Thursday, September 8, 2016

In Trump's Own Words: Commander-in-Chief Forum

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Donald Trump’s appearance at the Commander-in-Chief forum was a real opportunity for him. He’s the real outsider candidate in this race, and there’s no way to dispute that. Since I’m not supporting him in anyway, I’ll use his own words as much as possible

He has no real experiences to draw from when making decisions about foreign policy and the use of military power. When asked about this specifically, he stated, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve dealt with foreign countries. I’ve done very well, as an example, tremendously well dealing with China and dealing with so many of the countries that are just ripping this country. They are just taking advantage of us like nobody’s ever seen before. And I’ve had great experience dealing on an international basis.”

Whenever I hear Trump speak, he does so by making grandiose claims, usually by tearing something or someone down, in this case America, which allows him to build himself up as being ‘great.’

The moderator, Matt Lauer, pressed him on this point. Trump responded, “Well, I think the main thing is I have great judgment. I have good judgment. I know what’s going on. I’ve called so many of the shots. And I happened to hear Hillary Clinton say that I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq. From a — you can look at Esquire magazine from ’04. You can look at before that.”

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You’ll note he points to Esquire magazine from 2004. The Iraq War started in 2003. Trump has continued to lie about his support and when he came around to being in opposition of the Iraq War. 

Lauer avoids calling out Trump for lying, then asking Trump about some of the repeated claims he has made on the campaign trail, for instance, that he knows more about ISIS then the generals do.

This does get complicated, and does show the history of what I mentioned earlier. Trump tears down the generals that are managing and waging the war against ISIS in order to build himself up as the candidate who can swiftly defeat them. 
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“Well, the generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful. ISIS…I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it’s embarrassing for our country . . . I have great faith in the military. I have great faith in certain of the commanders, certainly. ”

So, in the space of a minute, Trump has thrown the generals under the bus, said they’re an embarrassment, and then goes on to say that he has great faith in them. Does anyone else not see the oblivious contradictions? There’s something in this word salad for everyone. 

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And, there’s actually no recognition of the facts on the ground in Iraq and Syria by Trump whatsoever. This is worse, in my opinion, then Hillary’s statement about no ground troops.  In reality, Syria is a mess and likely will be for 50 years. There’s no good options there. Likely, there’s not even bad options. 

Years ago, President Obama’s infamous ‘Red Line’ that Assad crossed by utilizing chemical weapons and that the President then did nothing in response was by every account actually in direct opposition to then Secretary Clinton’s advice. Tying Hillary to the aftermath seems tenuous at best. 

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Turkey, with assistance from Americans and on the ground rebels, have recently pushed back ISIS from the Turkish border region in Syria. Also, there has been a great deal of progress in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. Fallujah and Ramadi have been taken back from their control. Many of the top leaders of ISIS have been killed in both countries. 

The strategy is definitely not a swift one, but it is working slowly and steadily and with utilizing as small an American on-the-ground footprint as possible. Yes, this is a very complicated and long-term problem. Anyone who believes there are swift solutions to the Middle East is ignoring decades and generations of history.
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Trump would make these problems worse. In response to his first veteran question. Trump ended “The — and I think you know — because you’ve been watching me I think for a long time — I’ve always said, shouldn’t be there, but if we’re going to get out, take the oil. If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.”

Now, this is a claim quite a number of American citizens actually believe to be true. Besides not even being feasible, however, this would have actually fed into the broader terrorist’s recruitment propaganda that we were there for their lands and resources, and would have required a substantial on-the-ground presence inside Iraq that would be the source of continued hostilities from not only our enemies but our allies as well. It also is a throwback to the Age of Imperialism.
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No one seems to press Trump too hard on the feasibility of these proposals. These proposals ‘feel’ good and righteous, and that’s the appeal of the absurd to the absurd.

Next, Lauer pressed Trump for his secret plan to defeat ISIS. His response should leave people stunned. He discussed replacing generals, “Well, they’ll probably be different generals, to be honest with you. I mean, I’m looking at the generals, today, you probably saw, I have a piece of paper here, I could show it, 88 generals and admirals endorsed me today.”

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All of those 88 generals and admirals are retired. He kept pulling that piece of paper out during the forum too. It was more a shield from criticism than anything else. “Well, it’s not really — it’s not — yeah, numbers. People that have been losing for us for a long period of time. I mean, the fact is, we have had the worst and you could even say the dumbest foreign policy.”

Again, this is the Trump doctrine. Say something grandiose and terrible about someone else in order to make yourself look big and great. 

This also obscures a larger problem. Trump doesn’t seem to understand the process in which the military promotes within their own ranks. Also, nearly every one of our current generals and admirals have extensive military, on-the-ground experience. This is the experience he wishes to cut away and discard, to replace with what? Perhaps, some of the same less experienced voices that led us into such terrible misadventures as the Iraq War to begin with. 
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Regarding the intelligence briefings that Trump has started to receive because he’s the GOP candidate for President, Trump stated “No, I didn’t learn anything from that standpoint. What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts and our truly — when they call it intelligence, it’s there for a reason — what our experts said to do.”

It’s rare to have such a pushdown from every single expert, but nearly every single one said there was no way this actually was the case. In fact, they all said this was their biggest concern from Trump’s answers because he showed his capacity to hear what he wants to hear and see what he wants to see regardless of the facts presented.
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With regard to Russia, Trump had a way of being disrespectful of America while simultaneously lifting his own credentials. Anyone who has been watching Trump throughout his campaign can tell he has mad respect for President Vladimir Putin. What I do think was exposed during the forum was that this was more due to Putin’s popularity in the polls within Russia than any shady business deals by his former campaign manager. “LAUER: But do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer? TRUMP: Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, OK?” 

At the beginning of the forum, Trump had used Russia’s recent military posture and behavior with flybys as a sign of disrespect for America and our own military. So, yet again, this shows how Trump characterizes issues and people in terms of putting others down in order to build himself up. 
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Trump’s obsession with polls was made more clear by the next question from a veteran regarding specific policy proposals for veteran services. “Well, I love that question, because I’ve been very close to the vets. You see the relationship I have with the vets just by looking at the polls. In fact, today a poll came out. And my relationship has been very good.”

For those who were in support of Trump already, his performance was likely a victory. He answered questions. He didn’t call Mexicans rapists. In fact, he did say that any undocumented immigrants who wanted to be in the military should get a special circumstance for being in the country. To be clear, there are about 20,000 serving currently, and there has been efforts by the House GOP to ban this service. This seemed to be new information to Trump.
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Throughout the Commander-in-Chief Forum, Trump was able to field questions and seem presidential, but if you examine the content of his actual answers, there’s a disturbing trend that should trouble anyone who supports the military and American foreign policy. He flat out lies about his own history of support for interventionist wars and military actions in order to attack Hillary Clinton. He uses insults and demeaning language of others in order to pump up the image of himself. 

To me, his own words speak volumes. To others, that’s up to their own judgment. 

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