Our military has leaned strongly Republican. By law, active military are constrained from political action. Most retired officers are highly politically aware but strive to be non-partisan, and are often not aligned with either party.
The fact that so many top-ranked former Generals and Admirals have gone on record to speak out against Donald Trump underscores the gravity of the threat he represents to our democracy and, ultimately, what it means to be American. Below are warnings from a number of these retired, highly respected military commanders.
Admiral William McRaven
Former Commander of U. S. Special Operations Command
“As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation…. Trump is actively working to undermine every major institution in this country.”
Oct 17 2019: We “have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press…. seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen….seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield…. one retired four-star general… shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’… 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?”“As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.”Aug 16 2020: “Today, as we struggle with social upheaval, soaring debt, record unemployment, a runaway pandemic, and rising threats from China and Russia, President Trump is actively working to undermine every major institution in this country. He has planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of many Americans that our institutions aren’t functioning properly. And, if the president doesn’t trust the intelligence community, law enforcement, the press, the military, the Supreme Court, the medical professionals, election officials and the postal workers, then why should we? And if Americans stop believing in the system of institutions, then what is left but chaos and who can bring order out of chaos: only Trump. It is the theme of every autocrat who ever seized power or tried to hold onto it…. Our institutions are the foundation of a functioning democracy. While they are not perfect, they are still the strongest bulwark against overzealous authority figures. The institutions give the people a voice; a voice in the information we receive, a voice in the laws we pass, a voice in the wars we fight, the money we spend and the justice we uphold. And a voice in the people we elect.
Retired U. S. Marine Corps General / Secretary of Defense for President Trump
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who…tries to divide us.”
“The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer’. Our American answer [was] In ‘Union there is Strength’”
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort…. The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer’. Our American answer [was] In ‘Union there is Strength’…. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.”
Former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan
“June 1, 2020. Remember the date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment”
“I never believed that the Constitution was under threat until recently…. The slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020. Remember the date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment…. There is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a president to wield federal troops in a state or municipality over the objections of the respective governor.”
Retired Air Force four-star general, Former Director of the National Security Agency, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
“It is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.”
“We are profoundly concerned about the course of our nation under the leadership of Donald Trump. Through his actions and his rhetoric, Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the character and competence to lead this nation and has engaged in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as President.In contrast, we believe Joe Biden has the character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation. We believe he will restore the dignity of the presidency, bring Americans together, reassert America’s role as a global leader, and inspire our nation to live up to its ideals. While some of us hold policy positions that differ from those of Joe Biden and his party, the time to debate those policy differences will come later. For now, it is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.”(From a letter signed by 73 former national security officials who served President Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43, Trump, or as Republican Members of Congress)
Retired U.S. Army General, awarded 3 Purple Heart Medals for wounds received in combat, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 2 Silver Stars for valor.
“We are dealing with a lawless President who has no allegiance to our Constitution or values. We have never encountered such a terrible man in the Presidency.”
“We are dealing with a lawless President who has no allegiance to our Constitution or values. Trump is igniting a fire of violence. He is sowing division.”“Trump is involved in massive and constant abuse of power. His every instinct is extortionist. How can Republican Senators abide by his thuggish behavior. We have never encountered such a terrible man in the Presidency.” Aug 19
Retired U.S. Marine Corps general who served as President Trump’s Chief of Staff
“No president ever is a dictator or a king.”
“I think an awful big concern is that the partisanship has gotten out of hand. The tribal thing has gotten out of hand. We don’t look at each other as fellow Americans … we look at each other as opponents. We don’t talk to each other. We yell at each other…. The separation of powers is very, very, very important. No president ever is a dictator or a king.”“I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”
Retired U. S. Navy admiral / Former supreme allied commander of NATO
“This is really a collision between order and rule of law and increasing anarchy…. you start to feel that needle moving from The Federalist Papers toward the island in the Lord of the Flies.”
“This is really a collision between order and rule of law and increasing anarchy, which we see evidenced with this piece that you just mentioned, but also, Mika, you know, David Ignatius said a moment ago the Attorney General’s special position.”“I’ll give you two others, Secretary of Defense and the head of the CIA. Those three positions are so central to these institutions, and when we have to worry about whether an inspector general is going to be overridden in one of those three positions, you start to feel that needle moving from The Federalist Papers toward the island in the Lord of the Flies.”
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State
“We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it… This is not the way the system is supposed to work.”
“We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it…. The first thing that troubled me is the whole birthers movement…. And then I was deeply troubled by the way in which he was going around insulting everybody, insulting Gold Star mothers, insulting John McCain, insulting immigrants…. that is dangerous for our democracy. It is dangerous for our country….““This is not the way the system is supposed to work…. the President…needs to understand the Constitution, understand the restraints on him and his authority, and talk openly with his military authorities about what is the right thing to do, and not fire them when he doesn’t get the answer he likes.”
Former Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) / also served as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan
“I don’t think [Trump] tells the truth… I think he is, [immoral].”
“I don’t think [Trump] tells the truth… I think he is, [immoral]… Am I really willing to throw away or ignore some of the things that people do that are — are pretty unacceptable normally just because they accomplish certain other things that we might like?… If we want to be governed by someone we wouldn’t do a business deal with because their — their background is so shady, if we’re willing to do that, then that’s in conflict with who I think we are. And so I think it’s necessary at those times to take a stand.”
Retired U. S. Navy Admiral / Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
President Trump “gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife.”
“[Trump] laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.”
Four-star U.S. Army General / Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
Donald Trump is “concerned with self-preservation and little else.”
“According to The New York Times, Russian operatives offered bounties to the Taliban and organized criminals to kill American troops…. Trump’s response to bounty, even if not briefed, was weak… [his] first reaction was not, ‘How can I protect the troops?’ It was, ‘How can I protect myself?’”“As is so often the case with President Trump, the welfare of the nation and of our troops did not come up. This is not what leadership looks like. These are not the actions of someone who serves — or even cares about — the troops to whom he has a duty. These are the actions of a man concerned with self-preservation and little else.”
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