As President Donald J. Trump’s war of words with the U.S. Department of Justice dominates headlines and Vladimir Putin extends his electoral achievements in Moscow while apparently threatening U.S. infrastructure, NBC News national security analyst and retired Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey has said the president is a “serious risk” to national security.
Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to US national security. He is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin.
McCaffrey retired from the military in 1996 after 32 years as the most decorated general serving in the United States Army. McCaffrey served overseas for more than twelve years, including four combat tours. After leaving the military McCaffrey served as the Director of The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for five years.
Retired military personnel frequently exercise their right to free speech. Gen. McCaffrey like many others is an occasional military analyst for the media, but it is rare for a high-ranking retired officer to state publicly that a sitting president poses a security risk.
Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, US Army, (Ret.), a Fox News military analyst generally considered conservative and a military hawk, has now issued a harsh rebuke of both Fox News and President Trump calling Fox News “a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.” (Buzzfeed)
While Trump enjoys general support among enlisted military personnel, a 2017 survey conducted by Military Times found that 53 percent of military officers surveyed opposed Trump. These are professional soldiers trained to follow a military chain of command in which Trump is the Commander in Chief.
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Since the Trump administration took office there has been open push back from current and retired intelligence officials, many of them former military, that has drawn a bleak picture of President Trump as Commander in Chief of the military.
After the recent firing of Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, former CIA director John Brennan said President Trump would be remembered as “a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” (Newsweek)
At the height of Trump’s attacks on CNN, Michael Hayden, retired general, retired head of the CIA and retired head of the National Security Agency, stated: “If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life.” (The Hill).
During the 2016 election, retired General Colin Powell, upon endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, said Donald Trump was “not qualified” (The Daily Beast) to serve as Commander in Chief.
Well into the late 20th century it was very unusual for retired officers of high rank to make public comments about sitting Presidents or political candidates. This is a US military tradition that can be traced as far back as George Washington. (Association of the United States Army)
As recently as the run up to the 2016 election an article in Foreign Policy stated, “When retired generals and admirals engage in partisan advocacy they risk the military’s professionalism and prestige.”