In Bracing Terms, Trump Invokes War’s Human Toll to Defend His Policies , It is the most solemn of rituals for American presidents: comforting the soldiers wounded under his command or the families of those who have died. For generations,
Presidents have typically discussed those encounters in the most delicate of tones. “The hardest thing I have to do, by far, much harder than the witch hunt, is signing letters to parents of soldiers that have been killed,” President Donald Trump said at the White House this month.
But in arguing that there must be an end to “endless wars” in Afghanistan and more recently in Syria, Trump has given graphic accounts of distraught widows and disfigured soldiers in terms rarely, if ever, heard from a president before. In one recent instance, he said he had seen grieving family members “make sounds, scream and cry like you’ve never seen before.”
Trump has particularly focused on describing the ceremony of transferring the flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers killed overseas from the military cargo planes that have brought their remains home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
In his telling, it is a gut-wrenching ordeal, a scene of anguish from the families of the fallen that bolsters his determination to bring American soldiers home from overseas conflicts. The public shares that desire, according to one recent survey, which found that 46% of Americans believe that military intervention makes the country less safe, while just 27% believe the opposite.
All recent presidents have struggled with the cost of war, and how to speak publicly about it, and to many of his supporters, Trump is talking in authentic and admirably frank terms about a reality many Americans and Washington policymakers never confront.