US President Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, General Jim Mattis, is the new hero of the Democrats, after he denounced Trump as a threat to the Constitution and compared him to the Nazis.
The US military instructed troops landing in Normandy that the Nazis sought to destroy America with the slogan “Divide and Conquer,” which was to be met with “In Union there is Strength,” Mattis wrote in a diatribe published by the Atlantic on Wednesday, adding that Trump is the first president in his lifetime “who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”
Denouncing Trump’s “abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” – presumably referring to Monday’s clearing of the demonstrators before the president visited the church damaged in the riots the evening before – Mattis argued that the military violated the constitutional rights of Americans to “provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”
Mattis insisted that the protests across America are “defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values” and that Americans “must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers.”
It also drew derision from Trump sympathizers, who brought up the fact that he served Trump as defense secretary for two of the “three years without mature leadership” he writes of now, and resigned only because Trump ordered a withdrawal from Syria.
“You see, it’s only acceptable to use [the] military for unending Middle East wars or state-sponsored coups,” wrote journalist Amber Athey.
Even leftist journalists and activists pointed out that Mattis – nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ for his role in the destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah – hardly had a moral leg to stand on in this instance.
Retired Marine bomb tech Johnny Joey Jones, who served under Mattis, offered a more complex take on the general’s feud with Trump, noting that he admired both men for different reasons.
Mattis “ain’t listening” to criticism, Jones warned Trump supporters, because he has “a set of ideals and he’s adhering to them… to a fault.”
“Know what YOU believe and WHY, and don’t let any one person overshadow it or represent it for you. After all, they’re just people,” he said.
Mattis’ denunciation of Trump comes a day after retired US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George W. Bush and Barack Obama – also took to the pages of the Atlantic to object to involving the military in the riots.
“I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops,” Mullen wrote. He also cited the Lafayette Square photo-op as what pushed him over the edge.
The mainstream media had reported that police and the guard used tear gas against entirely peaceful demonstrators so Trump could walk to St. John’s Church for a photo opportunity. The US Park Police and the White House said that the security line was attacked with brick and frozen water bottles, and used pepper pellets – not gas – to move the demonstrators a block away, as per earlier instructions from Attorney General William Barr.
Around 1,600 active duty troops were summoned to the capital on Monday and placed on high alert, but have not been deployed to the streets. Nor has Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, though his spokeswoman said on Wednesday he wanted to keep it as an option if unrest flares up again.
Tuesday’s demonstrations in Washington, DC were entirely peaceful, unlike in other cities – such as New York – where governors decided not to deploy the National Guard to help the police.