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The Generals Speak

The Generals Speak

In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved several federal holidays to Mondays. During debate on the bill, it was proposed that Washington's Birthday be renamed Presidents' Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington (February 22) and Lincoln (February 12);

After the bill went into effect in 1971, Presidents' Day became the commonly accepted name, partly due to retailers' use of President's Day sales and the proximity to Lincoln's birthday. Thus, on the third Monday of February, we celebrate.

George Washington was highlighted in a recent column "The Man who would NOT be King". "To George Washington the key ingredient [for exercising power] was moral character which gave to his decision-making a quality of careful, good judgement and to his authority a generosity of spirit."

Our current occupant of the White House has neither moral character, good judgement nor generosity of spirit.

This commander-in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence from Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

"In 20 years of writing about military history, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a [Commander-in-chief] president", says Mark Bowden in an exhaustive researched story in the Atlantic.

Officers epitomize the chain of command and respect commanders, but when the Generals speak:

Retired Adm. William H. McCraven, special operations commander who took out Osama bin Laden, captured Saddam Hussein, and rescued Capt. Phillips, spoke at MSU last week for the Presidential lecture series. McCraven has spoken out:

  • In his remarks at Lovett Auditorium last week," Saddam Hussein became a pathetic, old man when all of his dictatorial trappings went away".
  • In an open letter in the Washington Post, stated," A good leader embodies the best qualities of the organization, sets the example for others to follow, puts the welfare of others before himself or herself...through your [Trump] actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and, worst of all divided us as a nation."
  • "If you [Trump] think that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken."
  • By saying [Trump] that 'the news media is the enemy of the people', "this sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime".
  • His "Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World", is worth a read.

Retired Marine General James Mattis:

  • He immediately resigned as Secretary of Defense after Trump made the decision to pull out US troops from Syria and abandoning the Kurds, our staunch ally in the region
  • Reluctant to criticize a sitting president, but Gen. Mattis did quip at the Al Smith dinner, "I'm honored to be called overrated by Donald Trump...he called Meryl Streep overrated...I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals".

Retired Army General John Allen:

  • After Trump's unilateral decision to pull US troops out of Syria and give Turkey the greenlight to go after the Kurds was the final straw, Gen. Allen, former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, said, "This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment to autocrats."

Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal:

  • McChrystal, predecessor of Adm. McCraven as commander of Joint Special Operations, calls Trump "immoral".

Retired Army General Joseph Votel:

  • Votel, former commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), "abandonment of Syria threatens to undo years of fighting ISIS and will severely damage our credibility and reliability in any future fight in which we need strong allies."

One current general said of the president, according to Mark Bowden of the Atlantic, "He doesn't understand the warrior ethos, which makes war less inhumane, engenders self-respect, trust, and self-sacrifice...governs a soldier's behavior."

The straw that brought these criticisms forth may have been Trump's pardon of serious criminal behavior of our own soldiers-for example the Gallagher case. Trump also has intervened in other cases in the military court's proceedings.

Col. Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient, concludes, "When warriors of the caliber of McCraven, Mattis, Allen, McChrystal, and Votel publicly call out Trump, we can conclude that our national security decision-making is truly dysfunctional and that the nation is dangerously at risk".

The Generals have spoken!


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