I'm bringing troops back, when advisers wanted war
I'm bringing our troops back from Afghanistan. I'm bringing our troops back from Iraq. We're almost out of almost every place. You know, everybody said--because of my personality, they said, "he'll be in a war immediately."
Look at North Korea,
how that's worked out. We haven't--the sanctions are on. Everything's the same. We haven't spent anything. We're getting along with him. I get along with Kim Jong-un. That was supposed to be a war.
If President Obama were president, if Hillary Clinton ever got in, that would be a war, probably a nuclear war with North Korea. In the meantime,
I'm getting calls all the time from friends of mine in South Korea. Thank you. We love you. Thank you. It's really been rather amazing.
Hard line against Russia: sanctions & diplomatic expulsions
Unlike the Obama administration, the Trump administration had actually taken a hard line against Russia, which the media hardly ever reported because it didn't fit their Trump-Russia collusion narrative. Since taking office, President Trump had imposed
crippling sanctions on Russia; closed Russian diplomatic properties in the United States and expelled Russian spies pretending to be diplomats; approved the sale of lethal arms to Ukraine to defend against Russian aggression; persuaded
NATO allies to increase their military spending to deter Russia; isolated and sanctioned Russia's worst proxies: Iran and Venezuela; made
America the number one producer of oil and gas, lowering the cost of energy and hurting the Russian economy; and rebuilt our military so that neither Russia nor any other foreign adversary could challenge the United States.
Unlike predecessors, I have kept America OUT of new wars
Unlike previous administrations, I have kept America OUT of new wars -- and our troops are coming home. We have spent nearly $2.5 trillion on completely rebuilding our military, which was very badly depleted when I took office.
This includes three separate pay raises for our great warriors. We also launched the Space Force, the first new branch of the United States military since the Air Force was created almost 75 years ago.
Source: Speech at 2020 Republican National Convention
, Aug 28, 2020
2018: End South Korean war games to deal with North Korea
Q: On North Korea: What concerns did you have about that?
John BOLTON: I was very concerned that he would give away things that he didn't need to give away. He told Kim Jong Un we would give up, what he called, "the war games on the Korean peninsula."
The president didn't seem to understand that the war games, as he called them, were critical to American and South Korean ability to be ready to withstand pressure from North Korea.
Source: ABC This Week interview of John Bolton(Trump Administration)
, Jun 21, 2020
2012: No war with Iran; 2020: assassinates Iranian general
A KFile review found Trump made the claims throughout 2011 and 2012 in radio and television appearances as well as in a since-deleted YouTube blog and on Twitter. Now president and facing his own reelection battle later this year, Trump ordered a drone
strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, in a major escalation between Iran &e US. Trump celebrated the news by tweeting a picture of an American flag, adding, "Iran never won a war, but
never lost a negotiation!"
Speaking on the Sean Hannity radio show in January 2012, Trump predicted, "I say that [Obama] starts a war in Iran before the election. He'll start a war; lives will be wasted for no reason."
Speaking on the Laura Ingraham
Show in April 2012 [and other times], Trump repeated his prediction: "I happen to think that the president is going to start a war with Iran. I think it'll be a short term popular thing to do. And I think he's going to do that for political reasons."
Bar Iranian diplomat from addressing UN over assassination
The Trump administration is barring Iran's top diplomat from entering the United States this week to address the United Nations Security Council about the U.S. assassination of Iran's top military official in
Baghdad, violating the terms of a 1947 headquarters agreement requiring Washington to permit foreign officials into the country to conduct U.N. business, according to three diplomatic sources.
Source: Foreign Policy magazine on impeaching Trump
, Dec 11, 2019
Vetoed resolution withdrawing support for Yemen war
Trump vetoed Congress's bipartisan resolution to withdraw US support from the Saudi-led war in Yemen, cementing American involvement in a deadly humanitarian crisis abroad. "This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional
authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future," Trump said in a memo to the Senate signaling his veto.
The Constitution gives war declaration powers to Congress, not the president.
Source: CNN.com on Trump Administration
, Apr 17, 2019
Countries hosting US troops should pay for them
The administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil--plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them.
His insistence on it almost derailed recent talks with South Korea over the status of 28,000 U.S. troops in the country when he overruled his negotiators with a note to National Security Advisor John Bolton saying, "We want cost plus 50."
Source: Bloomberg News, "Huge Premium" on 2020 presidential hopefuls
, Mar 8, 2019
Iran is a terrorist regime, so withdrew from nuclear deal
My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran. To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from
the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country. We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.
Source: 2019 State of the Union address to United States Congress
, Feb 5, 2019
My good relationship with North Korea has prevented war
We continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected
President, we would right now, be in a war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed. My relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.
Source: 2019 State of the Union address to United States Congress
, Feb 5, 2019
Russia violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty
President Trump said that Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty "with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad."
He said the US has
adhered to the pact for more than 30 years, "but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other."
NATO said that if
Moscow failed to destroy all new missile systems that Washington insists violate the treaty, "Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the treaty."
An American withdrawal had been expected for months, after years of unresolved dispute over
Russian compliance with the pact. It was the first arms control measure to ban an entire class of weapons: ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers. Russia denies that it has been in violation.
