Trump to get ag­gres­sive in global war on ter­ror

Hon­ors 9/11 vic­tims, troops who lost lives

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Pres­i­dent Trump ob­served his first 9/11 an­niver­sary as com­man­der in chief last week by vow­ing to pur­sue rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists into the dark­est cor­ners of the world, un­der­scor­ing his plans to send po­ten­tially thou­sands more troops to Afghanistan in the hope of sta­bi­liz­ing the coun­try that served as the launch­pad for al Qaeda’s at­tack.

As he hon­ored the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11 and the nearly 7,000 ser­vice mem­bers who have given their lives since then while fight­ing ter­ror­ism around the world, Mr. Trump re­minded Amer­i­cans that he had taken the war and the anti-ter­ror­ism cam­paign in a more ag­gres­sive di­rec­tion.

“We are mak­ing plain to th­ese sav­age killers that there is no dark cor­ner be­yond our reach, no sanc­tu­ary be­yond our grasp and nowhere to hide any­where on this very large earth,” the pres­i­dent said dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Pen­tagon, one of the build­ings hit that day by air­line hi­jack­ers.

“Amer­ica does not bend. We do not wa­ver. And we will never, ever yield,” he said. “So here at this me­mo­rial, with hearts both sad and de­ter­mined, we honor ev­ery hero who keeps us safe and free, and we pledge to work to­gether, to fight to­gether and to over­come to­gether ev­ery en­emy and ob­sta­cle that’s ever in our path.”

An­niver­saries of the at­tacks have brought sim­i­lar words from pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents, in­clud­ing Barack Obama, whom Mr. Trump has said mis­han­dled the ter­ror­ism fight.

The shift in war pol­icy un­der Mr. Trump has been dra­matic: He isn’t look­ing for the exit but is step­ping up the fight in Afghanistan and around the world.

Mr. Trump is au­tho­riz­ing more troops for Afghanistan and putting sup­posed al­lies in Pak­istan on no­tice that the U.S. will no longer tol­er­ate a blind eye to ter­ror­ism in the re­gion.

Shut­ting down safe havens for rad­i­cal Is­lamic mil­i­tants is as cru­cial to de­feat­ing the Tal­iban as send­ing more U.S. troops to sup­port the Afghan mil­i­tary, anti-ter­ror­ism an­a­lysts say.

As many as 4,000 more troops are ex­pected to be de­ployed to train and as­sist the Afghan mil­i­tary to take more Tal­iban strongholds and hold the ter­ri­tory.

The troop lev­els have not been pub­licly an­nounced, in keep­ing with Mr. Trump’s stated pol­icy of not an­nounc­ing mil­i­tary plans.

Mr. Trump also has in­creased pres­sure on Arab coun­tries to crack down on ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing within their bor­ders, an­other is­sue that has been dis­cussed for years but never ac­com­plished.

Back­ers of the strat­egy credit Mr. Trump with re­plac­ing 16 one-year strate­gies with a com­pre­hen­sive, goal-ori­ented plan that will keep U.S. troops on the ground to ce­ment long-term gains and wear down Tal­iban forces. The goals are to pre­vent Afghanistan from pro­vid­ing safe haven for anti-U.S. ter­ror­ist plots and to stop it from desta­bi­liz­ing the re­gion.

James Jay Carafano, a na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy scholar at The Her­itage Foun­da­tion, com­pared the long-term strat­egy to the sta­bi­liz­ing pres­ence of U.S. forces in Europe af­ter World War II.

“The ques­tion is. ‘When is it go­ing to end?’ The an­swer is, ‘Prob­a­bly not any­time soon,’” he said. “Our troops may be there for years, but I ar­gue that if you look at what we are ty­ing to achieve and the ben­e­fit we get out of it, it’s worth sus­tain­ing.”

Crit­ics of the short-on-details plan that Mr. Trump an­nounced Aug. 21 said it wasn’t a strat­egy at all — just a pro­long­ing of the long­est war in U.S. his­tory.

“This was a po­lit­i­cal rather than strate­gic de­ci­sion,” said Michael C. Desch, di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity Cen­ter at Notre Dame Univer­sity.

He said Mr. Trump, who as a can­di­date talked about end­ing the U.S. role as the world’s po­lice­man, has been co-opted by hawk­ish gen­er­als and es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans.

“Dur­ing [the] cam­paign and early in his ad­min­is­tra­tion, Pres­i­dent Trump evinced a recog­ni­tion that our ef­forts there were fail­ing and may have re­flected the dif­fi­culty of na­tion-build­ing in a per­pet­u­ally failed state. In the last few months, how­ever, and in the face of a united front pre­sented by his mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers, he has re­luc­tantly tacked back to the es­tab­lish­ment pol­icy of re­in­forc­ing fail­ure, agree­ing to a mod­est in­crease of U.S. forces there,” Mr. Desch said.

At the 9/11 cer­e­mony, Mr. Trump re­mem­bered those killed 16 years ago at the Pen­tagon, the World Trade Cen­ter and in a field in Penn­syl­va­nia, and he shared in their fam­i­lies’ grief.

“Though we can never erase your pain or bring back those you lost, we can honor their sac­ri­fice by pledg­ing our re­solve to do what­ever we must to keep our peo­ple safe,” said Mr. Trump, the first New Yorker to oc­cupy the White House since the hor­rific at­tacks shook that city.

“On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face,” he said.

Mr. Trump, a bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man, has taken crit­i­cism for his im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the at­tacks in 2001, in­clud­ing his fail­ure to make a siz­able con­tri­bu­tion to 9/11 char­i­ties.

He also has been faulted for say­ing in a TV in­ter­view on the day of the at­tack that the col­lapse of the World Trade Cen­ter tow­ers made his prop­erty at 40 Wall St., known as the Trump Build­ing, once again the tallest build­ing in New York.

His de­fend­ers said it was just “Don­ald be­ing Don­ald” — al­ways pro­mot­ing his brand.

As pres­i­dent, how­ever, he pro­moted Amer­ica.

“In that hour of dark­ness, we also came to­gether with re­newed pur­pose. Our dif­fer­ences never looked so small. Our com­mon bonds never felt so strong,” he said at the Pen­tagon. “The sac­ri­fice grounds on which we stand to­day are a mon­u­ment to our na­tional unity and to our strength.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Pres­i­dent Trump spoke at the Pen­tagon on the 16th an­niver­sary of the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks .

West Vir­ginia Na­tional Guard Staff Sgt. Sean Ruth (cen­ter) lost his fa­ther, Army Chief War­rant Of­fi­cer Ford, on 9/11, and came to the Pen­tagon Me­mo­rial to honor him.

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