WASHINGTON, D.C. — Telling a veterans' group that America's military is "overstretched, overdeployed and overexerted," U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz made the case Wednesday for what he called the "Trump Doctrine," a distillation of President Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy and the use of the military.
Broadly defined, the Trump Doctrine calls for ensuring that the American military maintains a strong edge against other forces, that national security begins on the home front, the interests of American citizens always come before the interests of other nations or special-interest groups, and an "America First" policy isn't an isolationist policy as long as other countries know that America will respond to threats.
"I never want to send America's troops into a fair fight," said Gaetz, whose congressional district covers Northwest Florida and includes the largest concentration of military personnel of any of the nation's congressional districts. "That means providing the funding, equipment, infrastructure and arms to achieve decisive victory every single time."
Speaking to a meeting of Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative group whose members are making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week, Gaetz said a core principle of the Trump Doctrine is "knowing that when America fights, America will win."
"The fog of war is no fog to me, or to any of the 700,000 people I serve," said Gaetz, who noted that they and he have seen the consequences of continuing deployment of American military forces — "parenting disrupted, marriages destroyed ... caskets draped in flags" — on those military personnel and their families in his district and elsewhere.
Gaetz went on to decry the $6 trillion spent in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and said the $4 trillion spent in Iraq "would be enough to completely overhaul and modernize our nation’s infrastructure."
"We have been in Afghanistan for two decades," Gaetz continued. "American soldiers are dying there who weren’t born when the war started."
Gaetz also criticized America's focus, prior to the Trump administration, on regime change in connection with its foreign policy and military initiatives.
"We must be resolved not to start unwise wars or put our military in unwinnable and endless conflicts," he said, noting that the "examples of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — just to name a few — teach us that it is an illusion to think that just beyond the life of every dictator lies a peaceful democracy rather than generations of anarchy, violence, terrorism and chaos."
Gaetz's speech came amid ramped-up tensions between Iran and the United States that prompted deployment of military assets to the Persian Gulf.
According to an Associated Press report, after closed-door briefings Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, "We're not about going to war. Our biggest focus is to prevent an Iranian miscalculation. We do not want the situation to escalate."