Tag Archives: commander in chief

Chaos reigns in COVID response

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If there is an issue that demands continuity in a government response it must include the health and well-being of our head of state and commander in chief.

Are we getting now from the White House as Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, battle the coronavirus? Hardly.

We are getting more of the chaotic mixed messaging that has afflicted the White House since, oh, when Trump became president.

Donald Trump is a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center. The doctors tell us that Trump’s condition is progressing; then we hear from others close to the situation that Trump’s vital signs are “worrisome” and that the next 48 hours will be critical.

Which is it?

Americans cannot get a clear reading of whether the doctors administered oxygen to Trump. White House doctors tell us that he doesn’t have oxygen “right now,” or “today.” No mention of whether he ever has received it.

We don’t know when Trump might have tested positive for the virus and whether he continued his activities for another full day after getting the diagnosis.

So many questions. The White House seems unable or unwilling to deliver a clear, unambiguous message. What’s at stake? The health of the president. Not only that, we have our national security apparatus in potential jeopardy when the public does not have a clear understanding of the president’s health.

Donald Trump, lest we forget, happens to be part of a major at-risk group: elderly, overweight males are among those most vulnerable to serious symptoms if they test positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Therefore, we need a crystal clear message that tells us the whole truth about the physical condition of president.

Stop the chaos!

This story will stick

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I have no doubt about the veracity of a story that has grown more legs than a centipede.

It involves statements attributed to Donald Trump in which he denigrates the service performed by wounded servicemen and women, those who were captured by the enemy and even those who gave their lives in defense of the nation.

He called them “losers” and “suckers,” according to the article published in The Atlantic.

Of course, Trump denies it vehemently. He has gone on the attack against the author of the piece, Jeffrey Goldberg, against the owner of the publication, and against the “fake news” media for reporting what Goldberg has written.

But think about it for just a moment: The statements attributed to Trump are wholly consistent with statements he has made publicly, out loud, and for the record about service personnel who have served with honor, valor and heroism.

He disparaged the late John McCain’s time as a Vietnam War prisoner; he castigated a Gold Star couple whose son was killed in action in Iraq; he criticized Admiral William McRaven after the special operations commander coordinated the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, saying he should have killed bin Laden sooner; he ridiculed Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

He feigns admiration for our servicemen and women. He brags about all the great things he has done for our veterans and for our active-duty personnel.

Still, he finds moments to denigrate the service of those who serve their country.

He wants us to believe he didn’t say those things attributed to him in The Atlantic? He must be out of his ever-lovin’ mind to believe Americans should accept his overheated denials.

I believe this story will continue to grow even more legs as we move toward the end of the presidential campaign. As it should. It rings true to this veteran’s ears. I suspect there are others among us who will be as repulsed as I am to read the things that fly out of the mouth of the man masquerading as our commander in chief.

Is this the deal breaker?

I once thought Donald Trump’s denigrating John McCain’s service during the Vietnam War would have ended his political career.

Or the time he ridiculed a Gold Star couple whose son, an Army officer, died in Iraq.

How about when Trump mimicked a severely handicapped New York Times reporter?

The coward survived all those missteps. He got elected president.

Now he reportedly has disparaged men and women who have been injured in combat. He calls them “suckers” and “losers.” He supposedly didn’t attend a ceremony at a storied World War I battlefield because the rainfall would mess up his hair. Trump reportedly stood at the grave of a young Marine who died in Afghanistan and said in the presence of the Marine’s father, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, that there was “nothing in it for him.”

Does any of this signal the end of Donald Trump’s hideous tenure as commander in chief?

Oh, I do hope that is the case.

The commander in chief is supposed to revere the men and women he commands. This guy doesn’t. The commander in chief by definition honors their service. Not this one. The commander in chief traditionally speaks of the immense pride of leading the world’s greatest military. Not this guy.

Donald Trump must lose the upcoming presidential election.

Ship captain sacked … oh, the irony of it all

I am struck by the rich irony of the stated reason for U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Cozier being removed as commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Mobly demoted Crozier for failing to follow proper military protocol when he wrote that scathing letter demanding more attention to his crew, some of whom are stricken by the COVID-19 virus that has essentially shut down the world.

Mobly said Crozier didn’t follow the rules set by the chain of command, that he should have gone to his superiors privately. Crozier’s dismissal, of course, didn’t set well with the men and women under his command on the Theodore Roosevelt. They cheered him loudly when he left the ship for the final time.

The irony? Well, there’s this: The commander in chief, Donald Trump, has no understanding of chain of command, which explains why he interceded a few months ago on behalf of a Navy SEAL who had been stripped of his Trident emblem over his conduct in the war against terror. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher had been punished by his commanding officers after he was convicted in a court martial for desecrating the corpse of an enemy combatant.

