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General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, made the following address at the Pentagon:
“Mr. President, Mrs. Trump, Secretary Mattis, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, and most importantly, to the family and friends of the fallen, and to those gathered here who survived the attack on the Pentagon, good morning.
It’s an honour to join you as we pause to reflect [on] all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. At this ceremony, we are particularly mindful of the 184 who died here in the halls of the Pentagon and aboard Flight 77.
16 years ago when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and as they attempted other attacks in Washington D.C., they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values. The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values, and as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat – but they were wrong.
Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve. Instead of hopelessness, our morning turned into action, and we have strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.
So this morning, as we recall the events of 911, it’s appropriate for those of us still serving to remember and honour those who died, those who continue suffering from injuries, and those left behind. But if we truly want to honour those remembered today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values and the cause of freedom. Each of us will walk away from this simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over, and that further sacrifice will be required; and each of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect our family, friends, and fellow citizens from another 9/11.”
President Trump has spoken today at a 9/11 commemoration at the Pentagon on Monday morning.
Sixteen years ago, Islamic terrorists hijacked four aeroplanes and used them to strike fear into the American people. At 8.46am, American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. Seventeen minutes later, American Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the south tower. By 10.30am, both towers had fallen.
At 9.28am, American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon and started a violent fire. A final flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to retake control of the aeroplane.
By the end of the day, 2,997 people lay dead.
Speaking at the Pentagon, President Trump stated:
“This is an occasion that is extraordinary and it’ll always be extraordinary. Today our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago. On that day not only did the world change but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we faced.”
President Trump continued by praising the American military and vowing to hunt down those who terrorise others:
“In the years after September 11th, more than five million young men and women have joined the ranks of our great military to defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction. American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring, and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we’ve never seen before. But we’re ensuring they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”
President Trump has gone back on his campaign promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and has instead decided to commit more troops the war-torn country. The change in policy came after a months-long campaign by members of the National Security Team to convince the President not to withdraw troops from the country.
The President, who was forced to admit that the office of the Presidency has changed his worldview, said in his Afghanistan speech:
“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every angle. After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and Generals, to complete our strategy. I arrived at three fundamental conclusions about America’s core interests in Afghanistan. Our nation must seek an honourable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made.
The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable… A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists – including ISIS and Al Qaeda – would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.
I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense.”
A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan has responded to Trump’s tweet by stating that “Afghanistan will become another graveyard for the superpower.”
Democrats have expressed their concern with Democrat Congressman from Washington, Adam Smith, criticising it as a copy of the Afghanistan policies adopted by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Smith said in a statement:
“This is not a plan. The President has announced that he is committing to an open-ended war effort in Afghanistan without clearly explaining to the American people or the service members he is sending into harm’s way what he wants and how intends to accomplish his goals. That is inexcusable.”
Similarly, Democratic Senator from Rhodes Island, Jack Reed, the leading Democrat in the Senate Armed Services, has criticised Trump’s policy for being too vague. Reed commented that “the President’s speech was short on the details our troops and the American people deserve.”
President Trump has, however, received support from members of the Republic Party. Republican Congressman for Texas, Mac Thornberry, referred to the policy as a “reasonable way ahead”, whilst John McCain called it a “big step in the right direction.”
President Trump has increased the force of his rhetoric against North Korea, warning the rogue nation that they would “regret it fast” if they kept threatening the US and her allies. Trump tweeted on Friday morning: “military solutions are now in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path.”
Trump told reporters at his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey:
“If he utters one threat in the form of an overt threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”
“I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean. Those words are very easy to understand.”
President Trump has received support from the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball. Others, however, have expressed concern. Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson told MSNBC that he is more concerned with Trump’s rhetoric than with North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
Similarly, German Chancellor has expressed concern:
“I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for. I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer, I see the need for enduring work at the UN Security Council.”
However, North Korea seems to be in a fairly precarious position. The Global Times has warned Pyongyang that China would not resist a US attack on North Korea. In an editorial, the Global Times said:
“China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.”
President Trump’s rhetoric is changing the dynamic of the argument. When North Korea threatened Guam, Trump threatened North Korea. Furthermore, a nuclear reprisal by the US on North Korea would probably wipe the rogue nation off the map.