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

"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!"

Last updated on April 12, 2018, at 6:40 a.m. ET

Posted on April 11, 2018, at 1:36 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted "Get ready Russia," warning that the US was about to launch missiles in response to the Syrian government's suspected chemical attack against civilians on Sunday.

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

More than 70 people are believed to have been killed, and 500 injured, in the attack on the city of Douma, in eastern Ghouta.

One of the first things people noted was how it went against many — many — of Trump's previous comments about how military action in his administration would happen.

The man who repeatedly skewered President Obama for talking about his military plans in advance just said, on Twitter, "Get ready, Russia, the missiles are coming" https://t.co/pUulvQOFb8

Namely, "the element of surprise."

The two @realDonaldTrump's on the element of surprise in Syria: https://t.co/22zlsVhqQY https://t.co/4g52tCNGRw

"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.

Commission on Presidential Debates

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.

1. Back in 2013, when Obama asked Congress for authorization for military strikes against Syria after a chemical weapons attack, Trump tweeted complaints about US leaders discussing the military plans publicly, saying the US needed to "catch them by surprise."

Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria. Why can't we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?

2. He called Obama "stupid" for giving warning of his plans.

"@voicelikeariot_: @realDonaldTrump "@washingtonpost: Why Obama is giving up the element of surprise in Syria" Perhaps because he is stupid?

3.

For all of those fools that want to attack Syria, the U.S.has lost the vital element of surprise-so stupid-could be a disaster!

4.

If President Obama was going to attack Syria, he should’ve done it a long time ago as a surprise & not after (cont) http://t.co/dvzmCu76uv

5. "Not blurted all over the media like fools."

@walaa_3ssaf No, dopey, I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools.

6. Trump tweeted that because of the advance discussion of strikes, Syria was "fully prepared" for the attack.

We have given Syria so much time and information-there has never been such an instance in wartime history. Syria is now fully prepared!

(On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that after Trump said he was mulling an attack on Assad, "there were indications that Mr. Assad was moving key aircraft to a Russian base near Latakia, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea, and taking pains to secure important weapons systems.")

7.

Syria has been given so much time that much of the things we were going to bomb have been moved into civilian areas! A polititian's war.

8. Trump, back in 2013, also slammed US military generals, saying General Douglas MacArthur and General George Patton were "spinning in their graves."

We don't have the leadership, including the Generals (who just said the element of surprise does not matter) to attack anyone! Cool it.

9.

The great GENERALS MacArthur and Patton, real leaders and fighters, are spinning in their graves as we give Syria info & time to prepare.

10. He brought it up again in August 2014, as Obama authorized two military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

What other country tells the enemy when we are going to attack like Obama is doing with ISIS. Whatever happened to the element of surprise?

11. 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

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.

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

View this video on YouTube

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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."

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

View this video on YouTube

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

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

View this video on YouTube

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"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.)

15. He told the story again that afternoon in Minneapolis.

View this video on YouTube

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"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.

16. 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."

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

"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."

17. The night before the election, in Scranton, Pennsylvania? "The element of surprise."

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

"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.

On Thursday morning, the President walked back his comments from the previous day with a follow-up tweet saying the missile launch could be "very soon" or "not so soon at all."

Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

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