In the interest of “full disclosure,” (or presenting all sides of the issue) we must make the following update.
On Sept 14, a Fox News Flash top headline announced that – even after The Atlantic revelations — 235 retired general and flag officers signed a letter supporting President Trump.
Part of the letter states:
As senior leaders of America’s military, we took an oath to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. At present, our country is now confronted with enemies here and abroad, as well as a once in a century pandemic. As retired military officers, we believe that Donald J. Trump has been tested as few other presidents have and is the proven leader to confront these dangers.
While current numbers are difficult to get, in 2006 it was estimated that there were approximately 4,700 retired general officers.
It could be a first for this incorrigible, dishonest narcissist.
In view of what is irrefutable, harsh reality, the commander in chief who so brashly and ardently touts that “the military love me,” has now been forced to take his braggadocio down a notch.
At a Labor Day news conference, Trump said “I’m not saying the military is in love with me; the soldiers are,” and proceeded to disparage those who “probably aren’t [in love with him]”: Those being, according to Trump, “The top people in the Pentagon [who] 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.”
Well, Mr. President, according to a recent survey conducted in July and early August by The Military Times among 1,018 active-duty troops — “solders” — nearly half of respondents (49.9 percent) had an unfavorable view of you – are not in love with you — compared to about 38 percent who had a favorable view. More specifically, 59% of officers said they have a poor view of Trump, while 47% of the enlisted respondents said they have an unfavorable view.
It should be noted that the poll was conducted well before the damnable revelations in The Atlantic’s explosive report about how this president really feels about “his soldiers,” what he thinks of those who serve and of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “Suckers” and “losers” he has called them according to The Atlantic.
Also, the poll was conducted before journalist Bob Woodward, in his book “Rage,” quoted Trump saying this about “his generals”: “My fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.”
It should thus not surprise anyone that, if another poll of our service members is conducted before November 3, the results will be even more dismal for this commander in chief.
Previous polls and surveys by The Military Times have shown a steady erosion in Trump’s support among troops since his election.
Of course, Trump’s disdain and contempt for the military is one important reason. Just a few appalling examples are listed here.
Even before he was elected, Americans were very well aware of Trump’s antipathy towards the military.
Michael Hirsch at Foreign Policy describes how “Trump Has Mocked the U.S. Military His Whole Life.”
But now that Trump is the commander in chief and with what are probably the most important elections in our lifetimes approaching, other even more grim realities are beginning to sink in, given Trump’s lack of respect for the military, contempt for norms and standards and his total misunderstanding of the Constitutional mission of the U.S. military.
Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, writes at Foreign Policy: “This Election Has Become Dangerous for the U.S. Military.”
Recalling Trump’s irresponsible – possibly unconstitutional – attempts to send active duty military to quell urban protests, Feaver lists four threats the military faces that could draw it “even further into the U.S. presidential campaign.”
• The possibility that continued or renewed protests on city streets will once again give Trump the excuse to deploy active-duty troops to support local law enforcement. “Unfortunately,” Feaver adds, “it’s reasonable to assume that this issue will return before Election Day.”
• The threat that Trump will overreact and overcompensate for his decline in popularity with the military by, for example, “trotting out officers” in his support and by criticizing senior brass who do not support him by, for example, “claiming that U.S. military leaders are warmongers opposed to the peacemaker Trump.”
• The likelihood that Trump will, again, overcompensate in a way that “further drags the military into the daily campaign gyre” when additional revelations of Trump’s anti-military mentality surface.
• But, the really ominous threat, Feaver says, is “the prospect that the military will be asked to resolve a contested election by forcibly preventing the losing candidate from keeping or grabbing political power.”
Thankfully, Feaver concludes:
…the senior military seem quite ill at ease with their current predicament. The United States enjoys the fruits of having a powerful military and healthy civil-military relations—especially compared with other great military powers in history—precisely because the U.S. military has never gotten completely comfortable playing a partisan political role.
The military’s revulsion reflex when it comes to partisan politics is healthy for U.S. democracy. It should be allowed to quietly retreat from the campaign field while the civilians do the partisan fighting.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer who has had the honor, the privilege, and the reward of serving his adopted country for 20 years proudly in both the enlisted and commissioned ranks, under six presidents – Republican and Democratic. Not once did he have the feeling that his commander in chief did not have his back, did not value his service, did not appreciate the minor sacrifices his family and he endured. In particular, never once the thought even occurred that, one day, a President of the United States would denigrate the troops and their service… would call those who did not return from battle “losers” and “suckers.”