I had planned to post on other topics this weekend – obsolete states’ rights, Krugman re Trump and economics – but this fiery Guardian article about Memorial Day has stopped me in my tracks. Here are two core paragraphs from it:
Trump has said he “will be so good at the military, your head will spin”. Sure, how hard can it be? This rich man’s son who was never in the military, who in fact used student deferments (four) and a case of heel spurs to avoid Vietnam. He did, however, attend a military-style prep school in his teens, and therefore “always felt that I was in the military”, while sleeping around during his bachelor days, risking venereal disease, was “scary, like Vietnam” and “my personal Vietnam”. Senator John McCain, former combat naval aviator who nearly died in service and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for over five years, repeatedly refusing offers of early release in order to stay with his comrades, is not, according to Trump, much of a soldier, whereas he, Trump, according to Trump, is the “most militaristic man in the room” whose yet-unspecified plans for taking on Isis would draw the approval of such lions as General Douglas MacArthur and General George Patton. And so on.
Could it be that Trump is giving voice to the inner life of a large portion of the US male population (and how much of the female as well)? Which might explain his appeal: he is the bog monster of the American id, rising out of the masturbatory muck of our military fantasies in which the manly man slays his enemies and laughs at the lamentations of their women. So easy to be the hero in your wet dreams, your shooter games, your securely located war rooms stocked with emergency rations and the external defibrillator. This sort of unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it’s no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force, 2001/2002], the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they’re doing.
The author writes that, among this election cycle’s 20 primary candidates, only Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul have said they would end our Endless War. The rest apparently want more of it, chief among them Mr. Trump.