Faced with criticism for abandoning a US ally in the Middle East, President Trump said Wednesday he wants to stop the headache of American families losing their spouses, sons or daughters in combat during "these endless wars."
During an event at the White House, Trump spoke about the solemn tradition of fallen soldiers returning in flag-covered coffins to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He said he occasionally met family members – his last visit was in January – who appear to be in control before the cargo plane arrives.
"And then, 20 minutes later, we'll be outside when that big [cargo] plane stops and the door goes down, and they're walking in the coffin with their son inside, this coffin with an American flag on it," Mr. Trump said. "And I saw [relatives] that I found it really amazing the way they were taking it – I didn't even understand how they could handle it so well – scream like I've never seen anything before."
"Sometimes they rush to the coffin," said the president. "They break military barriers, run to the coffin and jump over the coffin – crying mothers and wives, crying desperately."
He said of their sadness: “And it's about those endless wars that just never stop. There is a time and a place, but it's time to stop. "
Many in Congress are criticizing Trump for withdrawing US troops from northern Syria, a move they said gave the green light to Turkey on Wednesday to attack its former enemy, the Kurds. Kurdish fighters were helping US forces defeat the Islamic State in the region.
Trump said one of his "hardest" jobs is writing letters to the parents of dead soldiers.
"It's not just that [it's the victims] in areas where there's not much advantage," said Trump. "In many cases, there is only one disadvantage. And especially when this soldier was killed in a blue-green attack, where a [foreign] soldier being trained pointed the gun at an American soldier. We have many of them in Afghanistan."
The president said he campaigned to end the long US wars and spoke of former President Dwight Eisenhower, who had warned Americans about the influence of the US "military industrial complex".
"If we agree with the theory of some people in Washington who get along well with the military industrial complex … Dwight Eisenhower imagined it many years ago," he said. "He has tremendous power. They like to fight. They make a lot of money when they fight. But it was time to bring our soldiers back home.
The president also spoke of his visits to wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as a trip he made last week. One soldier he met had facial reconstruction for horrible injuries.
The president awarded five purple hearts on this visit.
He said of those who criticize his military withdrawal in Syria: “It's easy to talk tough guys, you know, tough guys, all these tough guys – 'let's keep fighting, let's keep fighting'. It is very difficult for me when I see this [wounded soldiers], it is very difficult. "