President Trump is in hot water for supposedly disrespecting the family of a slain U.S. soldier.
Earlier this month, four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush by Islamic extremists/militants/terrorists/bad guys in the African country of Niger during a joint patrol by American and Niger forces. At a press conference over a week later, a reporterasked the president: “Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger? And what do you have to say about that?”
The next day Trump called Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the soldiers who had been killed in Niger, while she was on the way to the Miami airport to receive his body. According to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who was in the car when Trump made the call, the president told the grieving widow that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” She claimed that Trump’s call was “horrible” and “insensitive,” and that the president couldn’t remember the dead soldier’s name. Trump then tweeted: “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Later, before a White House meeting with senators, Trump remarked: “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all, she knows it.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims that several senior officials witnessed the call and described Trump’s manner as “respectful” and “very sympathetic.”
He said; she said.
Missing in most all of the news stories about this event are two things that are much more important than whether President Trump was insensitive and disrespectful.
What are U.S. troops doing in Niger?
- What do U.S. soldiers actually sign up for?
The United States actually has almost 1,000 troops in Niger. It is not surprising that most Americans didn’t know this since even Lindsey Graham, the Republican warmonger on the Senate Armed Services Committee said that he had no idea. Some alternative news sources (here and here, for example) are asking what U.S. troops are doing in Niger so I will refer you to them. And, of course, it is not just Niger. Even the is reporting that the United States “now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories,” plus an additional 37,813 troops on assignments that have not been made public.
I want to take a serious look at what U.S. soldiers actually sign up for. What is a young man (or woman) actually getting into when he signs on the dotted line? What does it actually mean to wear a U.S. military uniform?
There are a number of things that U.S. soldiers certainly don’t sign up for. No matter what they think, their family thinks, or what Americans in general think, U.S. soldiers don’t sign up to:
- defend the country
- fight for our freedoms
- keep Americans safe from terrorists
- support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic
- protect Americans from credible threats
- serve the country
- secure American borders
- patrol American coasts
- guard American shores
- watch over American skies
- fight “over there” so we don’t have to fight “over here”
So, what is it that U.S. soldiers actually sign up for? Truth be told, they sign up to:
- boldly go where no American soldier has any place going
- obey orders unconditionally
- die in vain, for a lie, or for a mistake
- die for empire
- be a pawn in the hands of Uncle Sam to be moved around as he sees fit
- serve the state
- help unleash sectarian violence
- invade other countries
- occupy other countries
- fight foreign wars
- maintain U.S. hegemony
- make widows and orphans
- launch preemptive strikes
- spread democracy at the point of a gun
- be the world’s policeman, fireman, bully, and social worker
- be part of the president’s personal attack force
- enforce UN resolutions
- die a senseless death
- fight unjust wars
- kill and maim foreigners
- kill civilians
- die for imperialism
- destroy foreign industry, culture, and infrastructure
- change regimes
- nation build
- fight immoral wars
- defend other countries
- fight unnecessary wars
- carry out a reckless, belligerent, and deeply flawed U.S. foreign policy
- neglect their families
- intervene in other countries
- create terrorists, insurgents, and militants because of foreign interventions
- enforce no-fly zones in other countries
- fight undeclared wars
- take sides in civil wars
- engage in offense instead of defense
- get PTSD or a traumatic brain injury
- have their limbs or genitals blown off
- die for the military/industrial complex
- be a global force for evil
These are the things that U.S. soldier actually sign up for.
Joining the U.S. military is not patriotic. It is a bad decision. It is a foolish choice. It is, in fact, downright idiotic.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, and many other books. His newest book is Gun Control and the Second Amendment. Visit his website.