He wants a “real war” and big parade

He wants a "real war" and big parade

by digby

The Washington Post reports on the kind of wars Trump wants to fight.

He's not saying we won't get our hair mussed ...

President Trump’s pronouncement that he would be pulling troops out of Syria “very soon” has laid bare a major source of tension between the president and his generals.

Trump has made winning on the battlefields of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan a central tenet of his foreign policy and tough-guy identity. But Trump and the military hold frequently opposing ideas about exactly what winning means.

Those differences have played out in heated Situation Room ­debates over virtually every spot on the globe where U.S. troops are engaged in combat, said senior administration officials. And they contributed to the dismissal last month of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster who as national security adviser had pressed the president against his instincts to support an ­open-ended commitment of U.S. forces to Afghanistan.

Trump’s words, both in public and private, describe a view that wars should be brutal and swift, waged with overwhelming firepower and, in some cases, with little regard for civilian casualties. Victory over America’s enemies for the president is often a matter of bombing “the s--- out of them,” as he said on the campaign trail.

He returned to the theme this week. “We’re knocking the hell” out of the Islamic State, Trump said at a rally in Ohio last month. The boast was a predicate to the president insisting that U.S. troops would be “coming out of Syria real soon.”

For America’s generals, more than 17 years of combat have served as a lesson in the limits of overwhelming force to end wars fueled by sectarian feuds, unreliable allies and persistent government corruption. “Victory is sort [of] an elusive concept in that part of the world,” said Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who led troops over five tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. “Anyone who goes in and tries to achieve a decisive victory is going to come away disappointed.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis echoed that point in late November when he outlined an expanded role for U.S. forces in preventing the return of the Islamic State or a group like it in Syria. “You need to do something about this mess now,” he told reporters. “Not just, you know, fight the military part of it and then say, ‘Good luck on the rest of it.’ ”

His remarks reflected a broader Pentagon consensus: In the absence of a clear outcome, winning for much of the U.S. military’s top brass has come to be synonymous with staying put. These days, senior officers talk about “infinite war.”

“It’s not losing,” explained Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes in a speech earlier this year. “It’s staying in the game and . . . pursuing your objectives.”

The Army recently rewrote its primary warfighting doctrine to account for the long stretch of fighting without victory since 9/11. “The win was too absolute,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy of the old document. “We concluded winning is more of a continuum.”

The tension between the White House and the military over how and when to end America’s wars is not entirely new. To the frustration of his generals, President ­Barack Obama announced plans in 2014 to pull all U.S. combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of his presidency. “Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” he said. “Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century.”

The decision drew heavy criticism from Republican lawmakers, and in 2016, with the Taliban expanding across Afghanistan, Obama decided to leave about 8,000 American troops in place.

Trump came to office promising to give the Pentagon a free hand to unleash the full force of U.S. firepower. His impatience was evident on his first full day in office when he visited the CIA and was ushered up to the agency’s drone operations floor.

There agency officials showed him a feed from Syria, where Obama-era rules limited the agency to surveillance flights — part of a broader push by the previous administration to return the CIA to its core espionage mission and shift the job of killing terrorists to the military.

Trump urged the CIA to start arming its drones in Syria. “If you can do it in 10 days, get it done,” he said, according to two former officials familiar with the meeting.

Later, when the agency’s head of drone operations explained that the CIA had developed special munitions to limit civilian casualties, the president seemed unimpressed. Watching a previously recorded strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside, Trump asked, “Why did you wait?” one participant in the meeting recalled.

He's a sadistic psychopath. But you knew that:
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox News' “Fox and Friends” in December 2015. “They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
I will have to give more thought to this idea of infinite war. That's a pretty terrifying prospect. I do know that if the idea is to keep low level conflicts low level in order to prevent global conflagration Trump will never understand such a thing.

He is desperate for his victory parade and the ability to brag to his cult that he "won." And they will probably believe him because they are war-lovers at heart but in a purely Hollywood sort of way, just like him. If it all blows up in his face in some horrific way he doesn't care. He will just blame others and deploy more brutal force to put it down.