A week before the midterm elections, Mr. Trump announced that he was planning to deploy 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of a caravan of refugees and asylum seekers who would be arriving at the border. His decision truly baffled many people and has been met with great criticism by many across the country including the military.
‘Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president.’
First of all, the question one should ask is:
‘Is there truly a threat to American security from an unarmed group of tired refugees and asylum seekers on foot and a thousand miles from the border?’
The U.S. Army’s internal assessment did not even find the threat very credible. According to The Times op-ed writers:
‘Can the president deny in advance what could be legitimate claims for asylum, without scrutiny? Most likely, this violates treaty commitments the United States made as part of its agreement to refugee conventions in 1967, which it has followed for decades.’
The authors of the piece also bring up the point that the cost of sending the troops really isn’t the issue as the troops are deployed anyway. However, the actual incremental costs of sending them to the border might be $100 million to $200 million, and although it is a tiny fraction of the $716 billion defense budget, they question whether the funds could be put to much better use.
It also is not unusual for a president to deploy troops to the border in support of border security operations, and it was pointed out that presidents of both parties have sent troops to the border, to provide support functions like engineering, logistics, transportation and surveillance.
However, no president has ever deployed troops to the border in this capacity or to prepare for a caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The “domestic political use” or “misuse of the military,” as they point out, is not a defensible reason for deployment.
They wrote in The Times:
‘James Mattis, the secretary of defense, asserted that the Defense Department does not “do stunts.” But this was a blatant political stunt. The president crossed a line — the military is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. As many senior military retirees have argued, the forces are not and should not be a political instrument. They are not toy soldiers to be moved around by political leaders but a neutral institution, politically speaking.’
Adams, Wilkerson, and Wilson III conclude their piece with a strong statement, saying:
‘The deployment is a stunt, a dangerous one, and in our view, a misuse of the military that should have led Mr. Mattis to consider resigning, instead of acceding to this blatant politicization of America’s military.’
Here’s what Twitter had to say:
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