Letter to the Editor

Something changed

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Two weeks ago, the serial anti-Trump letter writer commented correctly that "for hundreds of years and many wars, American soldiers have dealt lethally in combat against our enemies. Sadly, there have been instances when a few misguided warriors have committed crimes against non-belligerents, which in order to maintain discipline, military justice demanded punishment for the offending soldiers."

He went on to say "Recently two American soldiers were convicted of murdering non-combatants, one even admitting his guilt. President Trump then issued a pardon for the two saying: 'We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill.' Another case surfaced when Navy Seal Edward Gallagher posed with a photo of an executed 17-year-old ISIS prisoner and then texted it to a friend writing: 'Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife.' Military justice demanded action and Gallagher was demoted and stripped of his Seal qualifications. Trump, then trying to strike a pose of being sympathetic to a warrior while simultaneously totally undermining military commanders, ordered the disciplinary actions rescinded and all Gallagher's charges dropped."

Then the writer stepped off the deep end by writing "In Trump's view, norms have changed. We have discovered a new way to defile the uniform. Today, we allow murderers to wear it while being lauded as heroes." This is where the writer fails to recognize that the ways we conduct war have changed.

The writer is correct when saying "for hundreds of years and many wars" we conducted war in a certain way. Those were the days of each side wearing a distinctive uniform and carrying flags to identify themselves. Then came the 100-day Iraq War. That is when enemy soldiers saw that by wearing distinctive uniforms and being identified as opposing the U.S. military forces they were not going to live very long. So they started wearing civilian clothes and hiding in civilian areas. This made the lives of our soldiers very difficult because hostile forces could hide their guns and explosives in civilian clothes and dart out of civilian areas to kill or maim Americans. Thus the identification of friend or foe became very difficult.

President Trump has recognized the way we conduct war has changed. That is why he pardoned these three soldiers. But the writer wants to claim that by granting three pardons out of our 1,400,000 military personnel he has weakened military discipline. Forgotten in all of this is that Article II Section 2 of our Constitution provides that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of our military. I think we all agree that we want the Commander-in-Chief to be a civilian, not cut from the same cloth as the generals and admirals that command the day-to-day military operations. I believe that by overreacting to these three military pardons out of a fighting force of 1.4 million meets the definition of "Trump Derangement Syndrome."

Phil Petersen

Okoboji