“This should bust the myth that generals automatically deserve our respect,” said Joe Cirincione of the Quincy Institute.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
More than 120 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed an unhinged open letter this week parroting former President Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the integrity of the 2020 election results and accusing President Joe Biden of driving the country toward a “Marxist form of tyrannical government.”
Released under the banner of a group called Flag Officers 4 America, the letter (pdf) was viewed by analysts and other ex-military officials as an alarming use of rank to launch an overtly partisan broadside against the sitting government.
One currently serving Navy officer who spoke to Politico on the condition of anonymity said the letter is “disturbing and reckless.”
Signed by 124 ex-military officials—including retired Vice Adm. John Poindexter of Iran-Contra infamy and retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who is running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire—the letter proclaims that “under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration, our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism… which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”
“Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the ‘will of the people’ our Constitutional Republic is lost,” the letter reads. “Election integrity demands insuring [sic] there is one legal vote cast and counted per citizen… The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020.”
The letter—also signed by retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin—goes on to warn against passage of the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights expansion bill that the ex-generals and admirals baselessly claim would “destroy election fairness and allow Democrats to forever remain in power violating our Constitution and ending our Representative Republic.”
Marybeth Ulrich, a retired Air Force colonel who teaches civil-military relations at the Army War College and Air Force Academy, told Politico that the letter was “way worse” than she was expecting.
“They are perpetuating the big lie about the election. I think it is outrageous. Some of it is very anti-democratic behavior,” said Ulrich. “They are absolutely violating the norm to be apolitical. They are being used for partisan purposes. They are going against their constitutional oath.”
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) May 11, 2021
Observers were quick to draw comparisons between the new U.S. letter and a recent missive signed by 20 retired French military generals, 80 officers, and 1,000 lower-ranking soldiers proclaiming that France is “crumbling apart through Islamism and the hordes from the Banlieues.”
“In the end, there will be an explosion, and our comrades in active military service will be forced to step in and undertake the perilous mission of protecting our civilizational values and the lives of our fellow citizens,” warns the letter to French President Emmanuel Macron. “It is easy to see that the time for hesitation is over. Otherwise, tomorrow, civil war will put an end to this growing chaos, and there will be thousands of deaths, of which you will bear responsibility.”
As writer Jeet Heer noted, the French letter was “translated and reprinted in the United States by The American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute, perhaps the leading Trumpist think tank.”
“The translation and reprinting of the letter is a reminder that the Trumpist right has deep ties its European counterparts,” Heer wrote. “There is a kind of informal Reactionary International, which shares ideas, tactics, and rhetoric. It’s no accident that in both the United States and France the members of the Reactionary International are thinking about launching a coup.”
“The Reactionary International, as should be clear, is a proto-fascist movement,” Heer continued. “For the sake of democracy, it’s urgent that people of this orientation be rooted out of the military in France, the United States, and wherever else they may be found.”
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