Donald Trump is a war-crimes enthusiast.
This is not an exaggeration, a mischaracterization, or a misrepresentation. As a candidate, the president regaled his audiences with vivid tales of brutality, some apocryphal, and vowed to imitate them.
On the campaign trail, Trump frequently invoked a false story about General John Pershing crushing a Muslim insurgency in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, declaring, “There was no more radical Islamic terror for 35 years!” He vowed to impose torture techniques “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Trump declared that he would “take out the families” of terrorist suspects, assuring skeptics that the military would not refuse his commands, even though service members have a duty to refuse orders that are manifestly illegal. “If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”
Although Trump was talked out of authorizing torture by his advisers, the president’s ardor for violations of the laws of war has manifested itself in his decisions to intervene in war-crimes cases on behalf of the defendants. In four separate cases since the beginning of his presidency, and for the first time in the history of modern warfare, an American president has aided service members accused or convicted of war crimes, against the advice of his own military leadership. [Continue reading…]