President Trump – Presidential Address to the Nation on Afghanistan

President Trump – Presidential Address to the Nation on Afghanistan

Terrorists take heed –  America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat.

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The President –  Vice President Pence,

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Secretary of State Tillerson,

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members of the Cabinet, General Dunford,

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Deputy Secretary Shanahan,

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and Colonel Duggan.

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Most especially, thank you to the men

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and women of Fort Myer

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and every member of the United States

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military at home and abroad.

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We send our thoughts and prayers

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to the families of our brave sailors

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who were injured and lost

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after a tragic collision at sea,

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as well as to those conducting

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the search and recovery efforts.

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I am here tonight to lay out our path forward

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in Afghanistan and South Asia.

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But before I provide the details

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of our new strategy,

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I want to say a few words

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to the servicemembers here with us tonight,

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to those watching from their posts,

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and to all Americans listening at home.

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Since the founding of our republic,

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our country has produced a special class of heroes

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whose selflessness, courage,

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and resolve is unmatched in human history.

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American patriots from every generation

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have given their last breath on the battlefield

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for our nation

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and for our freedom.

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Through their lives —

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and though their lives were cut short,

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in their deeds they achieved

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total immortality.

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By following the heroic example of those

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who fought to preserve our republic,

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we can find the inspiration

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our country needs to unify, to heal,

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and to remain one nation under God.

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The men and women of our military operate

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as one team,

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with one shared mission,

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and one shared sense of purpose.

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They transcend every line of race,

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ethnicity, creed,

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and color to serve together —

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and sacrifice together —

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in absolutely perfect cohesion.

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That is because all servicemembers

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are brothers and sisters.

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They’re all part of the same family;

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it’s called the American family.

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They take the same oath, fight for the same flag,

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and live according to the same law.

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They are bound together by common purpose,

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mutual trust,

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and selfless devotion to our nation

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and to each other.

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The soldier understands what we, as a nation,

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too often forget that a wound

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inflicted upon a single member of our community

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is a wound inflicted upon us all.

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When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.

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And when one citizen suffers an injustice,

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we all suffer together.

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Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty

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to one another.

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Love for America

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requires love for all of its people.

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When we open our hearts to patriotism,

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there is no room for prejudice,

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no place for bigotry,

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and no tolerance for hate.

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The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad

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deserve to return to a country

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that is not at war with itself at home.

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We cannot remain a force for peace in the world

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if we are not at peace with each other.

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As we send our bravest

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to defeat our enemies overseas —

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and we will always win —

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let us find the courage

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to heal our divisions within.

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Let us make a simple promise to the men

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and women we ask to fight in our name that,

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when they return home from battle,

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they will find a country

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that has renewed

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the sacred bonds of love and loyalty

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that unite us together as one.

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Thanks to the vigilance and skill

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of the American military

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and of our many allies throughout the world,

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horrors on the scale of September 11th —

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and nobody can ever forget that —

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have not been repeated on our shores.

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But we must also acknowledge

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the reality I am here to talk about tonight –

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that nearly 16 years after September 11th attacks,

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after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure,

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the American people are weary of war

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without victory.

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Nowhere is this more evident

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than with the war in Afghanistan,

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the longest war in American history —

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17 years.

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I share the American people s frustration.

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I also share their frustration

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over a foreign policy

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that has spent too much time, energy, money,

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and most importantly lives,

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trying to rebuild countries

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in our own image,

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instead of pursuing our security interests

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above all other considerations.

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That is why, shortly after my inauguration,

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I directed Secretary of Defense Mattis

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and my national security team

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to undertake a comprehensive review

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of all strategic options in Afghanistan

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and South Asia.

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My original instinct was to pull out —

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and, historically, I like following my instincts.

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But all my life I’ve heard

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that decisions are much different

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when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office;

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in other words,

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when you’re President of the United States.

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So I studied Afghanistan in great detail

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and from every conceivable angle.

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After many meetings, over many months,

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we held our final meeting last Friday

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at Camp David,

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with my Cabinet and generals,

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to complete our strategy.

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I arrived at three fundamental conclusions

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about America s core interests in Afghanistan.

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First, our nation must seek an honorable

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and enduring outcome

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worthy of the tremendous sacrifices

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that have been made,

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especially the sacrifices of lives.

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The men and women who serve our nation

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in combat deserve a plan for victory.

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They deserve the tools they need,

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and the trust they have earned,

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to fight and to win.

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Second, the consequences of a rapid exit

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are both predictable and unacceptable.

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9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history,

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was planned and directed from Afghanistan

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because that country was ruled by a government

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that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.

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A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum

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that terrorists,

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including ISIS and al Qaeda,

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would instantly fill,

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just as happened before September 11th.

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And, as we know, in 2011,

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America hastily

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and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq.

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As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back

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into the hands of terrorist enemies.

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Our soldiers watched as cities

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they had fought for,

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and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied

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by a terrorist group called ISIS.

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The vacuum we created by leaving too soon

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gave safe haven for ISIS to spread,

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to grow, recruit, and launch attacks.

