During his visit to Iraq this past week, Donald Trump mostly made headlines for wearing a giant coat and exposing the identities and location of a Navy SEAL team. What drew less attention was the fact that the entire thing was a crass political stunt in which Trump revealed, yet again, his incompetence at even basic diplomacy.
Retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey took note, though, and he didn’t spare words when he appeared on MSNBC to slam Trump for his conduct in Iraq:
As Newsweek noted, McCaffrey described the president’s conduct as “unheard of”:
“His advance party politicized that event, they passed out those hats for sure,” he said. When asked how unusual it was for such a military visit to become so politicized, the former general said it was “unheard of.”...
McCaffrey noted that U.S. troops were deployed to Iraq on “very shaky diplomatic standing,” warning that Trump’s belligerent comments could upset the sensitive political-military balance in the country.
“The whole notion of going to Iraq and not genuflecting in some way, politically, the Iraqis, is simply outrageous,” he said. “And announcing we’re going to use it as the site from which we’ll conduct combat operations in other nations—I mean, it’s just inciting Iraqi sovereignty concerns.”
As an added insult, Trump made no overtures to Angela Merkel or Germany—where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed and where public relations have been sorely lacking—despite refueling at Ramstein air base. And as for Trump’s claim that he was giving troops their first pay raise in ten years?
McCaffrey suggested, “The troops all should’ve known it was all complete nonsense but they were sort of excited the commander in chief was there and were willing to blow by it.”
Quoting Seinfeld character George Costanza, the former general said, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
The retired general really, really didn’t spare the president, going on to attack him for publicly commenting on the danger of his visit—”God, he’s talking to special operations soldiers in Iraq, it’s sort of embarrassing”—and averring that “our international stature has been significantly diminished” because of Trump.