Soldiers killed in action are “losers” for U.S. President Donald Trump; their sacrifice is incomprehensible to him. Is this the turning point of the campaign? Above all, it reveals Trump’s vain stance toward the military.
America has waged many wars in its history. And many soldiers have been killed in these wars. Some wars were justified. Europe, for example, would look different today if the Americans had not twice sent soldiers to stop German militarism. Other wars, in contrast, were horrible miscalculations — nihilistic massacres like in Vietnam or disastrous mistakes like the invasion of Iraq. It is thus just as inaccurate to describe all American wars as crimes as it is to declare them all heroic campaigns for freedom and democracy.
The same applies to the soldiers who fought and died in these wars. Some were nothing more than murderers in uniform. But some GIs did, in fact, give their lives for what one could, with some emotion, call a “higher purpose.” Anyone who has a sense of historical connections and has, at one time, visited an American military cemetery in Europe, can agree with that. At these cemeteries it becomes clear that history is made not only by generals and presidents, but also by recruits from Ohio and Iowa.
Which brings us to Donald Trump. The U.S. president thinks little of his country’s soldiers who have been killed in action, if one is to believe the article in The Atlantic. He is said to have called them “losers” and “suckers.” To risk one’s life or even to lose one’s life, even though one gains nothing from it, certainly not any money — that is apparently incomprehensible to Trump, the master of the deal who believes everyone should make a profit in the end. We always suspected it, and now we know it.
For Trump, the Army Is Just Window Dressing To Appease His Desire for Pompousness
Is this finally the long-awaited moment that breaks Trump’s political back? Who knows. Trump has already survived so many scandals as a candidate and as president that one should be cautious about making predictions. The aggressiveness with which he and the White House are trying to limit the damage shows that they are aware of the danger. But until now, such revelations have only ever led to growing disgust among Trump’s opponents and growing loyalty among Trump’s supporters. It could end the same way this time.
Trump has a strange relationship with the military. He likes the pomp, the patriotic symbols, the brute technology — flags, stars and ranks, jets and tanks. The U.S. Army is window dressing he uses to appease his vanity and pompousness. Nothing demonstrates that more clearly than his desire to hold military parades in Washington like those in Paris, Moscow or Pyongyang. If even the little dictator Kim Jong Un can have a parade, then the great Trump should have one too, please.
But Trump cannot do anything that involves “military principle,” a serious concept that includes things that can be easily abused. He feels no loyalty to the Constitution or to the people of the United States, only to himself. Trump has no motivation to serve the country or the nation. The state is there to serve him and his followers. When angry citizens protested in front of the White House this summer, Trump wanted to send in paratroopers — as if the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were his personal bouncers.
’On Behalf of a Grateful Nation’: This Phrase Obligates a President To Show Respect
Over time, America’s military has played many roles: liberators and occupiers, brutal instruments of power or tools in the service of good. Thus, it is unnecessary for every U.S. president to agree with every war that his predecessors waged. He also does not have to bestow a small cloak of heroism on every American soldier. As a young man, Trump had the option of evading military service in Vietnam. And now he has the right as president to finally pull American troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq after almost two decades.
But there is one thing that a U.S. president should never forget: The women and men who die in America’s wars were put in uniform by their government and sent into battle by their president. Every fallen soldier is buried with military honors, at the end of which his survivors are handed a U.S. flag folded into a triangle — “on behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful nation,” as they put it. This expression binds the president to every deceased soldier, independent of what he himself thinks about what once motivated the person to become a soldier. “On behalf of a grateful nation” — that phrase obligates a president who understands the seriousness of his office to show respect. Trump understands none of that.
For many families, this appreciation from the nation is the only thing that they can hold onto in their grief. Now they know what Trump really thinks of the sacrifice that they have made.