Trump’s First Visit to War Zone in Iraq Draws Brickbats at Home

Sam Vinograd

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump made his first trip to a conflict zone with first lady Melania Trump, after being pressed repeatedly to spend time with the troops on the frontline.

Although he received an ardent response in his unheralded visit to the troops in Iraq, the President had to endure massive condemnation at home.

Sam Vinograd, the CNN political analyst and former Obama national security, lambasted Trump for seeming to have “confused” the visit “with a campaign rally”.

In a statement to CNN, Sam Vinograd said that the President “can certainly check the box that he physically made it to Iraq, but what he actually did on the ground while he was there is just as important.”

“The president seems to have confused in some way this troop visit with a campaign rally by raising things like the border wall and things he has done for them,” she added.

Sam Vinograd, who severed as the Director of Iraq in former President Obama’s National Security Council, reiterated her stance on Twitter, saying, “Visiting troops shouldn’t be confused with a campaign rally.”

Sam Vinograd

After his first visit to a combat zone, Trump posted a video on Twitter and wrote, “Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!”

Sam Vinograd

The video was also criticized on various levels. It displayed the President signing “Make America Great Again” hats and an embroidered patch that read “Trump 2020.”

Many claimed that the events violated the Department of Defense guidelines for political activities, which says that “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities.”

Many media sites also slammed Trump for revealing the identities of the Navy SEAL team that was deployed in Iraq and not shielding the faces of special operation forces.

The criticism on Trump’s unannounced visit follows the ongoing condemnation from the administration over his national security strategy, which agitated the Pentagon officials and the lawmakers alike. Moreover, the President also drew brickbats for deciding to bring up these issues of national security during his Iraq visit.

During his nearly 3-hour trip, Donald Trump spoke about the Mexico border wall funding that triggered the partial government shutdown.

“We need a wall. So when you say, ‘How long is it going to take?’ When are they going to say that we need border security? When are the Democrats going to say it? Don’t forget, the Democrats all agreed that you need a wall, until I wanted it,” Trump claimed in Iraq. “Once I wanted it, they didn’t agree.”

Besides, he also defended his decision to withdraw the US troops from Syria.

Sam Vinograd informed that such presidential trips are usually meant to demonstrate country’s appreciation of troops’ service to the military, and to remind them of how “their ongoing mission is so critical to the safety and security of the American people.”

Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, who is also a former Obama administration spokesperson and a CNN analyst, also blamed Trump for putting political issues in front of the military.

“Every time he’s around military audiences, he tends to politicize it, and he brings in complaints and grievances from outside the realm of military policy,” Kirby said.

Sam Vinograd stated that Trump’s Iraq visit was much of a psychological manipulation on what other US military groups are doing in other arenas, and less on the prevailing “stabilization mission” as well as the “counterterrorism mission” being performed by the forces in Iraq.

Being the President, Trump has certainly made a blunder that was quickly caught. Despite holding such a important diplomatic position, he has made yet another incongruous decision. The criticism is certainly apt, since the President sidelined the country’s interest for his personal political agendas.


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