President Donald Trump's schizophrenic approach to foreign policy was on full display during his State of the Union address tonight. He expressed a desire to bring American troops home while also touting aggressive actions he'd taken against Iran, as well as his administration's continued commitment to the war in Afghanistan.
That includes his drone striking slaying of Qassem Soleimani, a high-ranking Iranian general, in Iraq.
"Soleimani was the Iranian Regime's most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq," said Trump tonight before Congress. "At my direction, the United States military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever."
When Trump came into office, he inherited a relationship with Iran on the mend. He subsequently tore up the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, reapplied sanctions to the country, and sent more troops to the region to counter the country's influence.
His killing of Soleimani saw Iran respond with missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and piqued fears that a wider conflict would break out.
And yet, said Trump, "as we defend American lives, we are working to end America's wars in the Middle East."
That includes the war in Afghanistan, where the president noted peace talks were underway.
"I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them innocent. It is also not our function to serve other nations as a law enforcement agency," said Trump. "We are working to finally end America's longest war and bring our troops back home!"
However hard he might be working to end that war, Trump has also increased the U.S. presence there.
Some 4,000 U.S. military personnel were stationed in Afghanistan at the beginning of Trump's first term. Today there are some 12,500 in the country fighting a war that U.S. defense officials have considered unwinnable for over a decade.
One of the invited guests at tonight's speech was Amy Williams, whose husband was currently stationed in Afghanistan.
"Amy's kids have not seen their father's face in many months. Amy, your family's sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and peace," said Trump. He then surprised her by bringing out her husband, who had come home from Afghanistan.
It was a heartwarming moment. And yet, while Trump was willing to acknowledge her family's sacrifice and bring this particular soldier home, he has so far proven resistant to taking the steps necessary to actually end U.S. interventions abroad.
That makes the anti-war lines he dropped tonight ring as hollow as so many other State of the Union promises.