Once Donald Trump began his presidency and carried forth with many of his initial tweets and insults, it was suggested that if the military brass begin to accept his bravado America could be doomed. As happened in numerous other countries even in the 20th Century, an authoritarian leader backed by the military creates enormous power and grave dangers. There was a genuine fear that military officers, current soldiers, former military service personnel, and law enforcement would rally around a strong, personality. The future of democracy was seriously going to be challenged.
What has happened is that President Trump’s own Secretary of Defense James Mattis—a former Marine Corp General–is recognized by many as the single most important official serving the President. It is Mattis who slams on the brakes when Trump attempts to consider dangerous military options. Today it became apparent that there are other very strong reasoned voices from within the ranks of the military who are prepared to speak out and challenge the President as well.
In response to President Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven wrote to the President and requested that his security clearance also be revoked. McRaven oversaw the Navy SEAL raid to capture bin-Laden in 2011 and his last command in the Navy had been commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command. In his letter to the President, McRaven indicated he wished to stand with Brennan, a man whom he viewed as possessing the highest integrity, honesty, and character he had ever met. The letter itself went on to attack the President’s qualifications to serve as America’s leaders based on Trump’s performance to date.
The importance of the letter, however, may be suggesting something even more important about the U.S. military. Rather than fearing that the military brass would be won over by Trump’s bravado, arrogance, and bullying, at least some of these high-ranking officials were rejecting his leadership. It is also very poignant that Republican stateman and politicians appear to be unable to demonstrate anything approaching McRaven’s outspoken challenge to the President. The exception only has been another former American military hero, Senator John McCain.