September 12, 2020

President Donald Trump is not always in control of his runaway tongue or his impetuous nature. So it’s entirely possible he could have dismissed fallen American soldiers as ‘losers,’ as the media and political opponents now claim.

But I strongly doubt that Trump knew anything about the bloody 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood at which the US Marine Corps distinguished itself and helped blunt the final German offensive against Paris. Trump was supposed to have paid tribute to fallen American marines there but declined, we are told, because of rain.

Trump likes to add military props and lots of flags to his orations and speak of ‘his generals,’ but, beyond that, military affairs are of no evident interest to our tough-talking president who likes to style himself a ‘war president.’

In fact, I am always outraged when I see Trump saluting his aircrews and grandstanding before the stars and stripes. Our commander-in-chief Trump reportedly dodged the Vietnam era draft six times, at least once because of a little bone spur in one of his dainty feet that were more used to the floors of New York discos than far-flung battlefields.

While Trump was evading military duty, far better men were dying or being wounded in combat in Vietnam – nearly 60,000.

I enlisted in the wartime US Army to go fight in Vietnam. I didn’t have to. I had been accepted to do advanced degrees at Britain’s Oxford University and London’s War College. Instead, I chose to sign my life away to the Army.

During the rigors of basic training, I broke a small bone in my left foot, described by medics as a ‘march injury’ from too much stress on the foot. It was very painful and forced me to hobble and limp while drill sergeants roared abuse at me. Somehow, I graduated from basic and advanced infantry training and still managed dawn bayonet practice against straw-stuffed dummies while yelling, ‘Kill the Kong! Kill the Kong!’

As a student of Roman history I strongly believed it was each male citizen’s duty to perform military service. The Roman Republic fell to ruin once its citizens shirked army service and resorted to hiring armies of unruly mercenaries, paving the way for dictators and generals.

My thinking about the need for military service has not changed since then, even though the Vietnam War was revealed to be a gigantic, bloody disaster and quite unnecessary.

All presidents should be military veterans. The idea of two draft dodgers, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, serving as commanders-in-chief is appalling and an insult to the memory of those who served the nation.

The idea of the increasingly deranged Trump with his sweaty finger on the nuclear button is terrifying. No one person should have the power to unleash a nuclear war that could destroy the globe.

One might agree with Trump that those American soldiers who died in France during World War I were ‘suckers.’ They were thrown into an imperialist bloodbath in which America had no interest or business.

But, unlike Trump, those farm boys didn’t have rich fathers to buy them out of military service. Vietnam, Afghanistan and the Mideast conflicts were similarly phony wars, based on lies, propaganda and poor intelligence. Trump promised to end the wars in Afghanistan and the Mideast. He has not so far.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2020

This post is in: Military and Security Affairs, USA


  1. I agree with you, Eric, that better/more controls need to be implemented, to stop sweaty-fingered tRump from accidentally anihilating a swath of population (who knows where). Let’s hope and pray that Biden/Harris get elected in a landslide victory, and after they get Covid under control, set about to increase the number of seats on the SCOTUS to 13, then enact a myriad of laws to get the American government under control. The world cannot afford such a close call as the Trump administration ever again. Welcome back! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this fake “confirmation hearing” nonsense with a woman who claims to be Catholic, yet acts anything but.

  2. Eric has been silent for far too long as this malignant narcissist and his abettors governed like an army of occupation with Putin using Trump like a glove puppet. For his part, Trump is content to let the US fall into divison and decay so long as it gratifies his ego and enriches his tottering businesses. Someone said that we get the government we deserve, so America is reaping a violent karma.

  3. Welcome back. We’ve missed your spot on comments. George W. Bush also mostly avoided service as he managed not to be sent to Vietnam. He served as a First Lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard. National Guard for pilots. There eventually was controversy as he left the service early before he was supposed to. He was honorably discharged. He never went to Vietnam although many in the National Guard did. Barack Obama never served either but by the time he was eligible mandatory service was no longer so the only way he would have served is if he had volunteered. There was little reason for him to volunteer. He volunteered for other things in the community instead.

