Rolling Thunder Doesn’t Care about Soldiers

Rolling ThunderOn Sunday, while I was writing down my ideas of heroism for Memorial Day, Donald Trump was the only presidential candidate invited to talk at the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day rally in Washington. Rolling Thunder is a group that pushes for a full accounting of prisoners of war and those missing in action. There is more than a little conspiracy theory in the group. You used to hear it all the time: that there were thousands of Vietnam veterans who were still being held captive in Vietnam. It’s also kind of a biker thing.

Rolling Thunder’s big annual event is this Memorial Day rally, where they ride their bikes on a parade of sorts that ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The fact that Trump would speak at this even is ironic, if not funny. Jonathan Chait described it, Most Anti-POW Candidate in History Embraced by Pro-POW Rally. This is, after all, the man who dismissed John McCain’s heroism because he was captured. You would think that Rolling Thunder would hate Trump. But no.

Instead, they hate Hillary Clinton. One of the group members said that asking Hillary Clinton to show up would be like asking Jane Fonda to show up. Reason? They don’t need no stinking reason! But I think I can explain. Conservatives of the military ilk don’t care about soldiers or veterans or pretty much anything else you might think. They care about war. They care about beating their chests and claiming that they are the alpha dog. So Donald Trump is just perfect for them. The fact that he did everything he could to stay out of the Vietnam War doesn’t mean anything.

Conservatives Hate War Heroes

It all reminds me of the 2004 election. That was a very important election for me because it was the one when I really got involved in politics. Up until then, it had been very theoretical. I wanted such drastic things changed in society that I didn’t even pay attention to what was going on in the world. But in 2004, I was very much a Democrat — thanks in large part to President George W Bush who was really awful. But what I most remember from that campaign was the utter disgust I had about the swift boat attacks against John Kerry.

I don’t have any great love of the military; it is an unfortunate necessity. But I respect the men and women who do the job, even if I’m not willing to call them all heroes. What surprised me was that conservatives thought even less than I did about the military. Disagree all you want with John Kerry, but at least grant him that he served in the Vietnam War and acted heroically on at least two occasions. But no. The conservatives were eager to crap all over that for political gain.

Rolling Thunder Doesn’t Care About Soldiers

Conservatives care about war, not soldiers. Memorial Day is supposed to be about remembering soldiers who died in our country’s wars. But it’s the wars that conservatives are celebrating. The soldiers only matter in that you can’t have a war without them. Rolling Thunder should be ashamed to invite Donald Trump to speak to them. And they would be ashamed if they cared about the soldiers. But they don’t. They’re just keen for another war where Rolling Thunder can pompously ride their bikes and pretend care about soldiers. All they care about is chest thumping — like conservatives everywhere.

Why Is Israel “Our Closest Ally in the Region”?

Hillary Clinton - Israel Our Closest Ally?I listened to Hillary Clinton’s entire foreign policy speech. I wasn’t going to. I was just going to listen to a few minutes to get a feel for it, but it was so good that I got caught up in it. That was mostly because it was just a half hour long attack on Donald Trump. I’m far more interested in foreign affairs than most Americans, but that still allows me to be pretty disinterested in the subject. But listening to Clinton go point by point over Donald Trump’s ridiculous statements was great fun — except for the part about Israel.

Looking back on the last year, I have to say that I’m shocked that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. And I don’t say that in a political sense. I say it in a theatrical sense. If you’ve heard one Donald Trump speech, you’ve heard them all. I would have thought that the nation would have been bored by now. His answer to every problem is that he’s a great negotiator. Perhaps the best line in Hillary Clinton’s speech was, “He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or our admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has — quote — ‘a very good brain.'”

But as much as I enjoyed the speech and agreed with her on most things, I was especially bothered by one line about Israel, “They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.” I understand: this is just divine knowledge in modern America: Israel is such a good friend of America. It’s just that I’ve found the claim harder and harder to take. In what way is Israel our closest ally? As far as I can tell, only by grabbing hold of us and refusing to let go.

It certainly isn’t the case that Israel is our closest ally in the region because of all the great stuff they do for us. It’s quite the other way around. And at this point, I have little doubt that Israel would become a loose cannon in the region if we didn’t hold them in check. I remember during the Persian Gulf War, there was a great deal of diplomacy that went on to keep Israel out of the war. And why was that? I mean, Israel is a country that probably depends upon its very existence to the unwavering support that the United States gives to it — both militarily and in the United Nations. But we have to worry about them messing up our own foreign policy.

I realize that Hillary Clinton had to give a shout-out to Israel. That’s the American way of politics. But it is just a convention. Israel hasn’t earned all the babying that we give it. And things are changing in the United States. I used to be a big supporter of Zionism, and now I’m really not sure if it isn’t just a racist construct that makes things worse. And certainly as the Israeli government has gotten more and more conservative, apparently determined to destroy any possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, it becomes a harder and harder country to support.

I figure we are at most 20 years away from US support for Israel being very, very contingent. Hillary Clinton isn’t wrong to say that Israel is our closest ally in the region. But as an American, it doesn’t mean much to me. And if I were an Israeli, I’d be terrified about it.