At a Labor Day press conference at the White House, Donald Trump has pushed back against reports he called fallen troops “suckers” and “losers” claiming that unlike military leaders, American soldiers are “in love” with him.
The remarks rejected the incendiary recent story in The Atlantic that quoted anonymous sources describing a president incapable of understanding why anyone would volunteer for dangerous military service – and blamed Joe Biden for putting troops in harm’s way.
Along with complaining that Mr Biden supposedly “shipped away our jobs” and “threw open our borders”, Mr Trump also laid into the vice-presidential nominee for his part in military adventurism and interventionism, saying he “sent our youth to fight in these crazy wars”.
"I'm not saying the military’s in love with me, but the soldiers are.
"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. But we're getting out of the endless wars, you know how we're doing.”
Mr Trump expanded on the theme with a rambling account of the vanquishing of Isis, in which he inscrutably claimed that the caliphate was “100 per cent” dismantled “because of my philosophy”
"I say, that's good, they're gone, let's bring our soldiers back home. Some people don't like to come home. Some people like to continue to spend money. One cold-hearted globalist betrayal after another.”
Mr Trump has railed against what he calls “endless wars” since before he became president, suggesting in 2016 that the US should “reimburse” itself by taking oil from Iraq and leaving, as well as accelerating talks for a peace settlement in Afghanistan and withdrawing troops from northern Syria.
In that case, the result was an opening for the Turkish military to attack US-backed Kurdish forces who had helped destroy the caliphate.
Later in the White House event, a journalist pointed out to the president that some people struggle to believe his denials of the Atlantic story because of his long history of mocking and disparaging John McCain.
In response, Mr Trump complained that John McCain “liked wars”; claiming “I will be a better warrior than anybody”, he described himself as “not a fan” of the deceased war hero, complaining about Mr McCain’s role in getting Christopher Steele’s infamous and highly disputed dossier on Mr Trump to the FBI.
He also took credit for giving him a “first class” funeral – something that the Atlantic claimed he initially refused to allow.