  4. What really should have happened in WW1 was that the UK should have stayed out and let Germany and France, plus Russia and Germany go at it. When US entered that war on the side of the UK, the fighting was all bogged down in the fields of Flanders (Belgium) and would have dragged on much longer. Britain and its allies (Canada, Australia, NZ, and South Africa had managed to get the Germans bogged down, but with the defeat of Russia, more German troops were freed up to fight on the western front. I’m one Canadian who is bold enough to say that our country should have refused to send troops to help Britain in WW 1, but because we had a spineless Conservative government under Robert Borden, all Britain had to do was snap its fingers and Canada (and Australia, NZ, and S. Africa) jumped to help it. Big mistake!

  5. KeninCanada says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trump is the best politician in America today. To bad he’s also a narcissistic sociopath. He is cunning, ruthless and knows how to feed his base. He is also the figurehead of a vast portion of elites who want to change America; Evangelical Christians want to eliminate the separation of church and state by amending the constitution. They are willing to use violent militias to break a few eggs on the way. America is not dying or falling apart – it’s evolving with the same violence it was created with.

  6. You may as well have pointed out Joe Biden is a draft dodger also. His asthma didn’t preclude him from work as a lifeguard and a high school football star.

  7. tony clancy says:

    Great to have you back missed your comments on world affairs

  8. The most deranged president in U.S. history…and you go on Holiday?..Welcome back…And do not dare to go anywhere until this guy is out of office.

    • It could be a while if Donald has his way… he’s messing with the current election and if he loses, there are still court challenges. He’s already commented that he would like the presidency to extend beyond two terms.

  9. Welcome back sir.
    Anxiously awaiting your views on the IndoPacific.
    Things are clearly ramping up in all avenues.

  10. Welcome back, Eric. You’ve been greatly missed by all who read your articles. Your comments about Trump are bang on. I’ve been saying for a while that he’s going senile, as have many other people, experts and others alike. But, his enablers like Pence, Trump’s cabinet members, and Republican members of the Senate and House are just as guilty as Trump, because they clearly condone his words and deeds, and won’t do anything to stop him.

  11. BTW great to see you back Eric. We were worried!! 🙂

  12. Mandatory Military service is fine for the defence of the family society and country, but when it is in the service to strictly benefit corporate entities trying to grab other people’s resources like in Iraq and Syria etc. or in stupid fear of “Communism” like in Vietnam.

    It is wrong and it is evil. The west should adept a war tax. If NATO countries must go to war then raise everyone’s income tax to pay for the war. LOL, That would get folks marching in the streets to end the wars sooner rather than later.

    • As for the war in Vietnam, fighting “Communism” was the rallying cry. There was a fear that after South Vietnam fell, Laos and Cambodia would fall in quick succession (they did) and then Burma. But, the underlying reason that the war continued as long as it did was to fuel the military-industrial economy in the US and maintain full employment on the home front. To that extent, the Vietnam War was a success for the US, but it came at a horrendous cost of millions of lives, including 58,000 American soldiers, and horrific destruction in Vietnam. And, since S. Vietnam was overrun in the end by the North Vietnamese Army, in 1975, the Vietnam War did much to damage the reputation of the US and greatly weakened its influence in the rest of the world – which is what China and the Soviet Union wanted to accomplish.

