Unless, of course, your fans either don’t know any better or they simply don’t care about the mistake.
Yesterday, at a campaign stop in Charleston, South Carolina, Donald Trump let rip with what he sees as our problem in dealing with terrorists and how he’d go about fixing it:
TRANSCRIPT (I swear if I have to transcribe many more of Donald Trump’s speeches I will shoot myself in the face)
TRUMP…ISIS and others that are cutting off people’s heads and drowning people in steel cages, they leave under there for forty minutes and they pull them up, right? Can you imagine these people when they sit around at night eating, whatever they’re eating, and talking and they’re talking about the United States, that they’re actually worried about waterboarding as being a little bit cruel, and these people chopped off heads. They must think we are the dumbest and the weakest and the stupidest people on earth, on earth, ON EARTH! Y
You know, I read a story, it’s a terrible story but I’ll tell you. Should I tell you, or should I not? Early in this century, last century, General Pershing, did you ever hear?… rough guy, rough guy… and they had a terrorism problem and there’s a whole thing with swine and animals and pigs and you know the story, okay, they don’t like that. And they were having a tremendous problem with terrorism and, by the way, this is something you can read in the history books, not a lot of history books, cause they don’t like teaching this, and General Pershing was a rough guy, and he sits on his horse and he’s very astute, like a ramrod, right? And the era was the early nineteen hundreds, and this was a terrible problem, they were having terrorism just like we do. And he caught fifty terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the fifty terrorists, and he took fifty men and he dipped fifty bullets in pig’s blood. You heard that, right? He fit… he took fifty bullets and he dipped them in pig’s blood and he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the fifty people and they shot forty-nine of those people and the fiftieth person, he said “you go back to your people and you tell them what happened.” And for twenty-five years there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years there wasn’t a problem. Alright?
So we better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant and we better start using our heads or we’re not going to have a country, folks. We’re not going to have a country.
There are parts of this that I sign onto wholeheartedly. For the life of me, I don’t know why we were running a prison system for jihadis in Iraq or at Guantanamo. Under the Geneva Conventions those men were illegal combatants. That, de facto, is a war crime. The last time we really fought a war to win, we dealt harshly with violations of the laws of war*:
There was no moral or legal or ethical impediment to the court-martial and execution of every single prisoner taken in either Iraq or Afghanistan. There was only the lack of will on our part. And Trump is right, this made us look weak, it continues to make us look weak, and the price we pay for that weakness is more resistance, more casualties on our part and more civilian casualties.
But the Pershing story is so false that calling it false doesn’t even do it justice. First and foremost, Pershing wasn’t facing “terrorism.” He was facing an armed insurrection. Pershing’s philosophy was to minimize casualties on both sides:
“I am sorry these Moros are such fools, but . . . I shall lose as few men and kill as few Moros as possible.”
The two major battles Pershing fought against the Moros, Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak, were noted for the forebearance Pershing took to avoid casualties. In the first, he besieged over 1,000 Moro warriors and won, only killing twelve of them. In the second, he crushed a force of over 10,000 Moros, warriors and families combined, while killing less than 500 and losing only 14 himself.
The origins of the story are much different than Trump portrays them. From the US Army War College at Fort Leavenworth:
Americans quickly came to be more familiar with this dimension, which the Spanish earlier had learned well–Spanish soldiers and officials called it juramentado, roughly translated into “oath-taking”. This practice–based on Sulu Moro interpretations ofjihad–consisted of elaborate dedication and purification rites conducted with family and religious authorities. Those who went through this dedication swore to kill as many Christians as possible before dying, the reward being ascent into Paradise.juramentados could attack in groups of individually, and the sudden assaults of those “running jurmamentado” became a constant concern.
From the Muslim view, this description was far from adequate. Rather, as contemporary Moro Islamic insurgent spokesmen describe it, Moro
…mujahideen took it as a personal duty to Allah to continue to fight to the death, even if a Muslim leader surrendered. It became common for a lone Muslim mujahid to attack American soldiers and camps, killing many of them before losing his life. The Spanish and Americans disparagingly called this act juramentado or amok; Muslims refer to this as sabil or prang sabil, from the Arabic jihad fi sabilillah.11
In any case, accounts abounded of seemingly peaceful Moros suddenly drawing kris or and killing multiple American soldiers or civilians before being killed themselves. The replacement of the .38 caliber Army revolver with the harder hitting .45 caliber automatic was in part a consequence of the difficulty in stopping juramentados. Other practices–reportedly yielding short-term results but likely generating longer-term negative consequences–were implemented by U.S. military officials unable to find other effective countermeasures. One such approach was said to have carried out by Colonel Alexander Rodgers, Governor of Jolo:
All Moros who ran juramentado were killed and laid out in the market place with slaughtered pigs placed above them. The Mohammedan abhors all contact with pork and the resulting contact of the dead juramentado with the pig neutralized the beneficial effects of the rite itself. Colonel Rodgers became known to the Moros as “The Pig,” and juramentados took themselves hurriedly to other districts.12
And, for the record, this area of the Philippines has never had 25 or 50 years of peace. The main Moro uprising was suppressed in 1913, but guerrilla war continued against US and loyal Filipino forces continued until the Japanese invaded in 1942. Then the Moros fought the Japanese. They are fighting the Filipino army today by way of the hilariously named Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF — I am not making that up.
Needless to say, if the Moro uprising could have been suppressed by a ridiculous tactic like using pig’s blood, it would have been in common use. But the idea that the people we face are sincerely religious people is simply crap. The 9/11 hijackers spent their last night on earth in a titty-bar. Drug use is common among jihadis. They are hardly likely to be deterred by pseudo-religious nonsense when all they need is one imam or mullah to proclaim that isn’t the way things really work.
More to the point, Trump has a point. As Niccolo Machiavelli observed, “it is much safer to be feared than loved.” Obama, and before him, Bush, were much too interested in being loved by people who hate us that inspiring fear and causing them to moderate their bad behavior. But, by larding his larger point with a story that was widely discredited during the early days of the Iraq War, he has discredited his position and anyone else who happens to agree with him.
*”On September 24,1944, the young infantryman Josef Wende together with his comrade Stephan Kortas was send across the Mosel to recon the American lines. They were discovered by the American sergeant Skaboro and captured. On October 18, 1944 they were sentenced to death as being spies and on 11 November 1944 shot in the garden of a farmhouse at Toul. “
Source: “Alliierte Verbrechen an Deutschen” by E. Kern, 1980.