President Donald Trump finally got the war he wanted. It isn’t in Afghanistan, or Iraq, Syria, or North Korea. It’s right here in Washington, D.C., where on Monday the president claimed moral and Constitutional authority and ordered federal law enforcement and the U.S. military to turn against Americans who opposed him.
After warning over the weekend that out-of-line rabble-rousers across the street from the White House would face “vicious dogs,” Trump instead sicced police, troops, and U.S. Army helicopters, on protestors — violent and nonviolent — whom he claims, without evidence, are led by the militant left-wing Antifa group of Americans. It’s the culmination of three years of Trump praising militant, far-right, all-white, AR-15-brandishing protestors from Charlottesville to Lansing, while amplifying conspiracy theories about his enemies — including that the media, Democrats, left-wing extremists, and pretty much anyone without a MAGA hat on at a Trump rally was out to ruin him and the United States. He has sought to turn Americans against each other from his inaugural speech, with tweet after tweet, purposefully criticizing the media to undermine Americans’ trust in facts. He’s played DC’s traditional partisan politics like a master fiddler.
Trump has also tried to draw in the military and national security services. In his first month in office, he flew to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command and bashed the media to American service members. He bashed his enemies in front of the CIA’s hallowed memorial stars. He bashed his political opponents in a partisan speech inside the Pentagon. He’s used troops as backdrops for political rallies. He took over Independence Day, ordering service members to participate in a celebration about himself as much as America. He ordered the military into the heart of his most controversial projects like building the southern border wall. And he changed the very makeup of the U.S. armed forces, banning foreign and transgender soldiers.
For three years, half a dozen defense secretaries and Joint Chiefs chairmen tried, each in his own way, to keep the military out of Trump’s politics while complying dutifully with the commander in chief. But on Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper walked right into it. First, Esper was caught on tape during the president’s phone call with governors, likening the protests to a “battlespace.” Trump berated the governors, told them to use the National Guard against protestors, and warned that if the state leaders resisted him, he would send in military force. He said he put Milley in charge of coordinating the nationwide response.
“The “battle space” of America??? Not what America needs to hear…ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure…ie a Civil War…” tweeted Tony Thomas, who led U.S. Special Operations Command, and does not often comment on political moments. [Continue reading…]