WASHINGTON ― U.S. President Donald Trump accused Pentagon leaders of wanting to “fight wars” to satisfy the defense industry during a White House press conference Monday.
“I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are,” Trump said. “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
Throughout the Trump administration, the president had been a proud booster for the defense industry, both at home and overseas. Though Trump, in December 2018, called U.S. defense spending levels, “crazy,” but he’s touted that he’s responsible for $2.5 trillion in defense spending. (The figure is reportedly closer to $2 trillion.)
In Monday’s remarks, Trump noted his administration’s success against the Islamic State and desire to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Trump attacked Biden as a “globalist” over the previous administration’s trade deals and involvement in foreign wars, before touting his own promotion of burden sharing among NATO alliance members.
“Some people don’t like to come home. Some people like to continue to spend money,” he said.
Which candidate respects the military has become a top issue in the presidential race since a report in The Atlantic on Thursday quoting anonymous administration officials charging Trump with referring to fallen U.S. troops buried in France as “losers” and “suckers,” questioning why any American would join the military, and demanding that wounded veterans be kept out of planned parades because “nobody wants to see that.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on the president to apologize for his reported remarks.
“If what was written in The Atlantic is true, it is disgusting and it affirms what most of us believe to be true: that Donald Trump is not fit to do the job of president or be the commander in chief,” he said.
A Military Times poll last week showed a continued decline in active-duty service members’ views of Trump and a slight but significant preference for Biden in the upcoming November election among troops surveyed.