What did Donald Trump do? He ordered Gallagher’s rank restored and allowed him to keep his Trident, which is the SEAL badge that the special forces wear with pride.

Trump blustered right through the chain of command himself with that reckless and, frankly, brainless act.

So now an officer who commanded one of the Navy’s premier warships is stripped of his command because he sought to bring pressure on the brass to do a better job of protecting his sailors.

Yep, the irony is astounding.

And sickening.

Hyperbole ignores serious questions

Here comes the hyperbole.

Conservative media have begun the counterattack against those who are questioning the wisdom of Donald Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader. They are saying that liberals want to coddle terrorists. Why? Because they wonder whether the commander in chief is steady enough to handle what many fear is the inevitable response from Iran over the air strike.

Qassem Sulemaini is dead. I haven’t heard a single skeptic say that the revered Iranian military leader should still be alive. I, too, believe the guy needed to die and I am glad our forces struck down the leader of forces responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American service personnel.

However, there is legitimate concern about whether the commander in chief has given thorough consideration about how he intends to respond to the retaliation that many fear is coming from Iran. Such concern does not suggest any softening of U.S. resolve in the fight against international terrorist organization. It speaks instead to concern about the preparation at the highest level of our military command for what comes next.

By “highest level,” I refer to the individual in charge of it all, the current president of the United States.

We all have witnessed too many instances of acting on impulse. Trump orders military action without consulting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff or with his national security adviser. He makes decisions based on phone chats with hostile foreign leaders.

None of us knows the pre-strike planning that went into this raid. I happen to be glad that Suleimani is dead. Many of us have legitimate concern about whether we’re prepared for how the Iranians will respond. That does not mean anyone is more concerned about the bad guys than they are about protecting American lives.

Trump messes up his commander in chief role

Leave it Donald J. Trump to muddy up his role as commander of chief of the U.S. armed forces. He did it big time in a mess involving a Navy SEAL and those who serve in the high military command.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was convicted of a crime involving his posing in Iraq with the corpse of a fighter killed in battle. He had been acquitted of far more serious accusations that were considered “war crimes.”

The Navy Department, led by Secretary Richard Spencer, wanted to stop Gallagher of his Trident badge emblematic of his SEAL service.

Gallagher, who is on active duty at this moment, has taken his case to the public.

Then in walked Trump, the commander in chief, to order that Gallagher retain his SEAL status. Richard Spencer couldn’t comply. He enraged the president, who then ordered Defense Secretary Mark Esper to override the Navy boss. Esper also ordered Spencer to submit his resignation, which Spencer did.

Spencer’s letter of resignation — which he addressed to the president — is a thing of beauty. He thanked the president for allowing him to serve. He then said he couldn’t comply with the president’s policies because they aren’t in keeping with military order and discipline. Read the letter here.

I get that the president’s status as commander in chief allows him to do whatever he wishes regarding the military. I mean, he’s the boss of all the men and women in uniform. However, it is highly irregular, odd and unusual for the commander in chief to insert himself into the middle of command decisions that belong to those who serve under him.

Commanders in chief usually set broad military policy or, in some cases they order daring raids such as the Army Delta Force raid that killed the Islamic State leader or the SEAL raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden in May 2011. But for them to involve themselves in disputes such as what involved a particular SEAL operator is, well, way out of the ordinary.

Just because the president can act in the manner that Trump has acted regarding Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher doesn’t mean it’s right. In this instance, I believe the commander in chief meddled where even the commander in chief doesn’t belong.

POTUS makes courageous call in authorizing raid

It must be said — and I’ll say it here — that Donald John Trump made a gutsy call in authorizing the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi somewhere in Syria overnight.

Commanders in chief on occasion face life-and-death decisions that given all the moving parts of highly complicated military operations can result in tragedy.

The president’s authorization of a mission to send Delta Force soldiers and CIA commandos into Syria to kill the Islamic State leader was one of those nail-biters.

Barack Obama faced a similar situation in 2011 when he made the call to send in SEALs and CIA agents to kill Osama bin Laden. The president knew then that that the operation was based on what he called a “55-45 probability” that bin Laden was actually in the compound where they ended up killing him. He was. The mission succeeded famously and the nation cheered its outcome.

So it should be with the al-Baghdadi raid.

I get that presidents don’t shoulder weapons themselves, or pull the trigger, or fly aircraft into harm’s way. The responsibility of success o failure rests solely on their shoulders.