At a meeting last August to discuss sanctions on Venezuela, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can't the U.S. just simply invade the
The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, who took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments.
But Trump pushed back.
Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.
The idea, despite his aides' best attempts to shoot it down, would nonetheless persist in the president's head. Shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Two high-ranking Colombian officials confirmed the report.
Consider all options to restore Venezuela's democracy
In Sept. 2017, Trump discussed invading Venezuela in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies. Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, "My staff told me not to
say this." Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn't want a military solution; each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.
A National Security Council spokesman reiterated that the US will consider all options
at its disposal to help restore Venezuela's democracy and bring stability. Under Trump's leadership, the US, EU, and Canada have levied sanctions on dozens of top Venezuelan officials, including Venezuelan leader Maduro, over allegations of corruption
and human rights abuses.
Maduro has long claimed that the U.S. has military designs on Venezuela and its vast oil reserves. Even some of the staunchest U.S. allies were begrudgingly forced to side with Maduro in condemning Trump's saber rattling.
North Korea has no economic future if they retain nukes
We've made a lot of progress, and we'll continue to make progress. And I really think what we're doing there is very important. But we actually had to walk, but I think we had a very good meeting.
In fact, when I came home, they put out a statement that, actually, they were willing to do much less on the sanction front. But you see, that's not what happened there.
So already, I think we're negotiating. And I'll tell you this: North Korea has an incredible, brilliant economic future, if they make a deal. But they don't have any economic future if they have nuclear weapons.
It's really a bad thing for them. So we'll see how it all goes. But I think it's going well. I think we learned a lot over the last couple of days.
Wants one of the greatest US military build-ups in history
We will be substantially upgrading all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything, bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but nobody's gonna mess with us, folks, nobody.
It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history. Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength and that's what we will have.
Source: Time magazine, "Trump speech at CPAC 2017"
, Feb 24, 2017
Trillions have been wasted on protecting other countries
For too long, we've traded away our jobs to other countries. So terrible. We've defended other nations' borders while leaving ours wide open, anybody can come in. We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it. We're building the wall.
We're building the wall. In fact, it's going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule.
We've spent trillions of dollars overseas, while allowing our own infrastructure to fall into total disrepair and decay.
In the Middle East, we've spent as of four weeks ago, $6 trillion. Think of it. And by the way, the Middle East is in--I mean, it's not even close, it's in much worse shape than it was 15 years ago.
If our presidents would have gone to the beach for 15 years, we would be in much better shape than we are right now, that I can tell you.
Disallow North Korea from developing nuclear delivery system
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that North Korea won't reach the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon that will be able to hit the United States: "North
Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!" the president-elect wrote.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said during his annual New Year's address that preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile have "reached the final stage." The development came after the country claims it tested its first hydrogen
bomb last year.
North Korea, which has been at odds with the United States since the start of the Korean War in 1950, first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006. A nuclear test was conducted last year on Jan. 6.
We need element of surprise; stop saying where we'll attack
TRUMP: About three months ago, I started reading that they're going to attack Mosul. Whatever happened to the element of surprise. We announce we're going after Mosul. These people have all left. They've all left. So we're now fighting for
Mosul, that we had. All she had to do was stay there, and now we're going in to get it. The leaders that we wanted to get are all gone because they're smart. They say, "what do we need this for?"
Source: Third 2016 Presidential Debate moderated by Fox News
, Oct 19, 2016
I could've negotiated Reagan's nuclear arms reduction deal
In Trump's portrayal, the United States was a sucker in a worldwide hustle.
Trump had previously said that he was more than capable of pulling off the kind of nuclear-weapons-reduction deal that would become one of Reagan's proudest achievements.
Trump told a Washington Post reporter in 1984 that he dreamed of employing his negotiating skills on nuclear disarmament talks with the Soviets. "Some people have an ability to negotiate.
It's an art you're basically born with. You either have it or you don't." It didn't matter that Trump was no expert on missiles. "It would take an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles.
I think I know most of it anyway. You're talking about just getting updated on a situation."
We would be better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now
Sen. Ted CRUZ: Both Donald and Senator Rubio have agreed with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: in Libya, they agreed with the Obama/Clinton policy of toppling the government in Libya. That was a disaster.
TRUMP: I was in favor of Libya?
I never discussed that subject. We would be so much better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now. If these politicians went to the beach and didn't do a thing, and we had Saddam Hussein and if we had Gadhafi in charge, instead of having terrorism
all over the place, at least they killed terrorists, all right? And I'm not saying they were good--because they were bad, they were really bad--but we don't know what we're getting.
You look at Libya right now, ISIS, as we speak, is taking over their oil. As we speak, it's a total mess. We would have been better off if the politicians took a day off instead of going into war.
Q: You say, in personal relations, you're a counterpuncher. You don't hit until you are hit. Is that a good way to think about the way you would use military force as a president?
TRUMP: I'm the most militaristic person on your show. I want to have a
much stronger military. I want it to be so strong that nobody is going to mess with us. I want to take care of our vets, who are treated terribly, like third-class citizens.
Q: Well, let's take an example of some case where you may or may not
use military force. It turns out Assad apparently used chemical weapons on his own people.
TRUMP: Well, you know, the time to have done it would have been when he drew the line in the sand.
