Letter announcing US withdrawal from Iraq ignited chaos and put Trump’s ‘competing impulses’ on full display: analysis
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and generals in the White House.

A letter sent to Brigadier Gen. William Seely III this Monday had an earth-shaking announcement: The US was planning to withdraw all troops from Iraq -- just two days after the Iraqi Parliament had unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling for U.S. troops to leave in the wake of the targeted killing of a top-level Iranian general by US forces.

The news was almost unbelievable. After 17 years of war in Iraq, US troops were finally withdrawing. But as the news broke in the US, there was a scramble at the Pentagon, the White House, and Capitol Hill to make sense of the letter. As Stephen Hayes points out in a summary of yesterday's events for The Dispatch, no one seemed to know what was going on. But after lawmakers reached out to the White House, they were told that the letter was fake and a possibly part of a disinformation campaign.

Speaking later to reporters, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the whole thing was an "honest mistake."

“That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released," he said.

But according to Hayes, if the letter was indeed a "mistake," why was it transmitted to the Iraqis? It seems as if the whole thing was indeed an accident, and it's reflective of the "competing impulses" President Trump is subject to in regards to questions about Iraq and Iran he's faced since 2016.

"On the one hand, he offered harsh criticism of America’s involvement in distant conflicts and pledged to bring troops home and to refocus on problems here at home," Hayes writes. "But he also ran as a tough guy, a big-talker who defended torture and promised to make America’s enemies regret their hostility. A survey of his decision-making and his rhetoric so far suggests those internal tensions have not yet been resolved."

Read Hayes' full analysis over at The Dispatch.