Trump’s battle with the US military is a battle he is likely to lose | Simon tisdall

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The argues over Donald Trump’s reported denigration of American soldiers killed fighting for their country as “suckers” and “losers” sheds more light on his time as commander-in-chief: he has repeatedly denigrated US military leadership and harnessed its armed forces for selfish political goals at home and abroad. His alleged crass disregard for the sacrifices and safety of grassroots men and women, and the generals who lead them, matches his lack of faith with military allies around the world.

Trump’s reckless demeanor illustrates little better than his response to the Iranian missile strike on a US base in Iraq in January. The attack was in retaliation for his provocative assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani.

Panicked that he had started a full-scale war, Trump played down the injuries sustained by US personnel, saying a handful had “headaches and a few other things.” In fact, more than 100 soldiers suffered traumatic brain injuries – a catastrophe Trump never fully acknowledged.

When it emerged in June that Russian military intelligence had offered bounties to militants linked to the Taliban to kill American and British troops in Afghanistan, Trump denied any knowledge, disputing credible reports that officials had informed him of. months earlier. He also refused to take action against Moscow. Trump displayed a similar murderous recklessness last year when, to their shame, he ordered US troops in northern Syria to desert their Kurdish allies and abandon the allied campaign against Islamic State. .

Trump failed miserably to deliver on a key 2016 pledge – pull America out of “endless” foreign wars. Four years later, many troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, Islamist extremists were encouraged by the unilateral disengagement of the United States which left local allies in limbo. The newly-started US-led peace talks risk returning Afghanistan to the Taliban, reversing the sacrifices of thousands of Allied and Afghan soldiers. Peace in honor does not make sense to Trump. He trades peace for votes.

Rather than bringing the troops home, Trump dramatically increased U.S. deployments to the Gulf, to deter an Iranian threat exacerbated by his obsessive efforts to overthrow the Tehran regime. Indeed, Trump has put Americans at risk to defend corrupt Arab autocrats, increase American arms sales, and strengthen Israel’s refusal right-wing leadership. At the same time, it is deliberately undermining larger alliances such as NATO, and those with Japan and South Korea.

the Atlantic The magazine’s explosive report of Trump’s defamation and mockery of the military, which he angrily denied, finds echo in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward. “My fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than about trade deals, ”Trump reportedly said. Asked about his comments by Foreign police magazine, George White, a former classmate and veteran, said he was not surprised. “In my dealings with him, he was a heartless and obnoxious son of a bitch.”

Speaking last week, Trump again attacked the commanders he himself appointed. “I’m not saying the military is in love with me – the soldiers are, the best in the Pentagon aren’t because they don’t want to do anything but wars, so all these wonderful companies that make bombs and make planes and keep everything else happy, ”he said. In fact, a new Military Time A survey of service personnel suggests growing and widespread dissatisfaction with Trump, with 49.9% viewing him unfavorably and many considering voting Democratic.

It takes a lot to scare the American generals. Still, there is palpable anxiety in the Pentagon that Trump may attempt to co-opt the military if the November election is against him and he refuses to admit defeat, as many expect. They fear Trump will invoke the Uprising Act, which he wanted to do in June to quell the Black Lives Matter protests, and order troops to take to the streets to crush the opposition. Trump’s horrific midterm campaign stunt in 2018, when he deployed troops to defend the Mexican border against an illusory migrant “invasion”, is not forgotten – although the Pentagon rather shamefully did it. accepted at the time.

Trump’s inflammatory performance in Lafayette Square at the height of the George Floyd protests is also not forgotten or forgiven. He used General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as an unwitting prop in a staged photoshoot designed to show he was in command. Milley then apologized for creating “a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” Such willingness to abuse presidential power fuels fears of an “October surprise” – a sudden order to mount a military operation abroad, timed to rally national support.

Pentagon leaders have challenged Trump’s refusal to redesign military bases to be named Confederate generals. General Jim Mattis, who stepped down as Defense Secretary in 2018, said Trump wants to politicize the military in order to stoke the fire in America’s culture wars – and poses a threat to democracy and national security . “Donald Trump is the first president in my life who doesn’t try to unite the American people – doesn’t even pretend to try. Instead, he’s trying to divide us, ”Mattis wrote.

Trump’s odd behavior appears to stem from a lack of understanding of the core ideas of duty, honor, loyalty, discipline, and sacrifice. According to his former lawyer, Trump dodged the Vietnam project by faking a physical disability, and clearly cannot understand why anyone would risk their life for their country. He increased the Pentagon’s budget – but for selfish reasons. He enjoys grand parades, medal ceremonies and powerful weapons for the glory they bring him.

On Memorial Day in 2017, while visiting the graves of American soldiers who died in Afghanistan, Trump reportedly asked, “I don’t understand. What was there for them? Such incomprehensible and incomprehensible ignorance is overwhelming. Only one conclusion is possible. Trump, a man to be pitied as much as he is hated, is clearly unfit to lead.

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