‘I’m Already Worried About Tonight!’ Matthews Concerned About Trump Afghanistan Decision

Hours before President Trump’s Monday night speech announcing a U.S. troops surge in Afghanistan, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews admitted that he’s a “dove” “already worried about tonight” because it’s a “pure” escalation by the military “establishment.” 

It’s worth noting that this represented an admirable consistency by Matthews, seeing as how he also criticized a troop surge by President Obama on December 1, 2009 (but more on that later).

In the middle of a segment about Steve Bannon’s White House departure, Matthews interjected [emphasis mine]: 

I'm worried about tonight, by the way. I'm already worried about tonight. We will get it in the next segment. Then escalate in Afghanistan which is pure, the old style of establishment. Let's put more troops in like Johnson did, Kennedy did, Nixon did. We always go to war and then we put more and more troops in. We think we’re going to solve the problem and I'm wondering, that isn't McMaster talking. If that isn't Jared and Javanka talking.

“Well, we have a real problem that it seems, to me, people like me are doves, we just wonder what is going to happen without Bannon there. At least, the one thing that Bannon did was escape from wars,” Matthews added in comments directed to the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey.

Right on cue, the next segment was about Afghanistan and Matthews set the tone by telling BBC’s Katty Katy that he’s “a skeptic” and “dove” since “I do not see where you go into these wars, you go in and you never can come home.”

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He pointed to nameless generals who are supposedly “opposed going to work because they know we’re going to get stuck” as reason for him to “worry” that “we’re going in for a bigger war in Afghanistan tonight.”

The longtime liberal pundit later aired his opinions about war:

This is my view of war. Katy, when you go in, if you're from here, and you're going there, you know you're coming back here. Eventually. The enemy over there, whether it’s Vietnam, or it’s Taliban, knows we are coming back here. All they have to do is wait us out. Now, we can say, in four years, it will be different. No, it don't because we’re coming home four years and they know home we’re coming home in four years. It changes the timetable but not the reality. It is their country and they will rule it. Just like the Vietnamese did. All the fighting and 60,000 guys of my generation getting killed trying to stop history from taking place. It’s their country. We’re coming home. It’s going to be their country. That's arithmetic fact that military guys and everybody else should get into their heads.

Going back to 2009, Matthews also expressed concern about Obama’s Afghanistan decision-making. 

Then-NewsBusters writer Jeff Poor wrote about it that night as Matthews deemed West Point audience members to be “the enemy camp” and “strange venue” choice: 

It seems like in this case, there isn't a lot of excitement,” Matthews said. “I watched the cadets, they were young kids - men and women who were committed to serving their country professionally it must be said, as officers. And, I didn't see much excitement. But among the older people there, I saw, if not resentment, skepticism. I didn't see a lot of warmth in that crowd out there. The president chose to address tonight and I thought it was interesting. He went to maybe the enemy camp tonight to make his case. I mean, that's where Paul Wolfowitz used to write speeches for, back in the old Bush days. That's where he went to rabble rouse the ‘we're going to democratize the world’ campaign back in '02. So, I thought it was a strange venue.

So, Matthews has put down his marker ahead of the President’s speech, showing an unwavering opinion about Afghanistan. We’ll see if the rest of the media follows suit, seeing as how similar the policies appear to be. 

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcripts from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 21:

MSNBC’s Hardball
August 21, 2017
7:07 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'm worried about tonight, by the way. I'm already worried about tonight. We will get it in the next segment. Then escalate in Afghanistan which is pure, the old style of establishment. Let's put more troops in like Johnson did, Kennedy did, Nixon did. We always go to war and then we put more and more troops in. We think we’re going to solve the problem and I'm wondering, that isn't McMaster talking. If that isn't Jared and Javanka talking. 

ANNIE LINSKEY: I think it would be more of the generals talking. You have powerful generals in this sort of militarized White House at this point. And you know, their influence is felt very clearly but it was General Kelly who sort of has quite a bit of credit for pushing out, you know, not only Scaramucci but also Bannon. 

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

LINSKEY: So, he’s clearly asserting his power in a number of places. 

MATTHEWS: Well, we have a real problem that it seems, to me, people like me are doves, we just wonder what is going to happen without Bannon there. At least, the one thing that Bannon did was escape from wars. 

(....)

7:17 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS [TO KATTY KAY]: I'm a skeptic. I am a dove. I do not see where you go into these wars, you go in and you never can come home. We never say we’re going — and I understand why the general is generally opposed going to work because they know we’re going to get stuck. Then generals say we have to stay there because justifying blood and treasure justifies staying in. That’s my worry. Is it justified? Katy Kay, do you think we’re going in for a bigger war in Afghanistan tonight? 

(....)

7:23 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: This is my view of war. Katy, when you go in, if you're from here, and you're going there, you know you're coming back here. Eventually. The enemy over there, whether it’s Vietnam, or it’s Taliban, knows we are coming back here. All they have to do is wait us out. Now, we can say, in four years, it will be different. No, it don't because we’re coming home four years and they know home we’re coming home in four years. It changes the timetable but not the reality. It is their country and they will rule it. Just like the Vietnamese did. All the fighting and 60,000 guys of my generation getting killed trying to stop history from taking place. It’s their country. We’re coming home. It’s going to be their country. That's arithmetic fact that military guys and everybody else should get into their heads. 


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