General John Hyten Explains What Orders He would Refuse…
Now the country debates what is appropriate and not for President Trump’s Generals
What sort of behavior can the common pleb rule out as professional for a military commander? Telling the enemy—the entire world, in fact—that when you are given an order by your commander in chief, you will probably blink.
Unfortunately, that’s just what Air Force General John Hyten chose to do when he announced that he might resist an order to launch nuclear weapons when given by President trump. Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum, the commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had a lot to say about how he would handle such an order.
“And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I‘m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”
Hyten said running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order was standard practice, and added: “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”
His comments have caused a lot of debate about what is and isn’t appropriate for how a president and his generals should conduct themselves.
It’s worth noting that the Secretary of Defense told his generals to speak to start speaking to the press more freely. Frankly, this is a complicated decision that comes with a lot of difficulty—generals that choose to speak to the press are risking confounding a situation further if their statements contradict their commander’s comments in the future.
Here’s what the Secretary of Defense had to say:
On Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis instructed top commanders to speak to the media more freely, Defense One has learned.
The secretary is hoping to end a misperception among some senior leaders that they should keep quiet, in part because he wants them to speak up on the looming budget battle in Congress, according to a senior defense official.
Mattis gave his guidance at Friday’s closed-door Senior Leadership Conference, a Pentagon gathering of generals and admirals that includes the combatant commanders, or COCOMs, who are the senior officers in the U.S. military chain of command.
Now, debate has shifted towards the veracity and accuracy of Hyten’s comments:
Brian McKeon, a senior policy adviser in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, said a president’s first recourse would be to tell the defense secretary to order the reluctant commander to execute the launch order.
“And then, if the commander still resisted,” McKeon said as rubbed his chin, “you either get a new secretary of defense or get a new commander.” The implication is that one way or another, the commander in chief would not be thwarted.
From this, you get the idea that the most that a person can do in Hyten’s position is delay the inevitable. And that news should bring comfort to Trump supporters everywhere while still leaving one lingering question in their minds: what was this commander thinking? Was he signaling to the liberal worrywarts that he would conscientiously object to a strike order from President Trump? And, if so, would these sorts of public statements (that are meant to put the public at ease) embolden our enemies?
It’s been made uncomfortably clear that Republicans form some of the greatest political obstacles in the path of the Trump Agenda. Despite efforts to convert Senator Graham to the cause over a round of golf, President Trump has failed to sway the friend of McCain from any GOP Establishment lines.