Monday, June 8, 2020

The Generals Revolt

Surely, I am not alone in being puzzled by the comments made by a coterie of retired generals about the presidency of Donald Trump. In this regard James Mattis is certainly not alone. When leading military officials start talking like Harvard professors-- or like Harvard undergrads-- you notice. And you imagine that something is seriously wrong. You start thinking, as I have mentioned on this blog, that they are all aspiring philosopher kings. 

Now, Victor Davis Hanson has laid out the case against the generals, expressing his own puzzlement about a seemingly coordinated effort to bring down a sitting American president. 

But, Hanson notes, soldiers do not have quite the same first amendment rights as do average citizens. But, even if the issue is obscure, they would do better, in the name of decorum, to refrain from incendiary incitement.
Hanson explains:
So the issue of proper military conduct versus First Amendment rights for retired generals remains nebulous. Perhaps in such a void, a confused public could at least expect four rules of general decorum and common courtesy when our top retired military leaders go on the attack against a sitting president.
One, a retired general need not under any circumstances stoop to invoke Nazi Germany, Hitler, or Fascism to criticize the current commander in chief.
Two, any disparagement should not hint at any active resistance to, much less the removal of, an elected president other than through constitutionally mandated elections.
Three, the condemnation should rest on clear factual evidence, not emotive anger or partisan disagreement.
Four, there should be no semblance of coordination among retired military officers. They should avoid even the inadvertent appearance of a sudden chorus of like-minded retired military officers acting in concert to attack the policies of their current president with whom they disagree, and whom they disparage in personal terms.
Why not?

Indeed, to do otherwise, whether by intent or inference, would suggest a harmonized effort to nullify the authority of an elected president — a dangerous escalation to extra-legal efforts that would be a first in American history.

And yet, many of today’s generals are enraged by President Trump. They have helped to divide the country:

Unfortunately, in this age of dissension, a number of our most esteemed retired generals and admirals, many of them heroic combat veterans, in their fury at President Trump, have not met these modest ethical expectations. However well-meaning, they seem to have little inkling of how their advocacy and speech have only further polarized a divided country whose streets are currently in chaos.
And they have indulged rhetorical extremes that are not befitting a military officer, someone we count on for sober judgment and impeccable decorum:

Unfortunately, retired general Barry McCaffrey has compared Donald Trump to the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, owing to Trump’s crime of canceling a few newspaper subscriptions of some federal agencies.
During chaotic conditions at the U.S. southern border, former general Michael Hayden regrettably tweeted a picture of the Birkenau death camp. Was he clumsily suggesting that the administration policy of border detention, in part inherited from the prior administration, was analogous to the Nazi Final Solution in which 6 million were exterminated? If not, then why would a general manipulate for partisan purposes the photo of the most infamous ground on earth?
Esteemed general James S. Mattis, former defense secretary in the Trump administration and a deservedly iconic figure, recently suggested that Trump fostered disunity in much the same way that Nazis did. 
The inflammatory defamatory rhetoric is worthy of a leftist college professor. Why do these generals aspire to be college professors?

As far as inferring the need to resist an elected president, former general James Clapper dubbed the president a “Russian asset.” That is, Clapper all but accused his commander in chief of being a traitor.

That unsubstantiated charge was also sadly echoed by General McCaffrey in March 2018 in less uncertain terms:
Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to US national security. He is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr. Putin.
If that charge of treason against the commander in chief were true, then McCaffrey had an obligation to produce evidence to support it.
It has been happening since the beginning of the Trump presidency. It was begun by brain dead celebrities, but the rhetoric was sustained by public officials:

Sadly, such loose and inflammatory talk of supposedly necessary preemptory removal of an elected president has been part of the national discourse since the first weeks of the Trump administration. On Inauguration Day we heard a celebrity talk of “blowing up” the White House, and soon it was on to decapitating, shooting, or hanging the president. Almost immediately, in January 2017, we witnessed a failed impeachment attempt, following efforts to subvert the constitutionally mandated voting of the Electoral College....
In 2017, just ten days after Trump’s inauguration, former Obama state department official Rosa Brooks authored an essay in the prestigious journal Foreign Policy, with the unfortunate insurrectionary title “Three Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020.”
Among her three options was a quite scary discussion of a military coup, akin to the takeover in the thriller Seven Days in May. Brooks urged high-ranking officers, if faced with an order they believed unconstitutional, to deliberately, collectively disobey the commander in chief and presumably “get rid of” him by force…
As for Obama policies, the same generals said nary a word of dissent. Thus, Hanson examines the policies that they found acceptable:

When President Obama or his administration decided not to send the Iran treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification, or refused congressional subpoenas in the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, or nullified current federal immigration law by executive orders, or monitored the communication data of Associated Press journalists or allowed the IRS to politicize its mission before an election, or was caught on a hot mic offering a seeming quid pro quo of diminishing U.S. missile defense in Europe in exchange for the Putin regime’s providing him space during his own 2012 reelection effort, or used unsubstantiated opposition research from a hired foreign national to interfere in, and surveil, an oppositional political campaign and to disrupt a presidential transition, there were many who then argued that he was violating the Constitution.
As for the Constitution, the generals have stated clearly that they are defending it against Trump:

