Today marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. For most Americans, it’s a day to reflect on the people we lost and to consider the profound ways in which our country has changed since that fateful date. For most Americans, it’s a day to come together as a nation, to forget our petty differences for a while and project a confident, unified front to the world. For Donald Trump, it’s a day to make incredibly vague, nonsensical threats.
While speaking at the Pentagon today, the president tried to sound tough and strong, two attributes which it’s clear by now he’s never possessed. Throwing in a dash of fearmongering for good measure, Trump promised that if anyone ever “dares to strike our land” again, the United States will respond with overwhelming military force.
Then, in a move that immediately and presumably unintentionally undermined any sense of patriotism he was attempting to channel, the president brought up the recent debacle in which he invited and then uninvited the Taliban to visit Camp David for peace talks on the week of the 9/11 anniversary.
The move was widely slammed as deeply inconsiderate and even cruel, with many asking why he and his team wouldn’t have picked some other week, any other week, to hold talks with the brutal theocratic thugs who aided Al-Qaeda in the leadup to the 2001 terror attacks. In his speech today, Trump tried to claim credit for calling off the Taliban meeting but refused to admit that he should never have been planning it the way he did in the first place.
President Trump then hit the weirdest part of his rambling, disingenuous speech. He said that if the terrorists behind 9/11—almost all of whom, including mastermind Osama Bin Laden, it should be noted are now dead—the United States will “go wherever they are” and use “power the likes of which the United States has never used before.”
“And I’m not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them,” he added ominously. He failed to explain what could possibly be more powerful than nuclear weapons, presumably because no such weapons exist. Rather than speaking honestly on this somber day, he elected to use the same sort of bombastic, hyperbolic language he regularly uses to make himself appear bigger and more successful than everyone else. Just like he insists his presidency is the greatest in history, so too he insists that the United States under his leadership has weapons even deadlier than nukes.
The statement was absurd not only because of how nonsensical it was, but because Trump actually wants us to believe he cares about America’s national security. This is a man who still refuses to accept that Russia undermined our elections with cyberattacks despite the overwhelming evidence and who refuses to take steps to prevent it from happening again. He endangers our most valuable spies to the point that they have to be recalled, he tweets out images from our spy satellites, he routinely coddles our enemies, and yet wants us to think he’s keeping us safe. The simple, inarguable fact is that until this self-serving overinflated mobster is voted out of office it will be impossible to ensure any real sense of national security.
America is and always will be worth defending. Donald Trump will never be the person to do it.
Trump's 9/11 speech: "If for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are & use power the likes of which the US has never used before — & I'm not even talking about nuclear power. They will have never seen anything like what will happen to them." pic.twitter.com/Lde7rHYtfS
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 11, 2019
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.