Remember When Trump Overruling Generals Was Considered Scandalous?

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Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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President Joe Biden has overridden generals and top military advisors in his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan after two decades of involvement. But, the media’s reporting appeared to strike a different tone when former President Donald Trump used his presidential authority in a similar way.

Biden announced that the U.S. would finally be leaving Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2021, 20 years to the day after the 9/11 terrorists attacks that spurred the U.S. intervention, according to The Atlantic.

“I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth,” Biden said.

However, military leaders discouraged Biden against removing all troops from Afghanistan, Politico reported. Nine former and current U.S. officials familiar told Politico that remaining would keep the Taliban at bay and prevent Afghanistan from increasingly becoming a terrorist haven.

Military advisers believed that maintaining a reasonable presence included keeping a few thousand troops. (RELATED: Biden Vows To End ‘Forever War’ In Afghanistan)

CNN’s coverage of Biden’s desire to end the war in Afghanistan was different from their coverage of the Afghanistan withdrawal announcement during the Trump administration.

“Biden announces troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war,'” CNN’s April 14 headline read.

“It was a decisive moment for a President not yet 100 days into the job. Biden has spent months weighing his decision, and he determined a war in Afghanistan that has killed some 2,300 US troops and cost more than $2 trillion no longer fit within the pressing foreign policy concerns of 2021,” CNN reported.

When Trump was in office, CNN ran a piece on Sept. 11, 2020 piece titled “Diplomats worry Trump’s desire to withdraw US troops risks success of Afghan-Taliban talks.” More recently, CNN ran another piece titled “‘I stay up nights’: Afghans working for US worry about their future after Biden withdrawal announcement.”

“Biden’s announcement last week that the US will withdraw troops marks the end of the decades-long war, which has taken a deadly toll on the people of Afghanistan, many of whom have risked it all to help the United States fight for their own democracy,” the piece says.

After the Trump administration announced its intent for the U.S. to halve its presence in Afghanistan last year, The New York Times said the decision “raised eyebrows at the Defense Department,” and that the president gave “no warning to the Pentagon.”

“The Pentagon has tried to work around a commander in chief who has regularly surprised the military with his decisions,” The New York Times reported.

Alternatively, The New York Times’ reporting on Biden withdrawal announcement was headlined, “Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11.”

“After years of arguing against an extended military presence in Afghanistan, President Biden is doing things his way, with the deadline for withdrawal set for the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks,” The New York Times wrote.

The media’s reaction to Biden overriding the military establishment has also been a little different then Trump’s

Trump appointed multiple generals to top administration positions. He appointed retired Gen. John Kelly first as Secretary of Homeland Security before tapping him as White House Chief of Staff.

Retired Gen. James Mattis was Trump’s first Secretary of Defense, and the now-infamous Michael Flynn served as Trump’s first national security advisor.

Within two weeks, it became public knowledge that Kelly and Mattis would be leaving Trump’s administration. While Kelly left the administration because of schisms that emerged between himself and the president he served, Mattis resigned over Trump’s insistence to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, according to Politico.

In his resignation letter, Mattis said Trump has “the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned on these and other subjects,” Politico reported. Before Mattis’ abrupt departure, Trump, according to the Washington Post, wanted the Pentagon to make a plan for bringing half of U.S. troops in Afghanistan home. “A move,” the Washington Post reported, “that military officials have warned could plunge the nation into chaos.”