Trump Warned Russia That He’d Bomb Syria. Here’s A Bunch Of Times He Said He Wouldn’t Do That.


I feel lucky

“For all of those fools that want to attack Syria, the US has lost the vital element of surprise — so stupid — could be a disaster!”

“The element of surprise” has long been one of Trump’s favorite talking points about US military strategy. Here’s 17 times he’s used it.

"The element of surprise" has long been one of Trump's favorite talking points about US military strategy. Here's 17 times he's used it.

To be clear, many military experts have long spoken out against Trump’s “element of surprise” plan, noting that prewarning helps reduce civilian deaths and scares the enemy.

Commission on Presidential Debates

Then, during the late stages of the 2016 campaign, Trump brought up the “element of surprise” in nearly every speech, often multiple times a day.

Then, during the late stages of the 2016 campaign, Trump brought up the "element of surprise" in nearly every speech, often multiple times a day.

He mentioned it at least 23 times in rally speeches, debates, and interviews between Oct. 3, 2016, and Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016.

“You know, in the old days, I’d read, it used to be called the element of surprise. We don’t have the surprise anymore, folks,” he said in Colorado on Oct. 3, 2016.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Trump discussed US military leaders speaking publicly about a possible attack on Mosul — to take it back from ISIS — for months before it happened.

It’s a story he recounted multiple times throughout the campaign.

“About three months ago, I started reading that they want to get the leaders and they’re going to attack Mosul. Whatever happened to the element of surprise, OK?” he said during the third presidential debate on Oct. 13, 2016.

“We announce we’re going after Mosul. I have been reading about going after Mosul now for about — how long is it, Hillary, three months? These people have all left. They’ve all left.”

He mentioned it even more in the last few days of the campaign, including at a rally in Tampa on Nov. 5, 2016.

“Whatever happened to the element of surprise? The element of surprise? What a group of losers we have,” he said.

During a speech in Leesburg, Virginia, on Nov. 6, Trump asked Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who was in the audience, about it.

“This is not a general that will say when they go in for Mosul ‘we will be going into Mosul in four months, get ready everybody, we’ll be coming in four months, then three months, then two months… Never ends. You will do it my way, right, General? You agree with me, right? The element of surprise, you like that, right? When we’re fighting, we got the element of surprise,” Trump said.

(Kellogg is now a top military adviser for Trump and chief of staff of the National Security Council.)

He told the story again that afternoon in Minneapolis.

“Whatever happened to the word ‘surprise’? Whatever happened? Surprise! The element of surprise, what happened, what happened? Why don’t they go in quietly, knock the hell out of them, take them out, and have a news conference a week later? You know why — ’cause we have a president who is incompetent,” said Trump.

The very next day, Nov. 7, 2016, the day before the election, Trump spoke at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, about the “element of surprise.”

“We never win; we fight and fight and fight. Like Mosul, we give them four months notice, ‘we’re going into Mosul.’ What about the element of surprise? Remember the old element of surprise? ‘We are going to be attacking Mosul in four months, we will hit ’em from the rear, we will hit ’em from the front, we will paratroop in, we will do all sorts of things,’” he said.

“Then, three months, they say it again, then two months, then one month, again. Then a couple of weeks ago I’m hearing ‘we expect to be attacking Mosul next week.’ These are smart people! ‘One of the reasons we’re attacking is we want to get the leaders of ISIS, who we feel are staying in Mosul.’ They left after the first mention that we’re going to attack! Don’t these people understand it? Oh, what a bunch of people we have.”

The night before the election, in Scranton, Pennsylvania? “The element of surprise.”

“These people are so stupid. The element of surprise. The great General Douglas McArthur, right? Spinning — spinning in his grave. The great General George Patton — can you imagine what they must be? Let’s assume they could actually see what’s happening — maybe they are? Can you imagine what they must be thinking?” asked Trump.

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