploy seems to have been to express to Trump how Afghanistan was once a much freer society.
Was Trump’s past with women a motivator for this tactic? Maybe, maybe not. But, the out-of-context tweet does not tell the full story – as tweets often don’t.
But, the fact of the matter is that Trump’s shift is a big shift from the campaign trail, and it is interesting to figure out how they managed to sway him on the issue.