Donald Trump would like us all to believe that the United States would have registered a “complete and total victory” in Afghanistan had its troops been led by … General Robert E. Lee. Lee is not typically associated with winning wars, in large part because he is the most famous losing general in American history.
Trump registered his thoughts on Lee’s supposed prowess against the Taliban while complaining about the removal Wednesday of the Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia. The Virginia Supreme Court last week ruled that the state could finally pull down a monument to a general who took part in a pro-slavery secession that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. Those lives were lost due to a failed Confederate rebellion started to protect the practice of holding human beings in lifelong slavery.
Trump has no interest in this history, bemoaning instead the “complete desecration” of what “has long been recognized as a beautiful piece of bronze sculpture” — a sign Trump insists of how: “Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left.”
In his statement, Trump glossed over the insidious nature of Lee’s cause to instead gush over the Confederate’s tactical acumen with an astonishing bit of historical revision. “President Lincoln wanted Lee to command the North, in which case the war would have been over in one day . Robert E. Lee instead chose the other side because of his great love of Virginia [citation badly needed], and except for Gettysburg, would have won the war [infinite citations needed],” Trump wrote.
Trump’s statement, which his organization voluntarily emailed out, goes on with some bluster about the “disaster” of President Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the execution of a deal that Trump negotiated with the Taliban before he was voted out of office.
Like much of what the former president and perpetual internet troll has to say, the Lee statement is shocking, but it’s not surprising. Trump has already shown he has a really hard time distinguishing from the right and wrong sides in conflicts, as he demonstrated when — after neo-Nazis held a 2017 rally up the road from Richmond in Charlottesville — he declared there were “some very fine people, on both sides.”
And perhaps it’s not at all surprising that Trump thinks of Lee (0-1 lifetime in civil wars) as a surefire victor. Because if there’s one thing Trump has proven he struggles to understand, it’s who is a winner, and who is a loser.