jump to example.com

Trump backs off Iraq charge: Admits he favored the war

donald trump | @SheldonRichman | Support this author on Patreon

Alas, Donald Trump has backed off from his charge that the Bush administration lied the country into war against Iraq, telling a CNN town-hall broadcast Thursday night that he doesn’t know why Bush invaded. “I’m not talking about lying. I’m not talking about not lying,” he said. “No one knows why we went into Iraq.” But Trump restated the obvious: that Saddam Hussein and Iraq did not fly planes into the World Trade Center. And he again, to his credit, said the war “may have been the worst decision any president has made in the history of this country…. Whether [George W. Bush] lied or not, it was a horrible decision.” (See video.)

Trump’s shameful wimping out under firm questioning from a voter may reflect troubles in the polls — he was campaigning in South Carolina, where George W. Bush and anything military are popular — but it’s a blow to the badly needed public discussion of the disastrous war, which has destabilized the Middle East by boosting the bin Ladenites and helping to give rise to the Islamic State, first in Iraq, then in Syria, and now far beyond.

As for Trump, who seems willing to take whatever position serves his purpose at the moment, we now know that he told radio host Howard Stern on September, 11, 2002, six months before Bush started the war, that he favored the mission. (Audio here.) Asked by Stern if he approved of the coming invasion, Trump said, “Yeah, I guess so,” adding, “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

But before he was reminded of that piece of Trumpiana, he told the town-hall audience, “I said don’t go into Iraq. It’s going to ruin the balance of the Middle East…. It may have been the worst decision anybody has made, any president has made in the history of this country.”

Asked by town-hall host Anderson Cooper about his opposite remark to Stern, Trump conceded that he “may have” said it (again, here’s the audio), chalking the statement up to his not being a politician and its being the first time he was asked the question — rather peculiar excuses. “By the time the war started, I was against the war,” Trump told Cooper. “And shortly thereafter, I was really against it.”

We have no evidence of this. The public record shows that Trump did not express opposition until 2004, over a year after the invasion, when the occupation of Iraq had obviously gone sour.

Trump has repeatedly said he was an early opponent of the invasion and even that the Bush administration asked him to keep quiet about the war. Again, he has not proved this.

All of this is really too bad. The Bush team did indeed lie its way into war with Iraq, and the war has had horrible consequences. If you doubt that dishonesty was at the core of the push for war, see this reading list compiled by Scott Horton, the best antiwar radio host around. (Also see this summary of accurate reporting during the run-up to the war and Justin Raimondo’s “Were We Lied into War?”) It doesn’t take much Googling to learn that the administration was lying big time and that he was called out at the time.

So where does that leave us? Trump’s reversal enables anyone who refuses to even consider that the U.S. government would lie its way into a war to say, “See? Even Trump doesn’t say that anymore.” That’s too bad.

The reversal and revelation from the Stern show also demonstrate what we already knew: that Trump can’t be trusted. Some have grasped onto a few isolated flashes of foreign-policy realism in Trump’s statements, such as his criticism (at least now) of the bombing and regime change in Libya, of regime change in Syria, and his apparent reluctance to confront Russia in Syria. But what reason has he given us to think he really believes anything he says? He’s been on all sides of issues over the years. Moreover, his alleged realism must be judged against his promise to make the military so powerful that “no one will mess with us.” How does he define “mess with us”? Considering the size of his ego and his thin skin, I shudder to think what he as “commander in chief” would regard as an adequate reason to use military force.

I see no way for advocates of a pacifist foreign policy to find comfort in Trump. The fit just is not there. Of course, no Republican rival is any better, and rhetorically they are all far worse. And the Democrats? Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy would be just as much at home on the Republican side. The war party is really a unified entity, despite some surface differences. And yes, Bernie Sanders’s record is terrible, even allowing for his vote against the Iraq war resolution. He favors U.S. bombing in Syria and elsewhere, and he wants to get Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments to fight the same jihadis they’ve encouraged for so long in their campaign against Iran. Moreover, Sanders has shown little interest in foreign policy during the campaign. Still I can’t help but think that Sanders’s disposition is more consistent with a noninterventionist foreign policy. Maybe it’s no more than a gut feeling, but it’s something.

I generally see no good reason to vote, and I certainly wouldn’t give money to a candidate. But I confess that I sometimes root against a particular candidate. If Sanders gets the nomination, I expect I’ll be rooting for the Republican to lose.

   
Discussion
 
Highlights

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra

Chris Graham interviews Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra.

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival set for Saturday

The Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday in Downtown Waynesboro.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

   
Recent Posts
   
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.