The home of “free people, free markets” apparently hit a limit.
In a cutting commentary that breaks with its full-bore support of the Trump White House, The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board condemned the president’s comments about Afghanistan and Russia at a televised Cabinet meeting this week, calling them “absurd” and a “slander.”
Among his eye-opening Wednesday statements, Trump ridiculed other nations’ commitment to fight alongside U.S. troops following the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“They tell me a hundred times,” Trump said. “‘Oh, we sent you soldiers. We sent you soldiers.’”
The Journal’s editorial called Trump’s mocking words “a slander against every ally that has supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan with troops who fought and often died.” In fact, the U.K. sent thousands of soldiers to the country between 2001 and 2014 and has—to date—lost more than 450 people in the fighting in Afghanistan.
Trump also said, during that meeting, that “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan [in 1979] was because terrorists were going into Russia” and that “they were right to be there.”
In response, the opinion piece said it could not “recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president” and noted that the Soviet Union, in fact, invaded Afghanistan “to prop up a fellow communist government.”
The invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was condemned throughout the world, including by the United States. Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter provided aid to Afghan insurgents in their resistance to the Soviet Army. The fighting lasted until 1989.
President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan said in a statement on Thursday, “After the invasion by the Soviet Union, all presidents of America not only denounced this invasion but remained supporters of this holy jihad of the Afghans.”
The WSJ piece continued: “The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a defining event in the Cold War, making clear to all serious people the reality of the communist Kremlin’s threat.”
The right-leaning editorial board of the Journal, which is owned by the Trump-friendly Rupert Murdoch, has rarely broken from its tendency to throw in with the president’s policy decisions and increasingly divisive public statements.
“Mr. Trump’s cracked history can’t alter that reality,” the op-ed concluded.