Last week, President Trump retweeted a meme about General Pershing, which according to military historians is not true:
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
“Brian M. Linn, a history professor at Texas A&M University, did just that nearly two decades ago when he published “Guardians of Empire,” a book on the U.S. military presence in Asia from 1902 to 1940.
His verdict on Trump’s claim?
“There is absolutely no evidence this occurred,” he told The Washington Post.
“It’s a made-up story. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times people say this isn’t true. No one can say where or when this occurred.”
But Trump’s claims, and the wider belief in a routinely debunked story, have far-reaching effects. Not only is the story untrue, but the convenient twist — of an insurgency defeated only with the use of brutal war tactics — points to precisely the opposite lessons Pershing and his troops learned in the Philippines campaign from 1899 to 1913, Linn said.
“The U.S. military learned escalating counterterrorism was not effective, and they took great steps, including Pershing, to de-escalate,” Linn said.”
President Trump loves to sound “tough”, so it’s no surprise he’d latch onto this “committing war crimes to defeat terrorists” myth. This myth is the distillation of his conviction that the US military should murder ISIS family members to scare ISIS terrorists into submission, his “become terrorists to defeat terrorists strategy”.
Atrocities do happen in most wars, I believe, and often when one side employs a brutal tactic or a newer weapon, the other side often decides to do the same. In World War I, weapons of mass destruction entered the battlefield, first with tear gas, but escalated, as all major belligerents worked to develop more lethal and effective gases, despite being signatories to the agreements that use of these weapons was a war crime:
“The use of poison gas performed by all major belligerents throughout World War I constituted war crimes as its use violated the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which prohibited the use of “poison or poisoned weapons” in warfare.”
General Pershing deserves to be remembered as one of America’s finest generals, not as a war criminal. He revolutionized the American military during WWI, when he commanded the American Expeditionary Forces. He went to war without an army, because the American peacetime army had been reduced to a few scattered regiments. His innovations and relentless pursuit of solutions to complex logistical and tactical problems should be required reading for American military officers. He defied bureaucracy at every turn, always striving to tackle every obstacle. He dedicated his life to not only leading soldiers, but taking care of his soldiers. And above all else, General Pershing believed in a stringent code of conduct for all soldiers to follow. He was not a ruthless killer; he was an American soldier dedicated to serving and protecting America.
General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing is an American hero worth remembering.
I intend to write more about General Pershing in future posts, because we could all learn a great deal about what selfless service means, by studying his leadership example.
President Trump is not the only American to fall for internet myths, fake news, garbled history, fabrications, hoaxes and scams. Almost everyone who consumes news and information online has fallen for information, that was not true. For instance, I read news at the Conservative Treehouse, seeing it mentioned in a list of conservative blogs. The site uses Breitbart wallpaper, imagery of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Biblical quotes to lure people into believing it’s just a conservative site. I now believe it’s a Russian front operation. I read some information there a few years ago and was fascinated trying to understand their crowdsourcing method for acquiring information. Their two big topics were exposing the lies about black violence and Islamist terrorism. I was banned from their site for trying to post a comment about the Islamic Golden Age, and countering some woman, who claimed I was aiding the enemy and touting Islamists. The historical fact is there really was an Islamic Golden Age and Islamic culture was far more advanced in the sciences than Europe, during that time. My comment was blocked and I was banned, but they allowed and encouraged racist comments. That site became Trump Polling Central during the 2016 campaign.
I mentioned my concerns about Drudge in previous posts. Like millions of other political junkies, I started following Drudge during the Clinton impeachment scandal. In recent years, Drudge started mainstreaming loon, Alex Jones, by featuring Jones’ stories. Drudge also sensationalized conspiracy stories, like linking Ted Cruz’ father to JFK’s assassination, to destroy Ted Cruz. Numerous times he headlined unflattering photos of Trump’s opponents. On one occasion he headlined photos of Hillary, casting her as decrepit or another occasion, he ran photos of her casting her as a drunk. The oddest thing I noticed on Drudge during the 2016 election was he removed his link to RedState, which went NeverTrump, from his list of links, and replaced it with Zero Hedge. I’ve seen numerous articles alleging Zero Hedge is a Russian front operation, that recycles Russia Today propaganda.
