Just three weeks after he was sworn in as defense secretary, Mark Esper says former President Donald Trump's national security leadership was called together for a late afternoon meeting in August 2019 at Trump's Bedminster, NJ, golf club.
It was the first such meeting he had attended and it was only then that he realized that his new boss was going to make it a habit of proposing "outlandish" military and diplomatic initiatives that he and other aides would need to "swat down."
That's according to an exclusive excerpt of Esper's forthcoming book "A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times," published by Politico.
Esper vividly describes how the meeting took place in a secure tent at Trump's property. The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss U.S. policy toward the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the former defense secretary says that Trump soon "started bouncing from issue to issue, getting more and more fired up as he ranted about corruption in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani’s alleged mansion in Dubai and, inevitably, his complaints about my predecessor, Jim Mattis. He then leaped around the world like a bullfrog jumping from lily pad to lily pad. The president disapprovingly asked why we were putting more troops in Poland, asking, 'Do we really want a Fort Trump there?'"
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It was at that same meeting that Trump first proposed the complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from South Korea. That was almost a full year after Trump's meeting with North Korea President Kim Jung-un, which also featured a handshake with the dictator in the Demilitarized Zone.
Another Trump proposal Esper says he had to quash: A complete pullout of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel from every country in Africa.
“Shut down the embassies in Africa,” he often said, “and bring our people [U.S. diplomats] home,” according to Esper's book.
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