Donald Trump does not support, or even understand, his presidential responsibilities vis-a-vis the troops in our military. That is an obvious fact. Yesterday, Trump’s chief of staff, Marine General John F. Kelly, stood before the American People and defended Trump’s recent appalling treatment of an aggrieved Marine widow, and told the country to whom he swore an oath of Allegiance that everything is fine in the white house.
The oath taken by all Marines is the same as that taken by all military personnel. So, General Kelly has uttered the following words, now and then:
I, John F. Kelly, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
The President takes an oath as well, so Donald Trump has uttered a variant of the constitutionally required
I Donald Trump do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809.ART.90 (20), makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the “lawful command of his superior officer,” 891.ART.91 (2), the “lawful order of a warrant officer”, 892.ART.92 (1) the “lawful general order”, 892.ART.92 (2) “lawful order”. In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.
So, just to be clear, a military officer is required to follow orders but can not break the law. General Kelly’s Orwellian comments about Trump and his conduct was probably not breaking any laws. But it is impossible for John Kelly to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff without him violating his oath, both the one he gave as a Marine, and the one that binds him as a senior White House official.
There is a long list, a very long list, of ways in which Donald Trump is violating the Constitution of the United State of America. General Kelly is no longer obligated to defend the United States Constitution as a US Marine, because he is no longer a Marine, but he is obligated to do so as the President’s Chief of Staff.
But, what General Kelly did yesterday was to disgrace his uniform by standing as a former Marine General and the father of a fallen soldier and, from that context, arguing that everything is fine in the kingdom. He charged up the hill to circumvent a very powerful message that would be damaging to his president. Support our troops, Impeach trump. Imagine the following bumper sticker:
Kelly threw himself on a hand grenade, for sure. In so doing, Kelly put his culture as a marine, not his oath but his culture, ahead of his country. He was ordered by his commander and chief to stand in front of the American Press and the American People and lie.
Perhaps this is what Marines do. Perhaps this is a good reason to avoid putting Marines directly in charge of the defense of the United States Constitution. At least, let history show that a reasonable distrust of senior Marines to be patriots is a reasonable outcome of history itself.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North charged up the hill on the illegal orders of his president, got caught, and told us he’d do it again. General Kelly did it for him.
And now, for your history lesson. (See for more, Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-up)