The Trump Wars

Anti-War. Pro War Criminal.

November 26, 2019
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I think now would be a good time to remind everyone that in March of 2016, candidate Donald Trump told America that, as president, our soldiers would follow his orders, even if they were unlawful.

It was at a Republican debate in Detroit. The discussion was about waterboarding terrorist detainees and targeting the families of terrorists. Trump expressed support for both policies. Confronted with the fact that both of those actions would be illegal orders, which American soldiers would be—by oath—bound not to carry out, this is what Trump said:

“They won’t refuse. They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me. I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

So they have.

Just this past week President Trump directly interfered with the military justice system because someone on Fox & Friends said that he should ignore the judgment of the admirals, the secretary of the Navy, and his own secretary of Defense.

And when it comes to picking sides, if we’ve learned anything about Donald Trump it’s that if you ask him to choose between what he hears from his own government and what he hears from Fox News, he’s going to pick Fox.

Every. Single. Time.

There is something telling about the fact that Donald Trump resists nearly every impulse to use American military power to further the country’s objectives in the world around us.

He is—objectively—the most non-interventions Republican party leader since Taft.

He is—again, objectively—anti-war. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing.

But at the same time he is—I’m sorry to keep saying this, but again, objectively—also pro war criminal.

Anti-war. Pro war criminal.

I’m not sure what that combination means. But it means something. And it’s probably not good.

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is executive editor of The Bulwark.