Q: So, you would have done it in that case?
TRUMP: I might have gone in. Now it's such a mess over there, with everybody involved, and the airspace is very limited. It's not that big of an area. The airspace is very limited. So are we going to start World War III over Syria?
[Trump seated at office desk, referring to Barack Obama]: "Our President will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective. So the only way he figures that he's going to get re-elected--and as
sure as you're sitting there--is to start a war with Iran.
Now, I'm more militant and more militaristic than the President. I believe in strength. But to start a war in order to get elected--and I believe that's going to happen--would be an outrage."
Source: Twitter video posting, on Obama's Iranian nuke negotiations
, Nov 16, 2011
John McCain's actions in Vietnam were not "heroic"
In a televised interview, Donald Trump--in his assessment of the candidates--wondered aloud about McCain's war record. Reading the McCain story, Trump opined, one might hesitate to call McCain's experience "heroic."
Of course, McCain never pointed to his own experience as heroic--quite the contrary. "Incidents of surpassing courage and defiance were commonplace.and they made my own attempts at rebellion seem minor in comparison."
Throughout Faith of My Fathers, McCain referred to the heroism of his comrades, whose actions and bravery, McCain suggests, far exceeded his.
He was fortunate to serve in the company of heroes, who lifted up and improved McCain, and the others, by their selfless example.
[In a Trump presidency], North Korea would suddenly discover that its worthless promises of civilized behavior would cut no ice. I would let Pyongyang know in no uncertain terms that it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke
similar to the one Ronald Reagan delivered to Ghadhafi in 1986. I don’t think anybody is going to accuse me of tiptoeing through the issues or tap-dancing around them either. Who else in public life has called for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea?
Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p.274
, Jul 2, 2000
No humanitarian intervention; only to direct threats
My rules of engagement are pretty simple. If we are going to intervene in a conflict it had better pose a direct threat to our interest-
one definition of “direct” being a threat so obvious that most Americans will know where the hot spot is on the globe and will quickly understand why we are getting involved.
The threat should be so direct that our leaders, including our president, should be able to make the case clearly and concisely, which has certainly not been the case regarding the terrible events in Yugoslavia.
At the same time, we must not get involved in a long-festering conflict for humanitarian reasons. If that’s our standard, we should have troops stationed all over Africa, and much of Asia as well.
I'm bringing our troops back from Afghanistan. I'm bringing our troops back from Iraq. We're almost out of almost every place. You know, everybody said--because of my personality, they said "he'll be in a war immediately."
You know, there's no sadder
thing than to sit with a widow or a mother, and these incredible Marines are walking off a casket and they were killed in the Middle East. Going there was the worst decision in the history of our country. We've spent $8 trillion and we've lost thousands
Iraq did not--Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center. They said they had weapons of mass destruction. They made a mistake.
So we've been in there almost 20 years in Afghanistan. And we're bringing our soldiers back home.
Nobody expected that from me. And people are so happy about it. And you know who's the happiest? The soldiers, I see them all the time. "What do you think, should we be here?" "No, sir, you shouldn't be here." "Why?" "They don't like us, sir."
Afghanistan: We don't want to stay there for 100 years
Well, you know, there's a big question about the government of Afghanistan. There's a big question about that whole situation in Afghanistan. We're getting along very well with everybody. We have to get our people back home. It's not fair.
We're a police force over there. We're maintaining things. Eventually, we have to leave. We don't want to stay there for another 20 years. We don't want to stay there for 100 years. We want our people to come back home.
Source: Fox News Town Halls at the Scranton Cultural Center
, Mar 5, 2020
Afghani settlement: great nations do not fight endless wars
Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the
I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor--and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to
this long and bloody conflict.
In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce
our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement--but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.
Just two days after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis quit, the top US envoy fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, also resigned as Washington reeled from US President Donald Trump's dramatic announcement that he planned to pull US troops out of Syria.
McGurk, in his resignation letter, said that the militants were still on the run but not yet defeated, and that the early withdrawal of American troops from Syria would re-create the conditions that gave rise to ISIS.
Trump continued with his slew of
tweets defending the Syria announcement. "We were originally going to be there for three months, and that was seven years ago--we never left. When I became President, ISIS was going wild. Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including
Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains. We're coming home!" Trump wrote.
Trump's declaration of triumph has alarmed key NATO allies, who said such a change of course on Syria risks damaging the fight against Islamic State.
2016: secret plan to defeat ISIS; 2018: caliphate gone
Donald Trump made this pledge in April 2016: "We're gonna beat ISIS very, very quickly, folks. I have a great plan. They ask, 'What is it?' Well, I'd rather not say."
At the time, it seemed unlikely he would ever have to make good on the promise.
However, Trump's surprise victory gave him the chance to back up his claim. Many were openly skeptical he could do it.
But one year into the Trump administration, the facts on the ground--in Syria and Iraq--have changed dramatically. The 'Caliphate'
announced with such fanfare in the summer of 2014 was in tatters. "We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years," Trump proclaimed last fall. So is
ISIS now defeated?
President Trump deserves credit for hastening the downfall of their Caliphate. However, ISIS 2018 will launch an insurgency in its former territory. ISIS has access to electronic spaces where it can continue recruitment efforts.
