Tonight at 9:00 pm, Trump will address the nation, unveiling the administration's "New Path Forward" for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia as discussed yesterday. While we will have a more thorough preview shortly, moments ago the key highlights of the upcoming speech were leaked online courtesy of Fox News' Jennifer Griffin, and are as follows:
- The president has signed off on 4,000 more US troops to Afghanistan; not clear he will talk numbers tonight. No talk of withdrawal.
- In speech tonight Pres Trump will ask "region to do more," will ask "India and Pakistan to do more to bring Taliban to negotiating table.
- Trump strategy to include negotiating w/ Taliban. In past Qatar negotiations failed because Pres Obama announced troop withdrawals: US official
Of the items above, the key one is of course, the deployment of another 4,000 troops which however was to be expected, as noted yesterday that "anyone harboring any hope that with two generals whispering strategy in Trump's ear, and with anti-interventionist Bannon out of the picture, that Trump will announce an accelerated withdrawal of US troops from the war-battered country, should probably not hold their breath."
The new deployment was also discussed over two months ago in "Pentagon To Send 4,000 Troops To Afghanistan In Trump's Largest Deployment Yet", however that particular deployment had been put on hold as long as Bannon was Trump's chief advisor. In light of the latest White House shake up, it was only a matter of time before Trump greenlighted the escalation that his general advisors had been urging for months. The "time" in question was exactly 48 hours since Bannon's departure.