  13. Glad to see you back and hope all is well.
    Trump has so many failings, it’s difficult to sum them up. Trump is an embarrassment and proof the Second Amendment does not work. I noticed, several months (years?) back that Trump is the manifestation of a much greater problem with the US society. The fact that he has 40% of the people that agree with him speaks volumes.
    “But I strongly doubt that Trump knew anything about the bloody 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood…” I think ‘rocketman’ summed it up by referring to the Donald as a dotard.
    Bill Maher sums it up quite nicely with his dictator ‘check list’.
    As a result of his petulant personality, he has cost the lives of nearly 200,000 of his people due to his action/inaction in response to the coronavirus. I recently saw a news script of some of his followers that were part of a crowd. They were not wearing masks and when asked, the maskless replied that ‘it was their perogative’, ‘coronavirus was fake news and a hoax’, and that ‘God was on their side’. The education system has failed in emphasizing that freedoms are paramount without teaching that a huge responsibility comes with these freedoms. The old Harley logo of ‘Live Free or Die’ should be changed to ‘Live Free and Die’. In failing to address the coronavirus, the US is putting the world at risk. The US medical care system is ‘run for a profit’ and their approach also contributes to the large number of fatalities. Canada and the UK also started out poorly, but our dotard in chief (aka Trudeau jr.) and Boris are responsible for our initial reaction. Back in January, on your site and in response to another contributor, I noted how serious this was and that it should be addressed.
    “The idea of the increasingly deranged Trump with his sweaty finger on the nuclear button is terrifying.” I hope for the sake of the world that the military has disabled his ‘button’; it seems like the only rational thing to do. His treatment of the military is disgusting. The Donald does not seem to be aware that the US military is largely responsible for him being able to amass the wealth he has.
    He puts the world at risk… and, I’m curious to see what November brings. It will be interesting, in a Chinese sense, to see if he ‘steps down’ or is re-elected. He is working overtime to compromise your election process. As I noted, he is the manifestation of a much greater problem.

    • I should have added that his enablers, the Senate, have failed in their ‘purpose’ and are responsible for this ‘monster’ to continue. Trump has corrupted nearly the entire government process, including the Attorney General and the Supreme Court. The failure of the US is not Donald’s alone; the Senate is complicit. Even Bolton had an opportunity to derail Trump and he failed in his duty.
      Some Republicans have banded together to help ‘put down’ this monster, and their adverts are shown on:

  14. Eric could it be that the United States entered WW1 to bail out JP Morgan?
    Had Germany won that war Morgan and the rest of the war profiteering crowd would have gone broke. Out of those ashes came Hitler and Stalin and 50 more million dead. … Maybe America should have stayed out and let England lose.
    Could it be that Trump was maybe thinking of Project 100,000, also known as McNamara’s Folly, McNamara’s Morons and McNamara’s Misfits, was a controversial 1960s program by the United States Department of Defense to recruit soldiers who would previously have been below military mental or medical standards.

  15. Joe from Canada says:

    Thank you, Mr. Margolis, and welcome back!

    Your last paragraph says it well.

    The flag of American exceptionalism continues to fly from gold lined offices in displays of contempt for the sane voices of the World Court, World Health Organization, Land Mines treaties, and nuclear treaties…to name a few.

    And the beer halls of America roar loud with testosterone-fuelled patriotism. The lies continue to sell now, as they did then, and inflame the minds. “Let them swill beer,” the 1% whisper.

    Today, America bombs somewhere every 12 minutes.

    Next year, more bombs.

    Health care and climate change be damned!

    No such problem there.

  16. I wrote about the nonsense of Putin wanting Trump as president. Do you really think Putin wants an impulsive, narcissist, sociopathic, uncontrollable, mentally impaired king wannabe in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal? His isn’t insane.
    I have been warning for years Trump is the head of historie’s most dangerous cult. We shall see how dangerous in November.

    • Yes, Putin wants Trump to continue as president. Trump is easily manipulated, stupid, vain and willing to sacrifice America if it means any advantage for himself, financial or ego-strokes.

  17. At least trump recently called out the military-industrial complex. This is much more than any leader since Eisenhower has done.
    It would also be interesting to see a graph of the number of US soldiers who have died in combat over the past 60 years. The period of Trumps term in office must be a pretty low section of the graph.

    Trump himself is indefensible so let’s just talk about policy.

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