“Trump Just Isn’t A Guy With Whom You’d Want To Share A Foxhole”

British Troops Use Desert Bases To Suppress Taliban Insurgents

A most damming opinion column by the famed reporter and writer David Ignatius about Donald Trump and his words and views concerning the military in The Washington Post today.  Considering that Trump wanted to get COVID bumped further down the front page so as to not have his failures as a leader showcased with banner headlines….beware what one wishes for.

The first open break point came in June, after former military leaders watched Trump try to use the military to put down protests for racial justice. Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denounced Trump for “politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.” Retired Gen. Jim Mattis, the former defense secretary, called Trump “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people.” Retired Gen. John F. Kelly, a former Trump White House chief of staff, said he agreed with Mattis.

It’s hard to remember now that Trump’s dealings with military leaders started off pretty well. I remember traveling in May 2017 with our Special Operations forces to the newly liberated town of Tabqa, at the gates of the Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa. A senior U.S. official told the Syrian Kurdish commander who led the assault that this rapid assault “never would have happened without Donald Trump.” There would have been too many meetings under his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Trump wanted victory in Afghanistan, too, so long as it was fast and unambiguous. Gen. John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Kabul, was given authority to use America’s most intimidating conventional weapon against the Taliban — the so-called “mother of all bombs.” No more anguished meetings in the Situation Room. The gloves were off.

Trump initially saw Mattis as a man in his own image — awarding him the Trumpian nickname “Mad Dog,” even though the ascetic Mattis was closer to a monk than a mongrel. Over the two years Mattis ran the Pentagon, his relationship with Trump grew poisonous. The more Mattis tried to educate Trump, as in his widely reported July 2017 seminar in the “tank” at Pentagon, the more Trump became resentful.

Trump berated his generals at that gathering — with language that’s eerily similar to what was reported in the Atlantic this week. According to Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig in their book, “A Very Stable Genius,” Trump said: “You’re all losers. You don’t know how to win anymore.”

Trump really did seem to think he knew better than his generals. “I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told them, according to Rucker and Leonnig. “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

The commander who succeeded best in keeping the lid on, as Trump grew cockier, was Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. A tall, reserved and utterly reliable Marine, he was often able to curb Trump’s impulsive decisions and steer him toward steady policy, without infuriating him.

What the military liked in Trump was that he was sometimes (not always) prepared to “take the shot” at terrorist adversaries, such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, and Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force.

Trump’s near-constant belittling of NATO hurt his standing with the Pentagon. So did his inexplicable affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet military leaders bit their lips, because they were grateful that Trump had endorsed a national military strategy that took a tougher stance toward Russia and China — and added money for new weapons to combat these near-peer adversaries.

A heartbreaker for the military was Trump’s decision to abandon the Syrian Kurds who had fought so bravely against the Islamic State. I remember talking to the officer who had to break the news of Trump’s decision to quit Syria to Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces. His description of that betrayal was unprintable.

What the military came to understand over the past four years is that, for all Trump’s talk of patriotism, he truly is transactional. Throughout his career, he has always believed that loyalty was for chumps. That’s why New York business executives told me back in early 2016 they had never wanted to do business with him.

The military understand their role in a democracy. They have obeyed Trump as their commander in chief, even amid his tirades and insults. And they will continue to do so if he’s reelected. But many of them won’t like it: Trump just isn’t a guy with whom you’d want to share a foxhole.

The Atlantic Article Shows Donald Trump At His Most Despicable

The headline to this post is one that our nation thought Donald Trump had achieved over and over, again and again, these past four years.  But no, he was saving the worst example of himself for his final months in office.

Donald Trump finally achieved what he has been seeking, a topic for the nation to talk about other than 188,000 deaths in America from a pandemic.  The pandemic that he allowed to take hold of the nation while it undermined our economy has been bumped from the headlines as we now read of the deplorable way he speaks about our United States military.

