Joint Chiefs chairman rightly regrets action
Regardless of how you lean politically, what Army Gen. Mark Milley did recently was reassuring.
President Donald Trump has been criticized by some — and, it needs to be noted, praised by others — for something he did after a night of civil unrest near the White House. You will have heard about his trip to a church that had been damaged by fire.
Protesters in a park near the White House had been cleared away by police prior to the president’s jaunt. Then he and others proceeded to the church. Walking with him, wearing military fatigues, was Milley.
Afterward, Milley second-guessed his action. “I should not have been there,” he said. Walking with Trump and wearing the type of uniform often seen by troops in combat “created a perception of the military involved in omestic politics,” the general added.
Milley is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That makes him the nation’s top military leader. He advises the president regularly.
But Milley seems sensitive to the fact that neither he nor anyone else in the military serves any president, though the person holding that office is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Instead, those in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard (and now the Space Force) serve the Constitution and the American people. They take a solemn oath to that effect.
Those living in many countries understand that their fates are tied to how military leaders feel about civic affairs. Episodes in which heads of state have been removed in military coups have been common and will be so in the future.
It is vital, then, that we Americans feel secure from fear of military control, except in extraordinary circumstances.