I recently read an article in The Atlantic entitled Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’. It recounts a 2018 trip to an European cemetery to pay respects to those who lost their lives in WWI. He cancelled the trip. He blamed the rain, and how the helicopter couldn’t fly, and the secret service couldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
Apparently he was worried that his hair might become disheveled. Plus he wondered “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In other comments he has denigrated all soldiers as suckers, thus the title.
Is Trump really so callous to not appreciate the sacrifices that so many Americans have been willing to make? The Atlantic article goes on to postulate that Trump values nothing if it doesn’t yield some benefit for him personally. He simply doesn’t understand that many of us are willing to contribute something to the common good.
This is consistent with Trump’s treatment of John McCain and Humayun Khan. It is deplorable in anyone, but especially so in a president.
Somehow I completely missed this story when it first came out, learning of it only when the Washington Post did a story on it – “The Cursed Platoon“. The story came out in both printed and podcast formats, and if you have an hour to listen to both podcasts you should do so. Links:
The particulars of the story aren’t in much doubt. Clint Lorance was an Army lieutenant who had just been assigned to lead a platoon in Afghanistan. He had never been in combat before. After lying to his platoon about their rules of engagement, he ordered them to open fire on three unarmed (unless you count cucumbers) civilians. Two of them were killed. This was no doubt a war crime, and Lorance was sentenced to 19 years.
People who fashion themselves as patriots thought locking up a good American boy merely for killing Afghans was unfair, so they started working on alternative facts. Their main contention was that the deep state military chain of command was responsible, never mind that it was his platoon members – all enlisted men – who reported it and then testified under oath. And those enlisted men have suffered greatly for their honesty. At some point Hannity got involved, and then Trump heard about it.
So Trump pardons Lowance, mostly as a political sop to his base. Just think of what message that sends to (1) our troops, and (2) our adversaries and most importantly (3) people we are trying to convince of our democratic values. Recall that our main goal in Afghanistan is to convince the population that our system of governance is better than theirs and that we are able to keep them safe from the Taliban. At least for this village that goal is now unattainable.
However negligible our chances ever were of converting Afghanistan to the modern world; our continued screw-ups there have made our position there now just a waste of men, materiel and money. This particular incident not only did a great deal of harm to our mission in Afghanistan, it also damaged our own military and the lives of soldiers who deserved much better from us.
The U.S. has 10 army bases that are named for Confederate generals (and one colonel), all of them in former Confederate states. This naming occurred during WWI and WWII and was based on the idea that the bases should be named after “local” military leaders.
Due to the recent turmoil surrounding the Floyd killing the Pentagon started thinking about renaming those bases. They are, after all, named for erstwhile enemies of the U.S. Trump, I guess in deference to his large Southern following, has rejected any movement for renaming.
The New York Times had a nice article explaining some of the background and history of the bases and other Confederate memorials.
It does seem strange that a draft-dodger like Cadet Bone Spurs is so enamored of the military. I guess its easy to be all for fighting wars if you’re sure you and your kids won’t be doing the fighting.