Washington state congressional candidate Joe Kent, a U.S. Army veteran and Gold Star husband, joined Fox Nation’s “Tucker Carlson Today” on Friday to sound off about the politicization of the military establishment he recognized when former President Donald Trump decided to shake up the commander-in-chief role as a political outsider.
Kent, who is seeking a primary challenge against Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-Wash., – one of ten Republican congresspeople who voted to impeach Trump in January – said Trump didn’t “pull any punches” and rankled the Pentagon by trying to “check their math” on certain things.
The Defense bureaucracy, Kent claimed, most prominently took issue with Trump’s stated goal of pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East, which the veteran said goes against the proclivity for the government to support “lucrative programs… like wars.”
“There was those of us that were on the ground that have been fighting the wars, we really liked President Trump’s foreign policy. Because ISIS had taken over two countries at that time, three if you count Libya. And he said, hey, I want the caliphate crushed –you all in there, crush the caliphate, and we’re getting out,” Kent told host Tucker Carlson.
“So he gave us the tools that we needed, the authority we needed to go in and conduct that mission. But then, he attempted to, at least, get us out.”
Kent later added that former President George W. Bush went so far as to fire a top officer, Gen. Eric Shinseki – who went on to become President Obama’s veterans’ affairs secretary.
“I think the problem is from the top down, starting with when Bush fired General Shinseki during the lead up the Iraq war. I mean, that sent a pretty clear message like, hey, we will fire whoever goes against the party line. And we’ll replace you with somebody who will say yes.”
Kent said that if officers want to advance through the ranks, there is a strong hint that they must toe the public line, creating “a self-licking ice cream cone.”
“Under Obama, there had just been the stagnation of we’re going to continue to deploy, put people in danger, but we don’t actually have the will to go in and defeat the enemy,” he added. “So Trump was very refreshing. But then, also, the way that Trump cut through a lot of the rhetoric about why we got into these wars in the first place”
The rank-and-file troops later appreciated Trump’s new tact, Kent recalled.
But, with the now-Florida Republican’s arrival, the Pentagon collectively bristled, he said.
“It was a night and day difference. There was a partisan bitterness to a lot of the leadership. They did not like what Trump had said about them getting things wrong before, and then they did not like the drastic changes that Trump wanted to make,” he said.
“Trump had the audacity to say, like, ‘I’m going to check your math every now and again’. It’s like, what? You’re going to check my math? How dare you?”
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Kent, whose military wife was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Manbij, Syria, claimed she would be alive today if Trump’s orders had been truly followed.
“Trump ordered our troops out of Syria when we defeated the territorial caliphate in December of 2018,” he said.
“She had orders– her and the folks that she was with had orders to withdraw back to Iraq by Christmas Eve, instead, because of Secretary of Defense Mattis resigning, the head of the counter–ISIS mission for the State Department, Brett McGurk, resigning as well, – then all the bureaucrats underneath them doing the old bureaucratic slow roll, our troops remained in Syria until January.”
“Did they need to be there? We had accomplished our mission going after the territorial caliphate of ISIS. And to this day, troops remain in Syria for no strategic benefit to the US, waiting for us to get into a four-sided fight with Syria, Russia, Iran, and then the ISIS caliphate that still is an underground covered network.”
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