Trump on Withdrawal from Iraq in 2007: ‘Declare Victory and Leave’

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Donald Trump has used up the last couple of news cycles repeating the ridiculous lie that Pres. Obama is the “founder of ISIS.” He also said the bloodthirsty terror group “honors” the president.

The flimsy basis of Trump’s false narrative is that U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq early in the president’s first term, and that ISIS arose to fill the power vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal.

Never mind that ISIS began as an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Iraq, an insurgency that established itself in 2003 after the Bush administration fired more than 300,000 Iraqi soldiers and sent them home jobless, with few prospects and fully armed.

Never mind that the date of the U.S. troop withdrawal was specified in the Status of Forces agreement negotiated by the Bush administration and the democratically elected government of Iraq.

And never mind that Donald Trump himself was strongly in favor of the withdrawal at the time. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Trump in March 2007 what he thought the U.S. should do, Trump replied “Declare victory and leave.”

Transcript:

BLITZER: The war is hovering over politics right now, as it should. This is the dominant issue, at least right now of our time. Give us your assessment. Is there a way out?

TRUMP: The war is total disaster. It’s a catastrophe, nothing less. It is such a shame that this took place. In fact, I gained a lot of respect for our current president’s father by the fact that he had the sense not to go in to Iraq. He won the war and then said let’s not go the rest of the way and he turned out to be right.

And Saddam Hussein, whether they like him or didn’t like him, he hated terrorists. He’d shoot and kill terrorists. When terrorists came in to his country, which he did control and he did dominate, he would kill terrorists. Now it’s a breeding ground for terrorists. So, look, the war is a total catastrophe…

BLITZER: Who do you blame?

TRUMP: … and they have a civil war going on…

BLITZER: Who do you blame?

TRUMP: Well there’s only one person you can blame and that’s our current president. I mean obviously Rumsfeld was a disaster and other people that are giving him advice have been a disaster, and Condoleezza Rice, who’s a lovely woman, but she never makes a deal. She doesn’t make deals. She waves. She gets off the plane. She waves. She sits down with some dictator 45-degree angle. They do the camera shot. She waves again. She gets back on the plane. She waves. No deal ever happens, so I mean…

BLITZER: You got to close a deal at some point?

TRUMP: You got to make deals. The world is dying to make deals and we don’t have the right people doing it.

BLITZER: The vice president, Dick Cheney.

TRUMP: Well he’s obviously a very hawkish guy on the war. He said the war was going fantastically just a few months ago, and you know, it’s just very sad. I don’t know if they’re bad people. I don’t know what’s going on. I just know that they got us in to a mess, the likes of which this country has probably never seen.

It’s one of the great catastrophes of all time and perhaps even worse, the rest of the world hates us. You go throughout Europe, I travel, I do deals all over the world. The Europeans hate us. You go to Germany. You go to England, you go to places that, you know, we didn’t have problems with. They all hate the Americans because of what’s happened.

We had a chance after September 11th to be the most — for the first time ever, to be the most popular nation on earth. And we blew it. Everybody, for the first time people felt sympathy. I’m not saying it’s a great thing to have sympathy in terms of yourself, but for the first time they felt a sympathy and love for this country because of what happened. And we blew it.

BLITZER: How does the United States get out of this situation? Is there a way … TRUMP: You know how they get out? They get out. That’s how they get out. Declare victory and leave, because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. They’re in a civil war over there, Wolf. There’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do with a civil war. They are in a major civil war.

And it’s going to go to Iran, and it’s going to go to other countries. They are in the midst of a major civil war. And there’s nothing — by the way, we’re keeping the lid on a little bit but date we leave anyway it’s all going to blow up. And Saddam Hussein will be a nice person compared to the man and it will be a man, it will not a woman, that we understand. People say, oh, gee, you didn’t give a woman a chance. It will be a man.

Compared to the person that takes over for Saddam Hussein, he will be considered a nice person. This guy will be the meanest, the worst guy and he’ll have one thing, one thing, he will hate America, and he’ll use that to flame. So, I mean, this is a total catastrophe and you might as well get out now, because you just are wasting time.

BLITZER: What …

TRUMP: And lives. You know, nobody talks about the soldiers that are coming back with no arms and no legs. And I saw at Mara Lago on Mondays, I make Mara Lago, my club that you know about.

BLITZER: In Palm Beach …

TRUMP: I make that — twice now, on a Monday I let returning Iraqi injured soldiers come to the premises. The most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. But they’re missing arms and legs, they’re with their wives, sometimes they’re with their girlfriends.

And the tears are coming down the faces of these people. I mean, thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands, and the Iraqis that have been just maimed and killed.

This war is a horrible thing. Now, President Bush says he’s religious. And yet 400,000 people, the way I count it, have died, and probably millions have been badly maimed and injured.

What’s going on? What’s going on? And the day we pull out it’s going to explode. We’re keeping the lid on a little bit. It’s still a catastrophe, but the day we pull out, because they’re in a civil war. Whether we want to admit it or not, they’re in a civil war.

For the record, a writer at Military.com describes the founding of ISIS this way:

The Islamic State group began as Iraq’s local affiliate of al-Qaida, the group that attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. The group carried out massive attacks against Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, fueling tensions with al-Qaida’s central leadership. The local group’s then-leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in 2006 in a U.S. airstrike but is still seen as the Islamic State group’s founder.

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