Joint Chiefs Chairman To Commanders: It’s Tempting, But Stay Out Of Politics
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford has to warn senior military leaders to avoid weighing in on political matters.
The military is supposed to stay out of politics to preserve the credibility of its advice given to the White House, but this election cycle in particular has frayed the edges of this standard. Comments from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump regarding torture, waterboarding and collective punishment have stirred heated debate within the ranks and especially among senior officials, CNN reports.
Unavoidably, top generals have been hounded for their take on these political matters while at conferences and in Congress, specifically in response to Trump’s take on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and collective punishment.
Capt. Gregory Hicks, spokesman for Dunford, told CNN the chairman “sees a trend line, he wants to address it.” Apparently some generals have inadvertently answered questions, unaware they were responding to candidate positions.
“Our ethos of an apolitical nature is the foundation of the trust the civilian leadership has in the unfettered and unfiltered advice and counsel of the military,” Hicks added.
Trump has incensed military leaders for having advocated what amounts to a violation of the Geneva Convention, namely killing the families of terrorists. During that controversy, Trump insisted the troops would follow his command because he displays real leadership. Trump later backed down somewhat and told The Wall Street Journal he would not order troops to directly contravene international agreements. Before Trump renegotiated his stance on torture, retired Gen. Michael Hayden rebuked him and said the military simply will refuse to obey Trump if he orders them to disobey the law.
“I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities,” Trump said.
GOP presidential candidate Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], with his aggressive proposal to carpet bomb Islamic State, has generated considerable discussion.
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