Donald Trump on War & Peace
2016 Republican nominee for President; 2000 Reform Primary Challenger for President
TRUMP: I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed that subject. We would be so much better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now. If these politicians went to the beach and didn't do a thing, and we had Saddam Hussein and if we had Gadhafi in charge, instead of having terrorism all over the place, at least they killed terrorists, all right? And I'm not saying they were good--because they were bad, they were really bad--but we don't know what we're getting. You look at Libya right now, ISIS, as we speak, is taking over their oil. As we speak, it's a total mess. We would have been better off if the politicians took a day off instead of going into war.
CRUZ: We're hopeful that the violence will cease, but there's reason to be highly skeptical. Russia has enhanced its position because of Obama's weakness in the Middle East, weakness in Syria.
TRUMP: I don't because it not working and the countries aren't agreeing to it and the rebels aren't agreeing and Syria is not agreeing. It's a meaningless ceasefire. I would love it, but all parties have to be part of it.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was against the Iraq War before it began, despite no evidence of him publicly stating this position. Trump's comments on Stern's show are more in line with what he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, where he advocated for a "principled and tough" policy toward "outlaw" states like Iraq.
Asked at the CNN town hall about the Stern interview, Trump said, "I could have said that. I wasn't a politician. It was probably the first time anyone has asked me that question. By the time the war started, I was against it, and shortly thereafter, I was really against."
Q [to Trump]: You said that you could get along very well with Vladimir Putin. You did say let Russia take care of ISIS.
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong. You fight ISIS first. You have to knock 'em out. You decide what to do after, you can't fight two wars at one time. If you listen to him, that's why we've been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven't won anything. We've spent $5 trillion dollars in the Middle East with thinking like that. We've spent $5 trillion dollars; we have to rebuild our country. We have to rebuild our infrastructure. you listen to that you're going to be there for another 15 years. You'll end up with world war three.
TRUMP: Well, four years ago, I said, bomb the oil and take the oil. And if we did that, they wouldn't have the wealth they have right now. Now, we're doing little pinpricks. If somebody's driving a truck, they give notice to the person driving the truck, "we're going to bomb." If they don't get out of the truck, the truck sails away with the oil. We don't want to bomb the oil, because we don't want to pollute the atmosphere. Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur or General Patton saying we can't bomb because we're gonna hurt the atmosphere? You have to knock the hell out of the oil. And you have also back channels of banking. You have people that you think are our great allies in the Middle East, that are paying tremendous amounts of money to ISIS. So we have to stop those circuits. So between the oil and the banking, you will dry them up. But it should have been done four years ago, not now.
TRUMP: Assad is a bad guy, but we have no idea who the so-called rebels--nobody even knows who they are.
Carly FIORINA: Governor Bush is correct. We must have a no fly zone in Syria.
TRUMP: So, I don't like Assad. Who's going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people, and what they're going to be, and what they're going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad. Look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at the mess we have after spending $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place--we have nothing. And, I said, keep the oil. And we should have kept the oil, believe me. We should have kept the oil. And, you know what? We should have given big chunks of the oil to the people that lost their arms, their legs, and their families, and their sons, and daughters, because right now, you know who has a lot of that oil? Iran, and ISIS.
TRUMP: But we're going to have to do something very strong over there. We're going to have to take away the energy, the fuel, the money from ISIS, because, in the case of ISIS-- I've been saying this for years. We have to stop the source of money. And the source of money is oil.
Q: So you'd step up the campaign against ISIS even though you believe that Vladimir Putin is getting stuck in a quagmire by going in?
TRUMP: Well, I'm not looking to quagmire, I'm looking to take the oil. The Middle East is one big, fat quagmire. If you look at the Soviet Union, it used to be the Soviet Union. They essentially went bust and it became Russia, a much smaller version, because of Afghanistan. They spent all their money. Now they're going into Syria. I'm all for Russia going in and knocking and dropping bombs on ISIS. As far as I'm concerned, we don't have to have exclusivity on that.
Who did they turn to for help? Who else? Uncle Sucker. That's us. We spent billions of dollars sending our army to win back Kuwait. Our people were killed and wounded, but the Iraqis went back to their country.
About two months after the war, several Kuwaitis came up to my office. They told me, "We want to invest outside the United States." We had just handed them back their country! They were watching TV in the best hotel rooms in Paris while our kids were fighting for them. And they didn't want to invest in this country?
How stupid are we? Why didn't the United States make a deal with them that outlined that how they would pay for us to get their country back for them? They would have paid anything if just asked.
"We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan," Trump told CNN. Trump said on October 6 that he believed entering Afghanistan was a mistake and worried about U.S. forces getting stuck there.
"At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? It's going to be a long time," Trump said, when asked about Afghanistan. "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. And at this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave."
Trump first signaled his backtrack when he said Afghanistan is "where we should have gone," meaning the US should have focused its attention on Afghanistan over Iraq.