ISIS are lawless savages; extinguish them from our planet
As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS--a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs.
We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.
Source: 2017 State of the Union address to Congress
, Feb 28, 2017
If we overthrow Assad, we could end up with worse than Assad
CLINTON: I think we can take back Mosul, and then we can move on into Syria and take back Raqqa.
TRUMP: Assad turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought. Everyone thought he was gone two years ago. He aligned with Russia. He now also aligned with
Iran, who we made very powerful. We don't know who the rebels are. But if they overthrow Assad, as bad as Assad is, and he's a bad guy, but you may very well end up with worse than Assad.
CLINTON: I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could
hasten the end of the conflict. I'm aware of the concerns that you have expressed. This would not be done on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation. And it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose
here was to provide safe zones on the ground.
TRUMP: We are so outplayed on missiles, on cease-fires. But our country is so outplayed by Putin and Assad, and by the way--and by Iran. Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.
Military and cyberwar to prevent ISIS genocide of Christians
ISIS is hunting down and exterminating what it calls the nation of the cross. ISIS is carrying out a genocide against Christians in the Middle East. We cannot let this evil continue--can't let it. ISIS must be destroyed--have to; have no choice.
defeat ISIS, we must use military warfare, but also cyber warfare, financial warfare and ideological warfare. It's a whole different ballgame today than it was 50 years ago.
We must also establish an international goal with our allies of defeating
radical Islamic terrorism--words that our president won't use and that Hillary Clinton won't use. Just like we won the Cold War by identifying our enemy and building a consensus to guide a long-term strategy, so too must we do the same with Islamic
By the way, President Obama has allowed Syrian refugees to pour into our country at unbelievable rates, but it's almost impossible to get a Christian in from Syria. They take others, but they don't take Christians--very, very, very rare.
I opposed Iraq War in 2004; it destabilized entire Mideast
CLINTON: My opponent was for the war in Iraq. He says he wasn't. You can go back and look at the record. He supported it. He told Howard Stern he supported it. So he supported it before it happened, and he is on record as supporting it after it happened.
TRUMP: I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from '04. You can look at before that. I was against the war in Iraq because I said it's going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has.
Fact-Check: Trump expressed mild support for invading Iraq when asked about it on the Howard Stern radio show on Sept. 11, 2002--about six months before the war started. Stern asked Trump if he supported a war with Iraq, and
Trump responded, "Yeah, I guess so." Trump cited an Esquire article that appeared in August 2004 to show his opposition to the war. But that article appeared 17 months after the war started. The facts don't support either candidate's strong assertions.
Get rid of ISIS, quickly: dry up their oil & their money
Q: You've said, "we've got to get rid of ISIS, quickly, quickly." How?
TRUMP: Well, four years ago, I said, bomb the oil and take the oil. And if we did that, they wouldn't have the wealth they have right now. Now, we're doing little pinpricks.
If somebody's driving a truck, they give notice to the person driving the truck, "we're going to bomb." If they don't get out of the truck, the truck sails away with the oil. We don't want to bomb the oil, because we don't want to pollute the atmosphere.
Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur or General Patton saying we can't bomb because we're gonna hurt the atmosphere? You have to knock the hell out of the oil. And you have also back channels of banking. You have people that you think are our great
allies in the Middle East, that are paying tremendous amounts of money to ISIS. So we have to stop those circuits. So between the oil and the banking, you will dry them up. But it should have been done four years ago, not now.
Blunder to announce withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan
Unfortunately, it may require boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State. I don't think it's necessary to broadcast our strategy. (In fact, one of the most ridiculous policy blunders President Obama has committed was to announce our timetable
for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.) If military advisers recommend it, we should commit a limited--but sufficient--number of troops to fight on the ground.
Source: Crippled America, by Donald Trump, p. 37
, Nov 3, 2015
Afghanistan war made a mess, but troops need to stay
Trump said the US was right to invade Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks--a reversal of his position earlier this month when he called the war a "mistake."
"We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into
Afghanistan," Trump told CNN. Trump said on October 6 that he believed entering Afghanistan was a mistake and worried about U.S. forces getting stuck there.
"At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? It's going to be a long
time," Trump said, when asked about Afghanistan. "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. And at this point, you probably have
to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave."
Trump first signaled his backtrack when he said Afghanistan is "where we should have gone," meaning the US should have focused its attention on Afghanistan over Iraq.
Source: Tom LoBianco on CNN, "Afghanistan war not a mistake"
, Oct 20, 2015
Radical violent Islam that must be feared, not Islam itself
I feel strongly that Muslims are excellent. I know so many Muslims that are such fabulous people. But there is a problem. I mean, there's no question about it. And, you know, we can be politically correct, and we can say there is no problem whatsoever.
But the fact is, there is a problem with some. And it's a very severe problem. And it's a problem that's taking place all over the world. But I have such great respect and love for so many of the people. I mean, they are great people.
Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls
, Sep 20, 2015
Boots on the ground to fight ISIS
What does Donald Trump believe? Islamic State and Iraq: Send a limited number of combat troops on the ground.
In early 2015, Trump told CPAC that he felt the U.S. may need "boots on the ground" to fight the Islamic State.
Soon after, he clarified to Fox News that he would send limited numbers of troops if all of his military advisers recommended it.
Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series
, Jun 16, 2015
Iraq won't be a democracy when we leave; it'll be a mess
My life is seeing everything in terms of "How would I handle that?" Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we're in. I would never have handled it that way.
Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the county?
C'mon. Two minutes after we leave, there's going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over.
And he'll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn't have.
Source: Esquire magazine cover story / interview
, Aug 1, 2004
All of the reasons for Iraq war were blatantly wrong
What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who've been blown to pieces.
And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!
Source: Esquire magazine cover story / interview
, Aug 1, 2004
Be tougher: bin Laden should have been caught long ago
I would have been tougher on terrorism. Bin Laden would have been caught long ago. Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's six foot six and supposedly needs a dialysis machine? Can you explain that one to me? We have all out energies
focused on one place--where they shouldn't be focused.
When I look at some of the things that happened in government, I can't believe it. Countries that we're protecting are screwing us on oil prices. It's unthinkable. I wouldn't stand for it.
Source: Esquire magazine cover story / interview
, Aug 1, 2004
Donald Trump on Middle East
Implicitly approved Israel killing Iranian nuclear scientist
Israel assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist. The Israeli government has not claimed credit for the illegal killing. Trump implicitly praised the assassination, retweeting a comment by Israeli journalist and intelligence expert
Yossi Melman that the killing was a "major psychological and professional blow" to Iran. This was an "implicit approval if there ever was one," according to a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council.
In January, the Trump administration assassinated Iran's top general, Qassim Suleimani. Shortly before that assassination, Pompeo followed the same pattern
[as prior to the Mohsen Fakhrizadeh killing]--traveling and meetings with U.S. allies in the region.
OpEd: Israel killed Iranian scientist & Trump approved
[Opinion]: Israel assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist. The Israeli government has not claimed credit for the illegal killing. Trump implicitly praised the assassination, retweeting a comment by Israeli journalist & intelligence
expert Yossi Melman that the killing was a "major psychological and professional blow" to Iran. This was an "implicit approval if there ever was one," according to Sina Toossi, a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council.
Source: Truthout.org OpEd on Trump Administration Foreign Influences
, Dec 1, 2020
We're creating peace in Mideast; not the old-fashioned way
Look at what we had today with the United Arab Emirates, the UAE. And just take a look at what's going on with Israel today. We're actually creating peace in the Middle East without blood staining our sand. Look at what happened with Bahrain. A guy like
[ousted Secretary of Defense] Jim Mattis would have disagreed with the way I went about it and I turned out to be correct.
The New York Times wrote incredible, glowing articles last week about this incredible thing that I've been able to do in the
Middle East. A guy like Jim Mattis could have never done it because they were all doing it the old-fashioned way. They were going in the wrong outlets and the wrong doors.
And what happened today with UAE and with Bahrain and with Israel, people don't
even believe it. And I have numerous other countries in that region that are going to be signing very soon also. You'll have peace in the Middle East, and this is without war and without losing our great, young soldiers.
Canceled missile strike on Iran for drone shoot-down
Among the most upsetting moments for the former advisor is the president's decision in June
2019 not to launch a disproportionate missile strike against Iran for downing a U.S. drone at the last minute after Bolton convinced him to.
As the New York Times described the passage: "You can sense Bolton's excitement when he describes going home 'at about 5:30' for a change of clothes because he expected to be at the
White House 'all night.' It's therefore an awful shock when Trump decided to call off the strikes at the very last minute, after learning they would kill as many as 150 people."
Withdrew from Syria, but left soldiers to keep the oil
You remember recently when I took the soldiers out of Syria, and everyone said, "Well we have to protect the border between Turkey and Syria." I said, "Why? Why? What does it have to do with us? They've been fighting for 1,000 years.
What does it have to do with us? Why are we protecting the border?" "You can't do that." I did it. We created a safe zone. And I did leave a number of soldiers because we kept the oil. There's oil there, and we kept the oil, if it's okay.
Source: Remarks by President Trump at the 2020 CPAC Conference
, Feb 29, 2020
Fact-Check: Trump has sent more troops to MidEast
President Trump said, "As we defend American lives, we are working to end America's wars in the Middle East. In Afghanistan, peace talks are underway.
We are working to finally end America's longest war and bring our troops back home!"
Fact -Check: Notwithstanding Trump's desire to shrink American commitments in the
Middle East, he has been sending more troops to the region and keeping in place many of those already posted there. Trump also has sent thousands more troops to the region as a hedge against a potential conflict with Iran following the
U.S. killing of its top general and in the aftermath of re-imposed U.S. sanctions.
Willing talk to Iran but they can't have nuclear weapons
Here's what I want, anything that gets you to the result. They cannot have a nuclear weapon. It's not about the straits. You know, a lot of people covered it incorrectly. They're never mentioned. They cannot have a nuclear weapon. They'd use it.
And they're not going to have a nuclear weapon. And it's not about the oil.
Source: NBC News Meet the Press 2019 interview
, Jun 23, 2019
Afghanistan is a military quagmire; no need to dwell further
General Petraeus and now General McMaster represented a kind of business-as-usual approach in Afghanistan and the Middle East. A stubborn McMaster kept proposing to the president new versions of the surge, but at each pitch Trump would wave him out of
the Oval Office and roll his eyes in despair and disbelief.
