On the face of it, it’s a reminder to troops all over the world. The message: “We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath, it is against the law.”
But the chiefs nicely knew the memo could be learn throughout the globe, a number of protection officers say. They had loads to say and every phrase was rigorously chosen. The chiefs usually are not partisan, however they’ve a fine-tuned antenna to the political local weather. They know when it’s time for them to talk out, as they did after racial unrest final 12 months. And they knew that this memo would put them at odds with Trump days earlier than he left workplace as commander in chief.
On Tuesday Trump defended his remarks that had impressed his supporters to march on and riot on the Capitol. But the chiefs made their stand by calling out the rioters, saying that “the rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection” — an announcement their commander in chief has refused to make.
The memo additionally made the essential level that “the US military will obey lawful orders” from civilian management. This could also be an important line to recollect. The chiefs and fight commanders all over the world have given thought to what they’d do if Trump issued an unlawful order, and the reply is straightforward: They wouldn’t comply with it, in response to a number of Pentagon officers instantly conversant in their considering.
All US troops are educated to comply with solely authorized orders. But on this charged atmosphere, no person will overtly speak about how the chiefs would flip down an unlawful order within the nonetheless unlikely occasion Trump have been to challenge one. But inside senior army circles, it’s nicely understood. To be authorized, an order for army motion should have a legitimate goal, it should be ethical and moral, and it should use proportional power.
Commanders merely do not launch nuclear strikes, launch bombs and missiles, or ship troops into hurt’s means with out a legitimate purpose for army motion. Presidential orders have a number of layers of authorized evaluation to make sure commanders can perform these orders.
But if an order is illegitimate, what occurs? The attorneys and the Pentagon management clarify to the president why the order will not be authorized. If the president nonetheless doesn’t again down, then there is no such thing as a alternative. Commanders should resign. The legislation prohibits them from finishing up unlawful orders.
By issuing their assertion, the Joint Chiefs have made it each privately and publicly clear what’s at stake. But what’s unsettling is that no person is aware of if the President is listening.