WASHINGTON — President Trump said Tuesday that he will make a decision soon on U.S. troop levels in Syria, saying he wants to “bring our troops back home” as soon as possible and complaining that interventions in the Muslim world have brought America “nothing except death and destruction.”
“We’ll be making a decision as to what we do in the very near future,” Trump told reporters at a joint press conference at the White House with the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. “I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home.”
He claimed that the United States had spent $7 trillion on the global war on terrorism declared after 9/11, including invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. That figure appears to be roughly double more conventional estimates.
“We have nothing, nothing except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing,” he said. “So it’s time. It’s time. We were very successful against ISIS. We’ll be successful against anybody militarily. But sometimes it’s time to come back home, and we’re thinking about that very seriously.”
Trump, who met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman two weeks ago and spoke by telephone Monday with his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, prodded the kingdom to do more.
“Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision, and I said, ‘Well, you know, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay,’” the president said. It was unclear whether he was recounting what he told the crown prince or the king.
Trump has repeatedly made variations on this argument since launching his unorthodox presidential campaign nearly three years ago, repeatedly telling voters that the money spent on military interventions siphoned off resources better used on building schools and infrastructure in the United States.
Earlier in the press conference, Trump had promised that “we will not rest until ISIS is gone.” Last week, the president had raised eyebrows when he declared: “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”
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