The president's distaste and rancor for McMaster grew on pace with the approaching need to finally make a decision on Afghanistan, a decision he continued to put off.
His position on Afghanistan--a military quagmire he knew little about, other than that it was a quagmire--had always been a derisive and caustic kiss-off of the sixteen-year war. Having inherited it did not make his feelings warmer or inspire him to
want to dwell on it further. He knew the war was cursed and, knowing that, felt no need to know more. He put the responsibility for it on two of his favorite people to blame: Bush and Obama.
One-time missile strike in response to Syria chemical attack
As a private citizen and candidate, Trump argued that Syria's civil war was not America's problem. But as president, Trump launched a missile strike on Russia's ally Assad, after the Kremlin intervened in last year's election on his behalf.
The missile strike, in response to a chemical weapons attack, was intended to be a limited, one-time operation, and the president seemed determined to quickly move on. Critics, including Senator Marco Rubio, argued that Syria's
President Assad felt free to launch a chemical attack precisely because the Trump administration had given him a green light.
Trump's action in Syria was welcomed by many traditional American allies who had fretted over Obama's reluctance to take a
greater leadership role in the Middle East. After the missile strike, Israeli news outlets were filled with headlines like "The Americans Are Back," and European leaders expressed relief both that he had taken action and that he had not gone too far.
OpEd: now believes that US has national interest in Syria
Intentionally or not, Trump has adopted language similar to that used by Obama & many other presidents in defining American priorities in Syria. While in the past Trump said the US did not have a national interest in Syria, last week he said instability
there was "threatening the US and its allies." He also said that "America stands for justice," espousing a responsibility to act in cases of human rights abuses, as other presidents have at times. Until now, Trump has largely eschewed such language.
Source: N.Y. Times on Trump Administration promises & actions
, Apr 8, 2017
Stay out of Syria, and keep Syrians out of America
Twitter posting from @realDonaldTrump on Syria intervention:
8:33 PM 15 Jun 2013 We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES & $BILLIONS? ZERO
8:19 AM 29 Aug 2013
If we are going to continue to be stupid and go into Syria, as they say in the movies, SHOOT FIRST AND TALK LATER!
8:25 AM 29 Aug 2013 Let the Arab League take care of Syria. Why are these rich Arab countries not paying us for the tremendous
cost of such an attack?
2:14 PM 29 Aug 2013 What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
8:54 AM 17 Nov 2015 Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great
country. Who knows who they are--some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?
11:55 AM 24 Mar 2016 Europe and the U.S. must immediately stop taking in people from Syria. This will be the destruction of civilization as we know it! So sad!
2013: warned Obama against bombing Syria; 2017: bombed Syria
Trump had a blunt warning for his predecessor. "We should stay the hell out of Syria," he wrote on Twitter in June 2013, after Obama directed US forces to increase support to Syrian rebels in the wake of a deadly chemical weapons.
Nearly four years
later, now president himself and grappling with how to respond to another chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, Trump ignored his own warnings and did what Obama threatened but never carried out: order a missile strike targeting assets of
To understand the magnitude of Trump's reversal, look at his Twitter account. Trump posted dozens of tweets about the conflict in the years before he declared his candidacy for the White House, and frequently did so during the
campaign as well. He carved out a staunchly noninterventionist stance on the conflict and criticised Obama's approach as plodding. But he also made one thing clear: If he was in charge, any action would be swift and secretive to catch Assad off guard.
TRUMP: Iran should write us a letter of thank you, the stupidest deal of all time, a deal that's going to give Iran absolutely nuclear weapons.
Iran should write us yet another letter saying thank you very much, because Iran, as I said many years ago, Iran is taking over Iraq, something they've wanted to do forever, but we've made it so easy for them.
Source: Third 2016 Presidential Debate moderated by Fox News
, Oct 19, 2016
FactCheck: Would shoot Iranian warships too near US warships
Hillary asserted, "The other day, I saw Donald saying that there were some Iranian sailors on a ship in the waters off of Iran, and they were taunting American sailors who were on a nearby ship. He said, 'you know, if they taunted our sailors, I'd blow
them out of the water and start another war.' That's not good judgment." Trump replied, "That would not start a war. No, they were taunting us." Is it true that he said it as Hillary asserted?
Trump indeed recently said, "With Iran, when they circle
our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water." Wonkette.com reports that on Sept. 4, seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boats
approached the USS Firebolt in the Persian Gulf; one Iranian boat came within 100 yards of the USS Firebolt. Wonkette.com concludes that Trump's tough talk was cheered by the crowd at the Values Voter Summit, which chanted "USA! USA!" and "Shoot them!"
When we defeated Iraq, we didn't know what to do after that
I was totally against the war in Iraq. I was against the war in Iraq because I said it's going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. It has absolutely been a disastrous war.
Part of the problem that we've had is we go in, we defeat
somebody, and then we don't know what we're doing after that. We lose it, like as an example, you look at Iraq, what happened, how badly that was handled. When President Obama took over, it was a disaster.
He took everybody out and ISIS was formed. If you look at the aftermath of Iraq, Iran is going to be taking over Iraq.
If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and wealth of that oil.