The scope of Russian front operations online, their troll armies in comment sections to attack and silence anyone not on the Trump train, melded with Trump’s American sleaze operators, like Roger Stone, Peck at the National Enquirer, Richard Mercer’s Trump data operation, and Trump’s largest agitation propaganda front, Rupert Murdoch’s FOX News.
I know I have fallen for things online that turned out to be untrue, believed sites were reliable news and weren’t, but I am not making critical national security decisions, like President Trump. I’m a homemaker, who writes a blog.
To improve the quality of the information that the president sees, General Kelly is working to institute policies that assure the president sees only vetted information:
“Confronted with a West Wing that treated policymaking as a free-for-all, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly is instituting a system used by previous administrations to limit internal competition —and to make himself the last word on the material that crosses the president’s desk.
It’s a quiet effort to make Trump conform to White House decision-making norms he’s flouted without making him feel shackled or out of the loop. In a conference call last week, Kelly initiated a new policymaking process in which just he and one other aide — White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a little-known but highly regarded Rhodes Scholar who overlapped with Jared Kushner as an undergraduate at Harvard — will review all documents that cross the Resolute Desk.”
Kelly moves to control the information Trump sees
President Trump has shown a preference for relying on word-of-mouth information from his friends and sycophants. General Kelly is trying to provide President Trump with fully vetted information, to aid in the president’s decision-making. Whether he succeeds at weaning Trump off his penchant for trusting in unvetted internet stories remains to be seen. President Trump believes the American intelligence community, who vets that intelligence information, can’t be trusted, . It’s worth remembering that several months ago President Trump cited Russian reports as factual to back up his assertions about Russian collusion. He relied on Russian reports, but believes the American intelligence community is the nefarious “Deep State” out to get him.
Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent, whose identity was leaked several years ago, has initiated a crowdsourcing effort to raise money to buy Twitter and kick President Trump off of Twitter. This is a ridiculous and pointless effort. He has the bully pulpit of the presidency and has endless ways to get his message across. Beyond that, although I believe it would be better for the country if President Trump got off of Twitter, he is free to make that decision himself. He obviously believes that his tweet war against the media is helping him “win”. He deliberately tweets to incite the media and his political enemies, who without fail, rush into a spinning frenzy of moral outrage and retweeting rushed stories, many which fall apart quickly. This aids him in convincing his followers that he is a victim of a vast conspiracy.
Every time he gets the media and his political enemies to overreact, he feels that is a win. Contrary to President Trump’s assertion that he likes to get the facts, he goes on instinct rather than a careful study of facts and he is very sloppy at presenting detailed information. None of that matters, because Roger Stone and the other sleazy political strategists behind President Trump came up with his strategy to win in 2016 and they are behind this MAGA 2.0 strategy. Trump doesn’t understand the details, but he is masterful at the stagecraft and acting the part of a populist flamethrower.
There will be plenty more scorched earth attacks on Trump’s enemies – the media, Republicans, Democrats, or anyone who gets in the way of the Trump train agitation propaganda blitzkrieg. Roger Stone is back to issuing veiled threats of violence and blood in the streets, to intimidate Republicans into submission again:
“But if the president is impeached, Stone says, there could be disastrous repercussions.
“You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen!” Stone warned. “Both sides are heavily armed.”
“This is not 1974,” Stone explained. “The people will not stand for impeachment.” This, of course, refers to Richard Nixon‘s resignation after the Watergate scandal. Stone worked in the Nixon administration in the Office of Economic Opportunity.
Stone didn’t just predict violence among the public. He said that those in Washington who would support impeachment would be placing themselves at risk.
“A politician who votes for it would be endangering their own life,” he said.
“I’m not advocating violence,” he clarified, “but I’m predicting it.””
These Trump train thugs, like Stone, want more violence, they especially want the crazies on the left and right to get more violent. Most of all they want to intimidate, by using fear. President Trump will be out there stirring up his base, along with his FOX News army of propagandists, telling Americans that Trump will not put up with violence and he will be tough on crime.
The best defense against Trump train intimidation and fear mongering is to not be afraid. Don’t back down from threats of violence. Unite in encouraging civil debate, calm, respect for all Americans and most of all respect for the rule of law.
We should all work tirelessly to pull all Americans away from the partisan extremes.
In the end America’s future does not rest on General Kelly’s ability to rein in Trump, or the media reporting, or getting Trump off of Twitter; it will rest on who the American people choose to trust and follow.
All leadership boils down to trust.