Patterico's Pontifications


President Trump: We May Have To Get In Wars While We Pull Out Of Wars

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:42 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The Pentagon is prepping a “just in case” plan with regard to U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan:

The Pentagon recently began drawing up plans for an abrupt withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in case President Donald Trump surprises military leaders by ordering an immediate drawdown as he did in Syria, three current and former defense officials said.

The contingency planning is ongoing, the officials said, and includes the possibility that Trump orders all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan within weeks. Officials cautioned, however, that the planning is a precaution and there is currently no directive from the White House to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

One of the officials called it “prudent planning.”

Another official described the president’s current approach to Syria as “a dress rehearsal” for what could happen in Afghanistan.

While President Trump has reiterated his goal of bringing U.S. troops home, his re-deployment of troops from Syria to Iraq, as well as sending more than 1,000 troops to Saudia Arabia, undermine his pledge.

The President said today that while he was trying to get the U.S. out of wars, we may, nonetheless, have to get involved in wars:

President Donald Trump on Monday offered a confusing description of his foreign policy priorities as commander in chief — insisting that he was working to bring home American soldiers while warning the U.S. may soon enter into new military conflicts.

“I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too. OK? We may have to get in wars,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’re better prepared than we’ve ever been,” he continued. “If Iran does something, they’ll be hit like they’ve never been hit before. I mean, we have things that we’re looking at.”

With that, there is an eye-opening report out about President Trump’s first Pentagon meeting with then- Defense Secretary James Mattis, wherein Mattis attempted to help Trump understand foreign policy and the big world picture. Much to his frustration however, the President was more interested in a big, flashy military parade:

Mattis, for whom I was working as chief speechwriter, had hoped the briefing would educate Trump on the United States’ longstanding commitment to the rest of the world. That is not at all what happened.

Instead, the president burst out in the middle of the meeting.

“I just returned from France,” he said. “Did you see President Macron’s handshake?” he asked no one in particular. “He wouldn’t let go. He just kept holding on. I spent two hours at Bastille Day. Very impressive.”

A pause.

“I want a ‘Victory Day.’ Just like Veterans Day. The Fourth of July is too hot,” he said, apparently out of nowhere. “I want vehicles and tanks on Main Street. On Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to the White House. We need spirit! We should blow everybody away with this parade. The French had an amazing parade on Bastille Day with tanks and everything. Why can’t we do that?”


It was far from what Mattis had expected as he prepared meticulously for the meeting just hours before.

As the seconds ticked down, Mattis’ nervous energy had been palpable. Unusually so. Normally stoic and deliberate with his movements, this morning he was electrified. He was pacing in his office in the Pentagon, moving from a standing desk that faced the Potomac to the small circular table and back again. He shuffled his notes, putting them into a nondescript dark blue folder, pausing for a few seconds in hesitation before pulling them out again to rearrange their order. Things needed to be perfect.

I understood why he was nervous. We all did. At any time, this briefing would be a big deal for the department, regardless of the president. But in Trump’s case, the briefing had a heightened importance.


They felt incredible pressure to educate the president, believing that if only Trump could be made to recognize the value of American allies and the stability afforded by the presence of our troops, he’d reconsider and alter course.

If anyone could change the president’s mind, it was Mattis.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t. It’s a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the effort made to educate Trump about U.S. foreign policy and the impact it has on the rest of the world, as well as our relationship with other nations. It’s written by Guy Snodgrass, former chief speechwriter for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. I’m linking to it because it offers a view into why the President’s “foreign policy” is so “hazy”.


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