Many of the outspoken generals and admirals have defended their extraordinary public criticism by suggesting they are supporting the Constitution in their belief that the current president has violated its tenets by deploying federal troops where they were not needed, in Washington, D.C. Perhaps. But charges of violating the Constitution have also been the boilerplate justification of every dissident and political general — from John C. Fremont and George McClellan to Edwin Walker and Douglas MacArthur — who challenged quite unpopular presidents whose policies they thought dangerous to the nation.
Yet, their knowledge of history seems to be sorely lacking, a point noted on a prior post:
Yet strangely, for all the angst about the Constitution, we require current retired officers to cite specific legal instances where Trump has explicitly violated any specific constitutional statute. Plenty of U.S. presidents, both Democratic and Republican, from the 19th century to the modern age — including Presidents Madison, Lincoln, Cleveland, Hoover, Kennedy, Johnson, and George H.W. Bush — have called on federal troops to restore order during civil unrest, sometimes in support of state governors, sometimes out of worry that violence had spiraled out of their control. A clear majority of recently polled Americans now favor the use of federal troops to quell violence where needed in the present chaos. Are they guilty of abetting their anti-constitutional commander in chief?
When it comes to subverting the Constitution, few American administrations have matched the Obama presidency. Didn’t the Obama administration systematically harass Trump officials, making it nearly impossible for his presidency to function:

From the once-classified evidence now released by congressional committees, the director of National Intelligence and the inspector general, we see that these top officials may well have deliberately deceived a federal FISA court, altered official documents submitted to a federal judge, lost or erased critical subpoenaed evidence, lied repeatedly under oath, illegally surveilled U.S. citizens, entrapped federal officials, inserted informants into a political campaign, and illegally leaked redacted names to the media for partisan political advantage and hatred of the controversial president-elect.
Our retired military officials, who so eloquently have cited the perceived dangers that the current president presents to the Constitution, which prompted their purportedly nonpartisan action, perhaps wisely — but also selectively and perhaps hypocritically — once kept completely mum about those apparent constitutional violations by a then-sitting president. In such egregious cases, they seemed to have followed the past custom and practice of avoiding controversial commentary, even though those under current federal investigation include a high-ranking retired general: James Clapper.



UbuMaccabee said...

A little thought experiment. Based on everything you have seen from the Left over the past 4 years (media, Democratic Party, universities, mobs and riots, Hollywood, Big Tech, Big Law, etc, etc) is there any reason you think that they would not attempt to infiltrate and control the United States military and use that military for their own purposes, namely to seize and hold power? Honestly, is there any serious question on the matter? Anyone who thinks that the left would refrain from crossing that river is a fool. That's what this is about. It's about the last (and most important) institution they do not yet control. Once they do, it's game over.

Stop lying to yourselves with nostalgia; the Left wants the whole enchilada. All of it. And when they get it, the United States is finished. The generals have already cut a deal with the Left; they think they will gain by this. They will align the new military with our new leftist overlords. It is exactly the playbook of the Communists who used the credulity and vanity of the Spanish Popular Front to plot their takeover.

trigger warning said...

You're right, Schneiderman. The generals, or at least some of them, are revolting.

I've believed for quite some time now, - since Gulf War 1, in fact, and Gen Colin Powell's shameful virtue signaling stunts - that the military needs a purge to flush out the seditionists.

Sam L. said...

You said it, tw; they stink on ice!

Anonymous said...

Y'all are clearly a bunch of old men with hard-ons for law and order who just won't stand for it when others start playing the game like you always have, dirty.

David Foster said...

I suspect that a lot of those who keep talking about Russia are people who are either making significant money, or hope to be making significant money, from relationships with China.

Kansas Scout said...

Good posting. I've never been a conspiracy theory kind of person. The Elites we rejected when we elected Trump are trying to be relevant again in an attempt to lend gravitas to the effort to eject Trump. Several were active conspirators in the coup attempt. They know that some kind of accountability may well result if Trump is reelected. Excuse this speculation but to me, a lot of media and institutions are beholden to China to the tune of Billions. I don't think any of this is an accident. Trump has taken a stand against Chinese trade abuses and expansionist actions. My inclination is to understand that ultimately, this is a Chinese effort to rid themselves of a major irritant. I don't see how this all ends well. The poles are no longer bridgeable. I don't see how we avoid Civil War at this point. Possible trigger points are extreme gun control and attempts at confiscation,Reparations to blacks and actual significant discrimination and repression of non blacks. I try to read your blog daily. Keep up the good work.

UbuMaccabee said...

Kansas, I agree with you. I smell interests aligned with China in these riots. This was a very well organized and orchestrated attack on the US. This takes the heat off their culpability for the Wuhan lung plague.

Anon, no I do not have a hard on for law and order, I have a hard on for burying an war axe into your skull and posting your decapitated head at the end of my property on a spike. Law and order is what stands between you and my hard on. You should be grateful that we have a system that doesn’t encourage me and men like me to play dirty.