Trump lost popularity with the Armed Forces
Donald Trump’s popularity with the generals of the Armed Forces has plummeted over the term of the U.S. President, despite the White House’s effort to approximate the military’s expectations.
Traditionally, Republican presidents have been more popular with American military elites, accused by Democrats of preferring governments that are more belligerent and support more arms buying and selling.
However, Trump appears to be an exception, having started his term with a 46% popularity rating with members of the armed forces, but is now ending it with a drop that leads him to just 38% approval, from according to surveys by Military Times magazine.
The President attributes some of the friction with the Armed Forces to the fact that he did not please many generals, in defending the withdrawal of US military forces from various theaters of war around the world, such as Syria or Afghanistan.
“The people at the top of the Pentagon don’t like me very much, because all they want to do is fight wars, so that these wonderful companies that make bombs and make planes, and everything else, are happy,” said Trump, before a group of journalists at the end of 2019.
“I don’t say that the military is in love with me. The soldiers are, ”said Trump, already in 2020, when he was criticized for having devalued the role of the Armed Forces, leaving yet another splinter at the top of the military hierarchy.
This summer, Atlantic magazine revived a theme that had embarrassed the White House in 2018, when Trump refused to participate in an event in memory of American soldiers killed in combat during the Normandy landings in 1944, claiming the poor conditions atmospheric to travel by helicopter from Paris to this French beach.
According to the magazine’s report, faced with his absence from the event, Trump would have referred to the fallen soldiers during World War II as “failed”.
The White House denied this version and Trump was quick to say that he has “great esteem” for the military and for the action they perform “in internal and external security”, but the controversy had already broken out, and in social networks and articles in prestigious newspapers and magazines, many military personnel in the reserve expressed discomfort with the way the President had referred to soldiers killed in combat.
Donald Trump took the opportunity to reinforce his appreciation for soldiers, while maintaining distance from the highest ranks.
“I learn more from the soldiers, about what is happening in the Armed Forces, than from the generals. I hate to say it. But I already told the generals, ”Trump said during a conference with Republican Party leaders in 2019.
Trump’s departure from the Pentagon came from the beginning of his mandate, as early as 2016, when he went on a collision course with then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, over appointments to NATO command and chief of staff of the Armed Forces.
Against Mattis’ suggestion (which was to be dismissed by the President, following several disagreements), Trump appointed Mark Milley as chief of staff of the Armed Forces, creating undeniable unease in the Pentagon.
A sign of this discomfort was an open letter, written in 2018, by Admiral William McRaven – who had led the “Neptune Spear” operation (which killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011) – criticizing the way the President had withdrawn permits from security to CIA Director John Brennan, a highly appreciated figure in the Pentagon, for the way he had created good relations between the Armed Forces and the intelligence services.
“As Americans, we must be scared, be very scared about the future of the nation (…) Trump is actively working to undermine all the most important institutions in this country,” McRaven would write in 2019 in an article that was widely commented on. in the American ‘media’.
In a book he wrote after he left the White House, Jim Mattis, who was a Navy general before he became Secretary of Defense, referred to Trump as “the first President (…) who tried to divide the Americans” .
But the pinnacle of the Pentagon’s high-ranking break would happen this year, when Donald Trump decided to send the National Guard to the streets of many of the US cities involved in acts of vandalism, following protests against police violence. and racism.
When, last June, Trump walked from the White House to a nearby church to take a picture with the Bible in his hand, in the midst of a crisis of violent demonstrations, some generals accompanied the President, causing the indignation of several others, who did not like to see high military ranks associated with this political operation.
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