Donald Trump suggested in a speech that soldiers in Iraq tasked with handing out American money on the ground absconded with some of it and were "living very well right now." He called Iraq "crooked as hell."
Anti-Trump factions jumped on the comments, claiming Trump was disrespecting U.S. soldiers. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he wanted to "go through the screen and shake" Trump, in part because yesterday was the 241st anniversary of the founding of the Army. One veteran's story describing his personal experiences and the dangers of the work of handing out taxpayer money to Iraqis was described as "demolishing" Trump's argument. Further out on the fringe it was called "beyond contempt."
But this is a little bit of a manifestation of Trump Derangement Syndrome. After he made his comments, the Trump campaign insisted Trump was referring to Iraq soldiers. In the speech he didn't specify. But that's irrelevant. The fact is that U.S. soldiers and contractors, indisputably, stole money, up to billions of dollars. Democrats like to fashion themselves anti-war, especially when talking about Republicans and especially when Democrats are not in power. But President Obama made his perceived military toughness ("Osama bin Laden is dead") a cornerstone of the 2012 re-election and Democrats have not been shy to wrap themselves with the flag in a similar manner as Republicans in the service of a partisan, sectarian agenda.
The truth is U.S. soldiers were convicted of $50 million worth of crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Were Trump's comments about U.S. soldiers (and they appeared that way at least to me when reading the initial comments), there would be nothing controversial or inaccurate about them. And it's no more a controversial or inaccurate statement applied to Iraq soldiers, who also participated in thefts of money and equipment.
Iraq was a mess and despite the mainstream stereotype about Democrats and Republicans vis a vis war, the November election is likely to feature a Democrat who voted for George W. Bush's war in Iraq and a Republican who says he opposed it from the beginning and who campaigned against it, successfully, in a Republican primary, making it a major point in his campaign in South Carolina, a historically military- and Bush-friendly state. These facts, and Democrats' incredible cognitive dissonance in supporting a president who has ordered the killing of thousands of Muslims via drone strikes and other military campaigns around the world while claiming only Republicans are the party of war.
While Democrats may be more amenable to whitewashing the Iraq war if it means defeating Trump, it remains to be seen whether they'll realize using the no-fly list to deny mostly Muslims their rights to bear arms without due process is an anti-Muslim, civil rights-violating move now that Trump supports it too.