Trump’s ‘America First’ Base Unhappy with Flip-Flop Afghanistan Speech

Trump Afghanistan Speech NICHOLAS KAMMAFPGetty Images

President Trump’s “America First” base was the biggest loser of Trump’s speech on Afghanistan Monday night, and many quickly expressed their disappointment at the business-as-usual address from the president who had once promised to limit American intervention abroad and focus on nation-building at home.

Trump’s speech, in which he pledged to increase the number of troops in the 16-year-war, was the first since the departure of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and confirmed the fears of many on the right that without a strong nationalist voice in the West Wing, the President would revert to the same old fare that Americans had voted to reject in November.

Using many of the same vague promises that previous presidents had used, including a repeat of Obama’s promise not to give a “blank check” to Afghanistan and a pledge to finally get tough on Pakistan, it was a far cry from the “America First” foreign policy he laid out in the months before election day.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who had been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump during the campaign and penned a book called In Trump we Trust, summed up the weariness of the nationalist right when she tweeted: “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. The military-industrial complex wins.”   

Even Trump himself admitted he had flip-flopped on his foreign policy, saying in the address that his original instinct was to pull out of the country, but that he had been convinced otherwise.

On Fox News, which has traditionally been supportive of military escapades, the reaction was mixed. While on-air the reception was broadly positive, other commentators weren’t convinced. Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes accused the president of changing his campaign promise from “America First” to “Afghanistan First.”

Other right-wingers also reacted negatively to the speech, noting what a contrast the new plan is from Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail.

Radio host Stefan Molyneux contrasted Trump’s speech with statements he had made on Twitter on Afghanistan before.

Filmmaker and author Mike Cernovich sarcastically offered his congratulations to “President McMaster” and “General Jared,” referring to Trump’s national security adviser and senior adviser respectively.

Even moderate conservatives struggled to drum up enthusiasm for Trump’s policy, with right-leaning Washington Post reporter Robert Costa giving a luke-warm reception to the plan.

Costa noted, in particular, the contrast between some of the rhetoric from Trump, and the plan itself, tweeting: “Trump is echoing many of the points Bannon made behind the scenes. But he has gone along w/ a version of McMaster-Mattis plan.”

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter:  @AdamShawNY


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