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We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake

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our leaders made in Iraq.

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Third and finally, I concluded

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that the security threats

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we face in Afghanistan

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and the broader region are immense.

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Today, 20 U.S.-designated

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foreign terrorist organizations

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are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan —

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the highest concentration in any region

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anywhere in the world.

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For its part,

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Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos,

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violence, and terror.

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The threat is worse because

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Pakistan and India

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are two nuclear-armed states

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whose tense relations

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threaten to spiral into conflict.

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And that could happen.

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No one denies that we have inherited

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a challenging and troubling situation

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in Afghanistan and South Asia,

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but we do not have the luxury

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of going back in time

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and making different or better decisions.

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When I became President,

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I was given a bad and very complex hand,

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but I fully knew what I was getting into –

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big and intricate problems.

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But, one way or another,

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these problems will be solved —

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I’m a problem solver —

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and, in the end, we will win.

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We must address the reality of the world

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as it exists right now — the threats we face,

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and the confronting of all of the problems

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of today,

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and extremely predictable consequences

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of a hasty withdrawal.

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We need look no further than last week’s vile,

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vicious attack in Barcelona to understand

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that terror groups will stop at nothing to commit

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the mass murder of innocent men,

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women and children.

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You saw it for yourself.

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Horrible.

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As I outlined in my speech

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in Saudi Arabia three months ago,

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America and our partners are committed

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to stripping terrorists of their territory,

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cutting off their funding,

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and exposing the false allure

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of their evil ideology.

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Terrorists who slaughter innocent people

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will find no glory in this life or the next.

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They are nothing but thugs,

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and criminals, and predators,

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and — that’s right — losers.

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Working alongside our allies,

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we will break their will, dry up their recruitment,

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keep them from crossing our borders,

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and yes, we will defeat them,

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and we will defeat them handily.

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In Afghanistan and Pakistan,

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America’s interests are clear –

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We must stop the resurgence of safe havens

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that enable terrorists to threaten America,

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and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials

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from coming into the hands of terrorists

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and being used against us,

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or anywhere in the world for that matter.

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But to prosecute this war,

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we will learn from history.

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As a result of our comprehensive review,

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American strategy in Afghanistan

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and South Asia

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will change dramatically in the following ways –

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A core pillar of our new strategy

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is a shift from a time-based approach

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to one based on conditions.

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I’ve said it many times

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how counterproductive it is

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for the United States to announce in advance

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the dates we intend to begin,

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or end, military options.

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We will not talk about numbers of troops

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or our plans for further military activities.

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Conditions on the ground —

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not arbitrary timetables —

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will guide our strategy from now on.

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America’s enemies must never know our plans

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or believe they can wait us out.

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I will not say when we are going to attack,

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but attack we will.

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Another fundamental pillar

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of our new strategy

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is the integration of all instruments

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of American power —

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diplomatic, economic, and military —

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toward a successful outcome.

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Someday, after an effective

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military effort,

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perhaps it will be possible

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to have a political settlement

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that includes elements

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of the Taliban in Afghanistan,

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but nobody knows if or when

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that will ever happen.

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America will continue its support

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for the Afghan government

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and the Afghan military

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as they confront the Taliban

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in the field.

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Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan

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to take ownership of their future,

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to govern their society,

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and to achieve an everlasting peace.

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We are a partner and a friend,

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but we will not dictate to the Afghan people

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how to live,

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or how to govern their own complex society.

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We are not nation-building again.

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We are killing terrorists.

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The next pillar of our new strategy

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is to change the approach

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and how to deal with Pakistan.

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We can no longer be silent about

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Pakistan’s safe havens

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for terrorist organizations,

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the Taliban, and other groups

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that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

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Pakistan has much to gain

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from partnering

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with our effort in Afghanistan.

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It has much to lose by continuing

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to harbor criminals and terrorists.

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In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner.

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Our militaries have worked together

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against common enemies.

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The Pakistani people have suffered greatly

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from terrorism and extremism.

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We recognize those contributions

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and those sacrifices.

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But Pakistan has also sheltered the same

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organizations

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that try every single day to kill our people.

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We have been paying Pakistan billions

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and billions of dollars at the same time

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they are housing the very terrorists

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that we are fighting.

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But that will have to change,

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and that will change immediately.

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No partnership can survive a country’s

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harboring of militants

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and terrorists who target

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U.S. servicemembers and officials.

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It is time for Pakistan

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to demonstrate its commitment

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to civilization, order, and to peace.

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Another critical part of the South Asia

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strategy for America

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is to further develop

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its strategic partnership with India —

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the world’s largest democracy

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and a key security

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and economic partner of the United States.

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We appreciate India’s important contributions

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to stability in Afghanistan,

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but India makes billions of dollars

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in trade with the United States,

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and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan,

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especially in the area

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of economic assistance

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and development.

