Friday, March 4, 2016


I have made it very clear in previous posts that I do not support Donald Trump.   Nevertheless I acknowledge that both he and Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders have tapped into the deep resentment among ordinary voters as to the way 'Washington' does its business.

Were Trump to win the Republican nomination and then the Presidency then he will have done it fair and square (as much as things are done fair and square in US politics.   He will be the Commander in Chief.

It ill behooves someone like former CIA Director Michael Hayden to suggest here that it is a 'legitimate possibility' that the US military could refuse to obey orders by Trump were he to decide to make good on certain of his campaign promises.

Nothing legitimate about that.   It's a recipe for anarchy.   Members of the military can disagree with orders but, should they choose to do so, their only course of action is to resign.   Refusal by itself is mutiny and mutiny is anarchy.

Stupid for Hayden to speculate on that.   It raises the stakes to a whole new level
in a campaign where rhetoric over substance rules OK.    Stupid and sad.


Noel said...

I bet Hillary will be wishing Trump goes the distance.

scotty said...

That defence didn't work at Nuremburg. The Laws of Armed Conflict are explicit. You are only required to obey laws that are legal.

scotty said...

Laws, bah! I meant orders.

The Veteran said...

Scotty ... Nuremburg is a red herring at I suspect you know that. The Court was established to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity. There is a deal of difference between that and a President making good on the campaign promises he was elected on.

FYI ... the oath taken by those who join the US military reads "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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 comments by Hayden, stupid as they are, far from damaging Trump could end up gaining him some sympathy. They are unhelpful and will be seen as part of a concerted attack on Trump by the 'establishment'. Trump is vulnerable on policy ... big on rhetoric and short on detail. That's where those looking to attack him should focus their attention.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Lange try and send warships to Fiji, at the time of the first coup, and was told the Navy took it's orders from the Crown?

The Veteran said...

Anon ... no, Lange contemplated military intervention but the advice tended to him by CDF was that the FMF with two regular infantry battalions + significant reserve forces defending their own territory would be more than a match for anything we could put on the ground. Sanity prevailed.

JC said...

" Sanity prevailed."

And as it turned out, a bottle of whiskey was a better weapon than NZ forces.


The Veteran said...

JC ... got it in one.

Noel said...

"Hawke, Howard and Lange dismissed military intervention to restore the Bavadra Government. Lange left open a military response option however by suggesting that New Zealand would consider participating in a REGIONAL military response to ‘a cry from a legitimate government".

As it turned out we never joined the "Morris Dance"

Grant Michael McKenna said...

The hypothetical orders that were referred to would be the campaign promise to target the families of enemies of the USA. This would be a violation of the rules of war which would mean that it would be the constitutional duty of the US military to refuse to obey. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders- if the order was manifestly illegal.

The Veteran said...

GMK ... I suggest we are getting into the realms of the hypothetical and until Trump spells out what he actually means then I put the comment in the basket of the over the top rhetoric that Trump is renowned for. And therein is problem Trump. Sound bites designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator and to deflect attention from his lack of policy detail. Trumps not a Republican ... he's Trump and if Trump and Clinton are the best on offer then I fear for the good ole US of A.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid the shadow of Nuremberg looms large over all the military of all democracies and those who hope to join democratic alliances.

All the Gestapo who were involved in torture and killing of individuals were hunted down and either executed or given long jail sentences. An order that is in contravention of the Geneva convention is unlawful.

To say that Nuremberg is a red herring is misleading. But it is worth considering that alone amongst the western democracies the US has not signed up to the full protocols.

That basically puts it's allies UK, Commonwealth, and most of Europe who are acting under US command in a bit of a quandary as they have signed up to the full monty.

Lord Egbut

Angry Tory said...

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic

an oath that has clearly been completely ignored for the last eight years

Redbaiter said...

"Trumps not a Republican ... he's Trump and if Trump and Clinton are the best on offer then I fear for the good ole US of A."

Trump is a product of Republican cowardice. Angering supporters by being only just a little better than the Democrats each election.

Trump is supported by this anger, and as the Republicans caused it, they are responsible for Trump.

I wish someone like Trump would arise in NZ, to give the useless National Party the same message Trump is giving the Republicans.

The Nats draw votes by being only a little bit better than Labour, but this policy means that each election they drift further left. However its a strategy that like the Repubs in the US, generates a lot of anger in voters who feel they are being exploited by compromisers and cowards who do not fight.

If someone like Trump does arise in NZ it will be for the same reason as in the US, the abject failure of the National (Republican) party to act as any kind of real opposition to socialism and progressivism.

BTW, don't try your same old same old cowardly ploy of alleging extremism. It can't be extremism supporting Trump because he has such wide public support. Policies can't be extreme when they're supported by such a large sector of the voters.

