Why Trump won’t visit a war zone

Why Trump won't visit a war zone

by digby

The New York Times reports on Trump's relationship with the military, which is somewhat bizarre considering his love of men in uniform:

He canceled a trip to a cemetery in France where American soldiers from World War I are buried. He did not go to the observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. He has not visited American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And shortly after becoming commander in chief, President Trump asked so few questions in a briefing at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., that top military commanders cut the number of prepared PowerPoint slides to three — they had initially planned 18 — said two officials with knowledge of the visit.

The commanders had slotted two hours for the meeting, but it lasted less than one.

Rhetorically, Mr. Trump has embraced the United States’ 1.3 million active-duty troops as “my military” and “my generals” and has posted on Twitter that under his leadership, the American armed forces will be “the finest that our Country has ever had.” But top Defense Department officials say that Mr. Trump has not fully grasped the role of the troops he commands, nor the responsibility that he has to lead them and protect them from politics.

“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.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trump spent less than an hour in a pre-Thanksgiving visit to the Marine Barracks in Washington, three and a half miles from the White House, the home of the Marine commandant and units assigned to ceremonial and security missions in the capital. The president then returned to the White House to briefly address a group of veterans.

“I think the vets, maybe more than anybody else, appreciate what we are doing for them,” Mr. Trump said.

On Wednesday, it was Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who visited American troops on the border with Mexico in the latest military deployment under Mr. Trump’s watch. Mr. Mattis traveled to Base Camp Donna in Texas, where he met with troops who have been webbing concertina wire to keep out an approaching caravan of migrants the president has likened to an “invasion.”

Pentagon officials have privately derided the deployment of nearly 6,000 active-duty troops as a morale killer and an expensive waste of time and resources, put in motion by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls. The troops, who are providing only logistical support, will be there until Dec. 15.

“It’s always better to come down and see it for real,” Mr. Mattis said in talking with troops.

Like two recent former presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump came to office without having served in the military. Former President George W. Bush served in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War but never left the country, and questions were raised about how often he reported for duty. All three had complicated relationships with the armed forces...

Mr. Trump, who received a deferment from Vietnam because of bone spurs in his heel, came to office with a reverence for the idea of the military. He followed through by appointing generals as defense secretary, White House chief of staff and twice as national security adviser.

But unlike past Republican presidents, Mr. Trump has seen little value in the long American deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts. He considers them a waste of money and lives, and has told advisers that the people in the countries where troops are stationed are not really friends of the United States.

One reason he has not visited troops in war zones, according to his aides, is that he does not really want American troops there in the first place. To visit, they said, would validate missions he does not truly believe in.

The Commander in Chief doesn't want to validate the missions under his command? But he does presumably "believe in" the ridiculous mission at the US border --- because he's a moron who doesn't understand anything.

Trump has said over and over again that he wants the US to "win" in Afghanistan and Iraq and he's frustrated that the military is unable to do that. He'd like to order them to use tactical nukes or at least instigate a scorched earth campaign to bring all recalcitrant colonies to heel but so far he's been told that the military will rebel and he's not quite secure enough to set off that explosion.

But the idea that he doesn't "believe" in the mission is nonsense. He won't go there because he doesn't want to be associated with losing. It's not complicated.