♫ As the young men move out into the battle zone
He feels good, with God you’re never alone
He feels tired and he lays on his bed
Hopes the men will find courage in the words that he said ♫
— “Sky Pilot.” Eric Burdon & The Animals
Another Memorial Day (U.S.) weekend, another reminder that nearly all war deaths come at the point of pointlessness. Old rich men order young poor boys and, increasingly, girls into battle for little beyond reflected glory and stolen valor.
Lest anyone interpret that as an attack on the military, long time endurers of Weekend Politics Thread headers will recall that Uvular grew up a Navy brat. His father graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963 and served on active duty every single day of the shooting war in Vietnam. He hates war and militarism precisely because it could have cost him so much.*
What your humble WPT host hates most of all blared across television screens at least twice this week. First, draft dodger, physical coward and chronic insulter of American war heroes Trump conferred yet another Medal of Honor. Fittingly, the retired Navy SEAL may not deserve the nation’s highest award for service and bravery above and beyond the call of duty. A good case exists for showing the man recklessly caused seven American deaths and abandoned an injured comrade, who also died.
C’est la guerre, or Uvular’s point.
The morning following that ribboning, Trump lied about his accomplishments on behalf of the military for two solid minutes while delivering the commencement address to the USNA Class of 2018. The rundown of corrections to Trump’s lies:
- The size of the FY2019 Department of Defense budget pales in comparison to the FY2010 and 2011 DoD budgets under Obama.
- The U.S. Navy floated fewer combat ships under Bush.
- Money to build a wet dream 355-ship Navy will never materialize.
- The gap between the current fleet and the dream fleet remains smaller than regularly claimed.
- Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen have received base pay raises in each of the past 10 federal budgets.
“Trump lies” makes less of a headline than “Dog sleeps,” but consider the audience for the madman’s mendacious, self-aggrandizing harangue. Kids** working their way through one of the toughest curricula in the world, *** all the time knowing success means going into combat. Kids who sacrifice even their own civil liberties to protect the good America has done and may yet do. Kids who possess more honor, patriotism, knowledge, and capability than Trump could claim for himself at his most megalomaniacal. He lied blatantly and almost without pause to this audience during the culmination of their greatest personal and professional achievement to date.
One hopes no one ever dies in service to a person as base and undeserving as Trump, but that has happened many times already. Even presidents history considers good on balance sent better people to die for terrible causes. Lincoln kept an entire army deployed west of the Mississippi River from 1861 to 1865 to slaughter Native Americans.^ Theodore Roosevelt continued the subjugation of the Filipinos and made the Monroe Doctrine a military diktat. Obama did his Obama things with drones and troop surges and support for the House of Saud.
Good wars depose fascists and tyrants of other stripes. The present world features many of those, including the one sitting in the Oval Office. Ballots as bullets come November 6, everyone.
Grill up a few comments and swill a couple of upvotes below.
*Which does make Uvular selfish for not acknowledging his great good fortune in not having come under fire like countless civilians everywhere, losing their own lives, suffering disabling injuries, and seeing loved ones die from wounds, disease, and starvation. He knows he appears unfeeling and will attempt to maintain diffidence as readers criticize him.
**Even coming from the fleet, as 10-20 percent of each Naval Academy class does, the oldest newly pinned ensign will not have completed his or her 28th year, leaving even those most-senior first classmen a full two decades younger than Uvular. So, “kids.”
***Service academy students draw pay year-round and do active duty during summers. They also drill regularly, do PT, and must participate in sports or a research fellowship. To a person, they hold what amount to full-time jobs while taking 18-21 credit hours of classes each term.
^Three hundred Santee Sioux sentenced to hanging at one time in 1862, with 39 executions completed. Really.