They have among the largest oil reserves in the world. We go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then, we get nothing. It used to be to the victor belong the spoils. I always said: Take the oil.
Current leadership hurts military; need change to beat ISIS
Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it's embarrassing for our country. You have a force of 30,000 or so people. I can see General George Patton spinning in his
grave with ISIS we can't beat. I have great faith in the military. I have great faith in certain of the commanders. But I have no faith in Hillary Clinton. When she starts saying, "Oh, I would have done this," she's been there for 30 years.
We have had the worst and you could even say the dumbest foreign policy. Our results are so bad. We would have been better off had we never, ever spent $2 in that part of the world.
I have great respect for the
[military leadership] that gave us the [national security] briefings. They were experts on Iraq and Iran and Russia. There was one thing that shocked me. What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts said to do.
FactCheck: Supported Iraq invasion in 2002; opposed in 2003
Trump has claimed that he opposed the Iraq War before the invasion began--as an example of his great judgment. But in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump said he supported an Iraq invasion. In an interview on Sept. 11, 2002, Stern asked
Trump directly if he was for invading Iraq. "Yeah I guess so," Trump responded. "I wish the first time it was done correctly."
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was against the Iraq War before it began, despite no evidence of him publicly stating
this position. Trump's comments on Stern's show are more in line with what he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, where he advocated for a "principled and tough" policy toward "outlaw" states like Iraq.
Asked at the CNN town hall about the
Stern interview, Trump said, "I could have said that. I wasn't a politician. It was probably the first time anyone has asked me that question. By the time the war started, I was against it, and shortly thereafter, I was really against."
Gov. Jeb BUSH: Donald Trump wants to accommodate Russia. Russia is not taking out ISIS. They're attacking our team, the team that we've been training and the team that we've been supporting. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a
positive partner in this. I would restore the military; the sequester needs to be reversed.
Q [to Trump]: You said that you could get along very well with Vladimir Putin. You did say let Russia take care of ISIS.
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong. You fight
ISIS first. You have to knock 'em out. You decide what to do after, you can't fight two wars at one time. If you listen to him, that's why we've been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven't won anything. We've spent $5 trillion dollars in
the Middle East with thinking like that. We've spent $5 trillion dollars; we have to rebuild our country. We have to rebuild our infrastructure. you listen to that you're going to be there for another 15 years. You'll end up with world war three.
Trump and Jeb Bush encapsulated the GOP's long-running schism between its establishment wing and its rebellious insurgency in a single raw and unusually personal exchange over the war in Iraq and the legacy of the
George W. Bush era. "The war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake," said Trump. "They lied," Trump continued. "They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none."
Source: Los Angeles Times on 2016 presidential hopefuls
, Feb 13, 2016
Assad is a bad guy, but his replacement could be worse
Gov. Jeb BUSH: We should have a no fly zone in Syria.
TRUMP: Assad is a bad guy, but we have no idea who the so-called rebels--nobody even knows who they are.
Carly FIORINA: Governor Bush is correct. We must have a no fly zone in Syria.
TRUMP: So, I don't like Assad. Who's going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people, and what they're going to be, and what they're going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad. Look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at the mess we have
after spending $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place--we have nothing. And, I said, keep the oil. And we should have kept the oil, believe me. We should have kept the oil. And, you know what? We should have
given big chunks of the oil to the people that lost their arms, their legs, and their families, and their sons, and daughters, because right now, you know who has a lot of that oil? Iran, and ISIS.
We should have demanded a deal with Kuwait to liberate them
When Kuwait was attacked by Saddam Hussein, all the wealthy Kuwaitis ran to Paris. They didn't just rent suites--they took up whole buildings, entire hotels. They lived like kings while their country was occupied.
Who did they turn to for help?
Who else? Uncle Sucker. That's us. We spent billions of dollars sending our army to win back Kuwait. Our people were killed and wounded, but the Iraqis went back to their country.
About two months after the war, several Kuwaitis came up to my office.
They told me, "We want to invest outside the United States." We had just handed them back their country! They were watching TV in the best hotel rooms in Paris while our kids were fighting for them. And they didn't want to invest in this country?
How stupid are we? Why didn't the United States make a deal with them that outlined how they would pay for us to get their country back for them? They would have paid anything if just asked.
I'm pro-military but I opposed invading Iraq in 2003
TRUMP: I am the only person on this dais that fought very, very hard against us going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq--that was in 2003, you can check it out--I'll give you 25 different stories. In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to
see me because I was so vocal about it. I'm a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I'm the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq.
Sen. Rand PAUL: I've made my career as being an opponent of the
Iraq War. We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We're still paying the repercussions of a bad decision.
Dr. Ben CARSON: When the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war. So I just want that on the record.
Opposed Iraq war in 2004 & predicted Mideast destabilization
In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East.
And I'm the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that's exactly what happened. And the Middle East became totally destabilized.
Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript
, Aug 6, 2015
Iraq should pick up the tab for their own liberation
When you do someone a favor, they say thank you. When you give someone a loan, they pay you back. And when a nation like the US sacrifices thousands of lives of its own young servicemen and women and more than a trillion dollars to bring freedom to the
people of Iraq, the least the Iraqis should do is pick up the tab for their own liberation.
