Mark Alexander / March 4, 2016

Trump to Military: You Will Obey Me

“If I say, ‘Do it,’ they’re going to do it.” Update — actually, never mind, he says.

By far the most troubling response of last night’s debate was Donald Trump’s reply to moderator Bret Baier when asked about issuing illegal orders to military personnel: “So what would you do, as commander in chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?”

Trump responded, “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me. … If I say, ‘Do it,’ they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about. … When I say they’ll do as I tell them, they’ll do as I tell them. And that’s very — it’s very simple. It’s very simple.”

Well, no, it’s not. But the background of this exchange is simple: Trump has declared more than once that he will order our military to intentionally target of civilians – a war crimes.

Active-duty military personnel, and those of us who have family members serving our nation in uniform, take this presidential contest more seriously than most. What Trump fails to understand is that our military personnel are obligated, first and foremost, to uphold their oath “to Support and Defend” our Constitution, not their commander in chief. Our frontline fighters are not bar maids at a Trump casino. Trump confuses authoritarian management of his employees with totalitarian control of our military forces – very dangerous confusion.

An Iraq veteran, National Review’s David French, lamented, “[W]ords cannot express the contempt I felt for Trump’s insistence that the military would follow his unlawful orders to murder women and children. There are men who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice rather than kill the innocent, yet he pretends our warriors would simply salute and follow orders when told to kill women and children for the sole purpose of punishing terrorists. Trump is sadly mistaken. If he won the White House and tried to implement his ‘policy,’ the military would refuse to comply — because it has honor, because it respects the law, and because it knows the lessons of history. No order can justify an atrocity.”

That view is consistent with every military office and enlisted person I know.

Given that Trump frequently plays the “Veterans Card” for political points, this certainly demonstrates the extent of his disconnect with vets and active military personnel.

> Update: Trump has now attempted to alter his position – as he has perpetually done with just about every issue. Reading from a script one of his writers prepared, Trump claims he understands “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law.” Until, of course, he does….

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