The U.S. military should never be used as a tool in partisan politics just like servicemembers must remain objectively neutral in public discourse. Nevertheless, in recent years, specifically under President Trump, Republicans have become astonishingly anti-military. Upon reflection, Republican military support was never really about concern for military members and families, but rather focused on financial relationships with powerful private defense contractors and the large donations they make to their campaign coffers. Congressional Republicans largely remained silent when Trump abused soldiers as an obvious campaign stunt, unjustifiably sending them to the border and away from their families during the holidays when they were supposed to be resetting between deployments.
House Republicans and their media champions reprehensibly attacked LTC Alex Vindman simple because he dared testify truthfully as compelled to do by Congress. The Vindman family received so many threats from Trump supporters that the Army had to move them onto a military installation and provide security. All for simply doing his duty and obeying the law. Vindman volunteered to serve and in over 20 years in the U.S. Army built a record of exemplary service, including deployment to Iraq and a Purple Heart. Anyone is free to disagree with his conclusions, but the vicious, baseless character attacks are beyond appalling. Republican questioners, including Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, and John Ratcliff shamefully did a dishonest smear job on Vindman, who deserved to be treated with respect. Republicans did not even appreciate the protocol to refer to him by the rank he earned – and they did not earn! They asserted blatant falsehoods just to plant an idea that he was disloyal. Disloyal? Like the House Republicans who support Russia over our own country’s interests?
The recent pardoning of three war criminals was an astonishing affront to the millions of patriotic Americans currently serving and who served with dignity and honor over the years. Trump pretends to support the military, but that is not possible while completely disrespecting the law, due process, the military justice system, the strong culture and traditions, and ignoring the career professionals and leaders. Leaders across the Pentagon as well as the rank and file throughout the services were united in shocked opposition to these unprecedented, atrocious pardons. The military undergoes significant training in war crimes and other issues. Preventing war crimes is steeped in the culture and everyone in uniform understands the paramount concern to prevent war crimes, not reward them. Trump ignored the strength of the individual cases, the emphatic recommendations of military leaders, and the law. He willfully disrespected every single American in uniform and shirked his primary responsibility as commander-in-chief. Trump’s actions make us less safe in the world and result in all nations losing confidence in us as a valued partner and trusted ally.
On a related note, the New York Times recently published a piece on the impeachment hearings by Tom Friedman, well worth reading. He surmised that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a West Point graduate who served briefly on active duty, must have been last in his class when it came to integrity. Although there are multiple bases for such a conclusion, in this case it was because Pompeo has routinely violated a sacred rule of leadership – protect your people. At this point it seems as if President Trump has denigrated the entire diplomatic corps. Most recently, Trump and his enablers engaged in undeserved and highly inaccurate personal attacks on career public servants such as Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, who served with integrity and devotion to duty. Trump, et al, lie, smear, condemn, etc., all without an ounce of truth, simply because these career professionals dared to tell the truth. Yovanovich was the most egregious case, including Rudy Giuliani’s disgusting and false smear campaign against her on Trump’s behalf, but Trump blasted many other loyal professionals at State. Pompeo was cowardly silent while his team was grossly mistreated and mischaracterized. Pompeo was also substantiated to have blatantly lied to the American people recently on multiple occasions. Shame on you! You are a disgrace to West Point and the uniform you once wore.
President Trump and Congressional Republicans have debased the career military professionals throughout the Pentagon and intelligence community. They have openly embraced Putin’s Russia and supported Russia’s interests over our own national security. There could be no worse affront to those who serve, put their lives on the line, and sacrifice for this country than to offer support and comfort to our adversaries. The continued unconscionable subjugation of U.S. interests to support Putin’s quest for dominance threatens the fabric of our democracy and future. Thankfully we have a professional military to hold the line and protect us. They deserve far better from the President and House Republican leaders.