Senior Administration Officials Lied To Trump About Troop Levels So He Wouldn’t Pull Out Of Syria

On November 12, 2020, Jim Jeffrey, the United States’ outgoing Special Representative to Syria, announced that he and other leading officials in the Trump administration constantly misled President Donald Trump on the number of troops present in the Middle East.

Jeffrey told Defense One that he was able to convince Trump to keep between 200 to 400 troops in the region in 2019 to “secure” oil fields that U.S. allies held in addition to other key positions. This runs counter to President Trump’s goal of completely withdrawing from the Middle East.

“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” he remarked. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”

Jim Sciutto, CNN’s national security correspondent, revealed on Twitter that senior Defense Department officials shared similar stories with him when he interviewed them for his book, “The Madman Theory.”

“If you look at his tweets, they were definitive about leaving,” Sciutto said on November 13, referencing a passage from the book. “And then we didn’t leave. And now we haven’t left, we’re still there, and that’s a good thing.”

The Daily Caller reported that Jeffrey was originally an opponent of Trump’s foreign policy before he joined the administration in 2018. However, he did give Trump praise during his interview with Defense One. He cited Trump’s “modest” way of handling Middle Eastern policy as far more effective than his predecessors such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“Nobody really wants to see President Trump go, among all our allies [in the Middle East],” he commented. “The truth is President Trump and his policies are quite popular among all of our popular states in the region. Name me one that’s not happy.”

Recently, Trump has been on a tear by firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper and bringing in interventionist critic and retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor as an advisor. The Trump administration has been somewhat of a disappointment on foreign policy. Questionable staffing decisions along with institutional inertia due to the influence of the defense industry has made the Trump administration unable to follow through with some of his most bold foreign policy goals.

If the worst happens and Trump is removed from office, America First nationalists must take up the mantle of non-interventionism and avoid the mistakes the Trump administration has made.

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