A Wall Street Journal editorial published Friday ripped into President Donald Trump for comments he made about the Soviet Union’s decade-long war in Afghanistan, blasting his “reprehensible” recollection of the conflict and his “slander” of U.S. allies.
The editorial referred to comments made by Trump during a meandering 90-minute meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, where Trump belittled the role of U.S. allies in the Middle East, accusing them of sending minimal resources to back up U.S. troops in comparison to the American presence there.
“What other countries have done for the last long period of time is give us some soldiers and then talk about it like it’s the end of the world, and we’re subsidizing their militaries by billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Trump said, claiming the efforts were meant to appease previous U.S. presidents so they could say American allies were fighting alongside the U.S. in an increasingly unpopular war.
“This mockery is a slander against every ally that has supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan with troops who fought and often died,” the Journal’s editorial said, citing the more than 450 British soldiers who have been killed there.
Just as “reprehensible,” the Journal’s editorial board noted, “was Mr. Trump’s utterly false narrative of the Soviet Union’s involvement” in Afghanistan.
In Wednesday’s meeting, Trump made the bizarre claim that in 1979, “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia,” positing that the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan was a major reason for its collapse.
Trump’s retelling of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan have been strongly disputed by historians, who say that the invasion was an attempt to prop up the communist regime and compete with the U.S. in the region. But the Journal’s editorial board was especially peeved by Trump’s assertion that Russia was “right to be there” in Afghanistan, a statement that breaks with the longstanding U.S. government view of the Soviet invasion.
“We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President,” they wrote.
The Journal, which is owned by Trump ally Rupert Murdoch, has been occasionally critical of the president for his remarks in the past. But the right-leaning editorial board has rarely taken such eviscerating shots at the president, whose “cracked history” they wrote “can’t alter that reality” of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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