Breitbart News issued a scathing response to Donald Trump’s , accusing the president of becoming little more than a puppet of generals in the White House after he pledged to boost troop levels to try to counter the growing strength of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.
Trump to expand US military intervention in Afghanistan
One on the far-right news site, which has been re-energized as the de facto mouthpiece of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, was aimed at a familiar target, the president’s national security adviser: “His McMaster’s Voice: is Trump’s Afghanistan policy that different from Obama’s?”
, a year after he left Breitbart to supervise Trump’s surge to the White House on a tide of populist, nationalist and isolationist opinion.
On Monday night, Breitbart also made sarcastic reference to “President McMaster” and “General Jared [Kushner]” and that Trump’s support base would be the “biggest loser” from the switch in strategy, which it called a clear “flip-flop” that contradicted a campaign pledge to limit US intervention abroad.
Trump’s speech represented the triumph of the Washington “swamp”, meaning the Republican political establishment, editor Raheem Kassam wrote. The speech, according to a report by Adam Shaw, “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”.
Erik Prince, the founder of the military contractor formerly known as Blackwater and a proponent of a to privatize US involvement in central Asia, the troop increase proved that the “presidency by its nature lives in a bubble”.
“When you fill it with former general officers, you’re going to get that stream of advice,” he said. “And so tonight, I would predict, sadly, that we will hear more of the same of the last 16 years and, sadly, exactly what the president campaigned against last year in the presidential election.”
Outside the purlieus of Breitbart, the conservative commentator Ann Coulter continued the theme in a : “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. The military-industrial complex wins.”
Breitbart drew attention to parallels with previous presidents’ promises to end the 16-year Afghan conflict – including, it said, Barack Obama’s vow not to give a “blank check” to the war.
In his speech, Trump acknowledged that his new plan was a departure from his earlier position but said the new approach was “principled realism” broadly in keeping with his “America First” beliefs.
Why Trump's Afghanistan strategy risks the worst of both worlds
The president said he shared “the American people’s frustration” over the conflict. But he also said he shared “their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money – and, most importantly, lives – trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations”.
That was not enough to placate Breitbart’s editorial writers. Kassam said it was clear who had influenced the speech’s “neoconservative bent”.
“HR McMaster’s voice was clear to hear,” he wrote. “It’s a voice that appears to have been carried over from the George W Bush administration, and even the Obama White House.”
The decision to commit more resources to the nation’s longest war, Breitbart said, offered only one conclusion: Trump was no longer listening to the architects of “America First”.
“This isn’t about changing his perspective on the war,” Kassam wrote. “POTUS is a remarkably astute and stubborn individual. This was about the swamp getting to him.”