Okay, so it wasn’t the most articulate statement, but the president of the United States correctly said that the USSR lost their empire fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980s — which is true, as well has been the traditional conservative Republican narrative since 1991. Trump then warns that the U.S.A. is making the same mistake. (In my book I show that baiting the U.S. into invading and occupying Afghanistan was bin Laden’s purpose in attacking us in the first place.)
“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally, they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia because of Afghanistan.”
Media attacks: God, what an idiot he is for getting this right, they agree, mostly deliberately missing the point and spinning it as an endorsement of the Soviet invasion of 1979, rather than a lesson for Americans from the Russians’ folly.
Trump was clearly bluffing/guessing at the part where he described the USSR’s reasons for invading in 1979 — but that was one stupid throwaway line that was completely beside the point he was making about the Afghan war helping to break the Soviet Union’s bank.
That’s why the Carter administration launched the project in the first place.
But his missed wild guess on the history of the start of the war got all the attention, of course.
More importantly, Trump today took exactly the right approach in blaming Mattis for a lack of results a year and a half after giving in to the secretary’s demand for the doubling of troops there. Bush, Obama and failed generals like McChrystal and Mattis are in fact to blame. The president should get U.S. forces out of Afghanistan immediately.
By the way, here’s Robert Kaplan in the Post yesterday, complaining that the U.S. is fighting the Russians’ war for them there now. What a kook, right?
Update: Here’s Hillary Clinton testifying that the CIA-mujahideen war of the 1980s led directly to the fall of the USSR: “They retreated. They lost billions of dollars. And it led to the fall of the Soviet Union. … It wasn’t a bad investment to end the Soviet Union.”