Trump’s Rubicon moment in Iraq: Praising America’s ‘warriors,’ ending wars

Here is Seth Frantzman writing at the Jerusalem Post about Trump’s “Rubicon moment”:

“We like to win; we are going to win,” US President Donald Trump told the troops at Al-Asad airbase in central Iraq.

It was his first visit to US forces abroad, and comes in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. It also comes in the wake of the resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was popular with the troops, and also the resignation of anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk.

Trump’s decision to go to Iraq the day after Christmas is part of an attempt to change the narrative after being slammed for his reversal of Syrian policy and accusations that he made the decision without consulting the Pentagon or the State Department. By speaking at Al-Asad in western Iraq, he sought to reach out directly to the American military. This was an important and symbolic speech because it comes at a crucial point in his foreign policymaking and also midway into his administration.

“You’re modern day warriors,” Trump said, praising the troops.

Reading from a prepared speech, he sought to emphasize some points, going off the prepared text from time to time. He listed the various units at Al-Asad, including the 201st Regional Support Group, the 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group and the 3rd Cavalry regiment, as well as the special operations group stationed in Iraq.

Trump sought to highlight the achievements of the four-year-long war on ISIS, including what he said was the liberation of 20,000 square miles of territory and 3 million civilians.

“Because of these gains, the service members in Syria can come home,” he said. Trump noted the US initially getting involved in Syria for “three to four months,” which appeared to be a reference to US support of the Syrian rebels against Bashar Assad’s regime in 2011.

Read more: Middle East Forum

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