This Photo of Afghan Women in Miniskirts Helped Convince Trump to Send More Troops

Seems about right.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced a plan to deploy an additional 4,000 troops to the war in Afghanistan, noting that after years of supporting military withdrawal, he had changed his mind after listening to the counsel of his national security team and military chiefs.

Trump said in a televised address: “When I became president, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into. But one way or another, these problems will be solved.”

“I am a problem solver,” he added.

The announcement marked a rare admission from the president, who has otherwise proven to be extraordinarily reluctant to concede he was either wrong or changed his mind. His refusal to acknowledge his previous support for another American-led war during the 2016 campaign is a prime example.

So how did military chiefs convince the president to escalate America’s military presence in Afghanistan? According to the Washington Post, national security adviser H.R. McMaster seized upon Trump’s affinity for visual aids—charts, photos, and the like—and showed him a 1972 black-and-white photo of young Afghani women wearing mini-skirts. 

One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.

Trump’s reversal on Tuesday may have come as a surprise to his staunch supporters. But paired with this anecdote and image, his decision makes perfect sense.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate