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CNN / YouTube

Donald Trump looooves to talk about “my military” and “my generals,” like the authoritarian leader he longs to be. And he likes military pageantry, at least when it’s convenient and the cheers are for him. But he doesn’t care enough to risk getting his hair wet to honor the dead of World War I in France or go to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, and many observers say he just plain doesn’t get it: that as commander in chief, he’s responsible for people’s lives, and that even in the post-George W. Bush Republican Party there are lines it’s not a good idea to cross in politicizing the military.

“There was the belief that over time, he would better understand, but I don’t know that that’s the case,” said Col. David Lapan, a retired Marine who served in the Trump administration in 2017 as a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “I don’t think that he understands the proper use and role of the military and what we can, and can’t, do.”

Of course, Trump may be corroding the relationship between the president and the military in a way that works for him:

“If a president routinely and cynically leverages our nation’s armed forces for short-term political advantage, the professional ethos” of the officers corps will be degraded, said Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired three-star Army general and a former commander of American forces in Afghanistan. “This, in turn, would threaten one of the foundational principles of our republic — that our military must remain outside of politics.”

That’s a principle that Trump would like to threaten. In the military, which will win out? Discomfort with Trump’s cynicism and lack of interest and flagrantly political use of troops, or pleasure at the new toys he’s getting them? If it’s the latter, the United States of America is in serious trouble.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. I’m glad the Pentagon has intelligent people running the place that are able to tell the impostor president No. No parade. No 15,000 troops to the border. NO. He needs to hear that word repeatedly until he understands that our Military isn’t his personal toy. I can’t understand how any military, active or retired, could vote for this fool. He’s probably afraid to visit in a war zone. They might frag him which would be fitting. I like imagining the impostor president with a bullet hole in his forehead. I myself could never harm anyone no matter what, but there’s lots of unhinged people in this country (no medical/psyche care), that could go over the edge, & that would be a good thing.


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