Trump Isn’t Bringing Any Troops Home. In Fact, He Has Sent an Additional 14,000 Troops to the Mideast Since May. It’s Just Another Con.
(October 20, 2019) —Amidst the standard demagoguery and bombast of his October 17 Dallas rally, Trump boasted that his goal in Syria is to “Bring our soldiers back home. Bring our soldiers back home.” His idolatrous and raucous audience, on cue, responded by chanting, “Bring them home! Bring them home! USA! USA! USA!” Trump then went on to state his opposition to “endless wars.”
These are certainly worthy goals, but none of what Trump said in this regard had a scintilla of truth.
According to an October 11 Department of Defense (DOD) news release, Trump has actually increased troops in the Middle East by 14,000 since last May. In fact, just two days prior to Trump ordering, on October 13, the so-called withdrawal of 1,000 troops from northeastern Syria, Secretary of Defense Mike Esper announced an additional 1,800 soldiers would be sent to Saudi Arabia to protect its oil fields from Iran. That would make 3,000 troops sent to protect the Saudi Kingdom just this month, according to the DOD press release.
According to an October 13 Washington Post article, Trump’s increase in troops in the Middle East has drawn many Congressional critics:
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) called the new deployments “a disaster waiting to happen.”
“From Turkey to Iran to Yemen, the President’s Middle East policies have been morally and strategically bankrupt. President Trump has thrown American support behind oil-rich Saudi autocrats who he thinks ‘pays cash,’ even as he betrays our Kurdish partners who have paid with their lives in the fight against ISIS,” he said in a statement.
In fact, it even appears that Trump’s claims that he is bringing the soldiers home who are in northeastern Syria is a lie.
According to an October 13 New York Times article, the bulk of the roughly 1,000 troops in Syria are positioned in the northeastern part of the country. The new orders will remove the troops from that area, sending them, at least initially, to Iraq.
The more accurate phrasing is that the US troops in northern Syria are being redeployed in the Middle East, not returning to the States. This, indeed, was confirmed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper on October 20. According to The Hill, “U.S troops leaving Syria will be relocated to western Iraq.”
On October 9, Trump tweeted that “we are slowly & carefully bringing our great soldiers & military home.” However, he is doing just the opposite: increasing our military presence in the Middle East.
In addition, the redeployment in northern Syria appears to have been done to allow the Turks to wage war on the Syrian Kurds and enable the Russians to expand their hegemony into northern Syria, not to pull the US back from involvement in the Middle East as a whole. This is particularly true of Trump’s commitment to Saudi Arabia.
An October 18 article in Foreign Policy clearly debunks Trump’s rhetorical disingenuousness:
The only constant is that Trump claims to want to end “endless wars” while doing nothing of the sort….
The problem is that Trump’s anti-war rhetoric gives cover to his war-making administration. In Syria, his withdrawal has so far meant moving soldiers from one part of Syria to another so that Turkish forces could invade. Trump currently says about 1,000 of the U.S. troops in Syria will be sent elsewhere in the Middle East. Relocation is not departure.
Still less is it ending war, for Americans or for Syrians. As in Syria, so in the greater Middle East. Trump may lambast endless war in tweets, but he has increased U.S. troop levels by 30 percent since May, in addition to nearly doubling U.S. forces in Afghanistan since taking office.
The first two years of his presidency saw 28 percent more drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan compared with his predecessor’s first two years. True, he has so far refrained from launching a new war on Iran, but his “maximum pressure” campaign helped bring the two countries close to the brink to begin with.
In short, the president claims to be ending endless war while only waging more.
Trump may try to gain political support by playing the role of a president working to reduce the US’s war footing in the Middle East. But as with all things Trump, it’s just another con.
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