By Quint Forgey, Politico: President Donald Trump on Monday offered a confusing description of his foreign policy priorities as commander in chief — insisting that he is 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.
The remarks from the president come as his administration confronts escalating tensions across the Middle East and navigates new troop movements in the region.
Trump in recent days has sought to promote a temporary cease-fire agreement Vice President Mike Pence negotiated last week with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, aimed at halting the slaughter of U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria by Turkish forces.
Meanwhile, Trump’s directive to withdraw the last American service members from Syria has forced congressional lawmakers and Pentagon officials to reckon with the threat of a potential resurgence by Islamic State militants.
The more than 700 evacuated U.S. soldiers will be relocated to western Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday, although new media reports indicate Trump is considering keeping a few hundred soldiers in northeastern Syria to counter advances by Syrian and Russian forces into the country's lucrative oil fields.
Esper also announced earlier this month that the administration would be deploying another wave of troops to Saudi Arabia to help protect the kingdom from Iran’s regime, despite Trump’s campaign trail pledge to halt U.S. involvement in “endless wars.”
The diplomatic relationship between Washington and the Islamic Republic has increasingly frayed since Trump’s decision last year to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 multinational nuclear pact, and the administration’s steady series of sanctions against Tehran have in part provoked acts of Iranian aggression around the Persian Gulf.
First published in Politico. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff.
Quint Forgey previously worked as a digital producer and editorial intern for POLITICO, a freelancer and news intern for The Wall Street Journal, an associate producer for Louisiana Public Broadcasting, a reporting intern for The News Journal in Delaware, and a national reporting fellow for the Carnegie-Knight News21 program.