Think about all those beefy, seemingly steroid bulked up guys in black or dark blue clothing and tactical/ military gear in Washington, DC not long ago. Then consider the full military camouflage & gear the guys in Portland are wearing. The change is a clear effort to make it look like it’s our actual active duty military that’s been deployed in Portland to attack peaceful protests – and worse that plans are in motion to repeat this in multiple American cities. Sadly, while some elements in journalism are pointing out that these are in fact federal LE types hiding their agency affiliation tens of millions of Americans will believe it really is our troops out there “kicking liberal ass – MAGA!” Keep in mind Trump wanted to use actual active duty troops in the manner we’ve been seeing in Portland and was talked down from signing the necessary orders. Perhaps the Joint Chiefs actually grew a backbone and told SecDef Esper that they’d all resign rather than carry out such orders and he was able to convince the White House the threat was real and would kill any chance of Trump’s re-election. In the end, Trump didn’t get his way r.e. using the Insurrection Act to turn our Armed Forces into his personal national police force.
Unfortunately, one of the few things Trump is good at is creating images. They might be and usually are false or at best misleading ones but he’s got a genuine talent for dominating the news with them. Since he controls the Executive Branch and has all those civilian agencies with LE capability and “leaders” of those agencies who are sycophants, and since he knows so well how effective mere imagery can be he has chosen to create an image of our military doing what he could quite get them to do last month. All he had to do was dress them up to look exactly like active duty troops going into combat and he’d get the images he wants. He already knows that many of these dudes are not only willing but eager to inflict as much cruelty as they can (particularly those from ICE) no formal “get out there and bust some heads” order is needed. These guys will happily do that and more with nothing more than some verbal hints from their superiors. We see the evidence of all this in Portland and are about to see it in other cities before we know it.
Trump is creating imagery being seeing around the country and around the world that makes it LOOK like our active duty military is deployed to conduct “law enforcement” in our streets to “gain control” of civil unrest. He’s not using our actual active duty troops, but it sure as hell looks like that’s what he’s done. We sighed in relief when the Joint Chiefs threw enough sand in the gears recently to prevent the troops from being used this way. We thought, and mistakenly so that Trump had been out maneuvered. Turns out he’s managed to out maneuver the Joint Chiefs.
And they are silent. In both word and deed.
Once again they are failing us and the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Trump is making it LOOK like he’s gotten them to literally send in the troops to quite literally beat down Americans engaging in their right to protest. I realize speaking up via them all resigning would in and of itself be a massive political statement on their part. It would be extraordinary, and unprecedented. However, these are extraordinary and unprecedented times. Our Armed Forces are one of the few institutions that haven’t been badly corrupted by this President and his minions. If you’re old enough think back to the aftermath of Vietnam and the image of the military, and how through decades of effort they built a positive image – one which Trump is willing, even eager to trash in the belief it will aid in his re-election.
Whether they want to be or not, the Joint Chiefs are caught up in a political war. They face a choice whether they want to admit it or not. They can stand MEEKLY by or they can stand up for their respective branches of the Armed Forces and the institution as a whole. I believe even though it goes against everything they’ve been taught and have incorporated into their core beliefs we are in a moment where they can’t be politically neutral. They have to pick a side – either keep quiet (say and do nothing) or stand up together and call out their Commander-In-Chief and in the process go through the fire of being charged as political pawns for the Party currently out of power. That would be the short-term reaction from conservatives and perhaps even some moderates. I firmly believe however that history (and in the near future) would not only vindicate them but cast them as heroes.
My active duty days were decades ago. Still, I have an appreciation for how difficult a position the Joint Chiefs and other top military brass that have to deal directly with an administration and Congress are so often placed in. Once upon a time almost all of these very senior people could (and although not often did) resign in protest they could do so rather quietly. In some cases it might be noticed by the media but wouldn’t dominate the news, or at least for more than a cycle or two. However, we are now in a media environment where nothing top people do, especially standing up to a President will go unnoticed. In fact, even in the age of a President who for all his incompetence is extremely savvy at dominating the news a truly high level Officer resigning will get notice, and if it’s over disagreement with a controversial policy that’s in the news their having resigned in protest will quickly become a story – and one with legs as the saying goes.
(Fairly) quietly resigning in protest isn’t really an option anymore. It’s going to be talked about in terms of political action which is exactly what they’ve been taught their entire careers is a key principle they should avoid at all costs because the preservation of the institution of the military as a whole not taking sides in political matters is of crucial importance. However, Trump’s use of federal LE dressed up exactly like troops in combat IS going to taint, if not outright erode the average citizen’s positive view of our Armed Forces. For those who want to get hyper-technical and say the storm troopers do in fact wear an agency patch my response is that it blends in well enough with their camouflage that anyone more than a couple of feet away can’t even see it’s there, much less identify the agency they come from!
No, these storm troopers (who it’s easy to imagine wear brown shirts, Sam Browne belts and knee high jackboots when not out on the streets) are being intentionally disguised as active duty troops. They could just as easily have been attired like they were in DC recently. That they are not is not only cynically despicable but outright dangerous for our country. Retired senior Officers speaking out clearly aren’t enough to stop this atrocity. The GOP members of Congress sure as hell aren’t going to stand up with one voice and join Democrats in decrying this and demanding it stop. From where I sit there’s only one group of people who can do something.
It’s time for the Joint Chiefs to write out a letter stating that they opposed deploying active duty troops to our streets last month, and that they believe dressing up federal LE like active duty combat troops is an attempt to make it look like they (the Joint Chiefs) have in fact approved of use of their troops in an un-Constitutional manner. And that, if those federal LE aren’t re-attired to make it clear they aren’t part of our Armed Forces and within 24 hours they resign and will release their joint resignation letter.
One last point. Acting DHS head Chad Wolf says he is offended at his people being called stuff like storm troopers. My reply is “Don’t dress them up like storm troopers, and don’t encourage them to act like storm troopers and no one will call them names like that!”