Donald Trump has spent the entire campaign declaring how he’d make our military great and criticizing President Obama for “weakening it” (even though we still spend more than any other nation on defense spending,) and pronouncing ridiculous bravados of how we will will become a “strong nation” again while actively belittling our nation and all it represents, trying to incite fear and create a false perception of American weakness that is coupled with an appallingly foolish and heartless strategy that involves closing our borders to thousands of desperate emigres and persecuting Muslim-Americans for their faith.
However, when one asks the military officers of the Pentagon what they think of this potential Commander-in-Chief’s plans for the military, we hear a very different story. The Daily Beast just revealed that a good number of Pentagon officials are planning to retire or quit if Trump gets elected in protest of his vile desecration of the values that they have sworn to die defending and his callous disregard for the lives that will be put at risk should he attain he highest office of the United States:
Trump’s attack plans for the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS—his call to ban Muslims from the United States, his suggestions that cutting off the flow of information through the Internet can protect the homeland—many said, are an affront to the values they vowed to die to defend.
Some said repeatedly hearing Trump and the other GOP candidates spelling out a plan that is only a more brazen—and perhaps reckless—version of the current strategy was not reassuring.
This Daily Beast correspondent has heard such sentiments from at least a dozen commanders in the past few months. Such conversations can also be heard at common areas—in cafeteria lines and around lunch tables.
There are fears of being asked to carry out futile war plans that would bring instability. Almost all of today’s commanders are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They all know someone who died in combat; indeed, they may have sent someone on a mission that ended with death. And because of that they bring a unique vantage point to lessons learned, from the frontlines where the cruelty of warfare is impossible to miss. Those who send them, meanwhile, sit thousands of miles away and learn what is happening through the filter of distance.
And so in the course of conversation, plots of a different kind emerge—contingencies in case Trump really is elected to the White House.
“By 2016 I will have my 20 years in and can get out of here,” one military official said, referring to the amount of time a service member needs to collect retirement pay.
“This is not the country I joined to defend. I am turning in my papers. I’m moving to a farm.”
“Personally, I hope no one will be called upon to serve under a President T… I can’t bring myself to type the words,” said retired Rear Admiral John Hutson.
This is a damning indictment of the counterproductive and monstrously foolish delusions of neocolonial conquest that passes for “foreign policy” among the Republican presidential candidates. It also highlights how the Republican Party freely uses the military as a political prop in their stump speeches and debates, but at the end of the day, they are naught but mummer’s tricks: they care nothing for our veterans when they return home while continually scheming to make new veterans with their relentless calls for war.
Just a few days ago, some of our most decorated generals called out the Republican war hawks for how utterly divorced their “plans” for defeating Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) are from reality; now it is clear that this utter disdain is echoed by our seasoned, knowledgeable military service staffers. Nobody ever asks those who must put their lives and limbs on the line how they feel about the orders they are sent to fulfill.
It is said that theirs is not to question why, but to do and die – an axiom that the Republican Party has viciously abused for far too long. Our brave military men and women are bound by a sacred vow to selflessly fulfill the orders of their commander-in-chief; that is why President Obama only asks when he absolutely has to, showing them the respect for their duty that they deserve and for the lives they may have to sacrifice; for this, he is branded as “weak” and “spineless” by the GOP, who looks incessantly to entrench our military in yet another inevitably fruitless war of foreign conquest for the sake of political points and to feed their obsessive need for our nation to appear “strong.”
These blowhard demagogues and religious extremists masquerading as politicians have not the slightest care for what they are asking of our military, taking their service and their very lives for granted. These commanders are veterans of the last time a naive Republican fool ordered them into the breach of ignorance. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan; they saw their comrades fight and die for Fallujah, for Ramadi, for Tikrit, for Mosul, for Kunduz- only to see them fall into the hands of terrorist insurgents not five years later. It was all for nothing, and they are unwilling to blindly do it again for a more obvious fool.
Sun Tzu, the world’s oldest recorded strategist, wrote that one must “treat your men as you would your own beloved sons, and they will follow you into the deepest valley.” It is clear that the men and women of the Pentagon know that Trump and his ilk know care no more for our soldiers than they do for the civilians on the other end of their “carpet bombs”- or else they would treat the discussion of war with the quiet and reasoned deliberation that the subject deserves.
The Republican Party has shown a consistently horrific disrespect not only for the lives of our fighting men and women, but for the lives of the men and women who are trapped behind terrorist lines, who form the shield that Daesh uses to hide from our bombs and missiles. Such a callous disregard for human life should be the nail in the political coffin for these barbarians, and it appears that our military men and women agree.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.