His version of history

Remember when Trump went to visit Macron for Bastille Day and was all excited about the parade with all the toys and wanted “his” generals to do the same next year?

The generals, to his bewilderment, reacted with disgust. “I’d rather swallow acid,” his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said. Struggling to dissuade Trump, officials pointed out that the parade would cost millions of dollars and tear up the streets of the capital.

And would be a weirdly militaristic thing to do.

An Air Force general later spelled it out for him.

“So, what do you think of the parade?” Trump asked Selva. Instead of telling Trump what he wanted to hear, Selva was forthright.

“I didn’t grow up in the United States, I actually grew up in Portugal,” Selva said. “Portugal was a dictatorship—and parades were about showing the people who had the guns. And in this country, we don’t do that.” He added, “It’s not who we are.”

Even after this impassioned speech, Trump still did not get it. “So, you don’t like the idea?” he said, incredulous.

“No,” Selva said. “It’s what dictators do.”

Right. That’s exactly why Trump wanted to do it.

Trump’s love affair with “my generals” was brief, and in a statement for this article the former President confirmed how much he had soured on them over time. “These were very untalented people and once I realized it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system,” he said.

It turned out that the generals had rules, standards, and expertise, not blind loyalty. The President’s loud complaint to John Kelly one day was typical: “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.

But, of course, Trump did not know that. “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” the President replied. In his version of history, the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military.

The Third Reich model. Of course he did.

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