Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump insisted Tuesday he never said going into Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was a mistake and that it was the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was wrong-headed.
“We made a mistake going into Iraq. I’ve never said we made a mistake going into” Afghanistan, he said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Mr. Trump has frequently touted his early opposition to the Iraq War while on the campaign trail.
Asked Tuesday if he thinks it was a mistake to go into Afghanistan, Mr. Trump said: “Do I love it? No. … I think it’s important that we, number one, keep a presence there, and ideally a presence of pretty much what they’re talking about — 5,000 soldiers.”
Earlier this month on the same program, Mr. Trump had been asked specifically about his position on Afghanistan and whether U.S. troops should remain on the ground there to stabilize the situation.
“I wouldn’t totally disagree with it, except, you know, at some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what’s going on? It’s going to be a long time,” Mr. Trump said. “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And it’s a mess. It’s a mess. And at this point, you probably have to because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave. Just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after we leave.”
Mr. Trump said Tuesday, though, that Afghanistan is a “different kettle.”
“Wouldn’t matter — I never said it,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday. “Afghanistan is a different kettle. Afghanistan is next to Pakistan. It’s an entry in, you have to be careful with the nuclear weapons. It’s all about the nuclear weapons. By the way, without the nukes, it’s a whole different ball game. It’s all about the nuclear weapons.”