"Worst mistake in U.S. history"
The Middle East military campaign was the biggest mistake in American history, U.S. President Donald Trump believes.
"The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush," Trump said during an exclusive interview with Hill.TV. According to Trump, Obama may have gotten U.S. soldiers out wrong.
The president recalled that the U.S. spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. "To me, it's the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you," Trump concluded.
Different estimates exist on the costs of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Trump has frequently criticized. A recent estimate by Brown University put the cost, as of September 2017, and $5.6 trillion, a total that includes costs associated with the two U.S. wars, military action related to Pakistan and Syria, homeland security expenses and health-care costs for veterans of the wars. The Pentagon estimates total expenditures related to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria between 2001 and 2018 are $1.52 trillion.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that it is difficult to take seriously this statement by Trump. "It's of declarative nature. The U.S. military budget has grown under Trump, it has reached some $700 billion, $66 billion of which were provided for overseas operations, involving the Middle East. We see the reluctance of Americans to withdraw from the east of Syria, where their presence is illegal. We have heard nothing of any plans to reduce the presence of U.S. troops abroad. Therefore, Trump's words about the Middle East look like a broadcast statement aimed mainly at offending from the U.S. mistakes in the Middle East," the diplomat said.
"If Trump's words are not backed up by any specific things, including withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East, primarily from Syria, it is impossible to take them seriously," Andrei Baklanov emphasized.
He also pointed out that $7 trillion were not just spent on the operation, but invested in the U.S. military-industrial complex. "Which additionally speaks of Trump's hypocrisy, who is very grievous for the interests of the military-industrial complex. Perhaps in the future Trump will geographically redistribute the accents, but the policy of swapping the increasing military production will continue, as well as the dumping of surplus supplies. As for the arms race and show of muscle, we have not seen any positive moments during Trump's presidency. Now he just wants to kick the predecessors once again, who allegedly spent money inefficiently," the deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association concluded.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, on the contrary, said that Trump wants the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. "The entry of troops into Iraq was a monstrous mistake, albeit less than the wars in Korea and Vietnam. The Iraq operation, perhaps, the third biggest mistake, entailed monstrous financial costs in the name of vague political goals. By the way, the Americans entered Syria at the request of Saudi Arabia to stop Iran's nuclear program. Then Washington reached an agreement with Tehran, and pressing Iran through Syria became pointless - but the Saudi lobby are on their guard. In fact, American troops remained in Syria for so long because of corruption, because the Saudis bribed U.S. intelligence services and congressmen in order to achieve decisions of U.S. state structures in favor of Saudi Arabia," he said.
"Now that the Americans have withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran, they again have a reason to fight in Syria, but, on the other hand, Trump does not want to spend huge amounts of money on this military operation for vague purposes. He believes that it should be paid by the customers of the anti-Iranian war. The intelligence and the Pentagon, in turn, would like to continue the Middle East operation, since they do not care about the American economy," Sergei Markov noted.