When Donald John Trump decides to employ his sixth grade vocabulary skills and do some extemporaneous speaking, such as replying to questions from the press, the results can range anywhere from comical to terrifying. An example of a Trump-sized scary statement occurred this past Thursday when he was faced with questions from reporters after a speaking event.
A journalist asked about the MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast - a.k.a. Mother of All Bombs) bomb that was detonated over a warren of caves in Afghanistan earlier in the week. Trump, in trying to explain that the military had an overall authorization to employ whatever strategies they deemed necessary in the war efforts, began his explanation thusly:
"What I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they've done a job as usual. So we have given them total authorization and that's what they're doing and frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately."
The statement taken in its entirety smacks of standard Trump gibberish, but it is the first sentence that is so concerning - the part where he refers to the Armed Forces of the United States of America as "my military." For anyone who ever feared that Donald John Trump had some dictatorial predilections, there is your proof. Trump, in Trump's mind, is the owner of our nation's military. It is his possession, something he can put on a mental shelf with his other trophies - the Trump Tower, the Miss Universe Pageant, Mar-a-Lago, and now the 101st Airborne Division.
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta looked at the question of ownership from the service members' point of view. After stating his concern over Trump's massive Freudian slip, Panetta said this:
"He has responsibility obviously, as commander-in-chief, to be able to make decisions with regards to our military. But I think if you ask the men and women in uniform who they are responsible to, I think their answer would be, 'We're responsible to the United States of America.'"
Panetta is right. By a quirk in the Constitution, Trump is the official Commander-in-Chief with ultimate responsibility on how the military is deployed and used, but it is not his military. The United States military belongs to each and every citizen of this great nation. Tin-horn dictators have their own personal militaries - but the President of the United States does not.