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Endless War Comes Home

The president has shown he has no respect for the law or the Constitution, and last night was no different.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley hold a joint press conference at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)

The president ordered an attack on protesters to clear the way for a photo op last night, and he also threatened to deploy the military on American soil:

When Trump had returned safely to the White House less than an hour later, the verdict seemed clear: The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop.

In the process, protesters had been tear gassed and attacked, and Trump had taken a raging conflagration and doused it with accelerant.

“We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act,” said Brendan Buck, a longtime former Hill aide who is now a Republican operative. “The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.

The president has shown on many occasions that he has no respect for the law or the Constitution, and last night was no different. Trump’s stunt was an affront to constitutional government and the rule of law, and it brings disgrace on everyone that was involved. That is particularly true of the senior military officers that took part in the charade. It was a disgusting display. Even some of Trump’s own officials were apparently disgusted by it:

Trump’s threat to deploy the military here is an excessive and dangerous one. Mark Perry reports on the reaction from military officers to the president’s threat:

If senior military leaders go along with what the president is threatening to do, it will be enormously damaging for the military as an institution.

Earlier in the day yesterday, audio has leaked in which the Secretary of Defense referred to U.S. cities as the “battlespace.” Separately, Sen. Tom Cotton was making vile remarks about using the military to give “no quarter” to looters. This is the language of militarism. It is a consequence of decades of endless war and the government’s tendency to rely on militarized options as their answer for every problem. Endless war has had a deeply corrosive effect on this country’s political system: presidential overreach, the normalization of illegal uses of force, a lack of legal accountability for crimes committed in the wars, and a lack of political accountability for the leaders that continue to wage pointless and illegal wars. Now we see new abuses committed and encouraged by a lawless president, but this time it is Americans that are on the receiving end. Trump hasn’t ended any of the foreign wars he inherited, and now it seems that he will use the military in an llegal mission here at home.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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