Back in America, Donald Trump had, as a candidate, preached the virtues of withdrawal. “We should leave Afghanistan immediately,” he had said. The war was “wasting our money,” “a total and complete disaster.” But, once in office, Donald Trump, and a national security team dominated by generals, pressed for escalation. Richard Holbrooke had spent his final days alarmed at the dominance of generals in Obama’s Afghanistan review, but Trump expanded this phenomenon almost to the point of parody. General Mattis as secretary of defense, General H. R. McMaster as national security advisor, and retired general John F. Kelly formed the backbone of the Trump administration’s Afghanistan review. In front of a room full of servicemen and women at Fort Myer Army Base, in Arlington, Virginia, backed by the flags of the branches of the US military, Trump announced that America would double down in Afghanistan. A month later, General Mattis ordered the first of thousands of new American troops into the country. It was a foregone conclusion: the year before Trump entered office, the military had already begun quietly testing public messaging, informing the public that America would be in Afghanistan for decades, not years. After the announcement, the same language cropped up again, this time from Trump surrogates who compared the commitment not to other counterterrorism operations, but to America’s troop commitments in Korea, Germany, and Japan. “We are with you in this fight,” the top general in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, Jr., told an audience of Afghans. “We will stay with you.
Ronan Farrow (War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence)