Are the troops turning on Trump?

It is odd and even shocking to see a Republican president get crosswise with the U.S. military.

During the post-Vietnam era — and through the War on Terror years — GOP politicians have made pro-troop hawkishness a key element of the party’s identity. Ronald Reagan oversaw one of the largest peacetime military buildups in U.S. history. When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, his running mate Dick Cheney told the Republican National Convention that “help is on the way” for the armed forces. Donald Trump followed in the path of his predecessors, promising in 2016 to “rebuild” the military — and then, after taking office, installed several retired generals in his Cabinet. If Republican leaders ever had a negative thought about the armed forces in recent decades, they stayed mum. Publicly, they always allied themselves with the troops.

Until Monday, that is.

That is when President Trump — under fire for The Atlantic’s recent story alleging he had made disparaging remarks about service in the armed forces — accused the country’s military leaders of waging wars to profit defense contractors.

“I’m not saying the military’s in love with me,” Trump said. “The soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

Now, there are reasonable discussions to be had about America’s massive defense spending and the country’s warmaking. And it is true that many generals find comfortable sinecures in the armaments industry in their retirement years. But Trump, who has spent this election season touting his administration’s increase to the military budget, is in no position to make the critique. Instead, what his comments on Monday really indicate is how rattled he is by The Atlantic’s report — and how desperate he is to find a scapegoat. But the tension between Trump and military leaders has deep roots.

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Trump doesn’t understand the culture of the American armed forces. Trump may say publicly that he loves the military, but what he really seems to admire is a show of strength, and even violence. He delighted in then-Defense Secretary James Mattis’ “Mad Dog” nickname, promoted the use of torture against prisoners of war, gave pardons to service members accused or convicted of war crimes, and relaxed the rules of engagement for forces in Afghanistan. The president also loves to bask in the glory of a little bit of spit-and-polish pomp: His 2019 “Salute to America” military parade was prompted by a case of Bastille Day envy.

It is the military’s job to be prepared to inflict great harm on the country’s enemies. But American military culture emphasizes discipline and honor. Every soldier, marine, sailor, and airman takes an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Cadets at the nation’s military academies, which educate many future generals …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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