America First? Trump Struggles to Implement Campaign Promises on Military

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised a radically different approach to foreign intervention than that of his predecessors.

At campaign events, Trump railed against U.S. military intervention so frequently that it eventually became a part of his stump speech.

We’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, Trump repeatedly lamented. We could have rebuilt our country twice.

In his first year as president, Pentagon data suggests Trump has struggled to carry out his America First approach to the world, at least when it comes to the use of force.

Instead, Trump has sent more U.S. troops to conflict zones in the Middle East and South Asia. He’s dropped more bombs on Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. And he’s expanded a global campaign of targeted drone killings.

Add it all up, and it’s hard to see how Trump’s foreign policy is any less interventionist than his predecessors. If anything, Trump’s policies are a little more hawkish than those of Barack Obama, says Christopher Preble, with the CATO Institute.

He’s largely continued what he’s inherited, with some additional increment of the use of force, says Preble.

Doubling down in Afghanistan

Perhaps no conflict exemplifies Trump’s approach more than Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been fighting Taliban insurgents for 16 years.

Before becoming president, Trump was a regular critic of the war, calling it a waste of lives and money and demanding an immediate withdrawal.

Source: Voice of America