President Trump said Monday the U.S. has squandered trillions of dollars on military operations in the Middle East over the past two decades without winning any of the wars.
“We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” the new commander-in-chief told the nation’s governors at a White House meeting. “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.”
In previewing his first budget proposal, the president said he’ll call for a big increase in military spending to send “a message to the world” about America’s strength and resolve. Mr. Trump said he wants to provide soldiers with the tools to deter war and, when called upon, “to start winning wars again.”
“When I was young, in high school and in college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. America never lost,” Mr. Trump said. “Now, we never win a war.”
He cited the example of the Middle East, where the U.S. has waged wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan since 2001.
“Here we are, almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East,” Mr. Trump said. “I saw a chart, as of a month ago, $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East. That’s just unacceptable.”
Since 2003, a total of 4,516 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq, and another 2,392 in Afghanistan, according to the web site icasualties.org.
Mr. Trump said the U.S. has nothing to show for the money spent in the Middle East, with extremist groups still posing a constant threat.
“We’re nowhere. We’re less than nowhere,” Mr. Trump said. “The Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago. It’s not even a contest. So we’ve sent $6 trillion, we have a hornet’s nest, it’s a mess. We’re nowhere. So we’re going to straighten it out.”