Skip to Content

Honor, Sacrifice and Imperial Duplicity

Four Dead in Niger. Anybody Know Why?

In his remarks, John Kelly lamented the loss of “sacredness” for our soldiers and, especially, for Gold Star families when their loved-ones are killed-in-action. A fair plea. Was he, then, expecting the American people to not see the political hack nature of his attack on a close friend of a dead soldier and his family because this friend was a US congresswoman with real power vis-a-vis him and his boss? Was that her offense? Maybe it’s true that the Johnson family never liked Donald Trump anyway and, thus, the call was perceived as hostile. Then, maybe it was a matter of the president’s inexperience in these matters and his peculiarly self-obsessed nature. General Kelly even took some blame for Trump’s remarks by telling the press conference he had told the inexperienced president that the “casualty officer” assigned to him when his son was killed had said to him in intimate terms -- terms a gruff infantry general could understand -- that his son “knew what he was getting himself into.” This would be understood by a military general familiar with sending men into battle. But it clearly did not work when translated by Donald J. Trump via cell phone on speaker in a limousine directed to a young pregnant widow with two small children as they were all being driven to the airport to receive the closed-casket remains of her husband. The casket was closed because Sergeant Johnson’s body had apparently been excruciatingly mangled to the point morticians could do nothing with it. All evidence suggests Rep. Wilson was in the car as a personal friend to comfort Mrs. Johnson and for no other reason. The fact Rep. Wilson may not like President Trump doesn't change that connection.

So why did President Trump call Mrs. Johnson? He called her because he was on the spot; he was feeling attacked and beleaguered over the mysterious deaths of four Green Beret soldiers in Niger. The whole flap about calling Gold Star relatives stemmed from a press question about the four soldiers in Niger: Why hadn't the president commented on the four deaths? Given how Mr. Trump’s mind works, he took it as a hostile question aimed at him and went into a defensive crouch that ended by doing what he does best: He attacked President Obama. Obama didn't call Gold Star families! No one was criticizing him for not calling anyone, and General Kelly and a presidential historian both say calling Gold Star families on the phone is not necessary in order for the US commander-in-chief to show respect for the men and women he sends into harm’s way. That respect is shown in other ways, such as making sure the rug isn't pulled out from under them once they're there.

This is where the matter gets very confusing and enshrouded in fog. On a micro canvas, President Trump avoided questions about the dead Green Berets in Niger and General Kelly emphasized the lack of respect for the sacrifices of our troops. On a macro canvas, both avoided like the plague any question that touched on post-WWII US imperial overreach. Right. That issue. The one mere voting civilians aren’t supposed to think about as bridges and sewer systems corrode, climate change is causing havoc, our education system is not delivering and the nation is breaking apart.



story | by Dr. Radut