Donald Trump showed a deep misunderstanding of the role of Commander in Chief at the debates this week, drawing the ire of many in the military. He declared that torture should and would be used on terrorists, and said that the US would commit war crimes by murdering innocent family members of suspected terrorists, in violation of domestic and international law. When questioned about forcing the military to break US law, and even the Geneva Convention, Trump said “They’re not going to refuse me, believe me. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.”
Hertling, a three star general and 37 year veteran of the military, said he had a visceral response to Trump’s proposed “toxic leadership”: “Somebody needs to remind Mr. Trump that the military is not his palace guards,” Hertling said. “They take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. They also abide by the rules.”
Trump has promised to enter into a war with ISIS. He has pledged to use torture and the killing of “family shields” in order to dissuade terrorists, all in violation of domestic and international law. He plans to use your tax dollars to do it, and to use the individuals in the US military to carry out these illegal acts. Hertling’s use of the term “palace guards” was well chosen, as these statements and positions echo the rhetoric of dictators past and present who believe that they are above the law.