After confronting the intelligence agencies and failing to diplomatic service, Trump has strained his relationship with another of the country’s major institutions: the Armed Forces
One of the great claims of populism is its aversion to elites: a bureaucratic caste that, according to its imaginary, remains entrenched in its privileges and its offices with air conditioning, far from the reality that they manipulate with abstract rules. After confronting the intelligence agencies and not having any diplomatic service, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has strained his relationship with another of the country’s great institutions: the Armed Forces.
The Commander in Chief has intervened in three military cases involved in war crimes. Two, one of them sentenced to 19 years in prison, has forgiven them, and a third has restored the rank, invalidating a decision of the military court and questioning the criteria of the hierarchy. When Trump expressed a desire to act, the Department of Defense asked him to refrain and leave things in the hands of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
But Trump went ahead, and since then he has raised his decisions at rallies, to the point of inviting the two pardoned criminals to the stage. Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Major Matthew Golsteyn shared the rostrum with Trump during a collection gala for the Republican Party in Florida.
“War criminals are now, officially, political pawns of the president. It has not taken anything, ”said Bishop Garrison, veteran and member of Human Rights First. Other retired and in-service military have considered the president’s actions as an interference in the army’s code of honour. The case that has generated more friction with the Pentagon, according to an investigation by ‘The New York Times ‘, is that of the elite soldier Edward Gallagher.
War criminals are now officially political props for the president. It took no time at all: Trump attends state Republican dinner in Aventura, Florida | Miami Herald https://t.co/ZLzYXphdj1
— Bishop Garrison (@BishopGarrison) December 8, 2019
The devil destined in hell
With the nickname “Blade,” or, directly, “The Devil,” this chief noncommissioned officer of the ‘Navy Seal’ asked his superiors to go to the worst holes in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We simply want to kill as many people as possible,” he said by message to a commander, before a mission. His twenty years of service, much of them on the battlefield earned him several decorations, but also a trail of complaints and suspicions for his alleged cruelty and bloodlust.
In 2018, Gallagher was accused of murdering a defenceless prisoner of war; an ISIS fighter, captured in Mosul, who would have been stabbed in the neck. Two of the subordinates present at the scene testified against him. “ Let nobody touch it. It’s mine! ”, The noncommissioned officer would have said. Then he took a picture with the body, grabbing it by the hair, and sent it to a friend from California.
Gallagher’s case jumped into the media and several conservative voices expressed support for the combatant. “From the beginning, these punctual prosecutors have not given the benefit of the doubt to those who pull the trigger,” Pete Hegseth, a war veteran and activist, told Fox News about war crimes trials. “They are not cases of people who go to the villages with the intention of killing innocent people. These are decisions of seconds.”
The comments attracted the attention of one of the viewers and Gallagher came out with a powerful friend. President Donald Trump expressed his support and twice called the Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, to demand that he release Gallagher from pretrial detention. Since Spencer resisted, Trump gave the order, and prepared to forgive the defendant on Veterans Day.
Interference in the chain of command
In the end, Gallagher was only convicted of taking the photo with the body and was degraded. Immediately after Donald Trump praised him on Twitter and used his presidential power to restore his gallons. He also withdrew the honours granted to those who judged the Navy Seal. The secretary of the Navy, who had resisted Trump’s pressures, was fired.
“He is interfering in the chain of command, which is trying to control his own ranks,” said Peter Feaver, professor and former military planning adviser to President George W. Bush to ‘The New York Times.’ The Armed Forces “are trying to clear their actions and in the middle of the process the president appears, and without relying on the information of his own commanders, but of news reports that are clearly deceiving the system.”
Trump “doesn’t seem to have much respect for professional experience, “Deborah Pearlstein of the Cardozo School of Law told Business Insider.” His instincts are anathema to the instincts of the modern American army .”
The history of Donald Trump with the military establishment began in 1968, when the then young university athlete, 22 years old and 1.88 meters tall, was released for the fifth time from military service for medical reasons: he had “bone spurs” or osteophytes The military service would have sent him to Vietnam. Almost four decades later, in 2017, the New Yorker inaugurated his Government with the promise of increasing the military budget historic levels and a cabinet plagued with uniforms, with reputed generals James Mattis, HR McMaster and John Kelly in key positions.
“It seems that he was attracted to the direct, male and dominant profile that many civilians associate with generals,” retired Admiral James Stavridis writes in Time Magazine. “He could have thought that by associating with them, he improved his own dominant male credentials.” The military budget exceeded 700,000 million dollars. But the generals have long since left.
According to Stavridis, there was a structural incompatibility between the president’s way of operation and that of the commanders. “The military presents his wisdom by detailing it in a traditional scheme of information: assumptions, existing conditions, courses of action, centres of gravity, and, in the end, the last three suggested options to the decision maker. The president prefers his instinct . ”
The generals were seen as the last retaining wall of the presidential impetus. The methodical and rational voice of consciousness. Donald Trump, however, proved to be indomitable and many of his decisions, from the withdrawal of Syria and the abandonment of Kurdish allies to forgiveness of condemned war criminals, went against the suggestions of their commanders.
General James Mattis , Secretary of Defense until last January, was the last to make the backpack. Months later, during a gala dinner in New York, Mattis responded to the criticism of the president, who had called him “the most overrated general in the world.” “I won my spurs on the battlefield,” Mattis said. “Donald Trump won his spurs [of bone] in a doctor’s letter .”