Friday, September 18, 2020
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

National anger over Trump’s misuse of American troops

Trump's misuse of American military raises serious questions about his competence as commander-in-chief or his understanding of the limitations the law and Constitution puts on a president to assure equal protection to Americans.
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Donald Trump: The “terror within” America?

Seems like Trump is piling on…himself, which is long overdue.

And those who watch his antics, misdeeds, and corrupt actions see it as what he has long deserved.

Jennifer Rubin wonders how America, as it once was, would have done about the human rights abuses infected by Trump on Americans abusing the rights of other Americans.

Would America, back when it was a great nation, have ignored such abuses when they occurred in other countries.

She writes:

We can imagine what a normal U.S. administration would say about an administration that acted as President Trump has done. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence to suppress peaceful demonstrators exercising their rights of free speech and assembly in protesting the egregious abuse of law enforcement in the killing of George Floyd. The U.S. administration must respect the universal rights of free expression and respect the rights of its people to be free from police brutality. The use of tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful demonstrators was a cowardly act of a government afraid of its people.

The United States might have called in the offending government’s ambassador for a dressing down and either canceled or downgraded upcoming meetings or exchanges. If the human rights offenses were serious enough, it might have used the Magnitsky Act to sanction individuals responsible for gross violation of human rights. (That would allow freezing of human rights abusers’ foreign bank accounts and properties – one way of cutting off some of Trump’s unconstitutional foreign emoluments!)

Sadly, rather than a beacon of democracy and defender of universal human rights, the United States under Trump has become a miscreant deserving of rebuke and even sanction. And should we feel the need to rebuke a strongman in another country (e.g., Turkey, China, Russia, Hungary) one can only imagine the guffaws that would ensue. This is how a country loses its moral standing and influence in the world. This is how it gains the reputation of being a feckless hypocrite.

If former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is elected, he will have his work cut out for him to reestablish our credibility around the world. He can start with relieving the command of military officials who participated in abuse of Americans’ civil liberties, passing legislation curtailing use the Insurrection Act, broadening the right of Americans to seek redress against federal officials who violate their constitutional claims (Bivens claims) and limiting the immunity that officials enjoy in many circumstances. These — plus comprehensive criminal justice reform — will be essential, not merely to address the abuses once more laid bare, but also to reestablish America’s international reputation.

Damn right. That’s what America once was and should become again.

Notes Nicholas Kristof:

The United States military is, according to Gallup polling, the most trusted institution in the country. But Trump’s call to dispatch armed forces to crush protests so that he can look tough betrays the military’s nonpartisan tradition and should trigger all our alarm bells.

It was exactly 31 years ago that I covered the Chinese military’s assault on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. There was outrage worldwide, with virtually the only praise in the West coming from … Donald Trump.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it,” Trump told Playboy Magazine months later. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”

No, United States troops won’t massacre protesters, as Chinese troops did, but Trump’s deployment of troops for political purposes would betray our traditions, damage the credibility of the armed forces and exacerbate tensions across the country.

We’re hearing more and more about tension in the Pentagon as our military leaders worry about whether they should be following Trump’s immoral and illegal orders or standing up to do the right thing.

Writes Greg Sargent in a discussion about the strong words of disgust of Trump expressed by former Defense Secrtary of Defense Jim Mattis:

Mattis pointed out that the vast majority of protesters are simply demanding that we “live up to our values as people and our values as a nation,” which include “equal justice before the law.” He ripped into the clearing out of protesters as an “abuse of executive authority.”

Mattis also placed his criticism of that abuse in the larger context of Trump’s effort to “militarize our response to protests.” Mattis noted that this “erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect.”

Importantly, this casts Trump’s militarization of the response as constituting a serious threat to “public order,” as Mattis put it, because it amounts to ordering troops “to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

This appears to be a widespread worry inside the Pentagon. Whether driven by mere appearances or something more noble, there is among Pentagon officials since Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to send troops into U.S. cities to quell unrest.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says outright that the use of troops against civil disorder is unnecessary and this has left him on thin ice with Trump.

Adds Sargent:

Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark A. Milley released a remarkable message reminding everyone in the military to remain “committed to our national values and principles embedded in the Constitution,” which include “the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

What’s important about this message is its subtext — that Trump has created an imperative that members of the military be reminded to remain faithful to our higher ideals.

Trump, in his crazed fantasy that he is America’s dictator, he ignores the two higher ideals that (pun intended) trump his deranged mind.

They are also known as the Law and the Constitution of the United States.

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