President Donald Trump on Monday night announced his administration’s plan for the war in Afghanistan, but only after Trump angrily questioned military leaders over their proposals and moved past staff infighting over what his approach should be.
Presented with plans to send additional troops into Afghanistan in July, Trump furiously grilled national security officials on the proposal, the New York Times reported.
“We’re losing,” Trump said, according to an anonymous person in the room who spoke with the Times. “What does success look like?”
Trump’s initial resistance to increasing troops in Afghanistan, combined with a sharp divide among his top aides, delayed his decision on a strategy for months, the Washington Post reported.
While National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster backed the plan to increase troops, since-ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon vehemently opposed that proposal, per the Post. After Defense Secretary James Mattis sided with McMaster, Breitbart News launched a campaign against the national security adviser, which only irked more administration staff members, per the Post.
During the aides’ battle for Trump’s support, McMaster showed Trump a photograph from 1972 of Afghan women walking through Kabul in miniskirts to prove that it was possible for the country to adopt Western norms, the newspaper reported.
Chief of staff John Kelly eventually forced Trump to make a decision, calling a meeting at Camp David last Friday to finalize an approach in Afghanistan, per the Post.