Trump’s quickie trip to Iraq yesterday would have been a comedy of errors, except that some of the errors could have consequences that are not so funny.
How many ways did he screw up?Â Let’s start with a small matter.
Video footage and the written report of Trump’s visit with service members in Iraq showed the President signing “Make America Great Again” hats and an embroidered patch that read “Trump 2020.” …
…Â Department of Defense guidelines say that “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.”
The questions arose because the hats, emblazoned with the President’s signature political slogan, appeared to be brand new and because there are rules against military personnel participating in political activities while in uniform.
The White House and the military establishment are taking the position that no rules were violated because they say so. Apparently it wasn’t a violation because the troops had purchased the hats themselves. Where? From the post PX? Is Trump making money selling Trump merchandise through the millitary?
Well, of course, the troops have lots of money now to pay for MAGA hats.
Trump also told the troops, falsely, that they hadnâ€™t received a pay raise in 10 years before he took office (theyâ€™ve received one each of the last 10 years) and that heâ€™d secured for them a pay raise of â€œmore than 10 percentâ€ (service members will see a 2.6 percent pay bump in 2019, up from 2.4 percent in 2018).Â â€œWe had plenty of people that came up,â€ began the president, â€œthey said, â€˜You know, we can make it smaller. We can make it 3 percent. We can make it 2 percent. We can make it 4 percent.â€™ I said, â€˜No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.â€™â€
Though the trip had reportedly been planned for weeks, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance, and was unable to make it to the event. The two leaders spoke over the phone instead, and the prime minister later said that the meeting was canceled because of aÂ disagreementÂ over how to conduct the session.
It gets worse:
PresidentÂ Donald Trump‘s surprise trip toÂ IraqÂ may have quieted criticism at home that he had yet to visit troops in a combat zone, but it has infuriated Iraqi politicians who on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
“Arrogant” and an “a violation of national sovereignty” were but a few examples of the disapproval emanating from Baghdad following Trump’s meeting Wednesday with U.S. servicemen and women at the al-Asad Airbase.
Sabah al Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, called for an emergency session of parliament â€œto discuss this blatant violation of Iraqâ€™s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.â€
The Bina bloc, Islahâ€™s rival in parliament and led by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, also objected to Trumpâ€™s trip to Iraq.
â€œTrumpâ€™s visit is a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government,â€ said a statement from Bina.
Yeah, that went well. But what else could have gone wrong? Oh, yeah. The Moron in Chief not only revealed on his Twitter account that a covert SEAL team was deployed in Iraq, he posted photos of the team. Now the whole world knows what the SEALS look like.
The presidentâ€™s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces.Â Current and former Defense Department officials toldÂ NewsweekÂ that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security. …
…Â The pool report went on to say that Trump paused to take a selfie with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee, who said he was the chaplain for SEAL Team Five, based out of Coronado, California. The chaplain said Trump told him: â€œHey, in that case, letâ€™s take a picture.â€
After Air Force One left the Iraqi airspace, Trump posted a video to his Twitter account of his time spent with American forces during his visit to Iraq. Lee Greenwoodâ€™s â€œGod Bless the USA,â€ plays over the video and shows the president and the first lady posing for pictures with service members that appear to be from SEAL Team Five. The special warfare operators are dressed in full battle gear and wearing night vision goggles.
The video cuts to team members shaking the presidentâ€™s hand before cutting to other special operations personnel and support troops.
Newsweek also says that no one at the Pentagon or White House will return calls regarding this incident. Well, maybe their faces were partly obscured by their helmets.
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2018
Trump seems to think he deserves combat pay for the excursion.
Trump confirmed to reporters this week that safety was one of his concerns in traveling to Iraq.Â â€œI had concerns for the institution of the presidency because â€” not for myself, personally,â€ he said. â€œI had concerns for the first lady, I will tell you. But if you would have seen what we had to go through, with the darkened plane, with all windows closed, with no lights on whatsoever, anywhere â€” pitch black. Iâ€™ve never seen it. Iâ€™ve been in many airplanes â€” all types and shapes and sizes. Iâ€™ve never seen anything like it.â€
Poor baby. Maybe you should have paid another doctor to say you can’t fly on darkened airplanes because of bone spurs.