The super genius has struck again! After running his mouth calling slain American soldiers during First World War as losers and suckers, US President Donald Trump has come up with this brilliant assessment of his own military of which he happens to be the commander-in-chief: that the rank and file soldiers are fine and they love him; it is only the top brass sitting in the Pentagon that are a bunch of warmongers greasing the military industrial complex to making more and more aircraft and other armaments and forcing the United States into unwinnable wars. In this comical assessment, the genius in town has figured that he has wrapped up the voters of all those in uniform except for that handful of Generals and Admirals.
Or has the man sitting behind the Resolute Desk started reading books of left-wing scholars of American foreign policy who have blamed the military industrial complex for all the mess that the country has been in since the second world war? That is an unlikely proposition for the simple reason that it takes too much time to really comprehend what another school of thought is saying, especially if it has been already been condemned.
It calls for a lot of effort as well; and it is just too much to ask of this President who could not be bothered with history, geography or even be troubled if explained in elementary terms. After all was it not Trump who is supposed to have told the Indian Prime Minister that he should not worry about China as the two countries did not share a border!!
When did President Trump turn a pacifist to the point of accusing his top Generals of war-mongering and putting to risk the lives of poor soldiers? Going by the President’s assertions, it would appear as if the men and women in uniform are bullied into going to the front lines by the military commanders. It was not too long ago when Trump toyed with the idea of sending armed forces to the borders of Mexico to stop illegals from entering the country; as well as time and again threatening to unleash the military on to the streets of America to deal with innocent men and women protesting racial injustice. And was it not President Trump who in the last four years never missed a chance to berate allies in Europe and Asia for not spending enough money on defence and insisting on them buying American hardware. Allies are getting a “free ride”, was one of Trump’s favorite themes.
Mr. President, if you don’t respect our troops, you can’t lead them. pic.twitter.com/hcX9hGgdm5
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 4, 2020
In taking the top Pentagon brass to task for warmongering, Trump is forgetting one thing: that the United States is a democracy, not some banana Republic where the military and brass hats call the shots. And that every one of the decisions of intervention and withdrawal of forces is made by civilian leaders; and if civilian leaders are swayed by the military-industrial complex—which indeed wields tremendous clout in domestic politics—why blame the Generals for the ongoing mess?
If the United States made a mess out of Vietnam, it is not the Generals who wanted to hang around and see their men return in body bags; it is because of American Presidents who did not want to lose elections and go down in history as the one who “lost” Vietnam. The fear of “losing” forced civilian Presidents down the warmongering route, forgetting to ask one basic question: how could you lose something you did not have to start with! It started with Korea and has moved on since to include Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq over the decades.
President Trump has himself come to realize in the last four years that fighting wars have taken on a different dimension: it is not merely putting boots on the ground; but in many times have to deal with an invisible enemy that is lurking both within and from the outside, both of which that threaten national interests of a country. The Republican incumbent has seen for himself the ugliness of the ISIS and hence the difficulties of pulling out the special forces from Syria and neighboring areas; and the same goes for Afghanistan where a weakening of American commitment could have disastrous consequences not just for Central Asia but for the world as a whole in terms of starting the war on terrorism all over again.
On September 11, America will be observing the 19th anniversary of the terror attacks that in one clip claimed some 3,000 lives in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania; and the sober reminder on the horrors of terrorism has come from none other than a niece of Osama bin Laden, Noor bin Ladin and in all the wrong ways. The lady from Switzerland has praised President Trump as though he is a defender of the war on terror and warning Americans of a repeat of 9/11 should Democrats come to power. Mercifully, extremists in the Republican Party have not flagged the comments of Noor bin Ladin as some kind of an endorsement of President Trump; but her comments suggest that remnants of the al Qaeda are still around to pose a threat not only to the United States but to the world as well. And 9/11 is also a reminder that the , mastermind of the deadly terror attacks was not Osama bin Laden but a Pakistani national called Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who is cooling his heels in some American secure facility.
In his tenure, Trump has had a bizarre notion of what the military is all about: on the one hand he is all for winning; but this win must come at free of cost. And in the absence of a zero cost, the military and the armed forces must be a bunch of losers, suckers, warmongers, dopes and babies. The genius in Trump must sit back and ponder about a lot of things: Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon and scores of other giants who are a part of the military-industrial complex make hardware and software, but they do not make the final call on war and warmongering. Also, it is an administration that leans on allies on allies to buy weaponry and planes, sometimes even in the absence of parking spaces. Trump is quite aware that in all this pitch of Making America Great Again, Again, he cannot add a few thousand more to the unemployment lines.
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington D.C. covering North America and the United Nations.)
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