Josh Manning is a combat veteran and serves on the leadership team of Common Defense, a group of progressive veterans who want to affect political change. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23
If you have not seen it yet, please take a moment to watch this Gianforte television ad in which he purports to have the support of the apparently the ENTIRE VETERAN COMMUNITY: If you notice nothing else, please see that nowhere in his own sponsored advertisement did the veteran officer featured say the words, “This is why I endorse Greg Gianforte for Congress.”
NO ENDORSEMENT OF GIANFORTE OCCURRED.
As a veteran, I endorse Rob Quist, to become next lone Congressman. Here’s why:
I spent a year and a half of my Army career in Iraq. I know what it takes to fight terrorism and foreign adversaries. The solution is not the President Donald Trump brand of hyper-militarism and stupid wars. Unbridled defense spending and giving the reigns to the generals and defense contractors is not what our military and veterans need or want. There are many people who voted for Donald Trump, and you can imagine many of them will vote for Gianforte, but they did not vote for one thing: Forever War.
We are still nearly a decade and a half into Bush’s wars and Trump wants to start more. Seriously, look at the posturing towards Syria, Iran, and North Korea. If you think these are just empty threats and military bluster, then take moment to think about how playing Russian Roulette with Kim Jong Un plays out.
So instead, let’s plan for an exit strategy for the conflicts the Republicans have already signed us up for then a plan to ensure those troops and veterans have the best care in the world. Gianforte has never said a word about how he plans to care for our troops other than they should retire from combat service at age 600. Anyone who has seen one day of combat does not want to see many more. Yet they do because they want to make sure their brothers and sisters are safe.
While Gianforte outsourced Montana jobs to India, I was in Iraq running down Al Qaeda-affiliated and Iranian-backed terrorist groups to cut down the threats to those still serving.
The officer featured in Gianforte’s ad did not capture terrorists or live through our nation’s most recent wars, though he appears to have served in Vietnam and I nod my head to that. But if he had served in our nation’s more recent wars, he would have been able to explain how a smart counterterrorism policy works because it demands using a scalpel (specialized military forces) and preventative medicine (diplomacy and counter-messaging). Remember hearing any of that in the television ad or from our new administration?
The Trump methodology, let’s call it OPERATION JACKHAMMER, will only create more conflicts and terrorists when his ham-handed use of the military causes needless civilian deaths or becomes a clarion call for terrorist groups. Trump’s bravado is good for weapons building corporations but not for our troops in immediate danger. It is no wonder Gianforte’s tightening race is worrying the Republican establishment if he loses then the defense contractors lose a like-minded billionaire in Congress too.
When I served in the Army we had a seven-letter acronym for how to be a better soldier: LDRSHIP—Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honesty, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I look at each of those and do not see Gianforte coming anywhere near close on a single one of those ethics. But if you do, please check his name when you vote in late May. I honestly ask you to think about this as you vote, this is a direct request from someone who knows what honor truly means.