As if we didn’t already know the magnitude of his stupidity and egomania, a recent article revealed the extent to which ex-President Trump, while in office, was colossally ignorant and totally out of touch with any semblance of reality.
The New Yorker writers, Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, reported that, in 2017, returning from a trip to France, where he had witnessed the Bastille Day Parade, Donald Trump said that for the following Fourth of July, he wanted his generals to stage a massive military parade. He told his Chief of Staff John Kelly a retired Marine Corps General,” Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade. This doesn’t look good for me.” His generals were unenthusiastic. Defense Secretary James Mattis, like Kelly a retired Marine Corps general, responded, “I’d rather swallow acid.”
But that was just one instance of the friction between the then-President and his military leaders. At one point he said angrily to Kelly, “You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.
Trump, avowing that he had greater knowledge of military history than his subordinate, refused to believe him. “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” the President replied. Ignorance is bliss. He wanted the Armed Forces of the United States to be totally subservient; after all he was Commander-in-Chief, despite having evaded the draft as a young man.
Hoping to find a military leader who would be more his kind of guy, Trump tapped Mark Milley, then serving as Army Chief of Staff, to become his new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley was not the loyal Nazi that Trump wanted. When Trump said he wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and use active-duty military to quell the Black Lives Matter protests, Milley (along with Attorney General William Barr, and Defense Secretary, Mark Esper) refused to comply. Shortly thereafter, Milley composed a letter of resignation, stating in part, “It is my belief that you were doing great and irreparable harm to my country. I believe that you have made a concerted effort over time to politicize the United States military.” But, ultimately, after much soul-searching and conferring with people whom he respected, Milley chose not to resign. “Fuck that shit,” he told his staff. “I’ll just fight him.” He came up with a four-part plan; as Glasser and Baker put it, “First, make sure Trump did not start an unnecessary war overseas. Second, make sure the military was not used in the streets against the American people for the purpose of keeping Trump in power. Third, maintain the military’s integrity. And, fourth, maintain his own integrity.”
After seeing the President become more unhinged after he lost the 2020 election, General Milley (who continues to this day to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) took steps to assure that Trump would not go off the rails by attacking China or taking other precipitous action.
Sadly, for Donald Trump, Milley was not the loyal Nazi he wanted him to be. Still, we are left with one lingering question: We know where General Milley is now but whatever happened to General Vanilley?