The bizarre, inappropriate, despicable, and simply disgusting behavior was presented in the article in The Atlantic by respected journalist Jeffrey Goldberg.  For the record, this household has been a subscriber to the magazine for about a decade.  It is from this recent reporting we know Trump has treated the volunteers to our military like used burger wrappers.

The Atlantic article is certainly a must-read.

I’ve asked numerous general officers over the past year for their analysis of Trump’s seeming contempt for military service. They offer a number of explanations. Some of his cynicism is rooted in frustration, they say. Trump, unlike previous presidents, tends to believe that the military, like other departments of the federal government, is beholden only to him, and not the Constitution. Many senior officers have expressed worry about Trump’s understanding of the rules governing the use of the armed forces. This issue came to a head in early June, during demonstrations in Washington, D.C., in response to police killings of Black people. James Mattis, the retired Marine general and former secretary of defense, lambasted Trump at the time for ordering law-enforcement officers to forcibly clear protesters from Lafayette Square, and for using soldiers as props: “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

As The Atlantic reported…

(The president did not serve in the military; he received a medical deferment from the draft during the Vietnam War because of the alleged presence of bone spurs in his feet. In the 1990s, Trump said his efforts to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases constituted his “personal Vietnam.”)”

Here is the Trump interview.


Trump’s understanding of heroism has not evolved since he became president. According to sources with knowledge of the president’s views, he seems to genuinely not understand why Americans treat former prisoners of war with respect. Nor does he understand why pilots who are shot down in combat are honored by the military. On at least two occasions since becoming president, according to three sources with direct knowledge of his views, Trump referred to former President George H. W. Bush as a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II. (Bush escaped capture, but eight other men shot down during the same mission were caught, tortured, and executed by Japanese soldiers.)

When lashing out at critics, Trump often reaches for illogical and corrosive insults, and members of the Bush family have publicly opposed him. But his cynicism about service and heroism extends even to the World War I dead buried outside Paris—people who were killed more than a quarter century before he was born. Trump finds the notion of military service difficult to understand, and the idea of volunteering to serve especially incomprehensible.

It is not only solid reporters across the country who have examined the article and found the accuracy of the news.  The Fox News channel is also confirming reports from The Atlantic about the deplorable and reprehensible words and actions from Trump regarding the United States military.

When the Republican mouthpiece underscores the truth from other reporters it is clear to see the White House is in deep trouble.

As it should be.



Role Of Presidency Examined

A great read from The Atlantic  for those who wish to consider the role of the office of president and the historical changes.

Even the role of commander in chief, already one of the weightiest presidential responsibilities, has grown rapidly in its demands. National security is today threatened less by slow-moving armies than by stateless terror groups who might weaponize a rented truck and by rogue states who might weaponize an email. Rare is the day when one or more of these enemies don’t present an imminent danger requiring the president’s attention. “The modern presidency has gotten out of control,” Leon Panetta, who has served past presidents as the White House chief of staff, the secretary of defense, and the director of the CIA, told me recently. “Presidents are caught in a crisis-by-crisis response operation that undermines the ability of any modern president to get a handle” on the office.

The growth of presidential power is not new. When Arthur Schlesinger Jr. published The Imperial Presidency, in 1973, the term was already at least 10 years in use. But the office hasn’t just grown in power; it’s grown in scope, complexity, degree of difficulty. Each time a president has added to the job description, a new expectation has conveyed, like the Oval Office furniture, to the next man in line. A president must now be able to jolt the economy like Franklin Roosevelt, tame Congress like Lyndon Johnson, comfort the nation like Ronald Reagan.

Picture And Story Which America Needs To See And Read

From The Atlantic.

Here is a portion of a well-written article by Jack Goldsmith.

