Surprise! Or not.
For months, Donald Trump has claimed that he opposed the Iraq War before the invasion began — as an example of his great judgment on foreign policy issues.
But in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump said he supported an Iraq invasion.
In the interview, which took place on Sept. 11, 2002, Stern asked Trump directly if he was for invading Iraq.
“Yeah I guess so,” Trump responded. “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was against the Iraq War before it began, despite no evidence of him publicly stating this position. On Meet the Press, Trump said there weren’t many articles about his opposition because he wasn’t a politician at the time.
“Well, I did it in 2003, I said it before that,” Trump said of his opposition to invading Iraq. “Don’t forget, I wasn’t a politician. So people didn’t write everything I said. I was a businessperson. I was, as they say, a world-class businessperson. I built a great company, I employed thousands of people. So I’m not a politician. But if you look at 2003, there are articles. If you look in 2004, there are articles.”
Trump’s comments on Stern are more in line with what he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, where he advocated for a “principled and tough” policy toward “outlaw” states like Iraq.
“We still don’t know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons. I’m no warmonger,” Trump wrote. “But the fact is, if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don’t, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.”
That was then, this is what he said during his CNN town hall appearance:
“The war in Iraq started the whole destabilization of the Middle East. It started ISIS, it started Libya, it started Syria…that was one of the worst decisions made by any government at any time. Bush made that decision. Just one thing…Barack Obama…Barack Obama, as bad as he is…and he’s bad…but he got us out at the wrong time. He should have left people there. I would have done it differently and he shouldn’t have said we’re getting out at at a specific date. He gave a specific date, as you know…. So bad. So bad. …There was no reason to go in. They didn’t knock down the World Trade Center.”
The World Trade Center line has been his mantra on the invasion recently, the strong implication being that a direct attack by Iraq would be the only justification for military action. That is obviously different from the older quote, which saw value in a preemptive strike.
If we are still calling these episodes “flip-flops” (I’m leaning toward “schizophrenia”), this is Trump’s 88,647th one, by my conservative estimation. However, his supporters still believe none of it matters and he’s being sincere right now. He’s like Ted Bundy without all the death. The faithful are swayed by his charm, bless their hearts. When I meet them in person and explain my reservations about him following through on anything and start providing examples that reinforce my opinion, their eyes glaze over as if I’ve just put them in a medically induced coma.
One or two changes in policy positions can be explained away. Trump is veritable shape-shifter on this issue, however, changing to achieve whatever he needs at any given moment. The assumption that the greater good of the nation will become paramount if he’s elected is a pure leap of faith with no verifiable underpinnings.