How much is it worth to them to be rid of the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and to have gained a democracy? In reality, that's a priceless gift.
When I say they should pay us back, I'm not even talking about cash out of their pockets. All I'm asking is that they give us, temporarily, a few flows of oil--enough to help pay us back and help take care of the tens of thousands of families and
children whose brave loved ones died or were injured while securing Iraqi freedom.
But does Iraq do that? No. In fact, they've made it clear they have no intention of ever doing so. Ever. The ingratitude of Iraq's leadership is breathtaking.
Stop Iran's nuclear programs by any & all means necessary
America's primary goal with Iran must be to destroy its nuclear ambitions. Let me put them as plainly as I know how: Iran's nuclear program must be stopped--by any and all means necessary. Period. We cannot allow this radical regime to acquire a nuclear
weapon that they will either use or hand off to terrorists. Better now than later!
Pres. Bush authorized a covert program to "undermine the electrical and computer systems" at Natanz, Iran's uranium enrichment facility. What came out of that initiative
was the Stuxnet cyber worm. It was unleashed against Iran's nuclear centrifuges and made them spin so fast they destroyed themselves. The operation was very successful and destroyed roughly 1/5 of Iran's centrifuges.
No one knows for sure how many months or years we put back on Iran's nuclear clock. Some analysts say 6 months, others 1 or 2 years, But that's the point: the clock is still ticking.
Support Israel, our unsinkable Mideast aircraft carrier
The U.S. must continue to nurture and safeguard our special relationship with the state of Israel. This relationship must remain the cornerstone of our policy tactics through the entire Middle-East region,
as it has been for administrations of both parties for more than half a century.
Why do we have this special relationship? It is not out of charity, guilt, or what some call “ethnic lobbies.”
We have been there for Israel because Israel is there for us. Israel is a stable democracy in a region filled with dictatorship.
As Israel has matured, our close ties also bring America a fair trading partner and a fellow pioneer
on the high-tech frontier of medicine and communications that will enrich Americans’ lives in the coming century. Our two countries must continue to stand strong together as pillars of freedom and progress.
Trump was always well aware of how the Bush dynasty viewed him--he was not part of the plan. Jeb Bush was supposed to win the Republican nomination, and Trump got in the way. But George H.W. Bush's dislike of Trump ran deeper than Trump assumes.
Bush was particularly disturbed when Trump, who received four student deferments from military service between 1964 and 1968, and one medical deferment after college, famously attacked John McCain at a Christian conservative gathering in the summer of
2015. "I like people who weren't captured," Trump said, referring to the Arizona senator's 5 years as a prisoner who was tortured at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War. "He's not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured,"
"I can't understand how somebody could say that and still be taken seriously," Bush said, particularly upset because of his own service during World War II. "I'm getting old," he told friends, "at just the right time."
Axios.com summary: The House passed a symbolic war powers resolution directing President Trump to halt the use of military force against Iran unless he obtains approval from Congress.
The big picture: A classified briefing on the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani [by the US military] left Democrats and even some Republicans deeply skeptical, with many claiming that officials did not provide evidence that there was an "imminent" threat from Iran. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said they will vote in favor of a similar resolution in the Senate [S J Res 68].
What opponents are saying: Former national security adviser and notorious Iran hawk John Bolton tweeted: "The 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the President and Congress. The Resolution should be repealed." Pres. Trump quote tweeted
Bolton and added: "Smart analysis, I fully agree!"
What supporters are saying: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was one of the few Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution, stating on the House floor: "Killing Soleimani was the right decision, but engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced legislation that would block funding for offensive military force against Iran without congressional authorization. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is also seeking to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used repeatedly to justify war in the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001, criticizing it as a "blank check."
Legislative outcome: H Con Res 83 Passed House 224-194-13 on 1/9/20; S J Res 68 passed Senate 55-45-0 on 2/13/20. Vetoed 5/6; Senate veto override failed 5/7/20.
Source: Congressional vote 20-SCR33 on Jan 9, 2020
Let Israel decide on annexation of West Bank.
Justice Trump wrote the dissent on Resolution on Israeli Annexation on Jun 5, 2019:
Congressional summary: A resolution affirming the United States commitment to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and noting that Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank would undermine peace,, harm Israel's relationship with its Arab neighbors, threaten Israel's Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine Israel's security.
Aljazeera summary, 4/22/20: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it was Israel's decision whether to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, and the US will offer its views on this to the new Israeli government in private. "As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions," Pompeo told reporters. Israel's intention--in accordance with President Trump's Middle East plan--to annex the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements would defy international law. Last year, the Trump administration said it would no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal
opinion that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law".
Letter to Secretary Pompeo from 13 members of Congress on 6/30/20: We express our deep concern over the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory by the government of Israel. Annexing parts of the West Bank will perpetuate and entrench human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including limitations on freedom of movement and mass expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land. Furthermore, Israel has stated it will not grant citizenship to Palestinians living in annexed territory or to the many more Palestinians living in the isolated enclaves that Israel will opt not to annex, paving the path toward an apartheid system. Already existing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, amount to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Legislative outcome: Never reached a vote.
Source: Supreme Court case 20-SRes234 argued on Jun 5, 2019
Click here for 17 older quotations from Donald Trump on War & Peace.