Donald Trump begins authoritarian attacks on the military

The Trump Timeline

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During a Labor Day press conference / campaign event — because that is what most White House press conferences have become at this point — Donald Trump takes a shot at U.S. military leadership.

His comments are in response to the latest scandal, verifiable accusations that he refers to troops and veterans as “suckers” and “losers.”

“I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are,” Trump said during the press conference.

“The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars, so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

The Sun

To some extent, Trump isn’t wrong. The significance is less about what Trump says and more about when he says it. For months, Trump has suggested that he won’t accept the results of the 2020 election if he loses. Media and government watchdogs have pointed out that the military will have to remove him if he refuses to leave the White House on January 20, 2021.

But not if the military isn’t operating the way it should be.

As journalist Umair Haque warned three days prior, attacking and discrediting the military is a historical sign of a dying democracy and authoritarian takeover.

Authoritarians don’t respect the military, they need to attack it — because it is a democracy’s last line of defense.

An authoritarian who really wants to bring about the final end of a democracy will probably begin by defanging the military. Because if they lose, then the military will be the ones called on to remove you from office. In a way, that’s already a victory for you — the military should never be involved in the workings of a healthy democracy.

That is why Trump just tried to shut down the Stars and Stripes — the military newspaper that’s been around since the Civil War. To control the way that information flows to members of the military. So that his propaganda can be spread more effectively — and it’s the only game in town. If you really wanted to prepare to stare down the military, this is exactly what you’d do — shut down its media, its way of communicating with the rank and file.

Think about it: now there’s that much more doubt, perhaps, in the average soldier’s mind. Does he obey the Commander-in-Chief? His ultimate superior? Or his lieutenant, sergeant, general? That kind of conflict is exactly how authoritarians break the back of militaries. When the chain of command is no longer clear, when the principles the military is there to uphold, like preserving the peace — then the authoritarian’s work is being done.

Umair Haque


Photo: Public Domain

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