Sometimes all it takes is a woman in a short skirt — or at least that’s what it reportedly took to convince President Donald Trump to send more United States troops to fight in Afghanistan.
Trump has been musing options on how the U.S. should proceed in the embattled Middle Eastern nation since he took office in January and his decision to increase troop numbers in the region is a marked turnaround from his earlier views that the U.S. should pull out entirely.
So what did it take to change the mind of a president who in 2013 said, “we should leave Afghanistan immediately,” calling the 16-year conflict “a total disaster” that is “wasting our money?”
It took a black-and-white photo from 1972 of women walking through Kabul in mini skirts, according to a Washington Post report.
H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser and a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, showed the president the photo in a reported attempt to prove to Trump that Western norms could exist in Afghanistan in hopes that would persuade him to recommit to the war.
Trump had been weighing a few options on how to proceed including privatizing the military effort, firing the current military commander and pulling out altogether, before he ultimately announced on Monday that the U.S. would be augmenting troops.
“This has been many months in the making,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. “The hallmark of leadership is a deliberative process, not an impulsive reaction, and that is precisely the protocol he followed here.”
McMaster initially advocated sending tens of thousands of troops to aid the already 8,400 fighting in Afghanistan. Trump has instead opted for a more modest troop increase — The New York Times estimated roughly 4,000 more troops could be sent overseas.
In his address Monday night, Trump offered his reasoning for his change of heart in how to handle Afghanistan.
“My original instinct was to pull out, and, historically, I like following my instincts,” Trump said in a televised address Monday. “But all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”