As President Donald Trump continues to use the military as his personal mercenary force, a retired Army colonel who served on the National Security Council foresees current military leaders resigning in protest if Trump keeps abusing his power and ignores the oath our troops took.
The United States military should not be used to violently put down peaceful protests, but Trump has threatened to do exactly that and National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington DC as part of heavy-handed tactics to disperse the crowd.
It’s a gross misuse of the troops that is even being called out by many former military leaders such as former Secretary of Defense and retired General James Mattis and retired Admiral William McRaven.
While retired military leaders usually balk at criticizing the president, so many have felt forced to speak up against Trump that it seems inevitable that an active military leader could resign in protest, according to Col. Jeff McCausland in an NBC News op-ed.
“[T]his sad series of events has presented the nation’s uniformed military leadership with a challenge to civil-military relations,” he wrote. “Each swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies — foreign and domestic. But they have also sworn to obey the orders of the president as commander in chief. Trump wittingly or not seems bent on forcing these senior military officers to choose between these potentially conflicting loyalties, and some fear such a dilemma could occur soon.”
Such an event could result in a breakdown of the chain of command and a drop in morale. Trump’s support among active-duty troops has already eroded in recent months, and it would fall off a cliff if they watch their beloved commanders resign in protest.
“Since his election, Trump has sought the support of the military while periodically being contemptuous of its prerogatives,” McCausland continued. “At times, he has seemed to view the military as just another political force to be used for partisan advantage. As a result, some in the military — as well as retired officers serving in senior administration positions — have, over the past three years, exercised what could be called ‘respectful disobedience’ to appear supportive of the president while keeping his worst excesses at bay. In the current crisis, their ability to do this and avoid overt politicization may no longer be possible, and this may be further strained as we approach the November election.”
If there’s one thing the military doesn’t appreciate, it’s being used as a political prop.
McCausland then called upon active military leaders to speak up and resign if necessary in protest of Trump.
“At this critical moment in our history, it is imperative that the current senior leadership of the American military speak truth to power,” he concluded. “And if they feel they cannot do that while working for this administration, they have only one other option. It might be useful for them to remember a statement by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell nearly 30 years ago. He was asked by a Naval Academy midshipman what an officer should do if he or she is directed by political leadership to do something contrary to their oath. Powell replied succinctly, ‘If after those decisions are made you still find it completely unacceptable and it strikes to the heart of your moral beliefs, then I think you have to resign.’”
Our troops have a duty to protect Americans, not hurt them. They have a duty to defend our rights, not violate them. Being ordered to do either should be enough for the troops and their commanders to take a knee and defy Trump. Because in the end, he’s the domestic threat they should be fighting against.
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