President, first lady visit Iraq in first trip to troubled region

Posted December 28, 2018

While you were stuffing your face with Aunt Cathy's holiday pudding, Trump and Melania chose to visit the troops in Iraq.

Trump told the troops that other people wanted their raise to be smaller, but he fought for a double-digit boost.

Trump, who had faced criticism for not visiting U.S. forces in hot zones, traveled with the first lady to the al-Asad Airbase near Baghdad, where he mingled with troops, signed MAGA hats and defended his decision to pull out of Syria.

A person familiar with the planning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's schedule, said the White House gave the Iraqis no advance notice and asked Iraqi officials to meet Trump at the air base - a request the Iraqis balked at.

A tweet from President Donald Trump appears to have accidentally revealed that a U.S. Navy SEAL team was deployed in Iraq.

As president-elect, Trump was drawn to the brawn of the armed forces and stacked his first Cabinet with generals, many of whom have since left his administration.

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Sanders emphasized that President Trump and the prime minister had a good call and that Trump invited the prime minister to visit the White House and the prime minister accepted. In his first-ever visit to troops in a combat zone, Trump seemed to present a foreign policy doctrine that champions a perhaps untenable middle ground. "United States of America!" and speakers blaring Lee Greenwood's song, "God Bless the U.S.".

While there has been no full-scale violence in Iraq since Islamic State suffered a series of defeats past year, USA troops train and advise Iraqi forces still waging a campaign against the militant group.

"We have secured a record increase to our military budget, and we are purchasing all of this great equipment - $700 billion past year; $716 billion - with a "b", with a 'b, '" Trump said.

On his stop in Iraq, he defended his decision to pull out the 2,000 troops from Syria, which he has said was made possible by the defeat of Islamic State militants.

Like presidents before him, Trump's visit was shrouded in secrecy.

Lawmakers decried the visit as arrogant and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

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In a statement, he said Trump was "acting as if Iraq is a state under his authority" and must be informed "of his limits".

"You can't have any more time".

But those decisions have been unpopular among even his own national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned last week.

"I was fully prepared to turn this baby around and come home", he said.

I'm sure we'll be hearing about it if he said anything to question the existence of Santa Claus during his visit. The Pentagon is also said to be developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops still serving in Afghanistan.

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