Trump says he has yet to visit troops in the Middle East because he is ‘very busy’
By RACHEL DESANTIS | The New York Daily News | Published: October 17, 2018
WASHINGTON D.C. (Tribune News Service) — President Donald Trump has yet to make a trip overseas to visit troops in the Middle East because he is “very busy.”
The commander-in-chief spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, and said that while he doesn’t feel it’s “overly necessary” to pay a visit to a military base in a combat zone like Iraq or Afghanistan, he plans to at some point in the future.
“I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here,” he said, before diving into a rambling boast about the state of the country’s economy and unemployment rates.
“I’m doing a lot of things. But [visiting] is something I’d do. And do gladly. Nobody has been better at the military. Hey, I just got them a pay raise. I haven’t had a pay raise in 11 years … I have done more for the military than any president in many, many years.”
Trump also noted that he needs to keep the troops abroad for the sake of the country’s safety.
“The main thing I have to see is, I have to see safety at home … If I think people are likely to do some very bad things in faraway places to our homeland, I’m going to have troops there for a period of time,” he said.
For some veterans, Trump’s promises to one day pay the troops a visit ring hollow.
“Veterans aren’t surprised Trump has no interest in going to war, after he used his wealth and elite connections to avoid the draft five times while working-class people went in his place,” Alexander McCoy, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant and spokesman for Common Defense, a grassroots progressive veterans organization with 150,000 members, told the New York Daily News.
“What makes us even more furious isn’t that he won’t visit us in combat zones now, but that he continues to recklessly escalate and extend the pointless quagmire wars he’s making us fight, while back at home he’s using us as political props for his agenda of using bigotry to divide us so he can give tax cuts to himself and his fellow billionaires.”
However, Trump hasn't completely ignored troops stationed overseas. He visited military bases in both Japan and South Korea while on a trip to Asia last fall, where he was photographed speaking with active duty servicemembers.
A president visiting active military personnel has long been an American tradition, and President Barack Obama headed to Iraq just four months after he entered office.
He would go on to visit military personnel five more times in Germany, Afghanistan and South Korea. George W. Bush also headed overseas multiple times to meet with troops, as did Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, among others.
Neither Vets for Trump, a website run by retired Air Force member Mike Kelly, nor Vets for a Strong America, a nonpartisan grassroots organization, immediately responded to a request for comment.