What Trump said about Afghanistan before he became president

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump could announce Monday night that he is boosting American troop levels in Afghanistan.
  • As a candidate and well before he ran for president, Trump criticized the conflict and pushed for it to end.
A U.S. soldier in Afghanistan
Lucas Jackson | Reuters

President Donald Trump railed against U.S. troop engagement in Afghanistan as a candidate. During Trump's nationally televised speech Monday night, Americans will find out where he stands on the nation's longest war.

The U.S. may decide to send nearly 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan forces in the ongoing counterterrorism fight against the Taliban and an affiliate of the Islamic State group, according to The Associated Press.

Trump's decision on whether to ramp up engagement in the 16-year-old conflict is a crucial one. He won the White House in part on a policy of reducing engagement in foreign conflicts. President Barack Obama pledged to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were still ongoing when he left office, despite an overall drawdown in troops.

Trump was not interested in the prospect of boosting troop levels in the years before he became president.

On Twitter — the president's most frequent outlet for communication — he started calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan as early as 2011 and continued that push as a candidate. In at least a dozen tweets, Trump criticized the war, sometimes urging Obama to pull out American troops. In other instances, he called the effort a waste of money or of American lives.

Five years ago to the day Monday, Trump called Afghanistan "a complete waste." He added: "Time to come home!"

Trump: Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!

In a March 2013 tweet, he said the U.S. "should leave Afghanistan immediately."

"No more wasted lives," Trump tweeted. "If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first."

Trump: We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.

Here are just a few of his other tweets criticizing the conflict:

Trump: Let's get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.

Trump: I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!

Trump: We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let's get out!

Trump: Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on this article.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report