Running scared from a debate hosted by Megyn Kelly in Iowa, Donald Trump instead hosted an Iowa event to, according to his campaign, “raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians.” The $6 million raised went, curiously, straight to Donald Trump’s campaign website — an odd way to fundraise. That money, equally curiously, has yet to find its way to veterans’ groups.
When Donald Trump demanded a $5 million ransom from CNN to appear in their December debate, he also used veterans as a foil. Trump claimed he would donate proceeds to wounded warriors. His interest in veterans is sudden. Forbes reported that of the $5.5 million the Donald J. Trump Foundation gave to charity, “only $57,000 has been donated to seven organizations that directly benefit military veterans or their families.”
The fact is, Trump hasn’t done a damn thing for veterans.
America’s veterans aren’t dopes. Most recognize a cheap political stunt when they see it. Debates scare Trump silly. So he wears veterans’ service like Kevlar, hoping the nobility of their sacrifice can shield him from the hostility of tough questions. It’s not unexpected behavior from a man who, to judge from his multiple draft deferments, has proven more than happy to let others do the fighting for him.
America’s veterans aren’t looking for handouts. They ask what they can do for the country, not what the country can do for them. So it’s no surprise that Trump thinks they are a demographic purchased as easily as cheap plot of real estate, and treats them as little more than human shields against incoming political fire.
When Americans swear an oath to the Constitution, they are not just raising their hand in defense of a scrap of sheepskin. They vow to protect the rights and values enshrined therein.
Veterans swore to protect religious liberty. Trump signaled openness to a “database” of Americans of Muslim identity, a prospect that would be of little help in the war on terrorism, is clearly unconstitutional, and summons the specter of a dark historical period in Germany.
Veterans swore to uphold the law, including treaties such as Geneva Convention and the international Law of Armed Conflict. Trump endorses war crimes such as torture and deliberate bombing of civilians.
Veterans must oppose Trump because they all took an oath in defense of America, the Constitution, and the values Americans hold dear.
Veterans swore to uphold domestic laws such as the Posse Comitatus Act, which limits involvement of the U.S. military in law-enforcement matters. Trump declares he would deport 11 million people, a measure that in practice would mean National Guardsmen kicking in doors and rushing families off in the middle of the night.
Veterans promise to protect a society that values, above all else, human dignity and the equality of man. Trump uses social media to amplify voices of the white-supremacist movement and has been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
Trump vows to rebuild the military but endorses the unpopular trillion dollars’ worth of Obama-era defense cuts.
Trump pledges to fight ISIS with an intricate strategy of “bomb their oil” and “take their oil” — presumably in that order. He has not elaborated on how many of America’s sons and daughters would be deployed to the Middle East to seize said oil reserves.
Trump promises to “make Mexico pay” for a 2,000-mile border wall, a hypothetical monolith that would cost Mexicans a substantial portion of their GDP. He has not elaborated on the methods of coercion needed to force our third-largest trading partner to surrender a heavy share of its treasury. One wonders whether, when the inevitable trade war fails to produce results, Mr. Trump would consider quarantine, blockade, or violence to make good on his campaign promise.Military members and veterans are taught to honor the service of those who gave all, particularly those who endured years of torture at the hands of the Hanoi government during the Vietnam War. Trump mocks those who were “shot down,” calling his effort to avoid sexually transmitted diseases his “own Vietnam.” While John McCain and other heroes fought the VC, Mr. Trump, as he brags, fought VD.
Veterans should oppose Trump not because he’s used them as cheap political props, and not because he exhibited zero interest in their struggles before they became politically useful to him.
Rather, veterans must oppose him because they all took an oath in defense of America, the Constitution, and the values Americans hold dear. Mr. Trump has made a mockery of those values. He must be defeated.
— John Noonan served as national-security adviser to Governors Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. He is a former captain in the United States Air Force.