Trump Denounces 'Endless War,' Teases Aggressive Stance on Venezuela in SOTU Address

The president's speech was a mixed bag on foreign policy.


Sipa USA/Newscom

President Donald Trump doubled down on his recent orders for withdrawing U.S. military personnel from our long-running interventions in Afghanistan and Syria during his State of the Union address Tuesday. In the same speech, he also teased the possibility of new foreign intervention in South America.

"Great nations do not fight endless wars," said Trump. "Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home."

In December, Trump ordered the sudden withdrawal of 4,000 U.S. troops currently fighting ISIS in Syria. The president later declared that he would also be pulling some 7,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, where his administration is involved in peace talks with the Taliban—something that also got a shoutout in tonight's speech.

"In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism," read a trasncript of Trump's remarks.

The president's troop withdrawals were met with shock and resistance from Democrats and Republicans alike, including reportedly even members of his own administration.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump's plans to withdraw troops from those two conflicts, and slapped new sanctions on the Syrian government. Earlier in the month, the president's own national security advisor, John Bolton, said in a speech that any withdrawal would be conditioned on the total defeat of ISIS and assurances from Turkey that it would not attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria—tall orders, to put it lightly.

But even as Trump has talked about winding down our involvement in the Middle East, members of his administration have teased an escalation in Venezuela. After that country's opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself president (reportedly at the urging of Vice President Mike Pence), the Trump administration quickly recognized him as the legitimate head of state, withdrawing its recognition of the embattled, increasingly authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Trump reiterated this hardline stance against Maduro in Tuesday night's address.

"We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom—and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair," said Trump.

He also undercut whatever transpartisan appeal his nods to a less aggressive foreign policy might have by equating support for a non-interventionist foreign policy with a need to end the ongoing investigation of Robert Muller.

"We have to be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad," said Trump, adding that "if there is going to be peace and legislation there can't be war and investigation."

That is hardly a way to secure Democratic support for a more humble U.S. foreign policy.

NEXT: Kamala Harris Blasts Trump for 'Cutting Red Tape' in SOTU Prebuttal

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I think if you want peace with Russia, not accusing them of engaging in acts of war against the US for partisan benefit is probably a good idea. Trump is right. The entire Russian collusion lie is unbelievably stupid and reckless.

    And saying he stands with the Venezuelan people doesn’t mean he is going to go to war for them. It just means he isn’t a socialist piece of shit who sides with the boot that is stuck on their face.

    1. Oral pleasure of the president of the United States should happen in the privacy of the Oval Office. It’s called manners.

      1. The same sort of manners that shoves cigars into the vagina of interns?

      2. Shouldn’t you be out in black face somewhere? That is the Democratic uniform these days, that is when they are not wearing white sheets.

        1. It was the 80s. Everyone was doing coke.

          1. I have no doubt you did Tony. And you think it is fine now. It is who you are. Civilized people find that repulsive.

            1. I was born in the 80s. I wasn’t doing coke until well into the nows.

              How touching that you’ve discovered that racism is repulsive now that a Democrat did it.

              1. I have always thought wearing Klan outfits and doing minstrel shows was repulsive. And I have always known it is Democrats who do it.

                1. +1 Archie Bunker

                2. Come on John, everybody knows Al Jolson was friggin’ hilarious! ADMIT IT!

              2. Tony, I have always thought that whites wearing black face was kind of weird, even before it was considered “racist”. So my question to you is: since the Dems are now eating one of their own because he possibly wore black face in a 1984 college photo, are you now also willing to call out and boycott Eddie Murphy for wearing makeup and pretending to be white in his 1984 “White like me” skit? I am personally offended by his expropriation of my skin color, as well as his negative portrayal of whites in the skit. Don’t you think he should be permanently run out of show business?

    2. Siding with interim president Juan Guaido doesn’t necessarily mean you send troops there. If you DON’T support Guaido you are supporting a dictator. There is no other alternative

      1. Yup. As long as we don’t spend 2 trillion dollars blowing shit up down there, I’m fine with giving the nod to the less crazy guy who has semi legitimate grounds for claiming the last election was bullshit, especially given that it is in line with their constitution.

  2. Bring the boys back home.

  3. Bring the boys back home.

  4. @realDonaldTrump….. @BarackObama will attack Iran in order to get re-elected…..Jan 17, 2012

  5. Drumpf only denounces “endless war” because Putin told him to. It’s infuriating to watch him reverse the foreign policy successes of the Obama Administration that certainly would have continued under the Clinton Administration.


    1. So Putin would not mind if he sent troops to Venezuela?

  6. And for the 1,000th time, Juan Guaido did NOT “self declare” as president.

  7. Tendentious analysis, Mr. Britschgi. You’re imputing war advocacy in the taking of a side in Venezuela? You’re thinking Trump’s seriously arguing a causal link between ending the Mueller investig’n & “humble foreign policy”?

  8. Can we just nuke the middle east on the way out? I suspect that is the only way to prevent future trouble…

    Or we could just give Turkey the go ahead to reform the Ottoman Empire. I’m pretty sure we’d all be better off if there was just a single Muslim dictatorship ruling over the area and keeping all that shit in order over there.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.