By ann summers
Why Trump only mentions two generals: Patton and MacArthur. Did he lose it at the movies: Patton (1970) and MacArthur (1977).
Trump’s generational fascination with the Playboy lifestyle centers on mediated forms of reality that have influenced his martial discourse. His paramilitary high school and draft deferments represent the armchair, airbrushed militarism that infects a nation never invaded in the modern industrial era.
Similarly, Red Dawn fantasies animate those US snack secessionists trying to grab land from native peoples on the back of revisionist histories. Apparently oath keeping is a NIMBY thing and not even a Monroe Doctrine.
Commander-In-Waiting Trump’s strategic decision making is now guided by Steve Bannon, that land-locked admiral of a losing campaign riddled with PR stunts like trying to confront Bill Clinton with some of his ex-lovers on national TV. What a pitch-session that must have been, doing a Jerry Springer remake of This is Your Life at a presidential debate.
Hack movie producers and their bit players have made the Citizens United decision a godsend for amateur RWNJ screeds in what may be a continuing Weimar crisis of culture.
2016 has been the year of central casting with Trump the James Bond wannabee and Bannon the Scott Evil to every studio mogul’s Dr.Evil.
So many sharks to jump, so many lasers to attach.
What makes a great general? Napoleon, who knew a thing or two about generalship, said he would rather have a lucky general than a good one. Yet he didn’t mean a commander who blithely staked the fortunes of war on a roll of the dice, as if combat were a spin at the Vegas roulette wheel. A lucky general was one with a cool head who could take advantage of opportunities.Some qualities seem universal: perseverance, shrewdness and keeping cool during a crisis. Others are debatable: Some would say a professional military education from institutions such as West Point is a necessity, while Vo Nguyen Giap, the schoolteacher who became the general that defeated professional French and American commanders, might disagree.
Trump’s fantasies are perhaps less like Gloria Steinem’s transgressive writing about Playboy bunnies, and more like the guerrilla war Trump draft-deferred with heel spurs. Trump likes a cinematic war that can be won decisively with closing credits while treaties and peace talk diplomacy pale next to unconditional surrender.
With the recent passing of Andrzej Wajda, one can see that within real, global wars there are smaller scale human struggles which represent the kinds of post-war existential catastrophe that a Trumpian White House would bring, and that Trump would just call SAD!
Polish director Andrzej Wajda has died at the age of 90
In 1956, in the wake of worker upheavals that preceded the Hungarian uprising against Soviet Communist domination, Mr. Wajda made “Kanal,” the second film of his war trilogy. It deals with another uprising: the 1944 struggle of the citizens of Warsaw to free themselves from Nazi occupation.
“Kanal” tells the story of a corps of resistance fighters who are cut off from the main insurgent force and try to escape through the city’s sewers. It follows three groups of men and women as they wander in the cold, dark water, fearful of German booby traps and electrical wires. Some break down; some die in the sewers; others sustain hopes and illusions, only to be captured by the Germans.www.nytimes.com/…
Polling shows Trump leads among veterans and active-duty military members, though by less than Republicans typically do. Perhaps members of the military will change their views if a President Trump does, as he suggested, replace current generals with some of the 88 retired military officials who signed a letter endorsing his candidacy…These include retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, now an official at the Family Research Council, who believes Satan is working through Islam and who says gay rights are an “evil” that must be opposed by “God’s army.” Also on Trump’s list is retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a Fox News commentator who supported an Army officer who refused to deploy to Afghanistan, claiming President Obama was foreign-born and therefore an illegitimate commander in chief.
It is easy to see why these two military legends are attractive to Trump:
- 1) Both were known as showmen and motivators. This is clearly Trump’s modus operandi as well; he is most comfortable being the showman and motivator. When he isn’t in the granted position of head of the dais, he looks, seems, and acts out of place. (For example, think back to the instance in Detroit where the pastor takes the initiative to challenge him as a person.)
- 2) Both were known to take personal animus against rivals on their own side to extremes. Think of Patton’s constant infighting with Montgomery, and his less than amicable relationship to Bradley after Sicily.
- 3) Both were known for strident aggressive stances against an enemy without consideration for larger picture effects. MacArthur’s blunders with antagonizing the Chinese after Inchon, and Patton’s immediate post-war desire to go to war with the Soviets before the armed forces and the country (or its non-Russian allies) could even recover from WWII.
- 4) Both faced disgrace at the hands of the media and at the hands of those who were better able to handle the larger context of events (Eisenhower for Patton, and Truman for MacArthur).
- 5) Both had authoritarian tendencies supposedly in defense of freedom.
- 6) Both are seen as the epitome of the “masculine” general—the ones who take action and get the job done, rather than the kind of general who sees complexity and takes a more complicated approach (Patton v. Eisenhower and Bradley, or MacArthur v. Ridgeway).
- 7) Both had great strengths but fatal flaws that ended (or almost ended) their careers. Patton’s consideration of PTSD as cowardly is particularly insightful, as some of Trump’s comments seem to indicate a similar attitude.
Trump’s use of these particular generals fits in line with both his own, and his base supporters’, attitudes towards conflict, war, and masculinity. These men chose to see events in binary paradigms and reacted accordingly—hero/coward, friend/enemy, good/bad—with deliberate elimination of room for something in-between or more complex. With Trump, if something’s good, it is The Greatest. If something is bad, it is totally The Worst. His choice of dichotomy helps make issues simpler and condenses them for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time (or can’t spend a lot of time) determining complexity, or who don’t want to be bothered with complexity. It makes for great bumper stickers, but usually terrible policies, especially when it comes to larger picture actions…
However, no one has bothered to figure out Trump’s plan B to even judge how good or bad it is (and Trump himself probably doesn’t even have a Plan B because he believes all his Plan A’s are The Greatest). This is one of the tells that shows more than just about anything else that he isn’t qualified to be President. Plan A’s fail all the time. Having a workable plan B, C, D, and E is the difference between an Eisenhower and a Patton, a Ridgeway and a MacArthur.