A week ago, retired Admiral William McRaven wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he loudly proclaimed that President Trump was a, in his words, danger to the republic.
These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”
Those words echoed with me throughout the week. It is easy to destroy an organization if you have no appreciation for what makes that organization great. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.
But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?
If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?
President Trump seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong. These are the virtues that have sustained this nation for the past 243 years. If we hope to continue to lead the world and inspire a new generation of young men and women to our cause, then we must embrace these values now more than ever.
And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.
I found the piece to be stunning in its historical illiteracy:
We were reminded that the Greatest Generation went to war because it believed that we were the good guys — that wherever there was oppression, tyranny or despotism, America would be there.
Seriously. This is utter bullsh**. The Greatest Generation went to war because it had war brought to it, first by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and then, a few days later, by a German declaration of war against us. The Greatest Generation fought to kick ass and go home. And, on the way, we turned over half of Europe the the Soviet Union and forcibly repatriated Russians who had fought against the USSR.
And I was also shocked by the hubris and the embrace of the failed, disastrous Responsibility to Protect (R2P) strategy that kicked off a bloodbath in Libya and an international humanitarian nightmare in Syria. Will fathers and mothers be more or less likely to send their sons and (under the aegis of the flag officers of McRaven’s cohort) daughters off to random wars of feel good, or would they prefer their kid only be put in harm’s way if some easily articulated national security threat is at hand?
But, because OrangeManBad, all he had to do was to write this and he was a hero. Had a flag officer written a similar critique about Obama, and I truly think Obama did an immense amount of damage to our foreign policy and to our domestic politics, he would have been excoriated as some sort of racist.
McRaven’s op ed did not take place in a vacuum. It took place in the context of a presidential contest between an incumbent president so loathed by the left that there is literally no lie they will not tell nor any fable they will not disbelieve about him, and a field of Democrats so weak that they make the Seven Dwarfs of the Democrat 1988 field look like a gathering in the Athenian Acropolis. This is from a Politico story titled ‘Can Any of These People Beat Trump?’ (Watching the Democratic debate with a serious candidate who wasn’t invited to the party and can hardly believe what’s unfolding before his eyes.)
This, Bennet fears, is how Trump might luck into a second term. Oh, sure, the president will continue to scare moderates and independents with his erratic behavior. But Bennet wonders if Democrats might scare them even more—what with talk of seizing guns, banning fracking, guaranteeing health coverage to undocumented immigrants, raising taxes across the board, imposing political litmus tests on churches, and of course, eliminating private insurance for more than 150 million people.
“Just listen to this debate,” Bennet says, motioning toward the television. “Medicare for All shouldn’t even have made it to the debate stage. I mean, we’re a free country, and that’s fine. But of the Democrats who won in 2018, in those suburban districts, all but one person won their primary running on the public option—against candidates who supported Medicare for All. I understand this has been Bernie’s thing forever. But for some of the leading candidates to sign on to his bill gave it legitimacy. It’s just…”
He drifts off, shaking his head.
“We’re going to pick a policy we can’t even unify Democrats around, much less bring in others who could support it from the outside. Which means we’ll wind up fighting a losing battle for that instead of achieving the other stuff,” Bennet adds. “That’s not catering to the people I talk to at town halls; it’s for the people on Twitter and the people on cable news at night.”
As the debate approaches the two-hour mark, Bennet goes silent, gazing emotionlessly at the television for a prolonged stretch. Finally, I ask what’s on his mind. “I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Who can beat Trump?’” he says. “Can any of these people beat Trump?”
The combination of the weakness of the field, OrangeManBad, and the Democrat propensity so swoon and genuflect to anyone if you put enough gold braid, stars, and medals on them gets you this:
Dems are struggling to find a 2020 candidate and different names are being floated.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 23, 2019
General Mattis still isn’t speaking out. By Admiral McRaven is. Powerful, important and overdue stuff here. It’s time for the real patriots to stand up. McRaven would make a strong SecDef. Or VP candidate. https://t.co/l1kjdNMv2z
— Paul Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) October 17, 2019
And it is sort of hard to believe this was not the intended effect of the op ed
— Free (@Highlander64) October 18, 2019
If the Democrats want McRaven, they are entitled to him. For all of his bloviating about values, when he had a chance to actually stand up for something, he folded like a cheap suit. He had the chance to take a stand against a corrupt admissions practice of the University of Texas System, of which he was chancellor, that allowed the lackwit offspring of Texas politicians to get guaranteed enrollment. Instead, he quashed the ongoing investigation. Oh, and he was adamantly opposed to firearms on campus and very much in favor of in-state tuition for illegals. If they think his military resume is going to carry him forward, they are sadly mistaken. Any flag officer, good or bad, is going to carry a lot of baggage and have a lot of detractors with a lot of documentation.
As a friend of mine says on email:
This admixture of loud proclamation of civic virtue with corrupt and unapologetic elite self-dealing is, of course, precisely how we got Trump.
The greater problem is that McRaven has only a tangential attachment to the society he devoted his life to defending. As much as I loved my time in the Army, I’d never claim that running any military organization is remotely as complicated as dealing with a pluralistic society where 40+% of the population will oppose you out of hand, and where no decision is ever quite final.
This is mostly wishcasting and desperation, but the Democrats seem intent upon finding their Man of Horseback to usher in a Progressive Garden of Eden. None of the current field can either mount a horse, or even pick it out of a line up. McRaven just may be their man.
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