House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other top Democrats slammed President Trump on Monday for failing to offer much detail about the path forward in America’s longest war and for setting up an open-ended commitment with “no accountability to the American people.”
“Tonight, the President said he knew what he was getting into and had a plan to go forward,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday. “Clearly, he did not. The President’s announcement is low on details but raises serious questions.”
Despite promising to withdraw from the country, Trump said that he now believes that would lead to a “predictable and unacceptable” power vacuum.
“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for future military activities,” Trump said. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.”
“America’s enemies must never know our plans. . . I will not say when we will attack, but attack we will.”
In her statement, Pelosi hit Trump for flip-flopping on his original position where he said “we have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan” and “let’s get out!”
“The American people need to know more about the President’s plans and conditions,” she added. “To what extent is there a comprehensive strategy, including an exit strategy for finally bringing America’s heroes home? Congress looks forward to a comprehensive briefing on the troop increase and overall strategy as soon as possible.”
Several other Democrats criticized Trump’s prime-time address.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the speech was “short on the details our troops and the American people deserve.”
“I know Americans are weary of the war in Afghanistan,” Reed said. “President Trump has a duty to set a clear strategy for Afghanistan. Tonight’s speech is a long overdue step, but more important will be the details and an accompanying commitment by this President going forward.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, said that Trump’s speech was “terribly lacking.”
“Lacking in details, lacking in substance and lacking in a vision of what success in Afghanistan looks like,” she said. “When committing American service members overseas, the Commander in Chief needs to clearly define the mission and a strategy to achieve success. Until he can do that, expecting service members to fight and possibly die in Afghanistan is a disservice to their sacrifice.”
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a House Armed Services Committee member, said the speech was full of “vague promises and wishful thinking.”
“Tonight, the American people should have heard a detailed, realistic strategy with achievable objectives and measurable benchmarks,” he said. “A plan that took this dysfunctional administration seven months to finalize is surprisingly short on new thinking and new ideas and will serve only to perpetuate a dangerous status quo.”
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic Caucus Chairman, said the address shows Trump “has no strategy” for ending the war.
“Tonight, I had hoped for firm details on how the White House plans to extract the U.S. from this volatile region, while still protecting American interests,” he said. “Instead, we were presented with a vague plan that will likely leave American troops in combat for years to come.”