One of President Donald Trump’s primary campaign pledges in 2016 was to bring an end to U.S. military involvement in overseas wars, particularly in the Middle East — and despite concerted opposition to that goal from the political establishment and Washington bureaucracy, the president is taking steps toward fulfilling that vow.
During a speech delivered to the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Saturday, President Trump reiterated his increasingly urgent commitment to bringing home American troops who are fighting and dying in what are often intractable foreign conflicts.
It’s time to bring the troops home
On Saturday, Trump spoke about his efforts to rebuild the depleted American military and also of the incredible amount of resources spent over the years — both in taxpayer dollars and human lives — to wage seemingly endless wars in various parts of the globe.
He shared how painful it was for him personally to express condolences to the families of fallen service members and to witness grief-stricken relatives break down at the sight of their lost loved one returning home in a flag-draped coffin. He also spoke of meeting with wounded combat veterans at Walter Reed Hospital and of the terrible pain and difficult recoveries they endure as a result of their service to this nation.
“So, I see this. And I — you know, it’s — it’s a very hard thing to do. It doesn’t mean we won’t fight. We’ll fight — we’re fighting harder than anybody. But sometimes we have to know what we’re fighting for. And we can’t stay there forever. We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers — we have to bring them home. It’s time. It’s time,” the president said, to great applause from the audience.
President Trump then shifted his focus to the recent difficulties in Syria, where NATO ally Turkey is once again fighting with the Kurdish people in that war-torn region. The Turks are ostensibly engaged in an effort to create a “safe zone” buffer along their border with Syria to reduce the potential for future wars with their centuries-old Kurdish rivals — a long-running conflict in which Trump believes the U.S. has no real business being involved over the long term.
“Let them have their borders,” Trump said of Turkey. “But I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home. I don’t think so.”
The president also remarked that our nation’s military — with the aid of allies — had swiftly taken down the so-called “caliphate” of the Islamic State jihadists, something his “Washington generals” didn’t think could be done quickly, but that the generals actually in the field promised to do rapidly, and did.
An end in sight
Circling back to the current conflict between the Turks and Kurds, Trump aptly predicted that any decision he made in its regard — whether to withdraw U.S. troops from the fight or stand in the way and battle a NATO ally — would have been harhsly criticized by the media and the D.C. political establishment.
“But no matter what we did, the media will say it’s the wrong decision. I see it. It makes no difference. If I said, ‘We’re going to stay and fight. We’re going to fight them like they never saw,’ they’ll say, ‘It’s terrible. I told you he loves war,'” Trump said.
The president also spoke of the interminable 18-year-long fight in Afghanistan and of his efforts to help protect persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, but reiterated once again that, absent clear goals and an exit strategy, the U.S. doesn’t need to be involved in “never-ending” wars.
“Any military engagement where we send young men and women to fight and die must have clear objectives, vital national interests, and a realistic plan for how the conflict will end,” the president said. “We don’t want to be in 19-year wars where we serve as a policing agent for the whole country.”