Trump blocked from bringing U.S. troops home

Then-president Donald Trump sent a secret memo to the Pentagon after he lost the election pushing them to withdraw US troops stationed around the world, according to a new report.

One of Mr Trump’s closest aides, John McEntee, handed a handwritten note to retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor on 9 November 2020, saying: “This is what the president wants you to do.”

The note said to “get us out” of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It instructed the Colonel to “complete the withdrawal from Germany,” and to “get us out of Africa,” according to new reporting by Axios.

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A lot of people have worried about what happens if you get a reckless President who goes to war on impulse.  Are there legal or governmental mechanisms to stop him?

With President Trump, there was a different problem.  He impulsively tried to end wars.  And there were institutional mechanisms that stopped him.

Writers of an article on Axios told how all through his administration, he wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and how the generals resisted him and told him it couldn’t be done.

It isn’t as if Donald Trump was a consistent lover of peace.  He broke the agreement President Obama and other foreign leaders had negotiated with Iran.  He stopped the normalization of relations with Cuba.

He left the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and opposed renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), thereby increasing the possibility of nuclear war.

But at the same time, he wanted to wind down all the wars that the Obama administration had been waging.

Anytime he made a step, there was something to stop him—some atrocity story, later discredited, or some leak from Pentagon or intelligence source explaining why this would be a disaster.

Then, in his lame duck period, he wanted to order all troops withdrawn from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Germany and “Africa” before Joe Biden was sworn in.

In typical Trump fashion, he at first did not issue the order himself.  Instead he told an underling to tell the generals that was what he wanted.

The generals, quite reasonably, wanted a written order, and after some fumbling the order was issued.  By then, it was too late.

This was being done in secret.  There would have been a rebellion in Congress, not to mention the Washington press corps, if this had been known.

This is partly a story of Trump’s incompetence and weakness.  Recall that the Mueller investigation could not produce evidence that he obstructed the Russiagate investigation because he was never organized enough or forceful enough to actually obstruct anything.

But it is also a story of how Washington is biased toward war.  President Obama was more savvy than Trump, but he didn’t think he was able to overcome the generals’ resistance to ending the war in Afghanistan.

Continuous war is now normal.  It is the default position.  It no longer needs a justification, other than avoiding the humiliation of defeat.  We Americans depend on a war economy to create jobs, generate business profits and fund scientific research.

As in Germany in the time of Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm, as in many South American and Middle East countries today, the military is an independent or semi-independent part of government with its own policy.

President Biden decided to renew START, which would have expired in February.  He set a new deadline with withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, but there are reports that the U.S. will continue to intervene there by means of flying killer drones and covert operations.

Whether he will ramp up the new cold war with Russia and China, or wind down other wars, remains to be seen.  I’m not hopeful, but maybe he’ll surprise.

A President determined to end the forever wars would have to have an iron will.  He would have to face the possibility of being a one-term President.

Unlike Trump, he would have to have a team of loyal supporters he could insert into key points of government to ensure his orders were carried out.

One of Trump’s weaknesses was that he was an outsider; he didn’t understand Washington, and he didn’t have trusted friends who understood Washington.  Like a Mafioso, the only people he really trusts are members of his immediate family.

Too bad.  If Trump had been able to wind down the wars, he would have gone down in history as a great President.

LINKS

Off the rails: Trump’s failed 11th hour military withdrawal campaign by Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu for Axios.

The Deep State Thwarted Trump’s Afghanistan Withdrawal by Doug Bandow for The American Conservative.

Biden’s Appeasement of Hawks and Neocons Is Crippling His Diplomacy by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies for The Progressive.  [Added 5/21/2021]

Updated 5/21/2021.

 

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One Response to “Trump blocked from bringing U.S. troops home”

  1. James Says:

    Maybe.
    Or maybe it would’ve just been another impulsive tantrum, like Amy Carter setting cookies to burn in the oven on the day her family moved out. When the sudden power vacuum in the Middle East inevitably caused everything to go to shit, 45 could accuse 46 of “mismanaging the peace that he inherited”. Or when 46 was forced, at great expense, to reinstate a military presence, 45 could then accuse him of being a big-spending warmonger. Donald is certainly incompetent at a lot of things, but he does know how to leave giant messes for others to stumble on.

    Like

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