During a press briefing alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Aug. 20, President Donald Trump defended the limited U.S. military presence in Iraq. “We’re down to a very small number of soldiers in Iraq now,” Trump said. He justified the American footprint in both economic terms (oil and military deals), as well as security grounds.
In response to a question regarding a series of attacks on American interests over the past 10 months and whether the U.S. would fully withdraw from Iraq within the next three years, Trump said this:
So, at some point, we obviously will be gone. We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level. We deal — where there are attacks, we take care of those attacks, and we take care of them very easily. Nobody has the weaponry we have. Nobody has the — anything — of what we have. We have the finest, the greatest military in the world. When somebody hits us, we hit back hard[er] than they hit us. So we handle it.
In addition to that, Iraq has been very helpful, where necessary. But we have been taking our troops out of Iraq fairly rapidly, and we look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there. And hopefully Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved.