I was actually prepared to give Comrade Trump some credit. I mean, he actually visited troops in a theater of combat operations. Yes, that’s something every POTUS in recent history has done and is expected to do, but let’s face it — nobody really expects Trump to behave like a president anymore. But I believe in giving credit where it’s due, so I found myself in the unusual position of giving Trump props for doing the minimum requirements of his job.
But Jeebus on toast, he had to go and fuck that up. All he had to do was go the al-Asad Air Base, shake a few hands, take a few photos with a few troops, and give a simple speech supporting their mission. Seriously, a high school student could have done that. But Trump? Apparently beyond his ability. He just couldn’t do it.
First, the point of POTUS visiting troops in a combat area is to bolster the morale of the men and women who do the fighting and killing and dying at the Commander-in-Chief’s direction. That’s it. It’s a simple task. It’s NOT even remotely a venue for partisan politics. And it should NEVER be about money.
Here’s one of the early comments in Trump’s speech to the troops:
“America shouldn’t be doing the fighting for every nation on Earth not being reimbursed. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price — and sometimes that’s also a monetary price — so we’re not the suckers of the world. We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”
The US military isn’t a mercenary army. They’re not for hire. We don’t tell other nations we’ll protect their interests (and our interests) only IF they can reimburse us. The US military isn’t a for-profit enterprise. Comrade Trump doesn’t seem to understand that.
Then he moved on to domestic partisan politics.
We want to have strong borders in the United States. The Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders — only for one reason. You know why? Because I want it. … You know, when you think about it, you’re fighting for borders in other countries, and they don’t want to fight — the Democrats — for the border of our country.
First, Trump makes it about him. Democrats are opposed to building a wall along the southern border just to spite him. Second, he accuses his political opponents of not wanting to protect the nation. Turning a morale-building mission into a political campaign speech is despicable.
That said, I must say I have no problem with Trump signing MAGA hats while at the air base, providing the Trump campaign didn’t bring them or distribute them. I don’t think the criticism Trump received for hat-signing is justified. If troops ask him to sign their hat, he should damn well sign their hat.
Near the end of his speech, Trump flat out lied to the troops. He lied to them in a typical Trump self-aggrandizing way.
“You just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received… You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one. They had plenty of people that came up. They said, ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent.’ I said, ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.'”
They’ll get a 2.8% pay raise next year, which is about average. It’s certainly not the biggest raise the military has ever received. They’ve been given a raise every year for decades. It’s not enough, of course. It’s not even close to enough. I’d applaud Trump if he actually DID fight for a meaningful pay increase for the troops, especially enlisted personnel. But he hasn’t.
And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Trump and his communications team inadvertently outed a covert Navy SEAL team. The locations of special forces units deployed abroad is classified, and showing the faces of spec ops troops is generally a violation of operational security. Trump’s team put their faces on Twitter. Twitter, for fuck’s sake.
Oh, and one more thing (there’s always one more thing when Comrade Trump is involved): he didn’t bother to meet with the Prime Minister or any Iraqi officials while he was there. He apparently doesn’t understand that US troops are stationed in Iraq with the permission of the Iraqi government. President Obama worked out an arrangement with the Iraqis; the Trump administration has been attempting to negotiate a similar long-term arrangement since the spring…without success so far. Snubbing Iraqi officials isn’t going to help. Some Iraqi officials are now calling for all US troops to be removed.
Comrade Trump was in Iraq for a total of about three hours. In that time he offended the Iraqi government, outed a covert SEAL team, lied to the troops, and turned a simple morale-building mission into a political campaign event.
Three hours. The thing is, I don’t think any of these fuck-ups were deliberate. They were all just the result of a president who doesn’t understand his job and is incapable of carrying it out. This should have been an easy gig for Trump and his team. But in three hours they managed to create a monumental clusterfuck.
I guess we should be grateful it was only three hours.