It is every American’s right to criticize our leadership. That is what separates our country from others. The Bill of Rights and the First Amendment codify individual rights that make us the beacon for the world. Certain individuals have a higher responsibility to protect the First Amendment and, when using it, not to act like a second-rate politician. That is what Admiral William McRaven did in a New York Times recent column.
Let’s get past the obligatory commentary that we are all thankful for the service and sacrifice of Admiral McRaven on behalf of our country. That does not justify his irresponsible commentary.
The Admiral’s column Our Republic is Under Attack from the President begins with the Admiral wrapping himself in the American flag. If anyone deserves to do this he certainly does. He has earned it.
The transition started with a statement that feelings of despair were widespread throughout the troops with which he interacted. By innuendo he stated they were in despair akin to his feelings without any evidence. The only example he cited was a retired four-star general who apparently told him in confidence, shook him and shouted “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”
If this general was so dismayed with our current president, why was he not writing a companion column to Admiral McRaven’s? The General had no risk and is currently a private citizen. Yet, he was conveniently there to be used by the Admiral as validation. All of this is arguably a technique to provide credibility to the Admiral’s personal views. His supposed validation exists for the purpose of giving the reader license to not only accept the Admiral’s point of view, but to comfort the reader that they are making the appropriate decision to question the righteousness of President Trump.
McRaven then lurches into an ad hominem attack on the president by stating “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.” This broadside could be taken out of columns written weekly in the New York Times or the Washington Post. You could easily find the same line in writings by avowed haters of Mr. Trump like Max Boot or Lawrence Tribe or Eugene Robinson.
My question to the Admiral is if you were teaching a class at Annapolis and a midshipman made that statement in a term paper, would you accept that or fail the student? Where are your facts? Where are your examples? For example, Trump’s questioning of the press has resulted in exactly what? A short-term suspension of CNN’s Jim Acosta from the White House while CNN had numerous other reporters still with WH access. That is nothing like what the President you served under, Obama. did to people like James Rosen or Sharyl Attkisson. We did not see you complaining or resigning in virtuous indignation.
If a Midshipman wrote something like that that person should be failed for not offering substantiation. Why then did you use this technique? It is because your audience is open to such attacks on President Trump and you did not think you needed any further evidence. Did you ever think that because you achieved your position and level of respect you needed to be more careful than the any random knee-jerk, anti-Trump columnist?
Making comments like that will have members of the press swoon over you like James Hohmann of the Washington Post did. Did it ever occur to you that you are aligning yourself with the same element who was delighted at the gutting of the military during the Obama years? Or since you were one of the few who were willing to participate in Obama’s re-culturation of the military, maybe you are already aligned with those people?
Then we find out what your real problem with Trump is when your write “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?”
You, Admiral, are a globalist who believes the American military should intervene in virtually any dysfunctional state to spread the gospel of Americans values. I too would love that to happen. I want every person on earth to have the freedom we have and I want every despot that rules over these poor people to be obliterated. I also understand that is an unrealistic and unobtainable goal.
I noticed you did not mention Hong Kong. That is a place where seven million are fighting to have our same life experience of free speech and our Bill of Rights. I missed you pointing the finger at the Communists who run China for not allowing the people of Hong Kong self-rule.
I see you joined the military right after we left the people of South Vietnam hanging and under the thumb of murdering megalomaniacs. Why was it alright then, but not now?
You are asking for a change in the oval office because you want to go back to when we randomly enter into every conflict without regard for the consequences like what happened in Libya. That regime change worked really well as did the one in Iraq. You were in charge when Obama withdrew from Iraq. Why did you not quit in protest? We had the country under control and gave it up to our enemies. You were around when we blew the situation in Libya. Why didn’t we save those people? Where was your leadership then?
What should we do in Syria? Do you believe we should have stepped in and stopped Assad from murdering hundreds of thousands and displacing millions? Did not hear you then, but we hear you now. It is just not clear what you want to accomplish other than to undermine President Trump.
Admiral, you have provided great service to our country. Better than I will have ever done. But that does not give you license to attack our president for trying to avoid getting our country into another unresolvable conflict. Admiral, if you can’t offer constructive criticism that does not make you look like a hypocrite, then you might consider keeping it to yourself.