TRUMP: I'm the most militaristic person on your show. I want to have a much stronger military. I want it to be so strong that nobody is going to mess with us. I want to take care of our vets, who are treated terribly, like third-class citizens.
Q: Well, let's take an example of some case where you may or may not use military force. It turns out Assad apparently used chemical weapons on his own people.
TRUMP: Well, you know, the time to have done it would have been when he drew the line in the sand.
Q: So, you would have done it in that case?
TRUMP: I might have gone in. Now it's such a mess over there, with everybody involved, and the airspace is very limited. It's not that big of an area. The airspace is very limited. So are we going to start World War III over Syria?
TRUMP: I don't think so. I think what I want to do is I want to sit back and I want to see what happens. You know, Russia got bogged down, when it was the Soviet Union, in Afghanistan. They thought that would be quick and easy and they'll go in and they'll clean it up...
Q: You think Putin's falling into a trap?
TRUMP: I think it's not going to be great for them, there are so many traps. There are so many problems. When I heard they were going in to fight ISIS, I said, "Great."
Q: But they're not bombing ISIS.
TRUMP: Well, not yet. But they don't want ISIS going into Russia, either. So they're not bombing them yet.
Sen. Rand PAUL: I've made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We're still paying the repercussions of a bad decision.
Dr. Ben CARSON: When the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war. So I just want that on the record.
TRUMP: I would be so different from what you have right now. Like, the polar opposite. We have a president who doesn't have a clue. I would say he's incompetent, but I don't want to do that because that's not nice. But if you look at the deals we make, whether it's the nuclear deal with 24 hour periods--and by the way, before you get to the 24 hours, you have to go through a system. You look at Sgt. Bergdahl, we get Bergdahl, a traitor, and they get 5 of the big, great killer leaders that they want. We have people in Washington that don't know what they're doing. Now, with Iran, we're making a deal, you would say, we want out our prisoners. We want all these things, and we don't get anything. We're giving them $150 billion dollars plus. I'll tell you what, if Iran was a stock, you folks should go out and buy it right now because you'll quadruple--this, what's happening in Iran, is a disgrace, and it's going to lead to destruction in large portions of the world
A: The only way you're going to beat them is that. You know why they're rich? Because they have the oil.
Q: But I don't think the government of Iraq would want us to bomb their oil fields.
A: There is no government in Iraq. The so-called government in Iraq went to Iran to meet with Iran. Iran is going to take over Iraq. That's as simple as that. I don't care about the government of Iraq. They're totally corrupt. Who cares?
In early 2015, Trump told CPAC that he felt the U.S. may need "boots on the ground" to fight the Islamic State. Soon after, he clarified to Fox News that he would send limited numbers of troops if all of his military advisers recommended it.
We spent $2 trillion in Iraq, $2 trillion. We lost thousands of lives, thousands in Iraq. We have wounded soldiers all over the place, thousands and thousands of wounded soldiers. And we have nothing. We can't even go there. We have nothing. And every time we give Iraq equipment, the first time a bullet goes off in the air, they leave it.
Last week, I read 2,300 Humvees--these are big vehicles--were left behind for the enemy. 2,300 sophisticated vehicles, they ran, and the enemy took them.
When asked about ISIS, Trump said he "would hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn't know what happened." He later claimed his approach would be one that historical military figures General Douglas McArthur and General George Patton would approve of.
How much is it worth to them to be rid of the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and to have gained a democracy? In reality, that's a priceless gift. When I say they should pay us back, I'm not even talking about cash out of their pockets. All I'm asking is that they give us, temporarily, a few flows of oil--enough to help pay us back and help take care of the tens of thousands of families and children whose brave loved ones died or were injured while securing Iraqi freedom.
But does Iraq do that? No. In fact, they've made it clear they have no intention of ever doing so. Ever. The ingratitude of Iraq's leadership is breathtaking.
Pres. Bush authorized a covert program to "undermine the electrical and computer systems" at Natanz, Iran's uranium enrichment facility. What came out of that initiative was the Stuxnet cyber worm. It was unleashed against Iran's nuclear centrifuges and made them spin so fast they destroyed themselves. The operation was very successful and destroyed roughly 1/5 of Iran's centrifuges. No one knows for sure how many months or years we put back on Iran's nuclear clock. Some analysts say 6 months, others 1 or 2 years, But that's the point: the clock is still ticking.
Why do we have this special relationship? It is not out of charity, guilt, or what some call “ethnic lobbies.” We have been there for Israel because Israel is there for us. Israel is a stable democracy in a region filled with dictatorship.
As Israel has matured, our close ties also bring America a fair trading partner and a fellow pioneer on the high-tech frontier of medicine and communications that will enrich Americans’ lives in the coming century. Our two countries must continue to stand strong together as pillars of freedom and progress.
At the same time, we must not get involved in a long-festering conflict for humanitarian reasons. If that’s our standard, we should have troops stationed all over Africa, and much of Asia as well.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)