The U.S. will be reducing the number of troops it has stationed in Iraq by about a third, reports The Wall Street Journal, leaving behind roughly 3,500 men and women. This news comes after a long series of brags at the Republican National Convention that President Donald Trump is succeeding in ending America's foreign wars.
"Unlike previous administrations, I have kept America out of new wars, and our troops are coming home," said Trump in his acceptance speech last night, promising that in a second term he would "strike down terrorists who threaten our people and keep America out of endless and costly foreign wars."
The Journal reports that the departure of some 1,700 troops from Iraq will occur over the next few months. Once gone, America's military presence in that country will be where it was in 2015.
Under Trump, America's troop commitment to our various foreign wars has oscillated; first surging then tapering off.
PolitiFact notes that when Trump came into office there were around 8,500 troops in Afghanistan. The president increased our military presence up to 14,000 personnel but has since drawn it back down to where it was at the beginning of Trump's term. That number is supposed to fall to 4,000 in November.
Under Trump, the Defense Department has stopped publishing troop numbers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, making it difficult to get an accurate count of how much military personnel is in those countries. The Washington Post reported in July that the number of U.S. troops stationed abroad has slightly increased under Trump.
Outside of troop levels, Trump has amped up the drone war and vetoed a resolution to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen. He has also escalated tensions with Iran by tearing up the 2015 nuclear deal signed under the Obama administration, reapplying sanctions, and deploying additional aircraft and ships to the region in response to alleged Iranian drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
In January, the Trump administration assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, provoking an Iranian missile counterattack on U.S. military bases in the country.
This broader schizophrenia among the Trump administration between escalating tensions with Iran while promising to end endless wars was on full display in the president's remarks last night. In the space of three sentences, he bragged about killing Soleimani, said he was bringing troops home, and then touted his increases in military spending.
It's good that more U.S. troops are being pulled out of Iraq. It's less encouraging that we still have thousands of troops in the country after nearly four years of a president who keeps promising to end forever wars.