Thus, when they make these decisions they must face the possibility of tragic consequences if one of those many moving parts falls apart. When they do, the mission can fail. Think of the Desert One Iranian hostage rescue mission that ended tragically in 1980 and think, too, of the terrible burden that President Jimmy Carter likely carries to this very day.

President John F. Kennedy said famously after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba that “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” He took the failure heat all by himself.

The al-Baghdadi raid was a huge success. The capability of our military special forces is unparalleled in all of human history. The Delta Force team served the nation and the world well. To that end, the president who sent the soldiers on this perilous mission deserves credit for making a courageous call.

He has eliminated an example of, um, “human scum.”

These officers need to be heard

It’s not every day that a general-grade officer takes the commander in chief to task for decisions he makes that put the nation’s security in peril.

Yet, that is what has happened with two superb military officers. They both have combat experience. They both have commanded many thousands of men and women. They both are true-blue American heroes.

Retired Admiral William McRaven, the former special operations commanding officer, has penned a New York Times essay in which he declares that Donald Trump is putting our democracy “in jeopardy.” He cannot fathom that the president sidles up to dictators and trashes our allies and our alliances that have been vital to keeping the world safe from tyrants. McRaven, under whose command our military was able to kill Osama bin Laden, has laid it on the line with regard to Donald Trump.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served as defense secretary in the Trump administration, resigned because the president doesn’t know what he is doing with regard to the military and his handling of foreign policy. Trump selected Mattis to lead the Pentagon, calling him at the time of his hiring a first-rate commanding officer; now he refers to Mattis as an “overrated general.”

They aren’t alone in expressing their dismay and disgust at the way the president conducts foreign and military policy. Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former head of Central Command who led troops during the Persian Gulf War — and served with valor and heroism during the Vietnam War — has been a fervent critic of the president.

These are serious men with serious views about the commander in chief. They are patriots. They served heroically. They faced our enemies on the battlefield. These men deserve to be heard. 

Trump keeps blurring the line of decency

I cannot let Donald Trump’s incessant, relentless and utterly classless attacks on a genuine American hero pass without comment.

The president launched the Mother of Twitter Tirades over the weekend. One of Trump’s targets, not surprisingly, was the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, the war hero who got under the president’s skin because of his fearless resistance to the president’s policies and pronouncements.

McCain died in August 2018 of brain cancer. He voted dramatically against a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also has challenged Trump’s style of confrontational governance and sought to restore a semblance of what he called “regular order” to the U.S. Senate.

Trump continues to attack the late senator. Why he persists is absolutely beyond me.

His latest attack against McCain challenged the senator’s release of information related to the “dossier” related to allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system. Trump lied about the timing of when McCain leaked the dossier information to the FBI, saying he did so to harm Trump’s presidential campaign; the leak came after the November 2016 election.

Trump infamously declared in 2015 that McCain is “not a war hero. He’s a hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured. OK?” McCain served the nation heroically by any measure possible during the Vietnam War. He was shot down over Hanoi, taken captive and held for more than five yeas as a prisoner of war.

For the president of the United States — the commander in chief — to denigrate a war hero after avoiding military service during that war because of the questionable existence of bone spurs wreaks of indecency of the lowest order.

The McCain-Trump relationship went downhill from that moment.

And now that the senator has succumbed, the president continues to attack him. He continues his assault on the memory of a fellow Republican who contributed more in service to this country than the president ever will contribute. Ever!

Quite obviously none of us is privy to the president’s personal thoughts. We instead get to read his public pronouncements that, I’ll presume, put many of his private thoughts on the public record.

Donald Trump has shown us time and again what many of us already believe . . . that he disgraces this country.

Fly ‘commerical’ to Kabul? You bet, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the military flight for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Europe and Afghanistan was fraught with protocol breaches as well as a nonsensical travel recommendation.

The president responded to Pelosi’s request that he postpone the State of the Union speech until after the government is reopened. He acted petulantly by canceling the military air transport planned for the delegation; hey, he’s the commander in chief so he can do that sort of thing.

However, he blew Pelosi’s cover that she wanted to fly to Afghanistan to visit our troops, to show them her support for the work they are doing to keep us safe from international terrorists.

That was a violation of protocol. These flights into combat zones are kept secret for an obvious reason: to protect those who traveling their from possible attack from our enemies.

Oh, but then Trump offered this idiotic recommendation: Why not fly “commercially” to Afghanistan? What? Does he even know about how dangerous that would be? Moreover, is there even any commercial air travel to Afghanistan available?

The president’s bald-faced ignorance of so many aspects of government and history and protocol suggests to me that he fired off that response without giving any of a moment of thought.

Weird.