Anonymous said...

Veteran Wrote.... "Nothing legitimate about that. It's a recipe for anarchy. Members of the military can disagree with orders but, should they choose to do so, their only course of action is to resign. Refusal by itself is mutiny and mutiny is anarchy."

This is a precedent that is still held true today. The enlisted man who was acting under direct orders was given seven years, the rest were shot.

It is quite impossible to resign while in a battlefield situation or in submarine.

The victors are the sole arbiters of justice.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Angry Tory ... well at least you are consistent in backing 'interesting' characters as the true messiahs of everything that is good and pure ... Colin Craig and now Donald Trump ... nuff said.

Egbut ... it is also true that 'to the victors, the spoils'. War is a shitty business and bad things happen on all sides and you and I both know that. But to the case at point ... the body politik in the US is so full of checks and balances that Trump (or any President) could not get away with a direction to the military that contravened the generally accepted Rules of War. So, I come back to my original point. Hayden is indulging in a 'straw-man' argument that does nothing more than raise the temperature of the debate and might well backfire to Trump's advantage ... dumb move.

Howie said...


"I wish someone like Drumpf would arise in NZ"

You have heard of Winston Peters, haven't you Russell? The difference is that Drumpf is shameless and even more childishly abusive. That's why he appeals to the right. I do agree he's a product of the GOP's behaviour though. Eight years of hysterical obstructionism and shrieking coming home to roost. It's gonna be hilarious to see Adolt shilling for him.

The Realist said...

I saw a couple of weeks ago where some old Croatian (I think) soothsayer who died 20-30 years ago had made several predictions which spookily have come true. One of her predictions years ago was that America would one day vote in a black president but he would be the last, because the country would descend into anarchy and split once again into north and south factions.

The Realist said...

The problem with Nuremberg was that they suspended the normal established rules of evidence.
Also it puts the ordinary soldier in an impossible situation by not obeying orders of his superiors. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

The Veteran said...

Howie ... You're being simplistic. A more objective view of the impasse in Washington would have it that it's not the fault of one Party alone. Obama too has shown a complete unwillingness to compromise and engage with the Republicans. That, along with the Beltway 'politics as usual' has combined to give oxygen to the Trump, Cruz and Sanders campaigns.

They all frighten the establishment because a Trump/Cruz/Sanders Presidency would mean its NOT business as usual. Trump frightens me more because I suspect that both Cruz and Sanders at least understand the realities of politics. Trump doesn't. His mantra is 'my way, rip, shit or bust.

Psycho Milt said...

Veteran: here's what Hayden said in the linked article:

During his appearance on "Real Time," Hayden cited Trump's pledge to kill family members as being among his most troubling campaign statements.

"That never even occurred to you, right?" Maher asked.

"God, no!" Hayden replied. "Let me give you a punchline: If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act."

"That's quite a statement, sir," Maher said.

"You are required not to follow an unlawful order," Hayden added. "That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict."

It seems straightforward enough:
1. An order to kill family members of people declared to be terrorists would be an unlawful order.
2. Military personnel are required to refuse unlawful orders.
3. Therefore, US military personnel would refuse to follow an order to kill family members of people declared to be terrorists.

If you're saying Hayden is wrong, you're saying US military personnel would obey unlawful orders. Personally, I also believe they'd be highly likely to obey unlawful orders, but that's not a good thing.

The Veteran said...

PM ... what I am saying is Hayden is wrong in raising the issue. The checks and balances inherent both the US Government and the UCMJ are such that Trump couldn't get away with making such an order. In fact I would argue that such an order would constitute grounds for impeachment.

Interested in your last sentence. What makes you think that? You are portraying the military as unthinking and unable to distinguish lawful vs unlawful. I disagree.

The villain in all of this is Trump. Shoot from the mouth rhetoric and hopefully, sooner rather than later, he will hit himself in the foot.

Anonymous said...

What is not generally realised is that the Geneva convention has been updated over the years and consists of many parts. The US has not signed up to all of the convention unlike the the UK, commonwealth countries and most of Europe who signed up for the full monty..

It puts us in a bit of a quandary when under US command as we are working to different rules. Perhaps the current media/NZSAS kerfuffle reflects this. Up until recently waterboarding not considered a torture under US law (it is now) but it has always been a torture under our law.

Lord Egbut Nobacon

Anonymous said...

Realist: The Nuremberg trials were just for the big cheeses. There were hundreds of trials (hamburg, Hamelin etc) for the common war crimes where rules of evidence were followed, 140 war criminals were hanged at Hamelin castle prison alone. I know as I have spoken to a witness who was Albert Pierrepont's translator.

Lord Egbut