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We are committed to pursuing

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our shared objectives

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for peace and security in South Asia

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and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

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Finally, my administration

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will ensure that you,

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the brave defenders of the American people,

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will have the necessary tools

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and rules of engagement

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to make this strategy work,

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and work effectively and work quickly.

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I have already lifted restrictions

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the previous administration

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placed on our warfighters

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that prevented the Secretary of Defense

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and our commanders in the field from fully

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and swiftly waging battle against the enemy.

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Micromanagement from Washington, D.C.

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does not win battles.

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They are won in the field drawing upon the judgment

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and expertise of wartime commanders

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and frontline soldiers

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acting in real time, with real authority,

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and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.

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That’s why we will also expand authority

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for American armed forces

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to target the terrorist and criminal networks

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that sow violence

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and chaos throughout Afghanistan.

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These killers need to know

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they have nowhere to hide;

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that no place is beyond the reach of American

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might and Americans arms.

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Retribution will be fast and powerful.

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As we lift restrictions

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and expand authorities in the field,

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we are already seeing dramatic results

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in the campaign to defeat ISIS,

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including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.

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Since my inauguration,

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we have achieved record-breaking

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success in that regard.

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We will also maximize sanctions

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and other financial and law enforcement actions

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against these networks

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to eliminate their ability to export terror.

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When America commits its warriors to battle,

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we must ensure they have every weapon to apply

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swift, decisive,

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and overwhelming force.

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Our troops will fight to win.

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We will fight to win.

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From now on, victory will have a clear definition –

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attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS,

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crushing al Qaeda,

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preventing the Taliban

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from taking over Afghanistan,

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and stopping mass terror attacks against America

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before they emerge.

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We will ask our NATO allies

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and global partners

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to support our new strategy

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with additional troop

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and funding increases in line with our own.

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We are confident they will.

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Since taking office, I have made clear

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that our allies and partners

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must contribute much more money

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to our collective defense,

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and they have done so.

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In this struggle,

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the heaviest burden will continue to be borne

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by the good people of Afghanistan

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and their courageous armed forces.

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As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised,

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we are going to participate

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in economic development

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to help defray the cost of this war to us.

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Afghanistan is fighting to defend

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and secure their country

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against the same enemies who threaten us.

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The stronger the Afghan security forces become,

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the less we will have to do.

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Afghans will secure and build their own nation

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and define their own future.

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We want them to succeed.

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But we will no longer use American military

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might to construct democracies

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in faraway lands,

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or try to rebuild other countries

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in our own image.

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Those days are now over.

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Instead, we will work with allies and partners

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to protect our shared interests.

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We are not asking others

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to change their way of life,

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but to pursue common goals

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that allow our children

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to live better and safer lives.

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This principled realism

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will guide our decisions moving forward.

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Military power alone will not bring peace

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to Afghanistan

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or stop the terrorist threat

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arising in that country.

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But strategically applied force

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aims to create the conditions

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for a political process

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to achieve a lasting peace.

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America will work with the Afghan government

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as long as we see determination

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and progress.

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However, our commitment is not unlimited,

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and our support is not a blank check.

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The government of Afghanistan

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must carry their share

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of the military,

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political, and economic burden.

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The American people expect to see

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real reforms,

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real progress, and real results.

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Our patience is not unlimited.

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We will keep our eyes wide open.

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In abiding by the oath I took on January 20th,

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I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives

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and American interests.

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In this effort, we will make common cause

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with any nation

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that chooses to stand and fight alongside us

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against this global threat.

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Terrorists take heed –  America will never let up

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until you are dealt a lasting defeat.

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Under my administration, many billions of dollars

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more is being spent on our military.

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And this includes vast amounts being spent

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on our nuclear arsenal and missile defense.

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In every generation, we have faced down evil,

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and we have always prevailed.

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We prevailed because we know who we are

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and what we are fighting for.

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Not far from where we are gathered tonight,

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hundreds of thousands

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of America’s greatest patriots

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lay in eternal rest

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at Arlington National Cemetery.

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There is more courage, sacrifice,

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and love in those hallowed grounds

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than in any other spot on the face of the Earth.

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Many of those who have fought and died

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in Afghanistan enlisted in the months

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after September 11th, 2001.

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They volunteered for a simple reason –

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They loved America,

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and they were determined to protect her.

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Now we must secure the cause

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for which they gave their lives.

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We must unite to defend America

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from its enemies abroad.

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We must restore the bonds of loyalty

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among our citizens at home,

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and we must achieve an honorable

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and enduring outcome

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worthy of the enormous price

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that so many have paid.

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Our actions, and in the months to come,

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all of them will honor

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the sacrifice

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of every fallen hero,

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every family who lost a loved one,

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and every wounded warrior who shed their blood

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in defense of our great nation.

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With our resolve, we will ensure that your service

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and that your families

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will bring about the defeat of our enemies

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and the arrival of peace.

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We will push onward to victory with power

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in our hearts,

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courage in our souls,

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and everlasting pride in each

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and every one of you.

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Thank you. May God bless our military.

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And may God bless the United States of America.

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Thank you very much, thank you.

 

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