Former U.S. Army four-star General Barry McCaffrey called Donald Trump’s visit to U.S. troops in Iraq “embarrassing” and “entirely inappropriate,” Business Insider is reporting.
While admitting that the idea of a president visiting troops in an active combat zone is generally a good idea (“it’s a good thing that the president went to Iraq and visited the troops”), he criticized Trump for essentially turning the visit into a “political stunt.”
Specifically, McCaffrey focused on three ways where Trump either made it all about him, broke military protocol, or didn’t tell the truth.
Autographing Make America Great Again Hats
Trump gladly signed several servicemembers’ “Make America Great Again” hats and other Trump-related paraphernalia. McCaffrey suggested that it was Trump’s campaign who brought the items to Iraq for Trump to distribute to the troops. The Air Force and the White House both dispute that, however, claiming that they were “personal items” that the troops themselves brought to the meeting.
Regardless, it may have been a violation of military protocol, according to the Hill. That’s because “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause,” according to Department of Defense rules.
General Mattis has long tried to protect the military from being a pawn in the nation’s tribal politics. Mattis is now out, and Trump made a surprise trip to Iraq where he was criticized for attacking Dems and signing #MAGA hats https://t.co/Gk5Xxd328o— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 28, 2018
Ignoring The Sovereignty Of The Iraqi Government
McCaffrey also criticized the president for standing on Iraqi soil and announcing U.S. military actions, such as perhaps someday using Iraq as a staging point for further U.S. military action in Syria. Trump also declined to meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
“The whole notion of going into Iraq and not genuflecting… the Iraqis is simply outrageous,” McCaffrey said. “And announcing we’re going to use it as the site from which we’ll conduct combat operations in other nations, I mean, it’s just inciting Iraqi sovereignty concerns.”
The Pay Raise That Wasn’t
Lastly, McCaffrey took the president to task for telling the troops that he (Trump) had secured for them a 10 percent pay raise, the first in years. As reported by the Inquisitr, the pay raise was not 10 percent (it was closer to 2.6 percent); Trump had nothing to do with it (it was automatic); it wasn’t the first time in years (they’ve gotten one every year for the past several decades).
Mattis says that the troops present when they were being told this likely knew they weren’t being told the truth, but applauded anyway out of politeness or out of being starstruck.
“The troops all should have known it was complete nonsense, but they were sort of excited the commander-in-chief was there and they were willing to blow by it.”