In the past few days, President Donald Trump has produced a torrent of provocative statements that have been extreme even by his standards. Among other things, he called on Attorney General William Barr to indict former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama;complained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not unearthed more of Hillary Clinton’s emails at the State Department; and said Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris was a “monster” and a “communist” who would quickly replace Biden if he were elected.

It’s sad testimony to Trump’s degradation of political discourse during the past four years that relatively little attention was paid to these toxic outbursts. Few expect the actions he called for or predicted to occur. Yet one of the president’s statements stood out for its potential to torpedo one of his most significant national security policies. “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” he tweeted Wednesday evening. The next morning, he reiterated in a Fox Business interview that the troops will be “home by the end of the year.”

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