If you’re a veteran or current member of the U.S. military, would you mind being rented to another country?
How would it feel to be a soldier for hire, fighting not for the country you signed up to defend, but another, for someone else’s political agenda?
Last week, Donald Trump bragged about accepting $1 billion from Saudi Arabia and South Korea in exchange for American military protection.
Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.)–who left the Republican party after reading Special Council Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election–took the president to task on Twitter:
He sells troops.
“We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia—I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1B in the bank.” pic.twitter.com/rc1f7heyCP
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 11, 2020
This kicked off a flood of vitriol over a situation in which high-bidding countries could potentially use American soldiers as mercenaries regardless of those nations’ ideologies.
Some pointed 15 of 19 of the September 11, 2001 hijackers were Saudis.
Others inquired about where the Saudi $1 billion even is.
In an interview with Fox News‘ Laura Ingraham, Trump admitted pressuring the Saudi government to compensate the U.S. for deploying more soldiers to the Middle East, stating:
“We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.”
About South Korea, he added:
“South Korea gave us $500 million…I said, ‘You gotta help us along. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea protecting you from North Korea. You’ve gotta pay.’”
In October, Rep. Amash reiterated Trump’s broken campaign promise of bringing soldiers home from Middle Eastern conflicts, explaining:
“He’s not bringing home the troops. He’s just moving them to other parts of the Middle East. He’s moving troops back into Iraq, he’s moving other troops into Saudi Arabia and using our forces almost as mercenaries, paid mercenaries. As long as Saudi Arabia pays us some money, it’s good to go.”
Pimping the military to foreign nations is nothing new to Donald Trump.
David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell reported in The Washington Post on December 5, 2018, lobbyists representing the Saudi Arabian government reserved 500 rooms at Trump’s D.C. hotel within a month of the 2016 presidential election, for which they paid more than $270,000.
But the rooms weren’t for them.
They were for six groups of U.S. military veterans sent to Washington to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed.
Some–perhaps all–of those veterans had no idea that was the case.
In January 2016, Trump reveled in the controversy he created over a feud with Fox News that motivated him to skip a planned Iowa debate and alternatively hold a charity for veterans.
That event raised $2.8 million dollars.
However, according to documents filed with a recent lawsuit ordering the president pay two million dollars to settle a claim he used his theoretically eleemosynary now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation as a savings account for personal and political interests, no veterans ever received a penny of it.
It went instead toward the Trump campaign.
When our men and women in uniform are “hired guns,” what accountability do the countries they are fighting for have for soldiers’ well being?
We are simply supplanting their valuable population with ours.
What happened to Trump’s promise of ending “stupid wars“?
Like the other more than 15,000, it too was a lie.
Image credit: www.progressive-charlestown.com