Trump: Iraq War Was "The Worst Mistake, The Most Costly Mistake In The History Of Our Country" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Trump: Iraq War Was "The Worst Mistake, The Most Costly Mistake In The History Of Our Country"

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During a town hall last night with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, President Trump denounced generals who have opposed his plan for peace in the Mideast.

"Tom Friedman of The New York Times wrote incredible, glowing articles last week about this incredible thing that I've been able to do in the Middle East. A guy like Jim Mattis could have never done it because they were all doing it the old-fashioned way," Trump said. "What happened today with UAE and with Bahrain and with Israel, people don't even believe it. And George, as sure as you're sitting there, I have numerous other countries in that region that are going to be signing very soon also. You'll have peace in the Middle East."

"And this is without war and without losing--and I'm talking about on both sides but without losing our great, young soldiers."


"They were killed in the Middle East, and in many ways, nobody even knows why," Trump said. "Going there was the worst decision in the history of our country. We've spent $8 trillion, and we've lost you know thousands of lives but really millions of lives because I view both sides. Okay, if that's okay. Millions of lives. This was the worst decision. And by the way, Iraq did not like--you know, Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center."

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: With the generals. General Mattis said you're a divider; you're not trying to unite the country. General Kelly said he agreed with that. John Bolton, who was your National Security Advisor, said you are a danger to the country.

The people in these top military positions who served most closely with you have said you're unfit for office. How do you respond to that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: These are people that I let go. These are disgruntled former employees, to put it in a nice way, a term people would understand. Mattis was a highly overrated general, didn't do a good job, didn't do good on ISIS. I took over 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate. I had the people that I wanted in. Mattis was fired, as you know, by President Obama, and I fired him also. Okay?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, he resigned.

TRUMP: He didn't resign. I said, give me a letter. No more, give me a letter. I was being nice. One of the problems when you're nice, oftentimes, it comes back to hit you. I said, Jim, give me a letter. It's time for you to move on.

He gave me a letter. But I fired him. That's called, I fired him. Now, General Mattis didn't do a good job. I wasn't happy with him. If you look at John Bolton, John Bolton, all he wanted to do was blow people up. He wanted to go to war with everybody and, frankly, I used him very nicely. I'd bring him into a room on a negotiation. When people saw them they said, oh, wow, he's going to go to war.

I brought--I'm bringing our troops back from Afghanistan. I'm bringing our troops back from Iraq. We're almost out of almost every place. You know, everybody said because of my personality, they said he'll be in a war immediately. Look at North Korea, how that's worked out. We have--the sanctions are on. Everything's the same. We haven't spent anything. We're getting along with him. I get along with Kim Jong-un. That was supposed to be a war.

If President Obama were president, if Hillary Clinton ever got in, that would be a war. We would have a war probably a nuclear war with North Korea. In the meantime, I'm getting calls all the time from friends of mine in South Korea. Thank you. We love you. Thank you. It's really been rather amazing.

So instead of wars, everybody said look at what we had today with the United Arab Emirates and--UAE. And just take a look at what happened with Israel today with that. Take a look at what's going on. If you--if you-- that was going to be a problem. We're actually creating peace in the Middle East without blood staining our sand--

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you--

TRUMP: But look at--look at what happened with Bahrain--


STEPHANOPOULOS: You have criticized Jim Mattis.

TRUMP: But George, look at today what happened with Bahrain. Look at--well, a guy like Jim Mattis would have disagreed with the way I went about it, and I have turned out to be correct.

Tom Friedman of The New York Times wrote incredible, glowing articles last week about this incredible thing that I've been able to do in the Middle East. A guy like Jim Mattis could have never done it because they were all doing it the old-fashioned way. They were going in the wrong outlets and the wrong doors.

And what happened today with UAE and with Bahrain and with Israel, people don't even believe it. And George, as sure as you're sitting there, I have numerous other countries in that region that are going to be signing very soon also. You'll have peace in the Middle East, and this is without war and without losing--and I'm talking about on both sides but without losing our great, young soldiers.

You know, I go to Dover, and I greet, oftentimes, soldiers coming in, and they're dead. And there's no sadder thing than to sit with a widow or a mother and watch these big massive cargo planes, and that back opens up, and these incredible Marines are walking off a casket, and they were killed in the Middle East, and in many ways, nobody even knows why.

Going there was the worst decision in the history of our country. We've spent $8 trillion, and we've lost you know thousands of lives but really millions of lives because I view both sides. Okay, if that's okay. Millions of lives. This was the worst decision. And by the way, Iraq did not like--you know, Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center, in case you don't know, and I'm sure you do know that.

They said they had weapons of mass destruction. They made a mistake. So we're now $8 trillion, we've been in there 20 years--almost 20 years and Afghanistan I guess it's getting very close to that, it's over 19 and we're bringing our soldiers back home. Nobody expected that from me. And people are so happy about it. And you know who's the happiest? The soldiers, I see them all the time. What do you think, should we be here? No, sir, you shouldn't be here. Why? They don't like us, sir.

And I'll tell you what, I've rarely met a soldier that's over there--they're better than anybody because they can tell you better than anybody what's happening. Rarely do I meet a soldier that says we should be there. It was the worst mistake, the most costly mistake in the history of our country going into the Middle East.
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