The Framers of the Constitution wanted to create a powerful, independent executive branch, but they didn’t want to stoke fears that the new United States would replicate the monarchy from which it had just separated. Confident that George Washington would be the first chief executive and would use his power responsibly, they established an unstructured office with ambiguous authorities. Article II vests the president with “executive Power,” but it doesn’t define the term, and it gives the president only a few rather modest enumerated powers.

These vague constitutional contours allowed the presidency to grow, in response to changes in society and the world, into a gargantuan institution that the Framers never could have foreseen. The president’s control over the bully pulpit, federal law enforcement, and the national-security establishment has made the office the dominant force in American government and a danger to constitutional liberties. The flexible structure of the office has meant that it is defined largely by the person who occupies it—his character, competence, and leadership skills. Great presidents, such as Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, exercised power wisely (though controversially) to lead the nation through crisis. But Richard Nixon debased the office and betrayed the Constitution and our laws, while others, like Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, allowed the executive branch to become engulfed in corruption and scandal.

This was the background to the near-hysterical worries when Trump became president. During the campaign, he pledged to act in illegal ways; expressed illiberal attitudes toward freedom of speech, religion, and the press; attacked immigrants and minorities; tolerated, and even incited, thuggery at his rallies. The man who on January 20, 2017, took a constitutional oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” seemed disdainful of the rule of law and almost certain to abuse his power. “He is unlikely to be contained by norms and customs, or even by laws and the Constitution,” wrote Peter Wehner, a circumspect Republican commentator, in The New York Times the day after Trump’s inauguration. Wehner captured, in an understated way, prevalent fears about Trump’s presidency.

Magazine Covers This Week Tell The Story

And what a message they send about the plight of our nation.



The Undermining Of Democracy

The Atlantic again shows what happens when deep thinking and powerful writing combine.

Herein lies the most potentially devastating effect of Trump’s florid and public propulsion of a ‘rigged system.’ His corps of challengers may very well sow chaos on election day, but the laws allowing them to do so are at least laws—able to be repealed or updated (or kept in place), but at the very least subject to formal legislative governance.

Public trust, however—the core of our social compact—is not a matter of legislation: It is a terrible thing to lose, and a difficult thing to regain. And Trump has lately determined that his survival may be contingent its erosion; the last three days, after all, have shown the country how much he’s prepared to risk. It’s a dangerous play for the candidate, but unquestionably, a far more hazardous one for democracy.

For Only Third Time The Atlantic Makes Presidential Endorsement

Powerful.  Powerful. Powerful.

Today, our position is similar to the one in which The Atlantic’s editors found themselves in 1964. We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.

These concerns compel us, for the third time since the magazine’s founding, to endorse a candidate for president. Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than earned, through her service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state, the right to be taken seriously as a White House contender. She has flaws (some legitimately troubling, some exaggerated by her opponents), but she is among the most prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency. We are confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world; we have no doubt that she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country; and she has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.


The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy

The Atlantic nails this election with a terrific article.

The television networks that promoted Trump; the primary voters who elevated him; the politicians who eventually surrendered to him; the intellectuals who argued for him, and the donors who, however grudgingly, wrote checks to him—all of them knew, by the time they made their decisions, that Trump lied all the time, about everything. They knew that Trump was ignorant, and coarse, and boastful, and cruel. They knew he habitually sympathized with dictators and kleptocrats—and that his instinct when confronted with criticism of himself was to attack, vilify, and suppress. They knew his disrespect for women, the disabled, and ethnic and religious minorities. They knew that he wished to unravel NATO and other U.S.-led alliances, and that he speculated aloud about partial default on American financial obligations. None of that dissuaded or deterred them.

Whatever happens in November, conservatives and Republicans will have brought a catastrophe upon themselves, in violation of their own stated principles and best judgment. It’s often said that a good con is based upon the victim’s weaknesses. Why were conservatives and Republicans so vulnerable? Are these vulnerabilities not specific to one side of the political spectrum—are they more broadly present in American culture? Could it happen to liberals and Democrats next time? Where were the guardrails?